Traveling Pants from Ex Officio

I get that folks think they’re practical or that they take up less space in the bag, but whenever I see someone wearing those pants with the zip off legs so they convert into shorts, I think, “Really? Are you so tight with space that you can’t find room for pants AND shorts?”

This is not the fault of Ex Officio, it’s just that my not very high bar for fashion rests at the convertible pants/shorts combination. I’m not down with the look. And I confess, I felt a little bit dorky while wearing a pair of Ex Officio super light weight travel Nomad Roll-up Pants during a recent journey. At least they’re not the kind with the zip off legs, right?

The pair I wore is also sort of convertible; they roll up and have keeper straps for those beach-combing days or when you wish you’d worn shorts. The fabric is super light and soft — they roll up to a tiny size and take up very limited luggage space. That soft fabric is also somewhat water resistant, if the weather goes bad on you you’ll stay a little drier, a little longer. There are deep side pockets and additional zip pockets on the side, but they lie flat, they’re not lumpy like your typical cargo pants. The waist band is lined so there are no itchy bits against your skin, and there’s a wide tabbed closure at the waist. Unlike a lot of outdoor attire, Ex Officio seems to run true to size and I’d venture that they’re cut just a little bit generous, but not excessively so.Since I don’t do the full convertible thing, I got a pair of Ex Officio shorts too. They have they same deep pockets at the waist and zippered pockets on the legs, but they’ve also got that funny little pocket for your bus money or lip balm and an additional one, maybe for your cell phone? The waist has the same lining as the pants, but the shorts have a button closure, and there’s a webbing belt that’s sewn into place — it’s full adjustable but you can’t lose it.

Both of these items beg to be paired with a safari vest and perhaps some giant binoculars as an accessory, and then, to be promptly rushed on a birding expedition. I can’t help it, there’s something about the khaki tones and extremely practical design that makes me vaguely snarky. (Okay, perhaps not so vague.) That’s not to say I didn’t immediately put this gear into rotation as part of my “go do something outdoorsy” travel kit. With long underwear, those pants could tackle a broad range of conditions and shorts, well, hiking shorts are hiking shorts.

And really, you should pack both. You don’t need the zip off legs really, do you?

The Nomad pants are $65.00, the Nio Amphi shorts are normally 60.00 but they’re on sale right now (June, 2011) for about half price. Ex Officio makes non-convertible pants for guys, too, check them out on the Ex Officio website. And get outside.

5 best lightweight travel bags for under $40

When it comes to traveling with a lightweight bag, not all bags are created equal. Canvas totes that many people use for grocery shopping are often too bulky to pack as a spare travel bag, and many don’t have zippers to keep your valuables secure.

Consider packing one of these lightweight bags on your next trip — each bag costs much less than LeSportsac’s $98 classic Travel Tote, and all of these nylon bags are compact enough to fold up until you need them. Let the souvenir shopping begin.

The Reisenthel Mini Maxi Carryall ($15.95, is the most stylish — and affordable — of the bunch. To close the bag, use the zipper or the drawstring. Best of all, the bag folds flat into a zippered pouch for tidy storage.

Timbuk2‘s Hidden Messenger ($30, is much lighter than the company’s signature ballistic-nylon messenger bags. This version, which launched in July, is mostly made with materials from recycled plastic bottles. Stylish, rugged, and good for the environment — imagine that.

Sea to Summit’s Ultra-Sil Sling Bag ($29.95, debuted this month. The bag (also with a zippered top) has a strap that’s long enough to wear diagonally across your body like a messenger bag. When not in use, the bag balls up into its own pouch and can be attached to a key chain or tossed in your suitcase to help corral those last-minute purchases.

The RuMe ALL ($26.96, has simple yet thoughtful touches — a zip-top closure, outer pockets for a water bottle or an umbrella, and an exterior zippered pocket for stashing a cell phone or subway card. Whether you’re putting your bag on the conveyor belt to go through airport security or you’re sliding the bag under an airplane seat, the zipper helps ensure that your stuff doesn’t go flying.

The North Face‘s Flyweight Map Bag ($39,, which can also fold up into its own pocket, has an adjustable shoulder strap and its coated nylon fabric can withstand light rain. Perfect for sightseeing, the bag will be available until February, when it will be replaced by the new Flyweight Shoulder Bag ($25).


The Gadling gift guide for the lightweight traveler

Traveling light is a challenge – I’ll admit that it is the kind of challenge I usually avoid, but with rising luggage costs and more exotic destinations, people are starting to pack as lightly as possible.

In this list, you’ll find a couple of gifts that can reduce your luggage load, and help make your trip more enjoyable.

Of course, every lightweight and “one bag” traveler has different needs, so if you have a great tip for a lightweight travel item, let us know and leave a comment below!

Don’t forget to check out our other gift guides:

Gift guide for the iPod and iPhone

Gift guide for famlily travel and kids
The top ten travel products of 2009

Joey Totes

Earlier this year, I took a look at the Joey Totes – and was really impressed at how convenient they are. Joey Totes are bags made from parachute style nylon, that can fold into themselves, AND each other. End result is a 4 ounce pouch of three super strong waterproof bags. They are perfect for carrying up to 40 lbs in excess stuff, or as a backup if your main luggage abandons you.

Price: $20 for three bags
Product page: Joey Totes

Eagle Creek HC2 Hovercraft Upright 22″

Before you bombard me with complaints about lightweight travelers and rolling luggage – I know that hardcore one-bag lightweight travelers hate rolling bags – but there are still plenty of us that are always on the lookout for the newest piece of luggage that won’t add to your overall weight.

The Eagle Creek HC2 Hovercraft is such a bag. At just three kilos (just over 6 lbs), it is the first ultra-light bag I’ve seen that does not make all kinds of compromises. It has a massive front pocket large enough for a laptop, it expands, it features a side-mounted water bottle pocket, inner compression straps and handles on the top and side. In every possible way, this is a normal rugged rolling suitcase, just a very light one.

To make a great bag even better, the HC 2 Hovercraft comes with a “no matter what” lifetime warranty.

Price: $250
Product page: Eagle Creek HC2 Hovercraft upright

SCOTTEVEST Pack Windbreaker

SCOTTEVEST has long been a personal favorite, and not just because the owner shares my first name. SCOTTEVEST products are the ultimate travel garment, something fellow Gadling Blogger Annie recently discovered.

Imagine a windbreaker with 17 pockets and an interlinked cable routing system. Now imagine that same windbreaker turning into a travel pillow, all by folding it into itself and closing a zipper on the back. With all those pockets, you can indeed turn your jacket into your third carry-on bag, without the airline even noticing.

Price: $75
Product page: SCOTTEVEST Pack Windbreaker

Dell Inspiron Mini 10 with GPS

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to tell any lightweight travelers about the advantages of a netbook. But I’ll explain it anyway – lightweight, decent power and great battery life all make the netbook a travelers best friend. And the Dell Inspiron Mini 10 with GPS adds one more great feature for travelers – GPS. The GPS receiver is an optional extra on the Mini 10, and the option comes complete with a full navigation package. Of course, with a machine equipped with GPS, you can also do other neat tricks, like photo geotagging and Twitter location updates.

The GPS chip inside the Mini 10 is actually a tad smarter than many other receivers, because it takes advantage of WiFi signals in addition to regular GPS satellites. Of course, the

Price: From $299 + $70 option for GPS
Product page: Dell Inspiron Mini 10

Humangear GoToob travel bottles

Back in July we took a closer look at the GoToob lineup of silicone bottles. These things are ideal for the few remaining toiletries you still want to carry, plus they are the right size for the TSA. The larger of the bottles comes with an integrated suction cup, making them ideal for holding shampoo, and sticking to the shower wall.

Price: from $6 each
Product page: Humangear GoToob

Patagonia Men’s Capilene® 2 Crew

I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to travel – for example, I’ll never go anywhere that requires large amounts of thermal underwear. That said, several of my fellow Gadling team members swear by the Patagonia Capilene Baselayer. This is an extremely lightweight garment, but provides excellent insulation and built in odor control.

Price: $40
Product page: Patagonia