The right gear can make or break a trip — so travel prepared. Here are 3 essential items of travel gear I’ve come to rely on.
In This Gear Article You Will Discover:
- The Perfect Traveller’s Backpack
- A Hard-Core Mobile Phone
- The Ultimate Warm-Weather Shoe
Finding the best gear is tough — and it hurts to spend your hard-earned cash on something that doesn’t measure up. Here are three items I’ve tested out and approved:
No affiliate links or paid adverts — just honest opinions!
Backpack: MEC Supercontinent 65 ($165)
I’ve found MEC’s traveller-specific Supercontinent 65 to be fully outfitted with adventure travel function. And this pack is built for real travel — hostels, not hotels; mountain treks, not shopping trips. Handy features include twin aluminum stays; external compression straps; more storage pockets than I knew what to do with (including two on the hip-strap); a built-in safety whistle; separate sleeping-bag storage compartment (which I packed full of dirty laundry); full-length zippers (no stuffing and re-stuffing); expansion zones adding 11 litres of capacity; and a detachable daypack (that can attach to the front-straps or the rear). The bag also has handy internal compression straps that I found invaluable for securing my over-load as well as a zip-up mesh pocket for toiletries and sundry. Perhaps best of all, the Supercontinent has a zip-over flap that conceals the backpack straps and gives a “sport bag” look to the whole package; great for airline travel. Comes in S/M (61-71L) and M/L (68-77L).
Phone: Samsung Rugby III (approx. $80-$250, plan dependent)
I know what you’re thinking — a flip-phone? They still make those? In a world of iPhones and Galaxy Tabs, Samsung’s new Rugby III looks like a bit of a throwback, but I’ve found this unit worthy of occupying space in my carry on. First off, it’s military-tested and designed to withstand a 1.2-metre drop (trust me, it can handle more than that), water-soakings (rainstorm tested, not submersible), sandstorms, extreme heat and cold and altitudes of 5,000 metres or more. Think about how you covet your iPhone and consider the usefulness of a travel-specific mobile phone that can take a serious beating. I threw mine in a beach bag — along with wet towels and sandy shoes — for a week straight while in Hawaii. No harm done. Tech specs are simple: 3mp camera; 3GP/MPEG4 video recording; 6cm internal screen/3.3cm external screen; micro SD; SIM card; music player; e-compass; Bluetooth connectivity; and, thanks to its simplicity and heavy-duty battery, extreme life — up to nine hours of talk time/20 days standby. The speaker is superior to many smartphones, thanks to noise-reduction technology — and the external speakerphone is the best I’ve ever heard. While it has a web browser, smartphone users will find it clunky — this is a talk-and-text phone primarily. And therein lies perhaps its best feature — rather than receiving emails and Facebook updates while you’re trying to unwind, this phone offers simple, tough, no-brainer communication without all the clutter. It’s like a “burner” you don’t have to burn.
Shoe: Sanuk Baseline Checked Out ($60)
Oh, how I love my Sanuks. While I have specifically fallen for the Baseline Checked Out model, anything from their Sidewalk Surfers lineup should be equally fetching. Why are these the ultimate travel shoe? They’re all-day comfortable; slip-on/slip-off (great for airport security); light enough for hot days yet offer decent cool-night/bug protection; and you can dress them up or wear them to the beach. They’ve all-but replaced flip-flops in my travel bag — who needs that annoying “flipping” and “flopping” anyway? The salesman I dealt with was sure to remind me not to wear them in saltwater — they are a midway point between shoes and sandals, not a water shoe — but they are useful for most other light-duty applications. My only complaint is that they can get pretty stinky after a few days sans-sock — but maybe that’s, ahem, more user-specific than anything else…