Traveling With Camera Gear Made Easy With New Backpacks

Traveling with camera gear can be difficult. Delicate, sensitive lenses and other equipment need to be packed securely but in a way that allows it to be checked at security checkpoints. That makes maneuvering through airports take extra time. Now, a new series of luggage makes life easier for the traveling photographer.

Think Tank Photo has a new Airport™ series of travel specific, high-capacity camera backpacks designed to make maneuvering through airports a quick endeavor. The three backpacks – the Airport Accelerator, Airport Commuter and Airport Essentials – all have quick access pockets for both laptops and iPad, a top pocket for boarding passes and three sturdy handles to ensure easy placement and retrieval from overhead bins.

The three new backpacks meet international carry-on size requirements with the two smaller bags, the Airport Commuter and the Airport Essentials, designed to fit under the seat in regional commuter planes.Promising a light, adjustable, contoured harness to provide comfort along with lumbar support, Think Tank Photo hopes to raise travel accessory standards. The bags also offer air mesh paneling to keep backs cool. A height-adjustable sternum strap, a removable waist belt, side water bottle pocket, tripod/monopod mounting system and seam sealed rain cover look to extend their versatility.

[Flickr photo by dareppi]

Clean Camping: The Nemo Helio Allows For Portable Showering

While camping can be a lot of fun, one issue many people have is the lack of hygiene. Even when there are showers available, they’re often dirty and lacking in water pressure and hot water. Luckily, the Nemo Helio Pressure Shower compact shower system helps to solve this very problem.

According to the website, the product “comes in a small, neatly nested kit, weighs less than a full Nalgene, and provides 5 to 7 minutes of steady and satisfying water pressure.”

When purchasing the freestanding system, you’ll also get 11-liter water capacity, a 7-foot hose with spray nozzle and a foot pump to regulate water pressure. After you shower, you’ll also be able to use the Nemo Helio Pressure Shower to rinse dishes or clean food and gear.

The product, which has not yet been released, will be available this June, just in time for summer camping. And at $100, it is a very budget-friendly camping accessory.

10 Tips For A More Eco-friendly Vacation

In the world of travel, ecotourism is a hot topic right now. Rightfully so, especially when considering that everything we do on a trip, from the transportation we take to the foods we eat and the souvenirs we buy, has an impact on the Earth. To help you leave less of a carbon footprint, here are some tips for a more eco-friendly vacation.

Pre-trip planning

Going green when you travel isn’t just about what you do while on the road, it’s also about the steps you take before you leave home. If you want to make it look like you aren’t away to prevent burglaries, leave your lights on a timer. Also, make sure to unplug all electronics. Even if they are turned off, simply having them plugged in uses electricity. You should adjust your thermostat. If it’s winter, set it to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the pipes from freezing and in the summer, turn off any cooling systems. Additionally, it is beneficial to stop all newspaper and magazine subscriptions while away, and compost any fruits, vegetables, bread and flour products, and expired boxed foods before you go.Choose a “green” accommodation

While camping is inherently eco-friendly, there are ways to leave even less of a carbon footprint. Try to carpool when going to the campsite. Once there, do your exploring on foot or bike only, making sure to stay on the trails and wear soft-soled shoes. That being said, the closer to home the campsite is, the better. When at the campsite, try following the “leave no trace behind” rule, meaning if someone comes to the site after you leave, they shouldn’t be able to tell you were ever there. If there are no recycling bins around, bring the trash home with you to dispose of. While many people think burning the waste is a good idea, it actually contributes to air pollution.

For those who don’t want to rough it, don’t worry, as there are now many other accommodation styles that are also environmentally conscious. There are eco-friendly hostels, hotels, lodges and bed and breakfasts. Moreover, if you’ve never heard of glamping, it combines the sustainability of camping with luxury travel. You can browse eco-friendly glamping properties by clicking here.

Buy local

With that being said, when traveling to another area, you as the visitor should also be helping to put money into the local economy. This usually happens to some extent just by being in the country as you’re spending your money in that place, but not always. When purchasing souvenirs and clothing, check the label to see where it is made. Moreover, try to eat at mom-and-pop type eateries or restaurants where ingredients are locally sourced. This not only helps the local economy, it also reduces the amount of waste and fuel emissions from the shipping process.

Sign up for an eco-tour

Now an eco-tour doesn’t just mean you go outside on the tour or you learn about animals. An eco-tour should be locally operated and allow for participants to experience nature in a way that is educational, while fostering an understanding of the environment. Furthermore, the tour company should concentrate on conservation as well as putting money into the local economy.

If you’re looking to book a longer group travel tour, two of my favorite companies are Intrepid Travel and G Adventures. While there are many excellent travel companies out there that place an emphasis on the environment, I can personally vouch for these two as I have toured with them both. Throughout both tours, their commitment to the environment and local people was obvious, which I also felt helped me to understand the places visited on a deeper level.

Pack light

It may sound weird, but the weight of your luggage actually has an impact on the environment. Basically, the less you carry, the less fuel needed to carry it and the less carbon dioxide emitted. Added benefits include less strain on your body, less money spent on checked bags when flying and less stress about losing valuables.

Take transportation that uses less fuel

While nobody is expecting you to walk from city to city – although, if you can, that’s great – you can make better decisions when deciding on transportation. If you can help it, try not to fly to your destination. The height of the plane in the air makes it one of the worst transportation options. When you must fly, try to book a direct flight to minimize the negative impact. Additionally, opting for the train or bus over a car is a wise decision. However, for those times when a car is necessary, try to rent a hybrid, carpool or, better yet, do both. Once at your destination, skip bus tours, cab rides and driving and see as much of the city as you can on foot or bike. Not only will you be helping the planet, you’ll be seeing more and having a richer experience.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also opt to try one of the more quirky, planet conscious transport options, like a pogo stick, couch bike, pedal-powered kayak or a mechanical walking rickshaw.

Reduce the amount of laundry you do

While you may think you need to wash every article of clothing after every wear this isn’t always necessary. I’m not saying if you just went on an intense uphill hike or went jogging that you should re-wear your outfit, but if you wore a shirt out to dinner or a pair of jeans to go walk around a church, does that really constitute a need to do a load of laundry? If you really must, opt to hand wash your clothing instead of using a washer and dryer. Also, when staying at a hotel, try to reuse your towels and sheets as much as possible, as this helps save water and energy.

Choose one destination and explore it more fully

While you may technically see more by bouncing around from city to city every other day, your experience is limited. Think about it. When you only have two days in a particular city, how much can you really learn about the culture and the sites? By choosing one place and spending your entire trip there you open yourself up to learning more about the place. Not only that, but less moving around means less use of fuel emitting transportation.

Recycle, even when it’s inconvenient

Luckily, many hotels, hostels and guesthouses are catching on to the ecotourism trend and are implementing recycling programs on their premises. That being said, this isn’t always the case. If your accommodation doesn’t recycle, try to bring some of the trash home with you or find a place where you can recycle nearby. You can also drink from reusable water bottles to eliminate waste. Some good brands to buy from include Klean Kanteen, Bobble and S’Well. Furthermore, you should start thinking about recycling before you leave for your trip. Take the packaging off any new items and dispose of it before you go.

Use environmentally friendly gear

Everyday, travel companies are getting more and more creative with how they produce their gear. For example, you can buy items made from recycled and sustainable materials or solar-powered gadgets. Doing a bit of research into which pieces of gear are sustainable is also beneficial, and companies that make this easy for you are usually best. For example, Timberland puts an “Our Footprint” label on their products to help consumers make informed decisions. Additionally, opting for used items is also a good idea because it keeps these things from being thrown out. It’s also great to support organizations trying to help the Earth. My favorite eco-friendly company is R.E.I. Their gear is not only high-quality, but also they donate millions of dollars to help conservation efforts each year as well as reguarly host trail cleanups, fundraisers and nature hikes. Moreover, they have numerous sustainable goals for the organization like becoming climate neutral in their operations and a zero-waste-to-landfill company by 2020.

[photos via aloshbennett, Beth and Christian, Jessie on a Journey, Ceslo Flores, Pop Top Lady]

Travel Smarter 2012: The best gear for your 2012 travels

Bad gear is dead weight, you might as well toss it right into that bin with the stuff that the TSA says you can’t take on the plane. A bag that has cheap zippers, clothing that doesn’t dry quickly when you’ve washed it in the hotel room sink, refillable bottles that don’t stay shut and ooze shampoo all over the shirt you packed especially for that client meeting… Packing smart is just, well, it’s smart. After a year of gear, I’ve got some ideas about what works well for me, but also, I polled friends and readers for the smartest in new gear. And some of it? Wow, smart stuff.

Bits and Pieces

TSA sized squeeze bottles: Essential and clever, good qualities in a travel companion. You can get the last of your favorite shampoo out because they’re squeezable. And refillable.

Solid shampoo: Lush Cosmetics makes a whole line of shampoos that you’ll be able to take on the plane without grief. There’s a solid conditioner too. Admittedly not new, but smart, indeed.


Kindle Fire
Readers love these things, and now that Amazon has updated the Kindle to include wifi, it’s a whole lot more than just a portable library. Browse the web, send email, watch movies, it’s a complete entertainment system that weighs about the same as a single paperback book.Morhpie Juice Pack Air: It’s a case and an extended battery. That means you don’t have to dig around in your bag to find the extra battery when your trying to Instragram your dinner and the phone dies.

Ear buds: Last year I got a pair of Senneheisser ear buds, iPhone compatible, and they almost made me give up my bulky noise cancelling headphones. They sound great and because they’ve got three sizes of pads for the buds, I was able to get a fit that isolates a surprising amount of noise. I’m sorely tempted by the Sennheisser IE 60, but the 250.00 price tag keeps me from pulling the trigger.

Panasonic Lumix :20x optical zoom in a pocket camera, HD video, a sophisticated range of settings, and great image quality, even in low light. A fantastic travel camera, I can’t recommend this thing enough. Panasonic keeps improving it, every year, and it’s been worth the upgrades. Stellar.

Shoes and Clothes

Wool, wool, wool: SmartWool and Icebreaker both make incredibly versatile lines of clothing — skirts in a very light knit that wash well and look great, sweaters that are stylish enough to wear out but perform extremely well in the outdoors… it’s expensive stuff, but I have pieces in my wardrobe that are over ten years old and still look great.

Barefoot style shoes: I’m a skeptic, but well traveled outdoors fitness types say they swear by Skeletoes from Fila. “Hiked in the mud, went to the beach, then went to dinner…” Okay, a casual dinner, to be sure.

Born Stowaway Flats
: Enough padding for serious sightseeing, and dressy enough for making it through the fancy dinner you hadn’t quite packed for. These flats pack down to tiny, so you can absolutely find room in your bag.


Gregory Alpaca Rolling Duffel: No contest, this is my favorite new bag, the best thing I’ve seen in luggage in recent history. A duffel that’s a roller bag that you can actually carry as a backpack, and yes, it comes in carry on size.

Tom Bihn’s Brain Bag: All of Tom Bihn’s bags share an obsessive attention to detail, from the tie ons to the hardware to the compartments perfectly designed to hold just that one thing. The Brain Bag is for your laptop — and all that other electronica your dragging around. Configure it the way it works best for you.

Mission Workshop Vandal Backpack
: Sometimes, you just want a cool, stylish pack for day outings. The Vandal pack is weatherproof, expandable, and yeah, it fits your 15 inch MacBook. Plus, it comes in green. Sharp.

Osprey Transporter 60
: Not everything has to be a backpack. Osprey’s Transporter line comes with a harness so you can carry it as a backpack if you absolutely have to, but it’s also a top notch duffel. Weekends, road trips, short hops… a great all purpose duffel.

[flickr image via brewbooks]

Gadling Gear Review: Heat Holders Socks

I suffer terribly from cold feet; it’s why I don’t cheap out on socks. It’s also why I have one of those electric heater mats on the floor under my desk (a gift from my mate who sometimes just nails the gift giving with weird yet supremely likeable prezzies). Socks are way low on the scale of glam gear down with quick-dry underwear and refillable three ounce bottles, but they’re essential, and having warm feet can really make the difference between a lousy day or a good one.

Because of my terminally chilly paws, I was keen to see if Heat Holders are any better than the merino brands that stuff my sock drawer (SmartWool, IceBreaker, Dahlgren, and Darn Tough Vermont) at keeping my feet warm. (I am a fan of good socks, you may have guessed.) The short answer? Well, sort of.

I have a strong preference for natural fibers, it’s a “less plastic stuff” thing. I’m not totally naive; I do know that sometimes, the synthetics are the way to go. I’m just not that keen to spend a couple of hours waxing a canvas raincoat because I want to go with heavy cotton over far superior modern materials like GoreTex or PolarTech. Heat Holders are an acrylic poly blend; there’s nothing particularly natural about them.

They feel fine, though. They have a deep pile fleecy inside, they’re kind of cuddly, furry, even, a little bit like the inside or your lambswool slippers. (No, I don’t have those. The husband does and they’re sweet.) Outside, they’re, uh, a little plastic-y. I’ve been spoiled by merino, which I tend to prefer. But it’s the outside of the sock, who cares?

Here’s my issue with these socks. They’re really bulky. All that fluffy really does work to keep your feet warmer, and they’re great for sleeping in. But I couldn’t get them in most of my shoes. I’m not totally sold on the idea that adding bulk is the best way to stay warm. I get it — loft is how you hold heat and the loft that these socks somehow manage to provide, even after a full day’s wear, works. They worked great in my wellies, which are a little big, but I couldn’t wear them with many of my other winter boots. I’m wearing mine around the house and with my rain boots out in the wet, but for travel? Nope, too bulky.

The marketing text on the elaborate packaging says that these socks are “seven times warmer than your basic cotton sock.” That’s probably true. But I’m not sure they’re seven times warmer than some of the wool or alpaca fiber socks I’ve got, and that’s a more useful comparison.
Heat Holders socks come in a few styles: stripey, long, and in a slipper sock. Their original sock goes for just just under $20.00.