We all know Santa is a pretty decent guy. He simply goes about giving things away during the silly season, no questions asked. However, with this selection of 25 of the coolest travel gadgets of 2012 I reckon we may just have hit the old boy’s limit. From the practical and affordable to the wacky and ridiculously expensive (check out no.25), here are 25 travel gadgets that you’ll probably have to pry out of his cold, red hands this festive season.
Spectacles for your smartphone
As if we weren’t already inundated with semi-professional Instagrammers flogging filtered photos at a rate of knots on the interwebs, taking awesome photos with an iPhone just got a whole lot easier. The iPhone Lens Dial is an attachable extension that fits straight onto your iPhone. It has three lenses, a 0.7x wide-angle for sweeping landscapes, a 0.33x fisheye lens for extra drama and a 1.5x telephoto lens to get a whole lot closer to your subject. Plus it’s all wrapped up in a slim aircraft-grade aluminum jacket complete with two tripod mounts (one at the bottom for portrait shots and one at the side for landscape shots). All you need to do to switch between lenses is rotate the disc.
Release fee: R2 200
Find out more at photojojo
Gadget charging in the bag
Behold the Powerbag Deluxe Backpack, where practicality meets style. The Powerbag features a removable, lightweight rechargeable 6000mAh built-in battery system that can charge the average smartphone four times. It includes Apple, Micro-USB and Mini-USB connectors and a USB port. Plug your device’s own USB cable into the Powerbag’s on-board USB port and you’re beaming. It also has an external, one-touch battery level indication and power button and a water-resistant AC adapter charging port so you can plug your backpack in when you’re near a power source.
Release fee: R1 500
Find out more at Powerbag
Hands-free underwater photography
Initially used by researchers and extreme divers, the XSC Wide Angle Scuba Cam records HD video (1280×720) and five megapixel stills. It’s equipped with a micro SD card slot and the mask has lever-style buttons, which eases changing modes while wearing diving gloves. It’s perfect for taking underwater panoramas or, for the brave, a close-up with jaws. And because it’s hands-free you might even have a fighting chance at swimming for your life … not.
Release fee: R3 500
Find out more at Liquid Image
Once you go black …
Of course, why spend all that cash on a camera that’s limited to underwater use only when you can get your hands on the new GoPro 3 – Black Edition. It’s 30% smaller, 25% lighter and twice as powerful as previous models. I’m not even going to get into the more detailed specs because it tops the GoPro 2 in every facet (just watch the video), but features include built-in Wi-Fi, GoPro App compatibility and it comes standard with a Wi-Fi Remote (usually R700). You can also now buy an attachable LCD BacPac which allows you to set your angles more accurately before bombing down a hill only to realise you’ve been filming your big toe the whole way down (something I’ve done a few times).
Release fee: R3 500 and R700 for the attachable LCD BacPac
Find out more at GoPro South Africa
Throw down some tunes, literally
Looks small, sounds big, tough as an old boot (it’s even ridged like the sole of a boot) the Jabra Solemate is music for anywhere. Party on the beach? Throw down the Solemate. It’s super durable and dust and splash resistant. You can connect it to your smartphone, MP3 player, tablet, laptop or anything that uses Bluetooth (works up to 10 metres away so you can DJ the party from across the room … boom), a standard 3.5 mm audio cable or USB cable. It’s got up to eight hours continuous play and comes with durable sound bag for added outdoor protection.
Release fee: tbc
Find out more at Wintec Solutions
The pop-up coffee shop
Release fee: R120
Find out more (and check out the cool product video) here
Hang out in your sleep
Unless you’re Robinson Crusoe, making a hammock out of bamboo and banana leaf will only end in failure. The Tentsile Tent Hammock offers four-walled, elevated protection in a collapsible frame with webbed straps that you can hook up fairly easily. It’s UV proof and water resistant, but I think the bonus feature here is that it’s ground resistant. You can set it up over a river, on uneven ground or over rocks. The guys at Tentsile recommend setting it up around one metre off the ground to avoid injury, but I’m thinking this might be the perfect tool for a sky-high sleep-off. Who’s keen?
Release fee: R77 000 (getting high isn’t cheap)
Find out more at Tentsile
Technically this gadget isn’t available to the public yet, but it’s so darn cool I couldn’t leave it out. The Powertrekk is a hydrogen-fuelled cell that enables you to charge your smartphone with your own pee … and other liquids. It was a highlight at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year and we’re all waiting with bated breath to see when and where it will be commercially available (there are safety concerns regarding the use and transport of fuel cells). The portable device is about the size of a hard-shell sunglasses case and can charge mobile devices like GPS receivers, smartphones or radios and comes with two USB ports (micro and standard), a fuel-cell assembly and a chamber for the fuel-cell Power Pukks (which can be bought separately).
Release fee: R 2 600 and R110 for the Power Pukks
Find out more at Mashable
OK, so if you have any left of pee after charging your smartphone, now you can drink it (notice how smartphone charging takes priority over survival, we’re clearly living in a digital age). Designed to be both easy to use and incredibly effective, the revolutionary filters inside the DrinC removes more than 99.9% of harmful bacteria from almost any water source by first filtering out visible debris followed by harmful bacteria and microscopic pathogens down to 0.2 microns.
Release fee: R300
Find out more at DrinC
The ultimate yellow card
It’s not the most high tech of gadgets, but really cool for those who have a little extra wallet space (i.e. everyone). Tailored to fit inside a vacant credit card slot, this unusual card looks like a flat incandescent bulb, but lights up as soon as you push it vertically. Cleverly, the rest of the card serves as a stand. I’m pretty sure they had a bit of idiomatic fun with the guy who came up with this ‘light bulb idea.’
Release fee: R45
Find out more at Think Geek
Get your stuff together
Cables are lonely. Left alone, two cables in a backpack will invariably seek each other out and pretzel themselves into an inseparable mess … unless you lock them down with the GRID-IT! Organiser. The concept is basic: it’s a pinboard for your devices and can handle anything from smartphones, iPads, laptops and SLR cameras to stationary, documents, and outdoor equipment. It’s as flexible and adaptable as you want it to be, which means that you can create an organizer for whatever (seriously, whatever) you need for your next trip. The designs are stylish and the neoprene material make them as durable as they are sexy. They come in various sizes that fit straight into your backpack, handbag or even moonbag.
Release fee: R99 and up
Find out more (and check the full product range) here
A movie theatre in your pocket
The MiLi Pico II iPhone Pocket Projector is a foldable, flip open projector that you can connect to your iPhone (or a laptop via VGA or any other composite video source) that projects what your playing on your device up to 70 inches wide. Why exactly is this cool? Well, besides having an entertainment center wherever you go, you can also finally avoid having old onion gums breathe over your shoulder while looking at holiday pics. The projector is portable, light, and is equipped with LCOS LED micro video projector, speakers, and a built in stand so you can easily watch movies, display photos, or give a presentation at work. It is compatible with iPhone 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S and iPod. Plus, while in use it will also charge your iPhone or iPod with its 2800mAh battery.
Release fee: R3 500
Find out more at Mili
Turn anywhere into a weigh-ting room
It doesn’t matter whether you weigh as much as Adele or as much as a Dell, you’re going to pay the same airfare. Luggage, however is another story. Skip the mission of bathroom-scale mathematics (you+your bag-you=bag weight) and avoid overweight baggage fees by weighing your luggage anywhere with the Balanzza Digital Luggage Scale. Lift, listen for the beep, panic, repack and repeat. Simple.
Release fee: R220
Find out more at Balanzza
‘What are you listening to? Can I put in one of your headphones?’ Quell the urge to kick headphone hoggers in the mouth by sharing your sound without compromising one of your earholes. Alternatively, keep small groups of people entertained on a radio-less road trip. The Belkin Rockstar multi-headphone splitter allows up to five people to listen in to the same music from an MP3 player at the same time. It also works with DVD players. Also, it’s a really easy way to get five people to sit in a circle and sing kumbayah.
Release fee: R90
Find out more at Belkin
Hey fatty five fingers, this one’s for you
If, like me, you’ve been cursed with fatter-than-average thumbs you’ll know what a hack it is typing on that itty-bitty smartphone keyboard and being at the merciless whim of the autocorrect. The 19 millimeter QWERTY Cube Laser Virtual Keyboard is compact (a bit larger than a matchbook), and projects a full-size laser keyboard onto any flat surface, perfect for banging out flawless emails from almost anywhere without having to put your fingers on a diet. It connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to iPhone, iPad, some Smartphones, and most laptops. It charges via USB and requires no installation and the rechargeable battery lasts for 150 minutes straight.
Release fee: R1 500
Find out more at ISL Trading
Better than a booze blanket
There’s nothing quite as fun as sitting by the fire, klapping a few brandys and telling tall tales … until you pass out, the fire goes out and you wake up at 3am with your knees frozen to your camping chair. Enter the Selk’bag. This fluffy puppy is essentially a wearable sleeping bag that affords you the functionality of a regular human while staying warm (albeit looking slightly like a Teletubby). You can move your arms, walk and even pee while wearing the Selk’bag. And when you’re done, just pass out anywhere.
Release fee: R1200
Find out more at Selk’bag
This is instant awesomeness! With this nifty gadget you can literally set up a braai in less than 15 seconds. The Kwik Braai is a new South African rust-resistant and portable product made from quality stainless steel. It folds up neatly into a 380x60x190mm stainless-steel case, which slides into a branded black nylon carry bag. When the Kwik Braai is fully assembled, it stands just 260mm tall and weighs 2,9kg and it’s energy-efficient, in that it uses only a little fuel and can be powered by wood, gas or charcoal.
Release fee: R350
Find out more about the Kwik Braai here
A forcefield on your back
If you spray a mosquito with Tabard, will he no longer have any friends? I don’t know, but with this little number you won’t have to worry. You also won’t have to worry if your mate starts hogging all the repellent. Made of American Apparel cotton and EPA-registered insect repellent material, the Mosquito-repelling shirt has been proven to repel mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, chiggers and midges (I have no idea what a chigger or a midge is). The odorless repellent lasts 70 washes.
Release fee: R305
Find out more at 6 Legged Tees
In your face directions
Inspired by the fictional genius of MI6 (probably) these Bondy-looking goggles provide real-time access to performance statistics including speed, altitude, temperature, distance and time with head-mounted display technology that features 3D data-capture. It was originally designed for skiers but with adjustable light levels and 99.9 percent glare reduction, I reckon they could be awesome for just about anything, even a run around the block.
Release fee: R4 820
Find out more at Zeal Optics
A boom box for your bum
Looking like something straight out of Inspector Gadget, the TravelTeq Trip Sound suitcase is a traveling boom box that not only carries your belongings but transforms into a chair with a built-in MP3 player dock and stereo speakers. It produces sound of the highest quality, and the bass is a force to be reckoned with. When placed into its proper spot inside the suitcase, the system sounds even better because of the resonating aluminum. In addition, the sound system was also designed to function as a docking station which can charge small electronic devices such as your phone or mp3 player and even give your laptop a short power boost.
Release fee: R5 700
Find out more at Travelteq
A condom for your booze
Here’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself when shopping for plonk abroad: do I buy this wine and risk what it might do to the insides of my suitcase at high altitude, or do I leave behind a perfectly good bottle of exotic dinner-table cred? OK, so the Wine Skin is technically more of a useful bag than a gadget, but it’s worth having for that reason alone. Once you’ve sealed your bottled in the Wine Skin it’s air-tight, the bubbles prevent it from breaking in-flight and the seal prevents any liquid from leaking out and soiling your clothes. Basically it’s a condom for your wine, which might not sound particularly appealing, but it’s a lot better than Chateau Libertas-stained jeans.
Release fee: R110 for 5 packs
Find out more at Wine Skin
Lose (only) yourself in the moment
Ah, to be footloose and fancy free! To just kick off your sandals and run into the sea full of whimsy and foreign wine. Unfortunately the need to keep an eye on your belongings (hotel keys, credit card, crumpled R50 notes) doesn’t always mean that’s possible. The Reef Stash Sandals turn ordinary-looking footwear into a stealthy mobile safe. The secret tray in the sole slides out to hold personal items and slides back in to make sure no one knows they’re there. Voila, much better than that revolutionary under-the-towel hiding place you first thought of.
Release fee: R400
Find out more at Reef
Toe jam never tasted so good
I couldn’t include the Reef Stash Sandal without mentioning its staggering, slurring counterpart: the Reef Dram Sandal. This clever little flop allows you to stash an unspecified amount of booze underneath the sole … and then walk around on top of it, incognito. When you need a little pick-me-up, just take off your sandal, unscrew the cap on the side and spike your favorite soda with your favourite flop. Done.
Release fee: R400
Find out more at Reef
This is how to cut the cheese
And you thought the Swiss were harmless. Designed for any occasion, the Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife weighs one kilogram, has 87 implements and 141 functions and is about the same length as a German army boot. It’s definitely not inconspicuous but at least the behemoth blade-bearer has been designed to fit the contours of the human hand which creates a firmer grip and makes every knife safer and more precise.
Release fee: R12 500
Find out more at Wenger
OK so this one’s a bit of a bonus, because it’s quite ridiculous and stupidly expensive … but insanely awesome. Water-based levitation at its coolest. Just watch the video.
Told you it was awesome.
Release fee: R900 000
Find out more at Jetlev
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Tags: Balanzza Digital Luggage Scale, Belkin Rockstar multi-headphone splitter, Brando credit card light-bulb, Cube Laser Virtual Keyboard, DrinC, GoPro 3 - Black Edition, Grid-IT Organiser, iPhone Lens Dial, Jabra Solemate, Jetlev R200, Kwik Braai, Mili Pico II iPhone Pocket Projector, Mosquito-repelling shirt, Powerbag Deluxe Backpack, Powertrekk water-based power, Reef Dram Sandals, Reef Stash Sandals, Selk'bag, Tentsile Tent Hammock, Tochs collapsible camping kettle, Travel gadgets, TravelTeq Trip Sound suitcase, Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife, Wine Skin, XSC Wide Angle Scuba Cam, Zeal Optics Z3 GPS Goggles