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The X Factor

By Racer X

The X Factor


Plans have been made and time set aside; the journey beckons. What to bring is always a topic of travelers. Too much or too little to carry depends on your destination and how long you’ll be on the road, but some items are essential.

Fenix Flashlights
A little sunshine in your pocket
Having a good light on hand is simply a good Idea for safety or finding your way in the dark. Fenix flashlights are tough and made for adventure travel. I like the flagship “TA 21” model which has 12 modes of output from four to 225 lumens. It will throw a focused beam 200 meters, is waterproof and so hefty, it could be mistaken for a weapon. For daily use, the Fenix LD 10 uses one 1.5V AA battery and can stand up on a flat surface for “candle mode.”


The North Face Base Camp Duffels
Keep your gear dry and safe for the long haul

Made of a durable laminate material that is nearly waterproof and ready for treks, the Base Camp Duffel series comes in four sizes to pack whatever you might need. Featuring four compression straps and alpine cut shoulder straps, these bags are bombproof. I brought an XL duffel to Japan when I first arrived and, after 20 years, it is still my bag of choice for expeditions.


Wenger Pocket Knives
Don’t even try carrying it on the flight
Wenger has continued to develop the classic Swiss knife design, incorporating an ergonomic grip in the handle that really works. The Evo Grip 10 has the basics for travel including tweezers, flat screwdriver, corkscrew and can opener. It even has a fine blade long enough to get you into heaps of trouble if you are found carrying it on the streets of Japan. For outdoor use, the New Ranger 61 sets the standard. The single-hand opening blade has a patented safety lock system, and you can use the blade to shave with (although I don’t recommend it). Don’t even think about cruising to Roppongi with this bad boy; leave it in your favorite pack and be prepared when you need it.


Mont Bell UL Mono Shoulder Bag
Instant Karma at the check out stand

Since it weighs only 1.3 ounces, I was skeptical the material would hold up to Racer X abuse but, on a recent trip to Yakushima, the ultra light “Mono” bag was tough and useful, and I already have another one in my city pack for daily use. Impress the shops in your neighborhood by saying “No bag please.”


Camelbak BPA-Free Bottles
Worry-free Hydration

It could just be a ploy to have outdoor enthusiasts buy new water bottles, but I would rather be safe than sorry, and prefer no Bisphenol-A or Phthalates, or anything else I cannot pronounce, in my liquids. The new spill-proof design with flip-and-sip stem offers two drinking modes, and the rainbow assortment of colors makes choosing difficult. They make great gifts, there are lots of accessories for all kinds of sports throughout the year, and they are available at Montbell shops throughout Japan.