Hit The Highway with the Best Road Trip Gadgets & Gear
Step up your summer road trips with essential travel gear.
Travel Tech Gadgets
We live in an era where your office is wherever you happen to be––as long as you’ve got a decent Wi-Fi signal. To stay connected anywhere in the world, add a Skyroam Solis Lite Hotspot to your travel kit. It’s tiny, with affordable national and global plans of the monthly or pay-as-you-go variety. On a recent road trip, my wife and I used it to send work emails from our laptops while driving down the highway. And it’s better than a car hotspot plan, because you can take your Wi-Fi where your car can’t go, like a coffee shop, a hotel room, or a park bench.
To make sure you never get stuck with a dead phone or a dead car battery, THE ZEUS from Uncharted Supply is a compact portable jump starter that’s also a USB charger and flashlight. I had a car battery die on me recently, and was lucky to have this on hand. I’m the kind of fool who tries a thing once before looking at the directions, and The Zeus worked on the first try right out of the box. From now on, I will always keep it close by and charged up.
For your off-grid comms, or for situations like navigating a trailer backup from behind the wheel, Rocky Talkie radios are extremely compact and versatile. Designed for treks into the backcountry, they have a range of up to 35-miles, and the lithium-ion batteries put the Energizer bunny to shame. I got them over a month ago for an Airstream trip, used them daily on the 8-day journey without ever charging them, and they still have 60% battery power.
The Sonos Roam is the newest, smallest, and most affordable Sonos speaker ever. On the road, it’s the perfect all-around Bluetooth travel speaker: light enough to carry on a hike, yet with sound big enough for the pool, a boat, an Airbnb, or a hotel room. It’s Qi charger compatible, and rated to withstand a 30-minute dunk in 3 feet of water. If you already have Sonos speakers at home, this is a no brainer because it syncs with them automatically. And with Alexa or Google voice control, the Roam works brilliantly as a home speaker between your adventures.
GoalZero Crush Light is an inexpensive but extremely useful LED lamp that collapses into the thickness of a deck of cards. And one last piece of equipment to make sure you have on board is a portable air compressor: I like the Viair 85P for size and price, and the peace of mind that you’ll never have to fill your tires at a gas station again.
Photos and Video
GoPro Hero9 Black is the most versatile way to capture your adventures: mount it on your dashboard with the suction cup mount, and the hands-free voice control makes it a perfect vlogging-while-driving rig. (It can also livestream 1080p video over Wi-Fi). With 5k footage and 20-megapixel photos standing by at the touch of a button, the shockproof body is waterproof to 33-feet, and the Hypersmooth feature keeps the footage perfectly steady even when you’re bouncing over waves, moguls, or potholes. Because it’s not your phone camera, you can set up a cool angle on your car, bike, or campsite and leave it there without having to constantly use it for other things. For maximum versatility with the GoPro, I recommend the Jaws Flex Clamp.
Don’t let the entry-level price fool you: DJI Mini 2 is a serious drone capable of incredible photo and video performance, and the perfect companion for crazy aerial shots of your travels without breaking the bank. It shoots 4k video and 12-megapixel photos with a 4x optical zoom, it can handle wind up to 15-mph, and can fly up to 31 minutes on a single charge. It’s also so light that you don’t have to register it with the FAA. So if you’ve been thinking about trying out drones, but you’re afraid of losing the cost of a laptop in a lake, this is the drone to try first.
For an all-around camera in a travel-friendly form, The Sony A7C packs a full-frame sensor in a small body for more detail and better low-light pictures, and has incredible autofocus for snapping pics of people and scenery on the fly. For a pro-level travel camera, the A7C is hard to beat. If you want the best camera in the smallest possible body, the Ricoh GR III somehow managing to pack an APS-C sensor and in-body stabilization into a tiny, pocketable form. Unlike the Sony, the Ricoh doesn’t have a viewfinder, the LCD screen is fixed instead of articulating, and you can’t change the lenses, but the size-to-performance ratio of the Ricoh is unrivaled.
All these cool gadgets need power, and the Honda EU2200i Generator is the best compact gas-powered generator you can buy. Producing up to 2200 watts, it’s relatively light at 47 pounds, and also fairly quiet. Honda generators are famously dependable, and this one can run for up to 8 hours at a 550-watt load. The Bluetooth connectivity means you can sit in your camper or your tent in a rainstorm and control it without ever leaving, and it has a carbon monoxide detector that will shut it off if they reach dangerous levels, so you can know it’s safe for you and your family.
If you don’t need as much power as a gas-powered generator, or want a little extra power without the engine noise, a Raptic Titan power bank paired with a Titan solar panel will quietly keep all your gadgets going when you’re off the grid.
Travel EDC Tools
The Leatherman Free P4 is a perfect travel companion. Made in USA from a trusted and time-tested brand, The Free P4 is designed to allow one-hand operation: the magnetic closure is secure but easy to open, and most of its 21 tools open to the outside and lock, so you don’t have to unfold it to access them. Benchmade makes a broad range of EDC knives, and I love the 601 Tengu Flipper for its sleek blend of modern knife tech in a traditional form. From a distance, it resembles your grandfather’s jack knife, but up close it’s a modern EDC to the core. Nocs Provisions Binoculars are rugged, light, and the rubberized texture makes them easy to keep a grip on, whether you’re watching the ships on the horizon, looking at birds, or piecing together a murder mystery from your rear window.
Eating, Drinking and Cooking
For drinks on the road, hot or cold, Yeti Rambler Stackable Cups are essential. They fit easily into your cup holder, the magnetic-closing lid is smooth yet secure, and the stackability comes in handy when you need to make way for some drive-through Starbucks. For food storage on the road, the reusable stainless steel containers from Klean Kanteen are good for the planet and good for saving space in your cooler. Speaking of coolers, I love the Yeti Hopper Flip 12 because it’s very portable and the flat top can serve as a table for prepping food on the road.
Caffeination is a critical whenever driving or sleeping in strange beds is involved. For truly handcrafted coffee in a hotel room or cabin in the woods, the VSSL Java Coffee Grinder is a tiny work of art crafted out of aircraft aluminum, with a stainless steel burr grinder inside. If size and portability is your ultimate goal and you don’t mind making one cup at a time, the AeroPress Go makes a good stout coffee reminiscent of an Americano––especially when paired with the VSSL Java Grinder. If you have a little more space and want to brew a full pot, the Eureka Camp Café works with any burner and makes up to 12 cups of pour-over coffee at a time.
The versatile Primus Kamoto Grill and Fire Pit can be a charcoal or wood-burning grill or an open fire pit. It folds down flat when you’re not using it, and comes in rugged nylon case for easy packing without getting soot and grime on the rest of your gear. If you need heat on demand, or need to cook somewhere you’re not allowed to have a wood or charcoal fire, the light and compact Eureka SPRK Camp Grill runs on easily-obtainable 8-ounce butane cannisters, and comes with a nice carrying case.
UNAGI SCOOTER –– The Unagi Model One looks like it belongs in the gift shop of the Museum of Modern Art, but it’s also a powerful scooter with stellar battery life––with speeds of up to 19mph, and a range of up to 15.5 miles on a charge. This middle ground between driving and walking is clutch while traveling. Say your car is valet-parked in a garage, you want to get a bottle of wine and take-out but it’s too far to walk and you don’t want to hassle with an UBER. I bring this scooter to urban hotels for these kinds of quick errands. And at campgrounds or large resorts, it’s like a portable golf-cart. But don’t forget to bring a helmet–– 19mph feels a lot faster than it sounds.
THURSO WATERWALKER PADDLEBOARD –– When I travel to a place with beautiful water to explore, I don’t want to stand in line to rent a kayak or a paddleboard. But nor do I want to lug around a full-sized epoxy stand-up paddleboard, which is why inflatable SUP’s are so cool for traveling. Thurso’s Waterwalker 132 packs into a large rolling backpack, and comes in a complete kit with everything you need except a life jacket to get out on the water and explore. I took it to a mangrove swamp in the Florida Keys, and within a few minutes I had it pumped up and was out on the water. With carbon fiber rails, it’s incredibly stable, with plenty of space for your dog, your kid, or a well-packed cooler to join you. The built-in GoPro mount is very handy, and the stainless steel tie-town points are perfect for strapping on that cooler or a snorkel set.
Rumpl’s Nanoloft Puffy Blanket, is a perfect hybrid of blanket and sleeping bag––packable like a sleeping bag, but because it lays flat, it works in a tent or on a bed, as a picnic blanket, or you can throw it over your shoulders sitting by a fire on a cold night. If you prefer to really bundle up, the Big Agnes Sidewinder sleeping bag is specifically designed for side sleepers, with extra padding at the hips, so to speak. It’s extremely lightweight, but as cozy as a down comforter.
For your outdoor living room, the Yeti Lowlands Blanket is thin and packable, but its dense padding it deceptively comfortable and it’s rubberized on the bottom so you’ll never get any seepage from wet grass. If sand is involved, the CGear Sandfree Mat has a patented weave that allows sand to fall through, so you’ll never have that sandpaper feeling on your bare feet and you won’t track sand back into your tent or camper.
For furniture on the move, Helinox makes incredible lightweight chairs for camping, the beach and backyard lounging. Helinox Chair One, at 13 inches, 2 pounds, and with a 320-pound capacity, is a perfect balance of strength and weight, and it pairs well with the Hard Top Table.
The new Yeti Crossroads luggage is as durable as Rhino skin, and filled with useful pockets so you can section off different days or different people packing in the same bag. Of all the pieces in Yeti’s new luggage collection, the Yeti Crossroads 60L Duffel is my favorite, but the Crossroads 35L Backpack is a close second.
Also very durable, and with a 50-50 split that makes it very easy to separate clothes based on itinerary or travelers, the Fjallraven Splitpack may look small, but it’s incredibly useful and holds more than you’d think based on its compact size. For an easy, ultralight and ultra-packable option if you want to go boating or paddleboarding, the Dakine Rolltop Dry Pack is an affordable waterproof bag that works as both duffel and backpack.
If you’re going to be on the move a lot, the agile GoPro Daytripper has a padded space for a 15-inch laptop or a hydration bladder, customizable padded storage for your tech gadgets, and a shoulder-strap GoPro mount to record your adventures in the first-person POV.
It’s always a good idea to have a serious first-aid kid on hand if you’re out of range, like the Uncharted First Aid Pro. With new horizons come new bugs, and Ranger Ready Body-Worn Repellant keeps mosquitoes and ticks away and is entirely Deet-Free. And their new Clothing-Worn Repellant lasts up the 40 days or 5 washes.