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Columns Hit the Road

Hit the Road: More travel products!

Above: Alchemi Labs has created a variety of hat styles made of the same material that protects astronauts from solar rays. Courtesy photos


Coffee in a tea bag. The ultimate commuter backpack. Anti-UV rays hats. Sub-sized fans. Multi-tasking clothing.

These are some of the newest products designed to make travels tastier, safer and a whole lot easier.

Steeped Coffee

The idea is so basic, I wonder why someone hasn’t come up with this before now. But there was more to it than just putting coffee grounds into a tea bag to create single-cups coffee.

After all, there’s that gadget (starts with a K) that dispenses one cup at a time, but it requires a machine and creates a lot of waste from all those pods.

Entrepreneur and coffee-lover Josh Wilbur wanted more — or less. He created Steeped Bags — single-serving, “ethically sourced” specialty coffee that comes in a mesh bag made of plant-based, renewable and compostable materials.

And “oxygen is replaced with nitrogen (in the sealing process), so the coffee stays fresh as if it was ground moments ago.”

Bags come in light, medium, dark, French roast and decaf.

Urban 21 Backpack

My millennial nephew, Daniel, calls this the Swiss Army knife of backpacks — which means that this bag has multiple functions and it may take a while to figure out all of them. But the time is worth it.

The Urban 21 Commuter Backpack from KeySmart is an engineering marvel that translates into great design and function. Made of water-resistant, ripstop fabric, its multiple pockets and RFID-blocking compartments mean that your computer, tablet, wallet, charge cards, charger cords, earphones, notebooks and pens (remember them?) are secure.

Also places for a pocket organizer, water bottle, portable charger and locator tile.

The generously padded shoulder straps make for comfort regardless of load. Starts $239.

Tim Fan

Paul the Fan Heater. Eva the Humidifier. Albert the Dehumidifier.

All these household products with people-names come from Ohio-based Stadler Form, which creates devices that “improve air quality.”

Travelers who can’t do without moving air while working or sleeping will want to meet Tim the Table Fan.

Why people-names for devices? Stadler wants customers to feel as though their appliances are a part of the family, explains a company spokesperson.

Tim costs $69.99. Available at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, or visit

Wrap by Mer-Sea

Clothing that multi-tasks means more room in the suitcase and lighter luggage.

Mer-Sea, a clothing line that focuses on simplicity, utility, easy care and minimal packaging, offers this lightweight, versatile, tassel wrap that can be worn four ways: as a wrap, scarf, sarong or dress cover-up.

It can be machine washed (gentle cycle), but is easily hand-washed and hung to dry. Comes in a matching slim cotton bag that has multiple uses. $49.


Here in the Southwest, hats have become an essential part of outdoor couture; protection from the sun’s cancer-causing rays is important. Alchemi Labs has created a variety of hat styles with many advantages.

Made of the same material that protects astronauts from solar rays, the hats block 99.8% of harmful UV rays, reflect 80% of heat waves, have moisture-wicking sweatbands and ventilation panels, and (hooray) pack flat.

Five styles. $32 to $39.