Best Comfort Travel Blazer – Eddie Bauer Voyager II

Eddie Bauer Voyager II Travel Blazer | Practical Travel Gear 1

travel blazer reviewOkay, okay, Eddie Bauer. I’ll pack a blazer now and look like a responsible male member of society.

You see, I have about as much enthusiasm for packing a sport coat on a trip as I have for 8-hour layovers and sitting in the middle seat on the plane.

On the occasions where I’ve needed to dress up on the other end, I’ve been known to buy half-price used blazers at Goodwill and “forget” them in my hotel room closet before coming home.

They’re for decoration more than function (though not quite as useless as a tie) and tend to come out not looking so hot after spending 20 hours in a suitcase. Yeah I know, you can carry a garment bag, but apart from traveling salesmen, who does?

Eddie Bauer Men's Voyager II Travel Blazer
34 Reviews
Eddie Bauer Men's Voyager II Travel Blazer

  • Sleeve Length: Long Sleeve.
  • Synthetic sole.
  • Built rugged. Wears refined.
  • Performance-stretch blazer is all about comfort.
  • Nylon/spandex Flexion soft shell fabric is rugged.

This Voyager II Blazer from Eddie Bauer is cut from a different cloth, however. Literally. It’s made from what your typical travel pants are: nylon and spandex. It’s coated with a DWR finish that kept me dry in a surprise rainstorm.

And it’s loaded with pockets to carry far more than a phone or your wallet in a single inside breast pocket. In other words, this is a travel jacket that looks like a blazer, not a blazer you hope will hold up to your travels. best travel blazer

There are lots of features built in besides the obvious ones of being lightweight, wrinkle resistant, and water/stain resistant.

There’s a little strip of cloth that can button the two neck flaps together if you’re getting chilly. The pockets come in all shapes and sizes and include two front flap pockets on the side, a chest pocket, an outside zip pocket, plus a series of them on the inside that are enough for a phone, passport, and a pen.

And here’s something I appreciate a lot: you can just throw this baby in the washing machine when you come home from two weeks on the road. No trip to the dry cleaner.

Understand that this isn’t going to look like a tailored blazer from Milan: picture a Silicon Valley start-up worker in flip-flops maybe, not a Swiss banker. It’s also not going to fit everyone perfectly out of the box either.

I had to get the sleeves shortened on mine. But hey, it’s $149 in the regular size and $169 for tall versions, in four muted colors. Yeah, that’s more than my disposable thrift store blazers I left behind, but I’ll be bringing this one home to take on the next trip.

Get the Voyager II Travel Blazer direct from Eddie Bauer. It’s also available at Amazon.

A Waypoint Backpack for Ten Bucks?

An Updated Winner: Osprey Waypoint Backpack | Practical Travel Gear 3

Osprey Waypoint 80

Sorry kids, but this contest is over. Thanks everyone for helping Passports with Purpose raise more than $25,000 for Sustainable Harvest International!

Yes, we recently reviewed the Osprey Waypoint 80 travel backpack so you’re not seeing double. But Osprey Packs has teamed up with us this year to contribute a prize to Passports with Purpose.

You can donate $10 to this year’s campaign and have a shot at scoring a backpack with a lifetime guarantee, one that retails for $280. This one could take you around the world a few times and stand up to almost anything you throw at it.

If you’re not familiar with Passports with Purpose, it’s an annual charity drive that focuses on one specific, concrete goal that will make a real difference in the lives of people who could use some help. It doesn’t involve lofty ambiguous goals or work on projects that nobody local has a real need for. Instead they’ve accomplished things like building a school in Cambodia, building libraries in Zambia, and drilling village wells in Haiti. They partner up with organizations who work closely with the local communities on projects that have a major impact.

This year’s partner is Sustainable Harvest International, a group that helps families in Central America learn to grow their own nutritious food and become more self-sustained, while doing it in a way that’s not expensive or destructive to the environment. The money raised this year will fund specific projects in Honduras, a poor country where many are living in poverty, despite a climate that’s good for year-round farming.

For each $5000 we raise during the fundraiser, SHI will help on extended family in Honduras learn to farm sustainably and feed their family. Training will go for five years, with lasting benefits for the entire community.

Donate here.

About the Osprey Waypoint 80

Waypoint 80 reviewWe’re happy to be teaming up with one of our favorite companies on this campaign. The Waypoint 80 is a travel classic and you’ll see it on the backs of intrepid travelers almost anywhere in the world. It’s got all the things you’d expect in a good travel pack: easy access without unpacking, two sets of compression straps/clips, and a removable daypack. This one is quite comfortable even when it’s packed to the 80-liter limit, with myriad adjustments possible to the back panel, padded waist strap, and sternum strap. You get lots of padding in all the right places.

This backpack is guaranteed for life because that’s how long it could last you. Even when it’s being tossed on top of Indian buses and sat upon when hitching a ride on a pickup truck, it’s not going to let you down. See my full review here.

Follow this link to go to the Passports with Purpose site. There you’ll find loads of other great travel gear items to bid on, all for just $10 a pop. If you totally strike out, you’ve donated to a great cause in a time of year focused on nothing but consumerism. But hey, if you get lucky you could get something you really wanted for the holidays!

Serious Anti-theft Suitcase: Toursafe EXP21 from Pacsafe

Serious Anti-theft Suitcase: Toursafe EXP21 from Pacsafe | Practical Travel Gear 1

toursafe-exp21-topHave you ever had something disappear out of a suitcase? Have you been the victim of baggage theft, like from the months-long campaign that ended in multiple arrests at LAX Airport earlier this year? Or New Orleans?

No system can completely protect you, especially if the ones doing the stealing work for the TSA, but this Toursafe EXP21 sure throws up a lot of obstacles for anyone with sticky fingers. Most likely a potential robber will take a look at this baggage fortress and go try an easier target.

Most bags have some kind of weak point that’s easy to bypass. First of all, if someone’s in a hurry they can just slash it with a knife. Not this one though: the Pacsafe eXomesh wire skeleton under the fabric prevents that. With almost any suitcase, someone can pop open the zipper with just a ballpoint pen (look it up on YouTube), but not with these fortified Pacsafe zippers. Then the zippers can lock and they latch, creating another deterrent. pacsafe zippers

Beyond that, the cool latching Roobar on the top enables the bag to be locked to a pole or hotel room chair and with the included locking cable, you can loop everything together and make sure every section of the suitcase is impenetrable. Forget the hotel safe: this gives you much more protection that no staffer can access.

Invest a few minutes with the instruction manual though so you can figure all this out. My wife didn’t have that when she went to pack this up the first time and ended up calling customer service to figure out how to get one compartment open. (They were very patient and helpful.) After you get it down though, it becomes like second nature to you, but a head-scratcher to even the most experienced thieves.

toursafe-exp21

All this is well and good, but how does it perform as a suitcase? With a list price of $300, you probably expect this to do more than protect your valuables. Be assured though, the construction is as solid as the security, with quality large wheels, a telescoping handle that’s not going to let you down, and lots of good compartments and compression straps. There are also padded handles on the top and side for when you need to pick it up and put it somewhere. Like most Pacsafe products, the Toursafe 21EXP comes with a five-year warranty. I’ve got some other products of theirs that are hitting the one decade mark.

The only real drawback of this carry-on suitcase is that it’s heavier than usual due to all the extra security parts and the steel locking cable. It weighs in at 8 pounds, 2.5 ounces (3.7 kilos). But hey, that still gives you plenty to work with before you hit the luggage limit for most airlines in this hemisphere.

This rollaboard is the linear 45 inches allowed by most of those airlines, but naturally you’ll probably have to gate check it with those dreaded regional flights on small planes that only have three seats across. See more on the Toursafe EXP21 at the Pacsafe website and get it there, at Amazon, at eBags, or Zappos. There is also a larger 29-inch version for checked luggage.

Ecco Ulterra Lo High-end Light Hikers

Ecco Ulterra Lo High-end Light Hikers | Practical Travel Gear 1

Ulterra GTX lo

We’ve praised Ecco shoes many times on this gear site for their good craftsmanship and European looks. This Ulterra Lo model I’ve been wearing a lot the past few months is another winner. These shoes are comfortable and well-made, and unlike many “light hiking” or “fast hiking” shoes I’ve tried out, they’ve got some real cushion and support between the feet and the trail.

These are good all-around travel shoes, which is how I’ve been using them on several trips. You can walk the sidewalks or cobblestones all day, then take on some ancient stairs at some ruins, then the next day walk a few miles on a mountain trail. The Ulterra Lo shoes perform well in all these cases but don’t look totally goofy if you’re wearing them to a downtown pub or through the airport. They’ve got some real tread on the sole, but a dose of the style Ecco is known for as well.

There’s a model with Gore-tex and without. Which one you would pick normally depends on how much your feet are going to get wet. If you walk a lot in cold and wet climates, the price premium will be worth it. If you’re hiking around Tucson and Moab a lot, you could save same cash and go without. It’s not that simple though in this case because the GTX version is newer and looks a lot less clunky than the earlier model if you ask me.

Ecco Ulterra

There’s a thick rubber outsole on the bottom and yak leather on much of the top. A toe guard on the front and heel guard on the back mean these will protect you much better than sneakers when you take to the hills. The lacing system makes them feel like a good pair of trail runners when you put them on though, with a snug fit if you want that really cradles your feet. There are a few simple but useful things I like too, like nice cushioning around the ankle and a tab on the back for pulling them on. There’s also a tab on the tongue, plus that essential little loop that keeps the tongue in place under the laces. Everything is double-stitched and the laces actually stay laced.

You can get more details at the Ecco USA site, where the Gore-tex version is $190 and the regular version is $150 or less. You may find the GTX ones for less at Moosejaw (Gore-tex, regular), Planet Shoes, or Zappos. Poke around at any of those and you can also find a women’s version or a mid-size hiker.