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What's New, What's Hot is Travel Weekly's look at useful and fun travel gadgets, edited by Joe Rosen. Click on the image to open a slideshow of all of the featured products for February.
Kona Project 2 Messenger Bag. Specially designed flaps keep your gear dry in inclement weather as does an outer shell of water-shedding Cordura fabric. And if that wasn't enough to keep your things high and dry, a water-proof internal compartment large enough to shelter a 16-inch laptop or other electronics is part of the package. Moreover, an already large capacity interior (21.5 x 16 x 8 inches) expands to 1,300 cubic inches. And to complete the picture of a perfectly practical messenger bag, the Kona 2 comes equipped with a battery-operated built-in safety light. Also available as a backpack. $149.95; www.konaworld.com.
Capture Camera Clip System. This versatile camera-carrying solution enables you to secure your DLSR or point-and-shoot camera to any backpack strap, shoulder strap or belt and release it with the touch of a button. Basically, the device consists of a quick-release, dye-cast aluminum plate that screws into the bottom of the camera body (it is compatible with all Arca-Swiss classic-style tripod heads) and a metal "capture" clip that attaches around a strap or belt. The camera slides out of the clip with the press of a button and slides back in when the camera is no longer in use. The locking mechanism can withstand more than 150 pounds of force, which prevents the camera from bouncing against your body during physical activity, and is omni-directional, which eases lens changing. $79.95; https://peakdesignltd.com.
Gomadic SunVolt Solar Charger. Whether at home or on the road, a long-term power failure caused by a natural or man-made disaster can play havoc with your ability to communicate by computer or cell phone. A handy product to help you through is the portable SunVolt Solar Charger, whose unique photovoltaic technology makes it the most powerful solar charger around (the company says it allows for charging speeds identical to that of a traditional wall charger). Able to power three devices at once (with some power degradation), the SunVolt's solar panel, which folds out and adjusts to capture the sun's rays from any angle, is housed in a lightweight carrying case small enough to fit into a backpack. Two caveats: the SunVolt charger can produce up to 10 watts on a clear day (an iPad, for example, requires about 10 watts), not enough to run a laptop. Also, the SunVolt will not work as efficiently on a cloudy day (and not at all under standard or fluorescent lighting). $99.95; www.gomadic.com.
Rescue Bands. Whether used as bracelets, key chains, belts, or even dog collars, Rescue Bands are woven strands of lightweight parachute cord that can be quickly unraveled to serve a myriad of uses in an emergency. The outer cord has been used as a vehicle tie down, a boat line, an anchor line, a tourniquet or a tow rope, while the band's inner cord can serve as emergency wound stitches, a fishing line or dental floss. A typical men's bracelet, for example, can reach a length of 20 feet when unraveled and can support up to 550 pounds. Each of the band's seven inner strands of cord can hold up to 50 pounds, and can be tied together to extend the cord. Even more surprising is how such a practical product can be so stylish and colorful. As a bonus, if a Rescue Band comes to your aid in some dicey circumstances, the people behind the product will send you a new one for free if you tell them how you used it and send a picture (if possible). $12 to $35; www.rescuebands.com.
UltiBrush. If the Fuller Brush man could have had one of these in his carrying case he might still be going door to door. This utilitarian product is a one-man-band toothbrush, replacing a traveler's makeshift ziplock bag of dental toiletries with a brush, a TSA-compliant dollop of toothpaste, floss, a mirror and a protective cap that doubles as a rinse cup. Each brush is good for between 40 and 50 uses and, according to its manufacturer, complies with American Dental Association standards in that it encourages you to trash that germ-laden appliance you have worn to the nub. $12; The UltiBrush is available for pre-order at http://bit.ly/UltiPR.
Got something for What's New, What's Hot? Email Joe Rosen at [email protected].