Posts Tagged packing light
If there’s one thing I can say I’ve packed on every trip the past decade and a half, it’s a hanging toiletry kit. In the past it’s usually been one from Eagle Creek or Sea to Summit—the size determined by whether I’m checking a bag or carrying on. But on this last trip I took to Ecuador and one I’m on right now in the Riviera Maya, I tried out this new Lavatio Modular Toiletries Kit from Innate.
Innate is best known for its water bottles and vacuum mugs, but over the years they’ve branched out into other travel products. This kit is well-designed and functional, with thoughtful touches that make it work well in hotels where you don’t have a lot of counter space.
It has a good mix of pouches that enable you to separate your items with other similar things. The gooey and liquid cosmetics have a waterproof pouch in case something explodes or leaks on a pressurized flight. There’s a mesh pocket for things that may need to keep drying in transit—like a toothbrush. And a couple flatter pockets for other items. There are four in all.
Once it is packed, the Innate kit rolls up and instead of being zipped like the others I’ve used, it has an elastic cord with a hook on the end that secures it tightly. So the shape is more like a rolled-up t-shirt than a flat toiletry kit—unless you don’t carry very much. Then it looks like this:
At your destination, you unhook it and hang it up with that same hook. You then have everything at your disposal, even at a cheap hotel with no counter space. Or you can remove the waterproof one if you have some room. When it’s time to go, it just takes a minute to pack up and you’re on your way.
And hey, it comes in recyclable packaging, which is a nice break from the perilous throw-away plastic I encounter way too often in my shipments. The kit itself has some eco-cred as well: recycled PU in the clear waterproof part and recycled fabrics in the other.
At $46 list this Innate Lavatio Modular Toiletries Kit is not the cheapest option around. But it is very well-made and feels like it will hold up for another hundred trips. You can find it at many retail outlets or buy it online from Amazon.
I’m always happy to take something that can pack away into its own little pouch, but this Ultra-Sil Dry Daypack from Sea to Summit really takes things up a notch. It’s ultralight, strong, and packable, yes, but the thing also keeps everything inside dry when you get caught in the rain!
This daypack is configured like a dry bag you would take out on a boat or kayak, with a top closure that folds or rolls over a few times and then snaps shut. It’s made of siliconized Cordura fabric and is seam sealed, so once you lock down that flap, no water is getting in to mess up your things.
This is no wimpy little toy bag, however. It’s got compression straps on the outside to hold more of your gear and the capacity is 22 liters. I’ve jammed 25 pounds of weight in it from a grocery store trip on foot and could have put in more if my shoulders could handle it. You’ve got a lot of room and it’s very strong.
When you’re ready to pack up and head home, this Sea to Summit Dry Daypack goes into a little pouch that’s unbelievably small, to the point where you could lose it in your larger pack or suitcase pretty easily. Thankfully it’s got a little snap tab so you can hook it onto something to keep track of it.
I’ve taken this out into a few drizzles and have not even gotten a drop in my belongings. Water just beads right off it, even if I stick it under a faucet to simulate a white water rafting ride. My real last whitewater rafting ride, in Veracruz, would not have been a good test though. We hit a wall of water and I went flying overboard. The label on this clearly says, “Do not submerge.”
This is a great little daypack to take along if you need something for around town and you’ve brought another bag with your laptop or tablet in it that’s too hefty. Plus if the weather is iffy, no worries about your contents getting wet.
Puffy jackets often turn from warm and useful to more of an irritant when the insulation (whether down or synthetic) slides around and doesn’t provide the consistent coverage it used to. They might still be good to serve as cushy travel pillows, but when it comes to a perfomance-style jacket—not so much.
The North Face Thermoball Hoodie (and other Thermoball jackets, in general) uses the company’s Thermoball synthetic insulation, which has the warmth equivalent of 600-fill down. It’s as compressible as down, and the clusters of the round, synthetic nylon material trap and retain heat within small air pockets to keep you warm, even when wet. If your down jacket gets wet, good luck keeping warm with a bunch of soggy feathers.
On top of that, the jacket’s square stitching helps hold insulation in place to keep it evenly distributed, rather than sliding around and creating pockets of nothing. Despite all the puffiness, it’s super lightweight, and I can pack mine down to a small ball to cram in my suitcase.
The jacket’s cuffs and hood have bound edges, which keep things in place on your wrists and head. An internal hem draw cord keeps the cold wind from whistling up your back. Outside zippered pockets are plenty roomy for hands or stashing important gear. There are a couple of internal stow pockets, but they’re not zippered, so mind that jumping around.
While I haven’t yet had the chance to test the jacket in winter conditions, I wore it recently during chilly mornings and evenings in the Canadian Rockies, and it kept me perfectly warm until the temperatures rose during the day.
The North Face Thermoball Hoodie comes in passion pink, borealis blue, high rise grey, or TNF black and lists for $220 on The North Face website. It’s also available at REI or Moosejaw for the same price.
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Lightweight, quick-drying, rugged, and comfortable, the Mountain Khakis Equatorial pants check off all the right boxes.
Here at Practical Travel Gear we’ve probably reviewed more pairs of travel pants than any other blog or website on the planet. So when we give a pair of them a big thumbs up, you can be assured they hold up well against some tough competition.
Mountain Khakis is best known as the company producing rugged, last a lifetime western wear for people who spend a lot of time outdoors. Over the past few years though they’ve become a major force in more casual wear and travel clothing that is lighter, but has the same high quality. We’ve reviewed quite a few of their travel shirts and MK women’s travel clothing in that department. These Equatorial Pants are a further evolution and I highly recommend them.
First of all, they’re incredibly lightweight, which is great for both packing light and traveling to hot destinations where shorts are not really acceptable. (You don’t realize until you go traveling around the world that hardly any country’s men wear shorts as much as men here in the USA.) These travel pants weigh in at just 3.7 ounces, which is probably less than some of your t-shirts. So they take up almost no room in your bag and don’t but a smidgen of weight.
Despite that, they’re super-strong, with such a high-density weave that they’ll repel stains and drizzles, and also provide an impressive 50+ UVA/UVB sun protection. Naturally they dry super-quickly. When I hung them outside in the high desert of central Mexico, they were dry and hour later. So overnight shouldn’t be an issue in most climates.
These are quite secure travel pants in two ways: you’ve got hidden zipper pockets that are two of six total to keep away sticky fingers. Then you’ve got a snap cuff on the bottom of the pants to keep out pesky mosquitoes. Consider it extra malaria insurance in the tropics.
I’ve usually got something to gripe about with even the best products we try out, but I can’t find fault with these Mountain Khakis Equatorial Pants unless it’s to caution you they’re probably too thin for cold weather trips. But that’s true for any of these lightweight nylon ones.
Great as shoes for kayaking or paddleboarding, these Zuuk mesh shoes are also good general travel shoes. They pack down small and weigh next to nothing, but provide good support.
Judging by what shoe companies are hitting us up with this year, barefoot running is out, having fun in the water is in. We’re seeing all kinds of shoes with a mesh upper, meant to be used in water sports or boating, but also good for walking around with cool feet.
I’ll be reviewing a few of these in the coming months, but am starting out with a pair I just took to Panama with me this month, the Hi-tec Zuuk shoes. These come off as a rather simple affair, with a white silicone bottom, mesh upper, and a handy adjustable lace system that doesn’t require tying. Unlike a lot of the lightweight, flat-packing shoes I’ve tried out though, these have far more support than a pair of slippers.
Unlike the Adidas Shandal water shoes I reviewed last year, the mesh on these is soft and comfortable against your bare feet. The lace system works well to make them snug around your feet for water sports or more loose for kicking back beachside with a beer. The softer mesh seems to take a little longer to dry, plus I learned the hard way that you need to remove the insoles and put them out to dry to speed things up. The fact they have good insoles though means you can walk around town in them without your feet killing you after a while. Good for the water, but good on land.
One big plus for shoes getting wet and drying on a regular basis: the insole is treated with anti-odor and anti-microbial properties. So far I’ve taken these on a few boat trips where we had to wade over rocks to get to the boat and they’ve been out in my inflatable kayak with me. They performed well in these circumstances, plus when I just wore them around to run errands after.
These mesh shoes come in four colors, from the flashy yellow ones at the top to plain black. Get more details at the Hi-tec website.