Travel: Ruckbug.
Technology: Smart watches: how much is too much?
Stationery: Pop-up Christmas cards.
Gadgets: Survco survival kit.
Books and Writing: Monocle.
Project of the week: No winner.


This week PD checks out an innovative backpack as well as a neat compact survival kit for the adventurer. There are 3D Christmas cards. In technology PD contrasts a truly innovative watch with one (not named) that perhaps has too much. He also discusses a magazine for living in this world. Unfortunately PD could not be inspired by new projects offered this week and so did not award any with a write-up.

TRAVEL: Ruckbug backpack

There are plenty of great backpacks available, many beautifully designed and functional, however they are simple variants on a theme, differentiated by the number of pockets, trim, type of material and the types of closure. The Ruckbug however is truly innovative.

This bag consists of a carrier with a unique external wooden frame and a separate bag that attaches to it. The beauty of this is that you can remove the bag part and use the carrier to transport other things such as a fuel can. The carrier itself has wooden ribs.

The bag is made of water repellent material and has a lot of nice features such as its protective feet. There are external pockets for things such as a hatchet.

A bag for the true adventurer.

TECHNOLOGY: Smart watches: how much is too much?

PD has seen a lot of smart watches come onto the market. Some, such as Blocks or Pebble, have been run-away successes; some have not had the response that they deserve. In light of this competition each watch tries to differentiate itself with new features.

The Blocks watch, previously featured on PD, is not only different but is also future proof. By having the ability to add different modules according to the user's need, it has the ability to incorporate new modules that are developed, without the need to get a new watch. This is truly different.

However others have tried to take the more common route of adding features that no other watch has. PD came across one such watch (which shall remain nameless) that incorporates what is claimed to be the world's smallest ECG monitor on the market, amongst the usual health monitoring things such as heart rate and activity level. PD does not doubt this claim, however he is asking whether you really need to check your ECG all the time. ECGs are used to detect heart conditions such as an abnormal rhythm or a heart attack. PD thinks that constantly monitoring for these things can induce chronic anxiety in people. PD does not think that ECG monitoring has any ongoing role in people who are tracking their fitness. Sorry, but PD says approach such things with caution. If you feel that you may have a heart condition see your physician rather than consult your watch.

STATIONERY: Treasures pop-up Christmas cards

St Nicholas' Day has passed and we now head towards Christmas. If you have not yet bought your cards, PD can recommend these charming pop-up cards from Up With Paper. They unfold into beautiful 3D scenes for your recipients to enjoy.

GADGETS: Survco survival kit

Survival tins have been around for decades, but what do you really need? Most kits have a lot of small items that are likely to be of little use; more is not better. There are only a few essential items that you need in case you lose your backpack on an adventure. Those little knives have limited capabilities. The couple of weather proof matches may burn out before you can get a fire going in the wet.

In the wilderness you need a robust knife with a good size blade, perhaps paracord, which is ideal because of its strength, a compass and a fire starter that will not let you down. A decent knife of course will not fit into any of the survival tins, however having the small items together on your person is handy.

The Survco survival tin is small enough to fit on a key ring and has the above-mentioned compass, flint striker, and also some tinder, fishing gear and an arrowhead.

Available from retailers such as Heinnie or Survival Depot.

BOOKS AND WRITING: Monocle magazine

PD has been a subscriber of Monocle magazine for years now and has watched it grow. It has always been a quality magazine, mixing culture, people, business, design, travel, and diplomacy. It is not biased, preferring soft diplomacy and coming up with solutions for a better world in all respects. The standard of journalism is very high and the magazine is printed on quality paper with a strong binding.

Apart from the magazine, which comes out ten times a year (with combined December/January and July/August issues), there are two special paperback issues, The Escapist and the Forecast.

Over time Monocle has branched out into other but related spheres, including Monocle shops, physical and on-line, that sell a small but quality selection of stationery, accessories, clothes and travel bags. There are also Cafes, and a radio station, Monocle 24.

The publishing side now includes cloth-bound books, with guides to Better Living, Cosy Homes, Business, How to Make a Nation and, the latest, Drinking and Dining. There is also an ever expanding library of travel guides.

Not satisfied with all this, the people at Monocle began running an annual Quality of Life conference.


PD has checked out the new projects and is sorry to say that nothing inspired him this week.

Important disclaimer: Remember that crowdfunding sites are not stores. You may decide to back this project and provide funds, however there is no guarantee that any project will be delivered - the rate of failure is about 10%. PD is in no way accountable for the success or otherwise of any project and writes in this column purely for entertainment purposes, and will in no way be held liable for any failure or money lost by anyone. It is a case of "buyer beware". It is a sad reflection on the era we live in that PD must resort to this type of disclaimer.

Note: photographs and illustrations are from the relevant websites and are the copyright of the respective owners.

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