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Gear to Go

By Jules Older

Two things you should know about global warming:

  1. No, it’s not a Chinese plot; look out the window.
  2. It’s bringing ticks and chiggers to previously cold regions, i.e. where you hike and camp.

Thus, it’s ever more important to protect your body, your kids. That starts with long pants and long sleeves. But many resist the next level of protection, insect repellent. Why? Because most brands contain DEET, something folks fret about whether it’s harmful to skin and nerves.

One alternative is Proven — it’s non-toxic and DEET-free. And in my tests, it worked. On two excursions into thick tick country, I applied it to myself and my hiking buddies; we all stayed tick-free, bite-free and sting-free.

While we’re talking about staying healthy, do you ever wish you could take your oral irrigator, a.k.a. water flosser, a.k.a. Waterpik when you travel? Now, you can. The Waterpik Sidekick is small enough and light enough to go with you. And to use in small bathrooms at home or on the road. I’ve been testing it for more than a month — it works. $105-$150.

Something else you may want to take on your travels, the MyCharge UNPLUGGED10K. It’s a wireless powerbank that charges all cellphones, and late-models, wirelessly. What sets it apart from a gazillion other powerbanks is its speed. I’ve never tested a charger that’s as fast. And charges up to three devices from the wall outlet, in the car or from your computer. It retails for $70 but sells for under $45 on Amazon.

Surely, one of the great inventions of our time is that little charger that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter. It replaces the electronic brick that’s lived under the front seat for two decades — and it finally creates a use for that appendix of automotive design, the cigarette lighter. The Vano 3 Port USB Car Charger is fast, light, small and $13 cheap on Amazon.

That not cheap enough for you? Here’s an under-ten-buck item. My footwear band of choice is Salomon because they fit my foot (the first and foremost reason you should choose shoes or boots) and because they come with tie-free laces.

Or rather, they used to. Now, I have to buy them separately. Not pleased.

But very pleased with the Nathan Run Laces I bought to replace them. I’ve pounded them through dirt, forced them up endless stairs, wallowed them in mud. They keep on holding. Highly recommended.

Backpacks. Last year I dissed a couple because they didn’t have the two things folks need today — easy access to your water bottle and cellphone.

Isn’t it nice when somebody listens? Eagle Creek’s Wayfinder comes with access to both. Plus, a semi-secret pocket for valuables. Plus, a dedicated laptop compartment. Plus, a fleece-lined pocket for sunglasses. Plus, an outstanding guarantee. Wayfinders come in three sizes: 40 L, 30L  and 20 L. Unless you need to carry a bowling ball and a watermelon, go for the 20. $79

Eagle Creek also makes my favorite kind of travel bag for skiers, bikers and family packers, a wheeled duffel big enough to carry boots, helmet, parka, pants, gloves, toys, dolls — you get the picture. What’s more, the Gear Warrior 34is made of PVC-free, repurposed plastic bottles. $319

I’ve tried mightily to find a use for the Pelican GoCase, and this is all I came up with: It keeps your cellphone dry and dust-free, so if you’re in the Sahara or kayaking Foveaux Strait, it might come in handy. But since it’s kinda big to backpack or stick in your carry-on, not much else. $30-40


Finally, there’s this. Every year I try to find a product that’s so insane, I can’t resist writing about it. This year, it found me. The press release read, “Finding the perfect travel clothes can be difficult, because only so much fits into a suitcase, but you never know when you’ll need a certain style. This leads to overpacking and sometimes bringing along items that still don’t work for what you need. MagnaReady—a clothing line that replaces buttons with a powerful patented magnetic closure system—provides a shirt that can double for both formal and casual wear, whether you’re headed to a fancy dinner or to the ocean for a calm beach day, this shirt can do it all—completing eliminating the hassle of buttons and overpacking. Would you like to learn more about the must-have shirt for travelers?”

Well, hell yeah. MagnaReady sent me a sample. It’s well made, good looking, and closes with magnets, not buttons. Only three issues:

  1. I have no idea how this relates to travel. Disability, yes. Overpacking? No.
  2. As my contact at the airport said, “They’re going to love you at the security checkpoint.”
  3. See the photo.

Jules Older’s travel ebook is DEATH BY TARTAR SAUCE. His find-a-home ebook is TAKE ME HOME: How to Rent or Buy in a Hot Home Market.


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