Here, we round-up ten lug­gage in­no­va­tions that could make your trav­el­ing life eas­ier…

Business Traveler (USA) - - TECH SAVVY -

1. LAT 56º BACK­PACK

$230 lat56.com IN­NO­VA­TION Mil­i­tary-grade ma­te­ri­als Spe­cially de­signed for busi­ness trav­el­ers, the “Ur­ban War­rior” range from Scot­tish brand Lat 56º sees the use of “bombproof NASA-spec mem­ory foam” on the in­side and a “shock ab­sorb­ing dual layer of mil­i­tary-spec molded EVA [eth­yl­ene vinyl ac­etate] foam” on the out­side. The ef­fect makes the black ex­te­ri­ors of the brief­cases, lap­top bags and back­packs (such as the one pic­tured) look like rub­bery ar­madillo shells, which aren’t ex­actly chic.

Still, fash­ion doesn’t seem to be the ob­jec­tive here as Lat 56º de­scribes the prod­ucts as look­ing and per­form­ing like a piece of ar­mor. The back­pack weighs 2.9 lbs, mea­sures 15.7 in x 13.8 in x 7.9 in and can han­dle “any­thing from acid rain to a trop­i­cal typhoon” so is es­sen­tially wa­ter­proof.

VER­DICT The ma­te­ri­als used have ac­tu­ally been around for decades – NASA in­vented mem­ory foam in the 1960s and EVA foam is com­monly used in ev­ery­thing from ski boots to bike sad­dles. What’s unique are the er­gonomics and aes­thet­ics of this un­usual-look­ing, high-per­for­mance range of lug­gage.

2. I-STAY LAP­TOP BAG £40 ($67) i-stayput.com IN­NO­VA­TION Non-slip strap

I-Stay en­tered the mar­ket in 2012 with a se­ries of non­slip straps and busi­ness lug­gage. The webbed rub­ber shoul­der pad may only be a small de­sign tweak but it does make a dif­fer­ence – not only is it an­noy­ing to con­stantly lift your bag strap back on to your shoul­der when rush­ing to catch a plane or train, but it’s bad for your body.

This clever in­no­va­tion en­sures that the weight of the load is spread evenly across the shoul­der and the web­bing grips to cloth­ing. It has even earned I-Stay a com­men­da­tion from the Col­lege of Chi­ro­prac­tors.

Not only can the strap (avail­able in red, black, white and gray) be bought as part of an I-Stay-de­signed piece of lug­gage (such as the lap­top bag, pic­tured), but it can also be pur­chased separately to re­place your own bag’s disobedient strap.

VER­DICT If you have neck or back prob­lems, you shouldn’t carry weight on one side of your body – dis­tribut­ing it across both shoul­ders with a back pack would be bet­ter. How­ever, the non­slip strap def­i­nitely works.

3. CROSSKASE SO­LAR 15 BACK­PACK £140 ($235) crosskase.com IN­NO­VA­TION So­lar panel

It can be in­con­ve­nient, if not dis­as­trous, to nd your elec­tronic de­vices have run out of power at a cru­cial mo­ment, but this ruck­sack can help ease your wor­ries thanks to its built-in three-watt so­lar panel and in­ter­nal bat­tery.

Made from bal­lis­tic ny­lon for dura­bil­ity, the bag has nu­mer­ous pouches and com­part­ments for phones, tablets, cam­eras and lap­tops up to 15.6 inches in size. It’s a lit­tle on the heavy side at 3.8 lbs, but this isn’t so per­cep­ti­ble when worn over two shoul­ders.

In­side is a charg­ing ca­ble and a pack of eight con­nec­tors for your hand­held gad­gets. To charge a smart­phone bat­tery to 50 per­cent, you have to leave the back­pack in bright sun­light for six to eight hours (or plug it into the wall). But the Crosskase is un­able to recharge larger de­vices like lap­tops or iPads.

VER­DICT A handy in­no­va­tion, es­pe­cially when trav­el­ing in hot coun­tries or work­ing out­doors with spo­radic ac­cess to elec­tric­ity. Even in a city, it is use­ful to be able to charge your smart­phone while on your way to a meet­ing.

4. TUMI TE­GRA-LITE IN­TER­NA­TIONAL CARRY-ON $595 tumi.com IN­NO­VA­TION Bul­let-proof plas­tic

Since 2012, Tumi has had an exclusive

deal with US army tex­tile and chemical com­pany, Mil­liken, to pro­duce a line of hard-shell suit­cases en­gi­neered from Te­gris, “a rev­o­lu­tion­ary polypropy­lene ther­mo­plas­tic com­pos­ite.” It nds uses in pro­tec­tive gear for NFL play­ers, body ar­mor and NASCAR, which means this case is light (6.4 lbs) and tough.

Ac­cord­ing to Mil­liken: “Te­gris pro­vides a two to 15 times im­prove­ment in im­pact re­sis­tance [com­pared with] typ­i­cal ther­mo­plas­tics and com­pos­ites. Its per­for­mance is so good that it is be­ing used as ar­mor against bal­lis­tic threats.” If you hap­pen to be in a war zone, you can use your suit­case as a shield – fail­ing that, it will have no prob­lem en­dur­ing ev­ery-day knocks and bumps.

The Te­gra-Lite four-wheeled In­ter­na­tional Carry-on also has an air­craft-grade alu­minum X-Brace 45 tele­scopic han­dle, TSA in­te­grated locks and break-off zips that can be re­placed free of charge.

VER­DICT These suit­cases are ex­pen­sive – rang­ing from $595 to $995, but they will last for years, look se­ri­ously so­phis­ti­cated, and score highly on de­sign and per­for­mance.

5. ANTLER JUNO CABIN SUIT­CASE $200 antler.co.uk IN­NO­VA­TION Ribbed, in­jec­tion-molded shell – in white

Dis­tinctly fu­tur­is­tic to look at, Antler’s Juno suit­case is made from two ribbed, in­jec­tion-molded shells fash­ioned from polypropy­lene (the same ma­te­rial as used for car bumpers). This makes it highly durable, flex­ing gen­tly when pres­sure is ap­plied, and comes with a guar­an­tee of ten years.

Also avail­able in black, the white op­tion looks the most strik­ing, but runs the risk of at­tract­ing lots of scuffs and marks. With a pack­ing ca­pac­ity of 1.6 cu­bic feet, and mea­sur­ing 22 in x 14 in x 9 in, the Juno, which was launched in Au­gust, is also very light at 5.2 lbs (the largest ver­sion weighs just 9.3 lbs).

VER­DICT In­jec­tion molded polypropy­lene suit­cases have been around since the late six­ties, but the bone-like ribbed de­sign of the Juno makes this Antler unique.

6. KNOMO SCALA NORTH/ SOUTH WHEELED TROL­LEY $349 knomobags.com/usa IN­NO­VA­TION ID reg­is­tra­tion code

As with all Knomo prod­ucts, the Scala North-South cabin case from the new Fitzrovia line for women comes with a unique “My­knomo” ID num­ber which can be reg­is­tered on­line. If the bag is lost, the nder can con­tact Knomo di­rectly (on­line or via an in­ter­na­tional tele­phone num­ber) who will re­unite lug­gage and owner free of charge.

Tumi has a sim­i­lar pro­gram called Tumi Tracer, while Booq’s ex­ten­sive line of bags and iPad cases have Ter­ral­inq (booqbags.com).

Knomo’s carry-on cases come in cherry, black and ma­rine, and also fea­ture a front com­part­ment for a 15inch lap­top, an ex­ter­nal pocket for a mo­bile or keys, dou­ble-stitched di­a­mond quilt­ing, EVA foam pad­ding, a zip-away tele­scopic han­dle and a mag­netic clasp that wraps around the leather han­dles to keep them to­gether (a nice touch).

VER­DICT An at­trac­tive, well-thoughtout de­sign across the Knomo line. How­ever, the My­knomo sys­tem re­lies on the hon­esty of the nder, so a track­ing de­vice might be bet­ter.

7. TUMI TI­CON PASS­PORT COVER $95 tumi.com IN­NO­VA­TION RFID pro­tec­tion

Tumi’s Ti­con collection of bags and wal­lets are wo­ven with a layer of metal­lic thread to pro­tect ID documents and credit cards that are RFID- (ra­diofre­quency identi cation) read­able.

This pass­port cover is only use­ful to those with a bio­met­ric pass­port (which is most of us who’ve been is­sued a pass­port in the past decade or so) or con­tact­less pay­ment debit and credit cards. These con­tain elec­tronic chips that store all your per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and can be hacked with a hand­held scan­ning de­vice. But by keep­ing them in a Ti­con wal­let with “Tumi ID Lock” tech­nol­ogy, a wire­less RFID reader will not be able to ac­cess it.

I down­loaded two NFC (near- eld com­mu­ni­ca­tion) apps to test this out – the ofi­cial UK Pass­port Reader from

the Iden­tity and Pass­port Ser­vice and the NFC Pass­port Reader, both for An­droid de­vices only. In both cases, with the pass­port un­pro­tected, I was able to un­lock in­for­ma­tion stored on my bio­met­ric chip. Nei­ther app worked when I put the pass­port in­side the Ti­con wal­let.

VER­DICT Good for peace-of-mind but in re­al­ity it seems pretty hard to steal your data with an RFID scan­ner, un­less crim­i­nals have more pow­er­ful read­ers that can de­tect your bio­met­ric pass­ports and credit cards through your bag (which they might).

8. RE­BOUND TAG mem­ber­ship) re­bound­tag.com IN­NO­VA­TION RFID microchip

Most fre­quent yers have had their lug­gage lost at one time or an­other, but if there’s a Re­bound Tag at­tached to your bag, there’s a bet­ter chance you’ll be re­united with your be­long­ings.

The tag is tted with two RFID mi­crochips – one is rewritable and de­signed to be en­coded with ight in­for­ma­tion each time you y, and the other is for per­ma­nent per­sonal in­for­ma­tion linked to your ac­count. The tag is also printed with a bar­code and a unique ID num­ber, so if some­one nds it, they can visit re­bound­tag.com, en­ter the dig­its and send you a mes­sage.

If an air­line or air­port re­trieves your bags, you will au­to­mat­i­cally be ale alerted by e-mail or SMS. Tags need to b be reg­is­tered on­line and the $58 fee inc in­cludes one year’s mem­ber­ship for unl un­lim­ited ights (re­newal is $17 a year).

VER­DICT A handy piece of equip­ment with wit the added ad­van­tage of be­ing able to use u the on­line “Mem­bers Area” to up­date up per­sonal in­for­ma­tion on the RFID chip. chi On the downside, there is a cer­tain amount am of has­sle and ex­pense in­volved tha that will put some people off.

9. 9.TRAK­DOT $50 store.trak­dot.com IN­NO­VA­TION INN Cel­lu­lar-based track­ing

Thi This newly launched palm-sized de­vice (4.5 oz.) is de­signed to be placed in­side you your suit­case be­fore check in. The Tra Trak­dot then em­ploys “newly patented mi­cro-elec­tron­ics and ground-based cel­lu­lar tele­phone tech­nolo­gies” (as op­posed to GPS) to in­form you of its where­abouts.

To com­ply with Federal Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion reg­u­la­tions, the gad­get au­to­mat­i­cally en­ters “ ight mode” when it senses the plane tak­ing-off. Upon touch­ing down, it will switch back on and re­port its new lo­ca­tion via SMS or e-mail.

You can track it via free iPhone and An­droid smart­phone apps, as well as on your com­puter. There is a one-time ac­ti­va­tion fee of $9 and an an­nual ser­vice fee of $13.

VER­DICT Know­ing your case has ar­rived is re­as­sur­ing, and be­ing able to prove that it is else­where in the world could be very use­ful. A unique and com­pelling propo­si­tion for busi­ness trav­el­ers, Trak­dot com­ple­ments ex­ist­ing mea­sures in place to pre­vent you from los­ing your lug­gage.

10. SCOT­TEVEST REVO­LU­TION PLUS JACKET $200 scot­tevest.com IN­NO­VA­TION Lots of pock­ets

Ev­ery­one who has to en­dure short­haul ights on budget car­ri­ers knows the per­ils of the one-bag pol­icy, so the idea of a multi-pocket jacket for your be­long­ings is both amus­ing and cred­i­ble.

US com­pany Scot­tevest of­fers jack­ets, coats, trousers and even un­der­wear, all with nu­mer­ous hid­den com­part­ments.

Busi­ness Trav­eler tried the Sport Jacket for men and the women’s Travel Vest, but no one could bring them­selves to wear them, so zero points for fash­ion ap­peal.

But the Revo­lu­tion Plus, de­signed for cold weather, looks bulky any­way and has 26 pock­ets, in­clud­ing ones spe­cially de­signed to ac­com­mo­date iPads, Blue­tooth head­sets, wa­ter bot­tles, money and smart­phones, as well as loops for head­phone wires and slots to hide the in-ear buds. The sleeves and hood are also de­tach­able.

VER­DICT Not the most stylish of gar­ments but a good idea if you can only travel with one small case. Re­mem­ber­ing where you put your pass­port could be a prob­lem, though. BT

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