05.The great outdoors
Everdure Buddy Patio NBUDLPC-09 ($299) One of the best things about a summer Christmas are the beer-and-barbie parties. The only downside is the setting up and clean up afterwards. The Everdure scored very well for roasting a chicken, cooking sausages, marinated chicken wing and steaks. It has a small cooking area - well-suited for balcony and the occasional picnic - but is the most fuel efficient BBQ of the 15 we recently tested. Its non-stick cooking surface is a big plus - you'll have none of those burnt meat bits, less of the BBQ smoke in your face and cleaning is a breeze. WIth a slanted hotplate and griddle plate that drains away the oil, it's a BBQ without the mess and unnecessary fat.
Weber Family Q300 ($799) If you're considering something a bit more robust (but more than double the price) the Weber Family Q300 delivers on value. Although it has a slightly smaller cooking area than the other large BBQs, it’s excellent evenness means the whole cooking surface is effective. Of the larger barbecues, it has the smallest carbon footprint and no barbecue smoke is directed into your face while cooking. It's excellent for roasting a chicken, grilling chicken wings, sausages and steaks. Though it's a larger-sized barbecue, its side tables fold away when not needed and it's easy to manoevre around. See our full report on barbecues and read about barbecue safety.
Coleman 47L Wheeled Cooler ($120)
Most people assume coolers are leak-proof; at the very least, the hard ones. We discovered it's not true, so you should make sure this is a key feature to consider when buying a cooler. The Coleman is leak-proof and has a drain hole that saves you the effort of having to tip melted ice to clean the cooler. It also has pull handles and wheels - similar to those on your hard travel suitcase - which makes it easy to drag around. Of the 11 soft and hard eskies we tested, the Coleman is one of the coolest; it clocked up the most time (29 minutes) for the temperature to rise from five to eight degrees. Read the full report on coolers
Torpedo Omega ($7/only at Kmart) While the herd's going with the big brands, we discovered this stand-out cheapie (pictured right), which set the gold standard for watertightness in our goggles user trial. The other surprise find is the Tyr Stealth 2 ($13), which has silicone eyecups and straps and scored second-highest for watertightness.
Read the full report on goggles.
Ride On, the Bicycle Victoria magazine, tested 18 front lights, 12 rear lights and five combination sets to find the best and brightest.
Basta Polaris 5 BA3C (front lights, $40) The front light features five super bright white Japanese LED bulbs with flashing and steady modes, with over 800 metres visibility and chalks up to 120 hours of run time. It's water-resistant and easy to mount for handlebars between 25.4mm and 31.8mm.
Cateye TL-LD610-R (rear lights, $60) The new TL-LD610 is slimmer and brighter than its predecessor, with five LEDs and three modes that maximise your visibility. The FlexTight bracket fits all bikes and mounts horizontally or vertically to maximise adaptability.
Cateye EL135 / LD130R (combination set, $75) The combination sets include a front and rear light. The lights from the combination sets were assessed individually, and their scores added together to see which were best. Overall the combination sets performed well and generally offer good value for money compared with buying front and rear lights separately. We found a similar combination set at just $44 at an online store.
Kryptonite Evolution Series 4 ($100) This D-lock scored full marks for the tough steel it's made of - 14mm hardened steel shackle and a double deadbolt mechanism that resists cutting. Experts from Bicycle Victoria tested five D-locks (including the Kryptonite) and five armoured cable locks to see how theft-resistant they were. They used a jemmy bar, hammer, hacksaw, 24-inch bolt cutters and an angle grinder to try and break each lock and found that D-locks are better than armoured cable locks.
See our full report on bike accessories.
Magna Summer Blast 16” ($119)
This bike is as good as its name suggests - it passed all our safety tests and has paddings on its handlebars. The bike makes an impression with its bright pink frame, which is also very solid. The quick release catch on the seat pillar allows for easy adjustment of the seat. Most children's bikes come in 16in or 20in (the measurement referes to the diameter of the bike's wheels). The 16in comes with traning wheels. Find out how you can determine a right fit here
Magna Stranded 20” ($129) The boy version of the Summer Blast also passed all our safety tests and comes with a pouch on its handlebar and kickstand included. It also comes with a front pouch that's useful for storing a water bottle. Read the full report on kids' bikes.