When you’re planning a camping trip, especially an extended one, you have to think long and hard about what you need to take and how much value it will add to your trip. I keep a list of necessary gear in my shed. Anything that goes along on a trip and doesn’t add value to the camping finds itself wiped off.
Most of us at some time or other have packed stuff that hardly ever got used yet took up valuable space in the back of the vehicle/trailer/ or in the boat en route. Which is why a product, such as the Angler's Bucket Mate, serves a many uses yet takes up little room.
Straight out of the box the Bucket Mate appears to be a standard 20L bucket with some additional external fittings, yet there is a lot more to this product than meets the eye.
Starting with the external features (from the top) the first item is a nice padded cushion built onto the screw down lid, to serve as an extra seat around camp or while waiting for a bite. Attached to one side is a rod holder that is best suited to a beach or riverbank rod rather than a surf rod. The umbrella holder, also attached to the side, might also be used as a second (larger) rod holder if necessary.
There is also a knife sheath (the knife is provided in the unit), a ruler to measure whiting or bream, a fold-out drink holder, an attachment that an aerator clips onto, and a pliers sheath. What's more, there is a carry strap attached to the sides so it’s easy to cart around.
To get inside the Bucket Mate you just unscrew the padded lid. With the lid off, the fist thing that comes to hand is a handy cutting board that fits onto a lip just under the lid. The way the cutting board is set up allows you to immediately use it within the bucket or remove it via its finger tab for use elsewhere.
Next down into the unit is a cooler esky, with its own well-fitting lid and a carry harness. The cooler is large enough to be set up with food, frozen or fresh bait or whatever you need to keep cool. You can remove the cooler via a finger tab when you are not using the carry harness.
With the cooler removed the next item that comes to hand is a handy plastic sieve well suited for pumping yabbies (pink nippers) or for keeping them alive in the bucket with a bit of water over them.
Anyone who has kept these creatures for a while as bait – and they are especially tempting to bream, whiting and flathead – will know they will die very easily unless the water is changed regularly or an aerator is used to keep up the oxygen. So what's provided as part of the kit, and located within the sieve for convenience? An aerator of course, plus a pair of long-nosed pliers to help remove the hook from your catch. The pliers slip straight into their own external sheath on the bucket for easy use.
The manufacturers of this product have given more than a little thought to its intended use, especially where the aerator is concerned. I found that a very neat little half moon slot has been set up along the sides of the cutting board, as well as the cooler, to allow a bit of tubing to carry air from the aerator on the exterior of the bucket down to the sieve while it’s sitting in some water.
The lid will need to be off but with the cutting board, tackle tray and/or cooler down no water is likely to splash out should you need to carry the Bucket Mate with a livebait cargo for some distance. And yet with the accessories removed – apart from the rod and umbrella holders which are permanently fixed – the Angler's Bucket Mate is still a handy bucket to have around the camp, albeit one that can fulfil a lot of other roles.
As a last note I was impressed with the quality of the product, too, as all the fittings were neatly set up and of robust quality. I'd say that an investment in one of these handy items would be a long-term business. The cost is $59.90 and the umbrella is an extra $14.95.
The reviewed Angler's Bucket Mate was provided by Great Escape Camping Co. of Slacks Creek.Reads: 5499