May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine

Far-Flung Adventures, Summer 1998


All the right travel gadgets
By Bob Howells

Eagle Creek Cargo Gear Bag
Sojourning without the sport-ute takes a few ticks off the family checklist. Sorry — the badminton set stays behind. But every duffel has space for a few select gadgets to grease the sometimes sticky skids of travel. If not indispensable, everything here has at least been field proven to combine both practicality and amusement value — traits highly prized when you're shepherding small troops on the road.

Victorinox Swiss Tool
Duffels and convertible packs are the most versatile carriers — duffels are light and easy to pack; convertibles give you the option of a backpack-carry when you need it. Eagle Creek's large Cargo Gear Bag (3,600 cubic inches, $110) is a Cordura duffel with zippered end compartments to put muddy shoes in isolation, a big side pocket for small items, and a horseshoe zipper for easy access to the main compartment. The Atlantic (2,900 cubic inches, $179) from Pangaea by Kelty has what you need in a convertible — backpack straps that zip away for a suitcase-carry, a molded foam waistbelt for support, and a roomy panel-opening main compartment — plus extras: side pockets that tuck away if you don't need their extra capacity and a front pocket that's also a removable daypack.

Pentax FB-10 Binoculars
Then there's the inevitable ephemera that must be carried. A fanny pack is the best way to organize and tote pens and notebooks, tickets and passports, wallet, sunglasses, and, OK, crayons. The North Face Essentials Hip Pack ($24) from the company's new Adventure Travel Accessories line is a streamlined model with zippered main compartment, a secondary compartment, and an inside mesh pouch with key clip. There'll be plenty of room inside (or in your shirt pocket, for that matter) for Pentax's new FB-10 binoculars ($310), 4.5 ounces of crisp 10-power magnification in a unit the size of a pack of cards.

Oregon Scientific Weather Clock and Grundig Traveller II Digital Shortwave Radio
No hardware is more necessary than a flashlight, but aren't we all tired of drooling while doing the old mouth-hold? Hands-free is the solution, and Princeton Tec's Solo Headlamp ($32) is state-of-the-art, with padding at the forehead and interchangeable reflectors to focus or broaden the beam.

Murphy and his legal code often go on the road with us; a multitool can bail us out. The Victorinox SwissTool ($80) is that neutral-but-efficient army's wonder gizmo, with pliers, saws, can openers, wire cutters, even a couple of knife blades, among its 23 features. If you already own the progenitor of the multitool species, the Leatherman, extend its handiness even more by adding the new Adapter ($27).

Coghlan's Survival Kit-in-a-Can
It slips over the aft end of the jaws of any Leatherman's pliers, locks into three different positions, and includes a half-dozen bits — Phillips, slotted, the works. If the going really gets rough, you'll be glad to have Coghlan's Survival Kit-in-a-Can ($11): a wondrous assortment of 38 essentials like fishing line, compass, waterproof matches and fire starter, signal mirror, and more, all tucked into a sardine can, sans fish. For emergencies of a different nature, carry some Easi Pee plastic pouches from Marconi Group ($5 for three) — sort of like cat litter in a zip-locking bag, it's the way to go when there's nowhere to go.

Princeton Tec Solo Headlamp
Kids and the curious dig a shortwave radio when away from home. Even when not reeling in Zambian news or Tasmanian weather, the Grundig Traveller II Digital shortwave receiver ($110) has a 20-frequency memory into which you can store your favorites, and it's an AM/FM clock radio as well. Packing the Oregon Scientific Weather Clock from Liberty Mountain Sports ($54) is like traveling with Willard Scott: It displays a friendly graphical weather forecast, visible even in the dark with a push of a button, in addition to the usual alarm functions.

Finally, a couple of indispensables for dealing with the funky hygenics of travel: Shower 'n Towels ($2 each) are oversize, alcohol-free towelettes for a full-body cleaning during those showerless days between destinations, and a glob of Purell Instant Hand Sanitizer from a two-ounce squeeze bottle ($1.50) is the most inexpensive traveler's health insurance you can find.

Photographs by Clay Ellis

Copyright 1998, Outside magazine

©2000, Mariah Media Inc.

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