Gear review

Even the most level headed travel veteran can geek out when thinking about travel trinkets.  Read more about roadtripper tested useful tools, recommended products, and other cool gadgets.

Spot Satellite Messenger with GPS Tracking

My parents bought us this since they like knowing we're safe '''every'''day. Honestly I think it's a little silly but if it makes them feel better, it's worth it. The unit has 4 buttons: On/off, Ok, Help, and 911. When you first get the unit you have to activate it online, and then set up your account. When you're doing this, you can include email addresses for notifications that go out whenever you hit any of the buttons. So, every time I hit the OK button, an email goes to our family with our location and to let them know we're ok. If you hit the 911 button, SPOT is very clear that '''YOU''' will be responsible for any costs incurred by this action. Hopefully we'll never need to find out how much that costs. Note that it does not transmit in some areas. On the coast of Alaska and northern British-Columbia, in southern Chile and in most of Tierra del Fuego.

--Posted by Kristin

Pharos Trips and Pics Photo Linked Portable GPS Unit

We've used this for most of our trip to capture where we've been. The software isn't very used friendly though as a warning. Turn it on when you start your drive, and it will log your GPS location every couple of seconds. Plug it into your computer and you can then download your route onto Google Earth. It's supposed to be able to Geo-tag pictures, but we haven't quite got that part of it figured out yet.

--Posted by Kristin

SteriPEN Adventurer Handheld Water Purifier

This thing is great and will pay for itself if you use it enough. It uses UV light to kill any and all water-born baddies - parasites, bacteria, viruses, everything. It does sound a little bit too good to be true, but the science is sound. DNA (the essential blueprint for all life) is degraded by UV light, so anything living in the water will be irreversibly crippled and unable to reproduce. It has rechargeable batteries and usually it can be used 20 times before needing to be recharged. 1 L of water takes 1 minute to purify. I really like it since bottled water is wasteful (in my opinion) and generates a lot of plastic garbage, so this thing is great for minimizing our impact on the environment.
--Posted by Kristin

Xantrex pocket power inverter 175-Watt

We bought this pocket sized power inverter in 2008 and its been great for charging our camera batteries and ipods. It gets a little hot but it's quiet and small. Our unit came with a cigarette lighter adapter and also battery clamp leads but no airplane adapter as advertised. The blue LED light is dim so sometimes it's a little difficult to tell if the unit is switched on but we have used it many times and it has been reliable. The cigarette lighter adapter sometimes needs a little wiggle to lock it in place. This item is currently out of stock on amazon but there is a comparable product available - the Duracell DC to AC Pocket Power Source Inverter.

--Posted by Tom

Eagle Creek Black Nylon All Terrain Money Belt

I didn't use this item but a good friend of mine did and he spoke so highly of it that I was convinced to include it here... I hope the added publicity doesn't reduce it's effectiveness. Rob claimed that this belt was now included in his top five travel essentials and that it had worked extremely well for him during his year long adventure in Central and South America, adding that the traditional money belt is now so widely known and invariably uncomfortable that it is almost redundant.

--Posted by Tom

Garmin 60csx

We used the handheld Garmin 60csx connected to a Panasonic Toughbook as our navigation system. There are plenty of good quality and free maps available for this system and websites that can be used to find them. I have a full review of the system here :

Thu, 12/16/2010 - 15:12

Comment on Steripen batteries

I don't know for sure if these are the same brand we looked at in the US... ANYHOW: there are several brands of these around which use a larger type battery - a battery I have NOT seen anywhere outside the US - these batteries are 1.5 Volts, but hold more Ampere and are thicker and shorter than AA type batteries. A silly set-up for adventure equipment! Without the option to replace batteries these UV filters will become rather useless (recharging will only work if you're near a power point and have fresh-ish rechargeables), so check that you get such UV-light filter with standard AA-sized batteries.

Fri, 12/30/2011 - 19:19 (Reply to #1)

good point about the SteriPen

If you decide to get a SteriPen for international travel, make sure you get the SteriPen Freedom or SteriPen Classic. The Freedom model is rechargable via USB and included wall charger while the Classic model uses AA batteries.  These are the only two models that don't require the CR123 batteries that are near-impossible to find when traveling.