The Best Cold Weather Gear to Up Your Car Camping Game This Winter

Camping is awesome, car camping is awesome. And, while challenging, car camping in the dead of winter can be just as awesome, assuming you have the right gear. Packing the best winter car camping gear can make spending long nights in the back of your car or SUV not only tolerable but actually comfortable. Here are four of my latest, must-have recommendations.

Best Winter Car Camping Gear

BioLite FirePit

BioLite FirePit - Wood Charcoal Burning Camping Firepit

BioLite FirePit – Wood Charcoal Burning Camping Firepit

There’s nothing better after a long day of hiking than relaxing around a blazing campfire. This is 100 times truer in the dead of winter. BioLite’s FirePit is the perfect campfire companion for car campers.

There’s a lot to love about BioLite’s flagship product. First off, the fact that it runs on both wood and charcoal make it incredibly versatile so, no matter where you find yourself, you’re virtually guaranteed access to a proper campfire. Even with the FirePit at full blaze, patented airflow technology keeps it well stoked and smoke-free. You can even control the size of the flames manually or via a free Bluetooth-enabled smartphone app. The mesh design means you have a 360-degree view of your fiery handiwork. That it can double as a hibachi-style grill makes it all the better!

BioLite FirePit Outdoor Smokeless Fire Pit and Grill

  • A smokeless wood-burning FirePit that can go from spark-to-fire in less than 30 seconds, cook your meals, and give you a front-row seat to everything going on inside your fire. Burn charcoal or wood for a hibachi-style grilling experience.
  • Airflow system has 4 fan speeds to control the intensity of your flames. Control fan intensity from the FirePit’s powerpack or from the free BioLite Energy App for Android and iOS
  • 10,400 mAh rechargeable battery powerpack with USB outputs for charging your devices
  • Enjoy the feeling of a 360-degree floating fire with the FirePit’s X-Ray Mesh and up to 24 hour burn time
  • Can be utilized as a smokeless grill, or for BBQ, or just as an outdoor fire pit. It’s perfect on the go, or in the backyard.

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

LEDLenser Flashlight

Of course, being surrounded by nature’s splendor does you no good if you can’t actually see it. It goes without saying that a proper headlamp is a must-pack for any camping trip. And a legit backup flashlight (“torch” for our U.K. friends) is every bit as important. It’s ideal for those tasks where directional lighting is critical.

LEDLenser MT10 Flashlight

LEDLenser MT10 Flashlight

For this, I’ve started packing LEDLenser’s MT10. It’s compact, puts out 1,000 lumens, is USB rechargeable, and features three illumination settings plus a strobe mode. Simple and straightforward. Because it’s manufactured under a subsidiary of the legendary Leatherman brand, it’s also durable as hell. For a beefier option, the LEDLenser MT18 pushes 3,000 lumens in case, ya know, you get really lost.

Ledlenser – MT10 Rechargeable Handheld Flashlight, High Power LED, 1000 Lumens, Lanyard and Sheath, Outdoor Series, Backpacking, Hiking, Camping

  • 1000 LUMENS STRONG: A powerful, high-performance flashlight built for the outdoors; Smart Light Technology features three programmable light functions (Power, Low Power, and Defense Strobe).
  • LONG-LASTING AND RECHARGEABLE: Provides 192 hours of light on a single charge; Quick recharge to 80% in 4 hours; USB charger for convenient powering up.
  • RAPID FOCUS: For seamless, crystal clear focusing on objects far and near; Patented Advanced Focus System provides optimal light transmission.
  • SMART FEATURES: Transportation lock prevents light from being turned on accidentally; Charge and battery indicator; Temperature Control System for maximum LED beam output.
  • 5-YEAR GUARANTEE: We take pride in the craftsmanship of our products – if your purchase has a defect in material or workmanship we’ll repair or replace it, at our discretion, with one of equal or greater value.

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Outdoor Vitals Sleeping Bag

The old adage of why you should buy a decent mattress (“Because you’ll spend almost one-third of your life on it!”) is just as true for your sleeping bag. I never, ever scrimp on my bedding. When I’m car camping, I appreciate the luxury of being able to pack a little more to make my nights more enjoyable.

Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag

Outdoor Vitals StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag

I’ve been loving Outdoor Vitals’ ultralight camp gear. Their StormLOFT Down MummyPod Sleeping Bag is everything you might need in a four-season sleeping bag. Most importantly, the 800 fill power hydrophobic down in the 15°F variety is good for all but the absolute coldest of nights (although Outdoor Vitals offers a 0°F alternative). Not only is it warm, but super soft and comfortable to boot.

I love the versatility of using it either as a traditional mummy sleeping bag or as an insulator for my camp hammock. And the YKK anti-snag zipper means you’ll never damage the sleeping bag or need to fumble with opening/closing it in the middle of the night because of a stuck zipper.

Outdoor Vitals Summit 0°F Premium Down Sleeping Bag, Certified Down, Ultralight, Compact, Free Compression Bag (Black)

  • NEW STORMLOFT DOWN INSULATION – UPDATED 2017: Certified 800+ fill power down both responsibly sourced and DWR treated. This means guaranteed quality down that is more resistant to moisture!
  • LIGHTEST WEIGHT MATERIALS: featuring our lightest weight fabrics and highest quality down. Just imagine the warmth when temperatures drop without packing more weight or bulk!
  • GRID BAFFLE DESIGN: the spacious grid baffle design locks the down into key places adding more down where you need it to optimize warmth!
  • SMALL IN YOUR PACK: not only will your back thank you for choosing premium ultralight materials, but these materials also compress smaller taking up less space in your backpack!
  • LIMITED LIFETIME WARRANTY: Here at Outdoor Vitals we believe you should get the high quality products you deserve. After you purchase, follow the simple instructions to activate your Lifetime Warranty!

Last updated: 2019-02-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Somewear Global Hotspot

Somewear Global Hotspot and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

Somewear Global Hotspot and Personal Locator Beacon (PLB)

I’ve been toying with the idea of a personal locator beacon (PLB) for a while now. Frankly, I’ve always shied away from PLBs because they’re typically expensive and often require pricey, long-term monthly/annual contracts. But, I was intrigued by Somewear.

While the unit itself is a not-unsubstantial investment at USD $349, they promise the most affordable Iridium data plans on the market. So, that takes some of the sting out of the initial purchase price. Plus, it offers global two-way texting, location sharing, weather updates, and SOS emergency services all with the touch of a few buttons. The device integrates with iOS and Android devices through a smartphone app that’s dead-simple to use. For a seamless, out-of-the-box experience, it doesn’t get much easier.

What are your recommendations for the best winter car camping gear?

Also, if you’re a travel or outdoor photographer, check out our picks for the best travel photography accessories of 2019 (so far …)!

The post The Best Cold Weather Gear to Up Your Car Camping Game This Winter appeared first on Vagabondish.

Gear Up with the Best Travel Photography Accessories of 2019 (so far …)

It’s only February, but 2019 is already shaping up to be another kickass year for innovative travel tech. For travel photogs, in particular, we’re practically living in a Golden Age. As proof, these four gadgets are among the best travel photography accessories of 2019 (so far …).

Best Travel Photography Accessories for 2019

Lume Cube AIR LED Light

Lume Cube AIR LED Light for Travel Photography

Floating Palm Feature Optional

Good lighting is critical to good photography. But, it can be tricky to find (or create) even half-way decent lighting while on the road. I’ve seen quite a few solutions, but none tackle mobile lighting as effortlessly as Lume Cube AIR. At roughly 1.5 inches square, it’s hardly bigger than a golf ball. It weighs next to nothing. It’s bright. And, perhaps most importantly, it’s inexpensive. It’s also waterproof down to 100 feet and drop-proof to boot.

All of which makes it one of the best travel photography accessories of the year. In my own experience, it’s a huge help with food photography as well (no more relying on your dinner-mates to “light up” your plates for all those Instagram shots!). Plus, the included white and orange (warming) diffusers make the latter a breeze with nice, soft lighting.

Lume Cube AIR LED Light for Photo, Video, and Content Creation

  • UNMATCHED LIGHT QUALITY & CUSTOM LENS – 5600K Color Temp, 90+/- CRI, 400 LUX @ 1M, 60º beam angle
  • COMPACT, WATERPROOF & DURABLE DESIGN – 1.625″ Tall, 2 oz, waterproof to 30 ft, made with tough rubber exterior
  • BLUETOOTH & APP CONTROL – Wirelessly control brightness, flash duration, mode, and check battery levels from the Lume-X App
  • BUILT-IN MAGNET – In addition to the 1/4 20 mounting thread, the AIR has a built in magnet to mount to new surfaces
  • IN-BOX ACCESSORIES (DIFFUSION INCLUDED) – Comes with both a warm and white diffuser, lanyard, and micro USB charging cable

Last updated: 2019-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Lensbaby Sol 45

Soft blur of the Lensbaby Sol 45

Lensbaby Sol 45’s Dreamlike Blur and Bokeh © Chris Zielecki

Lensbaby‘s line of creative camera lenses is a polarizing (pun intended) topic among photographers. Personally, I love the challenge of using them. There’s a steep learning curve, even for skilled photographers. But, the payoff can be tremendous. Sure, you can achieve similarly creative looks using mobile photo editor apps like VSCO and Lightroom. But, I’ve found that none quite capture the moody, dreamlike quality of Lensbaby.

River Rower Shot with Lensbaby Sol 45

River Rower Shot with Lensbaby Sol 45 © Leighton Phillips

One of the latest in their line is the Lensbaby Sol 45. The 45mm fixed f/3.5 selective focus lens creates a tack-sharp circular area of focus surrounded by pillowy soft blur and a heaping helping of bokeh. Even Lensbaby admits it’s not for everyone. But, the results are unlike any other creative lenses I’ve personally test-driven!

It’s available for every major camera brand, including Sony, Canon, Fuji, Nikon, and Pentax.

Sale

Lensbaby Sol 45 for Sony E

  • 45mm fixed f/3.5 Selective Focus Lens
  • Creative Bokeh Blades add creative effects and texture
  • 8.5º of tilt and center-focus locking ability
  • Focuses from 14inches to Infinity
  • 46mm Filter Threads

Last updated: 2019-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Peak Design Everyday Messenger 15″ (v2)

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Peak Design Everyday Messenger

Of course, the gear bag you choose is almost as important as what goes in it. When I first tested Peak Design’s original Everyday Messenger bag, I absolutely loved it. It was the most handsome, best-designed, most durable such bag I’d ever tested.

Peak Design Everyday Messenger (interior)

Peak Design Everyday Messenger (interior)

Peak Design recently returned with a reboot of the original that basically started it all for them. I’m happy to report the Everyday Messenger v2 is every bit as awesome as its predecessor. Plus, it’s been upgraded with a luggage pass-through on the rear panel, better FlexFold dividers to keep your gear organized, more durable fabric throughout, and a better weatherproofing treatment on the exterior. Seriously, I can’t recommend this bag more highly!

If the messenger bag format isn’t your thing, the Everyday Line is also available in a backpack, a sling, and a tote.

Polaroid Pop Instant Print Digital Camera

Polaroid Pop Instant Print Digital Camera

Polaroid Pop Instant Print Digital Camera

Sure, an actual camera seems a curious choice for a list of “best travel photography accessories.” But, for most photographers, this is likely to be a quirky add-on to their primary photography gear kit.

If you’re “of a certain age,” the name Polaroid no doubt elicits tinges of vintage photographic nostalgia. The days of snapping photos on some of the world’s first instant cameras, then impatiently waiting for them to develop in your hand were so damn fun.

Polaroid gets this, which is why they’ve brought back their iconic instant camera. The all-new Polaroid Pop 2.0 Instant Print Digital Camera is just like those instant cameras of your (well, at least my) childhood. But, the company wisely added all the latest tech bells and whistles including a touchscreen display, built-in Wi-Fi, and 1080p HD video capability. With clever ZINK Zero Ink technology, photos print flawlessly and even feature the iconic, oversized white Polaroid border. Now, you can paper your fridge with all those amazing snapshots that would otherwise be “wasted” on Instagram.

Polaroid POP 2.0 – 20MP Instant Print Digital Camera w/3.97” Touchscreen Display, Built-In Wi-Fi, 1080p HD Video, ZINK Zero Ink Technology & NEW App – Prints 3.5” x 4.25” Classic Border Photos – Blue

  • 20MP Instant Print Digital Camera Lets You Snap 3.5″ x 4.25″ Pictures & Print On the Spot with Iconic Polaroid Border
  • No Printer, Computer or Ink Required
  • Use the Super Intuitive 3.97″ Touchscreen= Display to Frame & Shoot Everything from Fantastical Landscapes to Flattering Selfie
  • No More Shaking & Flapping Waiting for Faces to Appear! Zero Ink Technology Prints Vibrant Color Photos with Plenty of Room to Get Creative
  • Unleash Your Imagination & Customize Your Memories with Pretty Filters, Fun Borders, Silly Stickers, Emoji’s, Captions & Other Flair

Last updated: 2019-02-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What do you think are the best travel photography accessories of 2019? What bits of kit can’t you travel without?

The post Gear Up with the Best Travel Photography Accessories of 2019 (so far …) appeared first on Vagabondish.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC: Bluetooth and Noise-Canceling on a Budget

I’m continually impressed by Phiaton. Over the years, their over-ear headphones are still among the best we’ve ever tested.

They’re latest earphones — the Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Bluetooth noise-canceling earphones — are a great option for travelers looking for earphones that are wireless, affordable, and — perhaps most importantly — noise-canceling.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Review

The Skinny

In the manufacturer’s own words, the Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC earphones are:

Premium active noise-canceling earphones with fast charge and excellent sound quality. Get 1 hour of use from 5 minutes of charging. Featuring a sleek and portable neckband design that is ready to go wherever life takes you. Next Generation Bluetooth 4.2 is backwards compatible and blocks out distraction with up to 95% of ambient noise cancellation.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Earphones

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Bluetooth Noise-Canceling Earphones

The Traveler’s Take on Phiaton’s CURVE BT 120 NC Earphones

My choice of headphones/earphones used to come down to sound quality above else. With as much travel as I do, that’s changed. I still care about how they sound of course and the CURVE BT 120 NC earphones do sound great. But, especially on long-haul flights, I care more about noise-canceling and noise-isolation.

Here, the CURVE BT 120 NC’s live up to the “NC” (in case it’s not obvious, that refers to “noise-canceling”) in their name, actively canceling out quite a bit of ambient noise, especially for a pair of earphones. According to Phiaton, when fitted properly, they’re able to cancel out up to 95% of background noise. While they’ll never quite live up to the same capability in a pair of over-ear headphones, they work quite well.

An inline controller provides full control over standard music functions (back, forward, play, pause, and volume up/down). The same buttons provide control over call functionality as well so you needn’t pull your phone out of your pocket if you don’t want to. With the latest Bluetooth 4.2 tech, you can connect to two devices (say, a tablet and a smartphone) simultaneously.

The fast-charge capability is a huge plus for me. Even in these glory days of being able to travel with a handful of backup battery packs, I seem to always be rushing to find the nearest outlet. Five minutes of fast-charging the CURVE BT 120 NC’s secures a full hour of playback. On a full charge, they’re good for 8.5 hours of wireless playback. While that’s not going to get you from LAX to Sydney, considering their diminutive size, that’s impressive.

I love the CURVE BT 120’s durability as well. They’re designed to IPX4 standards, so they offer decent sweat resistance for working out and water resistance for everything else your travels might throw at them.

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Wireless Noise-Canceling Earphones (white)

Phiaton CURVE BT 120 NC Wireless Noise-Canceling Earphones

What’s in the Box?

Each package includes the CURVE BT 120 NC earphones, USB charging cable, quick guide, two RightFit+ ear wing sizes that apply the right amount of pressure to keep the earbuds in place (M, L), three ear tip sizes to ensure the perfect fit (S, M, L) and a wire clip to keep cables in places.

Pricing + Availability

Phiaton’s CURVE BT 120 NC noise-canceling Bluetooth earphones are available now in Black or White on Amazon.

Sale

Phiaton BT 120 NC Black Wireless Bluetooth and Active Noise Cancelling Neck Band Style Earphones with Mic

  • ANC: Active noise cancelling technology cancels ambient noise by up to 95%.
  • SWEAT AND WATER RESISTANT: IPX4 splash resistance certification protects earphones during heavy workouts or light rain.
  • INTELLIGENT: Vibration notification signals when a call is being received or you have stepped outside the communication range.
  • FAST CHARGE: Get 1 hour of battery life with just 5 minutes of charging. 8.5 hours of total playtime on full battery
  • WARRANTY: Continue to enjoy your Phiaton bluetooth wireless device long after the Amazon return period expires. All Phiaton earphones come with a One Year Warranty and we stand behind all of our products with a US based customer service.

Last updated: 2019-01-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Holiday Gear Guide: 5 Must-have Gifts for Active Travelers

It’s that time of year when it seems the whole world is blanketed in one big, fat, holiday-red-tag sale. Whether you’re buying for someone else or treatin’ yo’ self to gifts for the holidays, now is the best (read cheapest) season to buy.

Here are five must-have gifts for the active traveler in your life (even if that active traveler is you) …

Best Gifts for Active Travelers

LG V30+ 128GB Smartphone (Unlocked)

LG Electronics V30+ Smartphone

LG V30+ Smartphone

It wasn’t long ago that I never left home without my entire DLSR camera kit — full Nikon body, several lenses, a bevy of filters … the works. Now, I’m a little more lax. Smartphone cameras (both photo and video) are lightyears ahead of where they were just a few years ago. The one camera that turned me on to the possibility of traveling “smartphone-only” was LG’s V30+.

There’s a lot to love about this smartphone. The 6-inch QHD+ OLED display is crisp, bright, and absolutely beautiful — perfect for reviewing my just-taken photos and video. The F/1.6 glass camera lens takes awesome shots in even super low light, while the wide-angle option means it’s great for landscapes.

The shell is lightweight yet ultra-durable with IP68 dust and water resistance. It’s rugged enough for even the most active travelers to take on the road (or way, way off). For all of these reasons, the V30+ was my go-to hip camera for my entire two weeks in Antarctica. I took it kayaking with me every day and it performed like a champ.

The best part? Since the release of the new LG V40, the LG V30+ is now discounted as a “previous generation” smartphone. No matter though! For travelers, I highly recommend hitting up Amazon for a deeply discounted V30+. Choose the 128GB unlocked version, and you’ll be ready to travel with it almost anywhere in the world with whatever SIM/carrier you choose.

Sale

LG Electronics LGUS998U V30+ Factory Unlocked Phone – 128GB, 6″, Black (U.S. Warranty)

  • Enjoy 128 GB of onboard storage and free LG Quadplay Earbuds as part of the upgraded plus package
  • 6.0″ OLED FullVision Display
  • Premium Video Capture
  • Superior Hi-Fi Sound Experience
  • 16 MP Standard-Angle and 13 MP Wide-Angle Rear Cameras/ 5 MP Wide-Angle Front Camera

Last updated: 2018-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Suunto 9 Baro Titanium Sports Watch

Suunto 9 Baro Titanium Multisport Watch

Suunto 9 Baro Titanium Multisport Watch

“Three things will be left at the end of the world … Twinkies, cockroaches, and this watch.”
— Runner’s World

Any hardcore adventure traveler (myself included) loves to keep tabs on their outdoor activity. For that, Suunto has fast become my favorite, go-to brand for sports watches. The flagship Suunto 9 Baro Titanium is their most durable multisport watch which features an almost absurd level of versatility, flexibility, and customization options.

The 9 Baro Titanium tracks your GPS coordinates, distance traveled, heart rate, barometric functions, weather alerts, and has 80 built-in sports modes. The big get for avid outdoorsmen, however, is the durability and battery life. I threw everything I could at this watch for the last three weeks and it barely blinked. The battery is good for up to 120 hours, but the watch is smart enough to throttle usage based on your activity. It’ll even provide alerts when it needs to be charged, and let you know if your next workout/activity requires more juice than the watch is currently charged with.

It’s damn pricey, but I’ve long believed that you get what you pay for and this is the single best GPS multisport watch on the market right now.

Suunto 9 Multisport GPS Watch with BARO and Wrist-Based Heart Rate (Black)

  • Three predefined battery modes – Performance, Endurance and Ultra – deliver from 25 hours to up to 120 hours* of recording time with GPS tracking on. When you start a recording, you’ll get an estimate of how much battery you have left with the current mode. If it’s not enough, switch to another mode at any time.
  • On long ultra runs, battery life is often the limiting factor for recording distance and track accurately, as GPS is a heavy drain on the battery. Suunto’s unique FusedTrack algorithm combines GPS and motion sensor data to improve track and distance accuracy. This allows you to extend battery life by lowering GPS power without significantly compromising accuracy.
  • Suunto 9 is designed and built to meet the demands of professional athletes. Tested to the extreme with thousands of hours of real use in the toughest conditions by Suunto’s internal testing team and athletes all over the world, it is your trusted companion to confidently see you through any adventure!
  • Pair Suunto 9 with the new Suunto app to track all your adventures, as well as follow your long term trends, including daily activity and sleep. Easily share your greatest achievements and connect with others in the app community.

Last updated: 2018-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Henty CoPilot Messenger Bag

Henty CoPilot Messenger Bag

Henty CoPilot Messenger Bag

Wheels were one of the last truly “revolutionary” additions to modern luggage. Not a whole lot has changed since.

So, I was pretty excited to check out Henty’s clever line of luggage. Their CoPilot Messenger is an ingenious design that offers all the versatility and portability of a traditional backpack, but with the added capability of keeping your clothes wrinkle-free while on the road.

Once unfurled, the design allows you to lay out enough clothing for a long weekend (or even longer, depending on how much of a packing ninja you are), then “roll” it up around the single, inner, waterproof chamber in which you store 20L worth of toiletries, shoes, booze, etc. Separate exterior pockets provide for easy-to-reach storage for your passport, travel documents, and laptop. The smart, built-in hanger makes it a snap to stow in the closet once you get where you’re going.

The Henty CoPilot is also available as a backpack.

AxisGO Waterproof Housing for iPhone X

AxisGO X Waterproof Housing for iPhone X

AxisGO X Waterproof Housing for iPhone X

A decent waterproof housing for your DSLR camera can sometimes cost as much as the camera itself. If you’re looking to get into the underwater photography or videography game for far less and you already own an iPhone, AxisGO’s purpose-built housing is a great alternative.

To be clear, the AxisGO waterproof case/housing isn’t the first and only such underwater iPhone case on the market. But, from what I can tell, it’s one of the best designed. The feature set is incredibly solid for photographers looking for something more than just a way to waterproof their iPhone:

  • Functional touchscreen membrane
  • Interchangeable Lens port
  • Robust top and bottom mounting brackets
  • Pistol Grip kit
  • Professional quality accessory lenses
  • Optical glass
  • Anti-reflective and hydrophobic glass coatings

Tenba DNA 15 Messenger

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag / Carry-on

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag / Carry-on

For the last two years, Peak Design’s Everyday Messenger was my go-to carry-on. It held exactly what I needed it to — my camera gear, water bottle, reading material, electronic cables, and all the other bits and bobs that my travels require. I still love it. But, it was starting to fray. So, I figured it was a good excuse to try something new.

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag (open)

Tenba DNA Messenger 15 Laptop Bag

In my case, that something new was Tenba’s DNA 15 Messenger. It holds an ample amount of gear: a 15-inch MacBook Pro, 1 DSLR or mirrorless camera body, 2-3 lenses along with plenty of additional space for documents, cables, memory cards, my passport, and a water bottle on the side.

The zippers feature oversized pulls that are easy to grab, even with gloved hands and the Velcro uses some sort of space-age technology (my words, not Tenba’s) to make it almost completely silent when opening.

Plus, I love the dark, cobalt, denim-ish look. It’s stylish, but stealth enough not to make me feel like a mark for pickpockets while I’m traveling. I prefer the standard DNA 15 Messenger, but if you want something a bit more streamlined, the DNA 15 Slim Messenger is comparable but not quite as deep.

The post Holiday Gear Guide: 5 Must-have Gifts for Active Travelers appeared first on Vagabondish.

Up Your Car Camping Game with These 10 Clever Gadgets

Between last year and this spring, we’ve spent a lot of time using our Toyota 4Runner as a base of operations for car camping. We’ve learned a lot about what works, what doesn’t, and what makes our lives a whole lot easier on the road.

From better campsite cooking to clever car maintenance to cellphone-free communication in the backcountry, here are some of our favorite gadgets to seriously up your car camping game.

Best Gadgets for Car Camping

Tapplock one Smart Padlock

Tapplock one - Smart Fingerprint Padlock

Tapplock one – Smart Fingerprint Padlock

The traditional padlock could hardly be considered a sexy “gadget.” But, Tapplock is reinventing the classic security piece with a sleek, tech-forward approach. The Tapplock one is a clever, ultra-convenient device for locking up your goods while at camp or en route to your overnight spot. Use it anywhere you would use a standard keyed lock or combination lock — to secure your roof cargo box or your bikes/kayaks/etc. to their respective racks.

The padlock’s state-of-the-art capacitive fingerprint sensor allows you to access your items in under a second and features unbreakable durability. The Tapplock smartphone app can also be used to open the lock and give temporary, remote access to others (if you happen to be renting your house out on Airbnb, for example, while you’re traveling).

Coleman Extreme Cooler

Coleman 55-Quart Heavy-Duty Super Cooler (blue)

Coleman 55-Quart Heavy-Duty Super Cooler

When you’re car camping for days on end (without access to “luxuries” like electricity), keeping your refrigerate-able food cold is a challenge. Thankfully, there’s help in the form of an extreme cooler. Bait coolers have long been a thing for fishermen in the know. But, many outdoor companies have started marketing the same coolers as “extreme coolers” to the masses.

The Coleman 55-Quart Heavy-Duty Super Cooler definitely does the trick. To be sure, this is a big beast. It offers more than enough cold storage for one car-camping couple for an entire week. Plus, with proper ice maintenance (yes, that’s a thing), it’ll keep your Zima, bacon, and brats cold for up to six days even when outside temps hover around 90°F.

ICEMULE BOSS Cooler

ICEMULE BOSS Backpack Cooler

ICEMULE BOSS Backpack Cooler

Two coolers? Yep. Here’s why: we found that we always had plenty of stuff to keep refrigerator cold like bacon, meat, eggs, milk, and the like. But, things like sodas and beer were just fine to keep only chilled. For car camping, we pack a separate smaller cooler for things like this because it allows us to save space in our main cooler.

The ICEMULE BOSS is, well, the boss for our chilled goods. It’s portable, has great ice retention, and loads and unloads super easy. Plus, the backpack format means it’s easy to pack a gourmet lunch complete with ice-cold booze, ice cream, and even a couple of cheesecakes into the backcountry.

Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Propane Grill

Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Propane Grill

Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Propane Grill

One of our favorite things about car camping is campfire cooking. We love finding new recipes, then figuring out how the hell to make them over an open flame. Coleman had us covered there as well with the aptly named Coleman Roadtrip 285 Portable Stand-up Propane Grill. It features 20,000 BTUs of grilling power and a 285-square-inch cooking area which is more than enough for the two of us plus a few friends. It’s ultra-compact and lightweight but opens wide to include two side tables for utensils and other essentials while you’re cooking. Plus, the matchless, push-button ignition feels like a luxury at our campsite.

Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan

Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan

Swiss Diamond XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan

Of course, having a great cooking surface to cook on is no good without a great pan to cook your food in. We pared down our camp kitchen substantially so that our entire kit fit in just two medium-sized crates. One pan that works with almost any food and any situation is the nonstick cookware from Swiss Diamond. The XD Nonstick Deep Square Grill Pan is a great, all-purpose pan that does the job. From cooking eggs to fried potatoes to casseroles, it works for just about any meal. Plus, the XD nonstick coating is super slick and easy to clean which, for car campers, is almost more important than how well it cooks.

FIXD Automotive Adapter

FIXD Diagnostic Sensor App

FIXD Diagnostic Sensor App

One of the most important components of car-camping is — wait for it — your car. Or truck or SUV. But, it’s easy to overlook the maintenance of your vehicle when your focused on buying the right cooler and making sure your grill has enough propane.

The FIXD diagnostic sensor does all the heavy lifting in this department, even if you don’t know your carburetors from your carbohydrates. It’s a tiny, matchbook-sized device that plugs into an outlet standard on most cars made after 1996. Just click it into place, sync it to your smartphone, and it’ll keep tabs on all your vehicle’s systems and sensors. Funky smells, cylinder misfires, car overheating — whatever the problem, FIXD can give you the low-down. The free mobile app provides an easy-to-read, user-friendly readout that anyone — even those with zero automotive know-how — can understand.

Motorola T600 Talkabout 2-way Radio

Motorola Talkabout T600 Two-Way Radio

The most interesting and adventurous places to explore are almost always the most remote. We often find ourselves in areas without a whiff of cell service. The solution: a decent two-way radio set. The Motorola T605 Talkabout bundle is super affordable (can be had for under $100) and it offers a staggering 35-mile range. Plus, it boasts a waterproof construction and a water-activated flashlight.

Sustain Supply Emergency Pack

Sustain Supply Comfort4 Emergency Backpack

Sustain Supply Comfort4 Emergency Backpack

In the same way that two-way radios allow you to stay in touch in remote areas, a proper emergency pack allows you to stay prepared for almost any situation. Sustain Supply offers all-in-one bug-out style bags pre-packed with everything you might need in an emergency. Their flagship Comfort4 (above) provides everything four people could need to survive 72 hours off the grid. In addition to the obvious essentials (like food and water), there is a survival knife, LED lanterns, emergency space blankets, bath wipes, a portable stove … the list goes on. It’s the perfect solution for anyone looking to stay prepared on an adventurous road trip — especially one that might take far, far off the beaten path. If the Comfort4 seems like overkill, opt for one of Sustain’s more compact solutions like the Comfort2 ($199) or the Essential2 (just $99).

Weatherman Umbrella

Weatherman Umbrella (orange)

Weatherman Umbrella

Some people are “umbrella people”. Others just say, “The hell with it … if I get wet, I get wet.” I tend to fall into the latter camp. But, we saw a lot of rain on our recent East Coast road trip. Eventually, Kelsey had enough. We learned that, if you’re planning to spend long periods of time outdoors, an umbrella is a good backup plan.

The Weatherman Umbrella is basically the umbrella to end all umbrellas. It’s lightweight, yet sturdy enough to hold up to 55-mph winds. Plus, it’s wide enough to shield you and a few friends from rain, hail, locust swarms, whatever. The lifetime warranty means it’ll likely be the last umbrella you’ll ever need to buy. And the built-in Bluetooth tracker means you’ll never lose — or leave home — without it.

Coleman 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room

Coleman 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room

Coleman 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room

More Coleman gear? What can we say? They make great, affordable camping gear.

We love the “camping in the car” aspect of car camping. But, sometimes it’s nice to get a little fresh air or have a separate space to use as your “living room.” For that, a second tent is never a bad idea, especially if you’re planning to camp out in one spot for an extended period of time.

Coleman’s 4-Person Dark Room Tent with Screen Room is just the trick. What we love about this tent over many others is the Dark Room technology. It blocks out 90% of sunlight, so you can sleep late or take an afternoon, post-hike nap in peace. That same lining also helps to keep the tent’s interior cool. The screen room adds a bit of bug-free lounge space and the WeatherTec system keeps the rain out in all but the nastiest conditions. Plus, you can score one for well under $200.

The post Up Your Car Camping Game with These 10 Clever Gadgets appeared first on Vagabondish.

Langogo Is the Perfect Pocket-sized Language Translator for Travelers

Remember those old-school TVs in the 80s with the built-in VCR? Inevitably, the VCR was always some off-brand model that stopped working after three months, leaving you with an oversized mediocre television with a bolted-on, non-functioning slot to store your morning toast.

This is how I’ve always felt about combination devices. More often than not, they’re good — but not great — at doing one thing and entirely mediocre at several other things.

So, I admit that I was skeptical about the new Langogo AI-Powered Language Translator. It’s a unique, multipurpose device that promises travelers a few very useful things. Namely: near-real-time language translation and global Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity.

Few companies have been able to deliver on even the second most interesting feature: global Wi-Fi. (Thus far, Google’s Project Fi has been the only provider to deliver comprehensive, seamless, and rock solid service in this department). So I was skeptical Langogo could deliver on that and simultaneously turn me into a polyglot overnight.

In short: they’re promising a tall order. But, I was intrigued, so they sent me a review unit to see what I thought.

Langogo AI-powered Language Translator Review

Langogo - Portable AI-powered Language Translator

Langogo – Portable AI-powered Language Translator

The Skinny

In the brand’s own words, Langogo is:

Made for global travelers. Langogo accurately translates speeches between 60 languages in less than 1 second and helps you stay connected to global Wi-Fi anytime and anywhere, bringing you a world of conversations at your fingertips. With its AI-voice assistant by your side, you will be ready to go out and speak out loud!

So, how’s it stack up?

The Traveler’s Take

Design & Durability

Langogo Language Translator (box)

Langogo Language Translator

From the packaging to the device itself, it’s clear that serious thought was put into Langogo’s design. The stark white, minimalist packaging even steals clear inspiration from Apple’s playbook. The unit itself is sleek, compact, well-built, and sturdy to hold — not unlike a high-end smartphone. No surprise really as it’s made from many of the same materials as today’s best phones including polycarbonate and shatter-resistant Asahi glass.

The company also touts a number of stress tests that their design has passed including:

  • Screen press test: 2,000 times
  • Screen scratch test: 1,000 times
  • Freefall test: 750 times
  • Function button test: 100,000 times

While we’re not in the habit of torture-testing our gear here at VagabondishHQ, the unit feels solid and very well-built. So, we have no doubt that it’s designed to take a beating.

Langogo Language Translator (closeup)

Langogo Language Translator

Functionality

We’re fast approaching a world where it won’t matter what language you, as a traveler, speak. We started with clunky language-to-language translation dictionaries, then moved on to slightly less clunky language-to-language translation apps. Now, Langogo is one of only a few companies looking to take the next step forward. Its biggest selling point is near-real-time language translation.

Imagine sitting in a Parisian cafe where you casually place the unit on the table in front of you. When the waiter/waitress comes to your table, you place your order in English and Langogo automatically “speaks” your order out loud in French. The server jots down your order, responds in French, and you hear their reply spoken aloud in English. The translation process is almost entirely seamless, requiring less than a second. A dedicated noise-canceling chip helps filter out up to 30% of background noise and ensure better sound quality.

By connecting with the world’s largest language database (including 24 translation engines), Langogo currently supports more than 60 languages. These include the most common like Spanish, French (both Canadian and France dialects), and German, as well as more obscure languages like Turkish, Norwegian, and Tamil. Because all of the translation is handled by a remote server, new languages can easily be added in the future without needing to update your actual Langogo device.

I’m a hands-on gadgeter, preferring to skip the instruction manual and start fiddling with new toys right away. This is often a good test of how intuitive a product actually is. In this respect, Langogo fares very well. Physical buttons are limited to a power button, a translation button, and a volume rocker. Everything else is handled via the capacitive touchscreen which I found to be easy to read and very responsive.

Other Features

Because the unit relies on intelligent AI-powered translation, it does require an internet connection. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the device itself is a global Wi-Fi hotspot. Not only does it provide the necessary connection for the translation functionality, but it supports a total of six additional connected devices. This works in 72 countries without the need for a physical SIM card as it instead relies on eSim technology. Just switch on Langogo and it automatically connects to the best local cell network.

Pricing + Availability

Crowdfunded gadgets are always a gamble. Without thoroughly vetting each project — and who has the time for that? — it’s impossible to know when or if you’ll see a return on your investment. The good news for anyone interested in Langogo is that (as of this publication) the project passed 850% funding on its meager goal of just $10,000. What’s more: it’s already in production.

Langogo is expected to retail for around USD $230 when it goes on sale later this year. Early birds investing in the current Indiegogo project can score a discounted unit for just $159.

The Bottom Line

With a sleek, durable design, simple, user-friendly interface, and an affordable price point, Langogo delivers on its promises as both a language translator and a global Wi-Fi hotspot. For these reasons, we highly recommend it.

The post Langogo Is the Perfect Pocket-sized Language Translator for Travelers appeared first on Vagabondish.

Why a 260-mph Hurricane Is the Best Way to Clean Your Travel Gear

The Verdict
The Bottom Line
Although it’s loud enough to wake the dead, the decent portability, long battery life, and reliable power of the X3 Hurricane Canless Air System make it a good buy for eco-conscious travelers.
The Good
Environmentally friendly
Strong, constant air flow
Long-lasting battery
Lifetime warranty
The Bad
Extremely loud
4.5
Shop Now

Computer and gear maintenance might be the most unsexy part of long-term travel. But, if you travel with a laptop, camera equipment, smartphone, tablet, chargers, portable espresso maker, and a football-sized tangle of accessory cables, you know all that stuff gets dirty on the road.

Dust and debris have a way of working into every nook and cranny of keyboards, lens filters, USB ports, and all the buttons on your travel gadgets. The question becomes: how to clean it all simply and effectively when you get home?

While on the road, I love Giottos’ Rocket-Air Professional Blower. It strikes a good balance of being gentle enough that it won’t harm even the most sensitive electronics (like a digital camera sensor), but strong enough to blow away most dust. Because it’s compact yet sturdy, I always travel with one.

But, once I get home and find the real stubborn dust that’s collected in the crevices of my gear, I always need to give everything a more thorough cleaning.

Compressed air cans are an effective tool. They’re like little leaf blowers for your gadgets — a simple way to shoo away dust and debris. But, they contain harsh chemicals and create unnecessary waste, so I’ve used them less and less over the years.

All of which led me down the path to find the best canless air duster. They’re exactly what they sound like: electric-powered air dusters that do exactly what canned air is supposed to do. But, they produce a lot less environmental waste. One electric air duster can purportedly replace 5,000 compressed air cans. That’s a small mountain of waste not ending up in a landfill.

Luckily, Canless Air Systems offered to provide us with a test unit of their much-hyped X3 Hurricane Canless Air System. Here’s what I found …

The X3 Hurricane Canless Air System Review (or Why a 260-mph Hurricane Is the Best Way to Clean Your Travel Gear)

The Skinny

In Canless Air Systems’ own words, the X3 Hurricane Canless Air System is their:

… strongest unit ever! It produces an incredible blast of air at over 260 MPH and runs for over 15 minutes straight.

This unit is equal to over 5,000 cans of traditional duster … if you use a lot of canned air and want the most power possible you need this unit.

Great for cleaning large computers, server rooms, camera lenses and mirrors, high-end medical equipment, displays in retail stores, complex circuit boards and so much more.

X3 Hurricane Canless Air System

X3 Hurricane Canless Air System (Kit)

The Traveler’s Take on the X3 Hurricane Canless Air Duster

The X3 Hurricane is Canless Air System’s flagship product. It’s big, loud, and industrial strength. Frankly, it’s overkill for most travelers.

But, if you’re serious about keeping your mobile and photography equipment squeaky clean, I think it’s worth the investment for the strongest canless air duster they offer.

Portability

Compared to typical compressed air cans, the X3 Hurricane is larger but not by much. The battery pack can keep the motor running for a solid 15 minutes which is far longer than most travelers are likely to need just to clean off their gear. It seems like the X3 could be made smaller and lighter by halving the battery size/capacity.

To be clear, this isn’t a “travel gadget” in the sense that you’ll be taking it with you on the road. You certainly could as it’s quite portable. But, I prefer to pack as light as possible and, with the integrated battery pack, this compressed air alternative is just too heavy for me. I use the X3 Hurricane to clean my gear only after returning home.

Canless Air Systems offers a less “industrial strength” solution, however. Their Special Edition Canless Air System offers many of the same features as the X3 Hurricane, but costs just two-thirds of the price.

This thing is loud. I’m talking “hide the cat and get ready to piss off the neighbors” loud.

Functionality: Does the X3 Hurricane Actually Work?

At first, I was worried the 260-mph claim would be too harsh on electronics. That sounds like an unnecessary amount of force just to dust off a laptop, a smartphone, and especially a digital camera.

But, in my experience: yes. The X3 Hurricane works exactly as advertised. In my not-at-all-scientific testing, I found it to be almost as strong as a can of compressed air. I’d say it’s 80-90% as strong.

Plus, the air flow is not only strong but steady. Regular compressed air cans weaken to the point of being unusable after a couple of minutes. Plus, they can spray harmful liquids and chemicals all over your electronics.

X3 Hurricane Canless Air System (attachment kit)

X3 Hurricane Canless Air System (attachment kit)

A 3-piece attachment kit helps bolster the X3’s usefulness. This includes:

  • An extra long flexible straw that can bend around corners
  • A 45-degree nozzle that can focus the air
  • A brush attachment that can be used when cleaning items that require more than just air

What’s the Catch?

If there’s one downside to the X3, it’s the noise. This thing is loud. I’m talking “hide the cat and small children” loud. It’s actually surprising for such a small device.

The first time I revved it up, I thought there might be something wrong with it. I was a little concerned it was going to shred to pieces in my hand.

Using an admittedly crude decibel measuring app, I tested the X3 in the relative quiet of my basement where the ambient noise averages 26 decibels. By comparison, the X3 Hurricane’s motor creates a cacophonous 85 decibels of high-pitched, vacuum-cleaner-like whirring.

To put that in perspective:

Thunderclap, chain saw 120 dB Painful. 32 times as loud as 70 dB.
X3 Hurricane Canless Air System 82 dB 2 times as loud as 70 dB. Possible damage in 8-hour exposure.
Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft (77 dB); vacuum cleaner (70 dB) 70 dB Arbitrary base of comparison. Upper 70s are annoyingly loud to some people.
Conversation in restaurant, office, background music 60 dB Half as loud as 70 dB. Fairly quiet.
Whisper, rustling leaves 20 dB

None of this is too surprising though. Compressed air cans rely on a chemical process to quietly expel air out of the can. Because the X3 uses an electric motor to accomplish the same feat, it must move a ton of air very quickly through a very small space. I’m not a professional engineer, but I’m guessing it would be difficult to design a device like this that’s actually quiet — or even quieter.

This might be an issue if you’re traveling. I can’t even imagine using this in a hotel without management calling the cops on you. But, for anyone planning to use it at home, I don’t think it’s an issue. It is what it is.

The Bottom Line

With a suggested retail price near USD $150, the X3 Hurricane Canless Air System is a premium accessory for tech-loving travelers.

Sure, it’s loud enough to wake the dead. But, the decent portability, long battery life, and reliable air power of the X3 Hurricane make it a good buy for eco-conscious travelers.

Buy the X3 Hurricane Canless Air System

The X3 Hurricane Air Duster can be purchased for around USD $150 direct from Canless Air Systems.

It’s also available through Amazon:

Canless Air X3 Hurricane Canless Air System Computer Duster (CA303-1511)

  • The X3 is the most POWERFUL Canless Air System ever! With speeds of over 260mph nothing else even comes close to its power.
  • This unit comes with every attachment we make, you get everything you need.
  • Includes a LIFETIME warranty so you will never have to buy a can of canned air ever again
  • 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t love it!
  • This unit is cordless, doesn’t contain any liquids, recharges just like a cell phone and is totally safe to use on anything and everything.

Last updated: 2018-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Bestselling Alternatives

Bestseller No. 1

Canless Air X3 Hurricane Canless Air System Computer Duster (CA303-1511)

  • The X3 is the most POWERFUL Canless Air System ever! With speeds of over 260mph nothing else even comes close to its power.
  • This unit comes with every attachment we make, you get everything you need.
  • Includes a LIFETIME warranty so you will never have to buy a can of canned air ever again
  • 30 day money back guarantee if you don’t love it!
  • This unit is cordless, doesn’t contain any liquids, recharges just like a cell phone and is totally safe to use on anything and everything.

SaleBestseller No. 2

Best Canned Air Alternative – The O2 Hurricane 220+ MPH Canless Air Industrial BLACK is an Inexpensive, Environment Friendly Alternative to Compressed Air/Computer Dusters. Equal to 1000+ cans

  • Each unit is RECHARGEABLE like a cell phone and will provide you with HUNDREDS OF HOURS of cleaning!
  • We want EVERYONE to try our Canless Air which so why we are offering a 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE!
  • Never again will you buy air duster, canned air, computer duster or any other dangerous duster!
  • The safe, cordless and rechargeable INDUSTRIAL O2 HURRICANE blasts air out at over 220mph!
  • The INDUSTRIAL UNIT can be used to clean any electronic device you can think of, no job is too tough

Bestseller No. 3

Best Canned Compressed Air Alternative – The O2 Hurricane 220+ MPH Canless Air SPECIAL EDITION

  • With air speeds of over 220mph the cordless Canless Air System O2 Hurricane Special Edition is the MOST REVOLUTIONARY cleaning tool since the vacuum. The Special Edition can be used for cleaning computers, keyboards, printers, paper shredders, the interior of your car, blinds, model airplanes, cameras, plastic plants, the top of fans and almost anything else you can think of. There is almost nothing this cannot do and it is 100% SAFE AND RECHARGEABLE!
  • Each unit is rechargeable just like your cell phone and will provide you with hundreds of hours of cleaning time. The O2 Hurricane Special Edition is as a perfect replacement for canned air, computer duster and any other kind of air duster. Most “canned air” does not contain air, it contains chemicals that have been known to kill when inhaled. Not only is our unit 100% safe but the amount of use you get EQUALS OVER 1000 CANS OF CANNED AIR!!!
  • We want EVERYONE to try our Canless Air System which is why we are now offering a 30 DAY MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. If you don’t absolutely love it we will give you 100% of your money back and pay for the return shipping. This means you an try this amazing cleaning product with ZERO RISK! Plus, we offer a SIX MONTH WARRANTY! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain so TRY IT NOW RISK FREE!!!!!!
  • Never again will you have to buy air duster, canned air, computer duster, a case of canned air, gas duster, air compressors, keyboard cleaner,dust off, computer duster cans, or any of the other products that go by those names. The Canless Air System REPLACES THEM ALL!
  • – PLEASE NOTE: Our unit cleans using wind speed created by a motor and impeller. It does not compress air so the way it cleans is by using wind rather than pressure. This allows it to clean without damaging electronics but it also means the PSI is low. If you need a high PSI device this is not for you.

Last updated: 2018-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Have you used the Hurricane Canless Air System? Or any similar canless air duster before? What was your experience?

X3 Hurricane Canless Air System

The post Why a 260-mph Hurricane Is the Best Way to Clean Your Travel Gear appeared first on Vagabondish.