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Tim Leffel’s Favorite Travel Gear

I don’t review many specific travel gear items on this blog, but I founded and ran the review site Practical Travel Gear for more than six years before selling it. Plus I’ve backpacked around the world three times, lived abroad in three countries, and published travel articles from five continents. So when I talk about my favorite travel gear, this is based on which travel clothing brands, luggage brands, and gadgets will really hold up over the long term. 

Columbia Sportswear Ex Eco rain jacket

Now and then I’ll give a shout-out to an outdoor gear brand I’ve had in heavy rotation for ages, one of the ones that has never let me down or the outdoor gear I couldn’t kill

After more than a quarter-century of travel and some serious rugged adventures, here are rundown posts on the gear brands that get my highest recommendations overall.

The Best Luggage and Backpacks for Frequent Travelers 

Eagle Creek

Osprey Packs

The Best Travel Clothing and Outdoor Apparel

favorite travel gear and clothing - PranaTilley Hats




Clothing Arts

Adidas Outdoor

Columbia Sportswear

What about the two most famous outdoor apparel brands: The North Face and Patagonia? Well, I admire them both–especially Patagonia’s business practices–and have generally had good experiences. I just haven’t bought or used as many of their items as some of the others above, just a smattering over the years. 

The Travel Shoes and Hiking Boots That Have Held Up Well

Ecco Shoes and Sandals

Lowa Footwear


Oboz hiking boots in Kyrgyzstan

Other Travel Gadgets and Gear

See my review of the best travel water purifiers here, but my favorite is still SteriPen, now owned by Katadyn. 

Want to support the home team? Here’s outdoor gear and clothing made in the USA and Canada

So there you have it, some good places to start if you’re willing to trust my experience and check out some of my favorite travel gear brands. There are some omissions here, of course, as they’re just based on my personal experience. In general, any gear or clothing brand with a lifetime guarantee is from a company that truly believes in its products and will stand behind them. Although I haven’t used them much, I’d highly recommend any of the ones in that freelance article I wrote. 

Of course, sometimes you have to make concessions when you’re traveling with just a carry-on bag. So here’s my advice on packing light and what double-duty gear is going to do the trick. 

If you like getting a great deal every time, check out this post on 5 Ways to Get Great Travel Gear Deals and sign up for my deals newsletter that goes out at the best deep discount times on the calendar. 

By the way, how do you feel about getting free travel gear? Get on the monthly insider’s list for Perceptive Travel and get in on the giveaway. The odds are so good that some readers have scored twice!