Best Trip-Saving Accessories

March 21, 2016

by Peter Reese
Best Trip-Saving Accessories

Far from home and days into the trip, little things add up.  With these Active Junky selections, your focus is on fun rather than frustration.  Be prepared to rebook your flight to extend the journey when the days go even better than planned.

SOG SwitchPlier 2.0

SOG Knives Switchplier 2.0 Multi-Tool

Getting a grip, a strong one, kept my improv underwater housing from swimming to the bottom of Magdalena Bay. Vibration from using the camera while under power in our 25’ launch loosened critical bolts that still needed to allow the mount to pivot. Better to add a few ounces to luggage than hope you can freedive 50ft to retrieve footage – accompanied by a curious, 40ft-long grey whale. SOG got it right for serious travelers looking to tune (or even fabricate) gear while in transit. The other tools functioned admirably and locked securely as well.

Tester Comments: SOG kills it for reliability across product categories. The clenching power on the plier is worth the money alone as gripping the tool is easy even with wet hands. Wire cutter and file make SwitchPlier uniquely qualified to deal with metal, wire and hard plastics. A half-serrated blade carries SOG cutting power and versatility into every scenario.

Best For: Multi-sport gear repair, international travel and specialty activities including fishing

Beyond Coastal Active Sunscreen:  Freedom from frying

Beyond Coastal Active Sunscreen Starting at: $5.66

Trip insurance.  Under $6 and with a 90% probability you’ll need it.  And 100% certainty that regrets will flee like 97% of UVB rays hitting B.C.-shielded skin.  Rather than paint-and-pray ingredients, this brand gets serious with skin-nourishing elements including green tea extract, aloe vera, shea butter and yerba matte.  Water resistant without being impossible to lather off, Active rubs in clear and remains non-greasy.  Testers have taken this one around the world, coming back intact and smiling.  Leave frying to tasty bacon as you burn incredible sights into your memory instead.

Tester Comments:  On the fly, even with wet or gritty hands, this sunscreen goes on reliably and evenly.  The smaller tube tucks into pocket or dry bag for ready access.  A small thing but the opening size meters out sunscreen without too-big bubbles or a stingy smear.  Once again, Beyond Coastal showed up and performed in challenging conditions.

Best For: Applying and sharing, use in tandem with hats, buffs and longer clothing if conditions become more severe

SealLine Blocker Dry Sack 20L:  Go boldly

Image by Peter Reese

SealLine Blocker Dry Sack Starting at: $14.28 Active Junky pursues the difficult, the remote and the inspired.  And that’s ordering espresso drinks, much less setting sail for the Greater Beyond.  SealLine’s demonstrated to testers that their promises endure in real conditions when Heaven meets Earth, then collides with Ocean or White-Capped Lake. Blocker charges into the fray – over and over -- with 50% stronger seams in a more efficient form factor.  The brand’s patent-pending rectangles pull 20% more space out of thin air while nesting together better than a bunch of Happy Birthday balloons (although many of the colors are downright festive).  Size and color choices (5 and 4, respectively) allow each traveler or group to code 70D Blockers to content categories or days of the week.  BlockerLite Dry Sacks notch the build back to 20D to extract weight without wimping out on noteworthy toughness.

Tester Comments: More like generous, accommodating stuff sacks than expedition-weight bags, these sacks stood (and packed together) strong.  Even when exposed for days on an open, sun-hammered sea kayak deck, SealLine reigned supreme for weather and water protection; Other bags didn’t fair as well.  These rolltops are simple and reliable, featuring durable clips for frequent access along with years of gritty use.  Buying multiple bags aids organization to allow gear location even at night in a tent.  Plus their longevity makes them far more responsible than cheap imitations or doubled-up plastic bags.

Best For: Stash or lash where the elements prevail, moving to BlockerLite for packable protection

Croakies Float Kit:  This is not a test

Croakies Float Kit Or maybe it is.  The wave that thrashed you moments ago had enough force to suck your eyeballs out (nearly, anyway).  Prized sunglasses clung for dear life but abandoned ship (as in, your head) due to overwhelming, incoming saltwater.  Between you and regret is the ridiculously underpriced Float Kit.  Four Beacon Yellow buoys encourage redemption even for oversized specs;  Pre-testing at home in the sink is their prescription.  Compatible with many cords, F.K. does wonders for the brand’s ARC or Terra Cord Systems, wise choices even without flotation.  At well under $20, the Grateful Dead Endless model balances the practical benefits of post-immersion rescue with pre-immersion individuality. 

Tester Comments:  Croakies is beyond question for quick fit, the ability to stay in position and all-day comfort.  Without the Float kit, expensive prescription sunglasses would have been jeopardized on multiple occasions – every day.  From sea kayaking to SUP sessions, the Float Kit meant the freedom to push hard, get wet and be assured that expedition activities didn’t need to be cut short:  Sunglasses are the difference between going strong and coming up short.

Best For: Paddle, SUP and bodysurfing exploits where glasses and board shorts need to make it back to the beach – in proper position

Qalo Men’s Black Silicone Wedding Band:  Bound without burdens

Check out the Qalo Ring >

Not every product carries such a compelling backstory, reasons why the founders rightly prevailed through start-up angst.  Now, carrying your commitment into the world, whether pursuing vertical or ocean endeavors, doesn’t mean risking finger trauma, ring loss (thanks, sunscreen) or attracting undue attention.  Medical grade silicone, non-porous and non-conductive, ensures safety with sizes to fit all finger diameters; Women’s products mirror the men’s collection to include Outdoor Camo, Avocado and Maroon options.  Testers went for the most popular, Black version to leave their valuables at home without forgetting what really matters.

Tester Comments: In and out of sharp-edged fiberglass kayak cockpits, digging through gear and shoot video on moving boats in the middle of rigging along with safety gear. With Quora, there’s no catch, no worries – and an even easier time applying high UPF sunscreen (minus the dangerous grease-and-gone slippage of metal bands).  Truly one of the biggest success stories on our multi-activity, on-the-move trip.  With so many benefits, it was hard to take it off upon arrival back home.  This is, without a doubt, the way to go while staying connected to matters of the heart back home.

Best For: Recreational use at home and away, couples on a budget

Flowfold Navigator Passport Wallet:  Borderline amazing

Check out the Flowfold Navigator Passport Wallet >

The Flowfold founders boldly reached out, extending hands of friendship (and blatant self-promotion) at a recent trade event.  We’re glad they did with DiamondFiber pocketables toting the same gritty determination as their designers.  This teched-up cover loads easily with currency, tickets, credit cards and passport intact; Plenty of personalization options keep the 1.1oz Navigator fresh.  Flowfold’s generous lifetime warranty takes away reasons to hold back from the $35 buy-in.  A straight-up wallet version, the Traveler, jumps in with a compact tri-fold that flows from the same innovative thinking.

Tester Comments:  Did the job.  Stayed snug in pocket or pack but slid out effortlessly when needed.  Kept essentials organized while protecting the most essential form of I.D.  Using the brighter color assured easily location in the pitch-black hotel safe and kept Navigator from disappearing in the bottom of a carry-on.  Loved the durability, relished the style and kept carrying it well after the trip ended.

Best For: Going global, protection if RFID blocking isn’t essential

Neve Lightning to USB Cable:  Off-the-grid gritty

Check out the Neve Lightning Cable >

Quite simply, Lander products make the user want to go on-belay – even at the office or on the commuter train.  Illumaweave reflective technology kept this one from hiding in the bottom of the tester’s travel pack; The same applies in twilight tents or early-morning hotel rooms.  The red color option kills it for confidence knowing the flat, tangle-free cabling came from outdoor-inspired minds.  One-meter length is spot-on for most settings where the rugged, sure connectors always remain at the ready.  More like digital climbing rope, Neve’s an anchor in the multi-pitch world known as real life. 

Tester Comments: Here’s a case where technology leaps ahead or gets disabled simply based upon the reliability of accessories.  Neve adds elegance and confidence, even when snaked through furniture in hotel rooms or dirty luggage in a whale camp.  Spend the money, enjoy the ride and stop using OEM cabling or cheap replacement cords from a pharmacy or discount store.

Best For: Rough-and-tumble recharging and syncing for Apple users (other models cover other devices including action cameras)  


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