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GEAR & GADGETS

Cuddle up a little closer with comfortable items

October 15, 2006|Judi Dash

Whether in hectic airports or on long car rides, travelers can use all the comforts they can get. The following new products fit the bill. All items have been tested by the author.

-- Judi Dash

Leg lifts

Travel is often the stuff of sore backs. This new inflatable knee pillow takes the pressure off the lower back, hips and knees while you're lying down. Because it is contoured in the middle, the pillow stays in place when you move in your sleep. It can be inflated to a choice of firmnesses, providing custom comfort levels. The pillow, made of flocked vinyl, comes with a vinyl pouch and stashes easily in tiny spaces. Can also be used as a neck pillow or for back support in a car or airplane seat.

Inflatable Knee Pillow is $11.95; (800) 423-5487, www.mcnaughtoninc.com.

Sound investment

Bose headphones have long held a top spot for comfort and audio performance among full-size portable models. The new Bose QuietComfort 3 is about a third smaller than its powerhouse QuietComfort 2 predecessor, making it even more seductive as a take-along. The newest model rests on the ears instead of over them like the earlier version, without sacrificing the deep cushioning and effective external noise cancellation of the bigger model. The headphones run on an integrated rechargeable lithium-ion battery that provides about 20 hours of continuous use. The ear cups rotate to a flat position for a more compact fit in the included carrying case. The optional QC3 Cell Connect Accessory Kit provides an interface with a variety of mobile phones, allowing the user to switch between music and incoming calls, and speak hands-free via an in-line microphone.

Bose QuietComfort 3 headphones are $349; QC3 Cell Connect Accessory Kit, $40; (800) 444-2673, www.bose.com.

Higher ground

Aero pioneered quick-inflatable beds with built-in pumps that connected to an AC outlet. Then came camping versions that could be inflated without electricity using rechargeable pumps. Now comes the most comfortable and versatile inflatable bed of all -- the Aero Sport All-Terrain Raised Bed with Dual Power Pump. The bed is heavy-gauge punctureresistant vinyl, 19 inches high, which places the user nicely above the floor of a tent or guest room. The soft sueded sleep surface is a welcome buffer from the vinyl, and the bed fits standard-size sheets. The bed inflates in less than three minutes and deflates in about 60 seconds using a quick-release valve.

Sport All-Terrain Raised Bed with Dual Power Pump is about $130 in twin size, $150 in full, and $170 in queen; (888) 462-4468, www.thinkaero.com.

Blanket approval

The Cabin Cuddler is a lightweight travel blanket with a built-in foot pocket and shoulder wrap that maximize warmth and keep the blanket from falling off. Made of machine washable polyester fleece, the 80-by-67-inch blanket works well in an airplane or car seat or at an outdoor sporting event. Just place the blanket on the seat, with the foot pocket resting on the floor, sit on top of the blanket, tuck your feet into the pocket, and tie the shoulder wrap extensions for a cozy fit. The Cabin Cuddler is available in black, cranberry or periwinkle and comes with a matching pouch.

Cabin Cuddler (IF457) is $34.85 from Magellan's; (800) 962-4943, www.magellans.com.

Gear & Gadgets runs monthly.

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