Teva introduces flip flops with lights – and you can win a pair!

With Spring hitting the Northeast early, we’re thrilled to be able to start thinking about trips to the beach, hikes in the woods and some new camping adventures. And warm weather means throwing those Winter boots aside in favor of flip flops. Our feet haven’t seen the light of day in months and it’s time to let those dogs breathe. With that in mind, we were psyched (and a tad amused) to see that Teva is launching a new flip flop with LED lights attached. We’re also pretty jazzed that we have a pair to give away to one lucky reader.

The Teva illūm is a new of sandal that gives you a powerful LED light on each foot. The 10-foot beams of light are intended to help keep you safe when the sun sets and you find yourself on the trail, looking for your campsite or seeking a clandestine spot on the beach to make out with your date. While it may seem gimmicky, we’re actually rather intrigued by the idea of having sandal-mounted lights to help guide the way. Sure, you should still pack a headlamp for any night hikes or camping trips, but extra light is never a bad thing.

The Teva illūm will be available on the Teva website beginning on May 1, 2010 and you can learn more about the sandals on their own unique site. They will be available in synthetic and waterproof leather for $50 and $60, respectfully.

But you can get your hands on a pair for free before they even hit stores. Gadling and Teva want to give to one lucky reader a pair of illūm sandals. We plan to have an official Gadling review on the site later this Spring. In the meantime, perhaps our winner can give us some feedback.

To enter to win these sandals, simply leave a comment below stating the place you’d least like to find yourself in the dark. Maybe it’s in the foggy English countryside. Perhaps it’s alone in Death Valley. Or maybe it’s just in your own attic. Wherever it is, let us know in the comments and one person will be randomly selected to win a pair of Teva illūm sandals.

  • The comment must be left before Friday, April 2 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • The winner will receive pair of Teva illūm sandals (valued at $50).
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.

East of Africa: ToughStuff (w/ video)

The idea for ToughStuff came to Adriaan on a trip to his home in the Netherlands, between stints of working with charities and NGO’s in Africa for fifteen years.

He was in the garden, inspecting a cheap outdoor lamp that had solar panels built in to the top of the plastic. The light would automatically recharge a set of internal batteries during the day, and have enough power to stay illuminated throughout the night.

He thought, if the developed world could be using this technology to light our gardens, then why can’t this same equipment be used as a primary light source for the most needy people in the world?

After few years of research and development, ToughStuff International was born.

Okay, pause for a brief disclaimer: I need to say that I wouldn’t usually devote an entire article to write up a commercial enterprise. But I wholeheartedly believe in ToughStuff’s approach. It’s one of the few things I’ve seen that has the potential to change the face of the developing world in multiple ways…

The truck we’re in is full to the brim; six grown men and a load of lamps, panels, batteries and merchandising material. I’m with a team of salesmen that ToughStuff has assembled to begin promoting the products on foot from Antananarivo to Toliara in Southern Madagascar.

Through broken French and English, I find out that sales team has come from all walks of life; a couple of university students, a brewery advertising manager, an auto mechanic…they are excited to be working for the company, and excited to get out of the city for a few days.

We makes stops in small villages, where green hills and blue sky meet streaks of bright red dirt. The sales team enthusiastically shows off the lamps and panels to owners of small roadside shops. In every location, a crowd immediately forms around the salesmen.

People are instantly intrigued by the futuristic looking products; they’ve seen solar power on the roofs of big buildings, but are amazed to have it in their hands, at a price ($20) that’s still considered an investment, but within reach.

The shop owners write their names and phone numbers down in dusty booklets. Some of the more wealthy business owners discuss the potential of buying large sets of lamps and renting them to individual consumers. I suddenly see the brilliance of ToughStuff’s business model, in that there are theoretically 1.4 billion customers worldwide that desperately need this product; not something that many startups can claim.

A hundred miles outside of the capital, we stop to check in with a few customers that received prototype units. The first house we visit is a two level brick, mud, and thatch structure that belongs to a farmer and carpenter named Regice. Outside the house, six or seven children are playing with a metal hoop that they push along with a stick. The goal appears to be to get the hoop to roll by using the stick to nudge it along, tapping the left and right edges to keep it upright.

Regice makes horse-drawn carts for a living, and tells us that each cart takes him about one month to build. Prior to using the ToughStuff lamp, he used kerosene lamps at home and in his shed, which would cost about 20 cents a day to refill. He’s extremely happy about using the LED lamp, because it’s free to use and so easy to operate that his kids charge the lamp for him. He now buys food and invests in his carpentry business with the money that would have been spent on kerosene.

He shows us that he keeps the solar panel mounted on the roof, with the small cord dangling on to the balcony to charge the lamp during the day. The sales team brings out an adapter that’s just been released which utilizes the solar panel to charge a range of mobile phones. Regice immediately agrees to buy one, so that he doesn’t have to walk to town and pay to charge his phone.

Regice is more fortunate than most of the neighboring villagers. He’s able to purchase things like the lamp and cell phone connector because he operates a stable business. But for most, $20 per lamp and panel is still a major stretch – something that Adriaan hopes to whittle down as ToughStuff takes off.

We continue our Southbound journey and the sun begins to set over large, monolithic rock formations to the West. I think about the enthusiasm that I witnessed over the course of the day; the villagers we spoke to have so little, but yet were so excited at the chance to have a reliable, clean, and renewable source of light.

Find out more about ToughStuff on their website –

East of Africa: Arrival

Adriaan and I are barreling down a small cobblestone street in a dusty 4×4. Several people narrowly miss the car’s bull bars as they dash across the road, yet hardly flinch when we brush past them. I look out into the mass of people; skin tones are a mix of brown and black. Moderately well dressed people walk next to beggars with torn shirts.

The market we’re passing feels as crowded and energetic as those that I left behind in Hong Kong 48 hours ago, except there are far fewer neon lights and far more visible indications of poverty.

I hang my arm out of the window; the air is noticeably chilly and thin. I mention this to Adriaan and he explains that Antananarivo sits at roughly 4,200 ft above sea level in Madagascar’s central highlands – not quite the hot, dry, barren desert I had somehow pictured.Adriaan is the co-founder of an enterprise called ToughStuff, a company that manufactures solar panels & LED lamps for people in developing nations. He speaks with an air of sincerity and conviction about the company, and tells me that he’s spent over 15 years working in Africa with various organizations, but this is by far the most exciting project he’s seen.

The excitement is infectious, and I realize that I have an interesting twelve days ahead of me as I document and gather promotional material for their launch.

He justifies why Madagascar is an appropriate location to begin ToughStuff’s rollout: it’s the fifteenth poorest country in the world, two thirds of the population live below the international poverty line, and some areas of the 226,597 sq mile island are so remote that they won’t be linked to the electricity grid until 2040 or 2050. I try to take all of this in as we approach the center of Antananarivo.

We pull into view of the tallest hill in the city, where the Queen’s Palace is perched high above the congested streets. Its inescapable presence on the hill feels like a permanent reminder to the masses of their lowly place in the world. The unattainable.

Ironically enough, the palace was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1995. Work has since been done in an effort to reconstruct the building, but today it’s still mostly a hollow stone shell. A grand work in progress; an appropriate symbol for a country undergoing so much political turmoil in recent years.

Beneath the palace, large letters hang onto the hillside in a strange attempt to mimic the famous Hollywood sign. A-N-T-A-N-A-N-A-R-I-V-O. An-tana-na-rivo. It’s an intimidating word if you don’t break it down. Adriaan tells me that most of the locals refer to it simply as “Tana”, but warns me that I’ll encounter plenty of trouble pronouncing other town names and people’s last names.

We exit the car on a main street in the hills of the city. My ears are filled with a buzz of strange language and commotion. Vendors anxious to sell me things call out a word I haven’t heard before. “Vazaa! Vazaa!” they call out.

Adriaan tells me that it will be my new name for the next two weeks; foreigner. After getting my attention, they begin speaking quickly in French – which immediately tests the boundaries of the 8am French courses I took in college.

I stumble through a few botched sentences, and they transition into broken English. We end up meeting somewhere in the middle, as my brain begins to recall the daunting conjugations, precious masculine and feminine assignments, and proper syntax.

It becomes clear that it’s possible to get by with English in Tana, but it certainly helps to know a bit of French if you’re going out on your own.

We make it to a hotel near the center of town called the Radama, named after the first King of Madagascar. It’s a clean, quiet place with a surprisingly reliable wireless internet connection and a hospitable staff.

The room I’m given has a balcony, and I spend a few moments staring out over the city as the sun begins its descent for the evening. It’s a beautiful scene, and I soak it up; anxious to scrub off the last traces of Hong Kong smog to make space for the red dirt of Madagascar.

Follow the East of Africa series, all throughout this month – here. If you missed the introduction to this series, check it out here.

Daily deal – 40 LED headlamp for $8.50

Today’s Daily deal is perfect for the more adventurous traveler. This 40 LED headlamp is powered by 3 AA batteries, and the manufacturer claims an 80 hour run time.

Of course, having a head mounted flashlight is great for basic DIY work around the house, but it will probably be in its element in the forest or when trying to navigate your way around a hotel during a power outage.

The lamp itself can be tilted down and you can select one of 4 different settings (3 different intensities and one flashing mode). On the dimmest setting, it should be enough to read a book during an overnight flight, or if you don’t want to disturb your significant other when you try and read in bed.

This flashlight normally costs $16.99, but you can pick one up for just $8.49 by using coupon code “M24802850POFF“. To make the deal even better, you also get free shipping, and no sales tax if you live outside CA or MA. The online store accepts most major credit cards as well as Paypal payments.

One word of warning though; I do not suggest purchasing this lamp if your life is going to depend on it. If your trip takes you to caves, mountain faces or anywhere your only light will be from your flashlight, then I recommend getting a professional lamp, like one from Petzl.

Product page (via