A suitcase that’s heavyweight but lightweight, a battery charger that can get a car battery or a mobile phone going again, a vacuum that works on wet or dry messes, and a light that turns fingers into flashlight are our gear items for the month that make your traveling life easier.
It just keeps growing and growing
You’ve fit everything for your trip into a carry-on bag. No waiting at the luggage carousel when you land. But what if you make purchases at your destination? Just expand your bag, if you’re packing the new Hanke Foldable Expandable Wheeled Suitcase.
The ultra-lightweight (a tick more than 5 pounds) luggage is a 20-inch wheel-aboard but can expand to 24- or 28-inch check-through size in two zipper-release stages. Or it can fold down to less than 5 inches deep (then double fold if need be) and stash in other luggage.
The suitcase glides on four spinner wheels, has an adjustable shoulder strap, sewn-in double carry/pull handles, and a large zippered external pocket. Fully expanded, the capacity is about 24 gallons, but the sturdy, pliable material allows the bag to squeeze in more.
Because the double-zipper closure is at the top of the suitcase, you’ll have to pack from the bottom up. Placing heavier items at the bottom will make for easier rolling and, when expanded to check-through size, help keep the bag from tipping over.
Cost, info: The Hanke Foldable Expandable Wheeled Suitcase costs about $65
You’ll get a charge out of this
Your new battery pack may be able to charge multiple mobile devices simultaneously, but can it also jump-start your car and power a TV?
Mophie’s new Powerstation Go can do all that as well as charge mobile devices. And did we mention the bright, built-in floodlight? The 7-by-4-by-1½-inch rechargeable brick won’t fit in your shirt pocket (cargo pants maybe), but it slips easily into a glove compartment or tote and packs 44,400mWh of power into a relatively compact body.
To jump-start your car, plug the included color-coded mini jumper cables into their dedicated port, attach the black “- ” and red “+” clamps to your vehicle’s matching positive and negative battery terminals, and press the Powerstation’s jump-start button. When the flashing green button turns solid green, start your vehicle. The charger allows three consecutive attempts. (If the car still won’t start, the battery may be so weak you’ll need a mechanic.)
When the Powerstation is not being used to get back on the road, its wireless charging surface can juice up any Qi-enabled device with up to 5 watts of power. Its dual USB-A ports and a 115V AC wall outlet are compatible with any mobile device’s cable adapters.
Mophie includes a micro USB- to USB-A cable; alas, there’s no Lightning or USB-C port. With up to 65 watts of oomph, the AC outlet could be essential for charging laptops or running electronic devices with higher-output requirements.
Cost, info: Mophie Powerstation Go costs about $160 but is available for less from other online stores;
Embrace the suck
My new Make Lemonade Handheld Cordless Car Vacuum got a baptism by fire right out of the box. It’s small enough to fit in a cup holder, but its built-in lithium ion battery (fully charged using the included 12V car adapter) managed to clean up the mess from my carsick dog, thanks to its ability to clean wet or dry messes.
The combo flat hose/brush attachment got into the nooks and crannies, and an LED light helped ensure nothing was missed. I had to empty the little dirt repository twice, but that was quick and easy with a twist where the nozzle attaches to the barrel.
The included replaceable HEPA filter is said to help air filtration. This 2-pound trouble shooter did a respectable job on the mess, snarfing up crumbs and spills in follow-up testing.
Cost, info: Make Lemonade Handheld Cordless Car Vacuum costs about $60; replacement HEPA filter, about $8.
Light at your fingertips
Here’s a little light from an untapped digital source: your fingers. Coroler’s new Cool Fingerless LED Flashlight Glove lets users point and shoot a bright beam from tiny lamps atop the stretchy neoprene knuckles of the thumb and index finger. No need to hold a flashlight. On a night hike, the beams aim naturally at the path (or leash, if you’re walking the dog). The “finger lights” are especially helpful with close-up tasks: tinkering with finicky gears on a bike trip, inspecting under the hood of the car.
Whether you’re using a flashlight glove on one hand or both, your unoccupied fingers and all your fingertips remain unencumbered. The neoprene finger “sleeves” are held in place by a swath of nylon that houses the on/off power button and stretches across the back of the hand to an attached adjustable neoprene wrist band with a Velcro closure. The lights are powered by two replaceable CR2016 button batteries (included).
Coroler Cool Fingerless LED Flashlight Glove costs about $18 for one; may be less at other retailers.