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Travel Problem-Solvers

Industry Experts Share Their Favorite Gear

There are perennial travel problems: having too much to pack in not enough space, or comfortably schlepping your bag over challenging terrain. And there are brand new travel problems, like how to juggle the phone that now contains your boarding pass plus the coffee you require for life, along with all your bags and other necessities.

We asked our travel industry family for the bags and accessories they can’t fly, drive, or roll without. They delivered, with recommendations for unique multi-function luggage, and the clothing and packing accessories stored in them. Plus, essential extras that attach to the outside of our bags for instant access to phones, coffee, sanitizer, and water.

Convertible Bags for Flexible Function

Looking for one bag that can do it all? Carry it all, travel days and every day, with these adaptable bags packed with hidden features.

The back panel of the Cool Convertible Sling Bag from CoolDudeChoice unzips to expand from sleek sling bag to spacious duffle. “I don’t have to pack a sling bag when I fly to Disney,” said Tushar Desai, founder and owner. “I remove all the clothing from this duffel bag and swing it to sling bag mode. Next day, this minimalist bag is a great for visiting the park.”

Own one bag for every occasion: CoolDudeChoice Cool Convertible Sling Bag quickly transforms from an on-trend sling bag to a spacious duffle. Stay organized with multiple exterior and interior pockets to carry your charger, phone, or metro card. 16” x 13.5” x 9.5” MSRP: $55

Sales contact: Tushar Desai, info@cooldudechoice.com, 609-429-6741

“When I travel, I’m juggling a coffee, my phone and a small duffle,” said Eagle Creek VP of Sales Tim McGuire. After 47 years in the business, Eagle Creek has gone back to their roots as a family-owned, independent outdoor adventure travel brand. And McGuire is on the road (and in the air) visiting customers with his Eagle Creek Expanse™ Convertible Carry-On. “I’m a huge fan of wheels, but I also need the hands-free advantage of a bag I can throw on my back. With our Expanse Convertible bag I can do either,” said McGuire. 

Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible 2 Wheel International Carry-On
Photo courtesy of Eagle Creek

Featuring Bluesign® approved 100% post-consumer recycled fabrics, the Eagle Creek Expanse Convertible 2 Wheel International Carry-On is a versatile wheeled backpack in an international-airline-friendly 36L size. The 2023 Expanse Luggage Collection ships February 2023. 21.5” x 13.75” x 8”. MSRP: $249

Sales contact:  Tim McGuire, tmcguire@eaglecreek.com, 720-387-6484

Work-from-home and business casual may be trending, but not every occasion can be attended in yoga pants. “The Getaway Weekender is my go-to for any type of travel where I have to carry formal attire — from weddings to business meetings,” said Mattis Oppermann, co-founder and designer at Carl Friedrik. “The spacious nubuck exterior unfolds to reveal a hidden garment bag compartment that gets a suit from A to B wrinkle-free.” 

Carl Friedrik Getaway Weekender
Photo courtesy of Carl Friedrik

It’s a garment bag and a classic weekender: the Carl Friedrik Getaway Weekender in chrome-free nubuck and Vachetta leather includes a custom suit hanger that holds one suit. The bag opens completely flat and features interior and exterior organization pockets. 13.8” x 20.5” x 9.5”. MSRP: $735

Sales contact:  Konstantinos Sotiropoulos, konstantinos@carlfriedrik.com, +44-75495-9696

Émigré Travel is focused on the modern, traveling professional, and Émigré’s Boston Bag is designed to transition seamlessly from hotel to boardroom, office to gym. “We wanted an outer shell fabric that was ultra-lightweight, highly abrasion- and water-resistant, premium, elegant, and responsibly made,” said CMO Tim Sedo. “Our inaugural bag collection features Émigré’s signature outer shell made with high-tenacity Robic® nylon from 100% recycled materials, Bluesign® and GRS Certified.” Two large compartments keep work and travel items separate and protected inside padded and plush electronics holders and mesh and waterproof pockets.

Boston Bag by Émigré
Photo courtesy of Émigré

The Boston Bag by Émigré is a boardroom-ready carry-all that holds work essentials on one side, with a separate compartment for personal items. The outer shell is made of durable Robic® Bluesign® and GRS Certified recycled nylon. Carry it as a handheld, messenger bag or backpack. 17.7”x 11.8”x 6.3”. MSRP: $510

Sales contact: Ralph Thoma, info@emigre.travel

“When I designed the bagpack system used on Hillside Industries’ Greenwich Hybrid Messenger Backpack, I was a broke college student and had just dislocated my shoulder,” said CEO Stanley Shen. “And that shoulder hurt every time I used my messenger bag.” Shen realized the comfort advantage of being able to instantly transition from backpack mode to messenger bag. “Living hand to mouth, I couldn’t afford to buy a new backpack. I set out on a mission to convert my messenger bag into a backpack using bits and pieces from my climbing equipment.” His backpack conversion became the patented sliding strap found on the Greenwich Hybrid Messenger Backpack.

Stay organized and comfortable with Hillside Industries’ 16L Greenwich Hybrid Messenger Backpack, which instantly converts from a messenger bag to a backpack. You’ll be travel- or office-ready with included laptop sleeve and multiple zippered organization pockets. 15” x 10.5” x 7″. MSRP: $149

Sales contact: Melissa Shen, info@discoverhillside.com, 626-215-0690

Wearable, Packable and Washable Solutions

It’s tough to look good while living out of a suitcase. There’s never enough room, it’s hard to stay organized, and wet, smelly clothing can contaminate your still-clean gear. We’re not saying these products will solve all your packing problems. But they’ll go a long way towards keeping you looking great while you’re on the road.

“As someone who travels extensively, I was looking for a pant that I could wear for any occasion or activity,” said Western Rise General Manager and VP of Sales Mike Arbeiter. The Evolution Pant is designed for versatility, in durable 4-way-stretch woven twill that feels like cotton, and a clean look that can go from the office to the hiking trail. “The Evolution Pant is comfortable, appropriate for most any occasion, and looks great on,” said Arbeiter. As an added bonus, should I spill wine on myself, it simply beads off as the pants are liquid-resistant.”

Western Rise Evolution Pant
Photo courtesy of Western Rise

Is it the perfect workation pant? The low-key styling of the lightweight, durable Western Rise Evolution Pant transitions seamlessly from office to streetwear to hiking trail. In water-repellent 4-way stretch Evolution® fabric, three versatile colors, and sizes 28-40. MSRP: $128

Sales contact: Victoire Dumont, victoire@westernrise.com, 646-704-1632

The soft, featherlight Icebreaker Men’s Merino Tech Lite II Short Sleeve T-Shirt is a versatile top that provides comfort, breathability and natural odor-resistance for your next long-haul flight, hike or all-day sightseeing adventure. “I often travel between Colorado and my home country of New Zealand where our merino fiber comes from,” said Kieran Anderson, head of North American marketing.  “My tech tee is my go-to sidekick with the versatility to take me from a summer’s day in Colorado one week to a cold winter’s day the following week in New Zealand. The cherry on top is that it’s naturally odor-resistant so I don’t have to worry about throwing it in the laundry after a long day like my other apparel.”

icebreaker Men's Merino Tech Lite II Short Sleeve T-Shirt
Photo courtesy of icebreaker

The icebreaker Men’s Merino Tech Lite II Short Sleeve T-Shirt in soft, ultralight, machine-washable 100% Merino Wool quickly air dries and resists odor even after multiple wearings. Available in a wide array of signature graphics, including seasonal styles perfect for gift-giving and après-ski. MSRP: $85

Sales contact: Rebecca Coddard, rebecca_goddard@vfc.com, 888-439-0006

You don’t need more space, you need more compression. NOMATIC Packing Cubes use an ingenuously simple zip system to condense your clothes and maximize your space, compressing from 5” deep to 2.5” deep. Made with strong, water-resistant, lightweight rip-stop nylon, you’ll stay organized and easily find your socks with see-through mesh panels. “The last time I traveled to Asia for business I was going to be traveling to multiple countries and cities, so I wanted to pack everything I needed in one backpack so I could easily travel between locations,” said cofounder and CEO Jacob Durham. “I used a large and medium packing cube and with the built-in compression, I was able to fit all my clothes for one week in those two packing cubes. Plus, it kept everything inside my bag more organized which was a huge plus.  Made multi-destination travel a breeze. I won’t travel without them now.”

NOMATIC Packing Cubes
Photo courtesy of NOMATIC

Light, durable ripstop nylon and mesh NOMATIC Packing Cubes are 5” deep and use a zippered compression system to zip down to 2.5”. 7.75” x 7.75” (small), 11.5” x 7.75” (medium), 11.5” x 11.5” (large). MSRP: $19.99-$39.99

Sales contact: Todd Switzler, todd@nomatic.com, 801-369-8853

Also designed to lock moisture out (or in), the new Matador FlatPak Dry Bags are available in a 2L size perfect for small electronics and valuables, and an 8L size ideal for clothing, laptops, and tablets. “Adventure often involves the unpredictable — rainstorms, river crossings, water spills,” said Chris Clearman, founder and CEO of Matador. “But that shouldn’t compromise your equipment.” Retailers can order FlatPak Dry Bags beginning Spring of 2023.

Matador FlatPak Dry Bags
Photo courtesy of Matador

The welded construction and roll-top closure of Matador’s FlatPak Dry Bags provides IPX7-rated waterproof protection — you can dunk it in one meter of water for 30 minutes — while a clear window on the bag’s side allows you to easily find your phone or dry socks. Retailers can order FlatPak Dry Bags beginning Spring of 2023. 2L (small), 8L (large). MSRP $29.99-$39.99

Sales contact: Derek Hancock, sales@matadorup.com.

STNKY‘s story begins with a forgotten gym bag of three-day-old sweaty Spinning™ clothes. The unforgettable experience of unpacking still-damp clothes plus the inspiration of a mesh lingerie laundry bag led to the development of a washer-friendly gear bag. Now available in multiple sizes, colors and private label, the STNKY Bag Pro protects the contents of your suitcase from your dirty clothes, and then unzips to reveal a mesh bag that can go directly into the washing machine as soon as you arrive home.

STNKY Bag Pro
Photo courtesy of STNKY

The STNKY Bag Pro laundry bag locks in germs, odors and moisture, then unzips to become a mesh laundry bag that can be tossed in the washer. STNKY is also a great everyday gift for health professionals, swimmers, and gym rats. 14”x 18” (standard), 18” x 25” (XL). MSRP: $30-$40

Sales contact: Joke De Keukelaere, info@stnky.us.

Accessories that Connect, Entertain and Refresh

Stay clean, organized, hydrated, connected, and (relatively) hands-free with these clever add-ons to your existing luggage and personal items.

The leak-free Trove Brands Owala® FreeSip® Bottle lets you choose your drinking style: sip through the hidden, built-in straw or chug through the wide mouth opening. You’ll also enjoy serious insulation (drinks stay cold for 24 hours) and a push-button open lid. “I can’t travel with any other bottle,” says VP of Marketing Michael Sorensen. “I’m a bit of a germaphobe, so the fact that the spout is completely covered gives me huge peace of mind. Especially when traveling with our 14-month-old daughter who only wants to drink from Mom or Dad’s Owala bottle. Knowing that even when the bottle rolls around on the airplane floor between sips the drinking spout is completely protected; it’s a game-changer.”

Trove Brands Owala® FreeSip® Bottle
Photo courtesy of Trove Brands

Trove Brands Owala® FreeSip® Bottle is available in two materials, ten on-trend colorways, and five sizes from 19 oz to 40 oz. The FreeSip spout lets you sip or chug. And while the bottle is leak-proof, you can also attach it to the outside of your bag with the included carry loop. MSRP: $14.99-34.99

Sales contact: Brian Boyce, sales@trovebrands.com, 801-235-9448

Arrive refreshed and entertained, hands-free, with the Perilogics Luggage Cup Holder and the Perilogics Travel Phone Holder. “On our way overdue cruise trip we didn’t realize how long the line is at the security checkpoint or just sitting around waiting to board the ship,” said Albert Wang, president of Perilogics. “We used the luggage cup holder to carry our coffee and water bottle, plus using the phone holder to clamp my phone to the luggage handle to watch a movie made the long wait time much more bearable. We could feel many fellow travelers were looking at us, admiring our little entertainment set up.”

Perilogics’ Luggage Cup Holder
Photo courtesy of Perilogics

Go hands-free and carry your coffee cup, water, antibacterial wipes or baby bottle on your luggage handle with Perilogics’ Luggage Cup Holder. When not in use the cup holder folds flat to store in your bag or clips to your backpack strap. MSRP: $14.95

Sales contact: Albert Wang, albert@perilogics.com, 646-543-5660

Perilogics’ Travel Phone Holder
Photo courtesy of Perilogics

Securely clamp your phone (and view your media) from your seat back, luggage handle, treadmill, or even above your kitchen sink. Perilogics’ Travel Phone Holder mounts vertically or horizontally, while 360° rotation gives you the flexibility to find your best viewing angle. MSRP: $12.97

Sales contact: Albert Wang, albert@perilogics.com, 646-543-5660

The two constants of airplane travel are dry skin and germy surfaces. OLIKA Ultra-Hydrating Hand Sanitizer addresses both with a refillable, misting hand sanitizer that is effective against 99.9% of germs and provides 24-hour hydration with hyaluronic acid, aloe, and glycerin. “OLIKA was created after one of our co-founders, Thorne Perkin, took his son to the hospital and observed the constant use of medicinal hand sanitizer. He figured there had to be a more enjoyable way to deliver hand hygiene,” says Alastair Dorward, CEO of OLIKA. “Our mission is to make our consumer’s experience enjoyable and accessible to all. We’re transforming the idea of hand sanitizing from something you have to do to something you want to do.”

OLIKA Ultra-Hydrating Hand Sanitizer
Photo courtesy of OLIKA

OLIKA Starter Essentials Set includes ultra-hydrating hand sanitizer clip-on (300+ mists) and 3 oz refill (1,500+ mists). Available in fragrance-free plus five subtle scents: mint citrus, lavender, cucumber basil, orange blossom, and pink grapefruit. MSRP: $12.99

Sales contact: Michelle Pitre, michelle@olikalife.com, 903-431-7447

Amy Ferber and Ali Ferber Peters, sisters and cofounders of She’s Birdie, come from a large and tightly knit family of women. While preparing to send their oldest daughters to college they became concerned about assault statistics for women, and grappled with the idea that any of the 14 daughters, cousins, nieces, or mothers in their family could be victims. In response they created BIRDIE+, a personal alarm that pairs with your phone to provide 24/7 support with the push of a button.

Birdie+ by She’s Birdie
Photo courtesy of She’s Birdie

Birdie+ by She’s Birdie is a personal safety alarm that works with your phone (through and IOS or Android app) to give you push button access to a live support rep, lets you receive a fake “excuse-to-leave” call, or shares your location with your emergency contacts. Pulling a pin activates a loud siren. MSRP: $31.96

Sales contact: Amy Ferber, amy@shesbirdie.com, 510-501-6111

MODL was born on a camping trip when I had a Nalgene hooked to my backpack swinging around,” said Barak Zitron, CEO and designer. “I realized if there was just one more loop on the other end, then it would be so much more comfortable to carry.” Zitron was inspired to design the MODL Bottle, a supremely squishable silicon water bottle, customizable with MODS — accessories that add functionality (like water purification, a hydration pack-style drinking tube, and a camping shower system). “We believe life is adventure, and the bottle you have with you every day should be able to adapt to any adventure that comes your way,” said Zitron. Next up for this innovative brand? The MODL Infinity Tool™, fully funded on Kickstarter in two hours.

MODL Bottle
Photo courtesy of MODL

The dual-ended collapsible silicone MODL Bottle attaches securely to your pack (or anything else) with two silicon super loops. Accessorize with MODS to turn your MODL Bottle into a hydration pack, a water purifier or an outdoor shower. MSRP: $39 (bottle), $8-$60 (MODs)

Sales contact: Zack Leitz, zack@modloutdoors.com, 404-583-9581

Travel Problem-Solvers
Photo credit: Kerry Pittenger

Featured in our photo are CoolDudeChoice’s Cool Convertible Sling Bag, STNKY’s Bag Pro and OLIKA’s Ultra-Hydrating Hand Sanitizer.

Model: Liam Hayes
Location: Prospect Plaza Apartments laundry room, Fort Collins, CO
Special thanks to Scott Winnegrad, Assistant Apartment Manager

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Contact info: Parinda Saetia, psaetia@mckleincompany.com, 312-636-9615