North to South’s Gear of the Year 2018

North to South's Gear of the Year: Our 2018 Favorites for Travel, Photography, Blogging and more!

The holiday season is upon us once again, and it’s time for our annual purge of the gear we aren’t using. As we go through our stuff and decide what to sell and what to donate, we’re also compiling a list of keepers — gear we love that’s versatile and durable enough to withstand the demands of our frequent travels.

If you need some ideas for your holiday list this year, see which items made our list of favorites below! 

Our Travel Gear of the Year

Packable Fun & Games

When we need a break from exploring, we’re usually playing games. These are our travel-friendly favorites.


A compact little puzzle game for 1 or 2 people


A more packable version of Scrabble

Nintendo Switch

For longer hauls with lots of down time

Exploding Kittens

A silly game of taco cats and funny explosions

The Oregon Trail

The card version of a childhood favorite

Bears vs. Babies

Another winner from cartoonist Matthew Inman

Packing Gear of the Year

Easy to use, durable, and multi-use are just a few words that describe our favorite packing gear this year.

REI Co-op Ruckpack 28
No other backpack has gotten Ian more compliments.

Jelly luggage tags
Clear ones for easy identification, dark ones for more privacy

Sea to Summit stuff sacks
Versatile little bags for everything from camera accessories to dirty laundry

Eagle Creek packing cube set
For organization abroad and at home

Tenba gear wrap
A protective wrap makes packing our cameras quick and easy.

REI Co-op Stuff Travel Backpack
A handy little daypack for travel, hiking, and even grocery shopping

Tech Gear of the Year

Our tried and true electronics gear for photography, blogging, and gaming — plus a few new additions this year.

Nintendo Switch

Did someone say Mario Party?

Tomtoc carrying case for Nintendo Switch

An affordable yet durable case for a pricey little gaming system

Sony RX100 III camera

We still love our a7III and a7S, but this one’s the best for ultra-light packing

JOBY GorillaPod tripod

Great for selfies and creative camera mounting for the most epic travel photos

Pacsafe 12L portable travel safe

For places where in-room safes aren’t a thing


Paired with the hand grip, our other ultra-light packing camera option

Peak Design SlideLITE camera strap *

A comfortable and easily adjustable camera strap

Kindle Paperwhite e-reader

Adjustable brightness reading for all lighting conditions

*Get 20% off Peak Design products from Hunt’s Photo and Video through March 2019 with our special link!

Travel Wear of the Year

Our favorite all-purpose travel wear that’s as durable as it is versatile.

Nike Free RN shoes

Our everyday shoes we love so much that we re-buy them whenever they wear out

Mens / Womens

Darn Tough socks

Fitted, comfy, and longer-lasting than any pair of shoes I’ve owned — and they’re guaranteed for life!

prAna trucker hat

A feminine version of the trucker, it’s my favorite hat I’ve ever owned (there’s a mens version, too!)

Packable Jackets

Our insulated puffies pack up small — always easy to bring along “just in case”

The North Face Thermoball Insulated Jacket (womens)

The North Face Thermoball Insulated Jacket (mens)

Wind and waterproof shells to layer over our puffy jackets and seal out the elements

REI Co-op Drypoint GTX Jacket (womens)

REI Co-op Essential Rain Jacket (mens)

As stylish as they are comfortable, our hiking pants double as all-purpose travel bottoms.

REI Screeline Hybrid Pants (womens)

KUHL Radikl Pants (mens)

Nike Dry Tempo shorts (womens)

Comfy shorts for athletic activities and warmer destinations

prAna Stretch Zion shorts (mens)

Ian’s favorite shorts, great for both sightseeing and hiking

Outdoor Gear of the Year

Our Mt Whitney trip earlier this year had us rethinking our hiking and camping gear needs.

Black Diamond Trail trekking poles

For quicker and safer hiking, we bought a pair for each of us for our Mt Whitney hike.

Hiking Boots

Our well-loved boots for lengthy treks and splashing through streams

Merrell Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots

These boots required zero breaking in! ?

Salomon Quest Prime GTX Hiking Boots –  /  (sale)

Ian wears these in snowy Chicago, too!

Buff Original Multifunctional Headwear / also in wool

For protection from bright sun or brisk wind

That wraps up our favorite gear we’ve been using this year! Do you have any tried and true travel gear favorites? What travel-related items are you asking Santa for this year? Share with us in the comments!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Get more gift ideas in our recently updated post 20 Holiday Gift Ideas for Women and Men Who Love to Travel.

list of travel-themed gift ideas for Christmas, birthday, or any occasion

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