Posts Tagged double-duty gear
I love packable travel backpacks. The new Eagle Creek 2-in-1 duffel may be the best I’ve seen to-date. It meets my non-negotiable criteria for an overnight carry-on: it’s lightweight, packable (stuffs into its own pocket), and offers many of the bells and whistles of a full-scale (non-stuffable) backpack.
I’m usually less of a fan of convertible bags. Maybe it’s just me, but on a given trip, I either need a duffle or a backpack, but rarely both. However, with the Eagle Creek 2-in-1, you don’t lose as much valuable space when switching between styles as you do with many convertibles, making this a non-issue for me.
The 2-in-1 is made of ripstop nylon and carry-on sized at 11 x 22.5 x 7.5. It has a 33 L capacity (28 as a backpack).
What I love about the 2-in-1: when used in backpack mode, the pack can be accessed by top-load panel or side panel zippers, and offers two roomy water bottle pockets, a deep top zippered pocket, and a deep interior zippered pocket. The zippers are lockable, and you also get side and bottom compression straps with external lash points for stowing more gear. The bag is reflective and very lightweight. Converting the pack to a duffel is pleasantly simple (see photos below) and when you do convert, the duffel version gives you 15% more space (though a little bit is lost to shoulder strap storage).
What I don’t love so much: I really wish the shoulder straps slightly more significant (I’m willing to add some weight for this feature) and more adjustable. They do adjust at a basic level, but I was unable to fit the straps to my nine-year-old. I know, the 2-in-1 has never been touted as a child’s pack, but because of the size and weight, it’s the ideal carry-on bag for a kid. We love using the top zippered pocket for my son’s iPod, ear buds, and Kindle (all the possessions he could possibly want on a trip) and the main compartment for the rest of his gear.
How it converts: Converting from a backpack to a duffel is easy, as illustrated below. Eagle Creek is nice enough to color-code the straps and clips for us (all are gray), making it even simpler. Step 1: unhook the shoulder straps from the bottom of the pack. Step 2: stuff them into the zippered back panel. Step 3: Unzip the bottom circular compartment. Step 4: Pull out the duffel straps. Step 5: Attach the duffel straps to the coordinating clips.
Pick up a 2-in-1 duffel from Eagle Creek for $80, or find it at Amazon, Sunny Sports, or Moosejaw for the same price. Colors include black, flame orange, or mantis green. While you’re shopping, take a look at additional Eagle Creek gear we’ve reviewed.
I’m not sure how I didn’t know about Eyefly sunglasses until recently. $94 gets you any pair, prescription or non-prescription, in any style. And these are seriously stylish glasses. I tried Eyefly’s Sunset Boulevard sunglasses in honey, and have been wearing them all winter while driving and while outdoors in snow.
$94 is a decent price for high-quality sunglasses, but the fact that they can be upgraded to prescription glasses at no extra cost is worth talking about. If you’re looking for optical glasses (not sunglasses), those can be found on Eyefly as well. It’s easy to order a pair either way: I don’t need a prescription, so upon check out, I simply clicked the appropriate box. Should I have wanted prescription glasses, I’d just upload my Rx in the space provided. I’ll be purchasing a pair for my husband, who doesn’t always like wearing his contacts when traveling.
Choose between just under 40 optical or sunglass styles for both men and women on the Eyefly site, with multiple color options for each. Trust me, you’ll be there a while deciding on the right pair for your personality and needs. You can upgrade to polarized lenses for about $50 more, but I found no need. My Sunset Boulevard sunglasses have met all my needs (and have made me look significantly cooler than I am on numerous occasions). I know it’s hard to select sunglasses without trying them on, but no worries: Eyefly offers free shipping and free returns on all glasses. Given enough time, you could try and return as many pairs as you like before making your choice.
Many travelers I know lack prescription sunglasses, settling for the standard offerings when in the sun, and I love that for the price of a quality pair of shades, the prescription comes included. I’m thinking an Eyefly gift card would make for a great travel stocking stuffer for the nomads in my life next holiday season.
The Sunset Boulevard sunglasses I tried out come in four colors, including the honey I recommend, black, light tortoise, and dark tortoise. The retro style is fun and hip, and works in almost all the travel situations I find myself in. Every purchase comes with a travel-ready glasses case. Pick up a pair of your own for $94 at Eyefly. Due to the prescription-based ordering system, Eyefly sunglasses can’t be purchased elsewhere to my knowledge.
This Deluvian Rain Trench is a sister jacket to the cool Storm Logic puffy winter one I reviewed a while back. And a sibling to the women’s Deluvian Trench, which looks totally different but shares similar fabric and pocket systems.
This is a nice-looking rain jacket that keeps you warm and dry without making you sweat. It’s got a breathable membrane to keep the moisture out, plus a fabric treatment on the surface to repel the rain. Snaps on the sleeve give you a tight clasp around the wrists and naturally all the seams are sealed.
The removable hood is a little bigger than I would like—apparently sized to accommodate a helmet for spring skiing—but it definitely keeps the downpours off your face. I’ve worn this in weather from sprinkles to downright deluges to test it out and with waterproof hiking shoes on as well, the only things that got wet were my legs.
What takes this from just being an attractive raincoat to being a real travel jacket though is the cool pocket system inside. Like a Scottevest that’s not an extra piece of clothing, this has pockets for your passport, keys, smartphone, pens, and more. I really appreciate this when I’m going through the security line at the airport. I stuff everything in pockets, then don’t have to fish things out of a bin on the other side and put them back in my pants.
The pockets are also useful when I’m out sightseeing and don’t feel like carrying around a daypack. There’s even one pocket for a small camera and another that will hold a notebook. My only complaint, raised in my Storm Logic review, is that the smartphone pocket is too small, especially with headphones plugged in. ExOfficio says they’re making that pocket larger in next year’s versions. (So if you have a Galaxy, hold on a bit.) You still get an outside zippered chest pocket and two zippered side pockets to put your hands in.
I like the styling of this ExOfficio rain jacket because it doesn’t really look like anything else. From the fabric texture to the flap covering the zipper, it’s got a more upscale, urban look than a typical technical shell that will keep you dry. Just keep in mind it’s sized for Americans with some extra girth to cover, so if you’re slim you’ll have lots of extra space. Of course that means you can put on a sweater or a thick base layer without it getting tight.
The price on the men’s Deluvian Trench is a selling point as well. It lists for $188, but as I write this it’s $145 on the ExOfficio site. You can also check prices online at Moosejaw and Backcountry.
The three colors are more NYC than LA: muted coffee, seaweed, and a “black” that’s really gray. This is one to wear to look sophisticated in your urban travels, not like you’re on an expedition climbing Mount Hood.
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We do love Mountain Khakis clothing around here! If you’re sitting on some holiday gift cards or cash, treat yourself to a Mountain Khakis Old Faithful sweater. As Cousin Eddie of National Lampoon Christmas Vacation would say, ‘It’s the gift that keeps on giving year round.’ At very least, most of the year. While thick and plush, it’s breathable enough to wear as a single layer in winter, and as a jacket in fall or spring.
I love sweaters, but sometimes I feel claustrophobic when pulling them over my head; the Old Faithful is a top to bottom zip-up, which allows for versatility. I’ve paired mine with a tee or camisole only when going in and out of doors, or with a long-sleeved thermal when headed outdoors for significant time periods. It can be layered under a shell, or dressed up with a scarf while in a restaurant. The Old Faithful can replace multiple outerwear options while traveling (hello, carry-on space!) and is the perfect winter airplane travel companion.
The details: the Old Faithful is comprised of breathable brushed poly (no pilling), with a heathered look. The women’s version comes with princess seams for a tailored fit, and you get interior stash pockets as well as outer pockets. The cuffs at the wrists have snap closures for a more jacket-like feel. The men’s version is nearly identical, with the addition of upper chest pockets and a roomier fit.
The women’s comes in three colors (turf, high tide, and oatmeal) in XS-XL for $119, and the men’s comes in engine red, oatmeal, bison, charcoal, and navy in S-XXL for the same price. Pick one up on Amazon instead for as little as $68 in women’s (with only high tide color available…no worries, it’s gorgeous) or $61 in men’s.
It takes all kinds of luggage to please a variety of travelers. For me, business travel necessitates functionality and flexibility in what and how I pack. The Kelty Ascender Trunk Luggage System seemed like a good idea worth trying especially when I have long two or three week trips to varying climates.
Now, I will be the first to tell you that I do not carry backpacks on business trips so the option to wear this on my back was never one that I considered. But, it was nice to know that if I ever revert to the days of university student backpacker that I have the correct gear to get around. The shoulder straps can be tucked away easily converting the bag from professional to backpack in an instant.
What I found most useful about this bag is that it fits with a chassis that allows the bag to roll like a traditional suitcase. It is a modular system allowing you to add to the trunk if needed with additional pieces, but also giving you the capability to travel only with the Ascender Trunk for shorter trips.
In the bag, there are dividers to keep things separated and a hidden bag for wet or dirty items. I hate the musty smell that can come from carrying dirty laundry or wet clothing around for days so this feature is especially helpful.
The top and sides of the bag have durable padding keeping the contents safe, which is something that I was initially concerned about since I tend to prefer a hard-shell bag when traveling. Another benefit of a soft-shell bag is that it can expand easily if I over pack. Having that extra “give” is a plus on long trips.
With internal pockets, it is easy to keep things organized, and the outer zip pocket was convenient for storing items that I may need in a hurry such as a boarding pass or keys. Initially, I was worried that the bag would attract attention of nosy gate agents thinking it is too big to fit in an overhead, but when carrying the trunk alone, I rarely had a problem. Expanding it in size, however, shifts it from being a carry-on bag to a larger bag, which is a nice option if checking a bag.
The Ascender Trunk sells for $199.95 at Kelty’s website, but does not come with the chassis. For the complete system including the chassis and waterproof duffel bag, which can be easily zipped on to the trunk, the retail price jumps to $349.95, but provides excellent versatility. It is also available on Amazon,eBags, and Zappos.
I added the chassis to my bag since I prefer not to wear my luggage, and I was surprised at how easy it rolled due to the rather large wheels. Bags with small wheels can be tough to drag on carpeting or bumpy streets. This bag is designed for adventure travelers, but I found it to be quite useful for my business trips as well.