Confession time: Dad may not always know best—but he certainly does his best, especially when armed with the latest gadgets. The seven devices we've rounded up especially for dads will give them peace of mind as they help lead the troop on all sorts of adventures. And they'll also help keep him comfortable, entertained, and well-informed along the way.
How it's Like Dad: Handy and full of information
Why we Like it: It's a great way to continuously stay up on the family vehicle's health and status, without having to rely on a mechanic (which isn't always easy on the road). It plugs into the car's computer port right under the dash and sends stats and diagnostic info wirelessly to dad's tablet, phone, or computer. A free app helps identify and clear trouble codes. Really techie and inquisitive dads can log live data, graph it, store it for later perusal and, most importantly, get back to enjoying the road trip.
How Much: $40
Buy It: Visit LemurMonitors.com.
2. Train Reaction Golf Luggage Ensemble
How it's Like Dad: Sporty, practical, and resourceful
Why we Like it: This isn't just three snazzy suitcases, it's an integrated transport system. The way the carry-on, shoulder, and golf bags quickly connect makes them a self-balancing unit, only requiring one hand to roll along. (Dad may not get extra points for schlepping, but he'll beam with pride as he easily steers them along.) Individually, the bags are light, sturdy, and full of fun features. For instance, the collapsible golf bag—made stronger with the Stiff Arm accessory ($27)—features an adjustable restraint device to snugly secure dad's clubs, as well as two exterior shoe pockets and plenty of extra storage for a variety of other golf accoutrements.
How Much: $747 - $827
Buy It: Visit ClubGlove.com.
3. Vent'r Skim'r Shorts
How it's Like Dad: A versatile, outdoorsy man of all seasons
Why we Like it: These lightweight, quick-drying shorts are easy to pack and great for any outdoor activity. They've got a couple of zippered pockets, with a drop-in gadget pocket on the right leg. They're resistant to water and stains. And they provide decent sun protection (UPF Sun Guard 20+), to keep papa cool and comfy on long hikes.
How Much: $70
Buy It: Visit ExOfficio.com.
4. mophie juice pack powerstation PRO
How it's Like Dad: Rugged and full of energy
Why we Like it: This durable, dust-proof, water-resistant external battery can go camping, hiking, to the office, to the beach... It's a solid spare power reserve pretty much anywhere dad takes it. With plenty of juice and ample output, it can energize a tablet, most phones several times, and an array of other USB-connected devices. For the dad who's hard on his gadgets, this is a top choice.
How Much: $130
Buy It: Visit Mophie.com.
5. DeLorme inReach
How it's Like Dad: Adventurous, a good communicator, a man of the world
Why we Like it: This sturdy, waterproof, buoyant two-way satellite communications device pairs with dad's Apple or Android device, offering coverage when he journeys into any part of the 90% of the planet that gets zero bars of cell service. With DeLorme's Earthmate app loaded on his tablet or phone, dad can text, email, and post to Facebook and Twitter. But more importantly, he can be remotely tracked and, if necessary, send an interactive SOS with delivery confirmation.
How Much: $250 + $10/month
Buy It: Visit DeLorme.com.
6. MM 550x Headphones
How it's Like Dad: Stylish, thoughtful, musical, and always ready for travel
Why we Like it: Dad will definitely enjoy these versatile, super-comfy around-the-ear headphones on a few levels. These cushy cans cancel 90% of ambient noise. For music on-the-go, they're a cinch, receiving high-quality audio wirelessly; and they've got controls for adjusting the track and volume. Movies pop off the small screen, with surround sound simulation. For phone conversations, they have a hidden microphone. And for plane conversations, pop can push a button that allows him to hear a seatmate or flight attendant. In other words, once dad puts these on, he won't want (or need) to take them off.
How Much: $500
Buy It: Visit Sennheiser.com.
7. iPhone Threat Protection Case
How it's Like Dad: Protective and sleek
Why we Like it: This "case" is actually a special wrap that sticks to dad's phone, providing an impressive amount of dampening from everyday drops and dings. It's available on its own in the Carbon Fiber or Digital Camo style. Or for $269, it comes bundled with US Night Vision's adapter, which allows dad to attach his phone to various high-end night vision optics. Useful for hunting, late night strolls, and special missions for all the dads who are really highly trained secret government operatives.
How Much: $30
Buy It: Visit USNightVision.com.
Fodors.com Travel Technology Columnist Scott Tharler is an expert in gadgets, gambling, and travel. He's written four books, plus hundreds of mobile and wireless tips for Sony and PC World. In addition to his daily Discovery News gadget blog, you can find links to other gadget articles, social feeds and lists of his current favorite gadgets at about.me/gadgetfans.
Photo credits: 1. Root Four Imagination Inc.; 2. West Coast Trends, Inc; 3. ExOfficio LLC; 4. mophie inc.; 5. DeLorme; 6. Sennheiser Electronic Corporation; 7. USNightVision.com Store