Hello, my lovely gear obsessives! So glad to be back and sharing my favorite gear (so far) for 2019!
I was fortunate enough to kick off the year with a big trip to the Middle East (Israel [just in time 😬], Cyprus, and Lebanon), so this gear post will definitely be travel-heavy. As I mentioned in my 2018 gear round-up, I’m a firm believer in avoiding uni-taskers, so virtually everything below serves triple duty as running/lifestyle/travel gear. OK, let’s dive into some gear MVPs!
BTW – Some of the brands below are BibRave partners, some are not, and none of them paid to be in this blog post. We also don’t get paid if you buy or use our code. Just letting you know!
The North Face Kabig Backpack – $149
I’ve recently become obsessed with one-bag travel, and while it’s taken some time and practice to get right, I’m hooked. I don’t see myself going back to a suitcase until I’m physically too frail to carry a 40L backpack. Cobblestones, running to catch planes and trains, overhead storage anxiety, just having to drag something around – all gone with one-bag travel. I tried so, so many bags before finally landing on The North Face Kabig (which is as awesome as its name is terrible). Specifically, I tried Osprey Porter 46, Osprey Fairpoint 40, Nomatic Travel Bag, along with obsessively watching my favorite (albeit usually over-the-top) bag reviewer, Bagworks (PDX Pride!). None of those performed anywhere close to as well as The North Face Kabig.
There’s a fair amount of debate behind what capacity actually means from bag-to-bag (TL; DR: Liters is a common but not universally consistent metric), and 40L is slightly on the small end for one bag travel to be used over one week. I’ve gone up to two weeks with the Kabig, but that’s when laundry was available – definitely couldn’t travel and run without laundry!
This bag just keeps swallowing gear without looking overloaded, making me much more inclined to carry the Kabig at 40L than some of the others that boast more than 10% more storage. The unique zipper design makes this bad boy a total mule for gear without making you look like you have an actual mule tied to your back.
Some more pros: excellent shoulder straps, even weight distribution, easy handles on top and sides, sleek and with a ton of really thoughtful pockets.
Some cons: No hip belt (I never felt the need to have one, the shoulder harness is so good), no external water bottle pocket (almost a deal-breaker and easily the biggest downside. There are two side zipper pockets that serve as bottle pockets, but they are just not set up for easy access/storage), waterproof outer material shows wear fast.
Other bags at this level are usually double the price, so The North Face Kabig delivers an absolutely insane value. And the fact that it’s so streamlined means you can use it as a decent (not ideal) daypack once you arrive and unload. Highly, highly recommend.
Matador Hip Pack – $35
I know, I know – I’m such a trend chaser, fancy boy with my European Carryall. But hip packs are most decidedly hip again (#1 Hey-yo! #2 But now they’re “waist bags” as if that makes any of us forget that they are fanny packs forever).
I was lucky enough to score the Matador as a SWAG item for a party I attended at a running industry conference, and it was awesome on the trip. Especially paired with the Kabig, I had everything I needed at my fingerprints when going through multiple checkpoints and customs/immigration stops, and I was also able to carry a few key items like sunglasses (Knockarounds are my go-to sunglasses for running and travel, and code BIBRAVEKNOCKS1 will save you 20%), hand sanitizer, passport when needed, etc. It is also super lightweight, packs and folds down to nothing, so very easy to add into your luggage.
The Matador Hip Pack was definitely a surprise MVP for the trip and certain to accompany me on many future travels!
CEP 3.0 Tall Sock – $60
I know there are plenty of detractors out there regarding compression, but – whatever I like it! I use it at night following long runs, during and after Ultra Marathons, and occasionally on travel for long flights. Flights to the Middle East definitely check the later box, and the CEP 3.0s were great. Kept my circulation pumping, they were light and breathed well, and they had the right balance of snug tightness without being too shrink-wrapped. I through these in my bag as a “maybe” and I’m really glad they made the final gear cut – great socks and perfect for travel AND running.
Turtl Travel Pillow – $30
The Turtl Travel Pillow was a gift from my wife/Co-Founder, Jessica, and it was a great addition to my travel kit. I had been using the Cabeau Evolution, which feels really nice but is SUPER bulky and actually doesn’t provide great support. It has a really high neck so the Cabeau just kind of pushes your head forward and isn’t great to lean against left or right.
But the Turtl almost lays flat, and you loop the soft fleece fabric, wrap it around so it fastens on itself, and then you have your head cradled to one side. I sleep pretty poorly on planes and this trip was no exception, but at least I had a solid option that slept just as well if not better than the Cabeau but packed down WAY smaller.
Baby Bum SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Face Stick – $10
Despite being a freckly Irishman who lives in the PNW, I actually tan and do pretty well in the sun. So while sunblock isn’t a huge concern for me, the bridge of my nose burns easily and instantly, so I almost always need sunblock on hand. I’ve been looking for a stick or roll-on solution for a while – especially for sunny runs because most lotions and oils will run off as soon as I start sweating – but haven’t really seen a good option. I bought the Baby Bum in Hawaii and loved having it on my trip (I’ve actually used it a ton on other trips as well). No liquids to worry about, don’t need much so it lasts forever, and their reputation for clean and simple ingredients is a nice plus. Another surprise MVP and definitely something I’d recommend.
Thanks for making your way through another gear hodgepodge post! I personally love hearing what’s working for other people so I’m always happy to share my take. If you ever want to hear about a particular category or gear trend, let me know below and we’ll try to work it in! Otherwise, you’ll continue to be at the mercy of my gear whims 😉.
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