Posts Tagged gift ideas
Wine bottles seem to shrink when you’re drinking their contents, but bring one on a camping trip, and it feels like you’re hauling a huge rock around. Ditch the glass and the breakage issue with the GSI Outdoors Wine Glass Gift Set.
The insulated neoprene tote includes a pocket to stash a 750 ml Soft-Sided Wine Carafe (included) and another pocket to keep two GSI Outdoors Nesting Wine Glasses (also included). That cuts down on the need to figure out how you’re going to wrap glass wine bottles without busting them and getting wine and glass all over.
The carafe’s cap is tethered by a string, so you won’t lose it, and even more useful—if has two segments. The wide-mouth allows you to fill the carafe without spilling, but the smaller opening keeps you from splashing wine when you’re pouring.
The adjustable shoulder strap is perfect for hands-free carrying. Whether you use it for camping, a picnic, or attending an event where you’d like to keep your bottle close, the Wine Glass Gift Set is pretty handy. Even better, when you don’t intend to carry the plastic, collapsible glasses along, you can tuck the empty pocket into a back flap to reduce the overall size of the carrier.
It’s a perfect holiday gift for both your favorite wine snob and boxed-wine devotee.
We’re regularly preaching on here about the evils of single-use plastic water bottles, so we like to keep an eye on water bottle designs that make it easier to avoid this marketing-driven environmental disaster.
This reusable, collapsible bottle from Vapur got on my radar recently when I was at an adventure travel trade show and several companies (including Eddie Bauer) were handing them out as promos. I’ve used one a few times now and while it’s kind of an unusual thing to get used to, it has some big advantages.
The main one is that you can pack this thing without taking up any space. Since you can’t go through security with a filled water bottle anyway, you can stow this in your carry-on and then use it at a water fountain on the other side of the TSA security theater. It’s also freezable, so you can have very cold water later on a car trip or even use it as an ice pack in transit. The plastic is BPA-free of course and the top pops off for easy washing. You can buy replacement tops too and keep using the same bottle.
Now you might think this wouldn’t stand upright, but the way it’s designed it will stand up until it gets pretty empty: there’s an extra section on the bottom that expands when the bottle is filled. It also comes with its own carabiner threaded through a whole, so you can hang it on your pack filled or not.
These run about half the price of a stainless steel quality plastic bottle, but there are some disadvantages. Like the Sigg kind of metal ones, this has a narrow opening at the top. That makes it harder to wash if you’re putting something besides water in it.
The other problem is you can’t use this with a SteriPen water purifier. You’d have to purify the water in something else and transfer it to here. Or use a pump filter. This only matters in countries where you can’t trust the water though. Just go from the tap if you’re in the first world.
You can buy direct from Vapur (and order ones with your logo on it if you’re a trade show exhibitor) or check out the selection from Amazon, some of them with cool artist drawings like the one at the right. Or check prices online for other retail outlets.
Close to two years ago I reviewed a cool little $5 item that I’ve used plenty of times since: the Screwpop. It’s a handy tool that opens beer bottles (that always gets my attention), has a Phillips screwdriver, and a regular flat-head screwdriver. With those out, it’s also a hex nut wrench (should your nut be the right size). See the details here.
These days, unless you encounter an especially dickish TSA agent, you should be able to carry this with you on a flight. But if they do confiscate it, you’re not out a fortune at least.
The original version, still available, is chrome, which is hard to print on. So now there’s a black version. This looks cool on its own, but the one key advantage is that you can customize it for your company, your band, your store, your website, whatever. So instead of giving people some useless schwag they’ll toss in the garbage or a ballpoint pen that will die in a few months, you can hand out something they could still be using a decade from now.
To show me how this works, the Screwpop people did a sample run of their tool with the Practical Travel Gear logo and website address—see the photo at the top. Pretty darn cool.
Want one? (Contest now closed)
I’m handing out some of them at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in January, but I’m going to send three of them to our readers. First you have to do one of these three things:
Then send an e-mail with which one(s) you did to tim [ at] practicaltravelgear.com. Include your name and physical shipping address. That’s it!
I’ll pick three winners at random from the submissions, which must arrive by midnight, December 23, 2011. The Screwpops will ship out the first week of January. (No sorry, while these make great stocking stuffers, you’ll have to buy one if you want it in time for Christmas.)
If you don’t win, you can get the newer black Screwpop for $6 at ScrewpopTool.com.
* UPDATE – WE HAVE WINNERS! Congratulations to readers Janice Z, Sam G, and Brian C. Sorry, you’ll have to lay out six bucks for one of your own if that’s not you.
Many types of urchins would love to get hold of your money or credit cards when you travel. Keep it all safe with these under-clothing accessories.
There are a few practical travel gear items I’ve been using since I first set off on my first trip around the world many years ago. One of them is the venerable under-pants money pouch from Eagle Creek. Officially it’s the Undercover Hidden Pocket. I’ve had one of these under my pants in a few dozen countries and as a result, the total amount I’ve been pick-pocketed in all time is…30 rupees in India. (And that really was in my pocket—I’d just gotten change at a movie theater.)
Sure, you can buy things that hang around your neck and go under your shirt, but I don’t like the feel of that—especially in sticky tropical countries—and it’s too easy for someone to do a cut and pull in a crowd. To get this thing out of my pants would be tough though, especially since it’s usually attached to my belt. (You can pin it with a giant safety pin if not wearing a belt.) Then when you need your money or credit card, it’s easy to pull this out and get to them.
There are three places to put things: a main compartment good for a passport and bank notes, two equal smaller ones for credit cards or another currency folded. Speaking of choices, there are also two different belt loops. One is brown, one is black, to match whatever belt you’re wearing. The other just folds out of the way.
It’s all made from ripstop nylon and I can attest that these things hold up through years of daily use on the road. If you’re carrying a passport though you should put that inside a Ziploc bag to be safe. If you get caught in a total deluge, this thing is not completely waterproof.
The Undercover Hidden Pocket comes in black or khaki and lists for $12, which is not a bad investment for something that will help you hold onto the rest of your money. It would make a nice gift for a person about to go on a long international journey. You can find this money pouch at most any outdoor gear or luggage shop, but you can also order it online from Backcountry, Altrec, or Moosejaw.
Undercover Leg Wallet
Another option, if you’re going to be somewhere that involves having pants on every day, is this Undercover Leg Wallet. Instead of going between your underwear and your pants/skirt, this attaches snugly to your leg. It kind of feels like you’re packing heat, so if you want to pretend you’re a detective with a concealed weapon, this will do it.
I’ve used this a couple times, but it’s not something that would be my first choice. It’s harder to get to this when you’re pulling out money to pay a bar tab or buy something in a market. Plus it doesn’t work with shorts or a skirt. It has to go on your calf unless you have really skinny legs.
On the plus side, it’s larger and doesn’t hinder movement in any way. This seems to me to be a great choice for people who spend a lot of time in dicey situations: third-world journalists and NGO field workers, for instance. If someone gives you a good once-over, they’ll see a money pouch attached to your belt or hanging around your neck. They won’t see this.
As with the first item above it’s made with wicking ripstop nylon and has a soft surface for the part that goes next to your skin. Ample pockets keep your goods separated and the straps close with adjustable Velcro.
See more Eagle Creek gear reviews
Sometimes, finding the right size bag for a day of exploration is like “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” This one is too small. The other one is too big. But you need one that’s just right. The OverLand Equipment Bidwell Bag is big enough to fit necessary gear, but small enough to tote around town without looking like you’ve got a suitcase hanging from your shoulder.
The nylon bag comes in three colors: tangerine, gray (called “dove”) and blue-violet. Each bag has a contrasting color design on the front flap, which is pretty enough to distract me from my usual no-design preference. In fact, someone stopped me on the street to praise the stitching.
The bag’s large, interior compartment has two mesh holders for water bottles, and even when you fill both of them there’s still room for more of your gear. Of course, if you try to cram two 1-liter water bottles in there, not only is there less room, but also you may have difficulty zipping up the pocket.
A flap with a magnetic closure protects the front compartment, which has five organizer pockets, a sixth zipper pocket and a leather key ring. All your small items, like cell phone, wallet, keys, pens and more can be kept here—so you don’t have to dig for them in the larger compartment.
The leather shoulder strap is adjustable, so you can make it long enough to use cross-body, or just leave it to use slung over your shoulder. I haven’t yet used the bag enough so that the shoulder strap softens, like most leather does, but I’m looking forward to the stiff strap getting some character. Luckily, the strap isn’t so thick or stiff that it digs into your body when you use the bag, so my small issue is really one of personal taste and not comfort.
Last, but not least, there’s an exterior pocket on the back of the bag, so it’s a simple stash spot for a small book or items that you may want to get to quickly. Airplane tickets would go perfectly in the pocket.
The OverLand Equipment Bidwell bag lists for $75 on the OverLand Equipment website.