TravelWise 3 piece packing cube set

travel wise

We’ve talked plenty about packing cubes here at Practical Travel Gear, for good reason. Personally, I am a believer: I always use them when I travel, and 99% of the time, I travel carry on-only. I use packing cubes to fit everything in my bag, but I also use them to stay organized on the road and even when I camp or road trip, storing essentials in the small cubes and emergency supplies in the larger.

There are a lot of packing cube choices out there, but honestly, all you need is something simple, affordable, and functional. TravelWise has a three piece set available on Amazon that I’m currently using, and finding to meet all three criteria. You get a small, medium, and large cube for under $15 total, which is a lot less than many brands on the market. Each cube is made of high-quality nylon fabric, fairly thin but lightweight and durable, with two-way easy-pull zippers. They are not compression zippers, which compact the cubes even further (which I do recommend picking up), but do nicely for things like shoes, medical supplies and toiletries, and jeans and heavy pants.

I like that the TravelWise cubes are easy to open and close (seems like all packing cubes would be pretty easy to use, but that’s actually not always the case). They have a rectangular design that makes it easy to zip, and easy to dig through to find items. There’s an open mesh design so you can see what which cube you need, too.

Having packing cubes is like having drawers built into your suitcase, and when you arrive at your destination, you can toss the cubes right into actual drawers, saving time, staying organized, and keeping things from wrinkling much. If you pick up a few premium cubes or already have them, supplementing with one to two sets of affordable TravelWise cubes will round out your collection. Our whole family owns some, and we actually have more cubes than we need for each trip.

Recently, my youngest son left on a trip to New York City, and I easily packed everything he needed for over a week into four cubes, shown below. All the cubes pictured are from TravelWise.

travel wise

Forrest & Harold Signature Leather Money Clip and Slim Wallet

No one likes a bulky wallet. It can be uncomfortable to sit on and bad for your back and posture. We all have a tendency to stuff every card with our name on it in our wallet, but how often do we pull them out. I have started only carrying one or two of my credit cards and my driver’s license only. Rarely do I pay anything with cash, but it helps to have a few bucks for tips and emergencies.

Since I slimmed down my wallet contents, I found that my previous wallet was too big. The Forrest & Harold Signature Leather Money Clip and Slim Wallet proved to be an interesting replacement. First of all, I really liked the stylish two-toned color options that feature a smooth leather surface with an interior accent color.

I am not too fond of metal leather clips because they are uncomfortable, but this money clip is actually a brushed stainless steel band that stretches across the wallet to protect its contents. This means that you can strap your cash to either the inside or outside (it’s always nice to have choices).

While I would prefer a wallet that has RFID capability to protect hackers from stealing my credit card numbers and information, this wallet is perfect for those times when you don’t want to carry something too big around with you.

Inside, there are slots for a couple of credit cards, and I liked that the pockets were quite snug so that the cards could not easily fall out. You keep the cash behind the clip, which has a sturdy and firm hold. There’s also a pouch on the outside for another card that you might need to access quickly without opening the wallet and revealing the cash you have inside. In total, there are four slots for storing as many as eight cards.

There are numerous color combinations, and it retails for around $40 on the Forrest & Harold website.

 

Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport keeps wet gear away from dry gear

Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport

Whether you’re traveling or not, keeping your active clothing from your clean clothing can be a challenge. Sure, there are zip-lock baggies, and those can work just fine. But what if you don’t want to tote around a see-through bag packed with your swimsuit, underwear, or workout clothes?

The Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport keeps your packing minimal, with an 8-liter bag (dimensions are 10 inches x 13 inches x 2.25 inches) that has two compartments separated by an internal baffled divider that allows you to pack more or less in one of the compartments, depending on what you’re bringing.

Tuck your muddy, soggy, sweaty gear in the zippered front compartment, away from your clean and dry gear that’s nicely packed into the back compartment. Or, do it the opposite way, as you prefer. The bag gives you easy access to it all, and the top grab handle makes it easy for you to hang the Pack-It Sport inside a locker, or on a door hook.

Made of 75D poly antimicrobial and TPU mesh antimicrobial material, the bag also helps contain odor and prevent microbial growth. It’s also machine washable, just in case you get it super dirty.

I’ve found this bag especially helpful while traveling when a spa appointment or swim session has been part of my itinerary, as well as visits to Finnish saunas. It’s also been useful at home, when I’ve been out and about and don’t want to put my post-workout gear straight in my car for other passengers to check out.

The Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport comes in fuchsia/black, blue/black, and tennis ball/black, and lists for $27 on the Eagle Creek site. It’s also available at Amazon.

Tentsile Tree Tent

tentsile

Every once in a while, a product comes along that is just so cool, you can’t wait to test it out. For me, the tree tent line from Tentsile fit that bill. Honestly, these tents are so popular around the world, for a while, Tentsile has had a hard time keeping them in stock. I hear they have a new production plan now though, and it’s probably a great time to buy.

Tentsile tree tents are exactly what you think they are based on the name: tents that you hang in trees. They have a heavy-duty, trampoline-type base/bottom and standard tent material top and rain fly, and are strung in a trio of trees (or poles) with sturdy cords and a ratcheting system (if you have a slack line, you’ll be familiar).

I tried out the Connect Tree Tent from Tentsile, which is a two-person tent featuring an adjustable double hammock bed, full no-see-um mesh top and four fold away doors (with removable rain fly). You get two large interior pockets to stashing gear, and I really love that an additional strap on the outside can tighten lengthwise in the middle of the base, allowing for two sleeping ‘hammocks’ of space or one wide space, depending on what you want. The rain fly flaps can also be folded underneath the tent and hooked to each other for a full windbreak, or you can leave them if the weather is nice. It’s a pretty roomy two-person tent, with a floor area of 5 m.

The first time setting up the tree tent, there’s a pretty steep learning curve. The video below gives an idea.

Tentsile Connect set up from SMN film on Vimeo.

It took us about 25 minutes to set it up the first time (Tentsile says it should take 15 minutes), but after that, it was easier. You always have to make sure you have three points with which to secure the tent, of course, and so far, we’ve always used trees. You can also use vehicles (trucks and cars) or poles and even high fences, I suppose. Are there places you can’t set it up? Of course, which is why tree tents are not for every occasion and situation.

What tree tents are great for: car camping situations in which you know you’ll have options for set up (plenty of trees, etc), and camping areas where being off the ground is a plus, whether due to uneven terrain, a crowded campsite, or both. It would also be great at festivals. We tested it during a group camping overnight, during which we were happy to not take up more ‘ground’ space. In the photo below, you can see that we set it up over another tent.

tentsile

What tree tents are not great for: backpacking. We carried the tree tent into our campsite a few miles into the wilderness, but at a whooping 16 pounds, we would not want to carry it farther. Reserve it for car camping, when you know you have time for a fairly extensive set up experience.

The Connect tree tent is $450, which really isn’t much more than other quality two-person tents, and you’ll definitely win on the unique tenting front. Pick one up at Tentsile or look for them at a few box stores now.