OZTrail Easy Fold Single Stretcher
Having recently replaced my rooftop tent with a OZTent RV3 and having used self inflating mattresses on the floor I was amazed at how comfortable the Natural Instinct camping stretcher was which I used recently for a week while visiting the Kalagadi Frontier Game Park. In particular I was impressed with how stable the stretcher was even when sitting on the sides or ends. The design was identical to the OZtrail stretcher shown above – the unique way in which the two end legs extent, tension the canvas and at the same time prevent any forward or backward rocking motion results in an awesomely stable platform.
I used a very thin foam mattress of maybe 5cm thickness but because of the give in the canvas it was as comfortable as sleeping on a bed – brilliant.
The only time I had used a stretcher in the past were ones my dad had, but they were useless and had poor tension in the canvas. On returning to OZ I decided to try and find a stretcher similar to the Natural Instinct ones for a couple of reasons:
- More space as there is a lot of storage space under the stretcher. Two stretchers take up quite a bit or room in the RV3 but with stretchers clothes and food bags can be stored under the stretchers
- More give for those of us who spend some time sleeping on our sides
- No fear of getting wet if there is a slight leak in the tent groundsheet
- Reduce the chance of any creepy crawlies getting in with you
In any event I found the OZtrail Easy Fold Single Stretcher as shown above which is available from a few outlets. It’s a pretty solid stretcher and will probably suit all but the very heaviest of people. Doubles up as a great bed for sleepovers – kids nowadays seem averse to sleeping on the floor – or perhaps its their parents who object…
Lightweight CampKing Stretcher
While looking for the OZtrail stretcher I came upon a few lightweight stretchers, the Thermarest Ultralite being the most notable one but with a very high price tag. I figured these might be an option for the kids and at around 2kg would significantly reduce the space/weight of any camping trip. After a bit more research I came across the Helinox brand which seemed to be a good quality Australian made lightweight camping stretcher – also too pricey for me. And then I found the CampKing stretcher which seemed to get good writeups and was a reasonably priced Chinese made option.
I was impressed with the quality when the stretcher arrived. Canvas was pretty strong material and aluminium poles appears to be made of strong stuff. Putting it together was pretty easy, just slide the long poles down each side of the stretcher canvas and tuck the ends in. Then clip the feet in on the side without the latch and pull the latch back on the other side and pull the foot outwards to clip that side onto the side pole. Now gently and firmly press the foot back towards the middle until the latch clicks into place. This does require a bit of force so use your weight but take care not to go to quickly or too far – plastic components might break and aluminium poles might get bent if sufficient care is not taken.
Complete fitting all the legs and you are done. I would also be careful not to allow the kids to jump on the stretcher as the seams will probably split or the poles might bend. Also take care when getting onto or off the stretcher as putting too much adult weight on one area might result in some damage. I would also no sit up on the stretcher and would try can keep weight distribution even across the stretcher canvas to avoid high stress on the fabric, aluminium poles or plastic.
The stretcher is pretty comfortable and has a lot of tension in the canvas. I slept very comfortably on it with a Thermarest MondoKing 3D mattress. As good as or better than a bed with excellent comfort on my side, front or back. I will try it out with one of the lightweight mattresses at some stage.
At around AU$150 this is not a cheap option and as long as the CampKing components hold up this should prove to be an excellent option for vehicle based camping and perhaps for extended stay walk in camping where good sleep comfort is important. You could also consider taking along in your baggage on safari’s or holidays where you might need an extra bed.