One of the best caravan and camping accessories you can buy is a good clothes airer. On blissfully sunny days in the summer it’s never a problem to get your family’s towels dry when they get back from their showers in the campsite’s washblock. But in winter it’s a different story, and you may find yourself trying to get some of the water off yourself with a flannel before wrapping that big towel around after a shower. Nevertheless, even if you resort to such measures there will always be damp towels, small items of washing, wet coats and jeans to dry off in the caravan during winter holidays. 

Most campsites do offer laundry facilities and tumble dryers, but it would be expensive to use them for just a few items every day. On top of that, some fabrics can’t go in the tumble dryer. And if you’re one of the many people who like using quiet five-van CL sites, there may be no facilities available beyond water, electric hook-ups and somewhere to empty the chemical loo and leave your rubbish.

So in either case it’s well worth becoming self-sufficient by shopping around to find the best clothes airers for caravan holidays

We gathered a selection of airers to suit all budgets and put them to the test. We tried out the Lakeland Dry:Soon 2-tier heated airer at £76.99, the JML DriBUDDi airer at £59.99, the Kampa AC0290 airer costing just £11.99, the SunnCamp 4m Window Clothes Dryer FN9600 costing only £4.25 and the Outwell Drying Rack at £24.99.

During our tests we checked out the amount of actual drying space you get with each product, and the effectiveness of the design. We were keen to find portable, lightweight clothes airers that would pack down small and take up the least amount of space in the caravan both in use and in storage. 

Heated clothes dryers are available, too, and we have looked at their laundry drying capacity, measured by metres of hanging space, and the power consumption. Products that work brilliantly at home might well draw so much power that they trip your electric hook-up post on a campsite. Sometimes simple products are best, because they make the most of the heating inside your caravan to dry your washing. Versatility is another thing we’ve considered. Some can go outdoors as well as indoors or in the awning. If they’re freestanding they need to stand up to a breeze without falling over. 

As with all our caravan accessory reviews, we look for great value for money and robustness, because they’ll need to stand up to the normal wear and tear of family life during carava holidays. We’ve given extra points to products, however simple or complex, if they perform their task well. 

In this review we’re shining the spotlight on the Outwell Drying Rack, which costs a very reasonable £24.99.

It’s not often that Outwell beats the competition on price, but this is the cheapest of three freestanding rotary models on the market and we reckon it’s the best. Supplied with pegs and hook rings, this unit is designed to be nailed to the ground, so you can make the most of any strong breezes.

In theory you could use the Outwell Drying Rack inside, but that’s only really practical in the corner of a large awning; rotary airers are really big when they’re opened, giving almost 15m of drying space. As with all such models, the Outwell Drying Rack’s lines tend to go everywhere when the product is collapsed, and they can easily snag, making reopening tricky. Still, we like the Outwell’s clamped top hub, which allows you to tension the lines fully by forcing the hub down after the arms have been spread.