GearTools & Tech

The 6 Best Travel Gadgets of Summer 2012

AT&T Pantech Element (Photo: Courtesy of AT&T Pantech)
AT&T Pantech Element

AT&T Pantech Element tablet

The fact that this new Android 8.3-inch tablet (1.5 inches shorter than an iPad) is waterproof—able to handle a 30-minute dunk three feet under the surface—is cool. Above-average graphics, 16GB of storage, front and rear cameras, and video are also nice. But, as with the new iPad, it’s the Pantech’s 4G LTE network capability (read: blazing download speeds) that we liked best.

Grace Digital Audio Eco Terra Boom Box

Grace Digital Audio Eco Terra
Grace Digital Audio Eco Terra (Photo: Courtesy of Grace Digital Audio)

Though we can’t speak to the meaning of “Eco” here, this fully submersible, shockproof portable boom box is ideal for a raft or canoe trip or a relaxing day at the beach. At five pounds it’s not backpack fodder, but it will last longer (25 hours of play time from four C cells) and sound better than punier speakers. Compatible with any MP3 player or phone.

Mophie Juice Pack Outdoor Edition iPhone case/battery pack

Mophie Juice Pack Outdoor Edition iPhone case
Mophie Juice Pack Outdoor Edition iPhone case (Photo: Courtesy of Mophie)

Armor and extra power are always a good thing. Mophie’s Juice Pack doubles the battery life of your iPhone 4 or 4S while also adding a reassuring shell to protect it when (not if) you drop it. This bundled version also gives you a one-year subscription to a NeoTreks-powered Outdoor app that turns an iPhone into a GPS, with 650,000 trail maps of the lower 48 states.

Replay XD1080 Video Camera System

Replay XD1080
Replay XD1080 (Photo: Courtesy of Replay)

The GoPro revolution is finally spawning worthy wearable-camera rivals. At just 2.8 ounces, Replay’s featherweight XD1080 is one of the most impressive. The clamp-based mounting system feels solid, and video quality is about the same as GoPro’s. The audio is a clear step up, but the Replay’s interface isn’t quite as intuitive. Upshot: it’s a serious competitor.

Magellan eXplorist 110 GPS

Magellan eXplorist 110 GPS
Magellan eXplorist 110 GPS (Photo: Courtesy of Magellan)

You can pay five times as much for a GPS with all the extras. Or you can keep it simple with this mini (it’s small enough to wear around your neck), easy-to-use, full-color GPS, which comes preloaded with maps of more than 200 countries. Bonus: it runs on AA batteries, which you can find virtually anywhere. Bummer: no topo maps for wilderness areas.

SteriPen Freedom water purifier

SteriPen Freedom water purifier
SteriPen Freedom water purifier (Photo: Courtesy of SteriPen)

The latest iteration of SteriPen’s tiny (2.6-ounce) UV water purifier is the best yet. The Freedom can charge not only from the wall but also through a USB connection, letting you juice it up via a laptop or solar charger for 8,000 one-minute 16-ounce treatments.