BEST Travel Accessories
If you enjoy venturing far off the beaten track where few people roam and water is scarce, consider packing this extremely efficient water purifying system from Lifesaver. The Liberty has a 400ml capacity and is fitted with a replaceable filter cartridge and an activated carbon disc that removes 99.999% of viruses and 99.9999% of bacteria. It also comes with a 5ft Scavenger Hose for drawing water directly from source. To use, simply fill it up from the rear or via the hose, pump the piston a few times, point the spout towards your mouth and press the lever on the side. Voila, fresh, palatable water is squirted into the mouth and you’re ready to continue on your way. A top buy that could, quite literally, save your life.
Sennheiser PXC 550
Next time you're flying, on the train or blowing leaves with your new leaf blower, cocoon yourself in a pair of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones like the top-of-the-range Sennheiser PXC 550. Noise-cancelling headphones use technology that cleverly neutralise ambient sound waves so that all you hear in the headphones is the sound of music and not the surrounding hum and hubbub of what's around you. In fact, with noise cancelling switched on, you don’t even have to listen to music to enjoy the tranquil silence they provide.
The collapsible PXC 550s are Bluetooth equipped and run for up to 30 hours on a single charge. These cans are not only supremely comfortable and ideal for long-haul flights but they sound truly sensational and come with arguably the most effective noise-cancelling tech on the market. They’re also equipped with touch-sensitive ear cups that provide track skipping and volume adjustment, plus a cable for airlines that don’t allow Bluetooth devices. An essential piece of travel kit.
Wacaco Nanopresso Nespresso Kit
If you’re a travelling espresso junkie who can’t function without a morning hit, try this little life saver. The cylindrical Nanopresso measures just comes with everything you need to make a genuine espresso. Just add hot water and a Nespresso capsule and pump the piston for an authentically rich, aromatic espresso complete with obligatory creamy crema. If hotel coffee rarely meets your high expectations or you’re out in the wilds, pop one of these in the shoulder bag and you’ll never be without a proper caffeine fix again. The Nanopresso is also available for ground coffee. Excellent choice.
Don’t use up all that valuable luggage space on a pile of dog-eared door-stoppers. Instead, pack the new slim-line Kindle Oasis e-reader and marvel at its glare-free, backlit touch screen, feather-like weight and wherewithal to store more novels than the average public library. The Oasis is 20% lighter and 30% thinner than its stablemates and its screen – now fitted with a new tapered handgrip for easy one-handed reading – is 5mm wider. Naturally, it also comes with all the usual Kindle features like adjustable fonts, dictionary definitions, Wikipedia information and instant access to all your library purchases. The Oasis is designed to be used with its own gatefold charging case (available separately). With the case you can expect a few months of charge-free reading. Without the case it’ll run for a few days before requiring a top-up. Best Kindle to date.
Self-locking, smartphone-operated suitcases are all the rage right now (see our luggage reviews section) but the Airbolt bucks the trend by being, well, just a padlock. But no ordinary padlock, it must be said. The TSA-approved Airbolt connects to any Android or iOS device via Bluetooth 4.2 and allows the user to remotely lock and unlock any suitcase it’s attached to. You can also add a security pin code in case you want to open it manually using old-fashioned fingers. The Airbolt also features crowd-sourced GPS tracking – handy if your bag is one of the 24.1 million luggage pieces that airlines misplace every year – and will send an alert to your phone if you leave it behind. Expect to see more of these smart locking devices in the not-too-distant future.
Griffin iTrip Clip
If you’re an Apple aficionado you’ll be well aware that the company has dropped the headphone input on its latest iPhone 7 range. You could, of course, use that as an excuse to purchase Apple’s fabulous new wireless AirPods, or you could just carry on using your existing headphones and plug them into the new Griffin iTrip Clip instead. Simply clip this USB-charged Bluetooth 4.1-enabled gizmo to your shirt or lapel, plug in your cans and, voila, no more rummaging around for your phone or tablet every time you want to change the track or raise the volume. Sometimes the simplest tech is best.
Parrot Zik 3
Supremely comfortable and chock full of tech, Parrot’s head-turning, Phillipe Starck-designed Zik 3 wireless headphones are just the ticket for a long-haul flight, train journey or urban wander. The leather-bound Zik 3 offers both wired and wireless connectivity, wireless charging, six hours of wire-free playback and one of the best noise cancelling features in can-land. Audio performance, too, is exemplary and easily modified using Parrot’s handy iOS and Android app. Rather uniquely, these headphones also feature an intuitive touch control panel on the right ear cup. To skip tracks, pause and adjust the volume, simply swipe or tap your finger on the outer casing. And when someone interrupts your symphony, simply remove the cans and the music is paused automatically.
If you’re the type of person who is always misplacing keys or are simply looking for a tracker to help keep tab on your valuables, then step right this way because this carbon-fibre coloured Bluetooth tracker is a little marvel. Simply attach it to your keys, handbag or anything else of value and when any of them go walkies, open the accompanying Tile app (Android and iOS) and tap the ‘find’ button. A signal is sent to the missing Tile and an electronic tune is emitted. Now just follow the sound. It also works in reverse so if, for instance, you’ve misplaced your phone, tap the button on the Tile and the phone will start playing a tune.
The Tile system works up to a range of 90 metres/300ft and is essentially designed for close vicinity use like around the home or anywhere you’re able to retrace your steps. However, if your item is beyond Bluetooth range, Tile’s huge online community can also be alerted to the fact, and when or if your item is located (automatically by another user’s phone when the app is open or running in the background), you receive a message that tells you it’s been found, replete with a map of its location. Unlike earlier versions that were fitted with built-in batteries that couldn’t be replaced, the Pro uses a replaceable CR2032 that lasts about a year with average use. A very cool and undeniably useful tool that makes life just that little bit easier.
The iPhone’s camera is one of the most popular in use but in some photographic instances it could do with a bit of a turbo charge, like when you need a bit more focal length or a wider angle. Enter the Olloclip Active, a small, unobtrusive clip-on dual lens that’s perfect for wide-angle selfies and telephoto snaps. Olloclip is available for the iPhone 7, 6, 5 and iPad.
Maku’s Shuttr is an extremely useful little remote for taking smartphone selfies and video from a distance of up to nine metres. It even comes with a support stand that attaches to the phone’s headphone socket – sorry iPhone 7 users! Simply flick the Shuttr’s switch to either the Andoid or iOS icon, pair via Bluetooth and press the button. Snap! The Shuttr is so small it even comes with a keyring attachment. Top choice and cheap as chips.
This elegant military-spec, titanium-clad USB car charger is a game changer. It charges at twice the speed of other models (max 4.8A) and will even handle two iPads at once. Indeed, it automatically detects the type of device being charged and accordingly selects the maximum amperage output so it’s charged at full pelt. Its two USB ports even have a pair of bright LED lamps within to guide the way. But that’s just the half of it because there’s an app available that helps turn the Zus into a smart tracking device. Have you ever lost your car in a supermarket car park? Who hasn’t. Well, launch the Zus app (Android and iOS) before you leave the car and it’ll remember where you parked it, even if there’s no mobile phone signal. The app will also show the status of the car's main battery. Forget about those cheapo car chargers and grab yourself one of these. You won’t regret it.
Zus Car Charger
This cute little pocket device turns any iOS and Android tablet or phone into a bona fide mobile TV, and without the need for wi-fi or mobile data use. Simply download the free Elgato eyeTV W app, sync the matchbox-sized unit’s personal wifi hotspot to your mobile device, extend the aerial (there’s a longer aerial included for poor reception areas), hit the channel search and, wahey, live FreeView TV with no annoying wi-fi buffering. We’re gobsmacked by both the quality of the reception and the picture this little gizmo produces. But we’re equally impressed by the app’s exceptional interface which is beautifully laid out and so easy to use. We managed to locate around 70 FreeView channels, including ITV, BBC, Sky News and Dave. It works in the UK, Australia, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Austria as well as as any country that broadcasts standard definition MPEG-2 or MPEG-4/H.264 video. Right now we can’t think of a more useful TV gadget for taking aboard, whether it’s a holiday, a city break or a business trip.
Elgato eyeTV W
If you’re an espresso junkie who can’t function without a morning hit, try this little life saver. The cylindrical Minipresso measures just 18cm x 5cm and comes with everything you need to make a genuine espresso. In many ways it’s even easier to use than the popular Handpresso. Just add hot water and some fine-ground coffee and pump the piston for an unexpectedly rich, aromatic espresso complete with an authentically creamy crema. If hotel coffees rarely meet your high expectations or you’re out in the wilds with access to a stove, pop one of these in the shoulder bag and you’ll never be without a proper caffeine fix again. Great price too. Also see our review of the Nespresso capsule version above.
Handpresso Wild Hybrid
The Handpresso Wild Hybrid is essentially a glorified bicycle pump attached to a water reservoir and a pressure gauge. But what amazingly good espresso it makes. All you need is some boiling water, an Illy ESE coffee pod or your own personal black gold favourite and a little muscle power, and hey presto, instant espresso replete with obligatory crema. That said, given the choice, we'd opt for one of the Minipresso models instead. They're just easier to use.
The French makers have also launched a car version called the Handpresso Auto. This one’s ideal for the long slog. Just fill it up with cold water, plug it into the cigarette lighter, close your ears while it emits its irritating pneumatic drill-type sound and, hey presto, another cup of instant espresso replete with obligatory crema.
The average tripod is too long and bulky to take on a flight, especially if you’ve already filled your cabin bag with DSLR gear. That’s where the GorillaPod comes in. This particular model is designed for professional DSLRs and camcorders. It’s small enough for a cabin bag, sturdy enough to hold a pro-spec camera and its Ballhead X makes camera adjustment a doddle. Better still, it also allows you to pan smoothly; a welcome facet for shooting video. The GorillaPod Focus can’t be extended but its flexible, ultra-grippy legs can be wrapped around anything or positioned on any surface, no matter how undulating it is. A worthy, albeit pricey addition to anyone’s camera kit.
Joby GorillaPod Focus
In the pantheon of miniature travel gear, a decent torch may not be such a silly idea. How, for instance, will you find your way home from the beach restaurant after dark? Or locate your lost contact lens on the restaurant floor? The Olight S10 Baton has to be one of the best pocket torches on the market. When you first turn the Olight S10 on, it defaults to the lowest of four beam strengths prompting you to question the wisdom of your purchase. But by the time you’ve worked through the modes – you need to hold the thumb button down to activate each in turn – your fears will quickly evaporate. It’s hard to believe, but this titchy 70mm number dishes out an extremely substantial 400 lumens which, trust us, is bright enough for most situations, let alone for a torch no larger than a cigarette lighter. The S10 is also waterproof to two metres, tough enough to withstand a two-metre drop and equipped with a magnetic rear end for attaching it to anything metal. Highly recommended.
Olight S10 Baton
Every now and then a gizmo comes along that makes life a little easier. Like this very useful miniature compact camera tripod. The Gorillapod Micro fits any compact with a tripod mount and uses a ball and socket system that allows the camera to be adjusted in any direction. There’s no need to remove it either because the whole thing folds flat against the base of the camera. A brilliant little invention for those awkward self portrait moments.
Joby GorillaPod Micro 250
This sticky-on iPhone case makes shooting through glass so much easier by dint of an array of millions of nano suckers that ensures the case sticks like a limpet to anything smooth and flat. There are plenty of other uses too… Skyping with friends, selfies, using the camera to apply makeup when there isn’t a mirror in the vicinity, in-car satellite navigation and watching movies. Just be sure the case has a very firm grip before leaving it to gravity or… well, let’s not go there.
Megaverse Anti-Gravity iPhone Case
In the pantheon of portable exercise devices, the Kickstarter-funded Monkii Bars are a stand-out product. Manufactured in the US and beautifully machined in hard maple and aluminium, these suspension trainers fit into the smallest travel bag and convert into a full bodyweight exercise system in a matter of minutes. Inside each bar is a roll of thin but incredibly strong Spectra suspension line, the same fibre as used in rock climbing. To use, simply find the nearest immovable object (a tree branch is best), attach the lines and, voila, instant resistance training wherever you are. The system works best outdoors though a Monkii Branch door adaptor is also available for those who prefer a workout in the hotel room.