We frequently tout Kelty backpacks as the best bang for the buck options out there and these two daypacks are no exceptions. The 28-liter Redstart and 27-liter Redtail are both great daypacks for hitting the hiking trails or just taking along for a day of sightseeing and sidewalk pounding.
Kelty Redstart 28
As the name would suggest, the Redstart is a starter daypack for people who only go on hikes every once in a while and aren’t looking for anything very heavy-duty.
This is your basic small pack for hikes or travel that gives you pretty much what you would need and expect. It’s hydration ready with a separate flap area and a tube opening at the top, there are lots of pockets and enclosures on the inside for gadgets and small items, and plenty of places to hood things on outside of it. The back of it has AirFlow padded mesh panels with room for air to flow through so your entire shirt back won’t get soaked with sweat. The shoulder straps have light padding of the same mesh and there are (non-padded) sternum and waist straps if needed.
At a pound and a half (0.7 kg) it’s not the lightest one you’ll find, but it’s made of strong materials and is lined to keep the water out. The warranty doesn’t cover wear and tear, but it’s a lifetime one for defects.
The design of this daypack is kind of strange in that there’s a stuff pocket in the front that’s really only good for a towel, hat, or bandana that you can stuff in and then get to quickly by reaching behind you. The clips can’t be undone though, because then you’ve got a big piece of fabric flapping behind you. Since they go across the zipper paths for the pack though, you have to unclip them every time you need to get inside for anything.
Otherwise though, this is a great daypack for the price. The mesh water bottle pockets looked too short at first glance, but I’ve taken this Redstart on three walks or hikes with three different water bottles and it’s been fine. I also got caught in a light drizzle once and everything inside stayed toasty dry.
Get the Redstart 28 in four colors at the Kelty website for $70 or check for sale prices at Amazon, Moosejaw, or eBags. There’s a women’s version too, but it only holds 23 liters. (Since when do women pack less…?)
Kelty Redtail 27
This is another “panel-loading” daypack, meaning you can unzip it almost all the way to the bottom to get at what you need without digging around. The two compression straps are in the way, but you can unclip them when packing then clip them back when it’s time to tighten up and move.
In the main compartment there’s one flap area for something flat like a tablet, map, or solar panel. You could also use it for a hydration bladder: there’s a hole for the drinking tube at the top. The rest is open except for two clips at the top to hook things on. The outside pocket is ready for all your little stuff, with pen pockets, ones sized for a phone, a larger flap one, and a pocket held closed by a Velcro tab. But wait, there’s more! Another small pocket is in the very front, with a zipper that is hidden behind a flap.
You also get a mesh pocket on each size big enough for a water bottle and several handles, loops and fabric tabs around that can be used to hook other things on with a carabiner. There’s also a loop at the top for hanging the pack off the ground. As with the Redstart, there are three cushioned mesh panels on the back that keep the daypack suspended enough for air to flow through. The same padded mesh (though not as thick) is on the shoulder straps. The sternum strap and waist strap are not padded, but with a pack this small you shouldn’t be carrying all that much weight anyway.
The zippers on both these Kelty daypacks have nylon pull tabs like shoelaces that have metal tabs at the end. This makes the pack a lot easier to open and close, but you sacrifice the ability to lock it up with a cable lock with much security: it would be very simple to just cut the string. You might not want to take these on your train and bus journeys through India. Otherwise though, these are rugged, well-made daypacks that are competitively priced.
See more reviews of Kelty travel gear.
Apparently footwear companies don’t like the term “flip-flops,” but that’s what I’d called this Climacool Boat Flip “sandals.” You get your typical webbing on top, with a rubber part that goes through the space between your big toe and the next one.
These are better quality than the ones you’ll pick up at a beach souvenir shop though, of course, and the holes in the bottom let the water flow right through if you wear these on a boat or some other place where you’ll get wet. I also found they kept the soles of my feet cooler too.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be away from the harsh winter that hit a lot of places the past four months and got to try these out on beach trips to Nicaragua and Zihuatanejo/Ixpata. Both great places to kick back in flip-flops for a while. These were comfortable enough that I could walk all day in them without getting sore feet. They’re the best in that respect since the Freewaters GPS ones I reviewed last year. They’ve got a serious footbed with some give to it, but contoured to provide some real support.
The non-marking sole has a reasonably sticky tread on it for when you actually are on a slippery boat or dock. The whole shoe dries quickly, including the lined strap. The weight is all of six ounces and they pack flat, so packing these for a beach trip won’t add much to your load. You can just rinse them off at one of those foot showers by the beach when it’s time to pack them up. With the ventilated holes, they also don’t seem to build up odor like a lot of sandals, the ease of cleaning making it even easier to keep them fresh.
The Climacool Boat Flip sandals come is seven colors—some more subdued than the ones pictured here—and max out at a list price of $45. So it’s not going to cost you a lot to have some traveling beach sandals that will treat your feet right and keep them cool. Get them online at Zappos, Amazon, or Sun & Ski.
Comfort is bliss when you’re camping or renting a vacation home or cabin! We were lucky enough to take a La Siesta Double Travel Hammock on a recent camping trip to the California desert in Death Valley National Park, and even luckier to find two mesquite trees to hang it from.
The La Siesta double hammock sits two adults comfortably in either a sitting position or lying down side-by-side. For sleeping, I’d say it really only fits one. My teen son slept all night in it, and found it quite roomy, even with a sleeping bag. (My little guy, shown above, could roll himself up like a burrito.) La Siesta describes their hammock as Latin-American style. As such, they’re designed to be used diagonally, so the hammock is opened up by the body. I’m not sure we used it quite like that (more like every which way) but definitely noticed the extra space and material.
Their travel hammocks are made of parachute silk, and utilize a safe, easy suspension pulley system. We had our hammock up between two trees within seconds, as the hooks slide along the ropes. No fraying of rope, straining, or swearing. Out of the box, you get their EasyAdjust system which includes 2 polyester ropes (3 m each) and two ultralight, UV-resistant hooks made of glass fiber reinforced polyamide.
The travel hammock was just as easy to take down when high winds necessitated it, and the whole double hammock easily stows in a stuff sack about half the size of a ultralight backpacking sleeping bag sack. Because it’s so easy to pack, we’ll be thinking outside the box and bringing our hammock on any vacation where we have our own space. First up: it’s coming to Hawaii when we rent a vacation home. It will fit in a carry-on bag without problem.
Plenty of elements of travel are uncomfortable, especially bus, train, airplane and airport seats. Considering the amount of time you send in each of them, perhaps a little more luxe treatment is in order, like the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow.
This inflatable pillow comes in two sizes: regular and large. The regular pillow measures 14 x 10 x 5 inches and weighs 2.8 ounces. The large pillow measures 16.5 x 11.5 x 5.5 inches and weighs 3.7 ounces. Both pack into a tiny stuff sack, which is helpful when you have limited space in your carry-on bag.
The pillow’s fabric is a brushed 50D polyester knit, which has a soft feel—unlike many other inflatable pillows that end up sticking to your cheek. The curved internal baffles make the pillow contour, so it centers on your head and shoulders and makes for a comfortable place to rest your head.
The pillow inflates easily with a multifunctional valve. The wide-mouth part of the valve lets you inflate and deflate the pillow quickly. The smaller element of the valve allows you to fine-tune the amount of air inside—so you don’t lose it all and have to start over.
If you’re a super fan of the pillows that hug your neck, this may not be the one for you, as it fits behind your head and not around your neck. But then, you can always use it as a lumbar pillow and make things far more comfortable for yourself.
The Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow lists for $39.95 for the regular size and $44.95 for the large size at REI.
See more Sea to Summit product reviews.
I’m a reformed sun worshipper. After spending way too many hours in the direct sun, I’ve finally learned to care for my skin while enjoying the outdoors. Side note: I’m well into my 30s and should know better. But if a sun-oholic like me can not only get used to wearing sun hats but actually sing the praises of them, anyone can.
Tilley is the Rolls Royce of outdoor and sun hat wear. We’ve long been fans here at Practical Travel Gear, reviewing numerous Tilley products. In fact, you can access their site straight from ours, right at the top of the page. (Go ahead, give them some love.)
I think the Mash Up was designed specifically with people like me in mind; that is to say, people who tend to be rough on their gear, merciless on their clothes, and largely uncaring about their stuff while enjoying the outdoors. Why? You can’t ruin this hat. It rode along with me on a two week road trip through California, where the two of us enjoyed weather ranging from 90 degree sun to high wind to coastal rain. The Mash Up was tossed in the back seat, packed into duffels, stepped on, and trapped under a cooler. I squished it, bent it, and left it for dead more than once, and it always bounced back. Literally.
And it made me look way more sophisticated than I really am. The brim is flexible enough that you can adjust it the way you like it, and the chin straps are both cute and utilitarian. One goes behind your head and tightens in the case of wind (and yes, it works!) and the other goes in front. The inside rim is also adjustable (though you’ll want to get your correct hat size). The Mash Up is made from recycled yarns from hemp and organic cotton, and the brim slopes gently downward. It comes with a hat band that’s removable.
You can feel the quality of the hat when you hold it in your hand: there’s nothing flimsy or insubstantial about it. And since the bucket of the hat mashes down, you can stow it easily and not worry about it getting ruined. (Remember the days of hat boxes? What was that about?)
See Tim’s earlier review of the Tilley Mash-up Airflow Hat for Men.