As a female travel writer, I’m always looking for ways to be self-sufficient, especially when I’m on the road—doubly so during the current pandemic.
Regardless of whether I’m taking a weekend road trip or a two-week car adventure, these six pieces of gear go with me. They provide reassurance, confidence, and the knowledge that I’m prepared and ready to handle anything that comes my way.
Uncharted Supply Co. Zeus Power Bank ($150)
It may be small (about the size of a brick), but the Zeus packs a mighty punch. This portable battery can jump-start even large diesel trucks multiple times on one charge, limiting contact with others during the pandemic. Just hook the included jumper cables to the charged battery and then your car and—boom—you’ve got power. Thankfully, my car battery has never needed restarting, but the built-in flashlight has come in handy, and the USB port is a great cell-phone charger.
Leatherman Wave+ Multitool ($100)
The Wave+ has a permanent address in my purse. Leatherman’s most popular multitool, it has 17 implements in one: pliers, wire cutters, knives, scissors, a saw, files, drivers, a ruler, a can and bottle opener, an electrical crimper, and a wire stripper. I mostly use the knives, often to slice food or cut paracord for a tarp setup, but also frequently the scissors, to cut duct tape, and the can opener, to access food. Whether I need to start a fire, fix a motor, or perform first aid, this product has an instrument—if not two—for that.
CrazyCap Water Bottle ($69)
Recently, I didn’t quite pack enough water on a 7.5-mile hike in south Texas, but I wasn’t too worried, because I had the CrazyCap water bottle, a stainless-steel vessel that sterilizes liquid using an incorporated UV LED light in the cap. If you’ve filled your bottle at a questionable pond or rest-stop fountain, all it takes is two taps on the top of the lid and the UV light kills viruses, pathogens, and bacteria in a minute—without changing the taste of the water. It doesn’t filter out sediment, but it’s a good choice when you’re in a pinch or in an area where water may not be the most sanitary. Bonus: the company claims you can unscrew the cap and use it to kill bacteria on your phone, door handles, or steering wheel.
Garmin Women of Adventure Fenix 6S Solar Pro Watch ($800)
The Women of Adventure Fenix 6S Solar Pro watch is the best companion on a road trip. It tracks my heart rate, pulse oxygen, respiration, sleep, and temperature—which all help me monitor my health while traveling. It also offers detailed maps of remote areas, and the smaller size fits my wrist well. When you start tracking an activity on the watch, like a hike or a run, it sends a live link of your location to loved ones. Unlike other sports watches I’ve used, this one lasts at least four days without charging, thanks to a built-in solar lens.
Taiga Terra Cooler ($199)
This cooler is a lifesaver. I only had to refill it with ice three times during an 11-day road trip, saving me money and limiting the number of times I had to make gas-station pit stops. Not too big and not too small, the 27-quart chest fits easily onto the backseat of my car. It held 12 cans, a package of bacon, cheese, and a six-pack of eggs with some room to spare, and it’s made from 20 percent hemp-filled polypropylene.
Smart Travel Adventure Medical Kit ($50)
Travelers can be prepared for any medical emergency with the Smart Travel Adventure medical kit. Filled with 69 items, including bandages, dressings, gels, forceps, a thermometer, medication, wound care, and dehydration packets, this tool kit can take care of minor and major injuries or health concerns. I’m partial to the kit’s how-to guide, which provides useful information like prescription dosages and tips for assessing the severity of various injuries. But perhaps the best perk is it only weighs just over a pound, so I had no trouble carrying it in my backpack during a five-hour hike.