Crew Essentials: Gear for Traveling Smarter

My favorite outdoor memory is a summer camping trip to the Republic of Khakasia on the southwestern edge of Siberia. Traveling to the lake, it was fascinating to watch the landscape transform from dense Siberian forest to vast Central Asian plains peppered with beautiful lakes. The lake we camped on the edge of, Lake Belyo, is a cool saltwater lake full of the clearest water I’ve ever seen. It was a perfect spot for roasting shashlik and midnight swims. The unspoiled beauty was worth every moment of the 60 hour train ride and 6 hour drive it took to get there.

I think travel is one of the most enriching experiences out there, but there can definitely be some misadventures, especially as you gain experience. I’ve found having the right gear and packing light and smart, makes all the difference. Below are a few items that I won’t leave home without.


Osprey Ozone Convertible 22 

$300 (see store for sale price)

If you’re going to own one piece of luggage, hands down, this is the piece to own. It’s perfectly carry on sized and soft sides maximize space, so you can easily pack everything you need in one space. It easily transforms from a piece of rolling luggage to a backpack, a feature that I love when it comes to riding public transit.

The detachable daypack is a perfect lightweight take along for day hikes and eco tours. I like to combine urban and outdoor exploration on my trips, so I love that I can bring a daypack without it taking up any extra space and still have room for a shoulder bag for the city.



Keen Morrison Mid


I’ve worn Keen Boots for years and found them to be virtually indestructible and both supportive and comfortable for all day wear. I love the Morrison Mid’s relaxed, yet classic, styling. It’s easy to dress up for dinner, but also pairs well with jeans. It’s shorter height also means that it takes up less space in my suitcase. The 59 boot from Keen is a great day to night option for men.


Free Fly Bamboo Fleece Pullover


After a few frigid flights, unseasonable cold snaps, and an unexpected night in a train station (that’s a good story, always double check your tickets), I’ve learned to never travel without a cozy layer, regardless of season. This hoody from Free Fly is exceptionally soft and plush + it has my favorite feature, thumb holes. Bamboo rayon also makes a fantastic fabric for travel, due to its natural moisture wicking and odor management properties. It’s also available in a 1/4 zip for men.



Prana Meme Pants


The perfect travel pant. They’re cute enough for city wear, but they are made out of Prana’s classic Stretch Zion fabric and are tough enough to take on a hike or even rock climbing. They’re Scotch Guard treated to resist stains and dry quickly, should you need to wash them. My favorite feature is the 4-way stretch which makes them comfortable enough for a long layover. My husband also swears by the men’s version.



Exofficio Give N Go Sport Mesh Underwear

Hipkini style shown, $24

No suitcase would be complete without a couple pairs of Exo undies. They dry extremely quickly and feature an antimicrobial treatment to fight odors, making them ideal for handwashing on the go. The comfortable weave of the sport mesh fabric makes them so comfortable you might forget you’re wearing them. They’re also available in several cuts and colors for men and women.



Kavu Eloise

This bag is lightweight, folds flat, and can be worn cross body for security. I like to pack it in my carry on and use it to hold my essentials while exploring the city, it’s surprisingly roomy and perfectly fits a wallet, phone, iPad mini, and a map.


Crew Essentials: Family Hiking in the Mountains of North Carolina

Hiking Family Asheville North Carolina MountainsAs a new Dad, ‘traditions’ are often on my mind. Making certain my daughter lives an active outdoor lifestyle is paramount. Every New Year’s, the family hits the trails. With a 17 month old, the distance tends to differ drastically. Here is a list of some of the essentials it takes to get my family on the trail.

Osprey Poco AG Premium

Let’s face it, I have to carry my daughter — and that is ok! The Osprey Poco AG is super comfortable with their famous ‘AG’ Anti-Gravity suspension. It also has a ton of adjustability, storage, and a sunshade to keep my daughter comfortable. $330


Goal Zero Flip 20

Safety first: Even in the woods, I need to make certain my phone has enough juice to keep me connected. $39.99


Benchmade Mini Barrage

Every man needs a knife. The Mini-Barrage is a great everyday carry. Benchmade also has free lifetime sharpening and you can’t beat that. $131.75benchmade-mini-barrage-asheville

Hydro Flask 24oz Standard Mouth

I’m simply not a fan of lukewarm water. Hydro Flask keeps ice like a champ. Not going to lie…my wife and I own a lot of Hydro Flask. $29.95hydro-flask-standard-24-asheville

Superfeet Green 

When it comes to taking care of feet, everyone needs Superfeet! It supports your entire foot and cushions your heel. Less stress, less rolled ankles, less problems in life. $44.95superfeet-green-asheville-diamond-brand-outdoorsSmartwool PhD Light Mini

Keep your feet dry and happy.  If your feet start giving you troubles your hike is over. $16.95smartwool-phd-light-mini-asheville

Michael is the Hardgoods and Paddle Sports Buyer for Diamond Brand Outdoors and Frugal Backpacker.


Easy Going Travel Essentials

It’s finally here- Memorial Day, the official kick-off to the summer vacation season! Personally, we love a beach getaway, but whatever your style, we’re pretty sure your ideal vacation doesn’t involve schlepping tons of bags. That’s why we adore travel pieces that are compact or multi-functional.Here are a few of our favorites that always make it into our bags.

A No-Fuss Bag


It all starts with a perfect bag: big enough for what you need, small enough to keep you from over packing, and easy to carry. Our go-to is the Patagonia Black Hole Duffel. This hard working bag is incredibly durable with well thought out features. We love the internal organization pockets and the fact that it folds down for easy storage when not in use, but our favorite features are the versatile straps that take it from duffel to backpack.

An Easy Going Hat


A great hat is a non-negotiable travel essential. From easy protection from the elements, to an easy touch of style, it’s a small item that covers a lot of bases (bonus, it’s a great way to hide unruly hair on long trips). We love a graphic trucker hat for an easy to pack option, but for full sun protection, we like a full coverage hat, like this option from Pistil.

Beach to Town Duds


When suitcase space is at premium, clothes that do double duty are a must have. One of our favorite double duty pieces is the incredibly flattering Kamala Convertible Skirt from Patagonia, this breezy number easily converts from skirt to dress and can easily take on a dressy dinner or a day at the beach. We also adore the Horizon Hybrid Shorts from Howler Bros. These quick drying shorts are perfect for a hike, a swim, or kicking around town.

Quality Shades


When it comes to enjoying a great day on the water or on the town good eyewear makes all the difference. We’re huge fans of Smith’s Chromapop technology, a film free polarization that’s incredibly durable and filters light to give you sharp bright color. If your sunglasses frequently go missing, Suncloud (made by Smith) offers budget friendly polarized shades for just $49.