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Six ways to make your life easier on the road

Two bags, a beach cover-up, a smartphone life-saver, a sleep aid and a portable kiddie bath

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The Wingman bag comes in two parts: a flat garment bag (technically this is the Wingman) and a cylindrical utility bag. Suits and shirts go in the Wingman (it includes a hanger) while shoes, toiletries and other stuff go in the tube. Then you roll the garment bag up around the utility bag and buckle everything into place. Stick your travel documents into the exterior pockets, sling it over your shoulder and you’re good to go. The main issue lies not in the bag itself, but its target audience: men. I’m going to stereotype here and say that, in general, guys are not good at following instructions. So rather than studying the online video on how to use it, our Male Test Subject tried to go it alone. The result was the tube falling out on the streets of Montreal and innocent strangers getting smacked because he didn’t do up the stabilizing waist belt, which meant the Wingman stuck straight out from his back like a thick, giant tail. On the plus side, it fit everything needed for a weekend trip and his suit didn’t wrinkle. It ain’t pretty, but it is practical for a short business trip. Just mind the buckles. By Domini Clark

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Mountain Equipment Co-op’s Agens Sc Duffle/Pack ($54; mec.ca) is a duffel bag that doubles as a backpack. I stuff the main compartment with enough clothing for a weekend getaway and, because of the flexible exterior, can easily tuck in a couple of pairs of shoes in empty corners. Carry the bag by its two padded handles or take the adjustable straps out of a hidden compartment and strap it on your back. The compact design and canvas texture give it a tidier, less casual look than most duffel bags. When stuffed to its maximum, the load can feel bulky on the back and manoeuvring in crowded trains or buses can get tricky. It’s best suited for light packers who don’t need interior compartments – you’ll have to store small gadgets in the pockets of packed clothing so they don’t get lost in your stuff. By Mercedeh Sanati

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Entrusting one’s precious smartphone to a waterproof case is a terrifying leap of faith. The E-Case eSeries 8 ($19; mec.ca) aims to alleviate your fears, keeping some iPhones and BlackBerrys safe and usable even when submersed in up to one metre of water. Step No. 1: Test the case before you put your $600 phone in it. Simply seal it up (it’s like a Ziploc bag, but easier) and then submerge. Dry inside? Good. Put in your phone – for iPhones, make sure the side buttons go in first – close ’er up and you’re good to go. I could text, make calls, search the Web and take pictures as normal with the case on. But the touchscreen doesn’t respond while the phone is submerged, so if you want to use it as an underwater camera, you’ll have to bring the camera app up first, and then use the side buttons to snap pics. If you want to text underwater, too bad (and, really, you should rethink your priorities). By Domini Clark

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Scottevest travel clothing is known for its multipocket pieces, but the new Lucille cardigan ($80 (U.S.); scottevest.com), with its slim cut and longer length, is the first item I’ve found both attractive and functional. Slip your hands into the roomy front pouches and you’ll feel two hidden zippered pockets, great for hotel key cards and folded bills. The pouches certainly offer lots of room for maps, sunglasses, a phone, wallet and so on but fill those pockets and the delicate, gauzy fabric loses its lovely drape. Plus, all that stuff falls around my hips – and who needs that area to look bulky? The rolled collar can become an impromptu hoodie, and at 94-centimetres long, the cardigan doubles as a bathing-suit coverup that segues nicely into the resort restaurant. It’s a great piece to pack for a beach vacation, but Scotteevest’s Lucille cardigan can’t replace my purse. By Catherine Dawson March

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Nite Hood ($25; nitehood.com) is a sleep cap and mask that has an unexpected sedative effect on even the most restless of travellers. Made in Canada from bamboo, the cap is so soft that you’ll wish you had matching bed sheets and pyjamas. Pull it down over your eyes and ears, and virtually all light and sound are blocked. Now you won’t notice the inquisitive stares from your co-passengers on the plane. Unlike ill-fitting eye masks, I don’t have to repeatedly adjust the Nite Hood. The combination of complete darkness and a snug, soft fit makes me feel sleepy right away, and after multiple wears I consistently doze off without issue. When I wake up, however, the cap never seems to be on my head. By Mercedeh Sanati

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Prince Lionheart’s Flexi Bath ($44.99; princelionheart.com) is a portable tub that’s built for toddlers who aren’t keen on soaking in grungy hotel tubs. When not in use, it looks like a flat box, held together by a small latch. Pop it open and press down on the base, and it transforms into a deep, long tub (my two-year-old calls it a rowboat). It’s light and packs flat into a large suitcase. The Flexi Bath is perfect for trips where you don’t have easy access to a clean tub. The label says it can be used from birth to four years, but it would be a tight fit for kids older than three. By Mercedeh Sanati

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