Gear Review: Spring Break Essentials


Photo credit: Courtney Tanner

I’m one of those people who packs three weeks before a trip. It’s a little neurotic, but I take comfort in planning exactly what I’ll take ahead of time, down to the smallest details (i.e. the ounces of toothpaste, the brand of granola bars, the number of socks). I’m no boy scout, but I sure am always prepared.

It dawned on me recently, though, that most people don’t pack like me (or an 82-year-old grandmother). Plenty of folks, I’ve heard, randomly throw stuff in a bag the night before their expedition and hit the road carefree (you can’t see me, but I’m doing the sign of the cross to bless you and your impromptu, rebellious lifestyle — no, I’m not Catholic, I’m just chronically nervous).

There are, I’m sure, benefits to both styles, but I don’t want you to miss out on packing a few essential items this Spring Break. Here’s my round-up of three things you should definitely take with you on your adventures:


Z/Cloud X Sandals (Women’s)

Brand: Chaco

Cost: $110

Multiple colors available

I admit, when the Chaco trend first took hold, I didn’t exactly jump on board. But though my conversion to the sandals comes late, it sure comes strong. These are, without a doubt, the most heavenly footwear I have ever owned, so I suppose it’s fitting that this particular style is named after clouds.

This version of the sandal, a new release for spring 2016, is lighter than air. But don’t let that fool you: These are still some pretty structured and sturdy shoes. The sole is thick with great traction, making it perfect to wear for either a hike or a water sport. It’s also formed well to match the curve of your foot for a comfortable fit with plenty of arch support.

The straps, too, are adjustable, able to be resized for just about anyone, and come in a variety of stylish colors and patterns. These sandals are a must-have anywhere you go this Spring Break — they’re lightweight and take up little room in a pack.


Sunbird Offshore Day Pack (Unisex)

Brand: Gregory

Cost: $99

Multiple colors available

This pack is positively minimalist (in the best way). Intended for day trips, this bag will get you where you want to go in the style of simplicity.

In addition to the main pouch, there are two smaller pockets. The zippers also have these great leather pulls that give the pack some rugged character; they’re long enough that you can smoothly and easily pull open the bag while it’s still on your back — a plus for me because I don’t like to stop to grab a snack. For those interested in trekking, the pack features two loops on the front where you can attach your poles. Because there is not a water bottle slot — the one real downside — I ran a carabiner through a loop to hold my CamelBak.

The pack weighs about a pound, which is standard. Gregory does a good job of making their bags comfortable by adding a plush back panel and soft straps to alleviate some of the burden of carrying heavy items. The fabric, too, is easy to clean if it gets a little dirty during your trip. Overall, it’s a great option for day travels.


Eddy Water Bottle (Unisex)

Brand: CamelBak

Cost: $20

Multiple colors available

I’ve gone through a lot of water bottles — sometimes I forget them at the gym, other times I misplace them, and most of the time I melt them in the dishwasher. When you buy a CamelBak, though, you take extra caution not to lose it. Parting with one of these water bottles is hard because they’re so well-designed, particularly the Eddy.

It’s spill-proof, BPA-free, and insulated (my three favorite phrases). The bottle holds 20 ounces and cleans incredibly well. This one features a straw, which is nice for hiking because you don’t have to tip the bottle back to get a drink as you would with their Chute model.

A lot of people fail to notice the shape of their bottle when making a purchase — I like CamelBak because the product is tall and skinny, meaning it fits better in a backpack than other, wider options. CamelBak claims this bottle is one-handed, but I don’t agree, as it can be a little hard to snap open the spout. That’s a small drawback for an otherwise smooth product.

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