James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

If you need to dry towels and damp clothes in your caravan, read our Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer review to discover our expert's vedict

Overview

Caravan holidays are great fun, whatever the weather, and they're especially great for families, dog-owners and people who like outdoor activities. But if you're the kind of person who likes to get outdoors come rain or shine, there will be times when you have soggy coats, shoes and damp jeans and t-shirts to dry. 

Some caravan sites forbid you to hang out your washing, because it makes the place look untidy. This is pretty frustrating when the sun is shining, but in any case there will be many days when the air is a bit damp outside. You certainly don't want to clutter up your caravan and awning with washing lines of soggy washing, so what can you do? 

We find that an airer or drying rack is essential for most caravan holidays. There are plenty of freestanding airers that you can use to make the most of your caravan heating, and we've also found some that hang from a door or the ceiling. There are also a few fairly lightweight airers that provide their own heat source to dry your washing. 

We've gathered together a selection of likely-looking airers of all types and price-points to find out which are the best for caravan holidays. During the testing we discovered that the best airers will have as much laundry capacity as possible (usually expressed in metres of line space), they should also be stable enough to use outside if the campsite allows it, staying upright in windy weather. 

As with all accessory tests, we gave extra points to compact products that are easy to store and use.

We always look for the best value for money and with airers we've compared the purchase price and running costs with the capacity of damp clothing that can be dried and the general performance of the product.

Among the clothes airers we tested are the JML DriBuddi, which is essentially a folding tumble-dryer for £59.99, and another powered item, the Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer, costing £76.99. At the other end of the spectrum, we also tested the SunnCamp 4m Window Clothes Dryer FN9600, a cheap and effective £4.25 airer. Then we looked at the Kampa AC0290, at £11.99, which hangs from an awning rail or ceiling hook, and the Outwell Drying Rack, a freestanding airer costing £24.99. 

In this review we'll shine a spotlight on the Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer, one of the most expensive products available, at £79.99. It's one of many products in Lakeland's Dry:Soon range, so if it's too big or too small for your needs, take a look at the rest of the range.

So, how did the Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer perform during our group test of airers? We have mixed feelings about it.

Heated rails in bathrooms dry towels brilliantly, but that’s because their warmed bars are arranged vertically so they’re spaced regularly along a folded towel’s length. In contrast, when this airer is opened, the rails are horizontal. So the heat benefits only the portion of material that is in contact with the rail rather than the bulk hanging below it. A large cover that traps the heat improves matters, but it costs an extra £30. Lying items across the rails also works, but you don’t get the promised 13m of hanging space.

Still, on the plus-side, the 200W consumption means that the Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer is hook-up safe and the airer opens and shuts easily.

The 104cm x 79cm x 8cm storage size is too large for our liking.

Technical specs

Size when open75 x 73 x 99cm high (29½" x 28¾" x 39")
Size when folded8cm (3") deep
Capacity10kg
Drying space13m (42ft)
Power used200W
Running cost quotedLess than 4p per hour

Verdict

The Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer looks promising, being sturdy enough to stand up in the wind and offering flexible shelving that you can rearrange to your liking. It tends to dry clothes unevenly, unless you fork out the extra £30 for a cover. It's better for caravanning than the JML DriBUDDi in that it uses far less power and is easier to use. But the deal-breaker is that it's just a bit too bulky to store in the caravan when you're not using it. We think that if you buy the Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer for your caravan holidays you'll end up using it at home instead. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • You can move the shelves
  • Cheap to run
  • Electric hook-up friendly (draws 200W)
  • Works like a towel rail
  • More gentle than a tumble dryer
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Bulky to store
  • Clothes dry unevenly
  • Cover improves drying but is £30 extra
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