In the first of our new series of travel gear reviews, we cast an expert eye over some of the best products on the market to help you get it right on the road, whether you’re hiking in Bolivia, loafing in Bali or weekending in Barcelona.

Mammut Comfort High GTX Surround boots are robust enough to tackle the toughest terrain © David Else / Lonely Planet

Mammut Comfort High GTX Surround boots

Good footwear is essential for hikes up mountains or travels across continents. Mammut Comfort High GTX Surround boots live up to their name, with lightweight fabric, padded lining and air-cushioned insole, plus a breathable waterproof inner membrane. On the outside are padded toecaps for protection, chunky tread for grip, and high ankles for support on rough ground (this boot is also available with low and medium ankles).

As with any boot, ‘waterproof’ doesn’t necessarily mean dry feet, as water comes in over the top of the boot as you splash through a stream or trek through a rainstorm, but overall these boots are very good for hiking, backpacking and travel in tough locations.

  • Plus points: extremely comfortable, well ventilated, great ankle and toe protection.
  • Worth noting: may be too lightweight for some uses, eg mountaineering (more robust Mammut boots include Alto High GTX and Trovat Guide High GTX).
  • Cost: £170, €200
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
  • More info:
The Osprey Farpoint 80 offers ample space if you're planning a big trip © David Else / Lonely Planet

Osprey Farpoint 80 backpack

If you’re going on a big trip and want a big backpack to match, the Farpoint 80 provides cavernous space with a host of practical features. The fully adjustable harness keeps weight spread across your shoulders and is very comfortable. A large (lockable) zip fully opens the backpack at the side so you can easily reach your stuff, while various compartments keep things organised.

Should you check into a fancy hotel, the harness can be concealed, turning the Farpoint into regular soft luggage. This is equally handy for flights, although the compression straps might snag on the airport carousel. Another plus is the Osprey PackSizer app that matches the length of your torso to one of the backpack's two sizes, small/medium or medium/large.

  • Plus points: large, tough, practical, versatile
  • Worth noting: could be too big (smaller versions include Farpoint 55)
  • Cost: £130, €160
  • Rating: quality 8/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  • More info:
The Force Ten Alpine 25 daypack is perfect for an adventurous day trip © David Else / Lonely Planet

Force Ten Alpine 25 daypack

The Alpine 25 daypack is a great companion when you want to skip the city for the great outdoors. Specifically designed for hiking, trekking or climbing, the slim profile means nothing to snag on branches or obstruct your arms as you haul yourself up a cliff. Should you need extra gear, straps can be attached to carry ice axes, ropes and hiking poles.

The only opening is closed with a zip (rather than a flap) which means access is easy whatever you’re carrying, but there’s no adjustment if the bag is half full. It’s not the lightest activity daypack available, but the fabric is robust and the stiff padding across your back means the bag keeps its shape and remains comfortable all day.

  • Plus points: deliberately minimalist, practical, comfortable
  • Worth noting: inward facing top zip takes some getting used to
  • Cost: £80
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
  • More info:
Anxious about your gadgets running out of battery? The Brunton Revolt 9000 portable charger might be the answer to your prayers © David Else / Lonely Planet

Brunton Revolt 9000 portable charger

When out in the wilds for more than a day, you might worry about charging your phone. Enter the Revolt 9000. You charge it up on mains power, then take it on your next big hike and use it to recharge electronic devices. To get a phone from 10% to 95% takes around three hours. Depending on the phone and outside temperatures you can do this five or six times.

With a weatherproof outer and a Vibram sole – just like hiking boots – the Revolt will survive most adventures, although at over 350g (12 ounces) some hikers might find it a heavy way to keep a phone charged. On the upside, you’ll never miss the chance to take a selfie.

  • Plus points: tough, straightforward, handy three-way cable
  • Worth noting: heavy for short trips (the Revolt 4000 is lighter)
  • Cost: US$90, £90
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 7/10
  • More info:
The Standard Carry-On Backpack has an ingenious, multifunctional design © David Else / Lonely Planet

Standard Carry-On Backpack

Sometimes when travelling you need a shoulder bag. Other times you need a backpack. Or even a small suitcase. The Carry-On Backpack is all three. It’s small enough for cabin baggage on the plane, stylish enough for smart hotels, and comfortable enough on your back as you hop buses across town.

In backpack mode, there’s no waist belt, but all straps tuck out of sight when not required, and the single shoulder strap unclips as well. Numerous pockets on the inside keep everything organised, from pens to clean shirts, and a large external zip allows the bag to stretch capacity. The leather zip tassels are cheerful or brash, depending on your tastes, and removable if you want to travel a little more under the radar.

  • Plus points: ingenious design, multifunctional
  • Worth noting: not totally waterproof, but optional rain cover available
  • Cost: US$179
  • Rating: quality 8/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  • More info:
The Aquapac Trailproof Drybag is a must for protecting your kit in wet weather © David Else / Lonely Planet

Aquapac Trailproof Drybag

Hiking, biking, camping, climbing. If there’s a chance of rain, you’ll want to keep your kit dry – anything from cameras to spare socks. The Trailproof Drybag is perfect for the job: a simple bag with a seven-litre capacity and a sealable top that doubles as a handle.

This bag isn’t designed for total immersion (other Aquapac bags for sailing and kayaking are 100% waterproof) but it’ll protect your valuables from Scottish rainstorms, Himalayan monsoons or wave-tossed boat journeys anywhere in the world.

  • Plus points: tough, straightforward, weatherproof
  • Worth noting: may be too small for some trips (15L, 25L and 70L versions available)
  • Cost: US$19.95, £13
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 9/10
  • More info:
The Elliott Brown Canford 202-004 watch isn't cheap – and it shows © David Else / Lonely Planet

Elliott Brown Canford 202-004 watch

The Canford watch is a work of horological excellence, specifically designed to withstand the rigours of travel and outdoor activities. Available in several varieties, the 202 is subtle, with a dark face, white markings and luminous hands. Straps are available in canvas, metal or leather. Travellers may opt for the equally subtle 004 nylon webbing.

The two main problems for watches – shock impact and water – are solved, thanks to internal dampers and bolted-down seals. In practice, this rugged construction means the Canford is relatively heavy. Some people may find the price tag rather hefty as well. But maybe that’s the cost of style, strength and durability.

  • Plus points: stylish, reliable, almost indestructible
  • Worth noting: relatively heavy (just over 120g)
  • Cost: £325
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 7/10
  • More info:
The Hydro Flask is useful for carrying cold or hot drinks © David Else / Lonely Planet

Hydro Flask drinking bottle

When travelling in hot countries you want to drink often, but fluid with a tang of warm plastic can be a turn-off. The insulated Hydro Flask is made of stainless steel, keeping water cold and clean-tasting for a day, whether you’re exploring the souks of Marrakech or the mountains of Sarawak.

A ‘shield’ on the inside controls the temperature, while the outside of the bottle has a matt surface for easier grip. You can also use the Hydro Flask for hot beverages when the weather is cold; coffee made with boiling water is still great to drink six hours later.

  • Plus points: tough, functional
  • Worth noting: metal rim means lips can be burnt on hot drinks (so pour them into a cup)
  • Cost: US$27, £23.95 (for 21oz / 500ml bottle – other sizes available)
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 7/10
  • More info:

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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.

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