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Category: Luggage

How Bluetooth Trackers Work To Find Your Lost Luggage, Wallet, And Other Valuables

Personal Bluetooth trackers are small plastic devices smaller than a credit card you can use to find lost keys and other valuables. You may be wondering how these devices work, whether they’re worth using, and some of their limitations.

Here’s how Bluetooth trackers work and how you can use them to find lost items.

The Hardware

There are a couple of manufacturers of Bluetooth trackers, the largest being Tile and Chipolo. These are small devices ranging from a simple coin-sized square to the credit card shaped solar-powered Ekster you place in your purse, backpack, basically anything you don’t want lost. The only setup required is to pair them with your phone, an easy process shown in the video above.

Manufacturers tackle batteries differently; Chipolo uses small replaceable batteries, and Tile has a trade-in program for example. In both cases, batteries last at least up to a year, if not longer. Otherwise the setup of these trackers is simple, typically with a single button to pair the device and a smaller emitter for beeping sounds. Most Bluetooth trackers are designed to with in either short and long ranges.

Short Range Use

Depending on the version of Bluetooth, typically these trackers have a physical signal range of roughly 50 meters (150 feet). In these cases, you can trigger an alert using your phone to sound the beeps on the tracker to help you find your keys, for example. The associated app with most trackers will also let you visually locate the tracker when you’re in Bluetooth range and the process works in reverse too – you can use the tracker to set an alarm on your phone so you can locate it.

What Happens When You’re Out Of Range?

You might be thinking by now, “well, I often lose things that aren’t within 50 meters of me,” what now? In these cases you’ll use the Bluetooth tracker’s app to mark it as lost. Once a tracker is marked as lost, it will then activate its anonymous code so that the tracker app on everyone’s phone will be on the lookout for it.

This happens without the knowledge of the other users. So when someone else in the Bluetooth tracking app network (i.e. another user) walks past your lost keys in a cafe, they won’t know that their phone sent a signal back with its location. Once that happens, you’re notified and hopefully you can get to your lost items.

Network Importance

Outside of the short Bluetooth range, the size of the network is important. Tile has the largest network with 26 million users, Chipolo is the second largest (both have subscription fees). What that means is the chance of another Tile or Chipolo user walking past your lost stuff is higher on those networks. Densely populated areas like cities obviously will have better user coverage but in rural areas your chances diminish quite a bit.

Still, a Bluetooth tracker can help you find your lost keys or be setup to alert you if you get out of a customizable short range to prevent you from forgetting your backpack at a cafe or airport gate.

PacSafe’s LS450 Backpack Is Ultra-Secure And Pretty Useable Too

Combining storage and security isn’t easy when it comes to something that needs to be as portable as a backpack. The MetroSafe LS450 Anti-Theft Backpack gets closer than most in a very capable backpack with security features – still a divide in usability you’ll have to navigate.

You can watch my full review of the MetroSafe LS450 in the video above or read on.

Bag Basics

Made by PacSafe, a company known for making secure travel gear, the LS450 is on the bigger side of 25 liters. There are three compartments, one main and two smaller organizational pockets on the front. You won’t find a traditional quick grab pocket on this backpack, mainly because of the fortified design. All of the zippers can be latched to the bag to prevent pickpockets, although you’ll have to get used to the few extra moments it takes to get into your bag as well.

The exterior is made of 210D nylon, with a slash-proof mesh underneath. Still, despite the extra padding, the LS450 remains light at only 840 grams.

Comfort Conversion

In some ways the LS450 is a very comfortable backpack to wear. The straps are soft and padded with a contoured back to keep your back cool. It’s here where some of the security features interfere with pure design. To prevent slash and grabs, PacSafe have hidden the straps of the LS450 in a protective cushion. Those cushions make it so adjusting the straps while you’re wearing the LS450 isn’t really feasible. Also, the material used on the straps is a bit sticky to clothing and may cause pilling.

A thicker band around your neck too isn’t entire comfortable during hot weather – again another security design trade-off. One trade that’s pretty easy to make is the right strap being lockable. Basically allowing you to lock the strap around a chair, table, or other stationary point preventing someone walking off with the bag when you’re distracted.

Security Aside

Overall, the LS450 on its own is a good backpack. It’s large enough to be a capable day pack for school or work commutes. You can find comparable bags for less without the built-in safety features but for travelers who don’t carry a lot of electronics, the MetroSafe LS450 would make for a good everyday carry – especially if you’re looking for the added protection it provides.

New Balance Made A Waist Pack For Runners That Actually Carries Your Stuff

Finding a waist pack that’s comfortable while running is one thing but most are ultra slim, making it hard to pack in a modern smartphone with anything else. The New Balance Performance Waist Pack… uh, balances both concerns surprisingly well as you can see in the video review above.

For those of you looking for a waist pack that can comfortably hold a wallet, keys, and large smartphone, with pockets to separate them to avoid scratching, take a close look at the Performance Waist Pack.

What It’s Like To Travel Through Istanbul Airport Right Now

Traveling is well, weird right now. Sputtering amid a pandemic major international hub Istanbul is open and Turkish Airlines has resumed flights (still no refunds) meaning a larger portion of air traffic is flowing through the world’s largest airport these days. Having recently made such a journey, here’s what you can expect if you’re flying through Istanbul Airport.

Packing

For those of you flying out of Istanbul Airport be aware there are new packing restrictions mainly around carry-on luggage. The weight is restricted to 4 kilograms (8.8lbs) for carry-on luggage; so for those of you who travel with electronics, camera gear, or other heavy equipment, it will have to packed into your checked luggage. Carry-on bags weren’t routinely weighed so you may be able to get away with a heavier backpack but there are no guarantees.

Getting There

For starters, you’ll need to wear a mask during your entire time in the airport. All the airlines operating out of Istanbul Airport recommend arriving 3 hours before international and domestic flights. You’ll notice long lines at check in starting 4 hours before most flights and keep in mind there’s security to get into Istanbul Airport. The domestic terminal was operating at what seemed like normal capacity but there was clearly less activity in international departures.

istanbul airport gate

Passport Control And Security

Going through passport control hasn’t changed due to COVID-19, there was already a plastic barrier between passengers and customs officials. Once past there the security lines enforce (to vary degrees) social distance in the line but take one person through every 10-15 seconds. Tray tables are individually cleaned by staff after each use – nice touch – and overall the process carefully considers sanitary concerns.

In Istanbul Airport

Once you’re past security you’ve got a few options. Since the gates aren’t all full, you can find a quiet place to sit with a bit of searching. Oh, there’s no free wifi but WiFox can help you get online. Every other seat has a sign on it to enforce social distancing and the lounges are open as an alternative. No matter where you sit though, keep your mask on and wear it properly. Staff zip around on Segways to enforce the rules.

bathroom occupancy

Some of the shops and cafes are open, though I wouldn’t hang around them too long as they tend to get crowded.

On The Airplane

Once you’re in the air your flight may be empty or full, depending on sales not enforced distancing. I’ve seen it both ways but in either case you’ll need to wear your mask for the entire flight. Turkish Airlines will supply extras in hygiene kits along with hand sanitizer and wipes.

One thing that is different, is how often the bathrooms are cleaned. Flight attendants were sanitizing the bathrooms and doors, leaving them spotless at least once an hour. Unfortunately, on the flip side, the food was limited to lunch boxes without any beverage service. I’d recommend bringing your own snacks from the airport unless you want to be stuck with stale sandwiches and juice.

Should You Fly Right Now?

Upon arrival, procedures will vary based on the destination. In some ways flying now is more comfortable, with extra sanitation measures reminding you how dirty planes have been in general. Still though given the added hassle, potential for canceled flights, and ever-changing pandemic situation unless you really have to fly somewhere, it’s best to wait for less turbulent times.

GORUCK GR2 Buyer’s Guide

The GORUCK GR2 is a serious backpack with a price to match and given these bags last forever, deciding on one can be a big decision. Although there’s little variation between its two versions, a GR2 isn’t the ideal travel bag for everyone. Here’s what’s so special about the GR2 and how to tell if it’s the right backpack for you.

GR2 Toughness

The GR2 is made by GORUCK, founded by an American Green Beret who wanted to create a consumer backpack that’s military tough. Made with 1000D CORDURA Nylon the laptop compartment is bombproof and the GR2 can carry over 400 pounds (181 kilos) – whether you can though is another story.

goruck gr2

All of this durability through comes with a cost in weight of 4.75lbs (2.15kg); in other words 20% the average carry-on weight allowance for most international flights. Ideally, the GR2 is a backpack you load with mostly clothing (rather than heavier electronics) and use more for ground travel. You can watch my full review of the GR2 in the video here.

Solid Conditions

Travelers who spend  a lot of time outdoors, in the wilderness or exposed to the elements will enjoy never having to worry about the GR2. It’s the rare type of backpack you don’t have to worry about staining, nicking, or tearing at the seams. GORUCK also provides a lifetime guarantee with the GR2, practically daring you to damage this bag with normal use. And normal for this bag can mean carrying a hundred kilos through mud in a downpour.

You can see in my Road Tested! durability test video above after 6 months, the GR2 shows no signs of wear or tear.

Choosing The Size

The GR2 comes in one design at two different sizes: a 34 liter and 40 liter. Since there’s no standard way of measuring backpacks with liter sizes, GORUCK recommends anyone taller than 5″8′ (172cm) to go with the 40L. Shorter than that? 34L. Right at that height? I’d recommend ordering both bags, packing them, and trying to to get a good feel. GORUCK has a liberal 30 day return policy you can use for this very purpose.

To see what both bags looks like in a side-by-side comparison, watch the video here.

GR2 For You?

The GR2 is in a small group that can be considered one of the best one bag travel backpacks. They’re not for everyone, even though the GR2’s ultra-durability is tempting, for frequent air travelers a lighter alternative like the Travel Pack 2 a better match.

Fortunately, you can order most high-end bags like to GR2 to size and handle within the return window to make an informed choice.

Choosing A One Bag Travel Backpack

The more you travel the less you want to pack, especially for shorter trips. Checking luggage can add 30-60 minutes to your airport experience, not to mention baggage fees, there are many other advantages to ditching checked bags altogether. As more people opt for carry-on only, an entire class of one bag travel backpacks has developed. Choosing the right one can be daunting so these are 3 of the best to start your search with.

1. Aer Travel Pack 2

Most one bag travel bags tend to either lean toward carrying clothing or carrying tech. Most of us don’t travel without both as the Aer Travel Pack 2‘s designers have clearly understood. The 34-liter Travel Pack 2 [full review here] has a dedicated shoe compartment in addition to a flat front organizational pocket for electronics. There are compromises made on both sides, tech and clothing, but the Aer Travel Pack 2 will satisfy a large group of people looking for a one bag travel backpack for shorter, city trips.

2. GORUCK GR2

There are two versions of the GR2: a 34L and 40L. The two versions of the GR2 are identical but the 40L is for taller travelers 5’8” / 172 centimeters according to GORUCK. These backpacks are tough – literally with a bombproof laptop compartment – created by an American Green Beret. The 1000D Cordura nylon will last a lifetime but comes with weight; the GR2 is a heavy backpack. Clothing should keep the GR2 under most international airlines’ baggage weight limits however if you’re going to load it up a camera lens, laptop plus other tech, you’ll feel it on your back. For travelers who go hiking or spend a lot of time exploring outdoors however, the GR2 rucksack is good option.

3. Tortuga Setout

Still on the higher-end of one bag travel backpacks, there’s a noticeable drop in the quality of the Tortuga Setout compared to the other two bags listed above. The 900D polyester fabric feels a bit flimsy (though is lighter than nylon) but overall the design is ideal if you want control over how you pack. There is a smaller organizational pocket but really, the Setout is one big main compartment (with a 35 and 45L option). Pockets in a backpack often mean the designer is leading you toward a packing strategy whereas in a bag like the Setout, it’s all up to you. Keep in mind for the Setout especially, packing cubes are probably an accessory you’ll want to add to your gear.

Only The Beginning

Shopping for backpacks can be daunting, fortunately most reputable companies (including all those listed above) have 30 day money back return policies. It’s worth trying out several bags 4-8 weeks before a trip, packing them as you would for your next adventure to see how they fit, feel, and meet your particular travel needs.

To help narrow your search even further, keep in mind the best one bag travel backpacks tend to be 30-40L and start in price at around $200. Some like the McKinnon Camera Pack are well over that price but a bag that protects all of your gear is an investment not worth skimping on.

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About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More

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