Christmas on the Road—ESS Crowbar Glasses, Plano Mil-Spec Case and Sea to Summit Toiletry Bag

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By Rob Kay

I’ve been a professional traveler for over 30 years. As the author of three travel books and countless newspaper articles, I’ve had the privilege of exploring rain forests, deserts, mountains and more airport lounges than I care to recall. I still love the adventure of travel but the older I become, the larger part comfort plays in the equation. Being on the road is wondering but having the right accoutrements with you is essential.


In this is the first of a two-part series we’re  going to look at some travel-oriented products that make excellent holiday gifts for the discerning traveler. Most of them are suitable for the range and the road. All are priced no more than $160.

ESS Crowbar

If you’re going to hit the road (or the range) one of the ground rules is to have a good pair of safety glasses. The cheap stuff simply doesn’t last too long. In a few months the lenses will get horribly scratched or they self-destruct after you’ve inadvertently sat on them. If something God-awful happens on the firing line it’s a tossup that the lenses will even protect your eyes

If you’re going to drop good money for a firearm or a long vacation, why not spend a few bucks to protect those eyes of yours and, look good in the process.

To look good and protect your eyes consider the Crowbar, the newest product from Ketchum, Idaho-based ESS.

The ESS Crowbar is both stylish and safe– meeting both Mil-Spec and ANSI Z87.2010 performance standards.

 I’ve been a fan of this company for long time. In addition to using their glasses at the Kokohead Range I’ve used their products on recent trips to French Polynesia, Borneo, the Malay Peninsula and Singapore.

Their glasses are super light and exceptionally sturdy—durable enough to qualify for the Military’s Authorized Protective Eyewear List (APEL) list. These are manufacturers who have had their eyewear tested and to meet Army standards for ballistic protection.

In order to be eligible, ESS products are designed from the ground up to consistently meet Mil-Spec and ANSI Z87.2010 performance standards. They provide 100% UVA/UVB protection and features that are simply comfortable. For example the temples that drape over your ears are both are thin, ideal if you have ear protection and/or a cap (or helmet).

Another great advantage is that it’s easy to swap out the lenses. Aesthetically I like the frameless bottom lens design. For my tastes, this model equals the ESS Rollbar in the good looks department. They have a sort of classic feel—something akin to the aviator style sunglasses from the Second World War.

My only complaint is that this pair did not (unlike other ESS models I’ve acquired) come with a strap. For people (not me of course) who tend to be forgetful and might lose expensive glasses, a strap is obligatory.

Price is $105 on Amazon and includes case. Small-to-Medium Fit.

plano case
The Field Locker Mil-Spec Case from Plano is watertight, dust proof and built like a tank.

Field Locker Mil-Spec Case from Plano

If you’re going to take your rifle on an airplane the TSA dictates that you need a hard-sided container that is locked. If your rifle is valuable to you, you’ll want to buy decent rifle case. Recently I tested a product from Plano called the Field Locker Mil-Spec Case. They are watertight, dustproof and built like tanks. This particular model will fit one rifle with room for magazines and even a handgun or two.

The main features are comfortable, over molded heavy duty handles and ball bearing wheels for trouble-free transport. It also has big fat latches that should discourage thieves.

At about 23 pounds, it’s very solid and if anything, a bit over-engineered for durability. This is a heavy case, and that may be the only disadvantage but it’s incredibly strong.

There are three layers of double density foam inside the case. The extra layer allows you to create your own cut-to- fit form by carving out the proper shape. Finally, there’s an atmospheric release valve which is meant to equalize pressure caused by altitude or temperature.

Price is $160 on Amazon which makes it about $10 less expensive than the equivalent model 1720 from Pelican.

sea to summit bag
Sea to Summit Toiletry Cell bag is light and durable.

Sea to Summit Toiletry Cell (Bag)

I’m a big proponent of minimalism when it comes to travel products.

Light and uncomplicated are big pluses. Sea to Summit’s toiletry cell has both those qualities and then some. The company specializes in the camping/backpacking space and sells everything from sleeping bags to camp kitchen ware. Their products are well designed, tough and fairly priced. No, this isn’t some high tech marvel but it’s one of those practical items that you need.

I started using the toiletry bag several months ago and I’ve found it indispensable. Manufactured from Cordera fabric, it’s water resistant and uses YKK zips, which have become the industry standard. Weighing in at only 2 oz, it has three liters of volume which can hold a surprisingly large amount of “stuff” for your traveling toiletry subsistence.

It’s priced at just under $30. I’m counting on it to  hold up for quite a while and I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.

Robert F. Kay, who lives in sunny Honolulu, is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.

Photos courtesy of  On Target staff.

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