By Gretchen Newcomb
It is better to be prepared for an opportunity to explore and not have one, than to have one and not be prepared. Mark “Halvy” Halverson lives by this credo. He almost always has the right gear in the trunk of his car so he’s ready to roll for his favorite adventure activities.
Halvy is a big fan of mobile adventure gear (i.e., equipment that folds, collapses or simply deflates so that it’s easy to tote to and fro). A founding member of the Baja Bush Pilots and a 13-year veteran of Burning Man -- the annual gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, dedicated to community, art, self-expression and self-reliance -- the Southern California native owns a folding mountain bike, inflatable kayak and stand-up paddleboard (SUP), and a rare hinged surfboard. Whether flying to the Nevada desert or south of the border to his jungle escape near Puerto Vallarta, he fits it all -- plus his 6-foot, 5-inch frame -- into his 1968 Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
In fact, the last time I saw the big man, he was inflating the huge stand-up paddleboard in the living room of his friend’s condo in Malibu and showing off this cool new folding paddle that was designed with a fishing spear built into the handle.
While you may not have a plane to get you to your happy place, you can take a cue from Halvy and take some of your toys with you everywhere you go.
Here’s STM’s short list of portable gear worthy of Halvy’s stash -- and your cash.
|Montague Paratrooper Pro | $1,049|
This folding mountain bike was originally designed for military use. The idea was simple: Paratroopers could jump out of an airplane with the bike strapped to their backs, deploy their chutes, land, unfold the bike and then ride into battle. Hooya! Consequently, the 29-pound, 27-speed Paratrooper Pro is tough as nails. Based on designs for full-suspension downhill bikes, it provides a 26-inch wheel size and 100 millimeters of travel in the front shocks -- enough for the roughest terrain. To pack it away, the rider simply removes the front wheel and folds the frame in half. (It doesn’t weaken the frame by “breaking” it, like other folding systems.) The Pro can then be stowed in your car’s trunk, under a desk or even in an airplane overhead compartment.
|Uli Fat Ass Quad | $1,295|
The first inflatable stand-up paddleboard of its kind, the Fat Ass Quad is 9 feet and 3 inches long, and 33 inches wide. This quad-fin board only weighs 26 pounds. Uli claims that the collapsible Quad is super-stable even for nose-riding, can handle overhead-plus surf and is stiff enough for riders that weigh up to 250 pounds. Made of military-grade material that’s lightweight but durable, the foldable board easily packs into a duffle for travel. Once you reach your destination, it quickly inflates with the help of a small hand-pump (included).
|Sea Eagle 340x Explorer | $849|
A mere 42 pounds, the Sea Eagle 340x Explorer inflatable kayak can be piloted by one person, but is big enough to accommodate two and all their gear. It is made of a tough, high-pressure polyester fabric, with seams that are electronically welded. This allows the kayak to withstand Class IV rapids or even the occasional sharp racks that you’ll encounter while using it. It also has four extra-large drains and an auto-bailing design to keep the inflatable from filling up in whitewater. The drains can be quickly sealed for flat-water cruising to keep you and your cargo completely dry. Integrated bow and stern spray-skirts have water-deflecting guards, and rope lacing forms secure hand-holds and convenient tie-down points.
|Water Walking Ball | $248|
If you’ve ever had delusions of grandeur in which you can miraculously walk on water like a god, then this inflatable Water Ball is right up your alley. The PVC bubble is 6.5 feet in diameter -- large enough to hold most adults as well as a reserve of breathable air. The Water Walking Ball comes with a carrying bag, instructions for use on water and land, support service by Skype or by email for 5 years, and a complete warranty.
|Pro-Iroda O-Grill 1000 Portable Grill | $169|
Since man cannot live on toys alone, consider adding the O-Grill 1000 portable propane gas grill to your roving repertoire. Weighing only 16 pounds, the clamshell O-Grill is perfect for barbeque aficionados on the go. With its 165-square-inch cast-iron grilling surface and auto-ignition 9450-BTU stainless-steel burner, you’ll think you are using a much larger grill. Hook this bad boy up to a standard propane gas cylinder and you’re in business, cooking up beefy burgers and succulent steaks. When the cooking is done, you will love the retractable legs and easy-to-grab handle.
QUIET KEYBOARD This wireless rechargeable keyboard won’t make a sound no matter how hard you whack at the keys. Although the diNovo Edge might frustrate your attempts to show off your tireless work ethic to the boss, you can surf Internet dating sites all night without tipping off your girlfriend.
MULTILINGUAL MARVEL Expensive enough to require valet parking, the Optimus Maximus keyboard displays letters and control icons with a light-emitting OLED. It’s customizable for multitasking in multiple codes and languages -- including Cyrillic, ancient Greek, Arabic and HTML -- or for more ambitious activities like video gaming.
LASER SHOW No bigger than a cigarette lighter, the Celluon Virtual Keyboard connects to your computer using a USB dongle and emits an awesome laser-generated keyboard and mouse that allows you to work virtually -- and connect with your inner Obi Wan Kenobi.
BACK TO THE FUTURE Drawing from last century’s gilded sensibilities, this custom, retro-futuristic keyboard will make your desktop worthy of H.G. Wells’ office space. “The Marquis” keyboard has acanthus-leaf engraving on polished brass and key lettering engraved on a mirrored gold acrylic. It’ll make you the envy of any century.
LIGHT FINGER FOLLIES Every time you touch its keys, the Luxeed U7 lights up like the Las Vegas strip -- bringing a little bit of Studio 54 to your dancing fingers. Make sure they dress sharply and get their names on the list -- this is one exclusive keyboard!
PURE LUXURY: BENTLEY MULSANNE The new Bentley Mulsanne's unrivaled pedigree stands out from the pack with an ultra-smooth and more-than-capable 505 hp, 6.8-liter V8 engine that glides from 0 to 62 mph in 5.3 whisper-quiet seconds. As befits its luxury status, the car can be completely customized to taste with over 1 billion possible variations, according Bentley Motors.
STANDOUT CONVERTIBLE: MORGAN AERO 8 Although its production recently ceased, this classically styled roadster is still one of the most fun, head-turning vehicles to roam the highways. While completely hand-built with more than 100 years of heritage packed into the coachwork, its BMW 4.4-liter V8 pumps out 312 hp -- moving this homage to yesteryear from 0 to 62 mph in just 4.2 seconds.
Tiny Tower seems like a simple, if not silly, game. But that's how it gets you addicted. The premise, like SimCity, is to build your own world -- in this case a tower. The more floors you build, the more money you can make to spend on building more floors ... and the hook is set.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
How many passwords do you have to remember? Thanks to 1Password, you can keep all of your security codes safe and secure on your smartphone. All you have to do is remember one four-digit code and a master passcode, and the info is encrypted and backed up on your computer.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Yes, the camera on the iPhone 4S is better than previous incarnations. But besides flash and zoom, it leaves us a little cold. Turn your 4S into a virtual DSLR with all the bells and whistles you get with said device, plus all the features you’d expect from a smartphone, such as visual filters.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
Even if you were born in the CD era, chances are you remember mixed tapes. Bring them into the digital age with the app that turns your digital music player into a virtual portable cassette deck that blasts loaded playlists and helps you create the perfect mix to play and then share on Facebook.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
Didn't you hear? The end of the world is happening on Dec. 21, 2012. Skeptical? Then check out this app, which explores all the coincidences between the Mayan prediction and what science says. At the very least you'll be prepared to handle the impending end of time.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
The premise of KaleidaCam is simple: Turn your iPhone's camera into a kaleidoscope. You can adjust the trippy-ness of the created image by choosing one of four to 10 slides. It leads to hours of mindless fun for the whole family. You can even take pictures of your creations and send them to Facebook and Twitter.Platforms: iPhone
This mobile app puts Thrillist reviews in the palm of your hand so you can be the guy who knows the coolest places to eat, drink and shop. Using your device's GPS function, it'll tell you the top places to spend your time and money in more than 19 cities. You'll never have a boring night again.Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
'Tis the season for holiday parties, full of finger foods, drinks and treats. This app will track your weight well into the new year so you can stop the festivities from settling around your waist. Just log your bites, licks and tastes, and the food database will calculate the calories you've consumed. Then log your workouts to determine how many calories you burned.Platforms: iPhone, iPad
If you thrive on new music, this is a must-have app. Band of the Day introduces you to an artist that you need to know about every day. You get a bio, a song to listen to, a stream of Facebook/Twitter comments about the artist, videos to view and a list of albums that you can buy, right from the app.Platforms: iPhone
Think of this app as your secret weapon to achieving culinary nirvana. It puts all of the advice from the well-respected epicurean website of the same name in the palm of your hand. We love the seasonal options on the home screen that help make sure your feasts are weather-appropriate.Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Nook, Windows Phone
Finding a new place to hang your hat just got a whole lot easier, thanks to the new Trulia mobile app. The clean design of the interface makes it a snap to search homes to rent or to buy Features include sort by price, search by location, and email real estate agents directly.Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
The latest incarnation of the Bloons game franchise gets the smart-phone makeover, and it is still as addictive as ever. The objective remains the same: prevent balloons from getting from one part of the maze to the other using your arsenal of dart monkeys, rockets, battleships and other WMDs.Platforms: iPhone, iPad
The latest army of food carts has turned most city streets into a mobile gourmet road show. But how do you know when your favorite Korean BBQ truck will be by your office? Using Google maps and your iPhone's GPS, StreetEats lets you track your favorite carts and see which ones are in your immediate area and how long they'll be there.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
With all of the news available to us, it's hard to cut through the noise and get what you're looking for. Editions by AOL is an app that curates a custom, easy-to-navigate daily newsmagazine based on your interests, location, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. The more you use the app, the more highly customized it becomes.Platforms: iPad
Sick of the same old vodka martinis? Not sure what to do with that bottle of amaretto? InMyBar's simple interface lets you plug in all the booze you have in your liquor cabinet. Then, the app creates a list of all the cocktails you can make, or it lets you know what remaining ingredients you need in order to make a specific drink.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Music nerds, welcome to heaven. This app tracks music blogs and culls their favorite tunes from the Web, then lets you create your dream radio station. The genre section alone offers more than 100 options -- perfect for deep dives into your particular mood. You can even track what your friends are listening to.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch
Watch your favorite music videos in HD with VEVO HD, which features 45,000 videos, including intimate performances by your favorite artists; a music map showing which videos people are listening to in your area; artist tour information; and ticket-buying capabilities.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
Meeting a lovely lady is now as easy as whipping out your ... cell phone. Blendr collects your favorite interests and then helps match you up with female companions who live in your area and have similar interests. Browse photos, check in to venues and even chat with folks from your own neighborhood.Platforms: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
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