A new year symbolizes a new beginning, providing the perfect excuse to refresh some of the more well-worn items in your travel gear arsenal. In this set of reviews, we cast an eye over a range of staple travel kit – bags, clothes and more – that’ll endure whatever adventures 2018 has in store, whether you’re planning on strolling the boulevards of Paris, trekking the jungles of Brazil, or both.
Keen Terradora Ethos Trainers
For city sightseeing or low-level hiking, anywhere the weather is warm, the Terradora Ethos shoes from footwear specialist Keen are a great choice. With their close-fit, sporty look and ventilation cut-outs, the shoes are something of a trainer-sandal hybrid, making them ideal for those traveling light and wanting to save space – although on rough tracks stones coming in through the gaps proved a minor irritation. The sole has plenty of grips and the material is quick drying, which is also handy for fording streams mid-hike or if your adventures include watery activities like rafting or kayaking.
Eagle Creek Flatbed 28 Luggage Case
Neatly combining the practicality of a suitcase and the flexibility of a duffle bag, with handy features such as chunky wheels and a telescopic handle, Eagle Creek’s Flatbed 28 is well-suited to multifarious travel itineraries. With a functional yet stylish appearance, it’s tough enough to protect your stuff on a taxi roof rack in India, but you can still pull it proudly through the lobby of a fancy Venetian hotel. The single lid gives access to the bag’s capacious interior (although our tester said the flap covering the zip could be larger for more protection), while external straps provide extra strength and security during transit.
Osprey Questa 27 Backpack
With 18 compartments of different sizes, if the Questa 27 can’t keep your stuff organized, nothing will. This small backpack carries all you need for a day in the city – camera, maps, lunch, even a laptop – with mesh side-pockets for water bottle or folding umbrella, and there’s an elastic cord on the front for bulky items like a raincoat or spare sandals. It’s not designed for serious hiking, so straps and padding are minimal, meaning less bulk while still offering adequate comfort for a day shopping or sightseeing, while the waist-belt tucks away completely when not needed.
Tilley Classic Trousers
Tilley’s forte is fine to travel clothing, whether it be their hats (previously reviewed here) or these versatile trousers. Made from tough fabric, our tester found them too warm for tropical conditions, but the relaxed fit and sturdy construction were well-suited for cooler climes, whether hiking in the hills, strolling through parks, or strutting along lavish boulevards. We also liked the wide belt loops and found the external pockets on the upper leg handy for keeping travel tickets unblemished and easy to reach when sitting down – especially useful on crowded buses or when dashing for a last-minute train.
Rab Alpha Flash jacket
At first glance, the Alpha Flash looks like a simple woolly pullover, but beneath this unassuming veneer lies a highly technical garment, excellent for active travel across different climate zones. You can wear it with jeans in town, with board shorts at a beach party or with hiking kit up a mountain, then easily roll it into a small bundle in your backpack when it’s not needed. Key features include a material called Polartec Alpha which is windproof, breathable and fast-wicking to keep you warm, and a treatment called Polygiene Stay Fresh which keeps body odor under control – handy for both the wearer and fellow passengers on those cramped, sweaty bus journeys.
Go Travel Digi Scales
We’ve all done it: gone traveling with an admirably light bag, only to come home with an impressively large souvenir – carpets from Morocco, pottery from Japan – and suffer excess baggage charges at the airport. Avoid such problems with the Digi Scales from Go Travel. Use this nifty gadget to check your bags before departure, then carry it with you to keep tabs on your luggage weight en route – especially handy for extended backpacking trips.
Montane Ajax Jacket
If your 2018 adventures involve traveling to any destination where you’re likely to encounter rain – Bali in the monsoon, London in summer – a waterproof jacket is a must. Step forward the Ajax from Montane. Constructed with Goretex, the fabled waterproof and breathable fabric, it keeps water out without leaving the wearer feeling clammy from perspiration. It also weighs less than half a kilo (just under one pound), so when the sun shines you can stow it away in your backpack and forget it’s there.
(All photographs are courtesy of the original owners unless otherwise indicated)