Posts Tagged travel
As winter gives way to spring, it’s not as if the temperature magically changes and you can ditch all your cool-weather gear. When it comes to traveling, it’s always good to have something for those in-between temperatures, whether you’re being active outdoors, or just looking for a warm layer when you walk around. An ideal piece for this very use is the SmartWool women’s PhD SmartLoft Divide Vest.
The vest has a wool-insulated nylon with DWR shell on the outside (for water repellency and warmth), and Merino lining on the inside (for warmth, breathability, and optimal efficiency in transferring sweat to the outer layer)—all perfect to keep your core warm.
All that put together results in a light and compressible piece that keeps you toasty in cool conditions. And with Merino wool, the vest can be worn multiple times without needing to be washed, which is always ideal when you’re traveling.
Even if you get warm when being active outdoors, you can easily adjust your outcome based on the weight of long-sleeved shirt you wear underneath. When you’re in winter conditions, add a layer on top to allow for more warmth and protection without overheating with all those layers.
The hand-warmer pockets stash items for quick access, and the zippered chest pocket with media routing allows you to listen to your tunes when out on the slopes, in the street, or on the trails.
When it comes to athletic water shoes, it’s hard to get things right. Depending on what you need them for, water socks don’t have enough traction, but serious soles can be too heavy. With the Vibram FiveFingers Signa and Maiori shoes, you can have both warm-water and cold-water versions of truly versatile water shoes.
They may look funny, but the Vibram FiveFingers shoes provide a far better grip performance than bare feet along—yet you can still move your foot as if you were barefoot. This is especially helpful if you’re walking in uneven riverbeds and slippery surfaces like boat decks, stand-up paddleboards, and other such things that make up a water-based vacation.
The Signa shoes are the lighter of the two. Ultra-thin and made for warmer water, or use in wet places that aren’t likely to make your feet cold, these shoes are easy to pack up small and stuff in a suitcase or other bag. These are great for tidepooling, protecting your feet when snorkeling or swimming, or even while stand-up paddling. The polyester mesh fabric on top allows your foot to breathe, and Vibram rubber sole includes drainage holes, added slip resistance, and abrasion-resistance fabric.
The Maiori shoes are your serious, cold-water friends. The neoprene upper will help keep your feet warm, whether you’re kayaking or surfing. The antimicrobial sock liner helps keep the shoes from being too stinky after a few wears. This shoe uses Vibram TC-1 rubber in the sole, and has a different pattern than the Signa, in order to provide increased flex and traction on wet surfaces.
I’ve used mine as surf shoes, to keep my feet warm while swimming, as mud shoes when foraging for mushrooms, and plenty of other travel activities.
The Signa shoes list for $80 on the Vibram FiveFingers website. On Amazon, they’re priced from $56 to $80, depending on size. The Maiori shoes list for $54 (on sale!) on the Vibram FiveFingers website. On Amazon, they’re priced at $90. You can also find both at Zappos and get free shipping both ways.
From the moment I unpacked this 100% Austrian wool Ibex Kombi Loden jacket, I knew I would like it. Upon first impression, it has the style and look of a North Face jacket albeit at a slightly more affordable price. It serves as a double jacket protecting against chilling wind, but it also resists water with its shell exterior on the shoulders, sleeves and collar where rain is most likely to hit you first. To me, it initially appeared to be a style decision to have the slick surface there. I admit, I thought it looked cool.
But, after wearing it in Iceland in the beating rain and chilling wind, I realized those are the first places to get wet and have your body noticeably feel the dampness. I had a lighter-weight jersey that I wore first, which immediately became drenched, heavy and chilly. When I switched to this jacket, the insulation proved invaluable. I noticed that the water-resistant top part dried quickly while the bottom part did not become wet on the inside of the jacket from a moderate rain. I appreciated the quick-dry texture, and there was no noticeable damp smell that remained following multiple exposures to the elements (important if always on the go and having to store outerwear in luggage).
It also boasts hand warming pockets and a chest pocket for other items like your iPhone, museum tickets, or cough drops. Yes, I used it for all three. Patriots will appreciate that the jacket was made in the USA as most Ibex products are.
Another nice feature was the stylish fit of the jacket. One thing that I cannot stand is wearing a balloon-type jacket no matter if it is for business or leisure. This Ibex jacket hugs your body where appropriate and has adjustable ties to bring it closer or more loose. It stretches just to the hip meaning that it is not too constraining, but certainly enough to keep you warm.
It retails for $300 on the Ibex website or on Amazon.
Do you find that winter boots are a little like the Goldilocks story, where you’re searching for “just right” but you have to endure “too hot” and “too cold” before you get there? The Keen Revel II boots can speed you past the experimentation stage to the right amount of insulation in the chilly winter weather.
With an upper of waterproof nubuck leather and a rugged rubber outsole, the boot keeps rain, ice and snow on the outside, so you can enjoy your adventures—even if they’re just down the street to the market. On the inside is a moisture wicking lining, pulling any personal moisture away from your skin.
But that’s not all. Keen’s “Trapolator” underfoot insulation system boosts the inherent warmth of all those materials, and provides a little extra oomph to keep your feet warm in cold conditions, allowing you to spend more time outside when you want to.
That rubber outsole has the famed Keen toe guard, plus a TPU stability shank and razor siping—all to keep you upright and stable on sketchy ground. In winter, when even the smallest thing can send you sprawling, that’s a bonus.
I’ve worn these boots in icy and snowy conditions, and as someone who’s notorious for cold toes in the winter, I haven’t had trouble keeping my toes toasty in these boots. Just right.
The Keen Revel II boots are available in Raven/Comfrey (gay with green trim) and Coffee Bean/Burnt Henna (brown with orange trim), and list for $160 on the Keen website. On Amazon, they’re priced from $113 to $206, depending on size and color. You can also find them at Backcountry and Moosejaw.
See more Practical Travel Gear Keen Footwear reviews.
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.