Travel gear and gadgets for when you’re on the go

This collection of gadgets, gear and apps helps travelers cope. Brave Era 100 Percent Mulberry Silk Travel Sheet NAME Brave Era 100 Percent Mulberry Silk Travel Sheet COST $99 from WHAT IT IS A lightweight sleep sack made by women, for women (though men can use it, too). Weighing less than 6 ounces, it easily folds into an included pouch about the size of an iPhone, ready to be slipped into purse, bag or brief. THE GOOD The sheet is naturally hypoallergenic, temperature-regulating, machine-washable and critter-resistant, making it among a traveler's most coveted possessions whether backpacking across Europe, cruising the Caribbean or just intent on having a little bit of luxury that is fully trustworthy. A roomy fit for sleepers up to 6 feet, 6 inches tall, the sheet comes in sharkskin gray and natural white. THE BADThe price is a little high, but then again, so is the quality.-- Tribune News Service HeadDefender NAME HeadDefender airplane seat cover COST $19.99-$24.99 WHAT IT IS Protect your most vulnerable body parts -- head, neck and face -- from germs with this headrest cover that zips open and slips over the top of most standard size airplane seats and puts a shield between traveler's head and seat headrest. THE GOOD HeadDefender helps block the transfer of bacteria and a host of other nasty particles left behind on seats to the head or scalp of the user. Breathable, washable and reusable, it is also lightweight and compact, about the size of a slim wallet, and can be zipped back into its self-contained pouch when not in use. It's available in black, royal blue or cardinal red. THE BAD An earlier version of the HeadDefender did not fit over seats with a screen, but the problem seems to have been corrected with the next-generation design.-- PR Newswire GSI Outdoors’ Gourmet Pourover Java Set NAME GSI Outdoors' Gourmet Pourover Java Set COST $39.95 from WHAT IT IS A coffee-making combo that includes a grinder and Continue Reading

TASTE TEST: Get wrapped up in love for breakfast at The Wheel

TASTE TEST: Get wrapped up in love for breakfast at The Wheel HAMMOND — All of one's breakfast favorites can come served in different ways — spread out on a plate, stacked between slices of bread and, probably best, wrapped in a tortilla.The Wheel, 7430 Indianapolis Blvd., provides a nice variety when it comes to choosing a satisfying breakfast wrap. From a standard selection with eggs, and vegetables to a larger mix of cheeses and meats, there's something for everyone.If you're looking for something to power you through the day, the Meat Lover's option is a great choice. This sizable wrap comes with three eggs, sausage, bacon, ham, onions and a blend of cheeses. It is heavenly. The cooks keep everything at a nice texture so all is tender without any crispiness. The egg and cheese flavor blend especially sticks out with each bite. The wrap also comes with a side of potatoes, which also are cooked to a perfect style. All comes out to an agreeable $8.49.The Wheel keeps on turning from there, and you also can consider other breakfast delights on its menu, including pancakes, frittatas, omelets and skillets.For more information, call 219-845-0277. TASTE TEST: Catch a bite of shrimp and grits at Volstead CHESTERTON — If brunch is what you seek, you can find it in the heart of Duneland in quaint downtown Chesterton.However, it will be "unconventional fine dining," according to the tagline for Volstead, 225 S. Calumet Road. It might be true. Not many other spots will have "Voodoo" by Godsmack playing in their music rotation.Also of note are the different, but still classy, cow head mounted on the wall, mannequin decked in chain mail standing to the side and a large portrait of Winston Churchill overlooking a lounge filled with fine-leather seats. The stained-glass windows in the bar area also give a green tint to the restaurant and offer great natural lighting.Volstead sports its brunch menu on weekends, and an item worthy of Saturday and Continue Reading

First Drive: The 2018 Toyota Camry is the best one ever, but can it topple the segment’s subjective leaders?

Full Car Details More Reviews Cheap Trick did not have Toyota executives, engineers, designers, or marketers in mind when the American rock band released “I Want You to Want Me” in 1977. Today, however, the car company best known for building bulletproof vehicular appliances might just be pumping this classic pop song throughout its brand-spankin’-new Plano, Texas headquarters, reminding all of its employees that every new Toyota must be more than just a smart choice for the automaker’s customers: It must also be an emotional choice. Yes, Toyota wants you to want the all-new, completely redesigned 2018 Camry, and after spending a day driving multiple examples of the new midsize family sedan, it is clear to me that you might, indeed, want one. Of course, the new Camry continues to provide practicality, durability, and safety in equal measure. In addition to these hallmark traits, though, the Camry exhibits a sense of style and is genuinely enjoyable to drive whether you’ve selected the popular LE trim, upscale and economical XLE Hybrid trim, or racy XSE V6 trim. Pricing starts at $23,495 for the base Camry L and rises to $34,950 for the top-of-the-line Camry XSE V6. These values do not reflect the destination charge, which, based on what Toyota levied in 2017, will be about $900. Compared to a 4-cylinder version of the Camry, the hybrid drivetrain option costs from $3,800 to $4,800 extra depending on the trim level, while the V6 engine upgrade costs $5,950. This review is focused on the most popular versions of the 2018 Camry: LE, SE, XLE, and XSE models equipped with the standard 4-cylinder engine. Separate reports will cover the Camry XSE V6 sport sedan and the Camry Hybrid models. Toyota adds extra style to the Camry’s remixed recipe For 2018, the differences between the mainstream and sporty Camry models are Continue Reading

First Drive: Despite small tweaks, tech-savvy 2018 Infiniti Q50 still leaves drivers wanting more

Full Car Details More Reviews Quickly approaching its 30th birthday, the Infiniti brand is by no means new to the U.S. market. Yet, at the same time, something about the brand—perhaps its new all-Q naming structure or its more chiseled design language—holds an aura of freshness. It remains to be seen whether Infiniti’s new musk carries the allure of youthful ambition or the desperation of new money anxieties but while journalists quibble over such frivolities, the brand’s efforts are resonating with customers. Sales, both globally and the U.S. alone, hit record marks last year and that success has carried through the first half of 2017. A prime example of this recent success is the Q50. Just a few years ago, Infiniti’s rear-wheel drive sports sedan was known as the G35 or G37 and looked downright cherubic by comparison, with its smooth hood and rounded fenders. Since being rechristened in the church of Q, the 50 has taken to wearing sculpted headlights, mesh grilles and stylized body kits while also presenting a more luxuriously inside. These changes bore fruit last year when the Q50 surpassed the Lexus IS, Acura TLX and BMW 4 Series to become the third-best selling midsize luxury sedan in the U.S., behind only the segment pillars that are BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Entering its fifth year of life, roughly middle age in the world of cars, the Q50 has received a handful of updates for 2018. Infiniti invited me down to Nashville, Tennessee to experience the refreshed sedan first-hand. Moderation on renovation Infiniti has opted for slight tweaks instead of sweeping changes for the Q50’s mid-cycle refresh, which is to be expected considering the costly overhaul back in 2013. Would I have noticed the sharper lines cutting into the grille or the extra folds along the front bumper of the Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: The 2017 Audi Q7 is an impenetrable tech fortress on wheels

Full Car Details More Reviews For a long time, opting for an SUV over a traditional luxury sedan came with a slew of trade-offs in the name of increased utility and ride height. Sure, you’d get more space and better capability, but driving dynamics, looks and fuel economy took a major hit by going with a four-wheeler. As the years have gone by, however, the compromises have gotten slimmer thanks to weight reduction, suspension technology and clever powertrain solutions, and it seems the luxury SUV innovation boom has all been leading up to one thing: the 2017 Audi Q7. We explored the pros and cons of Audi’s biggest SUV just a few months ago, but with a week and several hundred miles behind the wheel, the Q7’s true colors started to come into focus… and the picture is more vibrant than ever. Design: 9.3 Rating It’s a shame when an automaker releases the latest and greatest version of one of those models, and the general consensus on looks is a resounding “meh,” but that’s not necessarily Audi’s designers’ fault. You see, when the original version looks so good to begin with, anything that comes afterwards will feel like a disappointment. Such is the case with the Q7, a lackluster follow-up to the curvy, aggressive design that was the original. Sure, it’s sharper, more modern and a bit more understated, but ungainly proportions, an off-kilter rear fascia, and wheels that don’t seem to compliment the vehicles size make for a lukewarm feeling, especially when finished in a drab gray. Fortunately, almost every single complaint about the exterior can be remedied if you climb inside the Q7 and refuse to leave, as this cabin is absolutely one of the best in the business. Fit and finish is immaculate, and the wide, long vent that spans across the sea Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: The 2017 Volvo S90 is sexy, smart and safe. Is that enough to woo midsize luxury sedan buyers?

Full Car Details More Reviews Anyone who follows U.S. weather patterns knows just how rare it is that Southern California experiences a full week of dark and stormy weather, and especially as of late, with the state entering its sixth year of a historic drought. Nevertheless, during the week that I drove Volvo’s new 2017 S90 midsize luxury sedan, California received wave after wave of manna from the skies, liquid gold to fill reservoirs, replenishing ground water and moistening parched soil. If there exists a luxury car built to battle inclement weather, the Volvo S90 is it. The Swedes know a thing or two about creating a comfortable, cozy, hygge environment in which to ride out the storm, and the all-wheel-drive S90 T6 rose to the task amid the flooding rains and mudslides. Built on Volvo’s newest global platform, which is also used for the XC90 crossover SUV and the V90 wagon, the S90 sedan starts at under $48,000. Ladling on the extras quickly sends the price soaring, and my test vehicle, equipped with Inscription trim and plenty of additional swag, wore a window sticker reading $66,940 (with $995 in destination charges). After a week of kid shuttling, commuting, and touring suddenly lush regions of southern California resplendent in greenery, it is clear that with the S90 Volvo can expand its ownership base, but perhaps not to the degree it would like. Design: 9.7 rating Are you starting to receive invitations to join the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) in the mail? If so, you’ll easily remember when the default shape for Volvos was a box. Designers seemingly used a T-square to shape their sedans and wagons – and not much else. Back then if you got a 3-year-old to draw a picture of a car, the Volvo 940 my dad drove when I was growing up was what you’d end up with. Time passes, designs evolve and Volvo’s new top-tier sedan is Continue Reading

Short Report: The 2017 Mini John Cooper Works Clubman is still charming, but snootier than ever

Full Car Details More Reviews As far as niche performance models go, there are arguably none more niche than the Mini John Cooper Works Clubman. A more hardcore version of a weird compact wagon with barn doors at the back? For a very select few, it may be the perfect vehicle, but the JCW Clubman lacks the mass-market appeal of its more conventional hatchback and sedan competitors. And you know what? That’s okay. Personally, I’d consider myself right in the heart of the target market for this car, a young, urban-bound professional with a love of wagons and small performance cars with German roots. The issue, however, is that today I’m more spoiled for choice than ever. Mini’s new John Cooper Works Clubman takes everything the standard model does and dials it up to 11: think more power, standard all-wheel-drive, a burbling and popping exhaust system, and all the bells and whistles you could want to have (for a price, of course). But with the small high-performance compact car segment growing larger than ever in the U.S., Mini’s niche has become increasingly crowded, and the other occupants increasingly competent, with pressure coming from both the economy and luxury sides. To find out if Mini’s hottest entrant of their oddest car is still worth consideration, I took the wheel of the 2017 JCW Clubman for a week, and put it through its paces. No more nonsense… Let me come clean for a second: I adore the first-generation Clubman. Mini’s wacky, one-off wagon with more cargo space, passenger space, and wheelbase than the Cooper has always been on my short list of cars to buy – if I ever decide to own a car in New York again, that is. The seminal Clubman featured split doors, those iconic wagon doors at the rear, and an overall more bold shape than its successor, and Continue Reading

Ratings and Review: The 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid appears to be the answer to a question no one asked

Full Car Details More Reviews This 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid replaced a hulking Nissan Armada that had taken up residence in my driveway over the Thanksgiving holiday, and within the automaker’s SUV lineup the differences between the two are as stark as black and white. The Rogue’s petite proportions represented welcome relief after the overbearing massiveness of the Armada; its footprint is a fraction of that of the full-size SUV, and I didn’t have to worry while maneuvering to park both my test car and my family car (coincidentally, a first-generation Nissan Murano) in our driveway. That kind of relief is short-lived in this automotive journalist’s household, though, because as soon as I put on my evaluation hat, matters of personal convenience quickly become a side note to the various facts and facets that make up a vehicle. Facts are relative sometimes, though, especially in the current political climate. What looks good on paper, like, say, “Make America Great Again,” is something else entirely when you discover that making America great again apparently includes using Twitter to eviscerate people who disagree with you like you’re some kind of petulant 10-year-old suffering a serious lack of confidence. Such was my week with the updated Nissan Rogue. Fresh from a facelift and a reinvigorated powertrain lineup that now includes a hybrid model, the Rogue hopes to attract young, small families with its compact crossover goodness. The Rogue is growing in popularity, both for Nissan and within the segment. In fact, Nissan expects the Rogue to become its most popular vehicle, unless people suddenly stop buying compact crossovers en masse. So when Nissan announced that it was adding a hybrid version to the Rogue lineup, I expected that it would be a welcome addition to the family. Buyers in the segment highly value fuel efficiency, and a Rogue Hybrid would Continue Reading

MUSCLE CAR MASH-UP: Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Shaker versus Chevrolet Camaro SS 1LE

We at the NY Daily News Autos team love stoking the fires of muscle car rivalry, especially when an eye-searing and tarmac-shredding Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger land in our test fleet at the same time. In the spirit of a fair fight, we’re taking this opportunity to pit editor against editor, to up the stakes even further – and potentially invite a slap-fest in the office at some point in the near future. FOLLOW DAILY NEWS AUTOS ON FACEBOOK. 'LIKE' US HERE. Don’t get us wrong, having a bright-yellow 2015 Chevrolet Camaro SS is an occasion all on its own. Despite being due for replacement by the lighter and more powerful seventh generation Camaro, Chevy’s current muscle machine still packs a huge visual punch, and backs up the boasting with a ferocious 6.2-liter V-8 and, in the case of our test car, a bicep-building 6-speed manual transmission. It all seems suddenly demure, however, once a “Sublime” green Challenger steps up to the plate. Even in rental car spec, the Challenger has tons of swagger and presence. Add this car’s “Kermit the Frog” paintjob and optional Scat Pack with Shaker hood scoop, and this Dodge pretty much throws a drink in your face and insults your mother the first time you see it. On that note, let’s get down to the business of seeing how these two stack up! The Daily News Autos team of Editor Nick Kurczewski and Associate Editor Brian Leon grabbed the keys, pointed each car towards the Jersey shore, and agreed not to hold (many) grudges if our favorite muscle car didn’t emerge the victor. Exterior Nick: This is a tough call; both the Chevrolet and Dodge play the retro-look without being corny or kitschy. For my money, the Camaro SS is the meaner looking muscle car, with its furrowed front end and kicked up rear fenders. The blacked out hood on this car was also cool, and I heard kids shout from a minivan “Look, it’s Bumble Continue Reading

Boardwalk fun for the whole family

The boardwalks that line our beaches are all ideal for strolling and people-watching.Beyond that, however, they each have distinct personalities that reflect the appeal of each beach town.Which one does your family want to visit today?Here's what you can expect from a visit this summer to some of the Shore's most popular boardwalks, listed from North to South :Pier Village re-defined the Long Branch boardwalk when it opened in 2005. Built on the former site of Kid's World, which closed after a 1987 fire that also destroyed the pier and the Haunted Mansion, Pier Village is an amusement center of a different sort.Upscale stores and luxury apartments form a horseshoe behind the glamorous oceanfront restaurants on the boardwalk, with its pavilions and viewing spots high above the beach. Art installations, kite-flying festivals and other events draw visitors throughout the year. It is a place to see and be seen, as well as to shop and eat.Pier Village also is a sturdy marvel that withstood superstorm Sandy. Protected by a bulkhead and steel pilings, Pier Village was untouched by Sandy, which wiped out nearly a mile of Long Branch's older boardwalk, from Morris to Brighton avenue.So when the city planned the restoration of the damaged boardwalk, it took a cue from Pier Village. This summer, Long Branch's boardwalk re-opens, with  5,450 linear feet of composite decking and a steel seawall in front of the boardwalk to guard it from future storms. The boardwalk is held together by hurricane strapping and is placed on pilings hammered deep into the soil. The new section is higher and as much as 10 feet wider than the original. Three new pavilions, as well as new comfort stations, access stairs to the beach, ramps and lampposts have been installed.Aesthetically, the new boardwalk coordinates with Pier Village, giving Long Branch a uniform crispness and elegance at its oceanfront.For info on Pier Village, call 732-923-0100 or go to Continue Reading