Best Wool Sweater From Merino – Ibex Dyad Cowl Neck

Do you have a natural sense of style? You pack the right accessories when you travel and everyone wants you to show them how you tied that scarf/sarong/belt?

Then you’ll love the Ibex Dyad Cowl Neck Sweater, as will those who feel that picking the perfect accessories every day is just too much work.

Ibex Dyad Cowl Neck Top - Women's
  • Wool.
  • Reversible.
  • Mid-weight Reversible Double nit.
  • Wear it with jeans by day and a skirt for evening.
  • Hip length.

Made of cozy midweight Merino wool, this sweater will keep you warm in winter weather, breezy air conditioning, or any generally cool condition.

It’s hip length, which means you won’t have the wind blowing up your back when you reach for something, nor have the sweater ride up when you’re pushing your carry-on bag into that overhead compartment.

The interior of the sweater features a contrasting color or hue, which shows up on the cowl neck, but not elsewhere, unless you roll up the sleeves. The coolest thing is that, after the careful removal of two tags, you can reverse the sweater—thus more versatility.

The Dyad Cowl Neck Sweater comes in four colors: black/camel, pewter heather/stone heather (shades of gray), midnight/Baltic (shades of blue), and jasper/meadow (shades of green).

The color contrast is done so well that you may want to get more than one. Wear it with jeans by day and a skirt for evening, or if you’re me, just pair it with dark jeans all the time.

Merino contains natural antimicrobial properties, keeping your garment odor-free. That means you can wear it over and over—dark side or light side—and not need to wash it.

That’s a huge bonus when traveling. Wool also is naturally wicking and provides better SPF than traditional summer fabrics, like cotton. While it’s not quite like an inherent skill in tying a scarf, I’d these qualities are fashionable, too.

The Ibex Dyad Cowl Neck Sweater lists for $185 on the Ibex site, and is also available at REI and Amazon.

Best Winter Pullover From ExOfficio – Alanya Cocoon Wrap

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 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
28 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.

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.

OluKai Luana Sandal

It can often seem that women’s sandals are either sporty or pretty, but it’s hard to find an example of both all in one. Sure, true sporty sandals allow you to walk in pebbly creek beds, hike on trails, and take part in all those non-hiking-boot adventures. But they’re not often the sandals you’ll pick to wear to dinner, unless dinner consists of the neighborhood bar and grill, a campfire, or other casual outing.

So when you’re choosing your footwear for vacation and trying to avoid bringing a checked bag, try bringing the OluKai Luana sandal.

The anatomically molded micro-textured PU midsole makes the sandals comfortable to wear all day, and the non-marking rubber outsole (which won’t leave marks or scuffs on surfaces) has textured “pods” for better traction and durability.

The synthetic straps have soft, quick-drying jersey knit lining, and the heel and toe strap have an additional padded lining for extra comfort.

I’ve worn these sandals while bike riding (10-mile beach cruiser rides, not badass MTB or road cycling), hiking, beach adventures, boating, and general around-town excursions. The Luana sandals are water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about getting them wet, but they’re not likely the shoes you’ll want to wear for a major river rafting adventure.

The fit is adjustable, by way of hook-and-loop closures (AKA Velcro) that allow you to tighten or loosen the straps as you choose, for a custom fit. I was surprised that the sandals were as comfortable as they are—the combination of the molded footbed and the adjustable padded straps made me happy to wear them all day.

If you’re doing some intrepid adventures that don’t quite rise to the level of hiking boots or other outdoorsy specialty shoes, yet still need to have a seriously beefy sole and thick straps, these sandals probably aren’t the best choice. But they’re great for nearly anything short of those situations.

The OluKai Luana Sandal comes in black, charcoal, coral and a white/black combo, and lists for $85 on the OluKai site. The sandals are also available at Amazon and Zappos.

Best Suitcase From Eagle Creek – A Review

Can you think back to a time when you didn’t have a suitcase with wheels? In some ways it seems ages since then, but in others… I still see people dragging their two-wheeled bag on the wrong side, or taking a corner quickly and making their wheelie bag spin out.

Certainly, the solution in the first example is: Know where the wheels are. But in the second example, perhaps the solution is upgrading to a four-wheeled bag.

Eagle Creek Gear Warrior 32 Inch Rolling Luggage
4 Reviews
Eagle Creek Gear Warrior 32 Inch Rolling Luggage
  • 450D Geo Ripstop , 210D Exo Skeleton , 450D Helix Poly.
  • Oversized treaded wheels with protective wheel housing.
  • Maximum abrasion resistance.
  • Lightweight anodized aluminum dual-tube handle.
  • Covered Under Eagle Creek No Matter What Warranty.

The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior AWD series consists of four differently sized suitcases, all lightweight and with four wheels for easy mobility. All have the same water-repellent GEO Ripstop material and have integrated Eagle Creek’s Exoskeleton technology, which adds abrasion resistance to all areas of the bag that will receive the most abuse.

A polycarbonate shell on the bottom adds abrasion resistance, while allowing the bag to remain lightweight. That same polycarbonate shell on the bottom has drop-down space between the wheels, adding to the total packing space of the bag.

Inside the main compartment is a large packing area, along with compression straps to keep your gear from shifting around. Also inside: a deep internal pocket. There’s a smaller external zippered pocket, as well.

The bag has lockable zippers, as well as a central lock point, for securing the bag closed. The fully extendable handle can be zippered away, to avoid getting dinged in the baggage storage process.

Small details also make this bag nice to have along: multiple grab handles, a Porter Key bottle opener (because we all need one), and an Equipment Keeper that holds gear to the top of the bag.

Each bag is expandable, however the two carry-on sized bags are not expandable beyond legal limits for carry-on bags.

The bags come in black, smoky blue, or tan/olive colors.

The Eagle Creek Gear Warrior AWD suitcases come in four sizes (from smallest to largest): International Carry-On, Carry-On (domestic), 26 inch, and 29 inch. They list for $259, $269, $299, and $329, respectively, on the Eagle Creek site. The series is also available at eBags.

Scarpa Cosmo Shoes

Perhaps your outdoorsy vacation is a little more vacation than outdoorsy. That’s cool, it’s your time off. But if you’ve got a little hiking or climbing planned in addition to all the lounging about and city discovery, consider keeping the shoe count down and bringing along a pair of Scarpa Cosmo shoes.

It’s often difficult to bring along every type of shoe for every type of purpose, and that’s why multi-functional shoes are so great. Instead of having an around-town shoe, a hiking shoe, and light climbing shoe, you’ve got one that does them all well.

The relaxed, no-break-in suede upper and lightweight EVA cushioning means that your feet are comfortable in these shoes all day. The toe box is a little wider than many hiking shoes, which is ideal for those of us with a wider front foot.

Keep your toes protected with the rubber toe rand that wraps around the front—ideal to block major stubbed toe incidents, as well help our if you do find that rock for some bouldering. The rugged Scarpa Voyager outsole is just as valuable on wet and slippery city streets as it is on rock faces.

I’ve worn these shoes in Switzerland and Alaska, California and Colorado, and they’re my go-to travel shoes when the adventures are relatively light (hiking or climbing on a Via Ferrata), but I still need something to look good in town. Comfortable shoes will far outscore cute shoes in my book, but in this case, the Cosmos meet both requirements well.

Scarpa Cosmo shoes come in one color combo: Jade/Salmon. Generally a pretty color-shy person, I have found that they go with a lot of my travel and adventure wardrobe without standing out. They list for $115 on the Scarpa site, and can also be found at Amazon and Backcountry.

Arc’teryx Arakys Approach Shoe

Packing a shoe style for every single vacation possibility can often ensure that you’re not traveling carry-on only. Sure, if your trip is limited to pool and beach and the occasional fancy dinner, you’re good. But what happens when you need more than a pair of flip-flops and a pair of sandals?

The Arc’teryx Arakys Approach Shoe is designed for scrambling into crag and bouldering terrain, with a grippy sole that’s ideal for climbing both outdoors and indoors. But don’t let the intended use and word “approach” make you think that you can’t use it for straight-ahead travel. Grippy soles are good on wet sidewalks, cobblestones and slippery surfaces around the world.

The outsole is designed in collaboration with Vibram, using the Vibram Megagrip compound for superior grip on wet and dry surfaces, great durability, and a bland of flexibility and rigidity that keeps the wearer sure-footed whether strolling city sidewalks or climbing the nearby cliff face.

I like wearing these shoes on the airplane when I know I’ll have to hit the ground running once I land. The one hand closure and memory buckle feature allows for easy on and off, whether I’m in a TSA line or kicking off my shoes for the long-haul flight. The leather footbed is barefoot friendly, and the air-permeable, laminated upper is comfortable in warm to cool conditions. Especially useful, the collapsible heel turns the shoe into a comfortable slipper.

A lamination process that integrates the Arc’teryx Adaptive Fit technology with the seamless one-piece upper reduces weight and volume while providing an adaptive fit in important areas of the shoe. By forming to the foot, this helps eliminate hot spots, reduces break-in time and provides improved support. It also helps seal out debris and increases air permeability for better comfort in warm, dry conditions.

I’ve worn these shoes out on hiking trails, around town, for light bike riding (when I don’t have clip-in pedals), and on the plane. They’ve allowed me to pack lighter. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

The Arc’teryx Arakys Approach Shoe comes in black/black, genepi/venom (a yellow combination), patina/seabreeze (a green combination), and pebble/flint (a gray and red combination). The pair list for $150 on the Arc’teryx site, and are also available at Amazon and Backcountry.

Platypus Meta Bottle and Microfilter

You may be lucky enough to travel to places where there’s always a glass of filtered water on the table. But if you go beyond those spots, or are often out in the wilderness away from restaurant water sources (and closer to traditional water sources), you might consider bringing a refillable bottle along with you.

What happens when you run out of your trusty water supply? You need more. And unless you know that the water is filtered, you’ll also need a filter. Consider bringing the Platypus Meta Bottle and Microfilter.

Most notable about this combination is the ease of use. There’s no pump involved, and all you have to do is disassemble the bottle, scoop water from a source with the lower half of the bottle, close, and drink the newly filtered water.

The filtering mechanism works quickly, at about 2 liters per minute. The lifetime of the filter is up to 1,000 liters of water. The microfilter meets EPA and NSF guidelines for the removal of 99.9999 percent bacteria and 99.9 percent of protozoa, including Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, Salmonella and Cholera. The bottle itself is BPA-, BPS- and phthalate-free.

It’s also simple to clean. Unscrew the bottle halves and put in the top rack of your dishwasher. For the microfilter, shake it to clean it.

Toss the full bottle into your pack or bag and as long as you close it correctly, it won’t leak. Need to pack the empty bottle in your carry-on bag, where space is an issue? Remove the filter, and the bottle can be compacted down to half its size.

The Platypus Meta Bottle and Microfilter comes in one color: slate gray. No big deal; it’s about the performance and not the color. The bottle with microfilter lists for $49.95 on the Platypus site (part of Cascade Designs’ brand umbrella). It’s also available at REI.

OluKai ‘Upena Women’s Sandals

In the seemingly endless struggle with keeping footwear needs to a minimum while traveling, one remaining challenge is finding a women’s sandal that looks good for a somewhat dressy evening but is also comfortable to wear while walking around all day. Who knows, maybe you can even wear them on the plane, as well.

My latest find that meets all these requirements: the OluKai ‘Upena sandal.

The multi-strap sandal has a textured rubber outsole that’s non-marking, meaning you won’t leave scuffs on surfaces of any kind. Whether you’re visiting your Aunt Peggy in her white-on-white design home, or hitting a museum in a far-away city, that’s always a good thing.

The outsole also has textured pods for better traction and durability. Think of all those slippery surfaces you might encounter on vacation—from wet sidewalks to highly polished floors. No need to switch footwear to handle them when you have the ‘Upenas on your feet.

The sandal footbed is an anatomically molded micro-textured polyurethane (PU) midsole, which has kept my feet comfortable all day on my travels. I’ve spent days in them, running from appointment to appointment on a cement convention-center floor, walking on city sidewalks in medium and insanely hot temperatures, and kicking back at cafes both near and far.

The leather sandal has an adjustable ankle strap with an antiqued metal buckle. The toe post is “slotted leather,” which means that the strap itself is the toe post. If you can’t conjure that in your head, just take a look at the image above.

The OluKai ‘Upena sandal comes in Charcoal/Pewter, Black/Black, Mustard/Bubbly (gold), or Kona Coffee/Kona Coffee. Two of those combinations (the Charcoal/Pewter and Mustard/Bubbly) include metallic-color highlights. The sandal lists for $90 on the OluKai site. It’s also available at Amazon, Zappos and REI.

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