Packing List: Five Travel Items We Can and Can’t Live Without
You can never get enough gear into your packing list. We embrace anything that can make long journeys, heavy loads and unexpected inconveniences less challenging on our road to exploration and adventure.
After being sent some cool new items from our friends at LiteGear, Red Oxx, Aroamas and Pocket Poppet, we just had to give them a whirl on some of our recent adventures. Here’s what will forever make our packing list, and what slightly missed the mark.
Special thanks to Roxy, our beautiful model who wanted to show us some of her favorite items today.
Red Oxx’s Sky Train Convertible Backpack/Carry-On Bag
The small Montana-based Red Oxx sure knows how to make an impression. From the dark colors, tough material and military-style design of their travel gear (complete with dog tags as price tags), the company’s design shouts “I’m made for dudes!” from every rugged mountaintop from here to Kilimanjaro. Jim, the company’s CEO, is former military himself, re-creating the quality that he found in his own government-grade equipment.
But Jim also knows his business. “You know who buys our stuff?” He told me once. “It’s the ladies.” They buy them for their partners, their families, themselves. They buy them for the quality, willingly making the trade for the price.
I loved my Sky Train the moment I laid eyes on it – the strong, durable material, the extra-large zippers, the metal carabiners that link the convertible backpack straps to the bag’s base. When you lift this bag, you know it’s going to last through weekend hikes, overnight subway rides, crowded markets. You know it’s going to last for years.
Check out this close-up. There’s real metal in this thing.
It’s not cheap – my Sky Train retails for about $255 – but it’ll beat out your other backpacks, blindfolded. Not to mention, it’ll fit under your seat on the plane. My only wish is that it had hip straps so us women could center our gravity a little bit better.
Side by side comparison. Love the Lite Gear colors, but you can tell that Red Oxx was really built to last.
I had an opportunity to try out two similar bags at the same time. They were both convertible backpacks that sought to do similar things. After having tried the Red Oxx bag, I was spoiled. The LiteGear bag felt almost flimsy in my hands by comparison.
But in many ways, the comparison was not fair. LiteGear prides itself on being able to provide lighter material while not sacrificing on quality. It was, as promised, remarkably lighter in weight, though I couldn’t get a good grasp of how quickly a material like this would tear through trying circumstances.
Its redeeming quality was that it had hip straps, the same hip straps I had been wishing the Red Oxx bag would’ve considered. It made the weight of my weekend items feel much more comfortable. And it’s less than half the price.
For us women, hip straps do make all the difference.
A four-pack of Aroamas were sent to me from Australia, where they’re handmade with just four ingredients. At first glance, they’re cute – small perfume sticks almost the exact size of a Burt’s Bees lip balm, and with bubblegum names like “Parisian” and “Dreamy”.
Not only were the scents delightful, but they were appropriate. They were pleasant and unobtrusive. The oil-based perfume stick seems to melt into skin upon application. You could slip one into your bag anywhere – suitcase, evening bag, even your pocket – and be able to freshen up after a long day of exploring.
The best part, of course, was that there was no concern about spilling or leaking your expensive perfume bottle, or having to worry about separating your liquids on a carry-on. You could literally take this anywhere.
Our only complaint is that they don’t last forever. Where perfume bottles could last you for months, we didn’t have a good grasp of how many uses our Aroamas would take us through.
But we are enthusiastically hungry for more.
Our vote: Loved it Price: AUD $8 for one, AUD $60 for 10 Buy them here
LiteGear City Tote
Roxy gave a “yawn” to Lite Gear’s City Tote.
Accompanying the LiteGear Travel Pack on its trip to Chicago was a small day pack that fits over your shoulder, messenger bag-style. The only difference is that the bag slings more toward your back than your side.
For a 5’4” woman, the pack felt huge. It was only slightly smaller than a school backpack, yet it hung low on my hips, hanging over my rear. It wouldn’t have worked on a bike, and swung back and forth as I walked.
I tried to adjust it to sit higher on my frame, but the shape of the straps made it clear where it was naturally supposed to lay. After examining the picture of the man wearing it on the tag, I decided that I was wearing it correctly – I just wasn’t a six foot-tall man.
In the bag’s defense, it is an excellent size for use during the day, and it’s hands-free. It was nice to not walk around with a purse slung over my shoulder or in my hands.
It fit just about anything and everything I’d need – wallet, DSLR camera, two books, pamphlets, a snack, a bottle of water – but it was seated so precariously on my back that I would be worried about traveling with it in a foreign country where items would be easy to access and out of my view.
Our vote: Not impressed
Price: US $24.95 Buy it here
I told Helen Tyler, the creator of the Pocket Poppet, this when I met her: When I first received a royal blue poppet in the mail, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever use it. Sure, it was totally cute – the little peacoat-style sweater boasted a mini belt flourish on the back that made it stylish.
Sure, it could fold itself into a purse-like shape. But how was it different from any other sweater?
Yet when I received the poppet, I kept using it. It was larger than a regular sweater, so I could wrap it around my legs while sitting on the ground or give myself extra warmth in a heavily air conditioned room.
It packed up nicely, so you didn’t have to worry about spilling something or messing it up while throwing it in your purse. And when you wore the cardigan you had a secret pocket in the back that you could throw items in when you needed them.
It wraps up nicely, too.
The only caveat is the price. The poppet retails for $99, far over our budget for a cardigan. It also shouldn’t be machine dried, so you run a risk of ruining the nylon pocket if you don’t pay attention to the washing rules. But the poppet is often on sale, and the founders are looking for ways to reduce costs. With that, it’s worth giving the item a whirl.
Special thanks to Red Oxx, LiteGear, Aroamas and Pocket Poppet for sending us free samples of their materials to review for the site. Want Go Girl to review your travel item? Reach out to us here.
Tell us: What new gadgets make it into your packing list? Let us know by 11:59pm ET on August 15th and you could win a $75 gift card to Novica!
Novica is a fair-trade artisan gift shop that works with National Geographic to give talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market. For some examples of what they sell, check out their anklets and home decor. Special thanks to Novica for offering the gift card to our team and our readers.