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Packing the Dresses for Success

September 07, 1997|JUDI DASH

Whether heading out on a long or short trip, for business or pleasure, travelers inevitably must confront the issue of clothing--how to pack it, tote it and keep it as clean and wrinkle-free as possible. Herewith, a selection of new solutions. Many items may be available in area stores. Except where noted, prices do not include shipping and handling.

Rolling on: Wheel-aboard luggage is here to stay, having usurped the role of porters and edged out luggage wheels (except when multiple heavy bags are involved). Each season brings a new batch with variations on the theme. One of the most attractive and well-made this time around is the wheeled carry-on from Lands End. The PVC frame is protective enough to keep fragile items safe inside, and the ball-bearing, in-line skate wheels operate particularly smoothly. The pull handle telescopes through a squeeze mechanism that keeps it securely in position whether extended or collapsed for storage or transport. I particularly liked the two outside pockets, both of which have double zippers for easy padlocking. The top outside pocket has an interior mesh pocket, several slash pockets and a key ring for easy accessibility to travel documents and house or car keys. In addition to 14 inches by 21 1/2 inches by 7 1/2 inches of storage space, there's a full-length zippered mesh compartment and a snap-out nylon toilet kit. At about 10 pounds, this wheel-aboard is a little heavier than many models, but that's attributable to its solid construction and is worth the trade-off.

Nylon Lighthouse Wheeled Carry-On (3856-1238) in black, navy or hunter green is $179.50 from Lands End; telephone (800) 356-4444.

Out, spot: When traveling with a minimum of clothing, the last thing you need is a sudden stain--especially when you won't be in any one place long enough to have it cleaned. Since no single spot remover takes out all stains from all materials in all situations, this duo of instant cleaners earns their minimal space in your bag. When no water is at hand, Janie Spot Cleaner works well on oil- and grease-based stains on most fabrics. The solvent-free stick is made of a combination of clays that absorb the spot, which is then brushed away (built-in brush included). When you can follow up with water, a better bet is Stain Eraser, which rubs out red wine, coffee, tea, lipstick, grease, oil, blood and more. (Not recommended for silk, suede or leather). I've tried both products and found them saviors when I needed a quick cleaner.

Janie Spot Cleaner (TC434) is $3.85, Stain Eraser (TC429) is $5.85, both from Magellan's; tel. (800) 962-4943.

Bounce-back hat: There's no debate that a good hat is probably an outdoorsman's best friend in the face of killer sun or rain. This manufacturer of head wear of all sorts has developed a model that fits all the basic requirements--plus it rolls up or stuffs into pockets, springing back like new. The Ultimate Crusher Hat, in soft cotton or fast-drying, cotton-like Supplex, has a 3-inch brim all around, a sweat band made of a material that wicks away moisture, adjustable tie cords, and a green under brim that reduces glare. The hat is machine washable and rain repellent. This isn't the sexiest hat on the market, but it's one of the most effective in a multitude of weather conditions.

Ultimate Crusher hat is $29.95 in natural-color cotton (UHCC) or khaki Supplex (UHCS). For a store nearby, contact the manufacturer, Ultimate Products, Inc; tel. (800) 477-4287.

Easy organizer: For years I've used self-sealing plastic bags as organizer sacks for socks, underwear and other clothing groups. A classier solution is Eagle Creek's Pack-It cube, a zippered nylon sack with a see-through mesh lid. The cubes (which are really more like rectangles) are available in two sizes: 14 inches by 10 inches by 3 inches, ideal for shirts and slacks, and 10 inches by 7 inches by 3 inches, good for socks and other smaller items. The cubes should bring glee to neatness fanatics.

Eagle Creek Pack-It Cubes are about $12 for the large size; $10 for smaller model. For a dealer near you, call the manufacturer at; tel. (800) 874-9925.

Comfort strap: Luggage shoulder straps may be essential for hands-free transit and handling multiple bags, but they can be a real strain on the neck and seem to be forever slipping off the shoulder. This new strap, made of a heavy, slightly stretchable neoprene (the same material used in divers' wetsuits), has just enough give to act as a kind of shock absorber as you move. In addition, the neoprene material has a clinging quality that reduces the slide factor--though there's no true cure for sloping shoulders. The 2-inch-wide strap adjusts from 42 inches to 56 inches and attaches to luggage via heavy-duty plastic snap-lock hooks.

Neoprene luggage straps are $11, including shipping and handling from the manufacturer, Cartom, Inc., 1335 Stony Hill Road, Hinckley, Ohio 44233; tel. (330) 225-7447. No credit cards, but personal checks are accepted.

Gear & Gadgets appears the first week of every month.

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