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New Stuff That's Way Cool

June 02, 1996|JUDI DASH

With the summer travel season around the bend, here are some helpful new products to take along, whether on a weekend getaway or an expedition abroad. Many items may be available at area stores. Prices do not include shipping and handling:

Cool shirt: Trudging through the hot African bush recently, I was grateful for an ingenious lightweight shirt called the Baja Shirt. The shirt has three sterling qualities: It's ventilated, breathable and fast drying. The Supplex nylon material is soft and wrinkle-resistant and feels like light cotton. Under the arms and along the sides mesh panels open and close with Velcro, providing a kind of air-conditioning effect. The flip-up collar and long sleeves provide good protection against harsh sun and brambles. When rolled up, the sleeves secure neatly with a button tab. The shirt comes in a variety of colors.

Baja Shirt in sizes for men (item 2201) and women (2601) is $76 from TravelSmith; telephone (800) 950-1600.

Shower-ready: Several years ago Cascade Designs created the Packtowel using an ultra lightweight synthetic material that holds nine times its weight in water and releases 90% of the liquid when wrung out, making for fast drying. The towel is ideal for summer travel, when you might need a towel on the go but don't want to lug along a heavy, space-hogging cotton one.

Now the Packtowel is available in a kit that also includes a two-ounce bottle of biodegradable Packsoap and a Packtowel storage bag. One side of the storage bag has a waterproof, heavy-duty vinyl pocket with a zippered closure; the other side has a zippered mesh pocket for air-drying and carrying other toiletry items. The bag has a fabric loop for attaching to a backpack, belt loop or waist pack.

Packtowel Combo is $20 at sporting goods stores. To locate a dealer or catalog source, call Cascade Designs; tel. (800) 531-9531.

Fan fare: This diminutive battery operated travel fan (five inches by 3 1/2 inches by one inch thick) packs a surprising amount of air power. Weighing just over four ounces, including two AA batteries, it sets up a cool breeze with the flip of a switch. The fan blades are enclosed within a protective plastic cage, and a flip-out stand makes for easy placement on a desk or bed stand. The fan has a jack for attaching a wall-socket adapter (see below) for battery conservation.

Travel Fan (item 1F381A) is $13.85 from Magellan's; tel. (800) 962-4943.

Battery eliminator: Many battery-powered items, such as portable radios, tape recorders, calculators, electronic games and the travel fan described above, have a jack for attaching a DC adapter that can be plugged into the wall for use with standard household current. The Battery Eliminator from Voltage Valet is a dual-voltage adapter with four pins of varying sizes to fit into a variety of jacks, a separate jack for 9-volt battery-operated appliances, and a special jack used exclusively with Sony products. The adapter works with devices using AAA, AA, C, D, or 9-volt batteries, and can be used as a battery charger with some items. This is a nifty lightweight accessory for use in hotel rooms and should come in handy when traveling with battery-operated gadgets that have a plug-in option.

Battery Eliminator (EA237) is $12.85 from Magellan's; tel. (800) 962-4943.

Portable pillow: On long flights and road trips inflatable pillows are popular solutions when space is at a premium because they deflate to near nothing. The trade-off is that they don't really feel like pillows of the comfy home variety. Just out is an alternative travel pillow that you can really sink your head into and, while larger than the inflatable type, is still compact enough to pack in a carry-on bag.

Pillow-to-Go is a 16-inch by 12-inch latex foam neck and headrest that rolls up snugly into its own cover and secures with a Velcro strip. The tan zip cotton cover can be removed for laundering. The pillow is about the same size as a typical airplane pillow, but has a lot more bounce and is preferable for sanitary reasons, since many airlines do not change pillows after each flight segment.

Pillow-to-Go is $20 from Talatech; tel. (800) 825-2832.

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