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The Islands 2021 Travel Gear Guide

From backpacks and sunglasses to outdoor cooking and fitness equipment, here are the products we’re taking on vacations and giving as gifts this year.

June 17, 2021
A road by the oceanside.
On the road or in the air, if you’re getting back out there soon, you’re going to need the right gear. Shutterstock

For those about to travel safely, we salute you. For those who still want to take your time getting back out there, we certainly understand you. And for anyone in between, or maybe just waiting on the right travel deals, we don’t blame you. Where you stand, though, one thing is for certain: you can probably use some new travel gear. Even if you think you don’t, come on, you know you’ve had your eye on something special for the last year or so, and if you haven’t, maybe we can inspire you.

We’ve been looking around for a variety of products, gadgets, and doodads for months, and while we normally like to focus on the little things that can fit into our bags and make traveling easier, we’re still taking a page from last year’s gear guide and keeping a focus on enhancing the experience both home and away.

So, if you want to start simple and grab a new pair of sunglasses for your big boat trip or perhaps a Father’s Day present, or you’re more concerned with getting your beach bod back, we have some ideas. Whatever your perspective, there’s gear for you.

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Breeo X Series 30 Smokeless Fire Pit

H2 Breeo X Series 30 Smokeless Fire Pit
What’s better than gathering around the fire pit with friends? Turning it into a cookout. Breeo

It seemed impossible that Breeo could ever top the X24 smokeless fire pit, but then someone in a meeting suggested, “Let’s make it even bigger” and I assume the entire room burst into applause. Bigger isn’t always better, but let’s not fool ourselves—adding more room to this fire pit is a flat-out brilliant idea.

Just as with the X24, the 30 comes in standard or the searplate version, and if you’re the type of chillaxxer who likes to spontaneously cook meat and/or veggies over a fire, you’ll want the searplate and the Outpost. That way, when friends or family visit and you want to blow their minds, you can simply slap a steak on the rim and bask in the admiration you’ll receive.

Coleman RoadTrip Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill

Coleman RoadTrip Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill
Being able to fold up the grill and bring it anywhere is one of the greatest gifts we’ve ever received. Coleman

There’s little doubt that road trips will soon be on the rise, if they’re not already, and we’re always fond of a family camping trip or finding a nice Airbnb rental in a secluded area, possibly near the beach or the lake, so everyone can relax without stepping over each other. Whatever the scenario, a portable grill is a great investment in the event that the property doesn’t offer one, or you simply like to manage your own cookout with your gear.

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The Coleman RoadTrip Portable Stand-Up Propane Grill is a convenient, compact solution for grillmasters on the go, as it folds up to slide right into the trunk while featuring a grill surface large enough to handle food for bigger families or groups. Just remember the grill spray or else you’ll have to bribe the kids to clean it.

KC Cattle Company Wagyu Sliders

KC Cattle Company Wagyu Sliders
Forget impressing people. Spoil yourself with a little wagyu beef for your home grill. KC Cattle Co.

Well, if you’re going to show off your searplate or portable grill chops then you might as well spoil yourself. And if you can do that while buying from a company that does great things, then it’s a double win. Also, factor in the potential health benefits from wagyu beef—at the very least it’s packed with protein—and it’s a triple win. But let’s just focus on the fact that the KC Cattle Company’s wagyu burger and slider patties are delicious and affordable, because those are the aspects we keep at the top of the list.

Founder and military veteran Patrick Montgomery raises his cattle with no hormones or antibiotics on his farm in Weston, Missouri, and his company only employs veterans while giving back in a variety of other ways. That’s certainly something we can all feel great about while eating our own weight in wagyu beef chorizo. (There I go sharing my dreams again.)

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Tipsy Scoop x Blue Chair Bay

Tipsy Scoop x Blue Chair Bay
When the kids go to bed it’s time for the good treats. Tipsy Scoop

Time for dessert. Even if you’re just spending the afternoon next to your own pool, why not bring a cooler outside so you can make a little dish of fruity goodness with the latest offering from the mad scientists at Tipsy Scoop? This time they’ve teamed up with the equally creative crew at Kenny Chesney’s Blue Chair Bay Rum for the perfect summer collection of boozy ice cream.

Dirty Banana is sure to become a crowd favorite, but the other flavors (Piña Colada and Spiked Key Lime Pie, for example) will also have parents invoking Jim Gaffigan to keep the kids away. Want a pro tip? Pour yourself a delicious mango daiquiri and then add a scoop of the Mango Daiquiri ice cream as a floater. Sure, you’ll probably get brain freeze, but at least you’ll be distracted by the insanely tasty concoction.

Fluid Running

Fluid Running
If you’re already going to be in the pool, you might as well use it to your advantage. Fluid Running

Chances are you’ve spent a lot of the last 15 months thinking about fitness and exercise, maybe a little more so than usual—especially if you’ve been diving into the Tipsy Scoop. And I’m only talking from personal experience, but sometimes all that thinking doesn’t necessarily translate into action. So, you’ve likely looked into or pulled the trigger on one of those fancy exercise bikes or that wall screen that lets trainers yell at you in the comfort of your own home. But summer means it’s time to get outside and really burn those quarantine calories, so why not do it in the pool?

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Fluid Running boasts a bunch of things that we’re always looking for in a fitness device: light and compact, portable, digital, simple, and wet. Best of all, it doesn’t need to be used in front of other people. How simple is simple? Put on the headphones, pull up the app on your phone (which is tucked away in your bag), slip into the deep end, press play on your headphones, and let creator and trainer Jennifer Conroyd’s voice lead you to results.

Rad Power Bikes’ RadMission 1

Rad Power Bikes’ RadMission 1
Save on gas and put a little extra work into your commute for positive results. Rad Power Bikes

For many of us, the work from home lifestyle is here to stay, and that’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, it means more freedom with work attire, but on the other hand it means more self-discipline and responsibility for laying off the snacks and factoring in rest and fitness. “Get up from your desk and take a walk or bike ride,” my doctor tells me every time I try to claim the Doritos forced themselves into my mouth.

An electric bicycle like the RadMIssion 1 from Rad Power Bikes is a wise investment because, first and foremost, everyone needs a good bike. But maybe your office is slowly bringing everyone back in, so you can implement a new change in your daily routine by riding to work. Or, if you’re staying home for good, take a few laps around the neighborhood every few hours and especially treat it as your chariot for your morning trips to Starbucks. Either way, your body will appreciate it.

GoPro Hero 9 Black

GoPro Hero 9 Black
Even if you’re a beginner, this is the action camera that will make you feel like a, well, pro. GoPro

If I’m going to be a broken record about anything, it’s that any serious traveler who loves sharing adventures with friends, family, and followers galore should own and pack an action camera. Of course, it goes without saying, the GoPro Hero 9 Black is the Rolls Royce of action cameras, except it would be more like a Rolls Royce merged with one of those smart cars that can drive itself, parallel park, and then post about the entire experience on Facebook and Instagram.

Why stop at just the camera, though? You’re going to need the best accessories and that starts with the right bag for your action camera.

GoPro Weekender Backpack

GoPro Weekender Backpack
It’s more than a backpack designed to carry your GoPro. It’s also part of your equipment. GoPro

Did you know GoPro makes a weekender backpack? You do now, and if you already own a Hero 9, 8, 7, or other model, then you know that your case and accessories can take up a lot of space in a typical carryon bag. So, presumably, the wizards at GoPro asked the dynamic question: “What if we just made a bag that includes the case for the camera and gear?” and now I’m the one giving a standing ovation.

This backpack (and the equally stylish and functional daytripper) was designed to not only keep the camera within arm’s reach—you obviously need to get the perfect inbound plane window photo—but it also has a mount built into it, certifying this backpack as essential for explorers and adventurers. Still, it’s also great for traveling professionals, as it has a TSA-friendly laptop slot, plenty of space for multiple sets of clothes, a separate shoe pouch, and convenient pockets for phones, wallets, and passports.

Oh, and don’t forget your sunglasses… wait, did you know GoPro makes those now, too?

GoPro Mezcal Sunglasses

GoPro Mezcal Sunglasses
With three lens sets, this is one pair that can do it all. GoPro Youtube

This must be a mind-blowing day for some people, but don’t worry, I had the same reaction. The timing was perfect, too, because on a recent trip to Cancun, I almost said adios to my favorite pair of sunglasses during a snorkeling excursion. That was the first time I thought to myself, “I need to invest in a pair of floaters.” (For anyone who has never watched a nice pair of sunglasses sink in the ocean, floating sunglasses basically spare you that moment of anxiety or a deep plunge.)

Aside from a mouth-watering name, GoPro’s Mezcal sunglasses offer three-in-one performance by including a trio of lens sets, all of which fit right into the case. So, if you’re just going about your daily routine, go with gray. Enjoying a nice beachside evening? Switch to the blue. Out on the boat for a day or longer? Don’t forget to switch to the amber. And swapping is as simple as snapping them in and out.

Dragon Alliance Opus LL H2O Non Polar

Dragon Alliance Opus LL H2O Non Polar
Look good on the water or in the resort restaurant with a stylish, durable pair of sunglasses. Dragon Alliance

When you’re a traveler who likes to keep things simple and pack as little as possible, even a pair of sunglasses needs to be versatile enough to work in multiple situations. Think about anything you’re going to do on your next trip to the Caribbean, Hawaii, or even Florida, and ask yourself if your sunglasses can go from the airport to the resort to the pool to the beach to the boat to the paddleboard to the parasail to the restaurant again. Chances are your favorite pair can’t do that.

So, find the pair that does it all, like the Dragon Alliance Opus style, which was built with both fashion and durability in mind. Going back to the need for floaters, the Opus LL H2O Non Polar, with its rose gold lens color, is particularly great when your getaway involves a lot of time spent on the water.

Rheos x Southern Tide Eyewear Collection

A woman smiling and wearing sunglasses.
No matter the occasion, even in the most action-packed ocean settings, a pair of Rheos sunglasses won’t disappoint. Rheos Nautical Eyewear

Arguably the most important thing to understand about choosing a pair of floaters is that function doesn’t come at the expense of style. Just because these sunglasses were built to bob along in the water while you turn the boat around because your face suddenly feels empty, it doesn’t mean that they can’t look like they were designed for wearing with formalwear, as if you just rode a jet ski from a diving excursion so you could make it back to the beach in time for your cousin’s wedding.

Rheos Nautical Eyewear has long been an authority on floaters that look as good as they perform (the Wyecreeks style belongs in every weekender bag), but the company’s recent collaboration with Southern Tide adds new looks with dependable features like saltwater resistance, 100 percent UV protection, and lightweight frames, among others. So, when you need one pair to rule them all, a style like the Seabrooks will be your go-to for a long, long time.

Able Carry Max Backpack

Able Carry Max Backpack
One backpack to outlast them all—that’s every traveler’s dream. Able Carry

Let’s keep on the theme of simplicity in packing and talk about a backpack that checks one of the most important boxes we have for luggage: durability. Buying new bags is a lot like buying a car. It’s exciting but stressful, and we know (or at least hope) that whatever we choose will be with us for years to come. That decision isn’t even easier when we’re talking about one bag that does it all, because there are so many bags to choose from and so many pretenders that need to be replaced.

In creating the Max Backpack, Able Carry did the unthinkable: it created a product that the company hopes you won’t buy again. That’s because this 30-liter bag is made with durable, sustainable materials that will keep this one on an adventurer’s shoulders for decades. That’s not to say it cuts corners in other ways, most notably with comfort and functionality. The backpack boasts closed-cell foam shoulder support (read: very comfy straps) and ventilated pads which, as almost any regular traveler knows, keeps your back cooler when you’re constantly running from gate to gate. We still need to be able to retrieve our laptops with ease, and we want to visit the resort spa to be pampered, not because our shoulders are in pain from cheap straps.

Guy Harvey Performance Hoodies

Guy Harvey Performance Hoodies
Unmistakable designs matched with the comfort required for a long day on the water. Guy Harvey

When you spend a lot of time on a boat, you know how important it can be to protect your skin, not just from the sun but also the wind. And when it cools off at night, you’ll never feel smarter than when you break out the hoodie. Guy Harvey’s performance hoodies are an “all of the above style” designed to provide comfort in the hot sun or when you’re relaxing on the deck during brisk evenings.

Available in both men’s and women’s styles, they feature the unmistakable artwork that makes this brand so popular among boaters and fishermen, but more importantly they’re nice and stylish enough to wear on the water, in the restaurant, and even for the flight home. You know, so long as it doesn’t smell like snapper.

Voormi High-E Hoodie

Voormi High-E Hoodie
Rougher conditions still require sensible comfort as much as durability. In this case, it’s always both. Voormi

Let’s keep the theme on protection and comfort but switch locations. If a land adventure is what you’re craving, then Voormi’s High-E Hoodie (available in men’s and women’s styles) will fit the bill. While this is certainly great for your favorite Caribbean and Costa Rican jungle trails, keeping your arms and face safe in the wetter areas or those less-beaten paths, it is especially beneficial in colder regions, as the hood zips up into a balaclava-like face covering.

MoonShade

MoonShade
Sometimes the stops aren’t planned, so it pays to have the right gear for those spontaneous moments. Moon

Whether camping in a rainforest or just making random stops during your big family road trip, you should be prepared for all types of weather and bring the appropriate gear to handle any circumstances. If space, time, and manpower are limited, however, it’s going to be tough to bring a tent and pop-up canopy, unless that canopy boasts a unique design that allows it to attach right to your SUV.

That canopy is the MoonShade from Moon, and it’s one of our favorite items this year purely because of the ease of use and its convenience in almost any situation. Camping, playing at the lake, tailgating, catching a little league game, hosting a lemonade stand in your driveway—it will help accomplish so much, yet takes so little to set up.

The Athena Portable Energy System

The Athena Portable Energy System
For road trips or those large family getaways with a ton of digital devices, this is the charger that will power everything. Uncharted Supply Co.

We always preach responsibility when it comes to packing portable battery chargers for any types of trips. In my weekender bag, on any given getaway, you’ll find at least two of them, and lord knows I’d pack more if I didn’t think TSA would chuck my entire bag in one of those glass cases for the crazy things people try to bring on airplanes. Anyway, this time we’re going with the Mother of All Portable Chargers, The Athena Portable Energy System from Uncharted Supply Co.

If you’re going on any kind of road trip—to the next city or another country—this is the power source you’ll want to have in your trunk in case the worst happens. It can jump start up to a 6.0L gas or diesel engine in a matter of seconds, and it packs enough juice to do that up to 15 times. You can also use it to power your entire arsenal of digital devices, for when the Great Outdoors is your preferred office. And there’s even a built-in flashlight because the kitchen sink would be too obvious.

Treblab HD77 Bluetooth Speaker

Treblab HD77 Bluetooth Speaker
Caption: Solo adventurers always need a soundtrack, and that means they need a portable sound system, too. Treblab

You’re going to need music, obviously, so we’re going with an old favorite. Treblab’s HD77 Bluetooth Speaker is a must-have accessory for camping, hanging out on your favorite beach, exploring the best isolated trails, (with respect to your surroundings, of course) or simply lounging by your pool.

And the thing we love the most about this permanent fixture in our weekender bag is that a duo makes the party that much better since you can pair two HD77 speakers for bigger sound that will last all day.

Don’t Forget the Spirits

A bottle of Madre Mezcal
Every bar cart should have a great mezcal, and this one deserves to be front and center. Madre Mezcal

For the home bar, cocktails by the pool, or whenever the Yeti cooler is full of ice, you’ll want to bring whatever you need to make and responsibly enjoy your favorite cocktails. Seeing as we spent the last year enthusiastically trying to recreate our favorite resorts’ cocktails, we have asked some experts to share their top bottles with us, and it didn’t take long for them to become our favorites.

Hopefully you’ll love these, too.

Mutiny Island Vodka: Chef Todd Manley is making magic in St. Croix, using breadfruit to produce this clean, remarkably smooth vodka. Even better, he’s using locally sourced ingredients to make infused (not flavored—that’s a crucial distinction) variants that make some absolutely killer cocktails. Mutiny Island Vodka is a tough one to get your hands on, but it’s coming to the U.S. slowly but surely—grab some at Applebee’s or in the American Airlines lounge—and it’s going to generate a lot of buzz when it does.

Copalli Rum: Made in Belize, this rum will make you feel great for drinking it—not because it’s delicious or strong (it’s both) but because of how it’s made. The distillery was conceived to have zero impact on the environment, as the sugar cane is harvested by hand and juiced within two hours. The leftover dried stalks then go into the boiler to heat the stills, and then the ash is used to fertilize the fields. If that’s not enough, the brand is even voluntarily conducting a greenhouse gas audit.

Madre Mezcal: There’s more mezcal than ever to choose from, which is a good thing for us aspiring mezcaliers, but it’s not always as simple as it sounds. Choosing the right bottle is as tricky and challenging as selecting bourbon, but it’s almost always rewarding, and that’s sort of how we wound up falling in love with Madre Mezcal. It has the advantage of strong eye appeal, but any connoisseur knows that can often lead to regret. Fortunately, from label to lips, this is as near perfect as it gets.

Breckenridge Whiskey PX Cask Finish: I may never stop singing the praises of this magnificent bottle from Colorado’s most innovative distillery. Bourbons aged in wine casks are growing in popularity because, well, they’re delicious (most of them) and they’re a lot easier to find than the popular bottles that cost three-, four-, and sometimes 10-times as much in the secondary markets. Breckenridge Whiskey PX Cask Finish was made using retired Pedro Ximenez (PX) grape barrels, and the fruitiness that is blended into the bourbon makes this a sweet, truly delightful sip. Just don’t share it too much, or else it’ll be gone in one sitting.


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