Category Archives: Travel

Happy Birthday to Technology that Changed our Lives

It’s hard to believe Apple’s iPod – the best-selling MP3 player and precursor to the iPhone – turns 15 on Monday.

Other digital storage devices were already in the market, but Apple’s touchscreen, user-friendly interfaces, and smaller form factor transformed our lives. Today, the vast majority of us carry smartphones that have drawn inspiration from that first iPod.

With this technology comes a need to keep your iPod, iPad, iPhone, or Android charged and ready to assist. We feature several unique gifts to keep your devices running strong and enhance their da87964_1000x1000ily usefulness.86892_1000x1000

In your car, this rapid-charge adapter powers up to three devices at once. The 2.4 amp-rating provides superior charging efficiency for iPods, iPhones and other smartphones, charging in half the time it takes typical chargers. An LED indicator lets you know devices are still charging. It plugs into a standard 12V socket and includes cables for both Android and iPhone connectors.

This car speakerphone earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it provided the clearest audio. The Best model’s dual microphone eliminated background noise, muffled sounds and echoes with noise reducing technology, leading one analyst to say “I couldn’t even tell they were talking on a speakerphone.” It mounts to a visor and automatically connects to your phone via Bluetooth. The Best unit’s three-speaker virtual surround sound provides audio “as clear as listening to the radio.”87348_1000x1000

There’s little more frustrating than a low battery and no place to plug in. Here’s a portable battery that attaches to a sunny window, using solar power to charge your device. A suction cup allows you to mount the unit to a window in a car, train, or plane while the built-in solar panel charges the internal 1,000 maH lithium-ion battery. It’s only slightly larger than a hockey puck, so it tucks easily into a carry-on or purse.

As proof of how the technology that began with the iPod changed society, we feature dozens of unique gifts that make your smartphone more useful, or that operate efficiently with the help of your phone and an app. And like every unique gift we offer, they’re all covered by our Unconditional, Unwavering Lifetime Guarantee.

Revving Up Interest in Collectible Cars

Driving around today, you may have noticed an unusual number of restored vintage or reproduction vehicles on the road. That’s because today is National Collector Car Appreciation Day.

This annual event was launched six years ago to celebrate the classics of both the past and the future. The automobile has been a unique gift to American history, and no other country appreciates the car as thoroughly as does the U.S.

Whether you are a serious car collector or you merely dream about the day you’re able to give yourself the unique gift of an extraordinary automobile, here are some truly unusual models to inspire you.12197_1000x1000

No car will attract more attention than this officially licensed, roadworthy replica of the Batmobile. Built on a custom Lincoln chassis, the crime-fighting cruiser comes standard with a 430-horsepower, 383 Blueprint Crate engine and a Monster TH350 automatic transmission. The vehicle’s cockpit honors the gadgetry of the TV series with a blinking Batphone, switch-operated electric actuators that open the hood and trunk, and a rotating red beacon. A rear-facing propane tank creates the same afterburner effect as the original. The exterior bears the hallmarks of its namesake, from bubble-canopy windshields to chrome “rocket” tubes behind the rear windshield.12796A_1000x1000

This 1:2 scale gas-powered version of the iconic Jaguar XK120 unleashes adults to careen and cruise as if driving the real thing. Faithful to the details of the 1948 original—sweeping rounded fenders, long hood and tapered grille—this version seats its driver within a padded leather aircraft-style cockpit. The interior includes a wood-rimmed aluminum steering wheel and dashboard, while the exterior can be finished in any color, including the classic glossy British Racing Green of yesteryear.12350_1000x1000

If you have a bigger crew to haul around, this authentic London Hackney cab holds six passengers plus the driver. This version is a fully restored and overhauled Fairway taxi from the 1980s. Designed with a high degree of English sensibility, it provides the roominess and appointments of a limo in a smaller size. Of course, it’s updated with modern convenience, luxury, and U.S. safety standards. With its 2.7-liter Nissan diesel engine, it delivers dutiful performance while turning heads.

Many communities show appreciation for collectible cars throughout the warm weather months with rallies, cruise nights, and car shows. Even if you don’t have fancy wheels of your own to show off, you might enjoy attending a local car show to scope out that unique gift for yourself, for when the time is right.

Enjoy the Sounds of Summer

A loaf of bread, a jug of wine, and live music under the stars. These are the makings for one of our favorite summer pleasures, a concert in the park.

Whether you take in the symphony at one of the country’s fabulous outdoor venues like Wolf Trap, Tanglewood, or Ravinia, or go to your neighborhood park to hear a local band on the rise, when the weather’s right, we can’t think of a better way to enjoy the unique gifts of a summer evening.76519_1000x1000

Typically at such venues, you need to bring your own chair. This portable director’s chair folds to about the size of a laptop and stores in an easy-to-carry messenger bag. It weighs only 9 lbs. and straps over a shoulder and across the chest for easy hands-free portability. Rated “Best Overall” by The Wall Street Journal, with this chair, you’ll be ready to take in a concert at a moment’s notice.88337_1000x1000

Turn the evening into a movable feast with this ingenious cooler cart. This folding beverage cart has an integrated cooler/tabletop to transport your family’s feast over any terrain. The flexible cooler insert holds up to 225 lbs. of ice, drinks, and food. Its rigid cover doubles as a tabletop when closed. The cart pulls easily with a telescoping handle and heavy-duty rubber wheels.89360_1000x1000

After sunset, you’ll need some light and a way to keep mosquitos at bay. This 300-lumen outdoor lantern uses a synthetic repellent made from a naturally occurring insecticide found in chrysanthemums. Field testing proved it repels up to 98% of mosquitoes. Eight LEDs inside the lantern produce an efficient glow for up to 50 hours and may be used with or without the repellant. This lamp makes the ideal unique gift for anyone looking to keep pesky flying insects away in any outdoor setting.

Whether you favor classical, pop, rock, or jazz, with a symphony of crickets as backup, you can’t beat the sum of a picnic plus live music to really appreciate the unique gifts of a summer concert in the park.

Spend a Day Car-Free and Care-Free

On June 16, the U.S. will celebrate the 11th annual National Dump the Pump Day. The day is designed to encourage car-lovers to use public transportation or other means to get around for the day.

Even in these days of relatively low gas prices, choosing not to drive is an economical choice and results in the unique gifts of cleaner air through reduced emissions of carbon and greenhouse gasses.86716_1000x1000

If you’re getting around on public transportation, you’ll want a good bag to carry your things. This Argentinian leather carryall stows all the essentials for a day at the office, shopping, or playing tourist in your own town. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the surprisingly spacious nylon-lined interior is split into two zippered compartments. One can hold a tablet, plus it has snap- and zip-closure pockets, two mesh pockets, a pocket for a phone, loops for pens, and a key ring. The other is a divided compartment that keeps larger items handy.83485_1000x1000

While dumping the pump, you may choose to tool around on bicycle. Come evening, you’ll be a safer and more confident cyclist with this virtual safety lane. The device mounts to a bike’s seat post and projects two 5-milliwatt red lasers onto the ground. Providing motorists with a visual indicator of a rider’s width, it’s ideal for increasing the safety margin around a cyclist during pre-dawn or dusk rides. If you know someone who commutes by bike, it’s the perfect unique gift for them, too.83736_1000x1000

Walking is a great alternative for going short distances car-free. These lady’s lightweight slip-on shoes provide all-day comfort, thanks to four layers of cushioning and support in the soles. Recipient of the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance for foot health, the shoes have a contoured footbed and deep heel cup for arch support and plantar fasciitis relief. For gentlemen, we recommend these knee-pain relieving walking shoes. They employ flexure zones built into the outsoles to reduce knee loads by 20 percent.84344_1000x1000

Along with the environmental benefits of going car-free, these alternative modes of transportation have another benefit, too: you’ll get more exercise. And that is a unique gift for your health that just can’t be beat.

Here’s What it Takes to Make Travel Easier

More than 38 million people took to the road or the skies this Memorial Day weekend, kicking off one of the busiest travel periods in years.

In spite of recent increases in the price of gas, what we now pay at the pump is still the lowest in 11 years, a unique gift for drivers everywhere. Airline fares are down as well, making this summer a great time to travel. Whether you drive or fly, it makes sense to pack efficiently and also be prepared for any weather conditions. We have several items to make both a bit easier.88553_1000x100087619_1000x1000

On a plane or in a car, this ultra-light carry-on keeps your essentials organized, secure, and handy. The compact and rain-resistant bag has a rear compartment to hold a tablet. The front space is divided into pouches and zippered pockets to hold essentials such as a guidebook, sunscreen, glasses, and other tourist must-haves. To thwart would-be pickpockets, zipper locks secure two internal compartments, while passport and credit card slots block RFID scanners that could steal your identity electronically.

Be prepared for wet and wild weather with The Wind Defying Packable Umbrella. It resists gusts that turn other umbrellas inside out. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, its patented overlapping vent system disperses wind through reinforced slits in the canopy. Available in three sizes, all of which fold down for easy packing, it also makes the ideal unique gift for students heading to college this fall.88497_1000x1000

On brighter days, protect your face and neck from the sun’s rays with this completely packable, crushable hat. The wide brim provides 360 degrees of protection, while the breathable ventilation system built into the crown allows cooling breezes to pass through. The hat can be flattened, rolled up, and compressed to tuck into a pocket, purse, or bag when not needed. A secret inside pocket even provides the perfect place for storing a few bucks…or Euros.88744_1000x1000

Finally, if you’re planning to travel with a wee one in tow, this amazingly compact stroller folds down to fit under an airplane seat or in a car trunk filled with luggage. Recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as “the world’s smallest folding stroller,” it provides a sturdy seat for a child and meets all ASTM safety standards. Consider it as a unique gift for a baby shower, too.

Spring for Spring Break without Going Broke

Spring break…it’s not just for college students. Co-eds may have put the party into spring travel, but the start of milder weather, combined with falling travel costs, makes now an ideal time to give yourself and your family the unique gift of a few days R & R.

Popular winter vacation areas in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Florida often lower their rates in April when winter-weary northerners head back home. And your kids or grandkids may have a weeklong break from work or school to tag along for a fun-filled family vacation. A myriad of travel websites can help you find affordable flights and discounted rates at resorts and hotels.

Once you have the airfare and resort booked, we have a few additional suggestions to make packing and traveling easier.

86969_300x300Most airlines levy fees for checked luggage these days, and some even have the nerve to charge for carry-ons. That won’t bother you with this extraordinary jacket, sporting enough pockets to hold two dozen different items, including your smartphone, iPad, and other gadgets. Made for travel, this jacket ‘s 24 pockets are designed to also hold a wallet, keys, passport, digital camera, pens, notepad, tablet PC, USB drive, glasses and even a water bottle. This three-season jacket has removable sleeves to convert to a vest, should you return home to find Mother Nature has finally given us the unique gift of mild, seasonable temperatures.

84042_300x300This gentlemen’s toiletry bag was rated “Best Overall” by The Wall Street Journal. Durable yet compact, it has an internal shelf large enough to accommodate full-size shampoo bottles and cans so you don’t need to buy overpriced travel-sized equivalents. The bag conveniently hangs unfolded over a door or towel rack to provide you extra space in hotel bathrooms, with easy access to grooming essentials. A lady’s version is also available.

86738_300x300Cold and flu season lasts through May and nothing can spoil a vacation faster than catching a virus on the flight down. This rechargeable, wearable air purifier eliminates airborne germs from one’s personal space. The palm-sized device hangs comfortably around the neck, purifying the air within a 3′ sphere around your head. It also combats tobacco smoke, pollen and dust particles.

The earlier you can book, the better for the best airfares and hotel rates. So call your family today and share your plans for a unique gift of travel that will create memories for years to come.

The Road to Winter Driving Is Paved with Good Inventions

Many a driver has suffered a flat tire caused by a deep pothole. If you find yourself with such a roadside emergency—and perhaps an under-inflated spare to boot—help is available from The Only Automatic Cordless Tire Inflator. This is the only cordless tire inflator that automatically shuts off when it reaches the desired tire pressure. With its Cordless Tire Inflatorintegrated LED that illuminates tire valves, it’s ideal for perfect tire inflation day or night. And keeping tire pressure at the manufacturer’s recommendation ensures optimal contact between your tires and the road, improving traction.

Winter road trips of any distance call for readiness for the unexpected. The emergency preparedness kit keeps 69 essentials including sustenance, first-aid items, and tools organized and readily accessible. About the size of a toiletry case, the kit stores unobtrusively in a car or closet.

Speaking from experience, it seems a cell phone’s battery runs out of juice precisely when it’s needed most. The Hand Crank Emergency Cell Phone Charger converts one minute of hand cranking into four minutes of emergency power for a connected cell phone. It’s ideal for placing an essential call or sending a text when power is not available.

For a car that’s winter-road worthy, make sure your auto has enough anti-freeze. Keep your gas tank at least half full to prevent condensation and frozen gas lines. Make sure your brakes are in good working order. Keep the windshield wiper fluid reservoir full and carry a spare bottle of fluid in your trunk. Finally, maintain a good interval from the car in front of you and remember that even four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles don’t stop any better or faster on ice. In fact, these heavier vehicles can lose traction more easily in icy conditions.

Motoring the Globe in a New-fangled Way

It may come as no surprise that Hammacher Schlemmer was an early supporter of the drive toward the car culture. In 1902, when there were fewer than 600 cars in New York City and no gas stations, we introduced the first Auto Parts Department, selling parts and tools for the “horseless carriage” including a Motorist Touring Kit, which allowed drivers to fix a flat or blown gasket.

This was the age of the polished brass automobile—works of the machinist’s art and craft—years before “King Henry” punched out black tin Lizzies. These speed machines gleamed seductively with seats padded and sprung by coach builders, and looked much like The Stirling Engine 1900 Mercedes. In these bold, crazy days there were no helmets, no roll bar, and no air bags. Seatbelts? Paah! But now people had the speed to move and explore the planet.

To promote the future of the automobile, The New York Times challenged the French newspaper Le Matin to the most daunting race of the day: New York to Paris. Many thought this an impossible act of lunacy. Was the technology up to the ordeal? Were men brave and adventurous enough to stand up to the journey? It was the space program of the day.

It was winter, February 12th and a gold pistol shot marked the start of The Great 1908 New York to Paris automobile race. Six teams left New York. In the rural countryside, there were no snow plows and most roads were mud, gravel or dirt; asphalt wasn’t invented until 1910. Drivers had no benefit of The Stuck in Snow Extrication Kit.

The race promoters had the novel idea that the Bering Strait would be frozen and the cars could drive over it with tire chains like a land bridge. Melting ice made the whole notion impossible and was abandoned. The machines were shipped by sea first to Alaska and later back to Seattle and on to Japan.

The American auto in the race, piloted by George Schuster, was the sturdy and dashing Thomas Flyer, of the Thomas Motor Company, in Buffalo, NY. The Flyer had no enclosed cockpit, only overstuffed front and rear tonneau seats. There wasn’t even a windshield. All supplies and provisions had to be tied to the running boards or stored in foot wells. Planks were lashed to the sides to be used as traction boards on muddy permafrost roads. The cars were powered by 40-60 horsepower low compression 4-cylinder engines. Top speeds ranged from 40 to 70 mph.

Food was scarce along the way. No maps existed for many remote sections of the globe. A homemade sextant and brass compass were used to navigate through Siberia and Mongolia.

Three teams finished the race: the French, the Germans, and Schuster’s American Thomas Flyer, with Schuster the only competitor to complete the entire 22,000-mile journey. Even though the German team made it to Paris first, they took shortcuts along the way and didn’t follow the route. The French judges penalized them and declared Schuster’s American team the winner on this day, 105 years ago.

More than a century later, Schuster’s feat has never been equaled. The famous race heralded the start of a new era in transportation, but perhaps it’s time to recreate the race with today’s electric cars. The 120 MPH electric car would be our favored entrant. It can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds to a top speed of 120 mph in one gear with no shifting thanks to its two electric motors.

If you prefer to travel solo, look at The Electric One Person Car. This electric, highway-legal, three-wheeled, single passenger vehicle combines the functionality of an electric car with the maneuverability and scale of a motorcycle. With a range of 30 miles per charge, it operates with zero emissions and uses less than half the energy of even today’s most efficient hybrid vehicles.

Best Commuter Cup

This is The Best Commuter Cup, so deemed by The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it is easy to drink from, and does not leak, even if turned upside down.

Best Commuter CupThe lid on The Best Commuter Cup stays tightly closed until you’re ready for your beverage; then with the touch of a button, it springs open and flips out of your way as you drink. Whether you transport The Cup in a bag or briefcase, or even if you lose track of it and it rolls around the floor of your car, the safety lock prevents spilling. Ideal for use by children when taking long trips.

Best Commuter Cup ClosedDual walls of stainless steel and vacuum insulation provide The Best Commuter Cup with superior temperature retention. In testing, ice cubes remained frozen for 36 hours, while other models allowed ice to melt in six hours. And hot liquids lost only 18 degrees after two hours in The Cup, while hot beverages in other cups tested lost up to 71 degrees.

Spill-proof when out of your hand, and easy to use when you’re thirsty. That’s The Best Commuter Cup from Hammacher Schlemmer.

The Best Commuter Cup