The Case for Beating the Shit Out of Your Gear
And 11 travel tools that are up to the abuse
The more money you spend on a piece of gear, the theory goes, the more you’ll protect it from wear and tear. But if you’ve got a healthy attitude about getting your gear dirty, there are some things that can—and should—be used no matter where you are.
Raden Suitcase ($295)
Unlike other high-end suitcases with delicate, glossy exteriors, Raden’s cases are astonishingly rugged. Built-in USB charging ports come in extremely handy, and if you install Raden’s app on your phone, the suitcase can weigh itself with an integrated scale in the carry handle that’s activated when you lift the bag off the ground. It’s an especially useful feature when cargo limits on planes or trains are tight.
Private White V.C. Ventile Combat Blazer ($765)
For those who think “blazer” and immediately balk, know that Ventile fabric was used to prevent downed British pilots from freezing to death in the ocean. It’s an extremely water-resistant fabric made from densely woven cotton, and while it’s not exactly suited for climbing Yosemite, it’s a good road trip and campfire companion.
OM-D E-M5 Mark II ($900)
Mirrorless cameras are a lot smaller and lighter than DSLRs. This model has an M43 sensor, which makes it even smaller than most of its competitors, and it’s easily stowable in a jacket pocket when equipped with a pancake lens. The camera is also lightly weather-resistant.
J.Crew Irish Linen Shirt ($70)
Linen has been unfairly pigeonholed as a delicate fabric suitable only for city wear. In reality, its great breathability and continued comfort when damp make it ideal for long days outdoors in the heat. Linen strands are more resistant to breaking than cotton and almost never feel chilly against your skin when wet.
Kent Wang Sunglasses ($55)
These sunglasses by Kent Wang have polarized lenses and are made from durable acetate. They’ll stay on your face even during a run.
John Smedley Farhill Merino Sweater ($192)
High-grade, extra-fine merino wool is one of the best fabrics you can wear in damp, frequently changing weather, regardless of your activity level. John Smedley produces excellent wool garments that are almost impossible to snag with zippers.
Taylor Stitch Commuter Shorts ($118)
These were designed with bicyclists in mind and are made from a wool-synthetic blend that keeps them durable and comfortable. They also have a subtle hidden zip pocket right behind the hand pocket that’s good for keeping things in place and deterring prying hands.
Fjällräven No. 21 Rucksack ($196)
This rucksack is made from the company’s famous G1000 fabric, a blend of cotton and polyester that’s waxed for water resistance and durability. It has several internal compartments, all of which are easy to reach thanks to a simple closing mechanism.
Bose SoundTrue Ultra In-Ear Headphones ($130)
Sealed headphones can sometimes be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time. This Bose model, by comparison, is so comfortable that you hardly feel them in your ears. The tactility of the cable makes it almost impossible to get tangled, and the seal almost completely cancels out noise.
Chester Mox Passport Wallet ($205)
Many foreign bills are taller than U.S. dollar, which means they’ll sometimes stick up above your American wallet. This passport-friendly item from Chester Mox is made from durable, elegant, high-grade leather and helps you streamline your pocketables: cards, currency (no matter the size), and spare keys.
Epaulet Slim Walt Trouser ($165)
Once, while packing for a road trip, I made the mistake of grabbing wool trousers instead of my gray cotton chinos. It was the best travel tip I had ever accidentally discovered. The light wool was pleasant against my skin in the heat and very cozy in an evening breeze. The cut of these trousers is slim but still comfortable while sitting and walking for long periods of time.