With a deluge of new products hitting store shelves and browser windows every day, it’s easy to lose track of everything that happens in a year. So, to jog our memories a bit as the year winds to a close, we combed through our Today in Gear archives and other news briefs to reflect back on all of the notable products we discovered in 2017. The result is a new series we’re calling This Year in Gear, and we hope you’ll enjoy reviewing this snapshot of the travel gear and bag industry’s work as much as we have. Think we missed something, or just want to sound off on any trends you noticed? Let us know by dropping a comment on Facebook, Twitter or email.
Tommy John Second Skin Tees
Made from a Pima cotton and modal blend, these versatile tees are incredibly comfortable. They’re designed to be worn hard with everyday, and feature non-fading colors, non-pilling fabric and a touch of spandex to support movement. Short sleeve tees are available in a range of classic colors with crew neck, v-neck, Morroccan and henley necklines, so there’s a great option no matter your personal taste. A great tee is worth investing in, and these are definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market.
Incase NoviConnected 4 Wheel Hubless Travel Roller
Incase’s NoviConnected hard-sided suitcase anticipates and addresses every travel need, even the ones you aren’t aware of yet. It starts with a class-A Makrolon polycarbonate shell for protection, four smooth glide wheels for mobility, interior zip compartments for organization and a TSA approved lock. Then there are the unexpected details like an included exterior cover bag and laundry bag, a 4-stop trolly handle, a lifetime warranty on the luggage body and the wheels (which are also designed to be easily removed, FYI). But the real gamechanger is the app-controlled 10050 mAh battery bank that’s capable of recharging your iPhone multiple times or even giving USB-C powered laptops like the 15″ MacBook Pro up to 32% more use time. It’s also available in six color options and costs far less than many competing bags offering far fewer features.
Freitag Zipplein Rolling Duffel
Smart luggage doesn’t require built-in chargers or Bluetooth integration. From Swiss accessories label Freitag comes a solution-oriented bag that’s pared-down and intelligent by design. Dubbed the Zipplein, the rolling duffel reduces weight by omitting a hard frame altogether. Instead, to give the bag structure, Freitag built bike inner-tubes into the lining, which can be inflated to a roomy 85L capacity using a standard bike pump. When not in use, the bag can be deflated and rolled into a bundle small enough to fit inside a shoebox.
Freitag opted to launch the Zippelin on Kickstarter to better estimate demand. The project raised more than twice its initial goal.
Amazon Kindle Oasis
The new Kindle Oasis ($250) replaces last year’s premium Kindle Oasis ($290) in Amazon’s e-reader lineup and, comparatively, is better all-around. It’s cheaper and has a bigger display (7-inch versus 6-inch). And, with an IPX8 waterproof rating, you can actually submerge this Oasis in an oasis, should you find one.
The new Kindle Oasis has a few other upgrades on its now defunct and eponymous sibling. It has an aluminum back and a bigger built-in battery, unlike its predecessor’s plastic back and battery that was split between the device and a magnetic folding case. Amazon says you should be able to go six weeks between charges.
It also comes with twice the onboard storage (8GB vs 4GB), too, which you’ll want because this is also the first Kindle to have a built-in Audible app — finally, you can listen to audio books and read ebooks all in one place.
Triple Aught Design Parallax Messenger Bag
Triple Aught Design’s latest creation is basically the Batmobile of messenger bags. It has an astonishing amount of pockets, modular add-on points and other thoughtful features, like magnetic buckles, sternum stabilizer strap and padded laptop sleeve on the back.
To Boot New York Calf Leather Backpacks
To the happy little Italian calf who supplied the gorgeous leather on this NYC-made backpack — thank you. Your spirit lives on through men and women with places to go, things to carry, people to impress.
Aer Fit Pack 2
The Aer Fit Pack 2 carries all that you need without adding bulk with extra padding. Versatility, style and functionality — a perfect option for travel, work, or play.
Karma Go Black Wi-Fi Hotspot
The Karma Go is one of our favorite portable wi-fi hotspots. The advantage of this pocketable device is that users can pay via monthly payments or pay-as-they-go data plans. Basically, consumers have options. This year the company announced a specialized version of its wi-fi hotspot called Karma Black, which is focused toward secure browsing.
Billykirk No.483 Schoolboy Satchel Collection
Billykirk stepped into a time machine, went to WWII-era Europe, and returned deeply inspired. Back then, premium leather satchels were commonplace among schoolboys and army medics. The No. 483 is a precise replica of that same classic bag design, featuring Horween leather, brass hardware, exterior seam construction and enough space for several books and a 15-inch laptop. The No. 236 is the same, but slightly smaller. Preorder now; Billykirk creations usually sell fast.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Bose officially announced an updated version of its QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones. The new model, conveniently named the QuietComfort 35 II ($350), is nearly identical to its predecessor. It offers the same superb active noise-canceling technology (you can adjust the level of noise canceling via the Bose app, depending how much of the outside world you want to hear) along with a battery life of 20 hours. It’s available in black or silver models, too. The only real difference is that QC35 IIs have Google Assistant built in. On the left ear cup, there’s an “Action” button that gives users quick access to Google Assistant. No need to pick up your phone or say “Hey Google” to initiate the virtual assistant.
Bluemsart Series 2 Smart Luggage
Bluesmart, the world’s first smart luggage brand, has launched pre-orders for its fully revamped and vastly improved Series 2 line. With a carry-on, checked bag, laptop bag and passport case, the four-piece collection syncs to an updated Bluesmart app that boasts location tracking and digital remote locking, and which stores up-to-the-minute flight and departure gate information.
The Cabin carry-on ($275) and larger Check bag ($325) are built from three-layer German Makrolon polycarbonate (not unlike what Away or Raden use) and feature 360-degree hubless wheels, plus compression straps and hidden pockets on the inside. The Check bag has built-in weight sensors that, through the Bluesmart app, sync with individual airline regulations to alert you of any overweight fees, and both suitcases offer built-in 3G and GPS tracking.
CargoWorks Recon 15 Backpack
A technical backpack with tactical assault style. Outside, eight subtly-integrated pockets for quick-access gear; inside, 10 thoughtfully-placed pockets, including one for a 15-inch laptop and tablet. Additionally, there’s a top-access dump pocket for small EDC items, like a phone or wallet, and a military-inspired velcro admin panel for add-on pouches or patches.
Bowers & Wilkins PX
The Bowers & Wilkins PX ($399) are Bowers & Wilkins’ first wireless noise-canceling headphones. They have built-in adaptive noise cancellation, which, unlike traditional active noise canceling, lets wearers switch between different levels of noise cancellation through an app. Bose’s new QC35 II headphones also do something like this. If you’re riding a bike and want to let in some ambient noise, for example, there’s a setting for that.
Unlike B&W’s other pair of wireless headphones, the P5 Wireless ($300), the PX have an over-ear design and a more substantial feel, weighing 335 grams, compared to the P5’s 213 grams. More importantly, the new PX headphones have ditched the old micro-USB charging port in favor of USB-C; you can charge them with the same cable you use with your latest-model MacBook Pro or Android smartphone, if you own one. The PX headphones also have a 3.5mm jack, in case you want to plug them into your old iPhone or portable hi-fi player.
With Bluetooth and noise canceling activated, the PX headphones have a solid 22 hours of battery life. That increases to 33 hours when Bluetooth is cut out of the equation. The headphones are available now in two colors: soft gold and space gray.
Pack Simply Curated Toiletry Bags
Travel toiletries are a funny thing. Unlike the other contents of your luggage, toiletries often need replacing after a long trip — kinda like your booze-soaked liver, or your will to be productive at work. Pack Simply shoulders that inconvenience for you. Choose from over 100 TSA-approved items, and Pack Simply will organize ’em in a clear plastic pouch and ship it to your front door.
DSPTCH Modern Utility Ruckpack
In designing an all-out function-driven pack for travel and everyday use, DSPTCH drew inspiration from standard-issue military rucksacks. The Ruckpack incorporates that same high function into a modern, pared-down profile that includes a separate laptop compartment, several pockets for small items and panel access to the main compartment. A high-density polyethylene-and-aluminum back support, Duraflex hardware and mil-spec webbing ensure that the whole package will take whatever you throw at it.
BullRest Travel Pillow
The BullRest is 80 percent smaller than those clumsy horseshoe-shaped bean bags that are sold at airport convenience stores. It’s also made of memory foam, and has a large vent to allow airflow on your neck. Toss it in with your other carry-on essentials.
Nau Slight Packable Shirt
Need a do-it-all shirt? Look no further. The Slight is made of lightweight, water- and wind-repellant fabric and travels easily by packing down into its own chest pocket. Better yet, Nau is a leading maker of sustainable clothing.
SDR Traveller D3 Traveller Discreet Duffel
This duffel is not for you. The plain, logo-less charcoal black bag is made to take a beating and go unnoticed. Why? Because when you’re traveling across borders where officers are more likely to request a bribe than a visa application you want a bag constructed of fabric (Dyneema) that by weight is stronger than steel, and you don’t want it to look like it’s full of fancy gear.
Wax & Jackson Olive Tote for Vinyls
This British canvas, leather-detailed, brass-buttoned tote bag is intended for lugging around vinyl records and hi-fi headphones, buy hey — no sense in limiting a great-looking bag to just one job. Toss in whatever you like.
Front Runner Outfitters Monsoon Bag
Think of the Monsoon Bag as a hardshell roof-rack cargo box, in roll-top softshell form. It stores up to 90 liters of gear that would ordinarily get tossed thoughtlessly into your trunk or backseat, protecting it from all manner of rain, sun, snow and dirt. And since it’s made of lightweight TPE fabric (rather than carbon fiber or plastic, like traditional rooftop cargo boxes), it takes up way less space when it’s stored away.
Airbnb’s first-ever print magazine features stories from some of the world’s top travel and culture writers: food journalist Mark Bittman, New Yorker writer Ariel Levy, creator of HBO’s Insecure Issa Rae and more. For just $15 a year, you get six issues, each containing a healthy dose of adventure inspiration from the hottest travel destinations around the globe.
This Is Ground Voyager 2 Weekender
Handcrafted by heritage Italian leatherworkers, the Voyager 2 Weekender is a capable weekender with a distinctive “tech pod” on the front for storing quick-access things like tablets, cords, pens, passport and more.
Phiaton BT 390 Wireless Headphones
Phiaton built the BT 390’s specifically for commuters and travelers. They have a foldable design, a huge 30-hour battery life, and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity. Like several of Phiaton’s other headphones, the BT 390s are also built with “multipoint technology” so you can sync the headphones with two Bluetooth devices simultaneously, such as a smartphone and a laptop. On its ear cups, there are also multi-function buttons and a built-in mic, so don’t have to rummage through your back to change songs or answer calls.
Black Ember Modular V4 Adventure Travel Packs
The go-to adventure travel bag is often a waterproof duffel or an expedition pack. These bags are great, but it’s often the case that any packing forethought goes to waste with their cavernous compartments; travel should be enhanced by a carry-all, not complicated by it. Black Ember’s V4 Adventure Travel Collection relies on a modular system of rugged components made from materials like ripstop nylon and hypalon. Compression cubes, camera carriers and more allow for total bag customization and organization for whatever the journey calls for.
Soarigami Airplane Portable Armrest Extender/Divider
As if flying coach (Coach? What’s “coach?”) with strangers isn’t bad enough, you also sometimes have to contend with… their bare forearms. Or, rather, you did. Now you don’t. But you might look a little crazy.
Knock Knock NYC Luggage Storage Service
When you’re traveling, there’s always that awkward space of time before check-in in which you’d like to get out and explore but are still encumbered by luggage. And then there are those post-work events that you don’t want to drag your backpack to, or dinners at restaurants without storage space for armloads of shopping bags. Enter Knock Knock. It’s the Uber of bag checks.
Tumi Global Locator
If recent headlines are any indication, airlines can sometimes be an absolute shitshow. Passengers get dragged off planes, small delays turn into day-long layovers, luggage bound for home ends up on a different continent. Tumi’s new Global Locator is essentially a pocket-sized, cellular-enabled GPS device that ensures you’ll always know the exact location of your bag. As soon as your bag enters the cargo hold, the Global Locator automatically goes into airplane mode; upon landing, you can track your bag’s whereabouts using the Tumi companion app.
Rains Water-Resistant Weekend Bag
Osprey BigKit Organizational Duffel
Fender’s new ukuleles are inspired by the beaches and celebrity mansions of California.
TAXA Mantis Camper Trailer
At 18 feet, the Mantis sleeps up to four adults, and has all the cozy amenities of home: fridge, cabinets, kitchen counter, full futon, bunk bed, shower and closet.
The first backpack from ARKTYPE, a brand known for its premium EDC keychains.
This Is Ground Plug Pack
This small leather pouch neatly organizes your electrical knickknacks: laptop chargers, charging cables, USB plugs, earbuds, batteries and whatever else.
Arlo Skye Check-In Luggage
You could spend a few thousand bucks on a Rimowa — and that’d be a great investment — or, you could get this Arlo Skye. It’s made of the same aluminum-magnesium alloy that many top-shelf luggage makers have come to be known for.
Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones
Meet the feature Apple’s W1 chip for easy Bluetooth pairing with your iPhone, Mac or iPad; the other headphones integrated with the W1 chip are Beats’s own Solo3 Wireless over-ear headphones, PowerBeats3 Wireless and BeatsX sport headphones, along with Apple’s own AirPods.
Beats claims that the Studio3 Wireless is its “most advanced headphone ever” largely because they integrate of Apple’s proprietary W1 chip that allows for easy Bluetooth pairing with Apple devices and its new noise-canceling technology: Pure Adaptive Noise Canceling (Pure ANC). The Pure ANC technology, according to the company, uses “advanced algorithms to continuously monitor your listening environment.” Essentially, the headphones hear the music you’re listening to and the outside noise simultaneously; they then adjust the noise canceling function so that the music sounds its best. I haven’t had a chance to experience the headphones, but am excited to see how the sound stacks up against other ANC headphones like the Bose QC35.
Additionally, the Studio3 Wireless headphones have a 22-hour battery life with Pure ANC turned on, and an impressive 40-hour battery life with the feature turned off. The headphones are also built with Fast Fuel technology, allowing you to get three hours of life from a 10-minute charge. As for look and fit, that’s all pretty much the same as Beats’ previous Studio headphones.
DSPTCH Travel Pack
DSPTCH’s latest backpack is a hyper-focused travel companion, with several quick-access pockets, shoe compartment, internet laptop sleeve, and an integrated hip belt that doubles as a compression strap. It comes in seven colors; if you’re on-trend, go for the camo.
BOND Travel Gear DASH Dopp Kit
Chris Elfering founded BOND Travel Gear with one goal: bring the rugged durability of the gear he used while serving with the U.S. Army in Iraq to everyday travel items used by regular people. Among his company’s first collection is a burly Dopp kit made with 1,000-denier ripstop nylon and double-stitched zippers and stress points. It’s designed to be tossed, crushed and generally abused (and it’ll probably withstand more of a beating than the necessaries you store inside).
A/MARELLI X Chapman Camera Bag
Photographer (and former Gear Patrol Contributor) Adam Morelli has come out with his own camera bag, based on a shoulder bag design from Chapman Bags. The end result is a durable (and waterproof) canvas bag that you’d actually want to be seen carrying, with details tailored for photographers. That means a durable shoulder strap that wraps around the entire bag, a padded laptop compartment, pockets big enough for lenses and camera bodies and the ability to add your own padded dividers (if that’s your thing).
Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L
San Francisco–based Peak Design has mastered the art of the bag. Its latest (and smallest and lightest, too) is designed for camera or drone carry, but it works well as an organizer for everyday essentials, too. The Everyday Sling 5L’s interior is optimized with removable padded dividers that help to keep gear safe and secure, and a variety of internal organizing pockets for memory cards, cords, and other small items you may need at hand. The outer is constructed with a weatherproof nylon canvas shell. Even the strap is a marvel, built to adjust on the fly or be tucked into a hidden pocket in case you prefer to wear the sling as a hip bag.
Mission Workshop The Rhake
Mission Workshop, one of the precious few backpack makers who understand the concept of form meets function, today announced a new backpack. The Rhake is designed mostly for carrying everyday gadgets and cables (laptop, tablet, chargers and other peripherals), but a plethora of pockets make a wonderfully versatile weekend companion, too. Like all Mission Workshop backpacks, it’s built with tough-as-nails weatherproof nylon, and has modular attachment points placed intelligently throughout. To get a real sense of just how seriously Mission Workshop takes form and function watch this oddly satisfying video.
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Killspencer Utility Weekender
Killspencer’s best-selling Weekender duffel is now more capable than ever before, with water-resistant zippers and an external compartment for quick-access essentials.
Adventure Assist Travel Notebook
If you’re part of the Jet Set and also love being organized, a hybrid travel journal/planner needs to be in your suitcase at all times.
Bellroy Classic Backpack
New to Bellroy’s collection of minimalist accessories is this sleek backpack. At 17 liters, it’ll hold just enough for your daily commute including a 15-inch laptop, iPad and other necessities. It’s made from sustainably produced water-resistant nylon and environmentally certified leather, but best of all, it’s backed by Bellroy’s three-year warranty.
Hardgraft Soft Shoe Stuff & Bag
Think of Hardgraft’s latest release as buying a first-class ticket for your shoes. The travel set consists of two grey melange shoe stuffers that slide into your shoes to help maintain their shape as well as a soft brushed shoebag.
High Above Lost Lake Duffel
Rugged duffles come in all shapes and sizes, but very few are designed to be minimal. High Above has reimagined the carry-all bag with the idea that less can be more — the Lost Lake Duffel is designed with a durable Phifertex mesh that may not be waterproof but is antimicrobial and packs down small when not in use. The bag comes in two sizes, features military-spec nylon webbing handles and exterior pouch-style pockets, and is currently funding as a project on Kickstarter.
The Hudson Backpack by ONA
The Best Products of 2017
A look back at the year in gear. From superlative whiskey to sustianable denim, these were the best products released in 2017. Explore the Series