Since it launched in 2009, the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter has incubated world-changers and crackpots in roughly equal measure. Herewith, we hope, are six of the former: projects—all of them still vying for your pledge money—that we believe stand to make the act of traveling easier, more rewarding, and more fun.
The Pitch: This may be the last word—or the last chord—in travel guitars. It features a removable mahogany neck and a miniature dreadnaught body made from resilient carbon fiber composite, the same woven material used to make Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Roger Federer’s tennis racquet. The guitar, which packs to the size of a birthday cake, is available for right- or left-handers in acoustic or acoustic-electric models.
Why We Love It: The Klōs is small enough for a kid to handle but serious enough to produce real music in skilled hands. It weighs less than your MacBook Air, but it’s tough enough to ride out the luggage carousel at LaGuardia (not that you’d let that happen). It also happens to be a supremely stylish little number, available in 13 colors or a fusion of your three favorite tints for a groovy triband national-flag look.
Campaign Ends: November 9
The Pitch: It’s a travel bag, it’s an office bag; it’s a town bag, it’s a country bag; it’s a vintage piece, it’s a modern piece. Cumbria-based designer Monty Lewis created the Tethera to be all things to all baggers, and its clever strap-and-buckle system is the key: Made from cotton webbing inspired by British military packs from World War II, the Tethera’s thick strap slides along anodized aluminum harness buckles, quickly changing the bag’s configuration and allowing it to be worn three different ways: as a messenger, a satchel, or a backpack.
Why We Love It: It’s easy to fall hard for a bag that does so much, so well. On his Kickstarter page, Monty Lewis notes that the Tethera is “perfect for laptop and documents, logs and kindling, gadgets and electrics, wine and picnics, and tools and materials.” And while the shape-shifting strap is smart, we’re particularly smitten with the Tethera’s classy mix of materials and hardware—waxed canvas from Scotland, through-dyed leather from Italy, stout lift-the-dot fasteners, and those bespoke machined buckles. There’s even a rainproof zipper pocket and a water-resistant removable liner in the main compartment. So very British.
Campaign Ends: November 6
The Pitch: Imagined as the antidote to the Earth-killing plastic water bottle, the Closca is much more than a less-disposable version of the same. It’s a masterpiece of engineering, made from tough borosilicate glass that’s easy to clean and suitable for hot or cold drinkables. It has two screw caps—one on top for your mouth and one on the bottom for adding ice cubes or inserting an infuser accessory. It has a stretchy silicone flap-strap with a magnetic closure that transforms water bottle into water wearable—and it comes with a complementary (and complimentary) smartphone app that helps locate places to top off your H2O for free.
Why We Love It: There’s something amazing, even humbling, about somebody who sets out to reinvent an everyday object that doesn’t really need reinvention—and then succeeds, brilliantly. Closca creator Carlos Ferrando has made the smartest damned water bottle in the world, and it probably would be the smartest water bottle in the world if it boasted any one of its many clever features—the dual caps, the silicone flap, the tea infuser, even the baby bottle nipple accessory. But it has all of these things, and others, and a legitimately promising smartphone app, too. Amazing indeed.
Campaign Ends: December 1
The Pitch: The function of a jacket, according to conventional wisdom, is to help its wearer stay warm, or to keep him dry in the rain, or allow him to get a table at ‘21’. The Pixentu jacket can do at least two of these things, and for street photographers, it can do a good deal more. It’s a wearable camera bag, a veritable advent calendar of secret spaces for photographic widgets, and it packs some cunning extras—like a hood with a built-in elongated rain visor—to make getting the shot, whatever the weather, that much easier.
Why We Love It: So many zippers, so many pockets: We count 14 discrete compartments in the Pixentu. Camera, lens, batteries, memory cards—there’s even a place in there for a tripod and, if you must, a selfie stick. Sure, it’s designed to meet the needs of serious street photographers, but even casual traveling shutterbugs will appreciate the Pixentu’s peerless appetite for bits and pieces.
Campaign Ends: November 26
The Pitch: Inspired by the belief that everybody is inherently artsy, even if they haven’t discovered (or embraced) their gifts yet, the Art Journal Kit from Texas-based boutique art academy Mint and Maple is a compact but comprehensive assortment of drawing and painting supplies, including a watercolor paint set with a reservoir-style paintbrush, a watercolor pad, a drawing pen and pencil, a rubber art eraser, and a step-by-step guide to making impromptu masterpieces.
Why We Love It: Cameras are good to have, even great sometimes, but when it comes to creating truly indelible travel memories, nothing beats pen and ink. “Drawing creates a deep bond with places,” says Mint and Maple founder Natalie Coulter. “So when you look back at your art journal, you don’t just remember what you did; you remember how the place felt.” We agree, and Coulter’s thoughtfully compiled kit—including her marvelous little inspiration manual—is a perfectly packable path to art en plein air.
Campaign Ends: October 31
The Pitch: They’re made of wood. Sandals. Made of wood. Like something out of a Dutch folktale. Only Swiss. And real. The Pébiott sandals feature Teva-style uppers made of leather and antibacterial foam and handmade footbeds fashioned of sustainably forested beechwood atop off-roady rubber soles. The bottoms are curved, rocking-horse-style, to encourage a rolling gait, which, says Pébiott, forces your feet to work a little harder. This extra effort gradually strengthens the walking muscles, which helps prevent injury and improves endurance.
Why We Love It: We reckon our adoration for the Pébiott sandals is equal only to the anguish we’d experience after our first week of wooden-clogging around New York City. But that was how we felt about Birkenstocks at first, and that relationship turned out just fine. Even withholding our concerns about comfort, the Pébiotts are, as shoes go, undeniably captivating: hand-carved foot-furniture for urban explorers. Just don’t wear them with socks.
Campaign Ends: November 25