Gadget Guy: Nomad Wallet, ScotteVEST and IceMule Cooler Reviews
PHOTO: The Nomad wallet at work charging an iPhone 6s. (Photo by Tim Wood; all other photos supplied by company of product reviewed)
Here’s hoping you all got plenty of travel tech in your stockings during the holidays.
We’re off to a great start to 2016 in the tech world with the glorious annual gadget buffet that is the Consumer Electronics Show. My colleague Gabe Zaldivar highlighted some of the best products to debut at CES and set to hit the market for travelers this year, and I’m sure we’ll be reviewing all of those products and more as we get into the year.
Here’s the latest trio of travel marvels we’ve taken for a hands-on test drive.
This innovation was like pennies from Heaven for me. I have a hate-hate relationship with wallets thanks to back pain due to sitting on an overstuffed wallet. So I went to more of a card carrier, but found it was too flimsy and was too much of a pickpocket target – my last carrier, and all the cards it contained, was stolen at the Raleigh-Durham airport.
Enter Nomad, a company that has become beloved for their rugged smartphone and smartwatch accessories. They are attempting to be a two-fer solution here, a combination of watch and smartphone charger.
When I first heard of the Nomad Wallet, I thought there was no way to integrate a charger into the design and still be a slim wallet. Then I started using it.
The 2400 mAh li-on battery charger (good for one full charge of the iPhone 6s) is built into the fold of the leather. So the end result is a product that folds to 25 mm max thickness – actually better than most men’s billfolds.
An Apple Lightning cable is built into the fold and tucks into the wallet perfectly when not in use. A micro USB cable is included to charge the phone between uses.
The black saffiano leather is ultra sleek and durable, and the aluminum charger casing can absorb any kind of mishap or drop. You’d pay $150 easily for this quality of wallet, so at $99, it’s quite the bargain.
The end result is one of the better-made wallets I have ever owned. And 25 charges in, the rechargeable battery is still as strong as the first charge. The Nomad has already bailed me out of multiple trips where I forgot to bring a portable charger along. It’s a no-brainer selection for a Gadget Guy Platinum Pick (reserved for gadgets that score 48 or above in our hands-on testing).
The Nomad begins shipping January 29 and is currently on backorder (I'm not the only one who is smitten.)
Inventor Scott Jordan first came on to my radar when he made a pitch to save my obsession, SkyMall. Jordan was outbid there, but he will not be outdone when it comes to his SeV line of gadget-toting outerwear.
Jordan made a big splash with his ScotteVEST thanks to an appearance on the ever-popular “Shark Tank.” He didn’t walk away with a deal there, and from what I can see, the Sharks missed out big time.
I tested the SeV System 8.0, which is made of a water resistant shell and rain hood ($215) and a fleece vest jacket ($170) Both products have removable arms to transform into a vest. Each have 20 pockets in the vest portion of the jacket, with compartments for glasses, a water bottle, a camera, a small laptop or tablet, RFID blocking pocket for your wallet, pen and just about anything you can fit in the pockets. There are four total outer zipper pockets with the rest on the inside lining.
My first reaction was that I was going to look like an old-school street vendor. Watches, I got watches!
But both of these products are ingenious. The lining has room to run your various device cables through, so your earbuds simply poke out of the jacket collar.
The SeV 8.0 system is quite the find when you’re trying to keep everything in one place going through the airport security line. Does it get a bit heavy carrying your laptop in your jacket? Sure, but no more than carrying a backpack over your shoulders.
You get all the portability here without the shoulder pain. My family laughed at me when I first put on the SeV 8.0. Now, they’re all angling to borrow it.
IceMule Classic Cooler
Founder James Collie is a big hiking enthusiast. One hot spring day, he set out with friends and wanted to keep drinks cold in his backpack. So he made a make-shift cooler out of a day pack and double lined it with plastic trash bags. That invention didn’t quite hold, but an idea was born.
The IceMule markets itself as the “world’s most portable high-performance cooler” and it’s hard to argue with their claim. Unlike most soft coolers, this isn’t sewn and has no zippers. The seams are welded, the watertight roll-top closure and side release buckle make it easy to access and a padded backstrap make it ultra portable.
The innovation here that makes this more than a run-of-the-mill dry bag is the double-layered shell that houses insulating foam and even floats. The result is a product that keeps ice cold for 24 hours.
I tested the Classic medium size (holds 15 liters, $59.95) but the product also comes in a large 20 liter ($69.95) and a small 10 liter ($49.95)
Scoring: Each category is scored between 1 and 10 for a maximum score of 50. Products scoring 48.0 or above earn the label of Gadget Guy Platinum Pick.
Products detailed above were provided to accommodate this review, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Tim Wood and have not been influenced in any way.
Have a cool travel gadget we should review? Email me at email@example.com.
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