Thanks to Robin Esrock’s magic wand I got to enjoy The Outdoor Adventure and Travel Show in Vancouver this weekend – April 24 and 25.

While day 1 involved some newly discovered travel treasures, day 2 had me on the hunt for some useful products for travelers.  Face it, most of us are gear geeks.

Major outdoor adventure companies like Columbia had flashy displays, taking up floor space with kayaks and hi-tech clothing galore.  All well and good, but again, I was sniffing out what might aid the average backpacker.

Keen Shoes


If you’ve never heard of Keen, I feel sorry for you.  Keen had a simple, but transparent booth at the show, displaying anything from hiking boots to sandals.  These aren’t those flip flops that will disintegrate upon contact with pavement and leave your feet open to shards of glass or rabid dogs, their sandals cover the toe, are waterproof, breathable, and composed of EGIS Microbe Shield®, a material that prevents odor or staining.  Heaven!  Their hikers are top notch, but what really sold me were socks.  I have tiny feet, so bunching is a problem.  Keen socks are designed to fit to the angle of your toes, each sock is labeled “right” or “left” to ensure a perfect fit on each foot. There’s also built-in arch support and air panels for circulation.  The biggest plus?  Their socks are constructed of merino wool, a natural odor fighting fiber.  You could wear them for 3 to 4 days and never be accused of stinking up a hostel again.  Perfect for those in-between laundry days on the road.  Visit www.keenfootwear.com.  Click by the search window to pick your country of residence.

Magi-Pad


Got sore muscles?  Sprained your ankle hiking up Mt. Everest?  Need to heat or cool food?  Magi-pad is equipped to handle these situations.  Talk about miracle in a blob, lifeless form.  Simply flex the metal disc and the pad turns milky white.  Magic, indeed.  These pads reach temperatures of 54°C or 130°F.  It’s reusable, lasts a helluva long time, and is made of sodium acetate, a food grade salt.  The size fits nicely into a backpack.  However, Mr. Magi claimed his product is sold on The Shopping Network, but a search came up with zilch.  It dawned on me that he probably bought them at $5 apiece and sold them at the show for $20.  No matter, it was a good reminder that these things are damn useful.  Here’s a demo online from heatomatic.com.

Solar Battery Charger

Since backpackers have morphed into flashpackers, hauling a laptop or cellular device is now common, almost banal.  I’ll shut up, banality allows me to do this blogging thing.  So I was delighted to discover Earth Solar Inc.  A local company started in 2009, their solar battery charger utilizes the sun’s rays to charge your iPhone, digital camcorder or ipod.  Whether you encounter power outages in Karachi or need to recharge during a lengthy bus ride — with no outlet in sight — the uses are endless.  The kit includes adaptors for several models (Blackberry, Motorola, iPhone), a means to charge by 2 other options: car smoke ignitor or A/C, and the ability to set up various voltage settings.  The device is good for 100 recharges/discharges.  That would easily last over the course of a year long trip.  Right now the company is working on technologies for digital cameras.  I held one in my hand and it was über light.  For shame, I was disheartened to discover this product sells well in the States, but not Canada.  How sad, when The City of Vancouver is about to rollout a composting program.  Tsk tsk!  Repair that pathetic fact and visit www.earth-solar.net or call 1-604-438-5606 for more details.

Aqua Walker

Apparently I’m obsessed with shoes, if you hadn’t noticed.  I couldn’t resist checking out these.  Made in Germany, they are ideal for surfing, kayaking, rocky beaches, lakes, or the shower.  Composed of Thermo-plastic-elastomere, they are recyclable and pvc and phtalate free.  Travelers always fret over bacteria.  No worries here, as the shoes are also sanitized and antibacterial.  Price is $25 CDN.  Email: [email protected] or call 1-604-913-3393 for more details.  I tried on a pair, cute huh?

To sum up the past 2 days, it was great talking travel with live humans instead of a computer.  I would have liked to see more accessible products rather than ATV’s or expensive, custom made canoes.  My main criticism was the inclusion of a health and wellness area.  One booth was hawking bras.  Seemed misplaced and out of depth for the travel market. Mind you, I suppose even my girls need a travel home.

Some additional highlights of the show below.

Travel show location: Vancouver Convention Centre

Waterside view from Vancouver Convention Centre

Kayak demonstration

Sea of tents

Brave girls trying out the climbing pillar