If you’re planning a gap year or packing for the trip of a lifetime, you’ll want to cram as many creature comforts into your backpack as possible, not to mention some tech on which to record and share some phenomenal views and bragging rights. We’re rounded up some near-essentials (aside from a huge backpack and warm coat) to make travelling easier and more exciting, whether you’re trekking through jungles and camping in the wild or catching trains and seeing the sights of Europe. Just don’t forget your toothbrush.
Sure, you’ll need a massive rucksack for lugging your worldly possessions from hostel to hostel, but it won’t be much use for sightseeing in a busy metropolis. Thankfully, there’s the Wolffepack that comes in many forms, including the ‘Capture’ for photographers that keeps all your tech, money and passport safe and sound.
Designed to allow users to reach into their bag without the hassle of unstrapping and taking it off, the backpacks all come with a clever ‘orbital trapeze’ system that allows a wearer to swing the pack from their back to their front effortlessly. While this is a time saver, it’s also great if you want to keep your bag where you can see it on a sketchy street or busy train.
The Capture holds 26 litres and comes with a removable camera pod, three compartments, tripod clip, laptop sleeves and waterproof rain cover. With Carbon fibre, Kevlar and Dyneema cords, it’s also built to withstand the wildest of adventures.
Price: £139.95 | Buy Wolffepack Capture
GoPro HERO5 Action Camera
While serious photographers seldom travel without an SLR, the GoPro is brilliant for people on the go and perfect for recording bike rides and scenes you’ll want to remember in years to come. The HERO5 Black is dubbed the ‘best GoPro ever’ and supports video resolutions up to 4K at 30 frames per second, video stabilisation and stereo audio recording, as well as professional quality 12MP photos.
A simple one button control and two-inch touch display makes operating it a breeze and it’s waterproof without a housing up to 33 feet – great for recording a white water rapids ride or trip to a waterfall. Once users have recorded their envy-enduring footage, the HERO5 can auto-upload their photos and videos to the cloud for safe keeping and share it easily online. It makes bragging easy.
Cat S30 smartphone
You may be surgically attached to your iPhone or top-of-the-range Android in the city, but we all know dropping these handsets can prove to be an expensive mistake. Instead, why not invest in the Cat S30 handset. Built to be work in extreme environments, the water, dust and shockproof smartphone is designed to survive a 1.8-metre drop test and has an easy grip design as well as 12 hours talk time and up to 19 days standby – perfect if you’re staying in the back-of-beyond (or have mislaid your charger).
Price: £239.99 | Buy Cat S30 smartphone
Griffin Survivor Extreme
A tablet is a godsend when you’re pushed for space, working as a map, address book, novel, games console and internet café if you’re lucky. But they can be delicate, making a ruggedized case a sensible investment. Griffin Technology makes an array of ‘Survivor’ cases for different models, including the iPad Air 2 (pictured) to protect their backs and screens.
The new ‘Survivor Extreme’ is built to enable the iPad4 mini to survive drops onto concrete of up to 6.6-feet, cushioning falls within the impact-resistant shell. Its slide on design all but eliminates the air gap between touchscreen and the screen guard for extra protection, while its sealed shell protects the device from mud and water.
Price: £69 | Buy Griffin Survivor Extreme
ThermaCELL ProFLEx Heavy Duty Heated Insoles
Whether you’re trekking at high altitudes or staying in a drafty hostel, your toes can get chilly, especially once the sun has set. ThermaCELL ProFLEx Heavy Duty Heated Insoles heat up a user’s feet and can be controlled using a smartphone with a Bluetooth connection. The accompanying app lets users warm their feet to a chosen temperature. When this is reached, the insoles temporarily turn off before switching on again.
They’re cushioned to make walking boots more comfortable and include removable, replaceable extended life batteries so users can swap them out without having to wrangle their insoles out of their shoes or boots. One charge taking just two hours provides up to 8.5 hours of warmth. There are Bluetooth Pocket Warmers too for people who want heat on demand in a more flexible package.
Price: £158.58 | Buy ThermaCELL ProFLEx Heavy Duty Heated Insoles
If you’ve worried about becoming separated from friends in a busy market with no mobile phone reception to rely on, the goTenna gadget could give you peace of mind. The small device pairs with a phone via Bluetooth to turn it into an off-grid communication tool. Sold in pairs, users of goTenna can send private messages to each other or a group, or use it to show offline maps and access GPS without cellular service.
It’s easy to share and request location information with other goTenna users and with message confirmation users can be sure their messages were successfully delivered and can even relay them to extend a device’s range. The handy gadget is said to have a range of three miles in open environments and one mile in built up cities.
Price: £125 for a pair | Buy goTenna
Torches tend to run out of batteries at the most inconvenient of moments, but the LuminAID is a clever and super compact alternative. A glorified bag with a high efficiency solar panel, it provides pleasing ambient light for 30 hours (after recharging for seven hours in sunny or overcast conditions). The sustainable device is waterproof, floats, has four brightness settings and is even environmentally friendly. And if you want to leave a parting gift for new friends in far flung places off the grid, the LuminAID would make an excellent present.
Price: £19.99 | Buy LuminAID
Mighty Animal Speaker
It’s not only the views you remember from a trip of a lifetime, but the people you meet and the experiences you share. While singing round a campfire may be a feature of Hollywood road trips, a small portable speaker for impromptu parties is much less cumbersome to carry than a guitar. While there are lots of serious versions, Mighty Animal Speakers are tiny and are said to punch above their weight musically.
The pocket-sized 2W devices, which come in the shape of an owl, dog, cat, panda, pig or unicorn, connect to a phone, tablet or laptop via Bluetooth and can blast out tunes or up to four hours. There’s a built-in microphone so users can make and receive calls and the power button doubles as a shutter remote – great for selfies. Most importantly, the cute speakers measure 4.5cm across and weigh just 40g so they’ll hardly take up any space in a backpack.
Price: £19.99 | Buy Mighty Animal Speaker
Some of the handiest gadgets are the simplest – especially when they don’t need a charger. UV-Buddy’s bracelets change colour when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, providing a timely reminder to slap on more sun cream to avoid painful and unsightly sunburn. The beads appear white in normal light, but change to another desired colour, such as purple, in the presence of the sun, the strength of which gives wearers a good idea of the strength of the rays.
Price: £4.99 | Buy UV-Buddy
Bose QuietComfort 35
Even travellers who are the life and soul of the party need to catch some zzzs from time. Bose is known for its noise cancelling headphones and now its launched wireless QuietComfort 35 headphones, which come in around-ear and in-ear versions.
The QC35 headphones have microphones inside and outside the earcups to measure and unwanted sounds and send them to two chips that respond with a precise, equal and opposite signal in less than a fraction of a millisecond. This means the rumble of a train or annoying conversations seem to disappear for up to 20 hours on one charge.
Price: £289.95 | Buy Bose QuietComfort 35
Ekster 2.0 Ultra-slim Trackable Wallet
Keeping your money safe while travelling can be a headache. But a smart wallet could put your mind at rest. Smart wallet maker Ekster has partnered with Bluetooth tracker co Tile to create the first solar-charged trackable smart wallet. Its RFID-blocking feature protects cards from wireless skimming, while giving users access to them at the touch of a button.
Meanwhile, it connects with the Tile app to let owners keep track of their wallet’s location and ring it if it’s within Bluetooth range. If they are not within Bluetooth range and have misplaced their wallet, they can see the last place they had it in the Tile app or tap the Tile community to help locate it. And the leather wallet is solar-powered so users don’t have to remember to charge it periodically.
Price: £55 | Pre-order Ekster 2.0 Ultra-slim Trackable Wallet