Travel Gear Reviews

The Lightweight, Feature-Heavy Osprey Exos Backpacks

As our regular readers know, when Spot Cool Stuff travels we’re fanatical about using lightweight luggage. Because why lug around a heavy bag when you can choose an equally good light one?

Several luggage companies offer one or two lightweight models. But no one offers more high quality yet lightweight bags and backpacks than Osprey.

Previously, we reviewed the Osprey Ozone, the lightest full-size wheeled carry-on bag on the market today. Though, in addition to being made of lightweight materials and being cleverly designed, the Ozone cuts down on the pounds by cutting down on the features.

So, when we received our review unit of Osprey’s Exos backpack we expected that it too would be both lightweight and largely devoid of features. We were wrong.

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Book Review: Travels with Baby

At Spot Cool Stuff, we’re novice parents. But we’re expert travelers. So we figured that traveling with our newly-arrived bundle of poop joy would come naturally to us.

We figured wrong.

Going on a trip with a young kiddo takes skill and knowledge well beyond what’s required when traveling solo. New parents need to learn new travel rules (Do car seats count as a carry-on item?), packing requirements (Do I really have to lug that heavy pack-and-play everywhere?) and planning considerations (How do I go on a mid-afternoon city tour and still accommodate a mid-afternoon nap?).

Fortunately, new parents needn’t subject themselves to learning the art of family travel through trial and error. That’s because Shelly Rivoli, family travel blogger extraordinaire, already has. And she’s compiled all her best advice in the book Travels with Baby.

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The Cool Headlamp That Matches the Angle of your Eyes, Not Head

Adaptive headlights — headlights that anticipate the direction you want to look and orient their spotlight that way — were first introduced on consumer automobiles in 1948. But it wasn’t until 2014 that the same functionality to found its way into a portable headlamp of the sort you’d use for camping. That’s when Snow Peak started selling the Mola — the most significant advance in headlamps since the introduction of the LED bulb.

Here’s how it works:
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6 Travel-Related Stocking Stuffers
(For Under $10)

Here’s a challenge: Find a gift for a frequent traveler that’s very light weight and easy to pack. Make it something cool and creative. Only pick items that your gift recipient is extremely unlikely to already own. And, oh yeah, your gift can’t cost more than US$10.

Spot Cool Stuff recently went shopping with those exact criteria in mind. Here’s our review of five cool travel-related gifts we found. Each makes for a great stocking stuffer. But there’s no rule saying you can’t shop for yourself too.

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Gifts for Tech-Loving Travelers

Most readers of this blog have people on their gift list who love traveling with gadgets. Okay, most readers of this blog are people who love traveling with gadgets.

Yet hardly anyone has all five (or even one) of the cool gift suggestions reviewed below, gifts designed to help tech-loving travelers watch, hear, power and organize their gadgetry better. Our selections each range from $9 to $299 and come with a WOW factor!

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The Best Wheeled Carry-On Bags

Spot Cool Stuff never checks our luggage if we can avoid doing so. Like most frequent fliers, we travel with a wheeled bag that will fit through the airport security x-ray and into an airplane’s overhead compartment. Unlike most frequent fliers, we also run a travel review blog and are fanatical about travel gear. So we’ve spent a lot of time researching the best wheeled carry-on bags. A lot of time. From conception, through research and writing, this post has been 11 months in the making.

Why so long? Partly because the market is flooded with rollaboard luggage options. But mostly because no single wheeled carry-on stood out to us as being absolutely better than all the others. As with so many products, the “best” option depends on what an individual consumer is looking for.

Given that, we focused on the best wheeled carry-on bag in five different categories. Factors we considered in making our selection included build quality, value for the price, looks, weight, cargo capacity (while staying under the 22-inch maximum height requirements that many airlines set for carry-on luggage) and bag features.

Read on. Or click on the category that appeals to you most:

Best Organizational System Wheeled Carry-On
Best Compression (and Expandable) Wheeled Carry-On
Best Hard Side Wheeled Carry-On
Best Lightweight Wheeled Carry-On
Best Wheeled Carry-On For Laptops

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Have Wood Burning Spa Will Travel

Spot Cool Stuff adores glamping travel. Glamorous camping can get you out into a natural environment in the same way tent camping does. But it combines that with touches of luxury like you might find at a high-end hotel. After spending much of our youth backpacking on a rock-bottom budget, we think we’ve earned a bit of luxury.

Much of what we write about glamping on this travel blog concerns resorts that combine aspects of roughing it with aspects of being pampered. (Our review of these 5 especially wondering glamping spots is a good place to start reading about those). We also appreciate products that let travelers create their own glamping experience. Our favorite of those might be this:

The Dutchtub.

It’s like a personal hot-springs-to-go. If you have a tub-sized patch of flat ground, wood and 200 gallons (750 liters) worth of water or snow you can have your own spa virtually anywhere.

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The Brilliant New Kindle Paperwhite
spot cool stuff TRAVEL

The Kindle Paperwhite is the most commercially successful eBook reader ever. It’s also the best eBook reader ever, at least in our opinion. So it would have been easy for Amazon to leave the Paperwhite alone.

We’re thrilled they didn’t.

The new version of the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eBook Reader, aka the 6th generation, manages to improve on an already stellar product. The three new features Spot Cool Stuff especially likes:

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