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Nau Double Back Dress

Nau Double Back Dress backIt’s not often that travel dresses can double as daytime casual/evening fancy attire, freeing you up to pack with fewer “just in case” clothing items. The Nau Double Back Dress is a sleek two-in-one tank dress that you may want to wear everywhere in warm-weather destinations.

The super-soft knit dress is made from a blend of 55 percent organic cotton, 37 percent Tencel and 8 percent spandex. The Tencel helps wick moisture away from the body, dries quickly and helps manage odor—all useful everyday qualities, let alone useful travel clothing qualities. That naturally breathable, comfortable fabric is lightweight with just a little bit of stretch.

The fitted top, deep v-neck, double back strap and empire waist looks good on many body types. The built-in shelf bra helps for support and is a handy way to avoid errant bra straps with an already strappy dress.

Nau Double Back Dress frontIt’s one of my favorite travel dresses this year, having made it to a handful of events already—but it’ll be a fixture in my suitcase for upcoming Santa Fe, Palm Springs, France, Italy and Las Vegas trips. That’s what happens with a pretty, double-duty little black dress.

The Nau Double Back Dress lists for $95 on the Nau website and comes in caviar (black) and tobac (brown). A striped version is available for the same price and comes in caviar stripe (black and white) and tobac stripe (brown and green). REI also carries the striped version for $95, and Amazon has it for $94.95.


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Nau Synfill Sweater

Nau Synfill greenWhen the weather outside is frightful, you need a jacket that keeps your outdoor time delightful. The Nau Synfill Sweater is stylish enough to wear out on the town anywhere in the world, but packs enough lightweight fill to perform well in the cold.

The jacket shell is 100 percent recycled polyester micro ripstop with a smooth, satiny finish. It’s treated with water repellent, so you don’t have to worry about going out in the rain. The fill is composed of 60-gram recycled polyester (using Cocona technology). Lighter and less bulky than a standard down jacket, the sweater is a good choice when traveling and keeping your bag from being overloaded.

The slim profile sweater has other features that work to keep the wind at bay, like a wind flap over the zipper and internal elastic cuffs. The jacket pockets (two front zip pockets) are roomy enough to fit a cell phone or wallet.  The hidden internal pocket has a zipper as well and is ideal for stashing that phone so you can put your chilly hands in the front pockets.

My favorite thing about this sweater, which I’ve used on city streets as well as on hikes in the winter weather, is the fact that the fill isn’t feathery. That makes it much easier to dry quickly when it gets wet. Also, it compresses well (think travel pillow). And I don’t have to worry about stray feathers attaching themselves to my clothing.

The Synfill Sweater is available in two colors: caviar (black) and leaf (green). For me, black is usually my default color, but I chose green instead. It’s great even beyond the holidays.

The Nau Synfill Sweater lists for $200 on the Nau website. A men’s version is available for the same price. REI also carries the sweater for $200.

See other Nau clothing reviews on Practical Travel Gear.

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Nau Lightbeam Tote

Nau Lightbeam ToteFor some, it’s the eternal travel question: backpack or shoulder bag? There’s usually only room for one, but not both. With the Nau Lightbeam Tote, you actually get a chance to have a bag that morphs into both possibilities without having to go back to your hotel room.

The Lightbeam Tote’s recycled polyester fabric is soft and lightweight, and the bag compresses into a mesh organizer bag, which makes it easy to pack along on your travels. Spend less than a minute threading the carrying strap into a new configuration, and the bag becomes either a backpack or tote to carry on your shoulder.

A huge main compartment can be stuffed with nearly anything you need. The bag also has a handful of separate pockets ensure that there’s a place for your gear. I used this bag as my main city bag on a recent trip in Wales, as well as the one I stowed under my seat for the flight over (containing the essentials: headphones, wallet, book, phone, etc.). The bulky backpack that kept my laptop and DSLR remained in the overhead bin.

The Lightbeam Tote is not the ideal bag for carrying heavy things, like your laptop. The roomy main compartment’s lack of structure means that your laptop slides around a lot, which isn’t optimal for easy toting. Also, when using the bag as a shoulder tote, it was difficult to adjust the length of the strap without it slipping back a few minutes later.

That said, the bag is a great, lightweight option for those who don’t carry too much with them when they travel, and also want an option for how to carry their essentials.

The Lightbeam Tote lists for $96 on the Nau website.

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Nau Down Sweater

Winter can be downright cold, and it can be pretty difficult to have a good time when you’re focused on staying warm. But with the Nau Down Sweater, you won’t have to spend that good vacation time worried about the weather.

The down “sweater” is more low profile than many full-size down jackets—so you get protection and warmth without the huge, puffy look. Made with 850-fill goose down, the jacket will keep you toasty in chilly conditions. The shell and lining is 100-percent recycled polyester, and the durable water repellent (DWR) surface finish helps to shed snow and light rain.

It’s not just the down that helps to keep the cold away. The front zipper has a wind flap to block the wind from whistling right through the zipper teeth. A draw-cord hem allows you to tighten things up down below. And internal elastic cuffs keep things cozy around your wrists, as well.

I’m a big fan of pockets, and the Nau Down Sweater has just enough for me, with two front zip pockets big enough for your hands, and an added hidden inside pocket.

Down is always going to find a way to get out of jackets, and this sweet sweater is no exception, despite the description of the recycled shell as “down proof.” While wearing it, every once in a while, I discovered a lone feather working its way out. That said, it happened far less than with other down jackets I’ve used in the past. But despite those few feathers that found their freedom, plenty remained inside, doing their job to keep me warm.

The Nau Down Sweater lists for $235 on the Nau website and it’s available at A men’s version is available for the same price. (Easier to find is the slimmer and slightly cheaper Men’s Down Shirt.)

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Nau Merino Wool M3 Hoody

Do you keep giving wool garments another try each winter, only to yank the itchy clothing items off and forget about them for another year? Don’t give up on wool just yet—try the Nau M3 Hoody.

Nau M3 HoodyMade of 100 percent Zque-certified merino wool, the sleek hoody is far from those itchy specimens in your closet. To top it off, the sustainable merino wool sourcer and animal welfare accreditation program is a responsible alternative that, paired with the recycled polyester trim, gives you a reason to walk a little taller down the street when you’re wearing the M3 Hoody.

The merino wool body has a brushed back, which gives the inside of the jacket a fleecy, soft feeling. I’ve been wearing it for days for pretty much every occasion: at work in my home office, at work on the beach at my kayak shop, out to dinner at the local brewing company, hiking on the California Coastal Trail near my home and running errands.

Considering how much I’ve been wearing it, you’d think by now it might have a slight whiff of, well, me. But the merino wool is naturally odor-resistant, so there’s no funk.

Nau M3 HoodyThe front zip has a wind flap behind it, so the wind doesn’t blow right through the zipper, and when zipped up all the way, provides enough coverage for my neck as well. Both zip hand pockets are deep enough to shove your hands in, or carry around your favorite cell phone (times two!).

The fully shaped hood includes an adjustable cord (which cinches the entire hood from one side) and is roomy enough that it doesn’t slide back on your head when you’re active. The seams lie flat, making what could be a bulky jacket slim enough to fit in on city streets as well as more remote and outdoorsy destinations.

The one thing I’d put on my wish list for the hoody is a sneaky inside pocket, so I could stash my cell and my cash, and still have the two zip hand pockets for my hands. Aside from missing that, this is my new favorite mid-weight jacket.

The Nau M3 Hoody lists for $225 on the Nau website, which is pretty much the same price as you’ll see on outdoor clothing sites, like Just think again about the itchy wool that you never wear, and it just may be a bargain.

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