When comfort counts, these new items can make a difference. All products have been tested by the writer.
-- Judi Dash
Treat for the feet
Bucky Products made their mark with travel pillows. Now they're aiming for your soles with Hotties Booties. Use the plush, chenille ankle-high slipper-socks for relaxing on an airplane or cuddling up on a couch. Microwave or freeze the removable insert, place it back in the pouches at the top and bottom of the booties, and get soothing hot or cold therapy in the bargain. The booties (but not the inserts) are machine washable. One size fits most.
Hotties Booties are $44.95 from Bucky Products; (800) 692-8259, www.bucky.com.
Got your back
If you can't have a first-class seat, the next best thing may be the 1st Class Sleeper. This inflatable nylon pillow blows up to about the size and shape of an airplane seat back, providing more ergonomic cushioning and support for shoulders, neck and spine than the typical coach seat. Getting the fit just right takes some practice. Ten or 12 breaths into the air valve usually do the trick. Because the pillow has you sitting farther forward in your seat, you may lose leg room, so try to get a roomier exit-row or bulkhead seat. The pillow rolls up and stores in an included drawstring pouch and weighs just 18 ounces. It's also good for car travel.
1st Class Sleeper (IF430) is $39.95 from Magellan's; (800) 962-4943, www.magellans.com.
Light and silky
You may have to remind yourself you're wearing clothes when you lounge around in DreamSack's new featherweight silk drawstring pants. As sheer as the sheerest silk handkerchief, the unisex black slacks are loose and cool. The elastic waistband adds to the comfort. Slash pockets can accommodate a boarding pass, ID or tissues -- although I wouldn't advise putting anything heavier than that in them. DreamSack also offers a sleeveless silk-knit cami top for women, in black or pastel colors, and a men's sheer silk knit T-shirt in black (but women can wear it too). Each garment stuffs into its own silk drawstring sack -- about the size of a whiffleball.
Silk pants, $34, men's silk T-shirt, $34, and women's cami, $26, from DreamSack; (800) 670-7661, www.dreamsack.com.
That's a wrap
Anne McAlpin's packing expertise (her book, "Pack It Up," is the definitive packing primer) has made her a popular guest on daytime talk shows. No surprise, then, that her first travel product -- a microfiber towel that also functions as a sarong -- is a well-designed multi-tasker. The velvety-soft material is absorbent, fast-drying and machine-washable, making it a great shower or beach towel. At roughly 3 feet by 5 feet, it makes a roomy wrap around most bodies. The towel also works as a lightweight blanket. It folds down to the size of a thick paperback book and comes in a black nylon carry bag with two zippered mesh pockets.
Micronet microfiber towel by Anne McAlpin is $29.95 from Travel Essentials; (800) 258-0758, www.travelessentials.com.