I felt like starting a continuing series in this blog and for me the obvious choice of topic was easy: travel innovations! I like to build things, to fix things and to fail at doing both. I also succeed every once in a while and this series will show the projects that have been at the better end of the scale. Some are going to be my very own design, some I've adapted to suite my own needs, some might be things that I've just plain stolen from other people. Who knows at this point? Anyway, let's get started with the first entry, the start of the new (and only) series of Finnish Terra!
Travel innovation #1: The Tactical Watch
I'm starting off with a weird one first to show that I'm not kidding about this and second because this is what we've used the most so far: the "tactical watch". The name comes from the history of the design, as version 1 was what I used when I was doing my mandatory nine months in the Finnish Defence Forces (yes, it's mandatory for males in Finland). I needed a cheap watch, so I got one. Then I found that I was constantly in places where I needed to have a lamp handy and to be able to use my hands at the same time. A head torch was too big, so I got one that's meant for a key ring and taped it on my watch. Turned out to work wonders! As we were later hiking in Spain I bought a key ring compass that I quickly discovered could easily be slid on the watch strap as well. And so a legend was born!
Version 2 came about a bit of a winding path since it wasn't meant to grow up to be a tactical watch at all. I needed a watch that I could use at the hospital and since we're not allowed to wear watches on our wrists, I had to get creative. I bought another cheap digital watch, cut of the braces (or whatever they are called in English…) and drilled two holes on each of the stumps. I put an elastic chord through the holes, attached a carabiner to that and voilà: I had a watch that hung upside down from the belt loop of my jeans for easy access when I needed it. Later it turned out however that it makes much more sense to use the hospitals own pants than my own jeans so the entire thing became useless…
Version 1 of the tactical watch was getting ready to retire, the compass was scraped and the tape couldn't hold the lamp anymore. So I took apart my hospital watch, sew it on a short strap through the holes it already had, got another compass and lamp and created version 2. It's lighter, more breathable, better thought through and even less good looking as the previous one. The lamp is held on again by tape, but by a cleverer design. I folded duct tape on itself a couple of times, then put the screws of the lamp through it. Now it can be slid off easily (to make the watch look a little less ridiculous…)
It really is useful, trust me. A digital wrist watch doesn't change time on its own as we go through time zones, it doesn't change it as the operators change on our phones. Those can be a bit unpredictable if you're using a cell phone as an alarm clock. This works better. If you're in a dark dorm room or in Nepal on one the 12 hours a day when there's no power, you can have a lamp on your wrist. If you get lost on the busy streets of Asia (and boy do we get lost…), a compass can be nearly lifesaving, if you know how to use it. All of the above functions can of course be found on a smartphone, but that can get stolen if you flash it around too much. Look at the picture: why would anyone steal this peace of s**t?
So there you have it: the first blog entry of Travel Innovations. There are many more to come, I have a list. I'll try to keep those shorter, I'm not quite as passionate about them as I am of my handy dandy tactical watch!