Absurd Gear Pitches For Things We Don’t Need

When you’re on the mailing lists for the gear companies, you get some very odd things pitched your way as “perfect for travelers!” Sometimes the pitch is spot on, and you think, yeah, I would totally recommend that. But other times … uh, no – just no. Here are three strange ideas that came my way recently – you decide for yourself, but I’ll pass.

The Utilibrush: This project, funded through Kickstarter (why doesn’t this surprise me) solves a problem you didn’t know you had. It combines toothpaste, a reel of floss, a mirror, a cap you can use as a cup to rinse with, and, of course, a toothbrush. This all-in-one, handy device is good for approximately 40 uses (if you floss every day, I guess). The campaign is kind of amusing and the device is only 12 bucks, but you know what? I’m good with throwing those little tubes of toothpaste the dentist gives me into my carry-on.

The Sash Bag: “A modern take on the fanny pack.” I’m going to confess something – I own and still sometimes travel with a fanny pack. It’s earned its place in travel. I find a money belt about the most awkward piece of travel gear ever invented and my ancient fanny pack, sourced somewhere in the depths of the ’80s, fills that role if the type of traveling I’m doing requires it. Beyond that, I just carry a shoulder bag or a day pack. Dudes put the kind of stuff the Sash Bag is supposed to hold in their pockets. I’m taking a cue from the dudes.

The Earbud YoYo: Apparently, there’s an epidemic of accidents on the slopes caused by the annoying tangle of earbud cables. Now, don’t get me wrong, the annoyance of tangled earbuds is a legit, albeit first world, complaint. But what I do not need is an additional do-dad attached to the high-speed shred metal loving denizens of the slopes. What I need is for them to pay attention to what’s around them, not to focus on their own personal sound tracks. Yes, I’m old. Get off my (snow covered) lawn.

[Photo credit: Avrene via Flickr (Creative Commons)]

The days of forgetting your toothbrush are over!

How many times have you left for a trip and thought: ‘I know I’m forgetting something, but I have no clue what that is’? It happens to me ALL the time and I leave annoyed for not being able to remember — if only I had made/kept that list!

Forgetting my toothbrush, socks and phone charger, to leaving my room window open or the bathroom light on — it has all happened, many times. So I jumped-up with glee when I found this website, brilliantly called ‘dontforgetyourtoothbrush.com‘. This is your ultimate “list-maker” for any trip.

The website allows you to make customized lists basis the type of trip you are going on, and has optional list categories that include: planning (under which you have — advance planning list, 2-weeks before, 1-week before), packing (documents, literature, cosmetics, for the baby, sports, pet-stuff etc etc etc!), and extra items (where you can write whatever you want). Each of the list’s sublists, have sublists! Look at the things you need to remember on the lists and you will be surprised how you ever made it without one. Once you have decided what you want on each list, you will receive an email and print version of them. Pretty handy, eh?

It has been voted twice as website of the day on BBC, and made the ‘top-lists’ on CNN and Time Magazine.

Must-Haves for your iPhone Camp Out

Are you planning to camp out next week for an iPhone? If so, you need to be prepared. Gone are the days of sleeping on sidewalks in the rain, or suffering in the heat. You need your iPhone, and you’re not afraid to wait for it in whatever Mother Nature decides to give. Here are a bunch of accessories to make your parking-lot camp out more comfortable, safe, and high-tech.

You’ll need somewhere to sleep, and access to power for charging all your gadgets is a must, so bring along a tent with power. The N!ergy tent from Eurekaintegrates three factory-installed 12-volt outlets inside,” and runs off of a portable, rechargeable battery. If you don’t need power, but still want light, check out Wood’s Solar-Powered EZ-Tent. This eco-friendly abode “features a removable, 7-inch solar panel on the top of the tent’s hub; 4-6 hours of direct light yields 2-4 hours of tent light.”

Even with a tent, the concrete won’t be soft. You most definitely need a camping mattress. The Therm-A-Rest is “a lightweight blowup mattress which is perfect for backpacking. It is less than an inch thick but somehow manages to absorb the painful ground so that you don’t have to.” And if that’s too wimpy for you, try the Aero Sport All-Terrain Raised Bed with Dual Power Pump, “the Cadillac of such mattresses.”

Never again will you have to rely on your line neighbor to save your spot on bathroom breaks. Bring along the best portable toilet money can by, the BioToi. “
Hygienic and environmentally friendly, each BioToi system comes with a roll of Bio-Bag waste bags, which are 100% biodegradable and 100% compostable. To use the system, simply thread the bags around the rim of the toilet seat, and do your business. When you’re finished, tie off the bag and pack it out. Each bag is certified to decompose to a humus state within 40 days when placed in a controlled compost environment.”

I know you probably won’t be showering, but please try to brush your teeth a few times. Prepasted toothbrushes are the way to go, and the ReadyBrush is your best bet. “All you need to do is wet the bristles and the [built in] toothpaste is activated.” Genius!

You need to eat, so why not cook it yourself? The WoodGas camp stove — a revolution in outdoor cooking — “uses 90% less fuel than ordinary stoves; and burns almost any plant-based fuel.” Or you could bring along the Wavebox, a “rugged, portable lunchbox that’s also a microwave.” You can either plug this into a standard outlet, clip it onto a car battery, or plug it into a cigarette lighter. Still too much for you? Bring along a self-heating dinner. “These package meals come with a nifty button that automatically heats up the meal in ten minutes when pressed. And they don’t need to be refrigerated.” Don’t forget the frozen drinks! Whip up a quick margarita with the Daiquiri Whacker, a portable, gas-powered blender. Be careful though — local laws may keep you from having an open container of alcohol in public. (Get the booze-holding sandal instead!)

Safety is important. You don’t want your precious credit card to go missing after spending days in line, so keep it in a TravelSafe pouch. “Featuring a slashproof skin and a high-tensile stainless steel cable with a padlock that cinches tight, the TravelSafe can be locked to pretty much anything.” Once you finally get your paws on the iPhone, attach an Xscream to the box. “This carabiner-like device is really nothing more than a portable yell-box. It clips easily on a purse or backpacker and when danger approaches one simply presses the button and out comes a 120-decibel scream. This will either frighten the thief off, or irritate him so badly he will beat you until you start screaming equally as loud.” If you’re bringing along a laptop (and I know you are), try stashing your credit cards and cash in the Stashcard, a safe that slides into an open PCMCIA/PC Card slot.

Am I missing anything?

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The Smiley Toothbrush Holder: Sanitary AND Perfect For Impromptu Puppet Shows

smileyI’ve spent many nights in dingy hostels. On the one hand, I love the liberation of living in filth, but on the other hand, it can be disgusting. Throughout my soiled adventures, however, I’ve always been careful to store my toothbrush in its travel case — until a friend terrorized me by saying, “You know…you can never really get plastic clean.” Gulp. I peered down into the tube of my grimy toothbrush holder and could literally taste horror, disgust — and a little bit of bile.

If you’re equally grossed out by the thought of hostel sinks or toothbrush holders, a Smiley Toothbrush Holder may be a simple alternative worth looking into. The easy-open lid keeps your toothbrush covered and out of the way between uses, and the suction-cup-back sticks to mirrors, tile, and stainless steel. The best part? The vents in the cover “smile back at you, giving you a cheery outlook on the day.” A pair of Smileys runs about $5. Never before has $5 offered travelers the dual advantages of being (a) hygienic and (b) puppet-show-ready.

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Dental Mitts and Travel Wipes

The recent NY Times article about packing toiletries in your bags was interesting. In addition to laying out the ever-changing rules and hazards about carrying liquids onto planes, it noted some new products in the area of traveling personal hygiene. I mean, come on, we’ve all been hoarding hotel shampoos because of their convenient–and “legal”–travelsize. There are alternatives now.

La Fresh out of California has a line of travel wipes called Travel Lite on the Go. They’ve got everything from nail polish removing wipes to dental finder mitts.

Travelon, a bag maker, has branched out into Alka-Seltzer-like dried, tablet toothpastes, mouthwashes, and shaving “creams.” Just add water.

And, if you want travel sizes for just about anything, try minimus.biz. (Soy sauce, anyone?)

No more having to worry about baggies and surly security agents.

But, a little more dangerous is their pitch for refillable bottles called Pitotubes that you’re supposed to pack in checked bags, without fear of leaking. But these things look so slick, they resemble something carried by the villain in a James Bond movie.