With the new year well underway, it’s time to overhaul your travel kit for any upcoming adventures in 2017.
In our latest gear reviews, we cast an eye over a selection of clothing and equipment, from boots tough enough to scale slippery glaciers to a jacket impervious to the elements.
Keen Aphlex boots
If your travels include rugged locations like Iceland or Alaska (or anywhere you enjoy adventure activities), pack a pair of Aphlex boots. With mesh uppers, they’re light, flexible and very comfortable. When we tested them on long hikes, they felt more like trainers than boots.
The heel and toe-box are solid, while strips of plastic form an exoskeleton over the mesh, all providing protection and stability. If the weather takes a turn for the worse, the boots are constructed with a waterproof membrane. But it’s breathable too, so your feet don’t get too sweaty when you’re back on the trail in the sunshine again.
- Plus points: light, comfortable, waterproof; available in male and female designs
- Worth noting: these are lightweight boots; for high-level trekking you may need footwear with less sole-flex and more protection
- Cost: £119.99, €150, US$160
- Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
- More info: keenfootwear.com
Vango Planet 50 sleeping bag
Aimed at budget travellers and round-the-world backpackers, the Planet 50 sleeping bag is ideal for cool (but not cold) conditions. Weighing just 1.3 kg and supplied with a compression sack, it won’t take up much space in your backpack, but there’s enough insulation to keep you cosy anywhere from a longhouse in Borneo to the beaches of Bali.
Features include a well-fitting hood (for more insulation on chilly nights), two-way zip (for ventilation on warm nights), small internal pocket, comfortable lining, and a mesh panel that can be completely closed to protect your face from irritating insects.
- Plus points: small, light, bug-resistant; for colder climates Planet 100 and 150 are available
- Worth noting: mosquitoes can bite through mesh; medics advise also using repellent on your skin in malarial regions
- Cost: £50, €58
- Rating: quality 8/10; practicality 9/10; value 9/10
- More info: vango.co.uk
Thunderbolt Sportswear jeans
For active travel in cool climates Thunderbolt jeans are an excellent choice. Despite the ‘jeans’ tag, they’re not denim, but a technical fabric which is wind-resistant, water-resistant and dirt-resistant on the outside while comfortable on the inside thanks to its soft lining and four-way stretch. So you can wear them all day, sightseeing in the city or hiking in the hills, and they still look good when you go to a bar in the evening.
When testing these trousers, we found the material in front of the fly zip did not hold its shape; depending on your build and waistline, a belt may be required.
- Plus points: durable, comfortable, weather-resistant; male's sizes only
- Worth noting: one rear pocket has a hidden security zip, useful to guard against pickpockets
- Cost: $200
- Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
- More info: thunderboltsportswear.com
Standard Luggage Packing Cubes & Packable Backpack
Previously we’ve tested the multi-functional Standard Luggage Travel Backpack that turns into a soft suitcase or carry-on bag for flights, city breaks or business trips. Packing Cubes are designed to fit neatly into the Travel Backpack to keep your kit clean and organised. Features include hanging loops, Velcro strips to attach cubes together, and mesh panels to check contents. A variation is the cube that turns into a small Packable Backpack to carry essentials around town while leaving your main bag at the hotel.
- Plus points: neat, light, functional; packing cubes and packable backpack sold separately
- Worth noting: complements the Travel Backpack, but can also be used in any similar bag
- Cost: packing cubes (set of three) $59; packable backpack $39
- Rating: quality 8/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
- More info: standardluggage.com
Showers Pass Atlas jacket
Originally designed for cycling, the Atlas jacket is waterproof and windproof, so great for any kind of travel where it might be cold or raining. Understated and unusual, the subtle grey-on-black pattern incorporates maps of cities around the world, with no two jackets exactly alike.
Features include removable hood, zippable front air vents, internal and external pockets, and reinforced shoulders to protect against backpack straps. If you walk or ride the streets at night, the pattern is reflective, bouncing back the glare from car headlights to make you eminently visible – a safety plus whether you’re in New York or New Delhi.
- Plus points: waterproof, versatile, cool; male and female versions available
- Worth noting: black/grey only; for daytime some cyclists might prefer brighter colours
- Cost: $275, £210, €245
- Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 7/10
- More info: showerspass.com
How we review products
Our opinions are by definition subjective. Our testers (male, female, young, old) trial products in the real world, then give their honest opinion and scores for quality, practicality and value: 5/10 = mediocre; 6/10 = fair; 7/10 = good; 8/10 = very good; 9/10 = excellent; 10/10 = perfect. We don’t include anything that scores less than 5/10.
We aim for gender balance, and over a year cover an equal number of male- and female-specific items. We state where kit is available in male and female versions, or for everyone, unless it’s obvious.
Prices are quoted in at least one major currency. Where possible we include other currencies. We take prices from manufacturers’ websites; information was correct at the time of publication, but you may find different prices online or in specialist stores, particularly after a period of time when products are discounted.
Manufacturers supply Lonely Planet with test products for review. We do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.