2018 gear guide updates!

Hey there everyone. You may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here, which was only partially due to the fact that I slept on my neck wrong for no reason and could barely move for two weeks. Way to go, biology!

Not quite that old.

In the meantime, I’ve also been working on updating some of the old gear guides, as several of them needed a major revamp. I like keeping old guides updated, and although I announced these updates on social media, I thought I’d mention it here as well, for anyone following just the site.

I’m happy to say the world of high-tech travel clothing is only getting better all the time, to the point that it’s actually becoming tricky to narrow down the options, rather than being impossible to find anything good in the first place. Finally.

But before we begin…

Minor site updates

1) The email mishap!

Once again, I’d like to apologize for the ridiculous fiasco of my email system sending 50 duplicate emails to most of my subscribers. A couple readers mentioned right away how they were getting inundated, and I disabled the system until I could get it fixed. It turned out to be a buggy update that has since been corrected, so I’m hoping that’ll be the end of things. It’s always humbling to know there are people out there who invite me into their inbox, and I’d never knowingly annoy the hell out of anyone this way, so I’m sorry about that. I’m just glad I wasn’t taking a nap while it was all going on, or it might have ended up being thousands. Please let me know if anything is ever going wrong like this, as I’m happy to fix it right away!

Also, the emails went out to the each-new-post subscribers, not the monthly newsletter subscribers; for some reason the monthly newsletter wasn’t sending at all, but it looks like that has been fixed, too. By the way, those lists are meant to be redundant, just to give readers multiple options in how frequently they want those emails, so feel free to hit the unsubscribe button at the bottom of each email if you want to remove yourself from either one.

Okay, let’s get started!

Major gear guide updates

1) Packable backpacks

This is one of my favorite categories, mainly because I don’t like hauling around two packs at once. With the little one small enough to stuff into itself, you don’t have to handle the awkward turtle-shell combo of both backpack and frontpack.

A million options exist, though I’ve concentrated on recognizable brands with solid warranties. New entries include Matador and Osprey, and I’ve reordered the list by weight, so you can scroll through quickly to find something that’s calibrated to your exact needs, from simple to full-featured.

2) Travel backpacks

The “travel backpack” category has absolutely exploded recently, and new designs show up on Kickstarter all the time. At this point a comprehensive list would be quite a challenge, so I’m thinking of ways to split things up into multiple categories. In the meantime, some of my favorites from years ago are still right up at the top of the list, along with some new designs from REI and Cotopaxi, and I’ve added GoRuck and PacSafe as well, which have some nice features that deserve a mention.

3) Travel pants

This one needed an update perhaps more than any other list, as a couple options no longer exist (especially from the major brands, which is why I don’t like listening options from major brands), but a few newcomers have built some really great alternatives to fill the void. These include some really strong contenders from Western Rise, the recently-resurrected Proof NY, Thunderbolt, and Makers & Riders. This list is almost completely revamped from what it was a few months ago, so you’ll definitely want to check it out, especially because I think pants are the most subjective thing to get right.

4) Soft shell pants

This is kind of a tangential category from “travel pants” (as soft shells work really nicely for that sort of thing), but I kept them in a separate category, as most of them were lacking a security pocket, which is no longer the case, as Proof NY and Seagale have each come to the security pocket rescue.

I’ll be doing a design deep-dive on soft shells pretty soon, to illustrate the fabric differences a little more closely, but they’re a great option for travel and hiking, especially if you love super stretchy fabrics. Competition has heated up as well, bringing the price down by about half of what it used to be, even going below $100 in some cases.

5) Soft shell jeans

So I kept an entirely separate list of soft shells that had jean-style pockets, as I find them so useful in preventing coins and phones from falling out that I didn’t want to let them go unmentioned. Western Rise and Seagale are the most notable new entries, along with Thunderbolt’s summer-weight version of its flagship mountaineering jeans. My favorites are the ones with the security pockets, and I’m happy to say we now have several options of those.

Minor gear guide updates

1) Travel underwear

So you have to try Mack Weldon’s new AirKnitX boxer brief, which is the only one added to this list. It is by far the most comfortable synthetic underwear fabric I have ever tried. Soft, luxurious, meshy, airy, and super duper stretchy. The fit isn’t quite what I’d do if I had the option (specifically, I would skip the gusset), but if you’re fine with that, it’s easily my #1 recommendation when it comes to synthetic underwear, and any designers out there should give it a look.

2) Wool dress shirts

Wool & Prince is still going strong with a million different colors, collar styles, thicknesses, weaves, flannels, and a million other options. They can outfit you in just about whatever you want, although it’s also nice to see a few new companies like Libertad Apparel and Seagale getting in on the action, alongside a few updates from Outlier as well.

If you haven’t tried a merino wool dress shirt, you’re seriously missing out. Not only do they provide all the advantages you know and love of merino wool, but they’re pretty much immune to wrinkles as well. Never iron anything ever again.

3) Portable coffee makers

Though it pains me to say it, I’m in the midst of a coffee detox, but for all of you coffee junkies out there who aren’t that crazy, there’s been quite a surge of interest in the all-in-one, portable, electronic coffee and espresso machines lately that you’ll want to look into if you like homemade coffee on the road. The list includes non-electronic alternatives as well, such as the beloved Aeropress, which produces coffee so wonderful that I’m going crazy without it.

Some of these options are still Kickstarter-only, so they’re just mentioned at the end, rather than having a real spot on the list, but they’re worth checking out as well.

That’s all for now!

Thanks again for bearing with me through the email mishap, and now that all these updates are out of the way, I’ve got a stack of gear I’ll be reveiwing in the near future. Happy 2018, merry whatever, and see you soon.

About SnarkyNomad

Eytan is a pretentious English major whose rant-laden sarcastic tirades occasionally include budget travel tips and other international nonsense. You can follow his every narcissistic word on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.

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