ExOfficio Women’s Alanya Cocoon Wrap Is Warm for Winter

Wraps are great wardrobe staples in travel. They add warmth and a dressy note when you need them, and can be used as an airplane blanket or pillow, aside from something to wear to dinner or on a cold day.

I’m a huge fan of wraps, and probably have a few too many in my closet. While they are incredibly useful, some of them can be a bit too shapeless to be very versatile. They’re useful when you need an extra layer and would rather not be noticed, but otherwise, stay off my packing list.

The ExOfficio Women’s Alanya Cocoon Wrap isn’t that shapeless wrap. At all.

ExOfficio’s So Warm technology blends heat-trapping, hollow-core fibers with soft fabric (92 percent polyester and 8 percent spandex) making it cozy to wear, plus a little stretch for more comfort. The addition of Silvadur technology reduces odor-causing bacteria on the fabric, which means you can wear it multiple times before having to wash it. That’s ideal when you’re traveling, because who wants to spend time doing laundry?

The wrap had a rib-knit neck, cuffs and hem, and the hem is drop-tail, which allows it to cover more of your body. Wear it two ways: right-side up makes it hang longer, upside-down makes a shorter shrug style. The cut follows the curves of the body, but isn’t too clingy or restrictive.

There’s a hidden zip pocket that is so well hidden I didn’t notice it the first few times I wore the wrap. I tuck my money or phone in it, and there’s plenty of room.

I wore the Alanya Cocoon Wrap most recently on a trip to Alaska. I got tons of compliments from other women who wanted to know where they could get it. That may be because I wore it about four different times in a week’s travel, but that’s just the point. You can.

The ExOfficio Women’s Alanya Cocoon Wrap comes in one color: charcoal heather. It’s a good thing, because it goes with pretty much everything. The wrap lists for $85 on the ExOfficio site, and is also available at REI and Moosejaw.

Best Camping Tents For 2017 – An All Inclusive Guide

Are you planning your next camping trip and are looking for the best camping tents? If you are an experienced camper, then you know finding the best camping tent involves more than heading to your local sports and outdoor gear retail store.

You want a camping tent that you know will be comfortable, durable, and spacious enough to fit more than one person comfortably, and that is also lightweight enough to transport and carry throughout your outdoor adventure.

Choosing a tent because it’s cheap isn’t always the best way to go. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a guide on the best camping tents?

Well, you’re in luck because we have done the research already, and have compiled a list of what we think is the top five best camping tents and the best tent brands for any outdoor activity and environment.

Quick Comparison

2 Person Tent

35 sqft. Floor Space

  • Two vestibule layout
  • Free standing tent
  • Ventilation windows
  • Removable gear loft
Buy From Amazon

3 Person Tent

Better Water-Resistance

  • Vertical Walls
  • Taller Center Heights
  • Rainfly Setup
  • WeatherTec system
Buy From Amazon

SUV Tent

Very Easy Setup

  • SUVs and Mini Vans
  • Inverted "T" Layout
  • Flame Resistant
  • Includes Carry Bag
Buy From Amazon

2 Person Tent

Ultralight & Portable

  • 3 Season Large Tent
  • Durable Polyester
  • All Weather Travel
  • Near-Instant Setup
Buy From Amazon

Best Camping Tents for 2017

Read on to check out this all-inclusive guide to help you make an informed decision before you buy just any camping tent. We’ve also included the pros and cons of each option so that you can decide which camping tent is right for you.

1. Best 2 Person Tent – Mountainsmith Morrison

Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person Tent
382 Reviews
Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person Tent

  • Freestanding three-season, two-person tent.
  • Bathtub floor with taped seams to keep interior dry.
  • 185T polyester rainfly with 2,000-millimeter-rated polyurethane coating.
  • 35 square feet of main floor space and 14 square feet.
  • Breathable 185T polyester tent material.

2 person tent

Why We Like This Tent: This tent is our number-one pick because of its spaciousness – both for sleeping and storage space for two – and its features that keep the interior dry and ventilated.

Livability: The Mountainsmith Morrison three-season tent comes with over 35 square feet of floor space, big enough for two people. This tent also has plenty of light and the mesh walls offer plenty of ventilation.

This tent also comes with “bathtub floors” which help keep the interior dry. There are also some dry storage compartments, which are great for easily grabbing your things and any small essentials without having to crawl in and over sleeping bags.

Although this is a three-season tent and isn’t the best idea to use and camp in during winter months, users have claimed that even when the temperature drops to 28 degrees F overnight, this tent remained 15 degrees above, and maintained the temperature throughout the night.

Versatility: This tent also comes equipped with two doors and vestibules, guy out attachment points, clip-pole attachment to reduce weight and for maximum ventilation and breathability, tent fly adjustable ventilation windows, reflective guylines with “tri-glide” cord adjustment and even a detachable ceiling loft for picture-taking or even stargazing.

Lighting: One of the best features of the Mountainsmith Morrison two-person tent is also known for its airiness, breathability, and lighting.

The mesh walls, adjustable windows, and detachable ceiling allow for maximum light during the day and keeping the flies and mosquitos out at night.

Assembly: The Mountainsmith Morrison tent comes equipped with a free-standing, two-pole design and even color-coded fly and instructions for quick and easy assembly.

This tent can be set up virtually in minutes. The instructions are also clearly printed and color-coded on the pack itself, so there’s no need to worry about losing the instructions or damaging them over time and with usage.

The guy lines also make this tent easy to assemble in severe weather.

All in all, the Mountainsmith Morrison three-season two-person tent is one of our top five picks. This tent weighs only approximately five pounds, which means that it is lightweight enough to carry around or transport.

This tent can be found on Amazon for $100 to $200. If this might seem relatively cheap for a tent of this size and value, it is. Avid campers, hikers, and other outdoor adventure-seekers will recommend this tent as being one of the best for its cost.

2. Best Three Person Tent – Sundome by Coleman

Sundome 3 Person Tent
830 Reviews
Sundome 3 Person Tent

  • Up to 33% more water-resistant than a Comparable standard Coleman tent.
  • 2 windows for great ventilation and views.
  • Included rainfly for extra weather protection.
  • 7 x 7 ft. Foot print, 4 ft. 4 in. Center height.
  • 1-Year limited warranty.


Why We Like This Tent: This tent is one of our top five recommended tents because of its spaciousness, easy assembly, weight and airy features.

Livability: Because the Sundome three-season tent is built to fit three people comfortably, this tent provides up to 49 square feet of floor space, and one door. When set upright, the center pole reaches a maximum of 5’2” center height.

Because this tent is guaranteed to keep you dry, the floors are a bit rugged and are lined with inverted seams. As a result, it’s best to use air mattresses to sleep on in this tent rather than sleeping bags.

Versatility: This tent has mesh “windows” rather than mesh walls. This is to help keep the rain and elements out, and the warmth in – especially during severe weather or cooler temps.

The “rainfly” covers the door and windows and is made from polyester. There is also an inner mesh vent for breathability and ventilation.

Lighting: Although this tent has one door and windows, the lighting isn’t as robust as what we saw with the Mountainsmith Morrison tent.

However, when comparing other Coleman tent products and models, the Sundome is one of the better options for light.

Assembly: The Sundome tent comes equipped with two fiberglass poles. Although this tent is designed to fit a third person, compared to the tent we reviewed above, this tent weighs only three pounds, making it easy to carry, set up, and transport.

Assembling and even navigating in and out of the tent after assembly is a snap. The zippers are easy to move without any snags or letting in any water or moisture.

It is also light, easy to pack, and easy to set up – even in the dark. The tent comes in a “dome” shape, hence the name, and comes in both green and navy blue color options.

The Sundome three-person, three-season tent by Coleman is a quality product, and is highly recommended for camping trips in campgrounds, short backpacking trips, and backcountry adventures.

Its spaciousness, easy assembly, setup and affordability make it a very popular choice for families who are ready for camping adventures.

The Sundome can be found on Amazon for approximately $50 to $100 – a great price for a camping tent of this size and quality.

3. Best Car Camping Tent – Explorer 2 SUV Tent

Sundome 3 Person Tent
72 Reviews
Sundome 3 Person Tent

  • Bungy cord with plastic coated hooks attach to the vehicle’s underframe.
  • Outer door panels fold up and tie back for maximum ventilation.
  • Zip and tie at bottom corners for privacy.
  • No-seeum insect screen.
  • Inverted ‘T’ layout on insect screen and two way zippers.

explorer tent

Why We Like This Tent: For a tent that you can assemble and attach to a vehicle – like a mini, movable campsite – we highly recommend the Explorer 2 SUV tent.

This tent attaches to the back hatch of an SUV and turns the vehicle into a convenient sleeping area without the hassle of assembling an actual tent.

Livability: The Explorer 2 SUV tent is a great way to turn your vehicle into a sleep area without having to worry about what crawls around on you while sleeping on the ground or getting wet in inclement weather.

This tent fits most SUVs and minivans with liftgate rear panels less than 67″ wide. This tent is also easy to set up in as little as five minutes and with little to no equipment or hardware or complicated instructions.

Drive from campground to campground or other site, store all your stuff without taking up too much room, spread out an air mattress, and sleep in the comfort and protection of your own vehicle.

Versatility: As we mentioned above, the Explorer 2 SUV tent fits the batch hatch and rear lift gate of most SUVs and minivans. One important thing to note is that this is without the spare tire.

The inverted “T” door zipper also makes it easy to get in and out of the vehicle and users can protect their privacy – and their skin from insects – with the mesh insect screen.

The outer door panels can also be tied back and come equipped with 2-way zippers that easily open and close without any snags or ripped fabric.

This tent can also be used along with utility or boat trailers. Simply drape Tent over vehicle, use bungee cords to connect to tire wells, raise gate and you’re there!

Lighting: Although the Explorer 2 SUV tent is really only half a tent, it would be unfair to rate its level of lighting. With this type of tent, the lighting is ample while the back hatch or rear liftgate is ajar or opened to maximum height.

However, there may be more or less light inside the vehicle, depending on the make and model vehicle you drive. For example, many SUVs come standard with tinted windows today; therefore, the overall level of light in those vehicles might be significantly less than others.

Assembly: As mentioned above, this tent is super easy to assemble, and can be set up in less than five minutes. Users can simply drape the tent over the vehicle while also using the bungee cords to connect the outer layers of the tent to the tire wells.

Then, users can raise or close the gate as they prefer. The Explorer 2 SUV tent is made of polyester, and is compliant with flame resistant guidelines.

The tent itself is compact and only weighs approximately five pounds and comes equipped with a carry on and storage bag.

In summary, this tent is a great option for those who prefer to travel from campsite to campsite without having to worry about the weight of transporting a tent.

It’s also a great option for those who love the outdoors but aren’t too keen about sleeping on the ground. The Explorer 2 SUV tent has numerous benefits and advantages over the “standard” tent. For $100 to $200, users can get the whole package.

4. Best Ultralight Tent – Swift-n-Snug 2 Person Camping Tent

Swift-n-Snug 2 Person Camping Tent
102 Reviews
Swift-n-Snug 2 Person Camping Tent

  • 3 Season large tent is spacious and comfortably fits two people.
  • 2 man tent features near-instant set up that takes only a few short minutes.
  • One of the most durable polyester tents currently available for sale.
  • Good companion for all weather travel.
  • Best buying experience possible.

Swift N Snug

Why We Like This Tent: One of the most enjoyable things about camping is the ability to hike, backpack, and explore various sites without worry.

However, one of the worst things about camping is not having the right gear with you or having to carry and transport too much gear, making it difficult for the hiker to truly enjoy the experience.

One of the reasons why the Swift-n-Snug 2-person camping tent made its way into our top picks is because we believe it is the best ultralight tent for transporting and carrying from site to site without discomfort.

Livability: Although the name “Swift-n-Snug” suggests that this is a small tent, cozy for only one or two people, this tent actually measures 6’7” long and 5’ wide, and it is even roomy enough for tall people.

It is also spacious enough, and can comfortably fit two people. This tent is a three-season tent and is ideal for outside use, such as for camping and backpacking trips.

Versatility: This tent is made from a strong, durable polyester that will not rip. In fact, this tent is known for being one of the strongest tents available for purchase. It comes with two doors and vestibules.

Although this type of tent is relatively roomy, it is also a space-saver and extremely portable. When packed in the carry bag, it only measures 22″ x 4.7″ x 3”, making it the perfect, lightweight tent to pack, carry, and transport.

The Swift-n-Snug is also durable enough to endure various weather conditions, including rain and wind. This tent comes equipped with a rainfly cover to withstand rain, and strong poles to keep the tent upright in windy conditions, keeping you dry and protected.

On the other hand, because this is a three-season tent, it is also suitable to withstand dry, hot weather. It is well ventilated, allowing proper airflow inside the tent and protection to keep insects out.

Lighting: Because this tent is lightweight yet strong enough to endure weather, it does not have mesh walls or windows, which means the lighting inside the tent is relatively dim.

However, this tent does have two doors, allowing for some light to enter when ajar.

Assembly: The Swift-n-Snug tent comes is very quick and easy to set up and assemble, taking only five to ten minutes. The tent is also easy to disassemble, allowing users to pack the tent in the carry bag.

All in all, the Swift-n-Snug three-season, two-person tent is extremely lightweight and versatile, making it one of the best tents for camping, backpacking, hiking and easy to take with you on any outdoor adventure.

This tent only weighs approximately three pounds when packed, making it easy to pack, carry, and transport.

This tent can be found on Amazon for $50 to $100, also making it one of the most affordable options that we’ve included in this article.

However, in terms of the Swift-n-Snug tent, a lower price doesn’t mean lower quality. This type of tent is also one of the strongest and most durable tents available for camping, hiking, and backpacking.

Best Tent Brands

If you are getting ready to embark on your next – or your first – camping adventure, then you know that part of the experience is all about the gear you pack with you.

Camping gear should be as lightweight as possible for transporting easily; strong, durable, and a quality product; and should also be ventilated and breathable enough to keep the air from becoming stale but insulated enough to maintain interior temperatures and the weather elements out.

Depending on the size of the tent and the quality you are looking for, a good tent that fits several people can cost a few hundred buckaroos.

Even if you have figured in the cost of a new tent in your camping budget, you still want to find one that is of the highest quality and at the best price.

The top three best tent brands include:

1. North Face 

The North Face is known for its quality product line of clothing, jackets, and even outdoor gear, including tents. Although North Face is known for its high prices, their tents are among the best quality outdoor gear products available.

With their extensive tent product line, users are likely to find a deal or a tent that is reasonably priced on Amazon. If you are looking for a quality tent this camping season, then make sure North Face is on your list

2. Coleman

Although Coleman is at the lower end of the price spectrum when compared to North Face, this doesn’t mean their quality is less.

Coleman tents and other outdoor gear are offered are a great option for people who are looking for a tent for casual use but for a good value. Although Coleman offers a number of backpacking tents, they are more known for their car camping tent line.

3. L.L. Bean 

L.L.Bean offers a number of high-end tent options. The higher quality and more expensive tents can be found between $200 and $500.

L.L. Bean offers a number of tent options, including lightweight, backpacking options. In fact, L.L. Bean’s Microlight FS 2 Tent received the “Editor’s Choice” award from Backpacker’s magazine in 2012.


All in all, finding the best camping tents for a specific purpose or person simply involves research and a basic understanding of the key aspects that go into what makes a great camping tent.

We already know that some of the details, such as the fabric and material, size, and weight are key characteristics in looking for the best camping tent, as well as any additional accessories, such as zippered compartments, bag or any other accessories.

The best camping tents we have listed in the above guide are what we believe are great options for all campers and outdoor adventure-seekers, from the camping newbie to experienced, camping aficionados.

These camping tents are all designed with quality in mind to ensure your camping experience is the best one.

Any of the above options would be great purchases, but the best option for you comes down to personal preference as well as the type of camping tent you are looking for based on the number of campers in your party.

Finally, although finding the best camping tent might be frustrating, especially if you are unsure of where to look, it’s important to remember that selecting out an appropriate camping tent can be a great way to add more excitement as you plan your next camping experience.

Best Nylon Daypack By Cotopaxi Luzon Reviewed

If you’ve been outdoors lately, traveling or on the trail, you’ve undoubtedly seen at least one Cotopaxi Luzon day pack on the back of a fellow traveler. A new bag for Cotopaxi, an outdoor adventure company with a grassroots vibe, the Luzon 18L is a colorful, almost whimsical daypack known for its individuality and simplicity.

Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Durable Nylon Daypack
109 Reviews
Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Durable Nylon Daypack
  • Ripstop nylon shell fabric. Perfect for day hikes and running around town.
  • The Luzon’s highly packable design easily stuffs into your luggage for easy travel.
  • Large main compartment with internal hydration sleeve.
  • Front zippered pocket for organizing and accessing your essentials with ease.
  • Cotopaxi products are guaranteed to last 61 years.

The Luzon only features one main compartment, closed with a simple drawcord opening. It has basic mesh backpack straps and a sleeve for a hydration pack (not included). It packs down to almost nothing, since it has no internal frame or bulky parts. What you DO get: a totally individualized design.

Each Luzon is hand-designed in the Philippines factory used by Cotopaxi. The designer can use any color way he or she desires, and you cannot request particular colors when you order a Luzon. The result is a literal rainbow of colorful Luzons…all different from one another.

When you open the box containing your Luzon at home, the color way will be a complete surprise.

I cannot tell you firsthand how comfortable or practical the Luzon is…because the day my sample arrived in the mail, my teenage son grabbed it before I could even take it out of the box.

Immediately, he was smitten, and he’s been using ‘his’ Luzon for day trips on the trail, school field trips, river rafting adventures, and travels ever since. On the left is a photo of our actual Luzon, chilling by  the trail.

The Luzon is made of 100% ripstop nylon shell fabric, and has proved to be very durable so far. You do get one front zippered pocket, but otherwise, there are no compartments other than the hydration sleeve.

It’s definitely best for minimalists, or those who just need to stash a packable day pack into their carry-on for the occasional excursion while traveling. It only weighs 300 grams, and as aforementioned, it has an 18 liter volume.

Does the Luzon live up to it’s hype? For $49.95, the price feels a bit steep for a simple day pack, but darn it…the unique color way panels are appealing.

No doubt it will continue to be a popular choice among teenagers and young adults like my son, but I can see the appeal for all ages. Often when traveling, simple is best, and I can absolutely see myself stashing the Luzon into my travel duffel to use on my next international trip….if I can steal it back from my son, that is.

Look for the Luzon on any outdoor gear site or in any outdoor store. Don’t bother trying to select your color, however! If you really need some control over your color way, buy on Amazon, where you can at least select a hue.

Best Stylish Headphones – Wraps CORE Wristband

Traditional in their function as headphones, Wraps has taken the added step of making them stylish enough to something that can be worn on your wrist.

The Wraps CORE Wristband Headphones come in a variety of colors so that they fit into one’s personal preference and fashion style. But, don’t let it be confused that this is just an aesthetic piece.

Wraps WRAPSCBLK-V15M Wristband Headphone
  • Convenient to carry wherever you go.
  • Lanyard-style nylon cord housing keeps wires neat and untangled.
  • Move the slider up, wrap cords around wrist and Push jack plug into slider.
  • 10MM dynamic driver gives you exceptional sound quality.
  • Comes with a universal one button mic, making it easier to use.

Wraps CORE wristband headphones have titanium speakers with idealized sound quality and noise-isolating foam tips to be both comfortable in your ears while also reducing excess noise.

This all comes from a set of headphones that is not priced out of most peoples’ pockets.

There is also a universal microphone button so that the headphones can be used to make or respond to phone calls when plugged into a phone. It is also convenient to put music or audio on pause at the touch of a button.

Business travelers will appreciate the few extra inches of storage space in their bags since the headphones can be wrapped around one’s wrist. And the headphones look just like a normal bracelet when wrapped around your wrist.

It even tucked neatly underneath my jacket sleeve so was hardly noticeable as an accessory.

Wearing them around your wrist also helps to keep them from getting tangled easily putting them into immediate ease of use when needed. I hate having a knot in my headphones when pulling them from my bag.

They come in a variety of styles including wooden beads and leather coils, which really makes them look like attractive bracelets. There are also different color pairings like black cord with either gold or black ear buds.

The sound quality is actually quite decent, which is a plus at this price point.

The CORE headphones retail for about $70 on the Wraps website and are a convenient addition to any space-constrained travel bag.

Best LED Camping Lantern + Flaslight From Uco Leschi

Headlamps are great ways to hand some hands-free illumination on your travels, however they’re not always versatile when you need a flashlight and a lantern in one. But who wants to back both a flashlight and lantern? With the Uco Leschi Lantern + Flashlight, you have two in one small package.

UCO Leschi 110 Lumen Compact LED Lantern and Flashlight
27 Reviews
UCO Leschi 110 Lumen Compact LED Lantern and Flashlight
  • Compact, lightweight, rugged, and collapsible LED lantern.
  • Bright LED provides diffused white light in lantern mode.
  • Integrated shock cord allows Leschi to mount to tree limbs.
  • Light levels are adjustable from low (conserve battery), to bright.
  • Burn Time (up to): Low, 4 hrs; High, 2.5 hrs; Strobe, 7 hrs.

At 1.377 inches wide and 3.85 inches tall, the Leschi’s small size fits comfortably in your hand. When you extend it to lantern mode, it’s only 5.23 inches tall.

The Leschi can store easily in your pocket or emergency pack, and won’t take up much room at all in your luggage. Even better, the durable aluminum body is water resistant, so you can use it in the rain and snow without worry. Just don’t immerse it in water.

The bright LED provides a diffused white light, in lantern mode, up to 110 lumens. The Leschi takes one 1.5V AA alkaline battery, which lasts up to four hours of constant use. The maximum distance the beam will reach is 279 feet.

The Leschi’s hybrid design telescopes into a frosted lantern for diffused light or collapses into a powerful, compact flashlight for more focused lighting. The on/off button switches light levels from bright to dim (to conserve the battery), or strobe for emergency situations.

The convenient, shock cord clip on the Leschi enables you to hang and focus the lantern from both horizontal and vertical surfaces. No longer limited to a pole or limb that will accept a hook or string, the Leschi can be lashed to a tree limb, tent pole, guy line, bar, or strap up to 1 inch in diameter.

This is the “just in case” light I pack in my suitcase on every trip, whether I’ll be in a fancy city hotel or roughing it in the backcountry. It’s small enough to almost forget about it, until you need it.

The Uco Leschi Lantern lists for $14.99 on the Uco site, and is also available at REI.

Best Sweater Poncho – Mariska From Aventura Clothing

If I could offer just one travel hack for women packing a travel wardrobe, I’d say to always coordinate outfits with leggings to minimize space.

If I could offer two travel hacks, I’d add that a nice scarf can dress up any travel outfit. And if I could offer three travel hacks, I’d remind women that a well-designed poncho can add elegance and comfort during travel days.

So about that poncho tip: I now own three ponchos to use on travel days, and by far, my new favorite is Aventura’s Mariska Sweater Poncho.

Aventura Women's Mariska Poncho Sweater
  • 55% Cotton, 25% Nylon, 20% Viscose.
  • Imported.
  • Hand Wash.
  • Mock turtle neck design.
  • Cozy sleeves.

This poncho is a far cry from the souvenir variety you can buy south of the border (though I did wear it in Peru). It has a beautiful and timeless drape to it, allowing women to look sophisticated while curled up in comfort.

It’s perfect for long haul flights, dinners out when you just want to add a layering piece to pants and a tee, and for long car rides or train travel.

My only complaint about ponchos is that my arms are oddly constricted, making it hard to carry bags, do work at my seat, etc. Not so with the Mariska: it has sleeves!

These half-sleeves slide right over your arms, and can be pushed up to the elbow or worn down at the wrist. They really allow a lot of necessary movement, and I don’t feel like I looks awkward wearing the poncho.

What’s more, the Mariska is over 50% organic cotton, so it’s incredibly soft, and it’s thin, so it provides a simple, lightweight layer. It has a t-neck with a nice roll to it (nothing constricting), and cross-body paneling for a flattering look.

As mentioned, I like to wear mine on the plane during long travel days, paired with leggings or pants. However, I found it to be an incredibly useful tool in my travel wardrobe when I needed to dress up my day outfit for dinner time.

In the photo, I snapped a quick photo as I headed down to dinner from my Cusco Peru hotel room. I’d dressed up my outfit in about five seconds!

Pick up the Mariska sweater poncho in three colors: black, oatmeal, and heathered gray. I have the oatmeal, but I would seriously consider grabbing two colors, to work in any color palette.

They’re one-size fits all, and quite roomy while hugging the body. Grab it for $79 on the Aventura website, or look on Amazon to save a few bucks.

Eco Vessel Travel Bottle

While I don’t typically travel with reusable water bottles, perhaps I should start. Eco Vessel provides a great metal bottle that is easy to clean and great to maintain the temperature (hot or cold) of its contents.

Sure, plastic water bottles are easy to reuse once or twice, but the steel and insulated surface of this bottle make it great for travel. For starters, there is a small metal frame at the top that allows you to fill it with things like ice to keep drinks extra cool (although the insulation does that for you already). Also unique is the strainer inside that makes it easy to use for tea or adding fruit or other flavors to your water or iced tea.

What struck me most about this container is that it works equally well with both hot and cold beverages. You can take it to picnics, ball game cookouts, or all-day barbecues with something cold, and easily fill it with coffee or hot water the next day.

I do really detest when security folks get really picky about empty water bottles (there are lots of them that take them away even if there are a few visible drops inside). Part of the reason why I keep refillable water bottles with me is that I want to make sure I am drinking enough water each day.

A secure, screw-top lid protects the inside contents from spilling into your bags. Since the bottle is steel, there is less environmental concern from plastic being refilled and exposed to heat. Plus, the container is triple-insulated to keep drinks either hot or cold and can fit in most car cup containers.

The Eco Vessel is hand washable and sells for around $27 (depending upon the size) on the Eco Vessel website or Amazon. It fits easily into any backpack or briefcase side pocket and is ideal for the business traveler looking for the container that best fits their drink of choice no matter what the temperature.

Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion SPF 18

Let me start this review by saying I hate the way sunscreen feels on my face. It feels icky and makes me rather hot in the sunlight. I do know how important it is to wear it though (both for skin protection, but also its anti-aging qualities), and I often revert to using aerosol suntan lotion because it does not feel as sticky on my skin.

So it was a bit of a concern to test out the Ursa Major Force Field Daily Defense Lotion, but to my surprise, it was lightweight and not at all sticky on my face. I used it for the first time while in French Polynesia where the humidity could have easily made it feel uncomfortable.

Ursa Major products are wide-ranging from sunscreen to skin moisturizers and individually wrapped face wash cloths that exfoliate and clean skin, which are perfect for frequent travelers. Almost everything is naturally derived unlike most of the chemical sunscreens available in stores, which can include toxins like parabens and sulfates. One of the key ingredients in this lotion is the plant stem cell extract that are cleaner and more suitable for beauty products.

The sunscreen is also a great facial moisturizer for frequent travelers as it is unscented and can keep skin from becoming too dry after hours and hours in an aircraft cabin.

The sunscreen has an SPF of 18 to keep out the majority of UVA and UVB rays, and it absorbs quickly into your skin. Certainly, if you plan on swimming, it could make sense to reapply regularly, but many people don’t understand the importance of sunscreen for non-recreational activities like being outdoors for a social function or even dining in a streetside café.

The lotion can help to strengthen the skin barrier while stimulating cell regeneration and improving the overall skin tone and elasticity.

A TSA-friendly 1.7oz bottle retails for $54, which is not cheap, but the benefits are notable over the cheaper chemical versions easily available. It is also available on Amazon. My favorite product from Ursa Major is the travel-sized facial wipe that retails for $24 for a travel bag of 20, but when spending time in the sun, this sunscreen will be prominent on my radar screen.

Goal Zero Flip 30 Recharger

Power outlets don’t always come along when you need them: in airports, on airplanes, and on the road. That’s exactly where your phone will decide to die.

Despite my attempts to plan ahead, it happens to me on occasion, the most recent occurrence being on the Spencer Glacier in Alaska. I still needed my phone for taking photos, so what did I do?

I pulled the Goal Zero Flip 30 Recharger out of my backpack, connected my phone, and within minutes, I was snapping away again.

About a year and a half ago, I reviewed the Goal Zero Flip 10 Recharger, which has become part of my travel arsenal, as well as something I have in my purse for pretty much any occasion. As small as a tube of lip balm, it packs one full charge for your phone in a tiny package.

But one full charge isn’t always enough. And what about tablets?

That’s where the Flip 30 comes in. It’s not as small as the Flip 10, but at 6.8 ounces it’s still small enough for you to pack in your carry-on (or purse).

The Li-ion NMC battery holds a capacity of 7800mAh. Fully charge it by USB (it takes about 5 hours), and give a boost to your small electronics. It’ll hold three full recharges for your phone, a single recharge for your tablet and five recharges for a POV camera. Use the USB flip tip on the Flip 30 to charge in, and the USB outlet (with the included USB micro cable) for charging out.

You can also charge the Flip 30 by connecting a compatible solar panel, such as the Nomad 7 Solar Panel by Goal Zero.

Aside from the recharger being small and portable, one of my favorite things is its ability for pass-through power. Some rechargers can only charge itself up or recharge something else, but not both at the same time. Pass-through ability means that you can both charge the Flip 30 and use it to recharge your phone at the same time. No waiting.

The Goal Zero Flip 30 Recharger comes in charcoal gray or “Goal Zero green,” and lists for $49.99 on the Goal Zero site. It’s also available at REI and Backcountry.

Best Lumbar Pack From Mountainsmith Knockabout

Remember fanny packs? Well, you may have noticed that they’re back. Perhaps because fanny packs got such a bad rap in the 80s and 90s, they’ve been reintroduced as ‘lumbar packs’, and it looks like they’re here to stay.

Truth be told, I resisted returning to the world of fanny–er, lumbar–packs, but there’s a reason (or two) they’ve stood the test of time: these packs are convenient for getting gear in and out of, and they’re comfortable.

When you don’t have need of the larger liter backpacks, but are too active for a purse or tote, lumbar packs fit the bill.

Mountainsmith Knockabout Lumbar Pack
10 Reviews
Mountainsmith Knockabout Lumbar Pack
  • Adjustable webbing sling converts to waist or shoulder carry.
  • Zippered main compartment with organizer sleeve.
  • Back panel hidden stash pocket.
  • Front panel accessory pocket.
  • Headphone port.

Mountainsmith has been making some of my favorite backpacks for some time (in fact, my pre-teen son uses a Mountainsmith Pursuit while backpacking).

The Mountainsmith Knockabout is actually a hybrid lumbar pack and sling pack, with an adjustable strap to pull double-duty. You can easily swing it over one shoulder for use like a small purse; I’ve done so around town at home this past summer.

While traveling, it’s easy to stash the Knockabout in a bigger day pack or carry-on, to pull out when you’ll be leaving your hotel to dine at a restaurant or go on a short day excursion, and all you need to bring is the essentials: wallet, phone, etc.

As a lumbar pack, the Knockabout fits around the waist, clipping into place just about the hips. The strap attaches at the top of each end of the bag, instead of in the middle, so you don’t get that bouncy fanny pack feel.

Instead, the pack hugs your hip pretty nicely. Again, it’s not designed for truly rugged trail running or high impact activity; this is the pack to clip on for errands, that quick trip to the outdoor market, or that walk to the restaurant.

The Knockabout is 3.7 liters (10.5″ x 7″ x 2″ / 27 x 18 x 5 cm) and you get a zippered main compartment with an organizer sleeve, hidden stash pocket on the back panel, front panel accessory pocket with key clip, headphone port, an adjustable webbing sling, all with a bright yellow lining to make finding your items easy.

The outside is CORDURA fabric, which is known for durability.

Pick between several colors, including huckleberry (rich maroon), black, or barley (tan). Trust me, you’ll forget you’re wearing a fanny pack! The Knockabout is available on Amazon.

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