The Ultimate Travel Gear of 2018 —

Discover our picks for the smart, stylish and just plain handy gear of the year.

Allbirds Tree running shoes in multiple colours.

Allbirds Tree Runners

When this San Francisco–based shoe company took flight in 2016 with an environmentally friendly merino–wool runner, techies in Silicon Valley and millennials everywhere went berserk. This year, Allbirds launched a new textile that’s engineered from eucalyptus–tree pulp and knit into a mesh fabric for a soft, four–way stretch. The Tree shoes are lightweight, machine washable and a magnet for compliments – little wonder eco–warrior Leonardo DiCaprio is now an investor. $135,

01 The laces are made from recycled plastic bottles.

02 The insole is derived from castor–oil beans and wool–lined to ensure a cozy fit.

03 The eyelets are created out of bio–TPU, an Earth–friendly material made by micro–organisms that consume plant sugars. (Sweet.)

04 To create the eucalyptus fabric, wood pulp gets a non–toxic bath and transforms into tufts of fibre called Tencel.

05 Soles are kept light and comfy with low–density foam. Even better: That foam will soon be derived from sugar cane.

1 000 000 Pairs of Allbirds shoes sold since 2016.

50 Prototypes created before landing on the final Tree shoe.

1 Plastic water bottle needed to make one pair of laces.

40 °C Average temperature during testing of the Tree runners. They stayed dry and were hella comfortable.

Zero Socks worn to test the runners. They were still hella comfortable (and magically odourless).

December 4, 2018
Man sitting with Rollogo bag.
Model: Josh (Folio); clothing: COS (sweater and pants), Aldo (shoes)

Rollogo Escape

When harried flight attendants stopped to admire this carry–on, we knew it was a winner. And that’s before they had any idea that the chic 4.5–kg case doubles as a mobile office, with a detachable power bar in the top compartment that charges when the power–generating wheels spin. (Finally, an upside to hustling between gates.) There are also separate pockets for basically everything: toiletries, magazines, boarding pass and passport, and digital devices. Smart and good–looking – this bag is the whole package. $1,034,

20 000 Number of steps it takes for Rollogo’s power bar to fully charge a new iPhone – but you’d be amazed at how long you can make 1% battery life last by plugging in the phone and rolling along.

Leaves of Tree botanical skin care products.

Leaves of Trees Marrakech Weekender

The treats from this Toronto botanical apothecary are balms for parched, tired skin – and we promise, no seatmate will object to the subtle smell of eucalyptus and mint. Here’s how to make the most of the travel kit on a nine–hour overnight haul. $72,

Take Off Swipe on some lip balm – here we go.

Hour 1 Crying baby across the aisle? Headache balm on your temples will induce calm.

Hour 3 Ape a bedtime routine, using the Turkish–towel washcloth to cleanse with the facial oil.

Hour 5 Still awake? Take some deep breaths and apply the hypermoisturizing argan oil.

Hour 8 Almost there. Freshen up with the natural cream deodorant.

Landing Stash everything in the compact waxed canvas bag, then repeat on the flight home.

Woman with Taikan Sacoche nylon bag.
Model: Anne–Sophie (Folio); clothing: H&M (sweater)

Taikan Sacoche

While fashion kids try to make a fanny–pack revival happen, the rest of us can get on board with these durable nylon bags. The larger of two sizes can hold a bottle of wine – yes, we tested that – but both are superslim and can be worn under layers. A quick swipe with a damp cloth after a soggy bike ride rendered our mud–caked white number instantly gleaming. $30,

Two hands holding a Google Pixel 3.
Clothing: COS (sweater)

Google Pixel 3

This smartphone is all about the camera, which performs exceptionally well in even the most bumbling hands. The high–def 4K video uses optical and digital stabilization – no shaky footage, no matter what – while unlimited full–resolution storage means you can keep every single shot from that afternoon among the peaks of Montserrat... or that midnight G&T–fuelled selfie session on a Barcelona terrasse. $999,

Get the picture

01 Top Shot mode snaps several images and uses whip–smart AI to detect the best one (no shut eyes, no weird expressions).

02 Portrait mode employs the bokeh effect, where the background is prettily blurred to make your subject pop.

03 Forget flash – with Night Sight mode, AI guesses the dark content in the frame, then fills in detail and corrects the colour.

04 Dual front–facing cameras offer a mega wide–angle lens, letting you capture the whole squad in Selfie mode.

Men's and women's pants and leggings.
Model: Anne–Sophie (Folio); Josh (Folio); clothing: H&M (top); Aldo (shoes)


Girlfriend Collective Compressive

These featherlight leggings are compact, sweat–wicking, breathable and made from recycled water bottles at a Taiwanese fair–trade facility – talk about a feel–good pair. US$68,


Kit and Ace Navigator Stretch Trouser 2.0

Designed to take you from boarding gate to boardroom (with a bike ride in between), these water–repellent pants have side pockets, reflective inside cuffs and a forgiving stretch waistband. $158,

Toddler sitting in a Diono Traverze Stroller.
Model: Billie Chabot

Diono Traverze Stroller

For parents of young children trying valiantly to travel light, a super–compact stroller that folds down into an overhead–cabin–sized case on wheels is a freaking miracle. It unfolds with the push of a button, it has an extended handle for easy manoeuvring from gate to gate and the ride is as smooth as applesauce – just ask our 11–month–old tester. $300,

Props from the new dad “I hate figuring out where to leave the stroller before boarding and where to pick it up after landing. The Traverze lets you skip all that and makes travelling with a toddler far less stressful.”

Lament from the veteran mom “I wish I’d had a light and easy–to–collapse stroller when my kids were little. Several years ago, I took my then one–year–old son to Newfoundland, and security broke our cumbersome jogger stroller trying to fold it down. Nightmare.”

Three DrinKup Water Bottles in multiple colours.

DrinKup Water Bottle

We were admittedly suspicious of a water bottle that requires a user manual. But DrinKup (coming to Canada in 2019) wants to make sure you’re, well, drinking up, so its app – easily synced to Fitbit and Apple Health – recommends the optimal water intake based on your height, weight and level of activity. The light–up lid tells you how hydrated you are and vibrates when it’s time to take a sip, which is especially important on, say, a Peruvian trek 1,500 metres above sea level. US$69,

Two more smart(ish) bottles

Black Roller Bottle.

Roll it

The ribbed and removable foam sleeve turns the insulated double–walled Roller Bottle into a foam roller, especially handy for massaging stiff muscles after an interminable flight. $35,

Red Hydaway collapsible bottle.

Smoosh it

The Hydaway bottle collapses to the size of a child’s Frisbee, so it can stash in your pocket, pack or purse. The carry handle makes it easy to clip to a daypack, too. $22,

Man wearing a yellow Peoples Poncho.
Model: Josh (Folio); clothing: COS (pants); Mr B’s (shoes)

The People’s Poncho

The generous length and clean lines of this lightweight, one–size–fits–all, waterproof poncho make it as useful for a rainy–day walk as it is for stormy cycling. Bikers will love the inside straps (which hook onto handlebars to keep knees and legs dry), the adjustable peaked hood (with enough room for a helmet) and the snazzy reflective stripes (for extra visibility in foreign terrain). $111,

Wet ’n’ Wild

Purple Bluetooth Ultimate Ears Wonderboom speaker.

The Speaker

The avocado–size, waterproof, floating Bluetooth Ultimate Ears Wonderboom speaker packs some mighty sound for its size. It’s a sturdy little fella, too. $130,

Hand in pocket wearing a GX1 Swiss Chrono watch.

The Watch

The automatic GX1–A Swiss Automatic 42 mm has a cool 3–D dial, protected by a stainless–steel casing that makes it Gal Gadot–tough. It’s also water–resistant up to 300 metres. US$690,

Kindle Oasis e-reader.

The E–Reader

Read Michelle Obama’s memoir in the pool on the featherlight Kindle Oasis – it’s waterproof if the floatie flips. Plus, it stores 8 GB of material (that’s thousands of books). $390,

Small But Mighty

The Earplugs

Designed by a Belgium company for aging hipsters addicted to that EDM life, the chic and comfy Loop earplugs are made with memory foam that adjusts to your ear and keeps you protected, whatever the noise. US$30,

Patterned navy blue Top and Derby socks.

The Socks

With colourful stripes, polka dots and geometric patterns, Top & Derby’s stylish compression socks far exceed the usual drugstore selection. $35,

Brave Era sheets in a carrying bag.

The Sheets

Washable silk is warm, breathable, buttery insurance against allergens or nipping bugs that find their way into even the most luxurious yurt. Folded up, Brave Era’s travel sheet isn’t much larger than an iPhone. $80,