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.