It’s that time of the year again! I think a lot more changed this year versus the previous year, probably because I went fairly travel-crazy this year. As always I think “There’s barely any point in doing a gear post since nothing has changed…” and then I realize that actually a lot has changed.
Interestingly, I got most of what I wanted from my wishlist that I wrote at the end of last year’s post.
Also, I wanted to throw in a shout out for /r/OneBag on Reddit. Every year they have a nice discussion about my gear post. Last year someone mentioned that I was the original person to do gear posts, which might be true. It never occured to me.
Wool and Prince Merino Henley New
Can you believe it? The wool button down has been replaced! I got this shirt only because I go to 20-30 hockey games a year now and I wanted a warmer shirt. But then during this fall and winter’s travel I noticed that I kept taking this one “just this once” and leaving the button-down at home.
This shirt is SO comfortable, which means that I can sleep on planes more comfortably in it. It has a really nice stretch to it. I suppose it doesn’t look quite as sharp as the button down, but I think it’s inoffensive enough that there are few places I couldn’t wear it.
Buy at Wool and Prince
Wool and Prince V-Neck T-Shirt
I’m still wearing this shirt every single day. I find that I need to replace it about once a year due to fading, which reminds that I should probably order a new one soon.
I would prefer to have a pocket in the tee (I used the button-down one to hold boarding passes), but Wool and Prince only has pockets in their crew tees and for some reason I feel like a small child when I wear a crew neck tee.
Buy at Wool and Prince
Wool and Prince Stretch Canvas Pants NEW
It seems like I switch pants every year now. Last year I loved the Wool & Prince jeans, but complained that they weren’t stretchy enough. These pants have a perfect amount of stretch and so far the pockets seem more durable than those in the jeans.
I also like that these are 55% merino wool vs 30% of the jeans last year. I really don’t know whether it matters or not, but more wool is better in my book.
I really have no complaints about these pants! Maybe they’re the ultimate nomad pant and I won’t switch again next year?
Buy at Wool and Prince
Rip Curl Global Entry Boardwalk Shorts
Who would have thought that I’d recommend something from Rip Curl? I’ve been unhappy about short selections for a long time, and finally started looking into shorts that could also function as a bathing suit since I don’t swim all that much. I searched for shorts that would dry quickly, be long enough to pass as normal shorts, and have enough pockets to be useful. The Global Entry Boardwalk fits the bill and works surprisingly well. The design is extremely thoughtful, with lots of hidden perforations to drain water.
I’ve had these for two years now and I still love them. I use them occasionally as a bathing suit, for which they work great, and they’re the shorts I wear every single day during warm weather.
Buy at Amazon
Icebreaker Merino Men’s Anatomica Cool-lite Trunks New
Am I the only blogger that makes sure his readers always know what underwear he’s wearing? Quite possibly…
I switched to these because they’re more of a short trunk than a brief. Every once in a rare while there’s some reason I need to be wearing my underwear in mixed company (like the time I rode a horse bareback in a lake in Kyrgyzstan), and these feel just slightly more appropriate.
Buy at Amazon
Montbell Plasma 1000 Jacket (Japanese Version)
In the main photo you may notice that I now have a red one of these. I lost the black one when I stuffed it under the airplane seat in front of me. Red should be harder to miss.
This jacket has lasted for many years now, is nice and warm, and looks decent. If you buy it in Japan it will have pockets, but if you buy it in the US it won’t.
Adam Ruggle let me know that you can order it from the Japanese webshop (linked below) and it’s even cheaper than buying the US one at current rates.
I just saw that these are on closeout in the US! I hope that means they’re making an even better one, and not that they’re being discontinued.
Arcteryx Norvan SL Hoody
I loved the idea of the windbreaker as a shell until I found myself running through a storm in Riga, soaking wet, desperately trying to find a working ATM so that I could get cash to get to the airport.
After a ton of research, this seemed to be the lightest shell (4.4oz) that isn’t specifically meant for road biking. It’s not as tiny as my non-waterproof windbreaker from two years ago, but it’s fully waterproof and dries very quickly. The fit is perfect. Online people talk about how it’s so fragile that you can’t use it with a backpack, but that hasn’t been my experience after three years of regular use.
Apparently gore-tex is trying to get rid of this fabric for environmental reasons and there is no substitute that is as good, so you might want to buy one while you can.
(This can no longer be bought new, so you have to find it on eBay or similar)
Merrel Hydro Moc NEW
I saw that these were made from a similar material to Crocs and decided to try them out. They are amazing! They have the best ventilation of any similar shoe I’ve tried (you may notice I have no socks on my list…) and they are the only foam shoes which have ever garnered compliments. I do wonder if people compliment them only because they sort of look like the new (horrible looking) Yeezys.
Oddly the strap on these basically doesn’t work. If I flip it backwards I can’t get my feet in anymore. The soles on mine wore out fairly quickly (less than a year), so I may rip the strap off the old ones to see how it looks.
Buy at Amazon
Roav Eyewear Lennox Sunglasses (with NEW custom case)
These are the smallest folding sunglasses you can get. They look really good, weigh almost nothing, and have survived years of use without issues.
I’ve always hated the case that these came with, since it seemed too big for the small amount of protection it provided. ROAV also sells a fake leather pouch that looked similar. Ever since I got them I wanted to make a custom pouch.
A few weeks ago in Madrid some friends organized a leather making workshop where we all got to make our own projects, so I made this little case. Now that I know how to make things out of leather I will probably make many more custom cases for things.
Buy at ROAV
Breitling Transocean Unitime Watch
This is one of few mechanical watches that can show all 24 time zones and can switch between them with a twist of the crown. It’s a little bit big for my wrist, but worth it to easily be able to see all of the time zones at once. If smart watches didn’t have to be recharged constantly I might switch to one, but I love mechanical watches and am happy to wear this one.
As I mentioned last year, a more budget version is the Omega Seamaster GMT, though there are a few Breitlings that are around $3500 with a leather band or $4500 with a metal band.
Buy on ebay
Peak Design Everyday 20L Backpack
I loved my Minaal backpack and still miss things about it, but I wanted more compartments and built-in organization. After a bunch of research I settled on the Peak Design Everyday 20L backpack.
I’ve used this bag for two years now and I still like it. I no longer use the divider system inside it, but I love the small pockets on the side wing/flap areas. I don’t often use the water bottle pockets, but on the rare occasion that I need more interior space I move my thermos to the outside to make room.
On a lark I switched back to my old Minaal bag for the trip I’m currently on, just to see how I feel about it in comparison. Too early to tell so far.
Buy at Amazon
Philips One Toothbrush
I gave up on the wireless charging toothbrush because it just wasn’t compatible with every charger. I switched to this one which is probably just the right balance between size and power. It’s certainly not as good as a home electric toothbrush, but it leaves you with a similar clean feeling.
I chose the AA one over the rechargeable because it lasts for approximately 180 brushings, but I found it impossible to replace the battery and ended up just buying a new one. In retrospect I should have gotten the rechargeable, which I’ve linked to below.
Buy at Amazon
The nail clippers are my trusty Henckels Ultra-Slim Nail Clippers. This is the same pair I’ve had for six years and they’re still just as sharp and effective as ever.
The scissors are Tweezerman GEAR Scissors. I think that I actually bought some fancier Dovo Solingen ones when I thought I lost these, but to be honest I can’t tell the difference from a practical standpoint, so it’s better to just buy these.
Keith Titanium Travel Tea Set
I’ve now been using this tea set for over four years and I love it. It’s an absolute dream for a tea lover and it allows me to make perfect Chinese tea anywhere I go. I ended up buying an extra cup that I travel with sometimes so that I can make four cups, and I modified it by anodizing the titanium and cutting off the handle of the fairness pitcher. The titanium imparts no flavor and is virtually indestructible. If you love tea and you travel, you should have this.
These are becoming very hard to find, so you should buy one if you want it.
Buy at AliExpress
Kanpai Titanium 350 Thermos and 3D Printed Tea Containers
This is the lightest double wall water bottle you can get. I love the extra-wide mouth and the no-taper design that makes it easy to clean and to store things inside. It comes with three tops but I just use the hot water one. It’s absolutely perfect for keeping boiled water in.
As soon as I got my 3D printer I designed and printed a set of stacking tea containers designed to take up about 95% of the interior volume. I can now hold 50% more tea than I could before. They were hard for me to make, especially because they were the first time I tried to make screw threads, which took a lot of trial and error.
This year I modified the design of the containers to hold NFC tags and made a script using Tasker so that I can electronically label the teas. You can download the files and print your own here.
Buy at Amazon
300W Immersion Water Heater
In case it’s not obvious, I put this in the Kanpai Thermos and use it to boil water. Often I’ll put the top on and wait until I’m in the air before I make my tea. You can also ask for hot water on the airplane, but it’s sometimes not very good.
The model with the switch is no longer available, but I might go without it anyway. I once had someone turn on the switch when it wasn’t in water and we almost burnt an airbnb down. Now I unplug it every time anyway.
Buy at Amazon
Carbon Fiber Money Clip
I still have my rather expensive Koolstof carbon fiber money clip, but there are cheaper options on Amazon now that seem to be identical, so I’m linking one of those instead. I can’t imagine why someone would use any wallet other than this. It’s super compact and light, doesn’t set off the metal detector, and is very easy to use. Mine has retained its springiness for many years now.
Buy at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 NEW
I upgraded my Z Fold 3 to a Z Fold 4, and frankly it was probably the most pointless upgrade ever. The front screen is slightly wider, the camera is significantly better, and the battery life is better. Other than that it’s the same. I’d still buy a 4, but if I already had a 3 I wouldn’t recommend upgrading necessarily. In general, though, folding phones are SO much better than regular phones.
I thought that I wanted the bigger screen for watching movies on the plane, and while it is noticeably better than a regular phone for that, it’s not the main draw. My favorite thing to use the big screen for is reading (it’s bigger than a Kindle’s screen) and web browsing.
I used to hate browsing the web on my phone, but now I do it all the time because the size and shape feels like a normal screen. If I need to copy information from one app to another I just open them side by side and it’s like having two phones.
Everyone predicts that they will hate the crease in the middle of the phone, but you really don’t notice it. The inner display has no notch or even a punch-out, but instead has a mini screen that covers the camera when it’s not in use. If you look directly at it you can tell that it’s not like the rest of the screen, but when you’re watching a movie or something you forget it’s there.
When the phone is closed it is narrower than a normal phone but thicker. While I would obviously prefer a thinner phone, it’s a very manageable size and fits easily in tight jean pockets.
I know everyone is terrified of losing their blue text backgrounds and won’t try Android phones, but this phone is really so much more functional and enjoyable to use than any other phone. I could go on and on about the other stuff it does, but the big story is that it is like having an iPad mini in your pocket whenever you need it.
I even considered getting rid of my laptop and using this with USB-C docking stations and a wireless keyboard, but it wasn’t quite good enough for that.
I use T-Mobile service with the Global Plus add-on, which gives me free LTE everywhere. I happened to add it on during the <7 days where it offered unlimited LTE rather than a 15GB cap. Project Fi can be a bit cheaper, but T-Mobile includes free voice calls to and from every country with Global Plus, and I’ll definitely get a lot of use out of that.
Buy at Amazon
Lenovo X1 Carbon 9th Generation
I finally gave up on going back to Japan any time soon to buy a new laptop and bought the 9th version of the US one once I realized it was literally twice as fast as my old one. I haven’t bought the 10 yet because it seems like a fairly incremental upgrade and the WWAN modem doesn’t work in Linux yet.
The X1 is very high performance, has a 5G sim slot, has a trackpoint, an excellent screen, the best keyboard, and plenty of other benefits.
The port selection on the computer is perfect (2 USB A, 2 USB C, HDMI) and I love that it has a sim slot.
I always buy Japanese keyboard laptops because I get extra keys that I can remap, but this time I had to get a US version. I am thinking about going with the lighter Nano version once I can get back into Japan.
I got the 4K screen and for the first time ever I think it’s actually too high res. I’d rather have a 2560×1600 one.
Buy at Lenovo
Mogics Adapter MA1 New
Wow! In response to last year’s gear post someone recommended this travel adapter to me and it’s awesome enough that I’ve finally given up my beloved CARD travel adapter.
It’s just a tiny cylinder that can convert any plug to a US plug. Unlike previous iterations, I don’t think that this could get any smaller.
It is slightly difficult to get. You can order it directly from Singapore through the Qoo10 site, or you can order a bundle on Amazon that includes it. I ordered my first one through Amazon and then ordered 4 more through the Singaporean site for when I inevitably lose one.
Anker 30W 711 Charger New
This is the smallest USB charger I could find that could power my laptop. And, to be honest, it barely powers my laptop. If I’m using it and charging at the same time the battery level barely creeps up.
I figured I’d try it for a month or two and eventually go back to a 45W charger, but it’s actually been fine. When I leave the house I put my laptop on the charger, and at night I put my phone on it (it charges phones very quickly). That system has never left me with a dead computer, even when I don’t have a workspace where I can use the laptop plugged in.
This doesn’t have folding prongs. You can get a bigger one that has them, but I’ve found that it bothers me much less than expected.
I ordered a bunch of USB C cables and the best one by far was the Anker Powerline II. The newer III is worse. The II was the least bulky and easiest to coil.
Buy at Amazon
Samsung Buds2 Pro New
I actually still use my custom 1964 Audio in ear monitors with a bluetooth cable I bought from Aliexpress, but these are getting so close that I actually have them in my backpack now and I swap back and forth, trying to figure out which I like better.
These came with my new phone and I am absolutely stunned at how good their active noise cancellation is. Last year I tried the best 4 ANC earbuds and these blow them all away. The sound quality is also excellent.
They do suffer from the same problem all non-custom earbuds suffer from, though, which is that they are held into your ear with pressure. On a long flight I find myself wanting to take them out. I am currently trying to figure out a way to make a custom enclosure for them so that they are as comfortable as my custom ones.
Buy at Amazon
Incharge 6 Keychain Cable NEW
Ok, so I have to admit that I really messed up last year. I recommended a similar cable, but now that I’ve ordered both I’m pretty sure the one I recommended last year was a knock off and this is the real one. The functionality is the same but this one is built much better and the adapters don’t fall off like they do on the knock off. Even if you have last year’s, I actually think it’s worth upgrading to this one.
For those who aren’t familiar, this can connect any combination of USB A, USB C, micro USB, and lightning (or USB-C to USB-C). I use it for transferring files and for charging my phone while my laptop is plugged in.
Buy on Amazon
Things I Got Rid Of
I got rid of the Packtowl, because I didn’t use it once in a year.
I also got rid of the Quest 2, since we’ve fallen out of the rhythm of playing Population:One regularly. I miss playing, but I don’t miss carrying that huge thing around.
I changed a lot of items this year and they mostly feel like very significant changes. Getting rid of the Quest 2 has made my backpack feel empty. If I didn’t occasionally load up on tea while traveling, I’d probably move down to a 15 liter backpack.
I got my wishlist items last year of a smaller USB-C + travel adapter, stretchier pants, and better ventilated shoes. I still don’t feel like I have the ideal backpack and I wish that Snow Peak made a larger titanium thermos. I bought the steel 500ml one but I haven’t actually traveled with it for some reason, maybe because I haven’t remade my tea containers to fit it or maybe because the extra weight bothers me in principle. I’ll do a test run on my next trip.
I actually ordered several thermos/kettle combos to try to get rid of the titanium thermos and the immersion boiler, but none of them were both better and smaller.
It seems like every year a reader finds something better than something I have and lets me know about it. I hope that continues this year. Thanks for reading!
I wanted to do a live tea time video to talk about the gear, but I’m in Turkey right now and the time zones don’t line up very well. Maybe when I get back…