I almost fell off my chair when I looked at Travel + Leisure's 2009 Design Awards in their March issue. They managed to slide in a few expensive items from potential advertisers as "honorable mentions," but amazingly the most expensive gear item winner was a $225 bag and two items were under a hundred bucks.
The bag was in the "best luggage" category and indeed it does look pretty cool. It's the Hydro Sports Water-resistant T-Tech Backpack from Tumi.
Best Travel Accessory was this pair of Melissa Shoes pictured here. They pack easily, look interesting, and are 100% recyclable. At $79 retail, they seem pretty practical to me.
Amazingly, a $30 coat made the cut, and from Wal-mart no less. It's the Norma Kamali Trench Coat and I have to say it looked better in the magazine than many others costing 10 or 20 times as much.
The last two items I have reviewed and used myself. The Flip Video Camera got the nod, though I reviewed the older version, not the Mino. For $180 retail, it's a dead simple way to shoot video and it stores an hour's worth of footage.
The other item I've raved about for years and I would argue it's probably the greatest invention to come along in a decade for travelers: the Steripen water purifier. It's small, it's effective, and it helps save the planet. Obviously, it's well-designed enough to get the notice of these critics as well.
Good stuff! You can see more in a slideshow here.
Get the SteriPEN Adventurer Ultraviolet Water Purifier