Travel Gear Reviews

The Waterproof, Durable Pentax Optio W90

Three small LED lights around the lens that illuminate subjects when taking macro photos. Very cool.

A few months ago we compared the Canon PowerShot D10 to the Olympus Stylus Tough-8000. Since then a new waterproof ultra-compact point-and-shoot has entered the market: the Pentax Optio W90. Spot Cool Stuff’s review:

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The Best Airline-Friendly Travel Bottles

Have you—like us—ever had a container of liquid or gel confiscated from you by airport security? Or have you—like us—had a bottle of shampoo explode in your luggage?

If you have, then you—like us—can appreciate the value of a durable, carry-on friendly travel bottles.

Travel bottles are not the sort of WOW! factor products we usually review at Spot Cool Stuff. But they are the sort of product nearly everyone brings on an overnight trip.

And so we thought it was worth mentioning what will become a staple of our own travels: the PakUrDerm travel kit.

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The Transparent Canoe

Spot Cool Stuff has reviewed several transparent products in our time, not all of which have been optimally practical:

A transparent bathtub? Interesting, though perhaps kind of creepy in a voyeuristic way.

A transparent cell phone? Great looking but it’s transparency doesn’t serve any useful function.

A transparent airplane? Not so economically viable. And it makes for terrifying landings.

But a transparent canoe? That’s not only cool but advantageous as well.

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The World’s Worst Travel Gear

At Spot Cool Stuff, almost all our reviews cover products and places we love. Sometimes, though, a product can be so mind boggling terrible that, well, there’s something good about the horribleness of it.

With that attempted explanation we take a break from our usual routine of writing about genuinely cool things and present you with a collection of travel gear you would almost certainly never bring on your next trip—unless you lost a bet.

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Cool Outdoor Gear You’ll See In Stores Soon

Spot Cool Stuff is freshly back from the Summer Outdoor Retailer convention in Salt Lake City where, along with approximately 20,999 others, we ooo-ed and ahhh-ed over the latest tents, backpacks, kayaks, shoes, bicycles, roof-top carriers, portable disposable toilets (yes, really), sunglasses, jackets, pocket knives, hammocks, energy bars, hiking GPS units and an assorted sundry of outdoor gear and gadgets.

Many products at the OR Show were newly released and several will not be available to the general public for several months. What were the coolest new items we discovered? Here’s a roundup of our 12 favorites—and a sneak peak at some products we’ll be reviewing more fully in the future:

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The World’s First Line of iPad-Compatible Clothing

Well that didn’t take long. A few short weeks after Apple started selling the iPad a manufacturer started selling iPad-compatible clothing. That manufacturer is Scottevest; Spot Cool Stuff regulars might remember our review of Scottevest’s full-of-pockets travel jackets.

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Barefoot Running (and Travel) Shoes
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Question: What’s the single best designed piece of running equipment?

Answer: It’s a pair of gear you already own—your bare feet.

Most running shoes, it turns out, do more harm than good. The problem is that these shoes are designed to “protect” your feet in a way that they weren’t meant to be. When encased in an excessively built-up running shoe the muscles, tendons and ligaments of your lower extremities will atrophy. That’s because your shoes are doing the work that your legs and feet should be doing.

The other problem with running shoes is that they encourage you to run with the wrong form. Your body is designed to run on the ball and forefront of your feet. Try going for a run barefoot and you’ll experience this yourself—your heels will barely touch the ground. In contrast, most running shoes will cause you to land on your heels in a way that won’t only slow you down but will inevitably lead to knee and back pain.

Shoes, of course, do serve a purpose. They keep your feet cleaner and drier than bare feet, not to mention being useful when there’s a sharp rock or nail under foot.

So what’s an athlete to do? Get a pair of running shoes with a design that mimics the advantages of your bare feet. Here are our two favorite:

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A Better, Portable Beach Umbrella

The old fashion beach umbrella. It’s ubiquitous at beach resorts—and in fruity drinks—world wide. But it is difficult to transport. And your typical beach umbrella becomes sub-optimal at the start and end of a beach-going day when the sun isn’t shining directly down.

Now from sporting good manufacturer SKLZ comes a better—and much more portable—version of the beach umbrella: the Sport-Brella.

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