It’s my favorite time of the year – the holiday season! When I was younger I was loco about the holidays, and even though that has subdued as an adult, I still love the smells, sounds, food, family, friends, and love around the holiday season.
Each year around this time I write about travel gear that I love in the hopes it will make your traveling easier. In addition, it’s a great guide for holiday shopping and gift ideas!
One big change for me since having a home is that I am now able to take on gear testing and reviews that I was never really able to do before when I was nomadic. It’s hard to try out different gear when you don’t even have a closet! However, now I have a closet full of backpacks, hats, camping gear, and suitcases! I have jumped into the travel gear world this year and have been testing out some new brands as well as some of my favorite brands that I’ve been using for years in my travels and hiking.
My favorite travel gear list is bigger than ever and you’ll see some new brands and ideas on it for this year! I have a complete list of all of my favorite travel gear on my Amazon store. There you’ll find my favorite hiking gear, winter gear, and photography gear.
However in this post I’m mainly focusing on the new products that I’ve been testing out this year. Or products that I’ve used before that I have updates on. Since I’ve been concentrating on a lot more hiking this year after my knee surgery, I have focused on a lot of new hiking gear lately. Therefore I’ve split up this list into hiking gear and travel gear, and threw in some other cool ideas for people who love to travel!
For the Person Who Doesn’t Want Stuff
As you know – I’m all about simplifying and living with less stuff and more experiences. So quite frankly I can’t think of any better gift for traveler than Tinggly Experiences. Tinggly is a global gift collection of experiences people can redeem around the world.
How it works:
There are multiple gift collections that hold hundreds of experiences all around the world
The collections include experiences from diving with sharks, balloon rides, wine tasting the world’s tallest bungee jump to the oldest yoga retreat in India and gondola ride in Venice; there are hundreds of experiences all around the world. People can order a physical gift box or e-voucher and send to a friend. The recipient can then choose any specific experience within that box.
I love this gift idea for travelers, honeymooners, staycations, and career breakers – it’s a truly unique gift. And the best part…this gift doesn’t require any space in anyone’s home!
Gear For the Hiker
Osprey Sirius 24 Day Pack
I just tested this on my last trip and fell in love with it for day hiking in Ireland! Osprey is a leader in backpacks and I was eager to try out one of their daypacks with their new Stow-n-Go feature. This allows you to stow and remove trekking poles in seconds WITHOUT taking off your backpack! Hallelujah! I do use trekking poles, however not all the time depending on the trail. I’ve been looking for a way to stow poles without having to take off your backpack for a few years now and Osprey has finally solved the problem! I love this pack for many reasons (its length is adjustable, it has an attached rain cover, the waist pockets are big enough to fit a phone, the water system is great, and it allows air to flow to your back) – but I LOVE how easy it is to store and retrieve your poles. See how it works here. 24 L is a good size for long day hiking where you can store rain gear, first aid, water, and snacks comfortably. Other sizes are available though.
Deuter Futura 45+10
The other new backpack I tested this year was a Deuter – also a great pack brand. I tested this out on my Maine Hut to Hut trip as it’s 55L and can carry a sleeping bag/quilt and has space for multi day hikes. This is the perfect size for multi day hikes where you aren’t carrying a tent (think Camino de Santiago, St Olav Ways, Hut to Hut hiking, etc). This particular pack is part of Deuter’s women’s series because women are built different than men…duh. It has a Vari-Slide System allowing exact adjustment to every back length; ensuring the pack sits perfectly on your hips. Plus the waist belt also moves with you as you step ensuring comfort for long term wear. I carried about 33 pounds in it for my Hut to Hut hiking in September and it worked great. I had no back or shoulder pain and the back ventilation system kept me cool. I’m a believer in packs designed for women!
One of my favorite things about testing new product is that I get to see all of the advances in gear that I have missed for the last 12 years while I was on the road! And there are few things that have changes as much as water bladders…yes…water bladders. The old ones were hard to clean and fill, but oh my have they made strides in those areas now. I used the new Osprey water bladder and it was like going from a Toyota to a Porsche. The Osprey bladder has a big opening for super easy filling and emptying, and they no long have twist on caps – they instead have a fold over clamp that ensures there’s no spilling and it’s so easy to use. In addition, the hose detaches in two places so that it’s easier to clean and get in and out of your backpack. Finally my favorite part is the magnet that you put on your backpack strap and holds the straw in place so it doesn’t flop around or end up in the dirt when you put your pack down.
The Deuter water bladder that also came with my Deuter pack was also great and high end!
Sierra Designs Cagoule Jacket
What is a Cagoule you ask? It’s a lightweight, hooded, thigh-length waterproof jacket – perfect for hiking in the wind and in the summer months where you are hiking with shorts. This pull over jacket is big enough to likely cover your pack and your shorts. It’s like a sturdy poncho in a way and I like those for summer hiking and storms. Plus – it folds up in itself when you aren’t using it!
Sierra Designs Elwah Rain Pants
Every hiker needs a good pair of tear away rain pants. They will keep you dry on the trail and get you in touch with your inner stripper! I used these in Ireland last month for some rainy hikes and they worked great. These don’t exactly ‘tear away’, but they do zip all the way up the leg so you can easily and quickly put them on over your boots in a downpour!
Oboz Hiking Boots
One of the new brands I was introduced to this year was OBOZ. They make hiking boots and outdoor shoes – and I LOVE them. These are the only boots I’ve been able to put on for the first time and hike long distances without a break in period. Now I don’t suggest that people do that – I always suggest breaking in boots before any big trips – do as I say…not as I do! I’ve tried 3 different pairs this year for different types of trips and each provide excellent support and complete water protection (that was so essential in Ireland!)
The Juniper boot is a lightweight hiking boot. It has good tread and support but isn’t bulky. I used them for summer hiking in Norway and Colorado. One cool benefit is that they don’t really look like hiking boots – so you can use them for your everyday travels too as you walk around a city and save room in your suitcase!
The Bridger Mid – is their heavy duty waterproof boot that I used for Ireland’s bogs, and boulders. These are so comfortable I wear them on the plane! The Bridger Thermal was super for winter hiking in Alaska and snowshoeing as it has an extra thermal layer that will keep you toasty warm! What I loved most about the Bridgers was the high quality insole providing incredible support. AND they plant a tree for every pair of shoes sold!
When you think of quilts you certainly don’t think of hiking or camping…until now. There’s a new kind of ‘sleeping bag/blanket’ on the market that the industry has dubbed a quilt. It is a hoodless, backless, zipperless sleeping bag with a fully enclosed foot box opening at knee level. It’s more like a sleeping blanket made of sleeping bag material that can hook to your sleeping pad or can simply be used like a blanket. It’s meant for summer camping and hut to hut type treks where you have a bed but have to bring a sleeping bag. Down quilts are cheaper, lighter, and have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than traditional sleeping bags. As such, they’ve become a staple in ultralight and lightweight backpacking kits. I used this one for my Maine Hut to Hut trek and loved how light and small it was in my pack but it kept me toasty warm in the unheated huts. It would also be perfect for the Camino de Santiago or other pilgrimages.
The most frequent question I got asked on the hiking trail this year was, “what is that?” as people pointed to my Cotton Carrier. There are few products that change your life for the better – but the Cotton Carrier does! If you carry a DSLR camera and also do a lot of outdoor adventures or hiking – then the Cotton Carrier will change your life too! This harness is great for holding your camera securely (no swinging or jiggling!) while you hike or row or bike or snow shoe. It’s easy to quickly pull out of the chest lock and use the camera in one smooth motion. But the best part is that the harness is dispersing the weight properly instead of around your neck only. This is a must for any outdoor photographer!
Montem Hiking Poles
This year I was asked to try these lightweight carbon fiber poles and they have been a super lightweight addition to my hiking equipment. I love their flick locks that allow you to quickly adjust them to any height and they stay super secure. I also love the cork grips which absorb the sweat better. However, I think my big selling point is that they are affordable carbon fiber poles – most poles in this category cost much more.
Gear For the Traveler
Eagle Creek No Matter What Suitcase
I’ve written and raved about this suitcase multiple times – however this year I learned some sad news…Eagle Creek will be discontinuing it. Gasp. I am heartbroken as I lived out of this awesome, simple suitcase for 4 years. Even though I have tried out other suitcases this year – I still come back to this one. It’s just no frills, light weight, and allows you to pack the most in it. So why is it on this list if it’s being discontinued?! There are a few left on Amazon – so get one before they no longer are around!
eBags TLS Hybrid Suitcase
I have been using my little carry-on eBags 4 wheeled suitcase a lot this year. I even took it to India for 2 weeks and it worked great. I love it’s compact size and I must admist I like how it glides along effortlessly with the 4 wheels – and so do my shoulders. This is a great, economical option for a carry-on suitcase.
Point 6 Wool Socks –
These are my new favorite socks. I discovered them last winter and loved their story. They are from the old founders of SmartWool and after selling SmartWool and watching the quality slowly degrade, they decided to start up another sock company that represented the quality socks that they intended. They are based in Colorado…bonus! I have multiple pairs of the Point 6 socks for hiking, running, compression, and every day and they each wash up so well and have held up wonderfully with lots of wear.
Marmot Eclipse Raincoat –
Versatility is the name of the game in travel gear – and this Eclipse rain jacket can serve many purposes! Use it as a regular jacket, wind jacket, or as a rain jacket. It has been my main travel jacket this year!
This was one of my absolute favorite finds this year – Wallaroo hats! If you have followed me on social media then you know that I love hats; I normally pack at least 2 for each trip! They are perfect for sun protection, when I’m too lazy to shower, and bad hair days that happen frequently when I travel! Wallaroo is a Colorado company that specializes in sun protective hats that remain stylish. Each hat has SPF in them to help protect against skin cancer. Here were a couple of my favorite ones I used this year!
Lifesaver Liberty Water Purifier
As a traveler I see many problems that are pervasive in the world, and one of the biggest is the use of one time use plastic bottles. I always bring my own water bottle that I can refill from the tap when I travel; however, I’m not always in places where you can drink the tap water – like my trip to India this year. I brought my own water purification solution so that I could drink from the tap in India and fill my reusable water bottle. The LifeSaver® Liberty™ is the worlds’ first and only portable water purifier which is a bottle with an inline pump combined. It’s small, and there’s no waiting; fill the Lifesaver, pump it, and drink right away. I used it for my entire trip and never had an issue!
Mighty Organic Travel Snacks
With flavors like bacon & apple, cranberry & sunflower seeds, and sea salt & cracked pepper – you might think I was talking about salads. Nope – I’m talking about Mighty Organic beef bars! This fully organic company makes meat sticks, jerky, and beef bars for a wholesome, protein packed snack. I have been using them on all of my hikes as well as always have a bar in my bag for emergency food! No one likes to travel with a hangry Sherry.
Wireless Bose QuietComfort Headphones
Recently my old Bose QuietComfort headphones broke, I tried to live/travel without them for a few months, but I just couldn’t do it. I had to have my noise cancelling headphones on planes as they are a true lifesaver. I bought a new pair but I have now discovered that they offer them in wireless (my old ones were prior to wireless technology). But the great part is that even though they are wireless, they also come with a chord that you can plug them in for planes…perfect for travel and long haul flights!
For the Person Planning an Upcoming Trip
Ultimate Journeys for Two I know that I really specialize in solo travel, however this year I had a couple of good friends publish this awesome travel idea book for couples. If you are trying to figure out where to go, check out Ultimate Journey’s for Two for ideas!
Shop My Complete Travel Gear Lists
This list really is only the new stuff I discovered and used this year in my travels, however, to see a complete list of all of my favorite travel gear go shop at my Ottsworld Amazon store for all of my travel gear must haves!
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