travel hats

Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros PillowPlenty 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.

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Tilley Mash-Up Hat

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.)

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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?)

Pick up the Mash Up in either gray mix or mauve at Tilley for $84 in small through XL. Or look for it at Amazon as well.

See Tim’s earlier review of the Tilley Mash-up Airflow Hat for Men.

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Mountain Hardwear Huxley Button-up Travel Shirt

Hardwear HuxleyA travel shirt that looks like a regular short-sleeve button shirt, this Huxley from Mountain Hardwear is good for traveling men who want to look decent in their quick-dry, wrinkle free clothing.

When I was backpacking around the world for years, I hardly carried anything that wasn’t a t-shirt or a polo shirt. Now I need to look a bit more respectable when I hit the road and am working, so I like to pack wrinkle-free shirts with a collar. I can wear this one tucked-in for dinner or hanging loose for casual times.

You get a 60% cotton, 40% polyester blend, which seems to be the best of both worlds in this case. It doesn’t dry as fast as a pure synthetic shirt, but definitely much faster than an all-cotton shirt: about half the time when this was side-by-side with a regular t-shirt.

It’s impressively wrinkle-free though, which is the big plus when traveling and trying not to look like a slob. No hotel iron needed: it looks fine coming right out of the suitcase or backpack and doesn’t get wrinkled when hung on a clothesline to dry. No hotel iron needed. Otherwise, there aren’t a lot of features to talk about: just two chest pockets you can button up to keep prying fingers at bay.

At $55, this isn’t going to break the bank. Based on how it has performed so far, including with a heavy pack on my shoulders a few times, it feels built to last. So far no fading, stains (even though I spilled some food with chili in it), or loose threads. This is expected based on our experience with Mountain Hardwear items in the past. It comes in three colors: this blue, “pesto,” and “shark.” Sizes go from S to XXL and aren’t too fitted.

You can get this Huxley short sleeve shirt direct from the Mountain Hardwear site, where they made us think this shirt was meant for us with this line: “Designed for the practical traveler who appreciates a bit of style…” You can also shop for it in three colors at REI or Zappos.

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STUFFITTS For Gear Odor-Killing Backpack

StuffitsI admit. I do not work out on a regular basis when on the road, but it is always a goal of mine to go for a quick jog in a new city or try out the hotel’s fancy fitness center or health club. It is tough to do that when traveling with a carry-on bag as there is limited space for workout apparel and tennis shoes.

The Stuffitts odor-killing backpack provided me with the perfect opportunity to get more exercise while on the road and minimized my previous excuses of not being able to carry gym gear. This is a lightweight bag that allows me to keep everything from dirty laundry to gym gear separated from the rest of my clothes.

Typically, I do not travel with backpacks, but wearing this bag on my shoulders was a bit liberating as I had less to lug behind me when strolling through airports and train stations. This bag was designed for athletes who may travel long distances to compete and often with wet or dirty gear.

Inside the main pouch is the largest compartment, which is perfect for shoes or a stash of laundry. The mesh top allows the contents to “breathe” without developing any internal odor. Smaller items can be placed inside separate pockets.

Lest you be concerned that the bag itself will eventually start to smell, even when empty, Stuffitts designed it with interior panels that can be removed and washed while also creating more space for bigger items.

Two side pockets hold small items that make this a convenient accessory for going to the gym. I used it to store my phone, keys, and wallet. There is a hidden bottom compartment sealed with a zipper, which is another good place to store valuables.

This is a great option for those that like to work out on the road, but prefer not to mix clean and dirty, smelly clothes (who does?!). It is available for around $100 from the Stuffitts website or on Amazon.

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OluKai ‘Ohana Sandals

OluKai 'Ohana SandalsCall ‘em thongs, flip-flops, sandals or slippers, but these familiar open-toed shoes are worn by nearly every traveler on the plane, at the hotel, on hiking trails, to the beach, and more. Put some color pop in your flip-flop with the OluKai ‘Ohana sandal.

The vegan-friendly footwear uses high-quality synthetic materials and no animal products. The anatomical compression-molded EVA midsole has a soft footbed that’s far more comfortable than most of the flips I’ve worn over the years. The outsole is made of non-marking rubber, so if you drag your feet, you won’t leave black marks all over the floor.

The toe post, or that thing that sits between your big toe and the next one, is made of soft nylon. Even if you’re a newbie to this kind of shoe, you won’t get blisters. The upper is made of water-resistant synthetic nubuck leather and has a quick-drying jersey knit lining. New for this spring are the bright colors reminiscent of Hawaiian shave ice.

I wore these on a recent trip to Maui and Molokai: in the sand, in the hotel, on the plane, in the rain, and on the rock wall of an ancient fishing pond. The razor-sized edges kept me from slipping in the wet conditions, and I even saw a couple of hotel gift shops with the same shoes for sale.

Proceeds from the sales of this sandal help support OluKai’s ‘Ohana Giveback Program, which supports the efforts of those who continue to give back to preserve local cultures and traditions. Not a bad reason to buy a slipper, right?

The OluKai ‘Ohana Sandal lists for $65 on the OluKai website. You can also find it online at Amazon, Zappos and Backcountry.

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