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Carry On

Editors' Picks: Our Most Essential Travel Gear

From dry shampoos and water bottles to bandanas and carry-ons, here's what our staff won’t leave home without

Boarding a flight to your next adventure? Don't leave home without these essentials. (Mael BALLAND/Unsplash)
Photo: Mael BALLAND/Unsplash Carryon

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From dry shampoos and water bottles to bandanas and carry-ons, here's what our staff won’t leave home without

Finding the right travel gear is not only important, it’s extremely personal. Every traveler has different needs, not to mention wants, when they’re on the road. Some of us are minimalists and some want to pack the kitchen sink, so recommending the right bag or travel accessories can be hit or miss. That’s why we decided to cast a wide net and asked our well-traveled staff for their favorite pieces of gear, from backup batteries and dry shampoo to luggage for every kind of adventure.    

Accessories

portable
(Courtesy Anker)

Anker PowerCore 5000 ($22)

“I love this Anker charger. It’s small and has enough oomph to charge my iPhone fully when in a pinch and I’m stuck on an old plane with no power outlets or USB plugs.” Mary Turner, deputy editor

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gear
(Courtesy Hydro Flask)

Hydro Flask 32 Ounce Wide Mouth ($40)

“The best way to avoid a cold while traveling is to stay hydrated. That’s why I always bring this stainless-steel insulated bottle whenever I fly; it’s durable, pretty, keeps my drink hot or cold, and eliminates the need for single-use plastic.” Axie Navas, digital editorial director

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gear
(Couresy Sumcoo)

Sumcoo Pet Seat Cover with Hammock ($17)

This seat protector changed my road trips. It’s waterproof and easy to clean, which means I never worry when loading up my dogs, Ted and Stella, after a run or camping trip, no matter how muddy or dusty they are. It snaps in place and stays put better than any blanket or towel ever could. Most importantly, its hammock design means it can be snapped to the driver- and passanger-seat headrests to block access up front and keep my dogs in the back seat, where they won’t try to crawl on my lap or eat my snacks while I’m driving.” Abigail Wise, online managing editor

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gear
(Courtesy Aer)

Aer Travel Kit ($45)

“I spent a good chunk of time researching the perfect toiletry bag for my upcoming trip to Bali, and considered several cheaper alternatives, including this one from Muji. But after geeking out on this video review of Aer’s travel kit, I took the plunge, and I’m so happy I did. In addition to the burly, water-resistant ballistic nylon, the bag boasts premium zips with elegant-but-sturdy tabs. In addition to the roomy interior’s elastic organizers, there are a grand total of five pockets, including a genius exterior compartment that holds your toothbrush upright.” Jenny Earnest, audience development director

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gear
(Courtesy Lush)

Lush Karma Komba Shampoo Bar and Tin ($12 and $4)

“For me, this small puck is the epitome of multi-use grooming: just a few swipes is all it takes to produce a rich, conditioning lather for both hair and body, and the sturdy tin makes for zero-mess transport. The itch-soothing (and great-smelling) blend of orange, pine, and patchouli oils won’t parch your locks or your skin, meaning you can ditch the conditioner and lotion for a long weekend.” Aleta Burchyski, associate managing editor

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gear
(Courtesy Carolina Mfg.)

Carolina Mfg. Paisley Bandana ($4)

“My go-to travel accessory is a bandana. I keep it in my daypack if I’m visiting a new city or my backpack if I’m heading out on the trail, and I’ll use it in a dozen ways: I tie it over my eyes when I’m trying to sleep on airplanes, use it as a towel in a pinch when I’m taking a midhike dip, disguise my dirty hair with it, and tie it around my neck for sun protection (or if I’m channeling my inner Girl Scout).” Abbie Barronian, assistant editor

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Packs and Luggage

gear
(Courtesy Thule)

Thule Subterra 40L Travel Pack ($200)

“My top travel essential is the Thule Subterra 40L Travel pack. It’s comprised of two parts: a backpack with a main compartment big enough to hold a weekend’s worth of clothing and toiletries, and an included over-the-shoulder laptop bag that stows in a sleeve on the Subterra’s back. It’s my only piece of luggage if I’m going anywhere for three days or less. I leave the two together as I navigate security, then pull out the laptop bag when I board and stow the main pack in the overhead. In a pinch, the whole thing will also fit below the seat in front of me, but it’s tight and doesn’t leave much legroom.” Will Egensteiner, senior editor

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gear
(Courtesy Roka)

Roka Transition Pack ($275)

“The Roka Transition pack can literally fit anything and everything you need to travel. It’s built for triathlon training and race travel, but its well-designed interior and exterior pockets make it great for anyone who needs plenty of organization in their carry-on. As a bonus, it has an external helmet carry and is made from water-resistant, high-tenacity nylon with a heavy waterproof backing, so it’s up for literally anything.” Claire Bruce, video producer

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gear
(Courtesy Eagle Creek)

Eagle Creek Packing Cubes ($28)

“When it comes to travel, there are few things that bug me as much as a disorganized duffel. Eagle Creek’s packing cubes are a classic for good reason: they’re lightweight, open wide, and come in an array of sizes to fit everything from a stack of folded clothes to small sundries like chargers or notebooks. I usually travel with at least one big one for my ‘nice’ clothes, a smaller one for delicates, and sometimes a third for a sweaty workout wardrobe.” Ariella Gintzler, assistant editor

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gear
(Courtesy Dakine)

Dakine Heli Pro 24L Backpack ($83)

“Relying on a highly functional, carry-on-size backpack instead of checking luggage has saved me more time and money than any other travel strategy. My trusty Dakine daypack has lasted so long that the company doesn’t make it anymore, but its Heli Pro has similar features. The snow-sports-oriented details transition well to everyday use—the fleece-lined goggle pocket is perfect for sunglasses, and the snowboard straps work equally well for cinching down jackets or other bulky items. Plus, the back-panel access makes it that much easier to find your stuff without unpacking your whole kit.” Alison Van Houten, editorial fellow

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Filed To: Style / Accessories / Luggage / Camping / Air Travel / Clothing and Apparel / Backpacks