Archive for May, 2009

Summer Travel Gear, Part 2

May 29, 2009

In the first installment of this two-part series, I profiled some cool new high-tech travel products.  Now let’s take a look at some of the low-tech items I’ve been testing that I think will make your summer adventures easier and more enjoyable:

TQ7-ORN-300Spire USA Bags

Okay, I admit I’m a bag freak.  From day-bags (“man purses,” my wife calls them) to suitcases, my office is littered with product samples.  But the two carry-on bags from Spire USA that I’ve been testing for the past several months have become my new favorites.  Both the sleek messenger-style Endo and the Torq backpack combine rugged construction and top-quality materials with roomy, laptop-friendly interiors and well thought-out design details.  Bottom line: These two bags and I will be spending a lot of time together this summer, while my previous go-to carry-ons sit gathering dust in the corner.

1241-0616_9999ExOfficio Travel Underwear

Okay, I realize underwear isn’t something one normally discusses in polite company, much less raves about.  But these specially-designed dainties from the adventure-savvy folks at ExOfficio have really impressed me in my recent travels.  They’re plenty comfortable and seem to be well-made, but the big selling point here is the fact that you can wash them in the hotel sink at night and feel confident they’ll be dry by morning.  Which means you’ll be able to travel for weeks at a time with just a few pairs. 

peppered_bacon_jerkyBacon Freak Bacon Jerky

Remember that old Motown song that went “If loving you is wrong, I don’t wanna be right”?  Well, that pretty much sums up how I feel about this new snack food from  Given the fact that bacon is the one thing standing between me and a vegetarian diet, it should come as no surprise that I love this portable bacon snack.  All five different flavors (Peppered, Cajun, Honey BBQ, Jalapeño, and Summer Tomato BLT) are dee-lish and come in their own re-sealable pouch that’s easy to throw in your carry-on for a little protein pick-me-up in the middle of a five-hour plane ride.  Their slogan says it all: Bacon Is Meat Candy!

For more of my favorite adventure travel gear, check out’s Stuff page.


Adventure Fitness

May 21, 2009

w46-whitewater-rafting-action-300Whether I’m at home or on the road, I make it a point to hit the gym five or six days a week.  While this means I’m probably in better shape than your average couch potato, I’m not ashamed to admit that several of the adventures on my long list of extraordinary experiences (spelunking, surfing, and air combat come immediately to mind) have flat-out kicked my butt

Now, I’ve got to believe I’m not the only one who’s ever found themselves in this situation.  Which makes me wonder why it’s taken so long for someone to dream up an adventure travel fitness regimen like Fit For Trips.  The program consists of 4-, 8-, or 12-week online courses specifically tailored to the type of adventure you have planned, from mountain biking to sea kayaking.  All designed to help you build both the physical strength and endurance you’ll need to get the most out of your outdoor vacation.

Programs start at just $169, and there’s a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.  Which raises the question, what are you waiting for?

Summer Travel Gear, Part 1

May 13, 2009

I know the summer travel season is still a couple of weeks away.  But I’ve been thinking ahead, and have spent the last few months looking at a wide array of interesting new products designed to help you make the most out of your upcoming adventures.

In this installment, I’ll focus on some of my favorite new high-tech toys, all of which probably offer significant advantages over what you’re using now at  surprisingly affordable prices:

1363_overviewOlympus 1030SW Digital Camera:

Here’s an immutable law of nature you’ll do well to remember this summer:  Water and digital cameras do not mix.  Unless of course we’re talking about the Olympus 1030SW.  I’ve taken this easily pocketable 10.1-megapixel point-and-shoot on a long list of adventures over the past few months and put its seemingly outrageous claims—that it’s waterproof down to 33 feet and can withstand drops from more than 6 feet—to the test snorkeling with manatees, bouncing along on a Mardi Gras float, and more.  Picture and video quality are pretty darn good by point-and-shoot standards, but it’s the freedom it offers to take pix wherever and wherever you choose that has earned it a place in my carry-on this summer. 

intro-moviesandtv20080909Apple iPod Touch

I know, I know, the iPhone is the must-have gadget right now.  But what if you’re like me and have a cell phone service provider you’re happy with?  Enter the iPod Touch, which offers many of the iPhone’s coolest features without requiring you to switch carriers.  The 16GB iPod Touch I’ve been testing for the past several months pairs substantial storage capacity with a large, bright screen that’s actually big enough to enjoy movies and TV shows in flight.  Back on the ground, the built-in wi-fi access allows me to check my email, surf the web, listen to my favorite internet radio stations, and more.  And then there are all the free and bargain-priced add-on applications offered in the iTunes Store—so many that if you can’t find an app there that does what you want to do, well, you probably don’t need to do it.  Highly recommended.

getProdImageMagellan Maestro 4250 Navigation System

Wherever your travels take you this summer, sooner or later you’re going to need directions.  While I’m old-school enough that I still occasionally pack the trusty AAA maps and Tourbooks I’ve relied on for years, Magellan’s Maestro line of portable GPS navigation systems has made the printed versions largely obsolete.  Units like the Maestro 4250 I’ve been testing cram top-quality maps of the U.S. and Canada and all the lodging and restaurant info contained in those AAA Tourbooks into a package that’s small enough to slip into a shirt pocket.  What really sets this unit apart from many other GPS units I’ve tested, however, is the big, easy-to-read 4.3-inch color LCD touch-screen and the intuitive user interface that makes its many features super-easy to, ahem, navigate.

NEXT TIME:  Low-tech products you don’t wanna leave home without.


Amateur Assassins

May 5, 2009

293.damon.bourne.072607Like reading those adventure novels where cold, calculating assassins stalk their prey and every move could be your last? 

Now you can have a non-lethal go at living the life of an action hero with StreetWars, a three-week-long adventure game where your goal is to assassinate your targets with water pistol, water balloon, or Supersoaker until you’re (hopefully) the last player standing.  The winner takes home a small pile of cash and some serious bragging rights.

The next round of this traveling adventure game is scheduled from June 1st-22nd in New York City.  To register, go to the StreetWars website.  And good luck—you’re going to need it!