Chasing The Dragon's Tail: Southeast Asia Adventure II
Published on 07/23/2012
By Peter Reese
Two weeks of rapid-fire flights, bus rides, boat cruises, all-night rail travel and motor scooter touring threatened to take their toll on sojourner and gear alike. As a result, the fits-and-starts of international business and adventure travel proved to be an ideal Active Junky testing scenario: Products needed to perform or find themselves literally left behind. Passport or not.
Sea to Summits’ COOLMAX ADAPTOR LINER came through during repeated all-night sleeper car pushes back and forth from Hanoi to Sapa, Vietnam. With open bunk bedding of uncertain origin and cleanliness, ADAPTOR upheld high standards for hygiene, insect repellency and comfort. In fact, while others struggled with relaxing in a cramped compartment hemmed in by strangers, yours truly pulled over seven hours of solid shut-eye.
Arriving fresh and ready to explore Vietnam’s highest terrain, there was little doubt that S-T-S is the best value going in travel insurance. Hostel visitors in particular need to take note of this easy-care sleeping essential. Combine this with their nearly mystifying 22-liter ULTRA SIL DRY DAYPACK for short trips and market excursions and discover a lightweight approach to nighttime security as well as daytime freedom.
MPG’s MOMENTUM SHORT is an option to consider when varied activities require a multi-sport short. Testers found the piece looked casual but kept things in line with the integrated compression short. If extra beach, hiking or bike touring days make it on to the itinerary, MOMENTUM adds athletic performance to the trip. A pant version is available if colder weather or more urban exploration is on the docket. In either case, these well-fit styles double as sleep ware from hotels to home-stays.
Trail-wise, Clothing Arts is on the travel radar in a major way this year. P CUBED (Pick Pocket Proof) ADVENTURE TRAVELER SHORTS kept itchy fingers at a distance – and provided the wearer with a day’s worth of storage thanks to a full complement of pockets. Teflon fabric protector gave testers assurance of stain resistance even when sampling street fare including glass-bottled beverages dripping condensation. Heavier than other options, Clothing Arts is the genuine article for serious globetrotting. This style even avoided the Camp Counselor Wannabe vibe that plagues today’s shorts designs.
Hydration was a constant concern, one alleviated by Vapur’s ELEMENT FOLDABLE BOTTLE. BPA-free, easy to fill and fabricated with an antimicrobial lining, ELEMENT folded flat until needed. While harder to manage than rigid bottles when approaching empty, Vapur’s innovative bottle made it easy to fill up at a moment’s notice thanks to the wide-mouth SuperCap closure. One-liter and .7-liter sizes fit all situations with Active Junky recommending the larger size for most applications.
Once again, Fenix Lighting came through with powerful, portable illumination. Fueled by a single, universal AA battery, the Fenix E11 Flashlight made both pack digging and after-dark navigation exercises in confidence and reliability. Fashioned from aircraft-grade aluminum, the E11’s body took drops, rolls and bounces in stride in China, Vietnam and Hong Kong. A shining example of affordable technology, Fenix showed that even a basic light could earn respect among international travellers.
Equipped for serious travel, these products came out ahead in pre-, during, and post-trip testing in mid-2012. If the budget only allows state park escapes this year, rest assured this gear will be ready if international options pop up, even on short notice.