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The staff at TravelAge West had a blast field-testing the travel gear for this issue. We wanted to ensure these cases were indeed “crush-proof,” so in the name of science — and, perhaps, to also have a little fun — we put these products through the ringer. Using water, force and whatever else we could think of (some items were tossed down a flight of stairs), these cases passed our tests with flying colors and will likely hold up to your clients standards as well.
Tokyo-based designer Hideo Wakamatsu draws on Japanese and French traditions to create carrying accessories with a unique blend of style and function. Already popular in Asia, the line is beginning to make its mark in the U.S. market. The Hideo Wakamatsu 20-inch carry-on trolley features a crush-proof shell, magnetic locks and “silent moving” soft wheels. Colors include tamer silver and orange, along with more exotic leopard, camouflage and blossom prints. $210.www.flight001.com
Summertime means beach vacations, river rafting and plenty of lounging by the pool. If your clients are heading for some fun in the sun — and water — you might want to recommend these sturdy carrying cases by Pelican. The clear plastic containers are waterproof and tough enough to withstand being dropped from a beach bag onto the hot asphalt (trust us). The large size (1060) in the Micro Case Series is perfect for carrying essentials, such as wallet, hotel keys and even a small digital camera. The small size (1010) accommodates a camera, cell phone or PDA. And the handy carrying strap provides extra security. $27.50 and $13.95, respectively. Other sizes available.www.pelicanproducts.us
My iPod has become a travel necessity, but this tiny device has seen its fair share of wear and tear during my travels. Waterproof and drop-resistant, OtterBox cases protect pricey iPods and priceless music collections during any adventure, while still allowing easy access to your iPod’s touch screen. Available for iPod video and nano, OtterBox and H20Audio also offer waterproof headphones ($39.95). Prices range from $76-$98, depending on the model. www.otterbox.com
These bags are crushproof and then some — in fact, Zero Halliburton cases are crafted to withstand an impact of over 40,000 pounds per square inch. Clients might recall CNBC’s live demonstration where a dump truck ran over a Zero case containing a raw egg, which after the impact, remained fully intact. The luggage also made a cameo appearance on the TV series “Lost” — the characters spent an entire episode trying to open a Zero Halliburton case, including throwing it off cliffs. The popular Zeroller series recently debuted an array of vibrant colors for the 21-inch size, from Glacier Blue to British Racing Green. The bags also feature polyurethane wheels, lightweight plush lining and a removable suiter. $695.www.zerohalliburton.com
Extreme PC protection
If your clients want to take their laptop camping, whitewater rafting or on another adventure, OtterBox cases might make for the perfect fit. The waterproof, rugged design is so strong that you can stand on the case without doing any damage, and bumpers inside accommodate laptops with up to 15-inch screens. While my computer remained as snug as a bug on a recent trip, the weight of the laptop and the case (6½ lbs.) proved to be too much for the shoulder strap, which broke. But the case — and my laptop — easily survived the tumble. $169.95.www.otterbox.com