Gear suggestions for holiday weekend trips outdoors

Summer is in full-swing and with the Independence Day weekend right around the corner, people are planningfor trips to the great outdoors. From hiking to camping, getting into nature is a great way to enjoy the holiday and unplug from your everyday life. However, if you’re going to do it right, you need to have the proper gear. Last year, we set you up with the ultimate camping gear guide. All of those great products are still staples in our collections, but we’ve discovered some new accessories that will make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable. Whether you’re spending July 4th in a tent, on the trail or simply on a picnic in the park, you’ll want to check out our latest outdoor gear suggestions.Packs

If you’ve packed many of your supplies in your daypack, it makes it heavy when it comes time to use it on a hike. Rather than unpack all of your gear and risk losing or forgetting it, it’s easier to have a second pack with you that you can take with you out on the trail. The Patagonia Lightweight Travel Pack folds into itself when you’re not using it and carries plenty of provisions when you’re ready for a day away from camp. It’s a bit pricey at $79, but it’s durable, sturdier than other packable bags and holds 26L when you’re ready to attack the day.

If all you need is the bare essentials when you go for a hike or a mountain bike ride, then the Black Diamond Flash Pack is perfect for keeping things light. It holds only 9L but it’s hydration compatible, has enough pockets to keep you organized and its low profile will prevent you from snagging a strap on a tree as you barrel through the bush.


When you need a knife larger than anything on your multitool, you’ll want the Gerber Metolious Clip Folder. It’s big enough to handle tough jobs but small enough to fit in your pocket or clip to your belt while not scaring away anybody you might encounter in the wild. Whether you need to cut some rope or field dress a fresh kill, this knife is a reasonably-priced option for outdoorsmen of any experience level.

We mentioned the Black Diamond Apollo Lantern in last year’s gear guide, but they’ve supersized things with the new Titan Lantern. It’s 250-lumen LED system will illuminate your entire campsite, making cooking a breeze long after the sun has set. Never underestimate the importance of a strong, reliable light.


Venturing outdoors requires you to pack layers. If you’re like me, you hate carrying that extra weight in your pack. Thankfully, when it comes to preparing for rain, at least, you can now pack a jacket and not even notice it. The Eddie Bauer First Ascent Sirocco Wind Shell Jacket is the lightest jacket we’ve ever encountered, yet still manages to be durable, well-made and have strong seals around all of the zippers. It might not pack into one of its own pockets like some other lightweight jackets, but it packs easily and does the job of coats five times its weight.

Should you pack hiking shoes or sandals? Why choose (or deal with lugging them both around) when you can have two in one with the Keen Kanyon? They dry quickly, are ultralight and provide a closed toe for optimal protection when you’re using them as hikers. The bungee lacing allows for an optimal fit without having laces dangling off of your shoes when you’re out on the trail.

If you prefer a more closed shoe, then the Teva Churn is a must. The breathable mesh still allows you to fully submerge them in water when dragging your canoe onto shore, but you can trust that they’ll dry quicker than most hiking shoes. The fold-down heel also allows you to wear the Churn as a slip-on when you’re back in camp.

No matter what you’re getting into this weekend – and the rest of the summer, for that matter – make sure that your gear is in good shape. If not, replace it with our suggestions and you’ll be set for a holiday away from work and immersed in nature.

What’s your favorite outdoor gear? Share your suggestions in the comments.

Socks with sandals? Blame the Romans

Last month we reported on a survey of the worst fashion violations men commit while on vacation. Speedos, of course, came in first, and while the banana hammock is certainly the worst of all fashion sins, wearing socks with sandals got high marks too.

Now it turns out we may owe this particular form of geekiness to one of the greatest of all ancient civilizations–the Romans. According to a new excavation in Yorkshire, England, the culture that gave us much of our law, language, and architecture may have also given us this travesty.

Archaeologists excavating a Roman site discovered a rusty nail from a 2,000 year-old Roman sandal that had impressions of fiber on it. Evidence of more socks comes from several Roman graves also found on the site. While Romans often wore boots in bad weather, it appears they didn’t mind using their sandals as long as they had some socks to keep their tootsies toasty.

Yorkshire is full of Roman remains to visit. The Aldborough villa has some wonderfully preserved mosaics, and there are the remnants of a Roman fort near Richmond. Plus local museums are full of Roman artifacts. While exploring England’s rugged north, it’s easy to imagine tough Roman legionaries marching through the moors. Now we have to imagine them with socks on.

Hey, at least the Romans didn’t invent Speedos. Imagine a bunch of greased-up gladiators fighting to the death dressed only in banana hammocks. Um. . .actually don’t think about that.

Image courtesy user Hebrides via Wikimedia Commons.

Travel gear: How to pack a pair of shoes without a plastic bag

I’m a germaphobe who cringes at the idea of packing my shoes anywhere near my clothes. But travel requires you to get a little dirty, so I tell myself that a plastic bag has to be enough to keep the germs from contaminating the rest of my stuff.

But a funny thing happened while I was packing for a recent trip to Houston: I actually ran out of plastic bags. (Guess my effort to be green and use eco-friendly totes has finally paid off). I knew there were other packing shortcuts, but it felt wasteful to use a clean gallon-size Ziploc bag for my dirty shoes. Wrapping my shoes in something flimsy like tissue paper just wasn’t going to cut it, and the idea of putting my shoes in a New York Times plastic sleeve (that was just outside on the sidewalk) didn’t help the germaphobia.

Enter the Shoefly ($19.95), a machine-washable tote that protects your purse or suitcase from your dirty shoes. I know it sounds ridiculous, but the streets of New York City aren’t exactly clean. The bag, which has a drawstring closure, is large enough for a pair of sneakers, and it can easily stretch to fit a pair of heels. The bag’s material (a blend of polyester and Lycra) feels like velour, lending a glam touch to an otherwise pretty filthy function.

Granted, it does feel a little indulgent to justify buying a bag for your shoes when a plastic grocery bag is about as budget-friendly as you can get. But when it comes to measuring other things — the environment, perhaps? — I’m happy to run out of plastic bags. Plus, I love the idea of being able to launder the Shoefly bag when it gets dirty (both on the inside and out). If I were at all crafty (and had a sewing machine), this is the kind of thing that I’d love to make by the dozen.

All too often, travel gear is something that I pull out a few times a year but then put away until the next vacation. Luckily, the Shoefly is versatile enough for daily use, such as for changing into work shoes once I get to the office.

Where to Buy:
The Shoefly bag is currently only available online at for $19.95. Add $2.95 for shipping.

Best shoes for summer travel

Traveling in the warmer months of the year can present unique apparel challenges. When preparing for a trip to the lower latitudes or destinations where water will be a major factor, certain considerations should be made. One important decision is the choice of footwear. There are few shoes that can do it all, but some can accommodate a variety of warm-weather activities.

The beach trip – One of the most common summer trips is that relaxing stay at the beach. Even if the plan is to lounge the day away reading the latest Grisham novel, there will always be walking involved. The shoe choice needs to fit comfortably and be able to get you to and from your seaside accommodations. The shoe also needs to be well suited to handle sand and water, and sometimes both simultaneously.

Chaco has created an ideal beach shoe with the Hipthong Pro. Available in men’s and women’s models, this fashionable sandal has no rear strap for easy removal when you’re ready to kick your feet up in that beach chair. The unique strap system holds the shoe on the foot well, despite the lack of rear support. The footbed also has an arch which is lacking in many low-end water shoes.
Price – $85 at ChacoUSA.comThe business/pleasure trip – It can be difficult to find time for ourselves with the hectic schedules we adhere to these days. Many spend much of their travel time while on the clock. Occasionally though, the opportunity presents itself to escape from the meeting room and get out and explore or relax.

When mixing a business trip with a little R & R, consider a versatile shoe that won’t be too casual for work yet will still get you where you want to go comfortably. For the men traveling on business, the Merrell Neptune not only looks fabulous under a pair of khakis, but the Ortholite footbed cradles the foot for support and will be ready to hit the streets later. Businesswomen will appreciate the Merrell Brio. This flat is anything but flat inside as it also includes an Ortholite footbed. The deceptively supportive soles will keep feet comfortable in the office and at the museum later.
Brio Price – $80 at
Neptune Price – $100 at

The walking trip – Theme parks, music festivals, and urban explorations come to mind when we think of the walking trip. An eight hour stint wandering cobbled streets, eating funnel cakes, jumping on and off trams, and sweating your way through lines is no time to wear uncomfortable shoes. Keeping your feet cool and dry will at least make the day less grueling, and there won’t be the need for a foot soak when you collapse in the room later.

The Saucony ProGrid Ride 3 has a long name but is long on features as well. The performance interior lining wicks (pulls away) sweat from the foot. Both the men’s and women’s versions have midsoles that absorb impact. They are designed to be neutral trainers, so they can accommodate a wide variety of foot types.
ProGrid Ride 3 – $95 at

The active trip – Some of us, myself included, love to explore our natural world during the summer. Hiking, biking, paddling, and climbing our way through national parks and wilderness areas can be a great way to detach from the bustle of city life and get some exercise at the same time. When embarking on a trip packed with this much activity though, the right shoe is key.

The Keen Newport is a classic example of a shoe that can function in the toughest situations and also wears well for casual daily activities. The Newport is a sandal-style shoe with a Vibram sole for gripping slippery terrain and a tough toe bumper to keep your piggies safe.
Price – $95 at

The flying trip – If we want to get far away, and get there quickly, we will most likely be flying the friendly skies. Since you will need to easily slip your shoes on and off in security, as well as have enough support to walk those long terminals, these trips may require a little more planning. The Crocs Melbourne and Melbourne Shecon not only have the slip-on factor covered, but also make for great walking shoe with their ergonomic squishy soles.
Melbourne Price – $55 at
Shecon Price – $45 at

Summer is the high-season for travel, and there are few items we pack in our suitcase more important than our shoes. Choosing the right footwear for a summer trip could mean the difference between blisters and bliss.

Teva introduces flip flops with lights – and you can win a pair!

With Spring hitting the Northeast early, we’re thrilled to be able to start thinking about trips to the beach, hikes in the woods and some new camping adventures. And warm weather means throwing those Winter boots aside in favor of flip flops. Our feet haven’t seen the light of day in months and it’s time to let those dogs breathe. With that in mind, we were psyched (and a tad amused) to see that Teva is launching a new flip flop with LED lights attached. We’re also pretty jazzed that we have a pair to give away to one lucky reader.

The Teva illūm is a new of sandal that gives you a powerful LED light on each foot. The 10-foot beams of light are intended to help keep you safe when the sun sets and you find yourself on the trail, looking for your campsite or seeking a clandestine spot on the beach to make out with your date. While it may seem gimmicky, we’re actually rather intrigued by the idea of having sandal-mounted lights to help guide the way. Sure, you should still pack a headlamp for any night hikes or camping trips, but extra light is never a bad thing.

The Teva illūm will be available on the Teva website beginning on May 1, 2010 and you can learn more about the sandals on their own unique site. They will be available in synthetic and waterproof leather for $50 and $60, respectfully.

But you can get your hands on a pair for free before they even hit stores. Gadling and Teva want to give to one lucky reader a pair of illūm sandals. We plan to have an official Gadling review on the site later this Spring. In the meantime, perhaps our winner can give us some feedback.

To enter to win these sandals, simply leave a comment below stating the place you’d least like to find yourself in the dark. Maybe it’s in the foggy English countryside. Perhaps it’s alone in Death Valley. Or maybe it’s just in your own attic. Wherever it is, let us know in the comments and one person will be randomly selected to win a pair of Teva illūm sandals.

  • The comment must be left before Friday, April 2 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • The winner will receive pair of Teva illūm sandals (valued at $50).
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.