I’m a big fan of quick-drying synthetic clothing for travel, but when it’s time to be social and go out at night, it’s nice to have something a bit nicer that also feels soft against the skin. This OD Solo Shirt from Ibex is my favorite whenever I’m in a short-sleeve climate. For me that’s most of the time, so I’ve worn this shirt a lot.
Think of this as a short-sleeve version of the OD Heather one I reviewed a couple years back. It’s made from fine New Zealand merino wool and assembled in the USA. Considering it’s not from a Chinese sweatshop and is made well, you’re going to pay a good bit more, but this also feels like a superior piece of clothing the minute you put it on. The stitching is well -done, the fabric soft and fine, and the details are right. The buttons line up like they’re supposed to and the collar lies down where it should. This drapes on my body nicely and makes me look like I’m in better shape than I really am. Flattering and comfy.
Naturally you get all the great benefits of merino wool. You don’t have to be washing it every time you wear it for a few hours because it’s very odor resistant. It does dry quickly when you wash it though and stays surprisingly wrinkle-free after being on a clothesline. It feels great and wicks moisture, so even though it’s made of wool, it won’t make you hot and clammy in a hurry. You can wear it in warm weather and be fine, especially in a dry climate where your shirt won’t be soaked in five minutes.
Although I don’t recommend carrying a backpack with a nice merino wool shirt like this because of the pilling risk, it does have seams that are off the shoulder so they won’t rub if you’re carrying a light daypack or messenger bag.
You have to treat this a little carefully in that you probably shouldn’t put it on the heavy duty washer cycle and then put it in the hot dryer, but for me it has held up fine tossed into the washing machine with cold loads and hang drying. And like I said, I’ve worn this a lot, probably going on 10 months now, so it’s had some good real-world endurance testing.
Sunday Afternoons makes affordable, high-quality sun protection clothing for kids and adults. They’re based near my hometown in Oregon, but trust me, Sunday Afternoons knows how to block bright sunshine. We took both a child’s hat and tee along for a Southern California desert camping trip through Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks, and my fair-skinned Oregon-native boy lived to tell the tale!
Sunday Afternoons’ Radiant Tee is the perfect all-purpose, no-frills sun protection t-shirt. It’s a simple crew-neck with long sleeves and a roomy cut, is quick-dry, and rated to UPF 50. It does feature anti-micrbial properties (I look for this when purchasing outdoor clothing for my boys) and can get tossed in the wash with all the other clothing (no special treatments required). It’s long-sleeved but lightweight and comfortable in heat, and comes in multiple colors for boys and girls (tide pool, white, and blue fin for boys, the same for girls plus dahlia). Best of all, the Radiant Tee is only $20 on Sunday Afternoons. Sizes start at 2T and go to Large, which is approximately a child’s 10-12.
The brand is known for their sun hats, and my kids have been wearing them since infancy. My nine-year-old’s current favorite is the Scout hat (pictured above), probably because it looks a lot like Mom and Dad’s. He’s outgrown the billed hats and the bonnet-styles, but the Scout looks downright cool. He’s worn it everywhere from Disneyland to Death Valley. It does equally well when soaked in water (while river rafting) and in wind or rain (it does still have a draw cord for the chin). The Scout hat comes in Iris, Morning Glory, Tan, and Sand, in baby or youth sizing. Pick one up for only $26 on Sunday Afternoons, or on Amazon for the same price.
Ever felt that your watch was too casual or lacked that sense of Wall Street professionalism that your colleagues had? Well, for those with a sense of humor and an eagerness to make a statement, The Ish watch is the perfect accessory. I tried it on a few business meetings, and it certainly earned me a laugh and some camaraderie with business associates.
This watch isn’t meant for the business traveler constantly checking his dial by the minute to make the next train or plane. It is meant for those making an important statement: I care about business, but I also care about my own personality.
The watch essentially shows only the 5 o’clock mark while the hands rotate around it based on the appropriate time. The message is that the wearer is interested in having a good time, but is also smart enough to tell time without the numbers imprinted on the watch. To add to that message of good fun is that the back of the watch features a clasp designed to serve as a bottle opener. Perfect for use at 5 o’clock!
The price tag of close to $150 is reflective of its quality rather than its playful vanity. With a brushed steel casing and black (or brown) leather band, the watch is quite fetching and certainly a keeper (not a gag gift).
It is water-resistant and features raised Arabic markers with a crystal frosted mineral window showcasing the face. This is a business-quality watch that only signals an entertainment focus if one were to look closely at it. It is definitely not for those that need a digital watch as it requires a teensy semblance of telling time, which is sadly not a quality that everyone possesses these days. The watch is available from manufacturer Happy Hour Timepieces or on Amazon.
Travelers can make do with a lot of imperfect things. But when something is made specifically for a segment of the traveling population, why not take advantage of it? The Deuter AC Aera 22 SL backpack has a frame designed for women, and is comfortable for day hikes wherever you go.
The pack’s Advanced Aircomfort system provides a balanced load and great air ventilation. It may not be the equivalent of someone else carrying your gear for you, but it does make it comfortable for you to carry it all yourself. A padded hip belt helps add to the comfort, and the padded shoulder straps are anatomically shaped, so they’re not cutting into the wrong places.
The top-loader pack has a lid pocket with a securely zipped valuables compartment. It’s always good to not have to dig for things when you’re out on the trail. There are also mesh side pockets for other items you need to keep up front where you can get to them.
One of the things I like best in this pack is the inclusion of a wet laundry compartment, which is ideal for packing laundry that didn’t have enough time to dry. Even better, I used it for my swimsuit, because you never know when you’re going to come across the perfect swimming hole when you’re traveling.
Attachment loops are placed on the lid, and there’s also a hiking pole attachment for when you want to pack those away. Compression straps are handy for keeping everything nice and tightly packed, and the detachable rain cover lets the pack remain dry in a downpour. Want to bring your hydration system along? No problem at all—there’s room for that, too.
See, gear for girls isn’t always about pretty and pink.
I have a new best friend for water play and summer travel! The Exofficio Sol Cool Ultimate Hoody is the latest from Exofficio’s Sol Cool line, utilizing the company’s Icefil treated fabric and offering sun protection up to UPF 50+. Like all Sol Cool products, this hoody breathes wonderfully: on a hot day, it wicks away sweat so well, I’d rather be wearing it than nothing but a swim suit.
The ultimate hoody is more than just a swim cover-up (though it does that well, too): you get underarm mesh ventilation, which means it performs well while river rafting, kayaking, and just about any other activity on or around the water. There’s a nicely sized security zip pocket for keys or a room card, and side cinches that can give you a roomier fit or slimmer fit.
The full-sized hood is just as light as the rest of the hoody, and includes a drawcord for a nice fit when needed. I wore mine with a hood on a particularly hot day in Death Valley National Park less than a week ago: I pulled the hood up over my sun hat to keep the sun off the back of my neck. I also appreciated the thumb loops and the fact that Sol Cool fabric is odor-resistant (or perhaps the others in my party appreciated that even more than me).
The hoody is form-fitting without being clingy, as it’s made from 91% polyester and 9% spandex, and comes in XS-XL in Oyster (kind of a gray), Pizazz (pink) and Varsity (dark blue). Trust me, if you like the hoody, you’ll be back to Exofficio to purchase more from the Sol Cool line. You’ll pay $75 for the ultimate hoody, but will wear it nearly daily when traveling on water or in humid, hot environments. Find it on Amazon and Moosejaw as well, for a bit less.
See Tim’s earlier review of the Sol Cool Hoody for Men.