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Gotta Have It, Winter 2021 Edition

Bill & Denise Semion
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Editor’s Note: Bill and Denise Semion are members of LTV’s sponsored content team, The Leisure Explorers. Do you own a Leisure Travel Van and enjoy writing? Learn more about joining the team.

Ok, boys and girls, here’s my roundup of things you’ve just gotta have, or maybe want to have, for your LTV. I usually publish these once yearly (see my roundups for 2018 and 2019), but there are so many now that I may be doing this twice annually.

Many of the items listed are pretty common sense. Some I’ve tried, and some just look cool enough to warrant laying your credit card on ’em. Here we go:

Satellite GPS Communicator

Like to wander while you Wonder? So that meandering won’t get you in trouble, here are a couple of compact items that link up to satellites, so you’ll never be without a cell signal.

The Spot X 2-Way Satellite Messenger is a Blackberry-sized device that will connect your smartphone to email, message someone, send an S.O.S. if needed, and more. Cost is about $250.

The more compact Spot Gen4 Satellite GPS Messenger can send a pre-programmed message to friends or family, and can also send your GPS position to first responders, for about $150. Or, dial back expenses and have your own anti-RV-theft device with the $99 Spot Trace. It will send a message to you if it senses movement of your vehicle.

Where to Buy: Saved by Spot or at store locations including REI, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and others

Easy Ridin’

A recent federal order now makes it okay to pilot an e-bike on guided cycling tours within national parks, giving us more of an incentive to join the battery-assist bicycling crowd. While we still prefer the exercise from pedaling ourselves – our latest being a 25-plus-mile trip on the bike trails in Grand Teton National Park – the popularity of e-bikes is continuing to rise, and the group Escape Adventures will lead you on some pretty unforgettable two-wheeled journeys for folks of all abilities.

Options include multi-day mountain bike pedal treks through Canyonlands National Park, road biking through Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion National Parks, and even biking through Napa Valley wine country while staying at inns and resorts.

Where to Learn More: Escape Adventures

Ok, I’ll Bite

Here’s an alternative to sending that empty toothpaste tube to join an estimated one billion others that get tossed in landfills each year. Bite is a new toothpaste tablet, a promising zero-waste brushing experience. Bites are stored in glass bottles, and refills come in compostable envelopes. Instead of fluoride, it uses nHAP, which, according to research, provides protection that’s comparable to fluoride. Bite also offers plastic-free floss. The products are a bit pricier – a one month supply is about $20 – but you’re no longer filling landfills as you travel. There also are other brands available at places like Amazon, some without any nHAP or other decay preventer, so compare and contrast to your heart’s content.

Where to Buy: Bite

Charge Up

Here’s a neat take on all those lithium gadget batteries, each needing a charging station. So neat you wonder what took someone so long to do this. Pale Blue Earth batteries need no charger.

Each AAA, 9V, AA, D, and soon C battery contains its own mini-USB outlet and multi-plug charge cord. Simply plug it in to any USB, including vehicles, and charge three at once per cord. How cool is that? The sellers promise they charge full in about two hours and save space in your RV without those chargers. I think I have three and can now leave them home. Each packet comes with a charging cord.

Where to Buy: Pale Blue Earth AA batteries are $30 for four.

Dogged Canine Protection

If your dog’s along, you’ve got to let him or her outside sometime. How do you do it safely, especially with a big boy or girl (or two) who loves to roam? Here’s a unique potential answer. From the folks at Brite-Strike, whose products such as rechargeable lights for your kayak and other people-powered transportation have been on here before, comes a lighted collar, rechargeable by both solar and USB. Brite-Strike says it’s visible up to a mile. Cost is $40, but the website occasionally lists a sale price of $30.

Other Brite-Strike products include a lighted leash and adhesive chemical light strips that may come in handy when searching in those RV storage bins at night. They switch on and off and last up to 200 hours.

And for cyclists, how about a pair of fingerless and lighted gloves? They’re waterproof, too, and replaceable strips are also available. Sorry, not rechargeable yet. Another interesting product is a camp perimeter warning system to warn you of any intruding dangers, including the big, growly four-footed kind.

Where to Buy: Brite-Strike

Clearing the Air

I just put in my order for combination UV/HEPA air purifiers for both my house and our Unity, also from Brite-Strike. These are becoming popular inside doctor’s exam rooms. This model purifies up to 100 square feet, great for a small RV.

Where to Buy: Brite-Strike

Keep ’Em Around with Halo Collar

How to keep that big boy or girl canine near your RV? Here’s a portable electronic kennel from Halo Collar that instantly creates a wireless “fence” for the wearer, and it doesn’t need a cellular or WiFi connection. It will track your pet’s location within 10 feet as well. They’re expensive at around $800, but so is the cost of losing your best four-footed friend.

Where to Buy: Halo Collar

Need a Light?

That used to have other connotations, but now I’m referring to an ARB magnetic, rechargeable trouble light that’s compact and can be used anywhere around your RV or campsite. A great addition to any toolkit, for about $57.

Where to Buy: 4 Wheel Parts

Here’s another light innovation that ditches batteries: a rechargeable model to take on the trail with you from BioLite, which sells everything from rechargeable headlamps to diffused light sources that are solar rechargeable.

Where to Buy: BioLite

However, for sticking inside some unlit LTV crannies, I like this little guy. I’m told some newer LTV RVs now have lights in outside storage areas. Our 2015.5 did not, except for the vertical rear storage and the water supply area.

Where to Buy: Amazon

Sock It to Ya

If you’re like us and spend several hours behind the steering wheel some days, compression socks are a definite must-wear item.

While there are lots of brands out there, the Vive Life Sock is the first medical-grade, graduated compression sock made from alpaca and merino wool, which means they’re also great for everyday or winter sports wear. The maker also touts them as containing something called “nano copper” – if you read much of anything about copper this or that products, they may cut foot odor, but there aren’t many, if any, other health benefits. However, wearing compression socks is a great idea, especially for those with circulation issues or foot swelling.

Where to Buy: Vive Wear

Another compression sock brand to consider is Lily Trotters. For trips both long-haul and fun, they make this style of sock in lots of spiffy colors, so you can use them running, skating, biking, or behind the wheel. They’re in the $30 range, but good compression socks are not dollar store tube socks, and do a lot more.

Where to Buy: Lily Trotters

Don’t Get Lost with AirFlare

AirFlare is a wilderness safety app that could help you or a family member be found. When activated, it tracks where you are and provides links to local emergency contacts. It also has a built-in low power mode, so it won’t suck too much power on standby. In an emergency, especially in spotty coverage areas, use the “in an emergency” mode to send a text message instead – a more reliable method in those areas. In areas with service, the app can be set up to automatically send your coordinates to searchers, if you are unable to do so. If you’re outside cell service, teams can configure detectors to find you through your phone.

Yup, it’s a subscription service. But if you spend a lot of time on your own in the outdoors, this may be for you.

Where to Buy: Apple App Store or Google Play

Don’t Sweat It

Wear any kind of helmet, including for e-bikes and motorcycles? Bet you don’t like that sweat dripping into your eyes on a hot day. Stick a NoSweat disposable helmet liner in, and you’ll be all play and no sweat. They stick on and come in different styles, including for hats. There are hard-hat liners, too, and they’re adjustable.

Where to Buy: NoSweat or sporting goods outlets

Get Relief

I’ve not had to use this product yet for fishing, and perhaps I never will have to, but if you spend a lot of time in the outdoors like me, you want something around that is a quick remedy for cuts, fish tooth pokes, and the like. Relief Wound Care Accelerator works on the same general principle as hyperbaric treatment, but without the chamber. Apply the odorless liquid to a cut or other wound, and its supersaturated oxygen compound is absorbed with a pleasant cooling effect. Use it for fish cuts and other minor joint issues. A little dab does it, and at $39.95 for a container, it lasts a long time.

Where to Buy: Oxygen Innovations

Reel Shield

If you’re an angler or are looking for protection from salt water or other corrosion for any moving metal part, check out Reel Shield. It’s a cleaner, lube, and protectant that reduces friction and drag on metal-against-metal parts.

Other products I use include Marine Shield, an ultra-slick additive for my boat’s ultra-expensive Mercury Verado outboard motor. It’s pricey but you use only a little, and a replacement motor is more than $20,000.

Where to Buy: Steel Shield Technologies

Marshmallows Roasting Over an Open Fire

Here’s a cute little product that looks like a real branch, for when you get the urge to roast something. Regardless of whether you like ’em totally toasted or temptingly tan, it’s got multiple roasting points for multiple ‘mallows that will please everyone, regardless of the roaster’s age.

Where to Buy: Cameo Nouveau

More on E-Bikes

The e-bike field continues to expand, and so do your choices. It pays to thoroughly research brands and capabilities before investing in one.

One of the newer to come on the market is the Aventon Level Step-Through Commuter E-Bike. At $1,599, it’s one of the less-expensive options, but provides plenty of assist to travel up to 40 miles on a charge, with a top end speed of 28 mph. It’s available in two sizes.

Gazelle, based in the bike-crazy country of the Netherlands, brings its US invasion with, among other models, the Ultimate T10 HMB. It boasts a range of up to 70 miles out of that great Bosch motor. It also features front fork suspension to smooth the bumps. Cost is around $3,800.

Photo by Wing

New York-based Wing is another sporty-looking brand, with pluses like built-in lights, a high-pitch security alarm, a removable battery that plugs into a wall like a laptop, and a range of up to 60 miles, depending on model. Perhaps best of all, e-bikes start at around $1,300, and weigh in at around 40 pounds. The makers call their system “smart assist” because when you stop pedaling, the bike slows.

Where to Learn More: Check out the Aventon here, Gazelle here, and Wing here. Happy comparing.

A Clean RV is…

…a good-looking RV, and among Shurhold’s myriad products for RVers is its Flexible Water Blade. It’s made to wipe those pesky water spots right off, especially after going through a car wash or traveling in an area where the water is especially rich with elements.

Where to Buy: Shurhold, for about $27

Power Bar

No, it’s not something you eat. For those of us who love boondocking but want to continue working remotely, Eggtronic’s Power Bar provides the remote power to recharge electronics. Apple-certified, it offers a cable connection plus 3 wireless charging stations to charge phones, tablets, and even laptops for up to three users simultaneously.

Where to Buy: Einova

Filtered Drinking Water On-the-Go

I’ve done this only once – forgotten my water bottle, that is – when in the outdoors, and I suffered for it in the mountains when you’ve simply got to drink water all day or risk heat exhaustion or worse. Here’s one solution that doesn’t involve plastic bottles in a landfill.

It’s the Micro Squeeze Water Filtration System from Sawyer, which is now permanently in our LTV. It’s rated to purify up to 100,000 gallons and comes with a reusable squeeze pouch. It filters down to 0.1 microns, so even giardia is eliminated. And, it’s all reusable. Simply backwash it with the included equipment and there are no expensive cartridges to replace. I sure wish I’d brought mine along on the Colorado River last summer.

Where to Buy: Sawyer or in stores at REI, Cabela’s, Walmart and others

Safe Catch

We’ve tried these convenient pouches of tuna and think they’re great. Not only do the products from Safe Catch taste great, but each tuna used is sustainably caught and tested to mercury standards 10 times more strict than that of the FDA. That’s especially important for children and pregnant women.

Where to Buy: Safe Catch or in-store at Costco

That’s all I’ve got space for in this round. I’ll be back with more things to contemplate, including for your next trip.

Please note: The recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Leisure Travel Vans.

Bill & Denise Semion

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