Travel Tips

Green Travel Gadgets

Locations in this article:  Chicago, IL

urban_tote_med.jpgIn this third annual roundup of green travel gear, Virtuous Traveler Leslie Garrett road-tests gadgets and gear that makes our journeys easier on the earth.

Pack a waterproof wallop
While my SealLine Urban Tote has yet to withstand its claims of floating if dropped into water, it has survived torrential downpour and kept my belongings cozy and dry. Unlike most packs, the Urban Tote isn’t vinyl and is instead constructed of polyurethane coated polyester, a more benign material than that villainous PVC (why? PVC releases toxins from manufacture through disposal – toxins that enter the food chain through soil and water. Steer clear!). What’s more, it’s bright orange, incredibly cool and rests comfortably on my back, whether I’m hiking or biking.

Totes are priced from $60 (small) to $70 (large) and you can find online retailers by visiting

The Future is Nau
It might be hard to believe as we swelter through summer that cooler days are ahead. But indeed they are and the intrepid traveler takes advantage of summer sales to better save money for awesome travels. Fortunately Nau, the newly-released line of sustainable active wear, has plenty of offerings at great prices, such as its “base2 long sleeve snap,” otherwise known as an insulating pullover made from recycled stretch polyester with snap front. Looks great, dries quickly and easily, and its strategically placed seams make for comfort on the road. At 50 percent off the $78 price, it makes for financial comfort, too.

You can also find shorts, dresses, jackets and much more, all created with the environment, social justice and high-level performance in mind.
Shop online at

Cleaning Up
DrBronner SoapsI confess I love the kitschiness of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps. The labels remind me of containers I confiscated from my grandfather’s shed – old metal containers for such products as Rival Herb Company’s pills, promising a cure for everything from dyspepsia, constipation, liver and kidney disorder, rheumatism, stomach trouble, female complaints, lame back, nervous affliction, sick headache, and skin and blood diseases. Similarly, Dr. Bronner offers up soaps that “contain no synthetic, surfactants, no petrochemicals, and no floral water fluff.”

The difference is that Dr. Bronner’s products hold up under scrutiny. Indeed, the company is firmly committed (and has been for decades) to social and environmental responsibility and fair trade principles and products are certified organic, come in 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic cylinder bottles and – they work on everything from dirty dishes to dirty feet. They’re also low-priced, biodegradable and come in travel sizes so you’re not lugging more than you’ll need.

Look for Dr. Bronner’s at Whole Foods and other natural product stores or online at

These boots were made for walking… lightly on the earth
If you generally rely on your feet for your travels, consider Simple Shoes. Aptly named, Simple Shoes offer up footwear for your soul that use such materials as jute, bamboo, recycled rubber eyelet guards, water-based glues and more. They have a well-earned reputation for comfort, durability and style. Prices are reasonable (around $90 for the popular Sloppy Toe design) and you can find Simple Shoes at stores throughout the U.S.

Find one near you by visiting

Just say Charge It!
Solio Alas, our attempts to unplug from the world are becoming decidedly more difficult as newer and better solar chargers make it possible (indeed fun!) to bring technology with us on the trail. Solio, which resembles some sort of high-tech boomerang, promises “power whenever and wherever you want it,” courtesy of its universal hybrid charger that gets its kicks from that big flaming ball in the sky.

Dr. Ian Davis, who used the Solio during the Polar Challenge, offers up the testimonial that he has “never used [a solar product] as reliable and indestructible as the Solio.” If it can survive the Arctic, it can undoubtedly withstand anything we lesser mortals have to dish out.

Purchase it for about $99.95 at retailers such as REI, Target and Saks Fifth Avenue. Or visit

Leslie Garrett is an award-winning journalist and author of The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide for a Better, Kinder, Healthier World (with foreword by Peter Greenberg). Visit her at

For more information on gadgets, check out the Gadgets section.

For more green travel tips, see the Responsible Travel section.

Previously by Leslie Garrett on

Eco-Oakland: The City You Only Thought You Knew

This Week

Chicago: More Green Than Meets the Eye


The Good, The Green and the Downright Crazy Tours

A Convention with Conviction: Greening Your Business Meetings

The Virtuous Traveler: Green Honeymoons

Bye Polar

The Park is Greener

Climate Changing Travel

Greener Skies