Outside magazine, February 1996
Once you've got your travel bag, you're just a few gizmotchies away from becoming a well-honed traveling machine. Start with something to hold your shampoo et al. in style. High Sierra's Master Bath Toiletry Kit ($25) is bigger than most at 12.5 by 6.5 by 3 inches, is fully lined to keep spilled mouthwash from mingling with your undies, and has three compartments that drop down so that you can hang the kit from a buckled nylon strap in the shower. Eagle Creek's Travel Toiletry Kit ($20) is more compact (9 by 5 by 4.5), padded, and adds a small detachable mirror. From High Sierra, 800-424-7627, and Eagle Creek, 800-874-9925. There are a couple of ways to deal with free-floating travel ephemera like money and tickets: One is the safer pouch-around-the-neck approach, such as Jansport's Security Ticket Holder (8.5 by 4.5; $9). Two is a belt bag, which I prefer for the greater capacity and more comfortable carry. Lowe's Waistbelt Organizer (9.5 by 5.5 by 5; $20) has a zippered place for everything, which means your vitals don't all come tumbling out at you at once when you open it. From Jansport, 800-346-8239, and Lowe, 303-465-0522.
In the carrying-comfort department, even some good travel bags have bad shoulder straps for traversing major airports. The cure: a Caribou Hip Shoulder Pillow ($11.50), a no-slip pad that goes over any strap to soften the ride. From Caribou, 800-824-4153.
Don't count on a padlock to secure your pack, but a small one through the zippers can deter amateur sticky fingers. Eagle Creek makes locks in keyed-alike pairs ($5) or with a three-number combination ($7). To tether a pack to, say, your train couchette, Eagle Creek also offers a lightweight, 42-inch, retractable steel cable combination lock ($17). One problem, however, with the combination locks: Any clever klepto who's had some petty theft experience can change the magic numbers with little effort in little time.
I spurn travel alarms because my Timex Ironman Triathlon watch with Indiglo nightlight and alarm works just great ($43-$55). But I do always pack a Victorinox Traveler's Kit ($95), a multiblade Swiss Army wonder knife that beds in a pouch with a tiny Maglite flashlight and a compass/thermometer. From Timex, 800-367-8463, and Victorinox, 800-442-2706.