Gadling gear review: Clever Travel Companion secret-pocket tank top and underwear

travel clothing When going abroad, one of the biggest concerns for travelers is keeping their valuables safe from pick-pocketers. While fanny packs may be a decent option, they’re also a dead giveaway that you’re a tourist, making you an even easier target for getting ripped off. Then there are money belts, which are great fashion-wise, however, tend to get itchy and leave sweat marks when it’s hot out. That’s why I was excited when I found out about The Clever Travel Companion‘s line of “100% pick-pocket proof” clothing.

I tried a solid black tank top with hidden pockets, as well as a pair of underwear with pockets. To be honest, with or without the pockets I would definitely buy this tank top. It’s not too tight, not too loose, made of 100% cotton, and actually feels like a second skin it’s so comfortable. Even after walking around in it for an entire day it didn’t stretch out or chafe my skin. The pockets make it that much better, as the zipper is literally right above your stomach, allowing for easy access to all of your important documents while still keeping them safe from thieves. You can wear it as an undershirt or as a shirt on its own.

underwear The underwear, which are actually more like boy-short bathing suit bottoms, are also extremely comfortable and made of 94% rayon and 6% spandex. When I first saw them I was a little worried they’d tug, slide up, or show through my pants; however, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they did none of these things. In fact, I forgot I was even wearing them. What I really like about this product is there are two zipper-pockets right in front, making it really easy to quickly get to your things while also eliminating the nervousness back-pockets cause of never really knowing if your stuff is still there.

The Clever Travel Companion has created an extremely useful yet comfortable set of clothing options for travelers, especially when you also think about the extra accessories you now won’t have to pack. Secret-pocket tank tops and t-shirts cost $39.90, while the women’s underwear costs $29.90. There are also products for men, including long johns ($39.90) and men’s underwear ($29.90).

Gadling gear review: Outdoor Research women’s Frescoe Hoody activewear

women's activewearI love hoodies, and ever since I was old enough to waddle around in my brother’s hand-me-downs (which unfortunately included his tighty-whiteys, until I was old enough to realize that, while my mom’s thriftiness was admirable, clothing your daughter in boy’s underwear was not), I’ve worn them. The versatility, quirky style, and marsupial-like comfort a great hoody can provide make it an unbeatable wardrobe staple for travel or at home.

When I started running a decade ago, zip-up sweatshirt hoodies were my favorite layering accessory. Unfortunately, they’re bulky, and one of the reasons I took up running was so I could exercise while traveling. Thus, like most active women, I require workout gear that fulfills my various needs.

That’s why I love Outdoor Research’s Frescoe Hoody. This lightweight pullover debuted last spring in the Seattle-based company’s women’s apparel line, just in time for me to give it a test-run on a monthlong backpacking trip through Australia.

For this particular trip, I needed a piece of activewear that could perform well in a variety of climates (it was winter in the Southern Hemisphere). It also needed to serve as sleepwear in a Sydney backpacker’s, and at a friend’s Arctic-like, 120-year-old stone cottage in the rainy Barossa Valley. Most important: I would have little opportunity to do laundry, so the hoody needed to, as advertised, deliver moisture-wicking, “quick-dry performance,” and remain stink-proof.women's activewearThe Frescoe Hoody is made of Dri-Release® E.C.O. fabric: 83% recycled polyester, 15% organic cotton, and 2% Spandex. New for 2011 is Built-in FreshGuard® odor neutralization. I have no idea what that last part means from a manufacturing standpoint, but it’s a huge selling point for someone (that would be me) who has been known to travel for weeks at a time in climatic extremes ranging from tropical jungle to high-altitude blizzard, sans access to laundry services. My test hoody didn’t have FreshGuard, and still miraculously kept stench at bay.

Pros

I confess that when I first received my Frescoe in the mail and unpacked it, I was dismayed by both the color (see Cons) and size. Although I’d ordered an XS (sizes go up to L), the “relaxed fit” was still generous. I’m 5’2″, and wear a 32A bra, so the V-neck (which is double-layered, to help prevent gaping, I presume) was a bit too low for me, but I’m used to that. How the flat-chested do suffer.

  • From the first time I wore it, however, I decided I loved the Frescoe’s slouchy design, in part because the bottom hem has a wide, flattering, slightly stretchy band. It’s slimming, but also retains body heat. The fabric is soft, light, and unbelievably comfortable, and the hood stays put but doesn’t constrict (there are no drawstrings). When I got too warm on a run, the hoody was easy to whip off while maintaining my pace, due to its loose fit. Once tied around my waist, it didn’t hinder my movement with weight or bulk.
  • women's activewear
  • What really made me fall in love with the Frescoe, however, are two fantastic features: a tiny, hidden zippered pocket ideal for holding keys, a Chapstick, and a couple of bucks, and cuff fold flaps. For cold-handed types like me, these are ideal when it’s too warm for gloves.
  • I’ve worn my Frescoe in Seattle drizzle, hiking and camping in Shenandoah National Park, and on the windy beaches of Kangaroo Island in South Australia. On that trip, I was only able to do laundry once, 10 days into my trip. Yet the top survived daily runs for two weeks, before being crammed in my backpack for four days while I was in the blistering heat of the Ningaloo Reef region in Western Australia. On day 20, the Frescoe emerged, still smelling reasonably fresh, to accompany me on a long run around Sydney’s Royal Botanic Gardens. I even slept in it that night because it passed the “sniff test.” What? Like you haven’t done the same thing.
  • The $55 price tag may seem a bit steep for what is essentially a glorified long-sleeve T-shirt. But when you take into consideration the bells and whistles, performance ability, durability, and responsible manufacturing materials, it’s a steal.

Cons

  • At 11.8 ounces, the Frescoe isn’t as lightweight and compressible as some activewear, but it’s not bad and it kept me warm. Given how well it performs, I don’t mind a little extra bulk in my baggage.
  • women's activewearMy only other nitpick are the colors. I admittedly have a pet peeve about women’s gear that only comes in impractical, pastelly or bright hues. I do, however, like the little flower graphic on the Frescoe’s right hip. New 2011 shades (available starting in February) include Mist (light blue), Fuschia, Mandarin, and Mushroom (brown-grey).

My own hoody is Fossil, a not-terribly flattering greyish-green that makes me look somewhat cadaverous. It’s practical, however, and never shows dirt. If OR could make this baby in charcoal, burgundy, forest green, or black, I’d buy another one in a heartbeat to wear on the street, or while tossing back an apres-ski cocktail or four.

In summary, I was really impressed with the Frescoe Hoody. It delivered on its promises to stay dry and not get stinky, and the hidden zip and cuff fold features totally rock for practicality, cleverness, and cuteness. I highly recommend this top as a multi-use travel wardrobe staple. P.S. It’s also great to wear for lounging or while typing up Gadling posts.

Road testing the KOR ONE water bottle

As part of Gadling’s Green month it’s part of our responsibility to test out all things green, from the new green hotels down the street to green travel destinations to new green materials and gear.

It’s been a long time coming, but recently we had the opportunity to test out KOR’s new ONE water bottles, a slick series of thin, versatile containers with an eco-conscious ethos. Constructed out of BPA-free Eastman Tritan, the bottles are lightweight, strong and sexy, with a hinged opening at the top instead of the more common, screw lids.

In today’s Nalgene-dominated market, the design is a head turner for sure. Every where we take this bottle we get compliments on it, from the frisbee field to the farmer’s market to the deli, and we’re in a constant state of explaining where we got our snazzy, space-ship bottle.

Functionally, the design is solid, with an opening wide enough for plenty of ice cubes, a strong hinge that hasn’t failed us yet and a strong construct that has survived many a fall. Our only complaint is that we can’t fit a regular scrub brush all of the way to the bottom of the container. Ah, but that’s what potassium metabisulfite is for.

The best part about owning a KOR water bottle, however, is their commitment to the environment. Each color that is sold is associated with a water-centric charity, from The Wetlands Initiative for Watershed Green to The Blue Planet Run Foundation for Orchid Pink. Part of the proceeds from each $30 water bottle sale will go to each charity.

You can read more about KOR and pick up one of their bottles over at korwater.com. If you can afford the $30 pricetag, it’s definitely worth the investment if only for the compliments.