Gadling Gear Review: Eddie Bauer Expedition Flannel Shirt

Eddie Bauer Expedition Flannel
Eddie Bauer

In the world of outdoor and travel apparel there are few names as recognizable as Eddie Bauer. For more than 90 years the company has specialized in making clothing that is designed for travel and adventure, outfitting some famous explorers and mountaineers along the way. The iconic brand has earned itself a reputation for making clothing that is tough, comfortable and dependable, while still managing to perform well in some of the harshest environments on the planet. Whether you’re hanging out on your front porch or traveling to the far corners of the globe, chances are Eddie Bauer makes something you’ll want to take with you. After all, if they can equip teams for the summit of Everest, they can probably keep you happy on your next adventure too.

One of the more classic items in the Eddie Bauer catalog is their Expedition Flannel shirt. This is one of those pieces of gear that easily passes my criteria for the kind of item that I want in my bag when I set out on trip. Since I tend to travel light, everything that goes into my pack needs to be something that is going to be comfortable when I put it on, useful in a variety of situations and will still look as good at the end of the trip as it does at the beginning. The Expedition Flannel does all of that and then some.Built from extremely soft polyester fabrics, this shirt has a trim cut that is designed to fit closely to the body, allowing the wearer to move without restriction while on the go. Any active traveler will appreciate this approach, as there are few things worse than wearing a piece of clothing that feels too confining. The fabrics also resemble traditional flannel in most respects but they perform on a different level than the flannel that we’ve all come to know and love. For instance, the fabrics that Eddie Bauer uses are designed to wick moisture away from the body, helping you to stay dry when you start to work up a sweat. This comes in surprisingly handy in both warm and cool conditions.

In terms of versatility, the Expedition Flannel is a winner as well. It has rustic good looks that make it equally good for strolling the streets of Paris or trekking in the Himalaya. Its classic design doesn’t wader far from the traditional but its use of modern color combinations is both refreshing and bold. It doesn’t hurt that is also packs extremely well, going in and out of your bag without collecting too many wrinkles – something I think we can all appreciate.

Since this is a piece of clothing created by Eddie Bauer, you know it has the durability to hold up to the rigors of the road. The Expedition Flannel was built to accompany you on your travels, whether that is down the block or around the world, and still come back looking as good as new. The level of quality in this shirt allows it to stand up to whatever abuse you give it and come away with barely a scuff on it. I’ve worn mine numerous times, for numerous activities, and it always comes out of the washer looking brand new. Whether you use this shirt for work, play or something in between, it is likely to be in your closet for many years to come.

This kind of quality doesn’t come cheap and Eddie Bauer is without a doubt a premium brand. The Expedition Flannel retails for $80, which puts it on par with similar shirts from competitors, although few of them have the EB pedigree. We all know that good travel gear is worth the price, however, and I think that is most certainly true here. If you buy one of these shirts chances are you’ll be remind yourself about your good taste and wise decisions for a very long time to come.

A Travel Essential For Women: The Little Black Dress

Even though the seasons are shifting to spring, I’m still dressing in wool. I’ve said before that I’m crazy for the newer merinos; they’re not just for long underwear anymore. And because they’re made of natural fibers, they breath well making them surprisingly versatile for those transitional seasons. It’s a little counter-intuitive to think that wool is okay in warmer temps, but the lighter fabrics work well for winter, spring and fall, and I’ve worn my merino skirt in summer, too, because it’s got so little weight to it.

For my spring travels, I’m packing the M2 dress by Nau. It’s a drape-y, flattering boat neck, three quarter sleeve piece that shakes out nicely after it’s been crumpled up in your bag. You can dress it up with whatever shiny extras your packing – a pashmina (because you always have one with you, right?), or some sparkly flats, or a pair of cute tights, or just wear it with sandals and go casual. A pleat at the hip gives it a little bit of swish, so even though it’s “just” a black dress, it’s got a bit of style.

The M2 is the medium weight merino so it provides some warmth if you’re wearing it in chillier places (or overly air-conditioned restaurants. I throw all my merino in the washing machine, have done for years, and it’s washed up just fine – but it’s best to keep it out of the dryer, it lasts longer that way and has less risk of shrinking.

I’m a lazy dresser and I don’t like to pack single use only items. I’m also a sucker for anything that makes me look stylish but feels like something I could wear on a long-haul flight. You might be thinking it’s a little late in the season for buying wool, but depending on where your travels take you, it might not be, plus, off-season pricing applies to clothing, too. Get your little black three-season dress directly from Nau; it’s on sale as I type this.

[Photo: Nau]

5 Odor-Free Active Travel Clothing Lines For Women

After you’ve been traveling for a long period of time, there invariably comes the day when your suitcase starts to … well, it starts to stink.

That’s where a new generation of breathable, odor-free clothing comes in. Brands like Ibex, Patagonia, PrAna, Icebreaker and Horny Toad are coming out with exciting new fabrics like Ibex’s Synergy (a blend of merino wool and GOTS-certified organic cotton), PrAna’s Bliss (a nylon-spandex blend with UV protection) and Horny Toad’s Samba (a wrinkle-free blend of Tencel, organic cotton and spandex). Such fabrics were particularly developed for versatility and multiple wears – perfect for the pack-and-go nature of the road.

A bonus? In addition to keeping you free from sweat, the brands highlighted below are also sweatshop-free and committed to ethical and sustainable production. Read on and prepare to have your packing routine revolutionized.

Ibex

Vermont-based Ibex describes itself as a “hiking-before-dawn,” “bike-to-work,” “coffee-in-front-of-the-woodstove” kind of company. Sounds like our kind of people!

Beyond that, Ibex produces a thoughtfully designed collection of activewear made from wool and natural fibers. Its new spring collection features a brand new fabric called “Synergy,” made from a blend of about 49% GOTS-certified organic cotton, 48% New Zealand merino wool and 4% Lycra. In particular, the merino wool helps your body manage moisture, regulate temperature and resist odors, while the cotton provides comfort and support, and the Lycra adds a touch of stretch.

Favorites: Synergy X Tank, Synergy Fit Pant

%Gallery-184373%Patagonia

Patagonia has developed a reputation for producing quality outdoors apparel with minimal harm to people and the environment. Perhaps its most popular outerwear collection features GORE-TEX – an innovative nylon fabric that is waterproof, windproof and breathable.

The GORE-TEX technology was invented in 1976, and the versatile fabric has since been used for consumer, industrial and medical purposes. GORE-TEX is particularly well suited as an outer lining for outdoors gear, since the fabric allows for superior protection against the wind and rain, while staying breathable. Patagonia’s more lightweight GORE-TEX products, like the Women’s Light Flyer Jacket, pack easily and make a smooth transition from the city to the mountains.

Favorites: Women’s Light Flyer Jacket, Women’s Triolet Jacket

PrAna

PrAna
initially started out creating clothing for climbing and yoga, but after discovering that their garments worked in multiple scenarios, the California-based company changed its focus to creating “products with a purpose.”

Its new product line features the new “Bliss” fabric – a light, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying blend of 94% nylon and 6% Spandex, with a UPF rating of 40+ for sun protection. It is perfectly suited for travel bottoms, and the line currently includes capris, knickers, shorts, skirts and skorts.

Favorites: Bliss Capri, Bliss Skirt

Icebreaker

Merino wool is one of those wonder fibers that can adapt to nearly every environment. Icebreaker‘s Merino is particularly good for travel, with ultra fine fibers to cut the itchiness generally associated with wool. When it’s cold out, the merino uses moisture to generate heat, but when it’s warm, the merino transports moisture away from the skin to be evaporated. The result is a breathable, lightweight fabric that is also odor-resistant.

Icebreaker’s line includes pieces for hiking, snow sports and fitness; check out its “Travel & Lifestyle” vertical for versatile travel-friendly gear in fun, bright colors.

Favorites: Siren Tank, Villa Wrap

Horny Toad

Clothes from Santa Barbara-based Horny Toad are designed to be “an expression of ease” – just the kind of clothing we want to be wearing when we travel.

Its “Samba” line is particularly good for the road, with a knit fabric made from a blend of 48% Tencel, 48% organic cotton and 4% spandex. Tencel is a sustainable fiber made from eucalyptus trees, which is manufactured in a closed-loop system where nearly 100% of byproducts are recovered. But more importantly for travelers, Tencel helps to maintain body temperature, while preventing moisture from growing, for garments that dry easily and can be worn again and again.

Favorites: Conversion Dress, Chaka Skirt

[Photo Credit: PrAna, Icebreaker]

Gadling Gear Review: The North Face Radish Mid Layer Jacket

The North Face Radish Mid Layer JacketTravelers always appreciate clothing that is versatile, lightweight, easily packable and performs well in a variety of weather conditions. It doesn’t hurt if it also happens to look good. That seems a rather apt description for the Radish Mid Layer Jacket from The North Face, a comfortable and well-designed piece of performance apparel that is equally at home on a mountain trail as it is kicking around town.

Built from a soft, yet very durable, fleece, the Radish is designed to operate as either a stand-alone jacket or part of a technical layering system. On its own, it has the styling of a form fitting hoodie with an athletic cut that allows it to easily move with the body during vigorous activities. Its fabrics include North Face’s proprietary FlashDry technology, which gives the jacket the ability to breathe warm air while also wicking away moisture in an efficient manner. As the name implies, it also dries very quickly, something that most travelers will be able to appreciate.

I found this combination of qualities made the Radish a great option for travel. I wore the jacket in temperatures ranging from 10 – 50°F and remained comfortable at all times. That was true whether I was hiking, trail running or simply meeting friends for dinner. As someone who is fairly active, I appreciate that North Face designed this jacket to move with the body, not restricting motion in any way. I also appreciated the well-designed hood, which is flexible enough to move when turning my head, keeping my vision unobstructed at all times.As good as the Radish is on its own, it performs equally well as part of a layering system. For those taking part in cold weather adventures, a good layering system is key to enjoying the experience. Those systems generally include base layers, which sit closest to the skin, a mid-layer fleece such as this jacket and an outer shell for extremely cold environments. The Radish operates very well as that mid-layer, where its ability to move unrestricted once again comes in handy and its warm fabrics make an excellent insulator.

The North Face Radish JacketThe North Face has been making performance outdoor gear for decades and that heritage shows through here. There are small touches that aren’t readily noticeable at first but are welcome additions none the less. For instance, the Radish has reinforced fabrics on the shoulders and hips that line up quite nicely with a backpack. Those zones keep the jacket from wearing prematurely while wearing it with a pack. It also features specially tapered seams that keep abrasion to a minimum when wearing it as part of a layering system. Those are the kinds of touches that only come from years of experience and knowing your market well.

Still, there are a few things that could be improved on the Radish, not the least of which is its lack of pockets. There is a single zippered pocket on the left breast, which is nice for keeping small, important items close at hand. But there are no traditional hand pockets, which most people will instinctively reach for when the temperature starts to drop. North Face made the conscious choice to not include more pockets as it helps to keep the profile of the jacket low. This is an important design choice for the active outdoor crowd who don’t want to snag their gear while backpacking or climbing, but for the average traveler it could be a bit of a disappointment.

The other point about the Radish that is sure to give some buyers pause is the price tag. North Face has set the MSRP for the jacket at $230, although it can be found online at a discount. For the average traveler, that may be too much to pay for a jacket of this type, although I believe it is worth every penny when you consider the level of performance it delivers. For the active, outdoor traveler this is very nearly the perfect piece of gear, although not everyone needs that level of performance. Those who do will greatly appreciate what the Radish brings to the table. It is certainly the type of gear I’d want with me while trekking in the Himalaya for instance or backpacking in the Alps. This is a jacket that is so good, that the price should be viewed as an investment. One that will pay dividends for many years to come.

[Photo by The North Face]

Travel Hacking: Best Holiday Gifts For Low-Tech Travelers

I’m an unapologetic Luddite. My colleagues at Gadling will attest to this. The fact that I write for AOL is both cosmic luck and hilarious irony given my initial reluctance to embrace the digital era.

I can’t help it; it’s hereditary. At least, that’s what I tell myself, whenever I watch my dad pecking away on my grandparent’s 1930s Smith-Corona (not a lie), or fumbling with the remote.

It’s unsurprising that when I travel, I try to keep things as low-tech as possible. It’s a matter of both practicality and part of my old school aesthetic that leads me to eschew costly devices and other gadgets. I’m also incapable of figuring out how to use them, so I look at it as less items to get stolen or malfunction.

I know I’m not alone, so I’ve compiled a list of holiday gifts for the die-hard travelers on your list who refuse to change their old-timey ways. Just remember, one of these days, us minimalists are going to be cutting-edge for being retro.

Gift card to an actual bookstore (preferably independently-owned), or travel store.
Yeah, books are heavier to lug than a Kindle or a Nook, but as a writer, I value the written word. So do a lot of people, and one of the joys of traveling for us is exchanging books with fellow vagabonds or trading in at a guesthouse or hostel.

Prepaid international phone card
Cheap, abundant, and a hell of a lot less of a hassle than dealing with Verizon overseas (in my experience). A prepaid international card is easy to purchase, although do note it’s usually less expensive for travelers to purchase cards at their destination. It’s the thought that counts.

Netbook or airbook
I may be tech-challenged, but I’m not crazy. I can’t earn a living if I don’t travel with a computer. My inexpensive little Acer has seen me through a lot of countries and fits neatly into my daypack, along with its accessories. Don’t forget a wireless mouse to go with it.
Waterproof journal
Many travelers keep journals, and some of us who travel occupationally still carry notebooks (I don’t even own a tape recorder). It’s a huge bummer, however, when the inevitable rain, beer, wine, or coffee renders covers soggy or writing illegible. An all-weather notebook is the solution.

Ibex undergarments
I used to work in a mountaineering/ski shop in Telluride, and I swear by Ibex. Their 100% merino wool, American-made boy shorts, long johns/long “janes,” cami’s, sports bras, and adorable, long-sleeve, stripey tops are the ultimate underlayers for cold weather adventures. I road-tested some items on a month-long backpacking trip through Ecuador, from the Amazon Basin to one of the highest active volcanoes on earth. I was able to do laundry exactly twice. Ibex: 1, Stench: 0. Men’s and women’s items available; they also make outerwear.

Travel scarf/shawl/blanket
Many women get cold on airplanes and long, AC-blasted bus rides. Since I backpack, I’ve found several different drapey items in my travels that pull triple duty. Depending upon what part of the world I’m in, I’ll use a soft, alpaca shawl to dress up outfits, as a lap blanket, or an impromptu pillow. In the Andes, I sub a llama wool poncho. In the tropics, it’s a pretty, airy sarong. When I get home, I have a wonderful souvenir.

If you’re buying for someone departing on a trip, any department store will have a wide assortment and price range of pashminas or scarves. Just be sure it’s a dark color, to hide dirt and stains, and that it’s made of soft, preferably natural-fibers, so it won’t absorb odors as readily. The item should be able to withstand sink-washing.

Multi-purpose beauty products
Regardless of gender, everyone loves multi-purpose travel products: more room for souvenirs! I like Josie Maran Argan Oil, which can be used as a lightweight, yet rich, face or body moisturizer, or to condition hair (use just a few drops for soft, gleaming strands). Rosebud salve comes in cute, vintagey tins, smells lovely, and soothes everything from dry lips and cracked heels to flyaways. Many top make-up brands produce multi-use products: I crave Korres Cheek Butter, which is also gorgeous on lips (all available at Sephora).

Lush makes luxe bar soaps that work on body and hair, but perhaps the kindest gift for the female adventure traveler? Inexpensive fragrance that does double duty as perfume and clothes/room freshener. I never leave home without Demeter’s Gin & Tonic Cologne Spray.

[Photo Credit: jurvetson]