Keep your water clean with MSR Guardian Purifier

MSR Guardian Purifier

If you keep your travels to destinations where you can trust the purity of water that comes from your hotel room tap, you have a pretty limited list of places to go. Once you open up the possibilities of traveling anywhere you want to go, not only is your worldview much richer, but you need to start thinking about things you might take for granted at home.

Like clean water.

It’s one thing to mosey on over to the convenience store and buy a bottle of water, but when you travel in developing countries that don’t have robust recycling programs, or any recycling program at all, you begin to see what happens to those plastic bottles. They clog up rivers and landscapes, streets and beaches. And they’re not breaking down anytime soon.

So why not find a better way to ensure you’re drinking safe water?

The MSR Guardian Purifier is what I took on my recent trip to India. Originally designed for military squads (it meets NSF Protocol P248), it’s a way for global travelers and backcountry campers to treat their water, and it’s also a good idea to stash away in emergency kits.

The pump purifier weighs 1 pound, 1.3 ounces, and packs away into a small bag, which makes it easier to stash in your pack or suitcase. The hollow-fiber filter treats 2.5 liters of water per minute and lasts for up to 10,000 liters. It also self-cleans on every stroke, so there’s no backflushing or filter scrubbing required.

The Guardian is engineered to withstand heavy use, freezing, drops (tested on drops of 6 feet to concrete) and harsh environments. In India, I used it in my hotel room and out on the trail when I camped in the Himalayas.

What can the Guardian protect you against? Bacteria like e coli, shigella, salmonella, and cholera. Protozoa like giardia, cryptosporidium, and amoebae. Particulates like sediment, silt, and dirt. It also helps protect against viruses like norovirus/norwalk, rotavirus, and hepatitis A.

Having the Guardian along with me meant that I didn’t have to worry about making sure I used water from a trusted source when I needed a drink. I plan to bring it along on my trips to developing countries, as well as backpacking trips in the future.

The MSR Guardian Purifier lists for $349.95 on the MSR site. It’s also available at REI.

Coverage Created in Colorado: 5 Things You Need From Phunkshun Wear

If your winter weather was anything like the one we experience this season, I wish I would have had Phunkshun Wear in my bag. Created from those pesky water bottles you have rolling around on the floor of your car, these environmentally friendly neck tubes, infinity scarfs and headbands are everything you’ll need.

  1. Made in the USA

Who doesn’t want to support a local company with a hip edge? And support our great country of America as well!?
Created and manufactured in Colorado, Phunkshun Wear helps boost our local economy while keeping you warm whatever the weather you are experiencing.

In addition to being made in the USA, they participate in the High Fives Non-Profit Organization. For every mask sold, Phunkshun Wear donates $0.05 to the Mountain Action Sports which making playing outdoors safer for its athletes.

  1. Technology You Can Understand

Ever try to read the specs on a piece of clothing for your sport and find yourself trying to decipher the French? Well, Phinkshun Wear provides easy to read tags on their Neck Tubes to ensure you purchase the right one for your needs. As the warmth rating increases, as does the features. Features range from odor control to moister wicking and UPF rating. Each category also has their own patterns so you can easily identify the right cover for your day. And, may it be a blue bird, powder day!

  1. Kid Friendly

End the ‘Cold Complaints’ with style! Not only do the adult neck tubes come in fantastic prints, as do the kids’ size. You’ll be able to outfit your little speed demon with a tube that makes them stand out on the mountain AND maintains their warmth. Less hot chocolate stops for you! In fact, one Phunkshun Wear Single Layer Neck Gaiter is less expensive than a round of hot chocolates from the lodge.  Score one for the parents!

  1. Customizable and FUN!

Phunkshun Wear will collaborate with you to create a memorable and unique marketing tool for your business or team. With the ability to print a simple logo or even a photograph, the creative team at Phunkshun Wear will make your phabric dreams come true. The patterns available to every consumer will ensure your warmth is vibrant and fits your personality.

I would suggest customizing a line of products for your family with your names on it. Gear is easy to lose, especially when it’s the coolest on the mountain, so put a label on it!

  1. Easy to Pack

Of course we are going to discuss the travel-ability of these! Easily balled up in your bag, shoved into a pocket, worn on the plane, or even into the cold storage everyone else calls a movie theater, Phunkshun wear isn’t just for the outdoors. I was impressed with the weight of the material and the amount of warmth it provides. These easy to pack covers boast a bug punch of warmth and awesomness!


Products can be found on their easy to navigate website or on

Best LOWA shoes for travel in 2017

We have been reviewing LOWA shoes on Practical Travel Gear for years. Why? I absolutely love LOWA for their durability, comfort, practicality, and price. In fact, I’ve been wearing my favorite LOWA shoe, the Innox Evo, since 2015; they have been my go-to hiking shoe and travel shoe everywhere from Alaska to Peru.

New this year are updates to both the Innox Evo GTX and the popular San Francisco GTX, which means I could simply update without having to search for a new favorite shoe.

Innox Evo GTX: 

lowa shoeI continue to love the new version of this shoe because it is still lightweight, extremely comfortable, and versatile. I don’t even bother with a shoe if it cannot perform in multiple locations and for several activities; I don’t have room in my carry-on for a large shoe collection. The Innox Evo is designed for light hiking and speed walking, but its midsole has the perfect degree of cushioning to perform the above functions as well as be a comfortable ‘around town’ or travel day shoe. It is still waterproof and breathable, and I can tell you from experience that the Innox Evo cleans up nicely. I have rinsed mine off in hotel bathtubs and hosed them off on decks of ships, and they have dried quickly. My 2015 pair still look practically new. Best of all for travelers, the Innox Evo has a climate control footbed to increase air flow and reduce odor.

This year’s version comes in fun new colors, including my favorite, navy-mint. Pick up a pair in size 5.5 to 11 in women’s for $175. The value is there for this shoe that will last you for years and go everywhere with you.

San Francisco GTX: 

san francisco lowa

If you want a travel shoe that will look a little more urban and a little less trail ready (but will still perform on a trail in a pinch), look to the new version of the San Francisco GTX. (Note: this shoe comes in several men’s versions as well.) The San Francisco is a more casual shoe, while still offering GoreTex protection. You get an open-sole construction for extreme breathability, but still retain the waterproof aspect. With a leather upper, the San Francisco is arguably more sophisticated-looking than the Innox Evo, making it ideal for city touring. I took mine on an early spring visit to Italy, where they managed uneven sidewalks and cobblestone while looking good with slacks and skirts. While I wouldn’t recommend the San Francisco for seriously cold climates, they do just fine in mild weather and hot sunny days alike.

The San Francisco also has some fun new colors, including the taupe/berry I tried out and a more spring-like jade/honey combination. It’s offered in size 5.5 to 11 for women, for $225 on the LOWA site. Look for sales on Amazon, too!

Nomad Advanced Trackable PowerPack

Nomad has done a fantastic job developing a superpower battery that is actually trackable. This is a really nifty feature that adds exceptional value to an already strong power pack.

The durable device has a rubberized exterior, which keeps it from getting damaged or scratched. Nomad studied the construction of various iPhone cases to determine the best material to create a premium, drop-resistant material.

What’s inside is a big deal: 9000mAh worth of charging capability. That can charge the iPhone 7 as many as three and a half times at the rate of about one percent per minute.

At the base are power plugs for USB C and A ports (the latter is compatible with the majority of your existing devices). One of the ports is used to charge the device while the others can simultaneously power up your others.

Nomad has partnered with the smartphone Tile app to provide tracking capability of this device in case you misplace it (or it gets stolen). You can release a melody on the power pack’s speaker that can help you locate it. If you can’t find it, you can even seek help from the Tile community of app users to join in on the search.

The power pack works well with many of Nomad’s ultra-rugged charging cables.

One downside is that the pack is not lightweight, but that is not surprising given the strength of the battery itself. And Nomad got rid of another problem: the blinking light that can light up a room if charging things with the lights off. It can now adjust to the level of light in a space so that you can see it easily at night or during the daytime.

The Nomad Advanced Trackable PowerPack retails for $100 online and is really a next step up when it comes to portable power packs.