Gadget Guy: Slicks Backpacks, TruMedic InstaShiatu+ and Showers Pass Waterproof Socks Reviews
Many thanks to all of you who have responded to the first few Gadget Guy columns. Between folks who have additional feedback on products (including dissenting opinions) and those who have sent ideas for future product reviews, you’ve helped to shape our direction for the first part of the year.
We’ll do a mailbag column in the next few weeks to share your comments. And in terms of future reviews, The Gadget Guy will do his best to abide.
On to this week’s trio of marvels.
Slicks Backpack Travel System
We get pitched a lot of products to try. For this one, I sought out the Slicks backpack for review the minute I saw it in early prototype from this Swiss newcomer to the market.
We usually do giveaways after we do reviews of products we truly loved. Slicks was the other way around, as they weren’t launching their Kickstarter campaign until this week.
Slicks wanted us to wait to do the review until they launched their campaign and were more in a position to ship product. From the looks of their results — $65,000 just in the first two days — travelers already agree that this is a game-changing product.
Slicks is a modular travel backpack with a system of internal inserts that transform it from a backpack to an overnight business travel bag to an attaché easily and efficiently.
The IATA carry-on compliant base pack gives you an innovative approach to packing, with an easy-access side pocket, a hidden pocket for shoes, a hidden raincover pocket (the material is water resistant, but the cover is added protection for downpours) and a very smartly placed laptop compartment. For hikers, the outer shell is loaded with highly reflective elements.
The padded shoulder straps are adjustable and stowable (you can convert it to a messenger bag with ease by stowing one strap), as is the chest strap and hip belt, and the back panel looks like a turtle shell with air-flow channels to prevent sweating. And the pack is loaded with discreet interior pockets with hidden zippers instead of bulky exterior pockets.
There is also a side handle for when you want to clip off the straps and convert the pack into an attaché.
The interior features an inside pocket for valuables, a document folder pocket and a mesh pocket to store items you need easy access to. Open the pack from the top of like a suitcase and lay it flat.
We tested the full BIZ system ($369), which includes a removable suitcover with a collapsible hanger and the tripcover, which includes a double-sided mobile wardrobe, a stink-proof laundry bag and a dopp kit for all your washbag needs.
I’ve used the Slicks system on four different trips now, and I have yet to discover all the hidden compartments. It sets a new bar for the active traveler looking for the illusive all-in-one travel bag. This was a no-brainer Platinum Pick and truly sets a standard of innovation which I’ll judge all products against.
Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Socks
Sadly, this video shows very little actual practical application and will likely make you need to pee. But it's better than a static photo. (Video courtesy Showers Pass)
This Portland clothing company has been creating waterproof gear since 1997 to encourage cycling enthusiasts to get out in any kind of weather. Their outerwear and accessories have become a favorite of any kind of traveler trying to look set trends while staying dry.
Their Crosspoint waterproof crew sock ($35-39) is their latest creation and it might just be their coolest. When I look at the packaging, it looks like a run-of-the-mill wool sock. Then I felt it and it was game on.
This is like a sock and a rain boot made a baby. It is a thick piece of clothing, with three layers – a wear-resistant knit wool exterior, a waterproof breathable Artex membrane and a Merino-wool moisture-wicking anti-bacterial lining.
The end result is an experience you need to get used to. It feels like putting a rubberish longjohn on your feet. You are that insulated, my friend. It’s a waterproof and breathable sock that, for once, lives up to the billing. It’s a Holy Grail type find for bicyclists that travelers will benefit equally from.
I put these suckers through the ringer. Stomping in rain puddles. Running through the day-old, snow-sleet slop in New England. And I even wore them in the bathtub. Dude, they’re not giving way.
I’d only wear this sock if I knew I was headed into bad weather. Otherwise, it’s just too bulky of a daily wear. But having that ace in your suitcase makes you a pro-level traveler.
Paying this much for a sock might be prohibitive for some travelers. I get it. But I dare you to buy one pair. You’ll be saving up for more.
TruMedic InstaShiatsu+ Personal Massager
You’ve been trudging through the airport all day. You cramped yourself into middle seats on three different connections. You need a chiropractor STAT.
As Oprah says, “Been down that road, honey child.” Imagine if you had that chiro fix in your hotel room. That’s the promise of the InstaShitsu+.
There are tons of these types of products on the market. The old SkyMall catalogs had five or six of them alone. I’ve tried plenty of them. Very few deliver on their sell job.
At the risk of sounding like a late-night informercial, TruMedic actually gives you a legit Shiatsu style massage on the go. You drape the massager over your shoulders and then put your hands through the arm holsters. Turn on the massager and the robotic rollers go to work on the targeted muscle group.
You control the amount of pressure you need — from more of a fingertip rub to a deep tissue massage — by pulling down on the arm straps.
The massager ($140) has a timed auto-reverse operation but you can change direction manually with a touch of a button. And if you want heat on the muscle area being massaged, there’s a button for that, too.
It's not just for your shoulders; you can use this to massage your feet, legs, back or stomach. The InstaShiatsu+ homepage has a number of diagrams to show you how.
The lithium-ion rechargeable battery goes for hours on one charge, but it’s recommended to do no more than 20 minutes at a time on any one muscle area.
The product is bulky. It comes with a carry case, but this is more of an additional carry-on item than something to put in the suitcase. That said, it’s a worthy part of your packing list.
From muscle tension to helping with circulation, relieving stress and helping with sleep, I have seen every benefit in my testing to date. My only problem has been wrestling this away from my wife.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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