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Cool Crowdfunded Gear for Your Next Trip

From a heated jacket that keeps you cozy on Niseko's frigid slopes to a collapsible suitcase, crowdfunded swag is a boon for travelers everywhere. BY DIANA HUBBELL.

Published on Jul 25, 2016


SINCE THE LAUNCHES OF Indiegogo and Kickstarter in 2008 and '09, crowdfunding has gone from the kooky concept of gathering small amounts of money from a large group of people to launch a project or venture to a billiondollar business that's forever altering the way we travel. Thanks to this new pathway to start-up capital powering innovative individuals, there are more niche travel guidebooks, Bond-worthy gadgets and tricked-out accessories than ever before.


Would you want a jacket with a built-in inflatable neck pillow, eye mask, and all manner of specialized pockets designed to heat your hands, store your iPad or even hold your drink? Apparently 44,949 other people did. Their contributions earned the creators more than US$9 million, making this the most lucrative piece of clothing in crowdfunding history and the fourth most funded Kickstarter. Hiral Sanghavi, one of the two founders of the project, has referred to it previously as the "Swiss army knife of travel jackets."

The innovative jacket from Baubax. Courtesy of Baubax.

Planning on a trek in Nepal or need to brave the wilds of Mongolia? This luxuriously fluffy, water-resistant, heated down jacket promises to keep you toasty in temperatures as low as -20 degree Celsius. Thanks to its lightweight design and adjustable settings, it's equally comfortable when the weather warms up. The best part? Despite all its electronic parts—it can charge your smartphone up to six times—you can wash all that grit off when you come home from your adventure without worrying because you can clean it by hand.


When Anna Chittenden, a wanderlust-happy London advertising exec, ditched her old office and set out for Southeast Asia, she began accumulating the kind of in-depth travel knowledge she wished were more readily available. To fill the perceived void, she launched her website, Lost Guides, in 2014 and then successfully crowdfunded a corresponding book about Bali. At 144 pages, her soft-cover guide is a slender, eminently packable counterpart to the glut of weighty tourism tomes and is "carefully curated so it only shows you the best bits," she says. "You'll be given a few favorite foodie hot spots to try, instead of a long list to wade through." Original photography complements her explorations of Seminyak, Canggu, the Bukit Peninsula, Nusa Lembongan and Ubud.

The Lost Guides
The island's Lost Guides. Courtesy of The Lost Guides.

"I didn't want a vacation, but instead an expedition with the purpose of opening myself to what Japan had to offer," says Justine Wong, a freelance illustrator from Toronto who works for, among others, Lucky Peach. She enlisted the help of Kickstarter to help her fulfill her mission to depict her most memorable meals in a series of whimsical paintings. After exceeding her goal of US$4,000 by more than 50 percent in May 2015, she embarked on a three-week journey that resulted more than 80 dreamy watercolor renderings of bento boxes, sushi rolls and the most kawaii kitty cat-topped cups of coffee you ever did see. "I was very lucky to have met generous people who took me into their world of local food and places hidden within the depths of Tokyo."

Justine Wong
Japanese cuisine in whimsical illustrations. Courtesy of Justine Wong.


If Batman hit the road, we're betting he and old Alfred would spring for this ultra-tough suitcase with impactresistant panels and all-terrain wheels made from the same durable material as a Glock. Specialized pockets for everything from a passport to a tablet, an optional charger that'll fully boost your iPhone up to 10 times, USB ports, a waterproof bottom, and a proximity tracker—in case some understandably envious fellow traveler tries to swipe it—help explain why this bag, which will be ready to ship this season, raised a whopping US$3.3 million on Kickstarter.

G-Ro's hightech suitcase. Courtesy of G-Ro.

Travelers have long had to choose between space-hogging, hard-shell suitcases and soft, crushable duffels. Néit, which totes itself as the world's first smart, collapsible luggage, eliminates the dilemma. Both the cabin and the checked bags feature a rugged, waterproof hard shell that collapses in less than 10 seconds to only 30 percent of its volume when not in use. Even the wheels fold in, reducing the width of the total package to a mere eight centimeters—perfect for hanging on its carabiner-style handle in a cramped apartment closet. As a bonus, a TSA-approved lock and optional GPS tracking makes it easy to keep your valuables safe and secure.


In a more perfect world, we'd all get our daily jolt by sipping a single-origin flat white at our local third-wave café. Seriously, who has that sort of time these days? This ingenious little bracelet allows caffeine junkies to get their fix on the go and directly into the bloodstream. Fiendishly addictive? Probably, but for those of us who cannot make it through airport transit without an overpriced, designer coffee, this could be a godsend.

If a snowboarder makes a sweet jump and no one is there to like it on YouTube, did it really happen? Capturing action scenes has become a challenge for extreme sports enthusiasts. This South Korean waterproof three-axis gimbal, which easily attaches to just about any surface, keeps the camera stable to give your videos that pro feel. You can even control the camera angle wirelessly via Bluetooth.

Removu S1
Removu S1, a sturdy video stabilizer. Courtesy of Removu.



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A new-look Bali. Courtesy of The Lost Guides.
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