Image: Metrosafe 300
The Metrosafe 300 computer bag from Pacsafe uses high-tensile stainless steel mesh, bulletproof polycarbonate lock links and other tamper-resistant materials to create a “safety cell” around your valuables.
By Travel writer
msnbc.com contributor
updated 6/26/2007 9:59:17 AM ET 2007-06-26T13:59:17

In fashion, it’s often said that the right accessories make the outfit.

In travel, they just make sense: Whether you’re navigating the highway or the airport concourse, the right gear can make or break a business trip or salvage your summer vacation.

According to Michele Marini Pettinger, president of the Travel Goods Association in Princeton, N.J., the best new travel products reflect consumers’ desire for safety, convenience and portability. “As our lifestyles change and travel becomes more complicated,” she says, “the industry has really been stepping up.”

From secure laptop bags to floating iPod cases, here are some of the things they’ve come up with recently:

In transit
Safety: The MetroSafe 300 computer bag ($90) from Pacsafe uses high-tensile stainless steel mesh, bulletproof polycarbonate lock links and other tamper-resistant materials to create a “safety cell” around your valuables. Accommodating most 13-inch laptops, it also features tamper-proof zippers, slash-proof shoulder straps and a built-in cable lock so it can be attached to secure fixtures.

Convenience: The Trunki ($40) is a unique ride-on suitcase for kids. Made of molded plastic, it features a seat-like top, pull/shoulder strap and four wheels, so kids can pull it themselves or be towed by their parents. Available in bright pink or blue, it’s set to launch in the U.S. in early July and is currently available by pre-order from TrendyKid.

Portability: If you’ve ever had to peel off your backpack to get to your iPod, you’ll appreciate the Groove backpack ($70) from High Sierra. In addition to its zippered shoulder-strap pocket with 30-pin Apple connector, it features an integrated and back-lit switch on the shoulder strap that lets you control your unit without touching it.

On the road
Safety: ‘Tis the season for water sports, which means hauling kayaks, windsurfers and other hard-to-secure items on rooftop racks. Made with stainless-steel-reinforced webbing and integrated locks, SPT Lockable Tie Downs resolve the problem so you can leave your gear without fear when you leave your car. Available in three sizes (5, 8 and 13 feet, $65–$85 per pair) through Sea to Summit.

Convenience: The only thing worse than a dead car battery is a dead car battery on a dark and stormy night. The Simple Start Vehicle Battery Booster (from $50) from Black & Decker plugs directly into your car’s DC outlet, meaning you can charge your car without hooking up jumper cables or even stepping outside.

Portability: LG, the consumer electronics giant, has gotten into the GPS game with a new line of three Portable Navigators. The best, the LN740 ($450), features a four-inch touch screen, live-traffic updates and turn-by-turn voice guidance with street name announcements. It’s also slim enough (.7 inches) to fit in a pocket or purse.

At the airport
Safety: A good combination lock should do three things: Secure your belongings, provide access to TSA inspectors and feature a code you can actually remember. That’s the idea behind the Wordlock ($12), a letter-based version of Travel Sentry’s familiar TSA-approved locks. With 10,000 possible combinations, you should be able to find a four-letter word you won’t forget. Available through Magellan’s.

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Convenience: Many containers that comply with TSA’s restrictions on liquids are hard to empty completely and a pain to refill. PKOH NYC offers an innovative alternative: Their light-bulb-shaped bottles ($20 for two) are made of squeezable silicone, hold two fluid ounces and sit upright on a flat base that also serves as a wide-mouth cap for easy filling and dispensing.

Portability: Taking a different approach to TSA’s liquid restrictions, Travelon offers a variety of toiletries in tablet form. Simply drop a tab in a cup of water and you’ve got mouthwash, tooth gel or shaving cream ($7-$9). The company also sells a one-quart, zip-top, clear-PVC bag with four TSA-compliant plastic bottles ($7).

Out and about
Safety: The farther you roam, the harder it can be to find both potable water and reliable power. Hydro-Photon, makers of the SteriPEN line of UV-based water purifiers, tackles both problems with a new solar charging case ($50) for their Traveler and Adventurer units. Depending on solar conditions, it will recharge two batteries in two to four days. (It can also charge off traditional 110V/240 sources.)

Convenience: Sometimes, recharging isn’t an option — say, when your PDA or iPod dies mid-flight — and you need an immediate boost. That’s the idea behind the newest iGo powerXtender ($16) from Mobility Electronics. Using 2 AA batteries and a system of interchangeable tips (sold separately), the pocket-sized unit provides up to four hours of additional runtime for thousands of mobile devices.

Portability: Part iPod docking station, part carrying case, the SoundMate ($30) features a hidden, flat-panel speaker that lets you listen to your music without headphones. Made of synthetic leather, it runs on two AAA batteries (included) and provides protection from bumps, dust and sand. It’ll even float if it falls off your boat. Available through The Gadget Locker and MacFriends.

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