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Gear to Go

By Jules Older

I know it’s unusual to start a gear guide for travelers with a book, but I’m tripling down with not one, not two, but three books. All will resonate with travelers, and one, with skiers.

The first is Travel with Purpose: A Field Guide To Voluntourism by Jeff Blumenfeld. It’s of great use to anyone who wants to turn a vacation into a good deed. Those deeds extend from next door all the way to Nepal. Priced from $13 to $34.

The second book is a gorgeously photographed and elegantly authored coffee table tome, The Art of Looking Up by Catherine McCormack. It’s also of great use in that it both teaches and reminds us to see, to notice, to observe. McCormack takes us to ceiling art in Turkey, Japan, England, Las Vegas and, of course, the Sistine Chapel. And at under $40, it’s not only beautiful, it’s a beautiful bargain.

Finally, for skiers, consider James Niehues’ Man Behind the Maps. Niehues is indeed the man behind all those trail maps you tucked into your parka pocket in Vermont and Colorado, Utah and California, plus more, more, more. $90 from  https://jamesniehues.com/pages/the-man-behind-the-map.

When I take off for any place where I’m concerned about the quality of the drinking water, I carry a LifeStraw Go water bottle with 2-stage filtration. While I might fill it from a suspect tap, other more adventurous souls dunk it in a muddy stream or bilious puddle and sip with confidence. The cost of this safety? $28 to $40; check for sales.

Most folks wear ski underwear for skiing. And only skiing. That’s a mistake. All but heavyweight underlayers are the start of layering that keeps you warm and dry on the Great Wall of China or the drizzly streets of Paris, as well as high on snowy peaks. Point6 midweight base layer is 100% Merino wool, which is why it not only kept me warm and dry but also itch-free on a chilly November morn climbing the Great Wall. Haven’t tried it in Gay Paree, but I’m confident it will work there, too. About $100 each for top and bottom.


The best thing about EarFun Wireless Earbuds isn’t the price, though $80 reduced to $50 is appealing. The best thing isn’t the sound, though, while not quadraphonic quality, it’s well within acceptable limits. No, the best thing is that EarFuns sit comfortably in even hard-to-fit ears like mine. What I also appreciate is that they don’t cancel out ambient sound, so I can still hear the motorbike or snowboarder hurtling toward me.


When it comes to sunglasses, I’m torn. Should I go high-end or cheap ‘n low? At three-digit prices, Serengeti Sunglasses are definitely high. The Corleone costs upward from $160. But, it’s good looking, Polarized, feather-light and sharp ‘n clear.

This guide opened with gifts for the mind; let it end at the other, well, end. Also, up till now, it’s been gear to go. This one’s about stuff that went. Let me explain.

Before I left for my first trip to Japan, my appraisal of the Japanese toilet seat was, “Who on earth would want one?” When I left Japan, I wanted to wrench my host’s seat from its porcelain moorings and sneak it into my suitcase.

Now, you don’t have to do that. OMIGO has come out with a Japanese-seat-lite that is available on these shores and doesn’t require a major investment in plumbing, much less theft from a Japanese friend. It warms, dries, cleans and … and watch the video. Prices vary by model, but you can get one for under $400.



Jules Older is author and publisher of the ebooks, DEATH BY TARTAR SAUCE: A Travel Writer Encounters Gargantuan Gators, Irksome Offspring, Murderous Mayonnaise & True Love and SKIING THE EDGE: Humor, Humiliation, Holiness and Heart

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  1. Dave Fonda
    December 30, 2019 at 4:19 pm — Reply

    Thank you Dr. Older. Your travel tips, pithy reviews and sound advice are always most very welcome. While your reviews came in a tad too late for Christmas, I now know exactly what I need for my birthday.

  2. January 1, 2020 at 7:39 pm — Reply

    Birthday — the perfect time for gear gifts. Also: New year, Kwanza, winter, daylight savings time, unbirthdays. Try ’em all — I do.

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