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Editors' Choice

SmarterTravel Editors’ Choice Awards 2019

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Editors' Choice In-Flight Experience Travel Technology

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Travel Pillows 2019

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Editors' Choice Packing

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Personal Items 2019

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Editors' Choice Fashion & Beauty

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Travel Shoes for Women 2019

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Editors' Choice Fashion & Beauty

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Travel Shoes for Men 2019

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Editors' Choice Packing

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Carry-On Luggage 2019

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Editors' Choice Travel Technology Travel Trends

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Travel Tech 2019

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Editors' Choice Packing

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Travel Backpacks 2018

Backpacks are the ideal travel bag. They’re easy to carry, can cram into the overhead bin or under a plane seat, and provide easy accessibility to your items no matter where you are. But not all backpacks are created equal. That’s why SmarterTravel’s editors have tested all the newest ones to find the best travel backpacks, and judged them on the following Editors’ Choice Awards methodology:

For the best new backpack for travel category we sourced 14 different backpacks from 10 different brands. The backpacks had to be a new style released this year, and had to be over 32-liters in volume size. We ranked each style on a variety of metrics, including packability, style, usefulness, price, size, and durability. These rankings were determined by a pack test and road test in which testers traveled with the backpack on the road. From this, a winner and two finalists were determined.

Meet the outstanding winners, finalists, and runners-up of the best new travel backpack category for 2018.

Gold: REI Ruckpack Series

The REI Ruckpack Backpack is the ultimate backpack. It has tons of pockets and an easy-to-access main compartment. Complete with technical features like a survival whistle, rain cover, and hydration bladder compartment, it still looks sleek—not fussy. REI Ruckpacks come in two larger options: 40-liter and 65-liter sizes available in both men and women’s styles. And smaller 28-liter and 18-liter day packs are also available.

The women’s style includes features like shaped harness straps and shortened torso length, while the larger 65-liter option (not carry-on friendly) is actually two packs in one thanks to an included day pack. The clamshell main compartment ensures you don’t have to dig for that pair of socks, and we also love the bottom compartment for packing dirty clothes or shoes separately. Given the variety of options to choose from, its inherent functionality, and its sleek design, we’ve chosen it as the winner for our best backpack category.

Silver: Eagle Creek Wayfinder Backpack

Eagle Creek’s cleverly designed Wayfinder Backpack is a sturdy carry-on-sized companion for just about any adventure. The pockets are specifically designed for your laptop (up to 17 inches), tablet, phone, and powerpack, including a passthrough for earbuds so you can listen to your tunes even when your phone is stowed away. A generous main compartment (40 liters) is accompanied by numerous other sleeves and compartments to keep you organized—including an exterior pouch with a drain hole for a rain jacket or other wet clothing. The waterproof fabric is made of recycled materials, and the backpack is available in both a “unisex version” and one that’s slightly tailored to better suit a woman’s body. It’s comfortable to wear and serves as a decently sized carry-on bag.

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Bronze: Timbuk2 Never Check Duffel Backpack

The Timbuk2 Never Check Duffel Backpack is a travel backpack for the non-backpacking crowd. This sleek and chic duffel hybrid offers much of the traditional functionality of a carry-on while ditching the wheels for multi-carry options. Zip it fully open to reveal a surprisingly roomy clamshell construction interior, including two zippered compartments for easy access. Stay organized on the road with exterior pockets that can take the place of a separate personal item.

Choose among a variety of carrying options: Haul it as a duffel with the shoulder or hand straps, or hook on the stowable back straps and transform it into a comfortable backpack complete with padded back panel. While it’s not a backpacker’s backpack—there’s no hip belt to help distribute weight for walking longer distances— it scores big on space, organization, and style. It’s a practical option for business and leisure travelers.

Finalist: Aer Travel Pack 2

The Aer Travel Pack 2 has a lot of features that help create a more comfortable travel experience: a separate, roomy shoe compartment, thickly padded shoulder straps and back panel, and enough pockets for organization. What it does better than most backpacks, however, is keep it sexy. This is a very sleek bag with a nylon exterior of military-grade fabric—and that’s its best quality. The Aer Pack 2 is among the best-looking bags in its category, but loses points on utility: The zipper jams around the corners, and that’s too important a feature to overlook. This bag is a finalist for style and comfort, but not as much for its function.

Finalist: Baboon Go-Bag

Baboon’s Go Bags are stylish and functional backpacks that look more like a duffel. Available in a 40-liter and 60-liter size—we tested the carry-on version (40 liters)—the hybrid duffel-backpack is durable and lightweight. The additional handles and loops made it easy to pick up during any transfers or when waiting in a security line. There are also three interior pockets for convenient organization, plus the waterproof material gives you peace of mind.

The larger size could be difficult to carry on your back when it’s full, as the bag doesn’t have traditional technical features of most backpacks, like a back panel or hip belt. When packing for a three day weekend, it was a little difficult to find the best place for a pair of shoes; whatever you back at the very top, you feel on your back. We can’t rave enough about the style of this bag though, which is available in eight bold colors so you won’t misplace it.

Finalist: Gregory Proxy

The Gregory Proxy 65 backpack is fantastic for camping and long hikes. It has all the components you would need for outdoor adventure and is durable enough to endure rough terrain. It’s suitable for a range of activities, like hiking to day trips for its comfort and spaciousness. You can easily fit enough for more than a three-day trip, including shoes and toiletries. Its useful mesh pockets separate items as well as the waterproof section for things like damp bathing suits or wet/muddy hiking boots.

This backpack doesn’t have a super strong outer shell, so it might not be best to keep toiletries in the waterproof section for fear that they may get crushed. The pack is geared more towards adventure seekers over anyone else, and would be best used for a single-use trips, like hiking, rather than something you can use on a mountain one day and bring to the office the next. Note that due to its size the Gregory Proxy is too big for a carry-on, but can fit a lot and provides helpful weight distribution via shoulder and hip straps.

Finalist: Tortuga Setout Divide Backpack

The Tortuga Setout Divide fits as much as a suitcase but never needs to be checked. Awkward hip straps make this bag slightly uncomfortable to carry, but with lots of inner pockets and a large compartment that opens on three sides, you can squeeze a surprising amount of stuff in. It also has laptop sleeves, zipper locks, and pockets on the shoulder straps. The Tortuga Setout Divide is a useful option if you’re only bringing one bag on a trip, but isn’t very comfortable to carry on your back.

Finalist: Eddie Bauer Adventure Trail Pack

Eddie Bauer’s Adventurer Trail Pack is an attractive, sporty backpack that’s ideal for day hikes or short overnight camping trips. It’s comfortable to wear thanks to a well-padded and ventilated back, a waist band for support, and numerous straps and clips to help you compress your load. The material feels sturdy and is resistant to rain (though not waterproof). It currently comes in only one color, “true blue.” It’s tough to get to things near the bottom of the pack because the only access is via the top (and the zipper doesn’t go very far down on either side.) It comfortably holds three days of stuff, but not much more. And while it’s too large to use as a personal item, it fits most airlines’ carry-on size restrictions.

Finalist: L.L. Bean AT Expedition Backpack

The L.L. Bean AT Expedition Backpack is the backpack to choose for a long weekend away—when you need enough room to pack for a activities like a light hike, a night out, and a Netflix binge night in. While it’s not the most stylish of bags, it allows you to pack much more than a weekender bag does. Similar to Mary Poppin’s magical purse, it fits more than seems possible. However, it’s inconveniently a bit larger than the standard carry on. The weight distribution is its best feature, and the back insert allows the weight to be shifted to your lower back and less on strain on your shoulders.

Finalist: Osprey Ozone Duplex Women’s Travel Pack

The Osprey Ozone Duplex is one of the most comfortable, form-fitting bags we tested. It also provides two bags in one—a cargo bag and a detachable daypack. Its clothes-compressing capabilities and a side strap for duffel bag-conversion makes it seem convenient. But the features we appreciate about this bag (two bags in one, and straps for added comfort while wearing) also could use some improvement—there is an excess number of hanging straps everywhere, giving it somewhat of a sloppy look. Since it does meet carry-on requirements and you can fit so much in it, this bag is ideal for traveling on budget airlines with hefty baggage fees. Its comfort and the detachable daypack make it an ideal choice for an international trekking trip, but it might not be the best fit for the average traveler.

Finalist: L.L. Bean AT Day Pack

The L.L. Bean AT Day Pack for men is a multi-functional carry-on and daypack that can fit about a weekend’s worth of clothes. Our favorite feature is the top pocket which easily detaches to lighten your load if needed, but also provides security and extra pockets for your travel day essentials. The large and flexible mesh pockets on both sides are useful for storing like layers, a water bottle, snacks, and umbrella. Features like a ventilating back panel, a hydration bladder compartment, and comfortable hip and shoulder straps also make this a technical pack. While it’s 40 liters, it doesn’t fit too much more than the essentials for a weekend. But if you’re looking for one pack to take with you on a hiking trip, this is it.

Finalist: Eagle Creek Global Companion Travel Pack

A common problem with most backpacks is trouble accessing items at the bottom of the main compartment. Eagle Creek’s Global Companion solves this problem by zipping all the way around, so you can pack it and open it like a suitcase. The main part of the pack is split by mesh dividers into two zipping smaller compartments, like built-in packing cubes. While organized travelers might love this feature, it does cut into your usable space—and other parts of the bag, namely the exterior pockets, feel similarly cramped. While the backpack has some handy features—such as a rainfly, a safety whistle built into the sternum strap, and a well-padded hip belt with a zipper pocket for your phone—its overall design doesn’t make the best possible use of space.

Finalist: L.L. Bean Carryall Travel Pack

The L.L. Bean Carryall is a utilitarian solution for a casual two-night getaway, whether it’s a short-flight away or within driving distance. The amount of compartments is perfect for storing everything from socks to laptops to shoes. The main compartment has the shape of a packing cube and zips shut to create different storage areas and keep clothes separate for supreme organization.

We do wish there was more boning so the backpack had a bit more shape. Similarly, this bag is suited for a casual getaway as the clothes inside probably wouldn’t stay wrinkle-free. This bag, as most L.L. Bean products, holds up against the elements, over packing, etc., and is lightweight, comfortable to carry, and fits most airline’s carry-on size requirements.

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Editors' Choice Fashion & Beauty

Editors’ Choice Awards: The Best New Travel Shoes for Men 2018

We sourced the best travel shoes for men, limiting our choices to pairs released in 2018. Each shoe was tested on the following criteria: weight, packability, style, comfort, number of miles you could walk comfortably while wearing them, arch support, versatility, and technology. These are our winners:

For our other Editor’s Choice winners, including the Best New Travel Shoes for women, click here. 

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see The Best New Travel Shoes for Men 2019.

Winner: Timberland Cross Mark Oxford

Timberland’s Cross Mark Oxford sneakers earned near-perfect marks for their style, comfort, and versatility. Timberland has taken a traditional, comfortable sneaker and topped it with leather uppers for a stylish look that can easily transition from day-to-night. Our tester raved about the comfort level of these shoes, wearing them without pain or fatigue for many miles, likely due to the shoes’ OrthoLite comfort foam insoles (which wick moisture and provide long-term cushioning), and trademarked Aerocore Energy System outsoles, which return energy to the wearer.

Second Place: Samuel Hubbard City Legends

Fully lined with a buttery soft leather, Samuel Hubbard’s City Legends are comfortable to wear straight out of the box, molding to your feet and preventing blisters. These shoes were designed with long days on your feet in mind: a lightweight Kevlar shank provides bullet-proof arch support, and triple-density memory foam insole offers plenty of cushioning (and is easily removed in case you want to add in your own orthotics). On the dressier side, these are the shoes to pack if you’re planning on some nice dinners or business meetings on your next trip—or just want to add polish to your casual outfits.

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Third Place: Chaco Davis Lace Leather

The Chaco Davis Lace Leather is a more casual option, but is still a style upgrade from a standard sneaker, thanks to the leather outer. These sneakers have plenty of arch support and cushioning (including a removable footbed) so you can customize your fit. These shoes performed well in wet-weather testing, with a trademarked CHACOGRIP sole that’s optimized for slippery surfaces.

Finalist: SWIMS Motion Wingtip Oxford

These everything-everywhere shoes just might be the perfect travel companion for urban travelers. At home in the city, the SWIMS Motion Wingtip delivers classic-with-a-modern-twist style plus surprising comfort that goes all day—and  well into the evening. Grippy soles and a breathable but water-resistant construction make these great shoes year round when you don’t want to look like just another sneaker-clad tourist.

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Finalist: Cole Haan 3.ZEROGRAND Wingtip Oxford

Cole Haan’s 3.ZEROGRAND Wingtip Oxford takes the brand’s patented Grand.OS comfort technology and infuses it into a Wingtip Oxford style that’s perfect for stylish travelers. These shoes offer targeted padding throughout, including a padded sock lining as well as skeletal lining built-in for midfoot and heel support. The soles have cushioning and traction pods that prevent slips and make walking a breeze. 

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Finalist: LOWA Stanton

LOWA goes retro hipster with the Stanton Lo. These sneaker-style walking shoes were designed with a style nod to climbing shoes, but even non-climbers can appreciate the high-quality craftsmanship. Serious structure supports feet over long distances, though it’s worth noting that the shoes run a bit narrow so they won’t be great for anyone with wide feet.

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Finalist: Merrell Bare Access Flex Shield

If you’re looking for the best travel shoe to pack for workouts, Merrell’s Bare Access Flex Shield shoe would be it. This minimalist sneaker folds down nearly flat for easy packing, and is perfect for both trail running and weight-lifting. At around 7 ounces per pair, these are also the lightest shoes on our list.

Finalist: Kenneth Cole Lace Up Kam Leather Sneaker

Kenneth Cole’s Lace Up Kam Leather Sneakers stand out for their patented 37.5 technology, which uses a blend of volcanic sand and coconut shell material to help regulate the temperature of your feet. The shoes are also moisture wicking and odor-preventing, and have a nicely cushioned insole.

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Finalist: Xero Shoes TerraFlex

Billed as barefoot trail running shoes, the Xero TerraFlex didn’t, at first glance, seem like an ideal travel shoe. But tested revealed otherwise. Though they don’t have much in the way of structure, these shoes are remarkably comfortable, even after a full day of walking. They look like low-profile hiking shoes and fill in a surprising number of gaps—it’s easy to find yourself wearing them around the house like slippers, around town like sneakers, and on the trail.

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Editors' Choice Fashion & Beauty

Editors’ Choice Awards: The Best New Women’s Shoes for Travel 2018

In our hunt to find the best new women’s shoes for travel, we gathered samples of shoes that have been released this year. We limited our selection to shoes (no boots or sandals) and extensively wear-tested them, walking for miles. We then evaluated each shoe on the following: weight, packability, style, comfort, number of miles you could walk comfortably while wearing them, arch support, versatility, and technology. These are our winners.

Click here to see our other Editor’s Choice Award winners, including the best new travel shoes for men.

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see The Best New Travel Shoes for Women 2019.

Gold: Cole Haan 2.ZEROGRAND Oxford with Stitchlite

Cole Haan’s 2.ZEROGRAND Oxford with Stitchlite won our Best New Women’s Shoes award, and earned a permanent spot in our suitcase (and on our feet). The patented stitchlite stretch knit upper molds to feet and allows the shoes to be worn without socks. The fabric also allows in plenty of airflow, and makes these shoes incredibly lightweight (and easy to pack, as they compress down nearly flat). The Grand.OS energy foam soles feel like running shoes—these could easily double as a workout shoe on your trip, as they offer plenty of support and cushioning. The Oxford style elevates these from a normal sneaker look.  Our tester wore them around Europe with both dresses and black pants, and felt very stylish.

Silver: Merrell Zoe Sojourn E-Mesh

Merrell’s Zoe Sojourn E-Mesh sneakers are the perfect shoe for flying—they slip on and off easily, and won’t look out of place once you get off the plane. The stretch upper gives your foot room to expand, while a breathable mesh lining allows for plenty of air circulation. A unique Kinetic Fit Trip insole provides support to all three arches of the foot, but is removable in case you’d rather use your own insoles. At just 4.1 ounces, these shoes are also extremely lightweight.

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Bronze: Everlane The Day Glove

The Day Glove flats from Everlane prove that you don’t have to sacrifice function for fashion. These stylish flats are made from 100 percent Italian leather that is designed to mold to your foot for a custom fit. A back pull tab makes these easy to take on and off, and these shoes offer a surprising amount of support and cushioning, thanks to a rubber sole and cushioned insole.

Finalist: Rothy’s The Sneaker

Our tester raves, “I loved that The Sneaker from Rothy’s has a unisex look and can be worn without socks. They’re pretty versatile: They can be worn casually or dressed up, although I wouldn’t wear them for anything more than light activity. After my first wear I experienced some discomfort at the top, rounded toe part and some friction on one of my back ankles; however, when wearing socks and after multiple wears, the shoe adapted to my foot. The knit stretch is super comfy, and I love that the product is sustainable and the brand is environmentally conscious. I would wear these on the plane, out to a casual dinner, and exploring new cities.”

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Finalist: OESH The Dream Flat

Designed by Harvard MD Dr. Casey Kerrigan, the OESH Dream Flats are the result of 20 years of biomechanics research. The Dreams fix the comfort problems of standard ballet flats: a wide toe box prevents cramping and blisters, and the Dream sole is made from a springy material that protects your feet from impacts and shock. These stylish knit shoes look good in a variety of colors, and are machine washable.

Finalist: Crocs LiteRide Lace-Up Sneaker

Crocs LiteRide Lace-Up Sneakers are lightweight, well cushioned, easy to pack, and comfortable enough that several online reviewers described wearing them as “walking on clouds.” They have a relaxed fit, so even though they don’t come in wide sizes, those with wide feet may be able to make them work. However, if you need arch support, you’ll have to insert your own; there’s none built in. Because they look like sneakers (albeit attractive ones), they’re not ideal for a nice night out. But if you have casual evening plans, these could effectively go from day to night.

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Finalist: Ja Vie Ballet Flats

Ja Vie Ballet Flats are made from a flexible jelly exterior to allow your foot total movement. A breathable cotton liner prevents blisters, and the entire shoe can be washed. The shoe is also water-resistant in case of sudden showers. These ballet flats have a half inch of cushion on both the ball of the foot and the arch, so you’ll feel like you’re wearing sneakers rather than flats.

Finalist: Chaco Ioania Lace Leather Sneaker

Chaco’s Ioania Lace Leather Sneakers are a good option if you’re looking for a sneaker that’s a bit more stylish than the standard athletic ones. The Ionias have a full grain leather upper that creates a more polished look, but the inside has a recycled canvas lining that’s breathable and comfortable. The footbed is made from a trademarked Luvseat design that’s certified by podiatrists.

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Finalist: Ten Thousand Islands Freestate

The Ten Thousand Islands Freestate sneakers are lightweight and would be good for warm-climate beach trips where you want to do some walking but don’t need a serious walking or hiking shoe. In order to be quick-drying, the interior of the shoe is minimalist, without much in the way of structure or padding. The shoes are styled as sporty athleisurewear, and they can be worn with or without socks, which can further cut down on packing weight (fewer socks to pack). We tested a prototype of the Freestates, which are currently only available via a Kickstarter campaign.

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Editors' Choice Packing

Editors’ Choice Awards: Best New Carry-on Luggage 2018

As more travelers opt to avoid checking suitcases by traveling lighter, carry-on luggage becomes an increasingly important part of a traveler’s toolkit. After decades of design stagnancy, suitcase manufacturers are once again bringing new life to carry-ons, adding organizational details, ergonomic touches, and tech-forward features. We’ve put a fresh crop of suitcases through extensive testing to rank and rate our editors’ choice best carry-on luggage of 2018.

In our best new carry-ons for 2018 category we tested new-this-year bags that were 22 inches or shorter and cost less than $600. Through extensive testing, we assessed durability, strengths, and weaknesses. We also compared notable features, size/weight, price, ease of packing, and style, culminating in reviews of the nine finalist suitcases. From this pool we selected a gold, silver, and bronze winner. Since each of the suitcases had winning qualities, we’ve given you details of how each performed in our tests.

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see The Best New Carry-on Luggage 2019.

Gold: Samsonite: Armage 19″ Spinner

The Armage 19-Inch Spinner from Samsonite scores top marks for dependable functionality, attractive detailing, and plenty of useful extras.

Because it has one deep compartment (plus zippered lid compartments), it feels roomier than a suitcase that splits the packing sections into two. Zippered compartments (three on the lid, one along the long side of the body, plus a snap-in waterproof pouch large enough for a swimsuit or two) add to the organizational options without getting too fussy.

When tipped onto two wheels, it takes corners well, handles stairs like a champ, and bounces over uneven surfaces easily. As a four-wheeled suitcase, it glides easily on smooth surfaces. The handle system can be adjusted to eight different heights, and when combined with the padded handle, makes for a comfortable carrying experience.

Though it’s billed as a 19-inch suitcase, that measurement refers to the interior packing dimensions; the full height with wheels (what the airlines care about) is 21.7 inches. However, since most U.S. airlines allow carry-ons up to 22 inches, it remains a useful carry-on option–and one that’s actually large enough to accommodate packing for up to a week or even longer.

Small enough to be a carry-on, but structurally sound enough to withstand being checked, this adaptable carry-on has useful additional features like exterior USB ports (you stow your own charger inside the lining of the main compartment) and a TSA-approved cable lock that seems to miraculously disappear into the lining of the suitcase when not in use.

Silver: Away The Carry-On with Pocket

The much-hyped Away Carry-On with Pocket is worth the fanfare. With a built-in laundry bag, battery pack, inner laptop pouch, and TSA lock, this bag has a lot of worthwhile features. It fits a lot of stuff and isn’t difficult to close when overfilled. The inner pouch serves a dual purpose: To carry electronics and to squish down your clothes. While the front pocket holds a lot, it’s not wide enough to comfortably reach into. The bag’s understated design is sleek and stylish, but inconspicuous enough not to turn heads.

The exterior of the bag gets scuffed easily but is fairly flexible and durable. The lock takes a bit of time to start working. Airline employees quickly recognize the Away bag’s signature battery pack, even though the battery is concealed underneath the handle. You might be asked to remove the battery pack even if you put this bag in the overhead compartment. However, the battery pack is easy to eject and carry in your personal item.

The bag is a bit heavy, but not bulky or difficult to lift, and it fits the dimensions of most major U.S. airlines.

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Bronze: North Face Stratoliner-M

 

Gimmick-free and sleek, the 20-inch Stratoliner-M from North Face is a minimalist carry-on dream. It trades four spinner wheels for two unidirectional wheels and utilizes that extra few inches to maximize interior packing space. What it lacks in bells and whistles it more than makes up for in packing volume and excellent construction. And really, isn’t that the very foundation of a great carry-on suitcase?

The exterior is far more modern and elegant—think recessed zippers and slightly tapered corners—than one might expect from an outdoors-focused brand. The Stratoliner-M has a zippered clamshell interior, two exterior zippered pockets, a two-point-adjustable telescoping handle, and the unusual addition of carrying handles on all four sides of the bag. Its classic lines and durable exterior will make it a trusted travel favorite for many years to come.

Finalist: Delsey Turenne International Carry-On Spinner

At 4.8 pounds, Delsey’s Turenne weighs in as the lightest of this crop of new-for-2018 carry-ons. But it hasn’t sacrificed functionality or style in pursuit of its lightweight structure. The Turenne doesn’t have the unbending rigidity of traditional hardside suitcases; instead, it shaves weight while maintaining strength with a thin but durable virgin polycarbonate shell. The exterior is mostly matte, with a subtle monochrome pattern that adds a bit of gloss; additional detailing keeps this French brand’s latest suitcase looking elegant.

The Turenne’s telescoping handle is fairly simple, with no handle padding or added structure for strength, but it does have two locking heights. Nimble double-spinner wheels take on corners, stairs, and uneven surfaces without issue. And the internal clamshell design with zippers offers a measure of built-in organization.

The suitcase holds enough for several days—or more if you’re willing to pack strategically. Its zippers—which have a double layer of zip—are advertised as being significantly stronger than regular zippers; in our tests, they required a firm hand to zip, but held up well to repetitive opening and closing. The built-in, TSA-approved lock sits flush with the bag’s exterior, and tucked away in the back is each bag’s unique identification code, which—when registered—allows anyone who finds the bag to report it to Delsey, which will alert you. It also comes with unattached laundry and shoe bags.

The Turenne is an attractive, lightweight, hardsided carry-on with enough features to keep it modern but not so many that it feels gimmicky.

Finalist: Eagle Creek Morphus International Carry-on

It’s not every day you meet a carry-on that forces you to rethink the entire suitcase concept. But the Morphus International Carry-on does just that. It’s a three-in-one bag: a rolling carry-on, a carry-on backpack, and, most surprisingly, a twofer: a 32-liter carry-on and a 35-liter backpack that can be separated to more than double your storage capacity during your journey.

It’s a great bag, but it’s not for everyone, and it definitely takes getting used to—starting with forcing you to think through the packing stages of a trip. Will you be bringing more stuff on the way over or the way back? At what point do you want to split your options? Once you decide on your game plan, there’s also some complicated zippering that requires patience to master.

The backpack is comfortable enough to be a daypack during the trip, which offers another way of making the most of your options. And that’s the thing: You could pretty much always use them as two separate units and have gotten two for one in the suitcase-buying process.

Travelers who adjust their thinking and embrace this suitcase are likely to become huge fans.

Additional features like a super organized front tech pocket, kickstand for greater rolling carry-on stability, and padded laptop storage up the functionality of this carry-on suitcase. And it’s light: At 5.4 pounds, it’s the second lightest of the bunch—a bonus for hauling, lifting, and staying under airline weight limits.

Finalist: eBags Fortis Pro Traveler Hardside Spinner Carry-On

At about $200, the 22-inch Fortis Pro Traveler spinner is the least expensive of the finalists—but a lower price tag doesn’t mean settling for less. The high-gloss hardside exterior has a ribbed pattern, which gives it a sleek look and disguises little bumps or bruises that happen during travel. It also offers something that many hardsided suitcases can’t: the ability to expand to fit more stuff via a zip-out accordion section that offers an additional 1.5 inches. It has a TSA-approved lock built into the body and a neatly tucked-away external USB port. Inside, a netted zippered pouch stows the USB wire and offers a place to stash your battery pack.

The Fortis Pro’s interior offers a standard clamshell design with a twist: one side of the clamshell is zippered, while the other has a divided interior and compression straps to keep items in place—but the compression straps aren’t straps at all. Instead, they’re two shallow zippered compartments (one netted, one water-resistant) that can be packed as an additional layer on top of items stored below, and then secured with a buckle to keep items from shifting. The suitcase also comes with a separate, unattached laundry bag.

The Fortis handles well, and takes corners without tipping. It’s roomy (and it offers the chance to be roomier, though you’ll want to keep carry-on size restrictions in mind if you’re expanding the bag).

Finalist: Travelpro Platinum Elite 21” Expandable Carry-On Spinner

The attractive Travelpro Platinum Elite 21-inch Expandable Carry-on Spinner offers plenty of space as well as some appealing extras—such as a matching garment bag, a zip-out clear toiletry bag, and a side compartment with a built-in USB cord where you can store your own external power pack for charging devices. The two small accessory pouches that intrude into the main compartment of the bag are a nice idea, but should be detachable for travelers who don’t find them useful.

As you’d expect of a bag at this price point, the suitcase is made of durable, high-quality materials. The wheels generally roll smoothly, though on uneven surfaces it works better to roll the suitcase behind you rather than alongside or in front. The bag has numerous compartments to help keep you organized.

This bag is at the larger end of the carry-on scale, so you can easily fit a week’s worth of clothing into it. However, that means it may not always be suitable as a carry-on. Although the company claims the bag has been “carry-on sizer tested” and “will fit most carry-on criteria,” it’s 23.5 inches tall, and most major U.S. airlines—including American, United, Delta, and JetBlue—accept carry-ons up to 22 inches. If you fill the bag to the max, it will exceed the depth maximum as well. For travelers willing to check a bag on occasion, this suitcase is a fine addition to your travel collection.

Finalist: Heys Smart Luggage 21″ Carry-on

The Heys Smart Luggage 21-inch Carry-on takes the smart-device concept and customizes it for the modern traveler. This hardshell suitcase offers a roomy interior and 360-degree wheels that make it easy to navigate on smooth surfaces. This 21-inch spinner has a sleek design that looks elegant but doesn’t draw attention to itself, and comes in three colors (black, burgundy, and silver).

Strong zippers, steady handling, and pleasing design earn the Heys good marks on the basics, but what sets it apart is its TSA-approved Bluetooth-access remote lock and a battery-operated alarm that lets you know if your suitcase has strayed. It also features a scale built into the handle. The app was buggy when we tested it, but once the company works the kinks out, this bag will be a serious contender for tech-savvy travelers looking to upgrade their carry-on luggage. And it’s an intriguing option for any traveler looking to protect their luggage contents with an extra layer of security.

Finalist: Victorinox Werks 6.0 Softside Global Carry-on

As you’d expect from the makers of the Swiss Army Knife, the Victorinox Werks Traveler 6.0 Softside Global Carry-on is both functional and cleverly designed. Included with the bag are a laptop sleeve that can be converted into a packing cube and a garment suiter that can also serve as a suitcase divider. Other features include a TSA-approved lock, compression straps, and an integrated USB port. The suitcase easily fits several days’ worth of clothing and shoes.

The bag rolls smoothly and is made of durable materials, though some travelers might prefer a color option besides basic black. Unfortunately, the bag is prone to toppling forward if you put something heavy—like, say, a laptop in the provided sleeve—either in the large front pocket or toward the top of the main compartment. Considering the fact that many travelers need their laptops to be easily accessible, this is a problematic design flaw.

American travelers should be aware that while the bag fits within the carry-on size limits of some European airlines, it’s too wide and slightly too deep (especially when stuffed full) to meet the size restrictions of most major U.S. carriers. As its name suggests, the bag is best used on international flights operated by carriers with less stringent size requirements. Otherwise, you may be asked to gate-check this bag—which could be a problem if you’re using it to carry your laptop.

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Editors' Choice Travel Technology Travel Trends

Editors’ Choice Awards: The Best New Travel Gadgets of 2018

No matter how far technology advances, we’re always looking for a way to make traveling easier, more fun, or more comfortable. Every year, a whole wave of travel gadgets hits the market promising to do just that, and 2018 was no exception.

For the purposes of this award, we sought out gadgets that aim to solve a travel problem and came up with a long list of products that vary in price, size, and use case. We evaluated each one based on usefulness, value, durability, and whether or not it solves the problem it claims to solve. The following products earned top marks across all categories.

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see The Best New Travel Tech 2019.

Gold: Steam Clip

 

The smallest and most affordable of all the products we reviewed, the Steam Clip took gold, not just for being the most innovative travel gadget to come out this year, but also because it’s one that every traveler can make use of. This 3D-printed gadget is a portable hook that lets you hang your garments in your hotel bathroom to let the steam from your shower release wrinkles. It’s designed to hold every type of hanger (even those awkward ball-shaped ones you’ll find at some hotels).

In addition to using the Steam Clip to steam your wrinkled clothes, you can also use it in other common travel situations. With a design that hooks onto just about anything, the Steam Clip can come in handy whether you need to hang your jacket in a bathroom stall or keep your bag off a dirty restaurant floor. It can also be used as a bottle opener, a thread and tag cutter, and a smartphone stand. Because it’s so inexpensive, there’s no reason not to keep the Steam Clip in your carry-on when you travel, especially if you often travel for business. It’s light, it’s cheap, and you never know when it will come in handy.

Silver: myCharge AdventureUltra

 

External batteries have become an essential tool for travelers as technology becomes a more integral part of our lives, but often they’re just not powerful enough to do the job. In comes the AdventureUltra, a super charger that’s taking home the silver. With 134000mAh, this external battery is strong enough to power a 32-inch LED television for up to three hours. On top of that, it has two USB ports and one AC power port.

This is a great external battery for most of your devices, but note that it won’t be able to charge larger electronics that require more than 45 watts. Basically, it can charge your MacBook Air, but not your MacBook Pro. Still, it’s a powerful charger that can be used on a multi-day camping trip or as a backup during long travel days. It’s a little bit heavy, but durable enough to stand up to the elements. If you’re unsure whether you’ll have access to power wherever you’re going, the AdventureUltra is a powerful external battery you can count on to keep your phone and other small devices charged. 

Bronze: Ricoh Theta V

 

In third place, we’ve selected a 360-degree camera that makes things easy. The Ricoh Theta V is the perfect way to capture your travels from all angles with the click of a button. Lightweight, slim, and incredibly easy to use, this is a great starter camera for anyone who wants to experiment with 360-degree photography without sacrificing image quality. It can shoot video in 4K, and images come out crisp and clear. Plus, it’s one of the most affordable 360 cameras available right now. Between the price, portability, and ease of use, this camera will change how you take photographs.

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Finalist: Spot X

For peace of mind on remote hikes, the Spot X is a two-way communication device that lets you text your family and friends and lets them text you back without relying on a cell phone network. With a mobile plan that starts at $14.95 per month, every Spot X comes with its own phone number that will help you stay in touch even when you’re off the grid. The device even features an SOS button that will send your coordinates to the closest emergency rescue teams.

Finalist: Seatdreamzzz

This new eye mask assists upright sleepers in coach class. With sturdy straps designed to be secured to the headrest of an airplane seat, Seatdreamzzz holds your head in place while shutting out light. Made of thick and comfortable material, this new sleep solution for long flights is sturdy and works well to support your head while you try to sleep.

Finalist: Nima Peanut Sensor

For travelers with peanut allergies, the Nima Peanut Sensor is a useful tool to help you test food for trace amounts of peanuts. You insert a small amount of food into the test capsule, and within a few moments the sensor can tell you if any peanuts were present. 

Finalist: SiOnyx Aurora

 

The SiOnyx Aurora is a night-vision camera that shoots in color and produces photos and videos that are surprisingly high-quality considering its small and portable size. Not just a gimmick, this camera is also a great action camera that’s water-resistant and sturdy. It’s the perfect companion to capture moments on a camping trip or any other occasion where low light might be an issue.

Finalist: LARQ Bottle

 

For a water bottle that purifies on the go, try the LARQ Bottle. It uses UV light to eliminate bacteria and viruses from your water, without affecting taste. It’s a stylish bottle with a minimalistic design. The UV light is located in the cap, which is rechargeable and automatically turns on every two hours, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to purify your drinking water.

Finalist: Osmo Mobile

 

To prevent shaky videos, the Osmo Mobile is a stabilizer built for your phone. For anyone who uses their phone to film video while traveling, this is a great way to take smoother and more cinematic-looking videos. With a long-lasting battery that charges your phone on the go, a high-performing gimbal mechanism, and a sturdy build, this is one of the best stabilizers you can buy for your phone.

Finalist: Skyroam Solis

 

With the Skyroam Solis, travelers don’t have to worry about searching for Wi-Fi—instead, they can take it with them. Taking the guesswork out of traveling, this hotspot is reliable and portable. On top of that, the Solis also doubles as an external battery so you can charge your phone while you browse the web. If you are only traveling for a short period of time, you can rent the Solis instead of buying it.

Finalist: HP Sprocket

 

The HP Sprocket is a pocket-size photo printer that does more than just print photos straight from your phone. It also incorporates augmented reality into every photo, so you can even print videos. Using the app, hover your phone over the photo and you’ll not only see your videos play back, but also information about where the photograph was taken. It’s a fun gadget for enriching your travel memories. 

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Editors' Choice Packing Travel Trends

Editors’ Choice Awards: The Best New Packing Accessories 2018

From packing cubes to laptop bags, packing accessories help travelers pack and travel better. Our goal in selecting this year’s winner for the Editors’ Choice Packing Accessories category was to select the one packing aid that was so amazing and so helpful, we don’t ever again want to travel without it.

We tested packing accessories that help organize bag, economize luggage space, and protect bag contents. The gold, silver, and bronze winners exemplified a vastly improved packing and travel experience; we love them so much we’ll make room for them in even the tiniest of travel bags.

Gold: Scrubba Air Sleeve

 

Travelers who pride themselves on minimalist packing will love the Scrubba Air Sleeve, a laptop sleeve that doubles as an inflatable pillow. Attach some straps and you’ve got yourself a slim laptop bag, too.

What set this product above the rest, however, is that it provides the most protection we’ve seen in a laptop sleeve—and it does so while keeping things light—just six to 11 ounces, depending on size. The Scrubba Air Sleeve scored top marks in our rigorous testing: We inserted a laptop into the sleeve, then proceeded to drop, bump, and even take hammer to our wares—the laptop emerged with nary a scratch.

Silver: Pack-It Storage Compression Cube

Eagle Creek knows a thing or two about packing accessories, so it’s no surprise to see it rank with high honors in this year’s Editors’ Choice Awards. The Eagle Creek Pack-It Storage Compression Cube maximizes a bag’s space by dramatically compressing clothes.

Our tester packed a weekend’s worth of clothing in a single packing cube, paring the entire wardrobe down to the size of a textbook. What sets this Eagle Creek compression cube apart from the rest is its see-through window and weatherproof qualities.

We tested the National Geographic Pack-It Storage Compression Cube Set by Eagle Creek, but other models are available.

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Bronze: Pakmaster

The Pakmaster by Victorinox is an excellent packing accessory for people worried about wrinkled clothes. This accessory will fold your clothes down compactly while keeping them wrinkle-free. The Velcro closure is perfectly designed to never stick to clothes. The Pakmaster expands quite a bit to accommodate several items. Overall, this is a great option for business travelers, or anyone who wants to keep their clothes wrinkle-free.

Finalist: Wash Pouch

The Wash Pouch by Peak Design was a formidable opponent in this test group. It ranked high for its quality materials and thoughtful construction. The toiletry bag’s accordion-style interior displays its contents when hung by the stowable hook. The best part? The toothbrush pocket completely pulls up for easy cleaning.

Finalist: Tech Pouch

The Tech Pouch by Peak Design keeps chargers, cables, and other such wares organized. The bag’s interior is vast and equipped with multiple straps and pockets, all the while keeping contents in full sight. The exterior 200D recycled nylon shell and weatherproof zipper kept water out during testing.

Finalist: Hunter Toiletry Bag

 

Our testers loved the classy dopp-kit look of the Hunter Toiletry Bag by Dagne Dover. This toiletry bag is well-sewn, and its sturdy double-zipper was the best zipper among all the products tested in this category. A few of the mesh pocket inserts are removable, making this a versatile product. The Hunter Toiletry Bag would have ranked higher, but the waterproof neoprene exterior soaked up a little water when splashed sink-side—though the bag’s contents remained dry.

Finalist: Port Kitt

 

The Boundary Supply Port Kitt toiletry bag has many unique features. Its sides are detachable, it has plenty of pockets to keep organized, it separates liquids and non-liquids, and it can be hung. However, the zippers are sticky and the bag is on the pricier side.

Finalist: The Insider Packing Cubes

Away’s penchant for fun-looking products continues with the Insider Packing Cubes. These packing cubes are more than just good-looking, though, because they have good capacity and expand nicely. The durable, transparent material makes packing easier. However, the zippers get sticky occasionally and the nylon material snags on clothes sometimes. The set comes with cubes in different sizes, so you can use the cubes that best match your packing needs.

Finalist: Travel Kit

The Travel Kit by Aer is a sharp-looking toiletry bag. Its compact size is sure to fit in most bags, while its various pockets keeps toiletries organized. This is a smart, no-fuss dopp kit built with weekender or carry-on bags in mind, and it meets the need well.

Finalist: Ovo 150GT Portable Steam Iron

The Reliable Ovo 150GT Portable Steam Iron weighs less than 2.5 pounds, yet is powerful enough to relax the stubbornest of creases. The Ovo is equipped with a water reservoir for spittle-less steaming and a ceramic-coated soleplate for ironing. This is a packing essential for those in need of a wrinkle-free wardrobe at their destination.

Finalist: Pack-It Wet Dry 2-in-1

Pack-It Active Wet Dry 2-in-1 by Eagle Creek is a handy waterproof bag for watersports hobbyists, and doubles as a heavy-duty laundry bag. Get full access to the bag’s main compartment via the transparent, airtight exterior, which keeps wet and smelly contents contained via its TPU-coated mesh exterior. The separate, zippered pocket keeps smaller items within reach. The bag is ultralight, antimicrobial, and machine-washable.

Finalist: Oregami Fit

The Oregami Fit travel organizer helps keep a bag’s contents tidy. These zippered packing trays allow you to pack your items, stack them, and then have instant access to everything in your bag without needing to unpack. Because items are narrowly compartmentalized, digging through an entire bag is a thing of the past.

Finalist: LuxePak

 

The LuxePak is an interesting idea: a tough box that will never spill your liquids. It even comes with three TSA-compliant plastic pump bottles. Our testers found this box is difficult to open and didn’t love that it takes up more space than regular liquid storage bags, but it could be worth the investment if you have fragile bottles you absolutely don’t want damaged.

Finalist: Pack-It Active Laundry Sling Pack

The Pack-It Active Laundry Sling Pack is not much more than a reusable laundry bag. While not a packing essential, road-testing this anti-microbial bag made us love it anyway. It would be most appreciated by backpackers, extra-odorous travelers, and those on extended trips.

Finalist: Pack-It Active Essential Set

The Pack-It Active Essential Set by Eagle Creek is a two-part system that manages dirt, smells, and moisture from sneakers and workout wear. The “sac” hold one large pair of shoes, while the “cube” holds clothes or other sweaty or wet items.  While this item isn’t essential, it would be welcome for fitness-oriented travelers who want to keep their dirty workout wear compartmentalized.

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Editors' Choice Travel Trends

Editors’ Choice Awards: The Best New Travel Pillows of 2018

When it comes to new travel advancements, you probably don’t think of the humble travel pillow. But the standard U-shaped neck pads that are both tough to pack and embarrassing to wear on the plane are becoming a thing of the past thanks to new designs and technology. Whether you’re looking for super packable memory foam, quick-inflating travel pillows, or game-changing incognito neck support, we tried all the newest, most hyped options to find out which are truly a step above the rest.

For the best new travel pillow Editors’ Choice Awards category we sourced more than a dozen cutting-edge travel pillows with varying technology—ranging from inflatable to memory foam—from 10 different companies. Each pillow was scored based on comfort, practicality, portability, price, and durability following road tests on which a tester traveled with the neck pillow. The results showed a clear winner and several finalists.

Sleeping on the plane doesn’t mean having to tote around an embarrassing travel pillow anymore. Meet the outstanding winners and finalists for the best travel pillow of 2018.

Editor’s note: For the latest version of this story, see The Best New Travel Pillows 2019.

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Gold: Trtl Pillow Plus

A total reinvention of the travel pillow that’s long overdue for cranky plane sleepers, the Trtl Pillow Plus is an incredibly adaptable neck-support accessory that’s both secured and hidden by an attached scarf. A newer iteration of the popular Trtl Pillow, the Plus ups its game into an adjustable version that offers cozier, more pillow-like head support. But the Trtl Pillow Plus’s true advantage over all of its competitors is its adjustability: Easy-to-use inner toggles change the height of the neck support in two different spots to suit all neck sizes and styles of sleeping. It’s the first of this technology we’ve seen in a travel pillow, and it’s a game changer when it comes to sleeping on the plane.

Clearly making waves, the Trtl Pillow Plus recently raised 10 times its Kickstarter production goal of $25,000, and it’s now available for preorder on Indiegogo from $45. The Plus is machine-washable, packs flatter than the vast majority of non-inflating travel pillows, and is made of high quality, comfortable materials—even its Velcro is soft, so that it won’t snag on your clothing or scratch your skin. Its practicality is undeniable, and it costs less than some far simpler travel pillows.

Silver: Cabeau Evolution S3 Memory Foam Travel Pillow

Thick, U-shaped travel pillows are usually too big to pack, too flimsy to actually be supportive, or—somehow—both. Enter the Cabeau’s Evolution S3 Memory Foam Travel Pillow, which uses collapsing memory foam and a durable, zippered stuff sack to become both comfortable and packable. Thoughtful features include a patent-pending “Seat Strap System”—two straps that can be secured directly to your plane seat’s head rest, and a snap at your chin to join the pillow’s ends. This ingeniously eliminates the chances of your head flailing around (or onto your neighbor’s shoulder) and prevents the pillow sliding  out of place when you move around.

The washable, quick-drying fabric makes its price tag more than fair, and Cabeau also makes a slightly pricier “cool” version of the Evolution that subs the seat straps for mesh air vents that are perfect for anyone who tends to overheat when using a neck pillow.

Bronze: BCOZZY Chin-Supporting Travel Pillow

Simpler can be better than high-tech when it comes to comfort—especially when you’re traveling with kids, limited bag space, or both. The BCOZZY Chin-Suppporting Travel Pillow comes in kid, adult, and adult XL sizes so that you can choose what works for you, rather than getting a one-size-fits-all product. The BCOZZY’s plush material and elongated, overlapping ends make it particularly resilient—meaning you can fold it in two to lean to one side, stack the ends to support your chin, or slide the stacked ends around to support either side of your head. The BCOZZY’s cushiony material and wide shape  even make it versatile enough to double as a seat cushion if you’d prefer. It packs nearly flat, or can be attached to a personal item with a snap-buttoning strap.

Finalist: Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Travel Pillow

Inflatable travel pillows were unable to crack our top three because they’re simply not optimal in the changing air pressure of a plane cabin: One minute your pillow could be tenderly cushioning your head, and the next it could feel near-deflated. But one inflatable travel pillow did stick out above the rest. Sea to Summit’s Aeros Premium Travel Pillow stands apart for its super easy inflating system, which blows up in seconds without any extra huffing and puffing and retains air until you decide to release it (by pulling out the two-layered plug).

The Aeros Premium’s soft outer makes it a far better choice than plastic-lined travel pillows that squeak, scratch, and stick to skin. It also has thicker side cushions while staying thinner behind the neck, perfect for propping your head up on either side—though it could use a connecting strap to make it fit more securely while you sleep.

Finalist: Ostrich Pillow GO

Remember the internet-ridiculed Ostrich Pillow of 2013? The makers of the bulbous sleeping hood have heard the criticism and made a few attempts at a comeback since then—but most recently could have something with the Ostrich Pillow GO. If you like firmer pillows and have more plane seat space to spare than the average-sized person, its neck-brace-like design offers much more support than most travel pillows—and this pillow has the handy connectable ends that our testers consistently preferred. The pillow’s outer layer is washable, and its Velcro-securable ends roll up securely enough to fit in a personal item or to be wrapped around a bag strap.

Finalist: Edge Signature True Adaptive Pillow

A brand-new travel pillow that also offers more support than most, the thick Edge Signature True Adaptive Pillow has an M shape that helps keep your head in place, and drawstring-linked ends so you can secure it to your neck. It’s arguably the least packable pillow we tested, but it earned bonus points for its handy pocket, perfect for keeping earplugs and an eye mask in—as well as for its cushiony memory foam and included stuff sack.

Finalist: Klymit Cush Seat Pillow

Another inflatable option that blows up fast, Klymit’s Cush Pillow stands out for its versatility, affordability, and ease of inflation—it only takes about a breath and a half to fill firmly, and seals easily with a twisting nozzle. But this flat, long cushion isn’t your ideal head pillow for plane sleeping because of its shape: It’s instead a versatile option for a for using as a seat cushion or as back support when camping or on the plane, or for stashing in the car for those times you need a cushion for a picnic bench or bleachers. It packs flat, and is definitely durable enough for outdoor situations.

Looking for something squarely for your head? Klymit’s Pillow X is a similar, but thicker option for doubling as your own plane pillow (who knows where the airline’s flimsy pillow has been) or packable camping pillow.

Finalist: Casper Pillow

A supportive yet soft travel pillow that’s much more luxurious than the plane’s (but about the same size), Casper’s new Nap Pillow is less packable for the plane cabin than it is for the car or office. It packs the mattress-in-a-box brand’s cult-followed cushiony support into a 10-by-15-inch case. Billed as a travel pillow, it’s definitely better for road trips or as a lumbar support pillow at the office—although some fans of Casper’s microfiber fill might find a way to fit one in their personal item.

Couples Sleep Mask

In need of a sleep mask for you and your beau? This lightweight eye mask comes with fully adjustable straps and is perfect for someone looking to get some sleep while on the go. The 3D contoured shape design puts no pressure on the eyes, allows you to open your eyes as freely as you please and keeps any eye makeup in tact.

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Editor’s Note: Some products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email us at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Editors' Choice Fashion & Beauty Packing Travel Technology Travel Trends

Editors’ Choice Awards: The Best Travel Products 2018

Editors' choice awards 2018

We devoted hundreds of hours to testing out the best new travel products of 2018. These are our top picks for travel pillows, shoes, carry-on suitcases, backpacks, gadgets, and packing products that are worth your money:

The Best Travel Pillows 2018

The Best Travel Gadgets 2018

The Best Men’s Shoes for Travel 2018

The Best Women’s Shoes for Travel 2018

The Best Carry-On Luggage 2018

The Best Travel Backpacks 2018

The Best New Packing Accessories