Travel Gear

6 Pieces of Travel Gear You Should Buy New

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The key to traveling green is consuming less. But when you’re packing for your next trip, there are some things you should buy new – either because they’re hard to find used (safe water bottles) or you wouldn’t want to buy them used (underwear). In the end the investment will pay off.

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6 Pieces of Travel Gear You Should Buy New

Microfiber Towel

If you’ve ever pulled a damp, musty towel out of your pack after a long day of travel, you understand the value of having a quick-dry towel. Plus, they’re uber-absorbent and compact.

Elizabeth and I have traveled with our Aquis towels and, I have to say, they are life-changing. Far better than the giant cotton monstrosities we traveled with before. We use the hair towel variety, which are quite small but do the trick.

If you don’t already have one I’d recommend considering it before a long trip. One drawback: I have yet to find a microfiber towel that’s organic (or even made of a natural material).

Walking Shoes or Boots

The last thing you want when you’re hiking 5 miles a day with a 20 pound pack is uncomfortable shoes. Your feet will be sore enough with even the best boots.

This is especially important for longer trips, or trips where you’ll do a lot of strenuous hiking. Comfortable boots that fit well are well worth the initial investment. Find out which boots are best for you with the hiking boots buying guide.

Side note: Most water-proof hiking shoes are made with Gore-Tex, which is bad for your health and the environment. But soaked socks are miserable, so it might be worth it to you to have dry feet. In her post on the Gore-Tex dilemma, Elizabeth hashes this out a bit more.

Water Bottle

A sturdy, reusable water bottle is a travel essential. Unfortunately, the water bottles many of us have relied on for years are made with bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting chemical. Which means the hard plastic bottles you have lying around your house or you find at thrift stores and garage sales probably contain BPA.

Even some stainless steel bottles (like Sigg) may contain BPA. The good news is, there are alternatives. I prefer Klean Kanteen because I try to avoid plastics when possible – why risk it? But if you must use plastic, try out the new BPA-free bottles like CamelBak’s Better Bottle or the Nalgene Choice.

Quick-Dry Underwear

I haven’t tried out quick-dry underwear myself, but many travelers swear by them. Elizabeth’s a fan of Ex-Officio underwear, as she mentioned yesterday. And they definitely make sense in terms of packing less, doing less laundry, and having underwear that dry overnight. And lighter luggage means less of an environmental impact.

Bonus Tip for the Women Out There: Diva Cup

I wasn’t convinced at first. When I saw the Diva Cup at Expo East, I laughed – were there really enough women willing to put that up there to create a demand for the product? But then I did my research and read reviews like Crunchy Chicken’s (read the comments, too) and I was convinced.

I’m now a believer in this silicone “menstrual solution.” And why not? It’s indefinitely reusable, comfortable, and a low one-time investment, and doesn’t create any waste.

Want to try it out? The cheapest place I found the Diva Cup was South Coast Shopping.

For more smart travel shopping tips, check out The Ultimate Guide to Thriftstore Shopping.

4 thoughts on “6 Pieces of Travel Gear You Should Buy New”

  1. familyonbikes

    I agree with your list – good, common sense items all travelers should have. We are a family traveling on bikes, so each and every item we carry is heavily scrutinized and ends up discarded if it’s not absolutely critical. But two microfiber towels are a must – the four of us share them.

    I will admit I had never heard of the Diva cup until a couple months ago – but am intrigued with the idea. Tampons are hard to find while traveling, and expensive to boot. The Diva cup might very well be the solution for female travelers! I’ll be taking off in less than five weeks to cycle from Alaska to Argentina (with my ten-year-old twins), so I think I may check that out! (www.familyonbikes.org)

  2. Great information! Just wanted to point out another great BPA-free plastic reusable bottle I found It looks like it’s better for hiking cause it’s got a built-in clip and you can drink out of it by only using one hand. It says it’s made out of the same material Camelbak’s better bottle is.

    I’ve heard of people using glass jars instead of plastic/metal reusable water bottles. I think that is a great idea if you can pack them so they don’t break!

  3. @familyonbikes – Your bike trip sounds awesome. I’m jealous! If you want more info and opinions on the Diva Cup, search for it on Treehugger.com. There are a number of related posts with good insight from readers in the comments.

    @Billy – Thanks for the suggestion. I’m still wary of Tritan since I haven’t seen much independent research on its safety, but I’m curious to see what comes out in the future. And reusing glass jars as water bottles is a great idea. I also like to use them in place of tupperware.

  4. Great list. There is no such thing as organic microfiber; organic refers to agricultural crops. Tencel (main brand of microfiber) comes from responsibly managed beechwood forests.

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