- Jasper Hamill
- 1 October 2008
Splash some cash on the latest gadgets
You need more than just a few pairs of pants and a map to get around the world these days. So, although it’s unlikely that you really need a bag full of the latest gizmos, you probably covet them anyway. Just be careful not to lose them. When you inevitably do, Jasper Hamill advises you on what to spend the travel insurance on.
Solar Powered Backpack:
How do you think the Ghost-busters powered their cheesy special FX, sorry, ghoul-killing weapons? The answer’s pretty obvious: with a battery powered backpack.
Should you wish to have a few electronic goodies going as you wander the streets and countryside of Scotland, this ‘backpack of the future’ will make sure you never run out of juice,
With this strange looking bag, you can power all manner of electronic equipment. Wire your iPod into it and you can set off into the hills with bagpipes blaring in your ears, safe in the knowledge that your reverie won’t be interrupted by the out-of battery ‘bleep’. Plug in your hair straighteners and the dreaded frizz will be kept at bay more or less indefinitely as the bag’s solar panel harnesses the power of the sun. Cynics might point to the Scottish sun’s steadfast refusal to put its hat on as evidence that the solar powered backpack may not work for the average Midgie reader, but hey, at least you could sit in a tanning salon and charge up your laptop.
Also counting against the ‘bag of future’ is the fact that this is hardly an überchic design, in the mould of Hermès or Prada. In fact - and let’s not beat around the bush here - it’s about as attractive as a bin-bag. Of course, geeks don’t really worry about aesthetics. Perhaps this will appeal to the sort of person that relished the bum bag’s handy storage space. You know who you are.
Solar Powered Backpack, 0870 011 3206, www.paramountzone.com, £19.95.
Picture the scene: you’re at the top of a mountain, a breathtaking vista spread out beneath you, listening to your favourite song, safe in the knowledge that your solar powered backpack means the batteries will never run out. Beautiful, yes, but accurate? Probably not.
Pedantic orienteerers and eager fathers will definitely want to know what they’re looking at. None of this rural sublime, hippy nonsense for them. They want facts, figures, grid references and tiny, inscrutable symbols to coo over. Sod the beauty, they say, we want the truth.
But the rest of you probably want to get an idea of what you’re looking at too. Once, there was no option other than to resort to Her Majesty’s Ordnance Survey maps, which are great, clod-hopping things, easy to unfold but impossible to put back together, bewilderingly complex and altogether impractical for anyone except geography teachers. The niggling crusaders will understand them; the rest of us won’t.
Why leave knowledge to the anal? Summit maps have been designed with the public in mind. They come in a little A6 book. When you open it, it unfolds, when you close it, it folds right back, just like the pop-up books you read as a child. The maps are windproof and waterproof, so much so that their designer has tried leaving one in water for three months and it still looks almost brand new. Best of all, they’re clear and easy to read, intended to make sure anyone can understand them. They do all the work, so all you have to do is climb that big mountain. Which is easy, right?
Summit Maps, 07771 994 454, www.summitmap.co.uk, £7.95.
SPOT: Satellite Personal Tracker:
Worrying about the safety of your travelling compadres? Have an over-bearing mother who can’t abide the thought of you sleeping alone, un-tucked in and badly fed in a freezing cold country? For the worried nearest and dearest of hard-bitten outdoor adventurers, the Spot, a GPS tracker, enables them to quickly pinpoint the location of their loved one in an emergency. Its main target market is brave adventurers, who can now wander out into the wilds and make sure their mum knows they’ve not been mauled to death by the last of Scotland’s wildcats, tumbled down an icy crevasse or eaten some dodgy berries. There’s probably scope for it to be used as an anti-infidelity device too, if sewn into a pair of knickers, to work out if they’ve been taken off or not, what time it happened and whereabouts.
Mike Brady, a grizzled Alaskan, owes his life to Spot. He was working alone in the middle of nowhere in Alaska, running an isolated mountain lodge, when he suddenly collapsed. In days of yore, he would have frozen to death and been wolfed down for breakfast by the coyotes, but thanks to the power of Spot, his wife and family noticed that he hadn’t sent his weekly ‘I’m OK’ message, and called the mountain rescue, who swooped in and saved the day. ‘Spot saved my life,’ said the not-so-rugged mountain man. ‘If my brother hadn’t given it to me before I left, I might not be here right now.’
What the trusty Spot can also do is cut out the middle man and phone the emergency services directly. So if a drunken Glaswegian wallops you or you wallop yourself attempting a Highland jig after a few ales, you can simply lie on the floor, press a button and wait until the police, firemen and parademics arrive. For urban hypochondriacs, neurotic mountain climbers and pretty much anyone who puts themselves into the jaws of death (or thinks they do) Spot could be the best purchase you ever make. For everyone else, it’s kind of cool and orange, doesn’t break when you drop it and will make all potential sexual partners think you’re a glamorous risk taker.
Spot Personal GPS Tracking Device, 0408 933 4526, www. findmespot.com, buy from www.outdoorgb.com, £122.95.
Blow the budget on a submarine:
What Noah didn’t know is that, come the apocalypse, whilst it may be safer to float above the waves, it’s way cooler to be under them. With melting ice caps and tropical storms threatening to turn our cities into underwater no-go areas, the canny traveller should already be making preparations to sail for the nearest mountain top. But why stop at survival, why not have some fun cavorting through submerged subways or weaving your way around underwater city streets? To satisfy all your flooded world fantasies, Dutch company U-Boat Worx have designed the world’s cheapest, sleekest and sexiest submersible. It comes in cool colours, including yellow for Beatles fans, enables you to swim with the fishes for up to 36 hours at a time and, perhaps most impressively of all, it has a clever ballasting system, meaning it will automatically counterbalance your weight, keeping you at the same depth.
The inventor, Bert Houtman, has dreamed of giving the public an accessible, affordable submarine for 25 years. At £65,000, the price of a flash car, he’s finally made many rich people’s James Bond fantasies come true. ‘In a time when you can buy almost everything you can think of, there was, until now, no alternative to scuba diving,’ the Dutchman has explained about his product. ‘Never before was it possible for the public to explore the underwater world with a one-atmosphere submarine. It’s a remarkable experience.’
It’s pretty easy to imagine what you’d use this for. A sailing trip along the Clyde, perhaps, spotting the wrecks of sunken shopping trolleys, or slicing through the waters of Loch Ness, giving ancient plesiosaurs
heart attacks. It would certainly make those freezing cold divers jealous when you sail by in luxury, your iPod blaring out ‘Live and Let and Die’, whilst they mess about all cold and wet, having to wee on themselves to get warm. You have to be pretty rich, but for youflash packers, this is about as desirable as it gets. gets. If you get one, can we have a ride?
U-Boat Worx Submarine, 076 571 3096 www.uboatworx.com, pricing upon request.