Travel Essentials For the Discerning Vagabond

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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