Travelling can be done on a shoestring. You can rough it in Rio or doss on a bench in Buenos Aires; we’ve lost count the number of times we ended up crashed on a beach somewhere. But, given the choice, there’s always some backpacking technology in our pack. So here are the top 10 travel gadgets for 2011.
Top 10 travel gadgets
Camera manufacturers have woken up! We need ruggedized models, and we need ones that take both pictures and HD movies – and can do it anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. But make sure you have enough ink cartridges handy to print out all of the wonderful photos this camera can do.
This year a raft of new models has landed on the shelves. We’ve tried the Panasonic HX-WA10 and can vouch for its ease of use and reliability perfect backpacking technology.
SunnyCam Video Glasses
Always an odd choice, but for capturing the POV action without spending a small fortune, there’s no other totally hands-free solution. This model SunnyCam glasses served us well on some downhill mountain bike sections.
While the quality can’t compare with the HD camcorders, it still uses a 3 MP webcam, running 30 frames per second. There are also interchangeable lenses and a decent 3-hr memory on offer.
Predictably included in the list. Once other companies realised that Steve Jobs and co. had shifted the goalposts, the competition began playing catch-up. We’ve yet to see first-hand what the likes of Samsung and can do, but other reviews are positive.
Even so, as with user experience of many of the company’s products shows, once you’ve had a bite of the apple iPad2, it’s difficult to swap to less exotic fruits. This is a great bit of backpacking technology and one of the top 10 travel gadgets for 2011.
Well, the jury’s safely back in on the Kindle 3G. There’s no other way to carry volumes of your favourite reads, and with full 3G connectivity you’ll be able to pick up more as you travel without adding weight. But wait! Just in is the new Sony Reader Wi-Fi.
It’s a featherweight compared to the Kindle, and has Adobe’s DRM technology built in. Kindle has Amazon on its side and the product is fast becoming synonymous with eBook offerings, so Sony’s reader needs to prove itself, and quick!
GPS functions have been creeping into the training tools of endurance athletes; ultra-distance runners, mountaineers and triathletes are used to getting the best, most accurate data possible. So, instead of a bulky hand-held device, look out for models by Timex and Garmin. Key to their usability is the accompanying software and mapping tools – with these you can record your journeys online.
Portable power packs
Juice. Until we get the sun earning its keep, we still need the juice to keep our power-hungry devices hydrated and online. The Veho Pebble XT Portable Battery Pack carries a whopping 5000mAH – good for several phone charges. We are still looking for a weatherproofed one, so if you spot one let us know.
Duracell has a rechargeable USB charger that claims 35 hrs of backup power. You’ll be glad you bought one regardless which brand you choose – schnuffled away in your rucksack, ready to unleash some media power after weeks in the analogue wilderness.
Portable Data Storage
If you can trust your laptop, great. If you can live with your data in the cloud, fantastic. But we can’t. There’s nothing like having some solid, rugged data back up, preferably packed in a separate bag than your devices (little tip there). Funky and strong, the ADATA USB Hard Drive range will take whatever you can throw at it, or drive over it.
If shockproof is enough, take a look at the PQI models, and for smarter storage needs we like the added security of the IronKey Personal – it comes with web privacy and identity protection, as well as mil-spec build quality.
There’s a range of pocket tools that’s caught our eye. Having previously owned – and lost – a Gerber multi-tool, I can vouch for them – particularly liked the sliding pliers, which were really easy to access. Since then I’ve used a rival product, which is bombproof, but very fiddly to open and close.
Based on a combination of one-handed opening, light weight and it’s great reputation, we’d like to see the Gerber Octane in action and would include this – or similar multi tool- to every packing list we ever write. So a multi tool is essential backpacking technology and one of the top 10 travel gadgets for 2011
Fisher Space Pen
Speaking of writing: the Fisher Space Pen always gets into our kit bag, too. Now evolved to include more corporate models, we still love the original ‘bullet pen’ in matt black. Tiny, forged from aluminium and guaranteed to write in water, upside down, and in space while stood on one foot. Feels great, works great, looks great, and people still pick them up purely for the exceptional design qualities and finish.
Backpacking Technology: Waist bag!
Bum bag, Fanny pack, whatever you call them, this 80s classic is making a comeback. And it’s all because of low-cost airlines. Thanks to the pre-boarding inspections and the need to pack everything into one cabin bag, these smuggler packs are coming into their own.
Stash them under your jacket, pouch to the back, and you can get a book, some food, a media player and a mini wash kit on with ease. Ok, it’s not a backpacking technology , but it’s a place to stash your gadgets and that’s good enough for us!
We hope you enjoyed this guide to backpacking technology and the top 10 travel gadgets for 2011. Be sure to check out our adventure travel discounts as you could save a fortune.