Finding the rare and beautiful, far from home, takes some doing. Active Junky testers came up with six products to put the amazing within reach.
Brunton Resync 6000: Home is where the milliamps are
Brunton’s jumpstarted their solar offerings and Resync 6000 gives a boost to the brand’s credibility. While more suited to emergency use, having the .75watt panel in reserve is another reason to carry this weatherproof, shock-resistant power pack. Active Junky ranked Brunton’s Revolt high for durability but Resync slims down the chunky package for easy storage and deployment. Compatible with Brunton’s HeatSync battery-enabled clothing, 6000 found its way to Baja for adventure travel duty. Bottom port access can be challenging with wet or oily hands but the silicone exoshell is easy to grip in all conditions; LED level indicators seemed true and kept testers from putting themselves in a (dark) hole when recharging cameras, GPS watches and headlamps.
Tester Comments: This power source could not be denied anytime the sun even hinted at shining forth. An ultra slim package even made it possible to tuck the unit into jacket pocket or drybag for ready access. The brightly-colored, anti-slip skin was problematic when Resync was handled roughly and it allows some sand and grit to cling the unit. Clean-up was fast and the price for getting such convenient recharging was small, indeed.
Best For: Moderate duty travel use, on-the-fly urban top-offs
Pakpod: The hunt is on
Looking to land your iPhone, action or digital camera in a precarious spot? Or own a time lapse to bring your friends to their pixel-loving knees? Pakpod digs into tough situations including shifting sand dunes and submerged scenarios. Active Junky’s willingness to fold, twist, bungee and strap Pakpod to stabile and moving objects was rewarded with uncommon, cinematic angles. Not for the linear thinker, this system requires creative adaption to get more capable with each outing. Once the intimidation of this Deep Space three-legged craft turns to playtime, the possibilities of staking become more obvious; Optional ABS and threaded-hole stakes offer round-cornered safety and bolt-in security, respectively. While the base unit lands under $100, plan on dishing out at least another $50 to take advantage of 15.5oz Pakpod’s full potential.
Tester Comments: Underwater is where this one gained immediate credibility, promoting stability of a larger action camera while dipping down to find gray whales exploring a wind-rocked boat on Mexico’s Pacific side. Ditto while snorkeling among rocky and sandy bottom features offshore from the port city of Loreto. Mechanical skills are essential as are bungees, paracord and Gorilla tape. Time lapse photography on loose dunes fit PakPod’s combination of triangular spiked feet and adjustable oval pads. Rock-solid placement was the result during a 90-minute, single-placement shoot even when early morning winds kick up near the group’s whale watching camp.
Best For: Local and international digital outings, aspiring amateur up to accomplished pro productions
Petzl Zipka Headlamp: Wired to wander
Active Junky-style adventure travel is the ideal pairing for this 68g headlamp. Shedding a band in favor of a retractable wire, Zipka adapts instantly to nearly any hat, cap or helmet thanks to the self-tensioning system. Concerns about excessive pressure or sloppy fit disappeared into the night in the 100-lumen bubble of even lighting. Two settings manage brightness against runtime for up to 180hrs at a useful 20 lumens. As Zipka’s lighting head doesn’t tilt, some practice is needed to get the beam angle right both up-close in camp and on the trail. Three standard AAA batteries do the heavy lifting as the water resistant headlamp glows in the dark to get found fast when needed.
Tester Comments: A multi-sport trip is the best place for this one – along with keeping it in the pack for anytime, emergency use. With sure fit on all headwear, Zipka got used more than nearly any other product. A built-in diffuser was ideal for close-in map reading while 100 lumens more than dealt with night beach and scrub brush navigation. Battery life? Extraordinary. This one now sits in the truck console back home. Come what may.
Best For: In-camp use, navigation at shorter distances
Platypus Meta Bottle: No excuses
Ideally suited for backcountry settings where viruses aren’t a concern, Meta Bottle is among the most convenient we’ve deployed. Instead of funneling water in or disassembling the filtration system prior to filling, Meta gulps quickly as the user scoops to fill. Bacteria and protozoa get stopped in their tiny tracks with an exceptional 1,000-liter useful life before swapping filters out. Capable of 2L a minute peak processing, this low-key Platypus offering employs a packable soft bottle testers found refreshing; Materials are free of chemical nastiness while remaining dishwasher compatible. A non-filtration version fills quickly, seals securely and compresses for travel.
Tester Comments: At Active Junky, Platypus is rising through the ranks based upon easy packing and use. A departure from hard-edged Nalgene bottles, Meta makes it worth rethinking filtered hydration. Of significant merit is the bottle’s easy, sure grip that’s extremely important went filling, handling and using. The filter mechanism can be separated when better water prevails to extend the life of this trustworthy system.
Best For: Remote settings, solo and group travel
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Duffel: Going big, staying small
Guides, adventure racers and global long-haul travelers clamor for large duffels. Many options are bulky, rigid and make for awkward storage between trips. Enter Cargo Hauler, an inspired creation from the wandering minds at Eagle Creek. Active Junky sees the line, ranging from 45L to 120L, as the built-right choice for most weekend, domestic and international travelers. Packable into the end zipped pocket, Bi-Tech Armor Lite 600D material pushes back against abrasion and moisture. While not waterproof, CH’s carry choices (including removable pack straps), self-healing zippers and an all-access, U-shaped opening get high marks. Procure the 45L or 60L as a carry-on, 90L or 120L to check as needed, employing Eagle Creek’s sensible Pack-It System Cubes to make it all work.
Tester Comments: Unicorns for sale. Get your magical flying beast here. No kidding. We haven’t seen many like it, much less traveled with such ease and confidence in lightweight luggage. Fly with it, hoist it through taxis and buses and come out on the other side (in Mexico, for example) none the worse for wear. Store it anywhere back home – if it doesn’t keep pawing by your bedside to take wing for greater adventures.
Best For: Frequent or Bucket List trips, heroic gift giving to traveler lovers
Peak Design Everyday Messenger Bag: Paralysis, then perfection
At Active Junky, part of our job is to “see it all.” This laptop-friendly Peak Design bag confounded our tester because putting it to work was anything but obvious. Rather than loading it up with electronic essentials, commuting spare clothes or camera gear, start by putting what needs carrying out on a table. Only then will the interior FlexFold Dividers, side pocket with Anchor attachment, quick access top zipper and other features come into their own. Enrobed by Kodra 500D weatherproof, waxed fabric and reinforced stress points, E.M. is one of few weekday + weekend pieces we’ve seen. Peak Design’s bias toward photography is the primary reason as the bag integrates with their Capture clip product, enables secure tripod transport and even manages live and dead batteries along with memory cards. Digital denizen or not, the four-position MagLatch closure is the best we’ve seen to date for most progressive users.
Tester Comments: Binge on The Blacklist and figure this one out much like we had to do. Few pieces are worth messing around, deciphering compartments, latching and load balancing. Count this among the elite, even though the package is gritty enough for most of reality. Active Junky favors the camera-cloaking look of Everyday, particularly when traveling mass transit or needing to trust a bag’s security in an overhead bin. Could be one of the year’s most delightful and surprising finds.
Best For: Commuting and shooting your way, gig economy dominance