Travel Essentials For the Discerning Vagabond

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, October 1995

Travel Essentials For the Discerning Vagabond

Just when you think you've thought of everything, you discover an ingenious solution to a travel problem you'd decided to live with. A few revelations.
By Bob Howells

Sangean ATS606P World Band Radio
It dazzles as a tiny (3.5 by 5.5 inches) AM/FM stereo shortwave radio that at $249 can pull in such international faves as Voice of the Andes and Radio Moscow. But don't overlook local stations: There's a feature that automatically scans and assigns presets to the strongest AM and FM signals in any town. Plus doze-off timer and dual alarms (music or buzzer) will save you the trouble of packing a travel clock. Globe-trotters will appreciate the multiplug adapter that draws current most anywhere. Sangean America, 2651 Troy Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733; 800-949-5063.

Shaun Jackson Design Hanger-Organizer
For that one decent outfit you don't want duffel-stuffed: At the heart of the sweetest, lightest (one pound) garment system we've seen is a hanging bag ($149) with multiple mesh compartments so you can see what you've packed. The top compartment fills out with shaped-to-fit toilet kits, forming a perfect mold for hanging a jacket. It then tri-folds to carry-on size and totes with a (truly) nonslip shoulder strap. Shaun Jackson Design, 301 Golfview Lane, Ann Arbor, MI 48103; 313-662-2828.

Timex Data Link Watch
Which camp do you fit in? The scatterbrained among us, who ink reminders and phone numbers on the backs of our hands, or the info-retentive, who use a scheduling program on their PCs? The Data Link Watch ($130) will please both: A glance at the wrist informs you of appointments, phone numbers, memos, and more--with nary a smear of epidermal ink. The data gets there via an idiot-proof program (included, or you can use Microsoft Schedule+) that runs with Windows or Windows 95. Input info into your computer and hold your wrist to the screen: What you put in magically beams aboard the watch. Yes, it tells time, too. Timex, Box 310, Middlebury, CT 06762; 800-367-8463.

MontBell Versalite Jacket
Whatever the chance of rain where you're going, there's a 50 percent probability you'll go without raingear (too bulky, too hot, you don't have any), and it's even more likely that you'll regret it. Instead, find a nook in your duffel for MontBell's Versalite jacket ($159)--it stuffs inside a zucchini-size pouch and weighs just 8.5 ounces. Yet it's a hooded, truly waterproof-breathable, butt-length parka that's seamless in the shoulders, seam-sealed everywhere else. MontBell, 940 41st Ave., Santa Cruz, CA 95062; 800-683-2002.

NEOS Performance Overshoes
Don't chuck your mountaineering boots just yet, but these new high-tech galoshes are a great alternative when you're going easy through yucky stuff. Slip the lightweight overshoes over your tennies, dress shoes, or comfy-but-leaky day hikers; they'll be impervious to rain, mud, or snow (and perfect for snowshoeing). A lugged, soft-rubber outsole is mated to a urethane-coated Cordura upper that triple-seals over your shoes by way of a zipper (in the high model only), a Velcro-closing storm flap, and a cinch-down strap across the instep. Comes in low-cut ($50) or high ($60)--each slips into a water-resistant stuffsack. From NEOS, Box 603, Middlebury, VT 05753; 802-388-0808.

Zing SLR Camera Cover and Harness
What amounts to a wetsuit for your camer a means you don't have to baby your SLR in the field--and a dedicated harness that works like a Snugli keeps it steady, even if you're not. The thick neoprene cover ($34 standard, $36 for a zoom lens) is form-fit stretchy, protects from the elements (though not a downpour), and absorbs shock (but not big knocks). The four-strap chest harness with cover ($39) is a no-jostle deal for skiing or hiking that keeps your camera at the ready. Travelsmith, 3140 Kerner Blvd., San Rafael, CA 94901; 800-950-1600.

Flojos ATM Sandals
Call 'em hiking shoes with air-conditioning or river sandals with trail aspirations. For the rocky hike down to a secret snorkeling spot, the ATM, now in black ($70), has a deep-tread rubber outsole; a cushy, sculpted, running-shoe midsole; a closed toe; and a buckle-fastened matrix of nubuck leather to secure the foot. Yet it's all plenty open, perforated, cool, neoprene-lined, and waterproof. Slosh away--then walk away. Flojos, 9235 Brown Deer Road, San Diego, CA 92121; 800-443-5656.

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