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Gear Gifts for Travelers

M Kanaha Hydrophobic Shirt Deepsea Blue 2014 FinalBluesmiths Kanaha Hydrophobic Shirt

Being largely Irish, with a fair share of English blood, I haven’t always gotten along with the sun. That’s especially true at the beach and so I’ve sought out the rash guard surfer shirts that keep you pasty, pale and cancer-free. But they are inevitably binding and make you feel a bit like a seal. So when I came across the Kanaha Hydrophobic shirt by Bluesmiths this summer, it was a quantum leap. It’s long sleeved (it also comes in short sleeve) but even so it doesn’t restrict your movements. It hangs loose even as you hang ten, paddle board or maybe just dig a sand castle with your kid. It breathes, it keeps the demon rays at bay and it’s dry before you know it. All while looking pretty damn stylish. This “hydrophobic waterwear,” to use their phrase, has street cred — make that beach cred: it’s designed by people who live on Maui (not in Brooklyn, thank you) and has quickly become the go-to beach shirt in my bag. $90


bogsBogs Tillamook Bay

It took my daughter, a master of the eye roll at 12, to say “Daddy, where have you been?” when I started wearing a pair of Bogs. She’s been way ahead of me, wearing hers for years. I now have a pair of Bogs Tillamook Bay, and they have quickly become favorite après ski wear, easy to slip on, impervious to slush, bestowed with enough grip to foil an icy parking lot. They’re made from hand-lasted rubber and they are warm thanks to Neo-Tech™ insulation. I’m still waiting for my daughter to deem her own Bogs uncool because her father is wearing them. But since hers are red with white polka dots, I haven’t really usurped her fashion. $90


288612_6029_41LL Bean’s Double L Four Piece Fly Rod Outfits

When I caught two landlocked salmon on Maine’s Long Pond this summer, I was using LL Bean’s new Double L series. Truth be told, five hours of casting led up to these catches, but the rod was a dream to cast for hours. The new series is lighter than ever, fast and strong enough to land fish far bigger than the 14 inch specimens I brought in. I’ve long been a fan of Bean’s outfits as they offer the best bang for your buck – rod, reel, line, and backing, balanced and made for each other – saving you money and taking the guesswork out of matching everything. The Double L series is at the higher end of Bean’s range, and touches like the burled wood reel seat spacer, graphite rod tube and cloth sleeve make it an impressive gift. They come in 4 to 8 weights, in four piece rods, making them ideal for travel. From $350


1021-1740_8330_grEx Officio Kukura Trek’r Pant

When I was hiking through hilly bogland in County Cork this fall, it was raining sideways and the bog underfoot had all of the elasticity of a very wet kitchen sponge. The fact that I was sheathed in Ex Officio gear was my assurance of staying dry. I was especially happy with their Kukura Trek’r Pant. Remarkably thin and lightweight, it is treated with water repellent so that water simply beads on the surface. It also has a wide range of movement at the waist, so hiking is easy. It is UPF 50+ but that was clearly untested in the West of Ireland. In short, these are a great pair of pants, both because they’re light and they do exactly what Ex Officio says they’re going to do: keep you dry. I wish everyone would keep such promises. $100




passport-wallet-paynes-grey-fullsize-3Moleskine Passport Wallet

I’ve been a devotee of Moleskine notebooks as I’ve traveled around the globe but I only recently learned that they make other travel gear as well. A good example is their Passport Wallet. It’s about the size of a Moleskine notebook but is sensibly made with polyester. If it gets dirty or wet, it really won’t matter. Light in weight, with spaces for a passport, credit card, cash and zippered coin pouch, it comes with the signature Moleskine band to strap everything in tight. $45



dubs DUBS

The perfect stocking stuffer for travelers?  The DUBS acoustical filters get my vote. These are new reusable high tech earplugs, in layman’s terms, that utilize something called “dynamic attenuation” to protect your ears. Made with stainless steel, polymer foams and silicone, they reduce audio levels by about 12 dB. As someone who does not leave home without a pair or three of foam earplugs in his backpack, these promise to make my traveling life just that much quieter. $25



unnamed (2)Hi Tec Trooper

Winter has arrived in the Northeast and so it’s a good time to test drive Hi Tec’s Trooper Mid 200 i WP. They call it “the ultimate adventure travel boot” and it delivers. It’s lightweight, waterproof and breathable. It’s also warm, thanks to Thinsulate™ insulation. It has a compression molded EVA midsole to absorb impact. They work in Manhattan and I think they’ll do a pretty good job in the White Mountains later this winter. $130



eyeDK Eyewitness Travel

I have long been a fan of DK Eyewitness Travel guides and I just used their latest guide to Ireland this fall. What I like about Eyewitness Guides is their mixture of intelligent prose and lavish photo illustrations, maps and graphics. You can immerse yourself in a destination via armchair travel long before you ever board a plane. Now that travel research largely consists of flying through a bunch of websites and reviews, this is a delightfully Luddite way to digest and plan a real trip. The physical book may be heavier than you want to drag along, but if you don’t mind looking like a tourist as you stroll down O’Connell Street in Dublin, it’s worth packing. Heading to Thailand, Napa or Italy? They’ve got you covered in about 200 destinations.  $25



Eagle Creek Expandable Duffle

In my perpetual quest for the perfect carry on, I recently came across the Eagle Creek Expandable Duffle. It’s not only made of the usual rip stop material that make Eagle Creek bags so durable, along with multiple pockets and solid hardware that actually works. The fact is that the strongest suite of this bag is its size. And these days, size really does matter. In the case of this bag, it’s 21.5 x 10.5 x 12 inches. That’s small enough to pass muster with the carry-on police. But it also expands to 14.5 inches, puffing out like a blowfish for those times when I’m traveling on land or, Lord help me, I decide to check it. But increasingly, carry on is the way I go, even for two weeks away. Bags like this make it easy. $120

ath_ckp200is_gp_1_sqSonicSport In-ear Headphones

The battle for your ears just got louder with the new audio technica SonicSport In-ear Headphones for Smartphones. The ATH-CKP200iS has a universal in-line mic and controls that allow you to handle calls, control your music and adjust volume at the touch of a button. In short, they’re aimed at the multi-taskers most of us have become. They have a hinged ear hook and come with both standard silicone and new ridged XS/S/M and L eartips that are useful for either greater sound isolation or to allow increased ambient sound outdoors. The headphones, which come in multiple colors, can also be washed after use. $44.95

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