The long, warm summer nights can make even the most ardent city slicker long for the great outdoors – and whether cross-country mountain bike treks are your thing, or you prefer long, rambling dog walks, you’ll need to make sure your car is properly kitted out to carry your equipment or canine companion.
So here is our rundown of the best car equipment for outdoor enthusiasts…
Top Box (aka Roof Box)
If you’ve not much boot space, or you’ve got a small army to ferry around, a set top box is a must if you’re looking to pack everything you need to hit the great outdoors.
And you don’t need to look much further than the Kamei 510, with its massive 510-litre capacity and relatively reasonable price tag of around £370.
It’s easy to fit, has dual side openings for easy access and its sliding fitting system means it’s versatile enough to fit almost any type of roof bar – speaking of which, if your car doesn’t already have any fitted, you’ll need a set to attach it to.
Whether you’re fitting a top box or a bike rack, you’re going to need some roof bars and the Atera Signo RT (£134.95) is quick and easy to attach, has rubber-padded clamps for a sturdy fit and comes with a key so you can properly tighten the bars to the rails.
The sleek aerodynamic frame also adds to the appeal as you’ll be more inclined to leave it on when not in use.
If you’re into scrambling across the countryside on two wheels, you’re going to want an easy-to-fit and reliable bike rack – unless, of course, you’re so hard-core that you cycle to your rural retreat.
If you’re biking on a budget then you needn’t look any further than Halfords’ Value rack (£19.99) – it’s functional, easy to fit and sturdy even at high speeds.
Alternatively, at £64.99 for two, you can’t go wrong with Halfords’ Advanced roof rack- although a little complicated to fit at first, once it’s fixed to your roof bars its quick-release system means you can quickly and easily change it to fit any bike.
If you’ve not got roof bars, or they’re otherwise occupied, then Saris Bones 3-Bike (£134.99) is a great way to carry your bikes around – it’s a bit tricky to fit at first but it’s a very versatile and reliable rack.
If you’re looking at taking your four-legged friends along for the ride, you’re going to want to keep them safely in the back of the car, either by way of a cage or a harness.
As far as cages go, Halfords comes up trumps again with its Advanced Mesh Headrest Dog Guard (£59.99) which is easy to put together – it can be installed literally in minutes – is very secure and can be shaped to suit your car’s cabin.
If it’s a dog harness you’re after, the Dogs Trust Car Safety Harness (£11.50) is available in six sizes and is fitted via a buckle that loops into the seatbelt to allow the dog to have as comfy a ride as any passenger. Its hi-vis piping means that it can double up as a reflective harness for use outside the car too.
Although we’re in the middle of summer, if you’re a keen skier you’ll already no doubt have one eye on the slopes – and if you’re driving to your resort this winter you’ll need somewhere to keep your skis.
At £54.95, the Atera Nova 4 represents great value – not only does it hold four sets of skis, its bolt-fastening twist-and-grip clamps mean it’s easy to assemble, while its spring-arm and snap-shut lock mean loading the skis is simple too.
And if you’re going to be driving to a ski resort, it makes sense to pack some snow chains, or at least some snow socks for when the roads get slippery – try Maggi’s Power 8 chain (£69.95) or Autosocks (49.95).
Love the great outdoors? What equipment would you recommend for the outdoor enthusiast? Let us know…