Keep your gear dry with SealLine BlockerLite Dry Sacks

SealLine BlockerLite Dry Sacks

It used to be that if you wanted to keep your gear dry on a trip, you needed to bring along a bulky, waterproof box or dry bag. Built primarily for hardcore water folks, those pieces of gear didn’t take space into consideration—much.

But when more consumers ventured out into adventure travel territory, brands needed to consider convenience more. The SealLine BlockerLite Dry Sacks are ideal, sizeable dry bags that travelers can bring along on trips without worrying about them taking up too much room in their suitcase.

One of the many brands under the Cascade Designs umbrella, SealLine is all about protecting your gear from getting wet. The BlockerLite Dry Sacks are SealLine’s lightest, most efficient-packing dry sack. Made from PVC-free 20-denier silicone/polyurethane-coated nylon, the featherlight bags weigh between 1 ounce (for the 2.5-liter bag) and 2.1 ounces (for the 20-liter bag).

The bags also have a rectangular shape, instead of the traditional round shape of most dry bags, which results in packing 20 percent more efficiently. And the roll-top closure includes a grippy, stiffening strip to ensure a secure seal when you’re closing the dry sack.

All the seams of these dry sacks are welded, which is 50 percent stronger than sewn and taped seams. That means the waterproof protection is much better, and that’s exactly what I want to hear when I’m putting my precious electronics into bags in the hopes that they won’t get wet on my travels.

My favorite thing about these bags is that they’re convenient to bring along just in case. Because they pack small, because they’re light, you don’t have to weigh possibilities of being in a situation where you’ll need them when you’re packing. If it might happen, pack one, and if you don’t use it, it’s not like you wasted precious suitcase space to take it along. I’ve brought mine to the Himalayas, Svalbard, Tahiti, Hawaii, Jordan, and New Zealand. And I use them a fair amount on the water in California, too.

SealLine BlockerLite Dry Sacks come in blue, coral, orange and yellow, and range in sizes: 2.5 liter ($15.95), 5 liter ($18.95), 10 liter ($21.95), 15 liter ($23.95), and 20 liter ($26.95). All on the SealLine site.

Power Practical Luminoodle Light Rope

luminoodle

A battery-sourced, portable light source is a must for many types of travel. We’ve tried quite a few, ranging from your traditional headlamps to solar-powered lanterns to LED smart phone-charging light panels. The Luminoodle from Power Practical is one of the simplest, easiest to use, and most practical. Here’s what it is:

luminoodle

The Luminoodle is a light strip that comes in 5 foot or 10 foot lengths. Definitely upgrade to 10 feet…five is just not quite enough. Instead of individual light bulbs (like Christmas lights) that can come off, break, or get snagged, the Luminoodle is one seamless cord, with the lights embedded in the plastic. It’s very durable, easy to pack, and easy to transport.

The five foot version LED strip produces 180 lumens of light and the 10 foot version produces 360 lumens. You can hang the Luminoodle in various ways, and best of all, you get the tools needed included: universal rubber ties to hang the strip from a tent, balcony, or railing; magnets to hang it from the side of a car or other metal source; and utility loop for any trickier places. The nylon carry bag even doubles as an illumination tool: you can roll the Luminoodle and turn it on inside the bag to create a glow like a lantern.

luminoodle

It’s USB-powered, so it works with any USB port or universal battery pack. Power Practical sells a battery pack you can purchase with the Luminoodle, which we tried out. It worked great, and we can use it for other purposes, too, of course. It’s always nice to have an extra portable battery!

The obvious use of the Luminoodle for our family is camping and backpacking: we like to string a light through our tent for card games and reading before bed. But since testing it out, we’ve found it works great in my kid’s summer fort at home too, and my oldest now wants to take it to college for his dorm room. We also brought it on a van camping trip through Iceland, where we used it outside our van for some light to cook by when twilight set in.

The Luminoodle is waterproof, and we had no trouble transporting it everywhere from backpacking trips to air travel. It’s a solid tool to have at your disposal for a multitude of travel situations, and will now live in our car for road tripping, too! Pick it up on the Power Practical site for $19.99 for the five-foot version or $29.99 for the 10-foot version or grab it on Amazon. The battery pack is another $20, and worth snagging as well, unless you already have a battery you love.

 

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5tar Cabin Trolley Bag

I am always on the lookout for the perfect carryon bag, and the 5tar cabin trolley really intrigued me because it has a detachable laptop case. Your belongings are kept secure inside the hard shell of the bag, but you can easily unzip the laptop case in a hurry (like if you’re giving up your bag at the gate of a regional jet or if you’re getting on a hotel shuttle and prefer not to chance it that your valuables don’t end up smashed underneath a pile of luggage).

Another useful feature is that essentially you have two bags, but when pesky gate agents insist you carry only one, you can zip them back together! Just in case you’re worried, the bag was designed with cabin bag limitations in mind (even for Europe where the standards are more strict).

I liked that the front pocket was a convenient place to store things like keys, chargers, passport, and other documents. It is easily accessible when needed. The pockets have elastic slots to keep a phone or camera secure, and there are small compartments for pens and keys.
On its own, the bag is very lightweight, and the hard-shell interior means you can fill it to the brim, and the bag still does not appear bulky.

The outside pockets can sometimes make the bag look bigger than it is, but that just depends what you stuff in there. Sturdy handles on the top and side make it easy to lift into overhead bins.

For protection, the bag has a TSA-approved lock, and its four spinner wheels make it simple to roll through the airport or down the sidewalk. Sometimes when I put a briefcase on top of my rollaboard, it can make the bag top-heavy. But, since this bag has its own laptop case zipped to the side, there is no need for a second briefcase or laptop bag. This makes it much easier for me to push the bag on less smooth surfaces like carpeting.

The 5tar cabin trolley comes in various sizes and retails on the 5tar website for under $200.

Layer up for warmth with Kari Traa baselayers

Kari Traa Rose Half-Zip

Unless you only travel to tropical climates, there’s always a reason to have good baselayers. Not just for skiing, baselayers come in handy for staying warm in general—whether that’s while you’re camping, hiking, or walking on glaciers.

On my recent visit into the Arctic Circle, I brought a Kari Traa Rose Half-Zip top and Rose Pant to layer under my clothing when I traveled in open boats, hiked in the wilderness, and climbed around on a glacier in Svalbard. Sure, summer in the Arctic is warmer than winter, but it’s still cold, and layering up kept me toasty warm enough to enjoy my adventures without shivering.

Both pieces are made from super-fine 100 percent Merino wool with 4-way stretch, which moves with you while you’re active (or even just lounging at home or in the local pub), allows air to flow through the fabric, dries quickly, and is naturally odor resistant so you can wear them a few times without having to wash them. All those qualities are ideal in any piece of outdoor gear.

The top and pant fit tight, and have a sweet (but not cutesy) design. The pant has an elastic waistband that doesn’t dig and stays comfortable no matter what you’re doing in the great outdoors.

I’ve worn these pieces while camping in the Himalayas in winter, skiing in North America, camping in California, and now, out in the Arctic wilderness. I can think of plenty of reasons to wear them again on upcoming adventures. They’re top on my list.

There are plenty other Kari Traa baselayer and midlayer pieces, in case you need more than the Rose top and pant.

The Kari Traa Rose Half-Zip top and Rose Pant are available in ebony or wine (for the top) and ebony or navy (for the pant) and list for $109.95 and $99.95, respectively, on the Active Brands site.