The top ten travel products of 2009

Welcome to the Gadling Gear Review “best of 2009″. Winning a spot in the Gadling top ten lineup of travel gadgets is a huge honor – Over 250 gadgets pass through our hands each year, some great, and some not so great.

The ten products in this list show the best of the best in the travel gadget world. Each of these products offers something special, something not found anywhere else or something that is just downright awesome. Every single one of these products has been tested by the Gadling labs – we don’t do cut and paste reviews. The list of the ten products is published in no specific order.


Verizon Wireless MiFi

Getting online has never been easier than with the MiFi. The MiFi is a combination of a wireless router and a mobile broadband adapter, all in a device a third of the thickness of a deck of cards. With its internal battery, you can create your own personal wireless hotspot, anywhere in range of the Verizon Wireless broadband network.

Why it matters for travelers? Screw paid hotel Internet – create your own hotspot where you want.

Price: $49.99 (with a 2 year service agreement)
Where to get it:
Verizon Wireless

Manfrotto ModoSteady

The Manfrotto ModoSteady is the perfect accessory for anyone traveling with an HD camera or camcorder. It allows you to play movie director with its steady camera mount, and in a matter of seconds, you can transform it into a mini tripod or shoulder mount.

Why it matters for travelers? One device is a tripod, steady-cam mount and shoulder mount, all in just 500 grams.

Price: $119
Where to get it:
www.manfrotto.com
Gadling review: September 2009

Tom Bihn bags Tri-Star

Tom Bihn was featured in our best of 2008 lineup with their Checkpoint Flyer bag, and this year they did it again. Their Tri-Star bag beat every other bag I tested in 2009, and earns a well deserved spot in the this lineup.

The Tri-Star is an astounding bag – it is a shoulder bag, backpack and carry-on all in one. There is enough space for a laptop, documents and clothes for a couple of days.

Why it matters for travelers? The perfect bag for one-bag travelers.

Price: $249
Where to get it:
www.tombihn.com
Gadling review: June 2009

iPhone 3GS

In 2009, the iPhone went from good to great. It gained more speed, and a better camera. These minor changes alone are obviously not enough to make it to our list – what helped this phone win a spot in our lineup are the applications. No other phone in the world has the same level of fantastic applications as the iPhone.

Especially in the travel application segment, the iPhone beats every other platform. With fantastic apps like FlightTrack Pro, the iPhone has reached “must have” status for anyone on the road. 2010 may prove to be a challenging year for the iPhone – new devices are going to do their best to knock it from its throne, but without support from developers, the iPhone will still remain the leader.

Why it matters for travelers? The best device for the best in mobile travel applications.

Price: From $199
Where to get it: www.apple.com

Gogo Inflight service

What started as a service on a handful of planes, is now the driving force behind Internet in the skies on almost 700 aircraft. The Gogo Inflight service provides affordable and speedy Internet access for your laptop, PDA or smartphone. It finally brings an end to watching reruns of stuff you don’t even want to watch once.

In just 12 months, Gogo managed to find its way onto 6 airlines, 2 of which offer it on every single one of their planes.

Why it matters for travelers? What better way to spend six hours trapped in a metal tube?

Price: From $5.95 / flight
Where to get it: Participating airlines

Olympus E-P1

Earlier this year, Olympus announced their newest digital camera – the PEN E-P1 offers almost all the features you’d expect from a large digital SLR camera, but without the bulk. Its smaller size makes it perfect for travel, and since it can be outfitted with any Micro Four/Thirds lens, you can pick the right lens for your shots.

Why it matters for travelers? Smaller and lighter than a digital SLR, with the same great photos and great HD video.

Price: $799
Where to get it: www.olympus.com
Gadling review: June 2009

Bose Quiet Comfort QC15

For years, when you wanted noise canceling headphones, you purchased Bose. As the headphone marketplace filled up with new companies, Bose continued to innovate, and churned out even better products. In 2009, they released the QC15 headphones, and instantly secured their spot as the best in the market. The new QC15′s are lighter, and block even more outside noise than the previous models.

Why it matters for travelers? Blocks out crying babies, engine noise and fellow passengers.

Price: $299
Where to get it: www.bose.com

Lug NAPSAC and SNUZSAC

As airlines cut corners, passengers need to carry their own blanket and pillow – something the folks at LUG noticed. They invented the NAPSAC and SNUZSAC.

These products appear to be regular pillows. The smart part of these things is that they can be unzipped, to remove an ultra-soft blanket, then inflated back to their normal shape. End result – a pillow and a blanket. Before landing, you simply deflate the pillow, pop the blanket back inside, and pack it in your bag.

Why it matters for travelers? Airlines don’t care about your comfort, so take good care of yourself

Price: $28 (NAPSAC) $30 (SNUZSAC)
Where to get it: www.lugtravel.com

Callpod Fueltank

I love backup battery chargers. They allow me to charge my equipment anywhere I am. And what could be better than a single battery charger? Well, how about one that charges two devices at the same time! The Callpod Fueltank uses the same power tips as on the award winning Callpod Chargepod, which means you can put together a power kit that’ll charge six products in your room, and two on the go.

Why it matters for travelers? A gadget with an empty battery is about as useful as a fart in a spacesuit.

Price: $59.95
Where to get it: www.callpod.com

Macally PowerLink

This gadget caught me by completely by surprise when I received it. When I read the product description, I didn’t really expect too much, but it has actually turned out to be one of the most impressive little gadgets I’ve seen all year.

The Macally PowerLink is an iPod/iPhone backup charger, 2GB flash drive and USB connector in one device. It’ll charge your device to about 50% (great for emergencies), it holds 2GB of your most important files, and it means you can leave your iPhone cable at home.

Why it matters for travelers? One device to sync, charge and power your iPhone and carry 2GB of your most important files

Price: $49.95
Where to get it:
www.macally.com