The Best Travel Gadgets of 2018
The gear and devices that have made in-flight and outdoor adventures better this year
In an increasingly fast-changing and saturated personal gadget market, it’s hard to separate the in-today-out-tomorrow from the worth-the-investment. Fret not: We’ve sussed out the cream-of-the-crop devices and gear that are giving travels a serious boost in 2018, from the best wireless headphones (that also act as noise-canceling ones!) to an amazing folding kayak to a camping stove that’ll also charge your smartphone. Here are our favorites, just in time for your holiday gifting list, too.
Best Kayak: The Haven
- Preorder $1,999, orukayak.com
Oru’s origami-style folding design makes it easy for anyone to own a kayak. Their new tandem kayak, the Haven, is a perfect choice for adventurous couples, or for anyone who loves bringing a friend along on a water adventure. As with previous models, the Haven is made for 20,000 folds, or 10,000 uses, but this larger model doesn’t fit into their Oru Pack accessory.
Best Adventure Camera: GoPro HERO7
- From $199.99, gopro.com
GoPro’s newest range of adventure cameras, in their HERO7 line, bring new advancements to the field. The range is totally waterproof without a case, and the functionality upgrades include adding shots straight to your Instagram Story, live streaming, and gimbal-like smooth footage, depending on which model you choose.
Best Smart Suitcase: Arlo Skye
- $450, arloskye.com
Travel smarter with a smart suitcase. Our favorite, the Arlo Skye, has a beautiful polycarbonate design and comes in multiple colors (including rose gold if you’re feeling trendy), and can fast-charge smartphones and Macbooks. Best of all, it’s airline-approved—learn more about what that means in our smart suitcases guide.
Best In-Flight Entertainment: iPad
- From $349, apple.com
Apple’s latest 9.7-inch iPad packs a punch with 10 hours of battery life for in-flight movie watching or gaming, and Apple Pencil support to write, sketch, or annotate a project with ease while at 30,000 feet. It’s especially handy if you’re on a budget airline that requires you to download the airline’s app for entertainment content, or for downloading episodes of the latest Netflix binge for watching offline.
Best Adventure Protection: LifeProof
- $89.99, lifeproof.com
Nothing puts a damper on an adventure more than worrying about your phone, whether accidentally dropping it on a hike or having it slip it into the water while kayaking. LifeProof phone cases are designed to protect from water, dirt, and drops. If you’re looking for hardcore protection, the LifeProof FRE cases have a built-in screen cover and are submersible for up to 2 meters for an entire hour.
Best Wireless Headphones: Sennheiser
- $299.95; en-us.sennheiser.com
These new headphones don’t come cheap, but with their Momentum True Wireless model, Sennheiser is at the top of their game in sound quality, in-ear comfort, and modern charging with USB-C. This model also has sound isolation, acting similar to popular noise-cancelling headphones. The earbuds themselves offer 4 hours of battery life, with a fabric-wrapped case that offers another 2 charges for the buds.
Best Camping Light: Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
- $37.46, blackdiamondequipment.com
Black Diamond’s products are surefire winners, but we especially love this supremely waterproof headlamp for its reliable brightness and ability to withstand the elements. The newest model features 350 lumens, improved peripheral lighting, and RGB night vision for an upgrade to your nighttime camping tasks.
Best Portable Wireless Network: goTenna Mesh
- $179/pair, gotenna.com
This off-the-grid private networking device is essential for communicating with friends and family at festivals, on hiking adventures, when traveling in remote areas, and for staying in contact during power outages and other emergencies when the cellular grid is overtaxed.
Best Camping Stove: BioLite Phone-Charging Camp Stove
- $129, bioliteenergy.com
This ingenious compact wood-burning camping stove (pictured above) converts its heat into electricity, in turn charging your phone, lantern, and other devices. It creates a smokeless fire that can boil a liter of water in under five minutes and cook your meals, making it a must-have for a backpacking trip. And it weighs only two pounds, so it won’t overload your pack. Toting along propane canisters will be but an unpleasant memory
Best Backup Power Source: Goal Zero Yeti 1400 Lithium Power Station
- $1,800, goalzero.com
This environmentally-friendly power station is a great backup source for RV road trips, extended camping trips, and emergencies. Gone are the awful fumes and overpowering noise of a gas generator, and its 10 ports are capable of charging small and larger devices such as a laptop or fridge.