Posted on

Best Messenger Bag for Your Morning Commute

With companies like Google, Amazon, and Apple rising toward the top of Fortune’s 500, the rigid formality of the stereotypical office environment is relaxing. While there will always be a place for a traditional look, an increasing number of 9-to-5-ers at the top of their game are donning innovative, casual attire and accessories. These modern styles tend to be versatile, gender-neutral, and eco-friendly.

As a Gen-Xer who’s participated in this office evolution through the dot.com boom and into a millennium of younger, hipper, and more multicultural CEOs, I can appreciate this fresh view of professionalism. In tribute to the generation that brought you office sharing, webinars, and Mark Zuckerberg, I have delved into how the best and brightest are hauling their gear. It is my pleasure to present contenders for the title of the best messenger bag for your morning commute.

Best Messenger Bag (Best Casual Bag): [amazon_textlink asin=’B0136NC18G’ text=’Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’871b2333-b7bb-11e8-bb61-0b10f0770be6′]

Founded by San Francisco bike messenger Rob Honeycutt, bag manufacturer and marketer Timbuk2 has grown up in the true entrepreneurial spirit of the Left Coast. From its 1989 conception in Honeycutt’s garage, the company has embraced individuality, practicality, and environmental responsibility. Now the 2nd largest manufacturer in the Bay City, Timbuk2 maintains its focus on perfecting the quality of a select product line. As my pick for best casual bag: the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D1SO’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’97b837f1-b7bb-11e8-afba-370b385c3294′] leads the contenders for best messenger bag.

Packing and Organization

As the primary function of the best messenger bag is to carry your gear, packing, and organization top our considerations. By keeping close to their roots as a bike messenger bag company, the designers for the Timbuk2 Command have meticulously engineered its construction for maximum benefit.

Volume to Weight

While there are arguably more important characteristics when considering the best messenger bag, the volume to weight ratio is a good place to start. The Timbuk2 Command weighs 2 pounds, 11 ounces when empty, which is an average heft for a shoulder bag. Its fully expanded dimensions are 18.5” wide x 6” deep x 15.5” tall. This is an internal carrying capacity of 0.70 cubic feet and a volume to weight ratio of 0.26 ft3/pound.

Compartments

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0136NC18G’ text=’Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a689b578-b7bb-11e8-84bb-1f5866699dd5′] has an impressive eight total compartments. The space is dominated by one primary slip pocket capable of handling a 17” laptop.

The interior also includes a few smaller pocks for handling pens, change, and smaller electronics. The exterior has its own array of receptacles including a rear zippered pocket for a notepad or tablet and a secure water bottle holder. A padded front Napoleon pocket is also capable of accommodating a 9” tablet.

Closures

The main closures for the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag are simple, innovative hook and loop closures. These stylish aluminum hooks slide into any one of four sets of elastic loops for a versatile, secure close. Silencer strips cover these devices to keep the bag or its contents from rattling as you move. Zippers secure the back pocket and an interior pocket, guaranteeing the security of your most valuable items.

Functionality

We’ve come a long way since a single compartment duffle bag or a hard-sided briefcase. Now that we’ve examined what the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D1SO’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b7def6d7-b7bb-11e8-8262-fb564ca94160′] can hold, let’s see what else it can do. In an era where going into the office sometimes involves a TSA checkpoint, the top contenders for best messenger bag sometimes have some impressive functionality.

Versatility

The Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag is TSA compliant. This means that it opens in a way to pass your electronics, specifically a laptop, through an X-Ray scanner without taking them out of the bag.  This is a huge plus in terms of efficiency and protecting your gear.

This messenger bag is also the only one in our review that has the option for a cross-chest strap. This iconic carrying method, preferred by bike messengers, keep a tight center of gravity. It also decreases the likelihood that you’ll hit anything with the bag and makes it almost impossible to drop.

Accessories

We’ve covered most of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D54Y’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’s’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ccd74fd5-b7bb-11e8-8bc2-9d32cae08ae2′] accessories in our description of the compartments, closures, and versatility. This exceptional messenger bag also features a luggage-handle pass-through so that you can secure it to the top of a rolling pullman. Finally, reflective contact points make the bag easier to spot and increase safety while traveling.

Durability

The Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag is an extremely durable messenger bag. The materials and construction protect both the bag itself and its contents.

Material

The primary material for the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag is durable, weatherproof polyester. This contender for best messenger bag also incorporates Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU).  Considered the bridge between rubber and plastic, TPU is an extremely durable and versatile material for high-end accessories.

The TPU-lined main flap makes the entire bag weather resistant. While the contents might not survive a dunk in the San Francisco Bay, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D1SO’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e90b76ea-b7bb-11e8-91b5-bba2bf15b938′] will protect your laptop and important papers during a rain-soaked commute.

Overall Comfort

In terms of a messenger bag, comfort is closely tied to versatility. From its origins as a bike messenger bag company, Timbuk2 has prioritized both. The Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag has a padded handle for ease of carrying like a briefcase. The nylon main strap is fully adjustable. The cross strap enables the wearer to keep the bag closely restrained for the most rambunctious of travel.

Overall Style

Available in 12 color combinations and 3 sizes, the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag has a look to suit a wide variety of users. The general style gives an impression of conscientious worldliness, sophistication, and fun. Put bluntly, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D1SO’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’062172a7-b7bc-11e8-ac93-0f5480d5f6ec’] looks fantastic.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Even the best messenger bag has its areas of concern.  Let’s take a look at two flaws for the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D1SO’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0d02c4c3-b7bc-11e8-b397-bf9fc83c4767′].

Doesn’t Stand Up on Its Own

Due to the tilted bottom, the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag does not stay upright if not supported, even when its full. While this is true of most messenger bags (compared to traditional briefcases), it’s worth noting.

Strap Doesn’t Cinch Tight Across a Narrow Chest

If you’re a petite person and intending to use the cross strap to convert the bag into a true bike messenger bag, you may have trouble. Even at its tightest, the cross strap for the Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag won’t cinch around a narrow chest. If you still love the bag, consider buying an aftermarket strap to replace the one that comes with the bag.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B0136NC18G’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’407f0908-bb8d-11e8-9eae-3d0dcedfb14a’]

Best Messenger Bag (Best Business Bag): [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3c0a909a-b7bc-11e8-9a41-5b6abb910a25′]

Now that we’ve examined the best messenger bag for the casual commuter, let’s take a look back at something more traditional. Some carrying cases combine the ergonomic ease of the modern messenger bag with the class and sophistication of the board-room briefcase. My pick for one of the best business messenger bags, the Fossil Defender Messenger Bag, perfects this accommodation of old and new.

Probably best known for their iconic watches, the Texas-based Fossil Group has been setting the bar for stylish versatile accessories since the mid-1980s. With its emphasis on a marriage of vintage design and modern technology, it’s no wonder that Fossil presented a contender for best messenger bag (business bag) with the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4da9fac2-b7bc-11e8-9dd9-fb6c3bf4d3fa’].

Packing and Organization

Arguably, the packing science and content organization of a business-style messenger bag is not as critical as that of a more commuter-oriented bag. That said, in order for the Fossil Defender Messenger Bag to make our list, it needed to show some merit in this category.

Volume to Weight

At 2 pounds, 15 ounces, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’621ad39e-b7bc-11e8-a0ff-55c013e9d542′] is only slightly heavier than the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D1SO’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6b6f972a-b7bc-11e8-9768-55ad14bd7247′]. Its average dimensions are 16” wide x 4” deep x 13” tall. This brings its volume/weight ratio to 0.26 ft3. In terms of carrying capacity, the Fossil bag is less practical than its casual counterpart.

Compartments

The Fossil Defender Messenger Bag has a simple, elegant design that still has plenty of functionality. The main compartment is capable of carrying a 15” laptop, which is an average size. With a maximum depth of 4”, the Fossil also has less capacity to carry other items alongside a laptop and its components. If you’re purchasing a messenger bag for this primary purpose, take careful measurements.

The Fossil Defender Messenger Bag also has two additional interior media pockets, one interior zipper pocket, and two exterior slide pockets that are covered by the flap.

Closures

The decorative belt-style closures on the front of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8126d30f-b7bc-11e8-a854-b5579d72768f’] are for show. They conceal the real mechanisms, a single snap with push-button release. This is actually a much more secure and convenient closure for the bag. The interior zipper provides further protection for your most valuable items such as keys, jewelry, or small tech.

Functionality

The shining aspects of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’88e0d27a-b7bc-11e8-b494-8b94a81d159b’] are its elegance, durability, and comfort. As such, it doesn’t offer much more in terms of robust functionality.

Versatility

The carrying strap of the Fossil Defender Messenger Bag is removable and fully adjustable down to a generous 27.5” shoulder drop.

Accessories

In addition to its compartments, this messenger bag has a secure key ring and 4 elastic loops for holding pens or other small accessories.

Durability

Fossil prides itself on the workmanship of its products. As such the leather, cloth, and metal aspects of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9c90a59f-b7bc-11e8-8f5c-f3333e1b63d2′] are built to last. While the defender is not weatherproof, the padded main compartment is designed to protect your laptop or other contents from impact and some environmental risks.

Material

The main external construction of the Fossil Defender Messenger Bag is 100% leather. The strap is tough, braided synthetic, and the interior is a slick, synthetic textile. This reduces friction and enables quiet insertion and removal of contents.

Overall Comfort

While the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’af78e3a1-b7bc-11e8-b9c3-1bb6ed13195c’] does not have an array of carrying options, it is very comfortable with the strap over the shoulder and across the body. The long, adjustable strap enables the wearer to optimize the height of the bag to reduce uncomfortable jarring. The smooth, high-grade leather also makes for a pleasing feel while handling.

Overall Style

The high-end materials give the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b5d48ade-b7bc-11e8-b7c5-ddd1c553c09b’] an elegant, vintage look. Exemplified by the substantial primary flap, the lines are sleek and simple, accented by thoughtfully designed and well-placed hardware.  The stitching further signifies the high-end construction.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

As the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c81a2015-b7bc-11e8-806a-d57a43adcdd8′] is designed for a more limited sort of stylized use, its flaws relate primarily to a lack of versatility.

Too Small for Many Laptops

This is more of a limitation than a flaw. The 16” interior width only allows for a maximum carrying width of 15”, which rules out many laptops. If you have a larger laptop (or simply carry a lot of documents to and from work) consider a larger messenger bag.

Limited Zippered Compartments

Again, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ceaae16b-b7bc-11e8-af55-3ddfc2dc484e’] is not designed for a rigorous commute or substantial outdoor travel. While the one zippered interior pocket will provide increased protection for a few small things, the rest of your contents are more vulnerable to weather, theft, or simply falling out if the bag is overturned.

Best Messenger Bag (Best Rugged Bag): [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4dad88c9-bae7-11e8-bb76-cf5c1c60934e’]

Royal Robbins was one of the pioneers of American competitive rock climbing. He championed ‘clean climbing’: a battery of techniques that utilized natural rock formations instead of employing damaging climbing equipment. In the 1950s, Robbins developed the Yosemite Decimal System for categorizing the difficulty of climbs.

Later, he used the highest rating on this scale, 5.11, as the name of a clothing line designed for extreme naturalists such as himself. Sixty years later, 5.11 has developed into an incredibly well-regarded clothing line for military, police, and emergency responder gear. Among the high-endurance offerings of this incredible California company is my pick for best messenger bag (best rugged bag), the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’549013db-bae7-11e8-8738-71c67846c711′].

Packing and Organization

As its designed for operators with a heightened demand for speed and accuracy, the 5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag is the best messenger bag for a highly organized outing.

Volume to Weight

The 5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag is the ‘Large’ size of the Rush Delivery series: larger than the Mike (medium) and smaller than the XRay (extra-large). At 17” wide, 11” high, and 4” deep, it is a comparable size to our other competitors for the best messenger bag. Two pounds, 7 ounces of empty weight gives it a volume to weight ratio of 0.18 ft3 / lb.

Compartments

This tactical bag has more compartments than both of our other messenger bags combined. On the exterior, it has 3 individual zippered pockets (one on the back, two under the flap) and one large water bottle holder capable of carrying a quart bottle. The underside of the flap is festooned with roughly a dozen small holding mechanisms designed for anything from a K-Bar knife to a flashlight. The interior is subdivided by several flaps and additional mesh pouches but still leaves one principal cavity large enough for a 15” laptop.

Closures

The primary bag closures are substantial plastic clips. Zippers and Velcro provide many secondary solutions for security property within or on the bag. The multitude of closures enables the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 Rush Delivery Lima’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6d8897c2-bae7-11e8-a36f-f3c9861d204c’] to provide a high degree of security for valuables, including weapons or other sensitive materials.

Functionality

Advertised specifically as a ‘Tactical’ bag, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 Rush Delivery Lima’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7414ec8d-bae7-11e8-8e12-fb1c67874992′] receives top marks for functionality.

Versatility

The extremely high number of compartments and closures make the 5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag an extremely versatile messenger bag. The bag is designed to simultaneously and safely hold a water bottle, a laptop, small firearms, and fragile accessories. You will not find a more versatile bag for high adventure or quick response to volatile situations.

Accessories

In addition to the functionality I’ve already detailed, the 5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag has a few simple yet highly useful accessories. A concealed compartment to the rear of the main cavity cleverly hides contents from initial inspection. A series of reinforced loops along the top can be used for carabiners, car keys, or handcuffs. The front of the bag is MOLLE compatible. This military system of heavy-duty nylon loops can secure various additional attachments.

Durability

Both in terms of protecting its contents and the bag’s own longevity, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 Rush Delivery Lima’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8951efbc-bae7-11e8-b40d-d5f493f3da4f’] is the most durable messenger bag in our review.

Material

Thick, water-resistant 1050D Nylon holds up under a variety of conditions, including aggressive handling.

Overall Comfort

While the 5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag isn’t specifically built for comfort, it travels well. The well-padded, removable cross-body strap provides enduring relief from muscular bruising and skeletal strain. This bag also has a rear panel for attachment to luggage such as a rolling Pullman.

Overall Style

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 Rush Delivery Lima’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’94aedec7-bae7-11e8-b67c-4d31aa9451a6′] isn’t designed to be a fashion accessory. It is a basic earth-tone to blend into its surroundings or the rest of the wearer’s gear. It is a subdued and dignified piece of equipment.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Fabric Does Not Flex

Because this bag is designed to protect its contents, the stiff sides do not allow for much flexibility. At only 4” deep, once you’ve tucked a laptop and a few other contents side by side, you may be maxing out the capacity.

May Be Too Complicated

Depending on your intent for its use, the multitude of pockets and accessories may be overwhelming. If you only need a gym bag or a document briefcase, all of the fabric taken up with dividers and closures may even be a hindrance.

All the Nitty Gritty

  [amazon_textlink asin=’B00M48D1SO’ text=’Timbuk2 Command’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’73b98f87-b7be-11e8-b561-ff5efd874471′] [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7955b7bb-b7be-11e8-8b9a-85c0416518ec’] [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 RUSH Delivery Lima’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’aeef4d07-bae7-11e8-b1f0-5d68b963751c’]
Exterior Material Polyester Leather 1050D Nylon
Interior Material Polyester Textile Nylon
Closure Hook & Loop Push-Button Snap Plastic Snaps / Zippers
Weatherproof Yes No Yes
Weight 2 lbs 11 oz 2 lbs 15 oz 2 lbs 7 oz
Dimensions 18.5″x 6″ x 15.5″ 16″ x 4″ x 13″ 17″ x 4″ x 11″
Volume to Weight Ratio 0.26 cu ft / pound 0.17 cu ft / pound 0.18 cu ft / pound
Cross Strap Yes No No
Tech Compatibility 17″ Laptop 15″ Laptop 15″ Laptop
Number of Pockets Eight Six Ten +

The Bottom Line

Since graduating high school, I’ve favored a messenger bag over any other day bag probably 90% of the time. I love them. And as an aficionado of the European Carry-All, I know that there are a wide variety all with a different user in mind. For me, the more specific the bag is, the better it is.

For urban-dwellers with a youthful spirit, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0136NC18G’ text=’Timbuk2 Command Laptop Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’92ee9b08-b7be-11e8-a660-878a3bf6eeaf’] is an ultra-stylish bag with unmatched punctuality.  It’s also fantastic for jet-setters, cyclists, and other nomads.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B01DWNSYHC’ text=’Fossil Defender Messenger Bag’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’99732725-b7be-11e8-96be-6fa6ff68892e’] is a traditional, high-end bag with equal parts vintage and cutting-edge. It’s a perfect match for anyone looking to outmatch contenders in the boardroom or the bar afterward.

If you are in the military, public service, or simply have the need for an exceedingly tactical bag, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00FD7YP56′ text=’5.11 Rush Delivery Lima Tactical Messenger Bag ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b8325c78-bae7-11e8-a855-0d1edc0c70d5′]is a great choice. It is well-designed, rugged, and highly versatile.

Pick the bag that suits your style and fill it with your favorite things. Whether your adventure is to the urban jungle or the real one, attack it with vigor and optimism and, of course, the best messenger bag on the market.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I learn more about product recycling and sustainable materials?

What a very astute and earth-conscious question! As you know, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00S8LPWHE’ text=’Timbuk2 Command Laptop’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’be1e0421-bae7-11e8-bab3-f3c094b6260d’] is produced by a company that values maintaining a high regard for environmental factors. The most important thing is to purchase from companies that honor sustainable practices.

Why do I need a messenger bag in the first place?

Besides the fact that they look spiffy? Messenger bags are a great compromise between the utility of a backpack and the formality of a briefcase. They are versatile, they protect their contents, and they generally preserve the apparel of the user.

Ready to pick out a laptop to slide inside that snazzy messenger bag? Check out my article on the Best Laptop for Freelance Writers.

Posted on

Best Cargo Box for a Cross Country Road Trip

From Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ to Chevy Chase’s ‘Vacation’, our culture has an enduring fascination with the travel journey. When I was six, my parents and I embarked on a six-week road trip from Kentucky to the Pacific and back, touching twenty states in the process. In the thirty years since that summer, I have boarded planes, trains, and automobiles with groups ranging upward to a dozen. Among the many lessons I learned the hard way, I discovered that no matter how nomadic you aspire to be, a large group of people brings a large amount of stuff. With a single vehicle carrying four or more, I strongly recommend stowing your gear top-side in a cargo box.

In that spirit, I’ve run down the best cargo box for a cross country road trip.

Best Cargo Box (Overall Winner): [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’18337b84-a40c-11e8-b5ab-f564e5b6dd7e’]

With the simple, appealing company slogan, ‘Take More Friends’, Yakima has built an empire of high-end gear transport. In 1979, two friends purchased a small machine shop in Yakima, Washington with the dream of filling a hole in the outdoor equipment industry – transport. By 1984, they were the official supplier of all bike racks for the 7-Eleven cycling team who brought home 9 gold medals from the summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

Spring-boarding from this international exposure, Yakima continued to expand, always keeping its focus on people and quality.  Their world class line of products includes our selection for best cargo box for a cross country road trip: the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’247a2efa-a40c-11e8-9e10-2d325f858641′].

Functionality

While the primary purpose of a car-top cargo box is simple, the execution is more complicated. A bit of simple math (80 mph x hundreds of miles x thousands of dollars-worth of gear) is enough to drive home the importance of making the right selection. First, let’s explore how the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2e4e3443-a40c-11e8-a549-0de7a23a80ec’] qualifies as our pick for best cargo box in terms of functionality.

Capacity

Like most cartop carriers, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’38751539-a40c-11e8-bfc0-27d07108adc5′] comes in a range of sizes. For our review, I have detailed the specs of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox 18′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4f837c8c-a40c-11e8-9fe7-01b17b23ac6f’].

At 18 cubic feet, this is comparable to the ‘Extra Large’ carrier from other producers. Yakima advertises that the Skybox 18 holds the gear for up to 4 campers. With a max ski length of 215 cm (7 feet), the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’47f45e41-a40c-11e8-b787-015a19976f06′]specifically appeals to skiers.

Access/Ease of Use

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’59a1d190-a40c-11e8-b274-59e39411808b’] is capable of dual-side access, which is a big advantage for loading/unloading, especially in tight spaces or highway-side. Interior lid stiffeners enhance durability and increase the ease of opening and closing the box.

Vehicle Compatibility/Aerodynamics

The entire outdoor dimensions of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’63a9df9c-a40c-11e8-80ce-83dbea54ba25′] are 94” x 37” x 17”.  More importantly, the Skybox is adjustable to a minimum 24” and maximum 42” crossbar length. With a sleek carbonite lid, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’6ca8e21c-a40c-11e8-9718-7d6b2004ae03′] is designed to cut down on wind resistance, and the tapered design decreases interference with a hatch-back vehicle.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’74e61a97-a40c-11e8-a0fa-730232e78ea9′] requires a roof rack to attach to the vehicle and is compatible with a wide range of factory roof racks. I strongly suggest doing some research to ensure that the Skybox will fit with your vehicle. If you don’t have a roof rack, Yakima sells various compatible models.

Installation

Yakima advertises ‘tool free installation’ for the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7fe53298-a40c-11e8-8c85-015133bd3619′]. Simply open the box, release the levers, and loosen thumb-wheels. Then, place the box on top of your rack, slide the levers over the crossbars of the rack, tighten the thumb-wheels, and engage the levers.

All that said, the box is 52 pounds. Most people are going to need a buddy to get the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8a92a8c0-a40c-11e8-bd49-e91f710f6a7a’] in place for the first time.

Protection

When considering the best cargo box for a cross country road trip, the second major category we consider is protection. It’s no good properly storing all your valuable gear above your vehicle if weather or unwanted guests aren’t kept out. In this arena, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’94cd10cd-a40c-11e8-ad53-53eaaa69b260′] again outperforms its competitors.

Security

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9db94e22-a40c-11e8-84a6-cfb6d95fee31′] employs a SuperLatch™ security system. This patented mechanism securely attaches the lid to the base at several points. Also, note that the mechanisms to mount/release your Skybox from your vehicle are inside the box, so there is no way for an unauthorized individual to remove the Skybox.

The Skybox incorporates SKS (Same Key System) lockable cores. If you have multiple Yakima products, you can install identical cores, allowing you to utilize one key to access them all. The SKS cores do not release the key until the lock is properly engaged, preventing you from leaving the box unsecure or locking your keys inside.

Weatherproofing

As you would expect from our choice for best cargo box, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’aeec3ab1-a40c-11e8-b094-c799adfae713′] is completely waterproof. The box itself is constructed from 80% recycled carbonite, and the opening is lined with a tough gasket to seal the contents tightly. Yakima sells replacement seal strips if your gasket becomes damaged.

Appearance & Durability

Finally, let’s not forget that our choice for best cargo box will adorn your vehicle. It will be the first thing anyone notices when you pull into town. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bdaffc6e-a40c-11e8-9c2a-c7bd0a652615′] is elegant and sleek. The textured, black carbonite compliments any vehicle color, and the aerodynamic shape is appealing to the eye. The same lid stiffeners that increase accessibility also add to the durability, prolonging the life of the Skybox.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

No product is perfect.  Let’s take a look at a couple of cases where the best cargo box misses the mark.

Dual-Side Access Makes It Difficult to Close

One of the major selling points of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’cae2bca2-a40c-11e8-986e-332e1e7c2f9d’] can double as a detriment. The intricate hinges of the SuperLatch™ system allow access from both sides of the cargo box. However, some users complain that as they attempt to close one side, the Skybox pops open at the other side. A single operator may need to engage in some tedious side-switching to get the box closed.

Long Design Makes For a Tough Fit to Smaller Vehicles

Designed to appeal to the winter sports crowd, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox 18′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d48cf3cf-a40c-11e8-ad3c-8306706fd5ae’] is long enough for almost all ski lengths. This can make it a cumbersome fit for some smaller vehicles. The [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZL0′ text=’Yakima Skybox 16′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’dc4bd52a-a40c-11e8-87fa-73567c9dedcb’] is only 6’9”, compared to the Yakima Skybox 18’s 7’8”. Remember to always research the fit to your specific vehicle before buying a cargo box.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00JQWHZII’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’58834f05-a4bb-11e8-83cd-cb86a9d5ed70′]

Best Cargo Box (Runner-Up): [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e60af2f1-a40c-11e8-958b-d742adefd59d’]

Founded by the Thulin family in 1942, the Swedish Thule Group is one of the largest and most well-respected producers of cargo carriers in the world. Thule’s motto ‘Bring Your Life’ encapsulates the company’s philosophy that everyone should be able to simply and safely transport their prized possessions to their destination. Like Yakima, Thule focuses almost exclusively on gear transport.

This attention to purpose makes their products top contenders for the best cargo box available today. Our pick for runner-up, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’ed35352e-a40c-11e8-8c34-fb204bf5c223′], presents strongly in every category of consideration.

Functionality

To see why the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f6762256-a40c-11e8-8efd-35fd1ab78ff0′] qualifies for the runner-up best cargo box, let’s first look at how well it does what it is supposed to do.

Capacity

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fdb3ec96-a40c-11e8-a557-c9c734619527′]comes in a variety of sizes. For the sake of comparison, we will examine the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force XL’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’068e0221-a40d-11e8-b6a3-539103560f98′], which is 17 cubic feet. Although one cubic foot smaller than the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’12be6e34-a40d-11e8-9f38-6dc98747d1d0′], the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1980edca-a40d-11e8-931d-6dd49a7b3e39′] is still plenty large to carry the gear for four adventurers.

The max ski length is 198 cm, 17 cm shorter than the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2b735986-a40d-11e8-963e-9f034c126cca’]. If you want something bigger, the Thule Force XXL is a whopping 21 cubic feet and holds skis of up to 220 cm.

Access/Ease of Use

Like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’35107067-a40d-11e8-97ba-cb45f8cc726a’], the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3c2f1ac0-a40d-11e8-89f5-714a84d48719′] is dual-side opening. The built-in lift elements hold the lid open, allowing both hands to be free to access the gear.

Vehicle Compatibility/Aerodynamics

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’45c8d61a-a40d-11e8-be21-b33b5596f1b9′] requires a roof rack and is compatible with most factory models. Thule provides a ‘fit-chart’ for an easy reference. The shape is extremely aerodynamic.

The construction pushes air away from the box, increasing fuel efficiency and decreasing noise, whether or not the box is full. A diamond-textured aero-skin enhances durability and decreases wind-resistance.

Installation

Thule advertises a tool-free QuickGrip™ mounting system. Although it will certainly take both hands to lift the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’54191512-a40d-11e8-b69f-5b6463c89ad7′] onto your vehicle, from there it is a one-handed motion to finish the secure attachment to the roof rack.

Protection

Like our winner for best cargo box, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’5c69fcb5-a40d-11e8-a1c4-3d9a45bda697′] has strong qualifications when it comes to security and weatherproofing.

Security

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’638c771a-a40d-11e8-8aeb-83c2667efafb’] has a patented SecureLock™ system on both sides of the carrier. An oversized, user-friendly locking mechanism is easy to operate, even while wearing gloves. The lock won’t release the key until it is securely fastened. Like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7212934e-a40d-11e8-a2c7-0ff00c8b4649′], user access to the mounting system is within the compartment. This removes the risk that a thief can remove the entire cargo box with your gear inside.

Weatherproofing

Composed of five layers of ABS plastic, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7918d253-a40d-11e8-86d8-a9b7fae054a1′]’s aero-skin shell keeps contents safe from weather. A thick rubber seal completes the weatherproof construction.

Appearance & Durability

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’803c3714-a40d-11e8-9a66-17cb90a5bbee’] has a conservative, sophisticated style. Its deluxe features are largely concealed within the smooth exterior, which has operational and aesthetic value. Diamond-textured aero-skin completes the look and provides a high degree of durability.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

‘Weatherproof’ But Not ‘Waterproof’

Several reviewers note that the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’886f3677-a40d-11e8-8b52-e7a27e169f31′] tends to ‘gap’ at the front seal. This can allow air and potentially water into the interior of the box. Thule explains this as the difference between ‘Weatherproof’ and ‘Waterproof’. It’s up to you whether or not this is a satisfactory explanation.

Single Key Fits Multiple Units

Owners of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8df342ed-a40d-11e8-baf7-0dd3aa528c02′] have noted that their key works in the locks of other Thule products. While this may provide increased convenience, it is also a potential security risk.

Best Cargo Box (Best Soft-Sided): [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9515bd53-a40d-11e8-9d8f-85bc324f0de4′]

Hard-top cargo boxes are arguably the best option for car top cargo carriers. However, they have two significant potential drawbacks. They can be very expensive and can take up a lot of storage space when not in use. If you have a limited amount of either, a soft-sided cargo box can be a very attractive option.

Based out of wilderness-activity-Mecca Asheville, NC, Rightline is an automotive aftermarket equipment manufacturer. The company was founded a mere ten years ago by Loran Evans, the creator of Melon Bikes. Like Melon, Rightline emphasizes employee integrity, work ethic, and a holistic approach to manufacturing. The company considers input from both the employees and customers at multiple stages of the production. This value-driven methodology shows through in our pick for best soft-sided cargo box: the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9d264070-a40d-11e8-b76b-efe00fb1f0ee’].

Functionality

While the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a780b464-a40d-11e8-bc1c-9b10ac49f7e4′] and [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b01e35ef-a40d-11e8-a0ce-d1822b71e5d8′] have very similar functionality, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’b7353e50-a40d-11e8-b3f1-578a5e8d9be3′] is a different type of product entirely. The soft-side construction provides definite advantages in some areas but falls short of the more defined structure in others. Let’s break these pros and cons down by category.

Capacity

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’bda0282e-a40d-11e8-8fd4-b33146026c58′] has 18 cubic feet of interior capacity, the same as the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c5fbe575-a40d-11e8-87e1-69706205571e’]. Unlike the Skybox, the dimensions are much closer to that of a cube: 48” L x 40” W x 19” H. This provides space for an increased amount of baggage but does not allow for skis, snowboards, or other long pieces of equipment.

The soft sides also allow a small degree of flex, where the hard sides of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox ‘ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d02cb101-a40d-11e8-b171-fbd300e90768′]and the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’d9296973-a40d-11e8-b247-09035bd7a3ce’] do not.

Access/Ease of Use

Just as with the two hard-top contenders for best cargo box, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e1556423-a40d-11e8-bfbb-13c4b6ba104a’] can be accessed from both sides of the vehicle. The zipper extends around both long sides (left and right) and one short side (back) of the carrier. A disadvantage of the soft-sided cargo box is that, unless you flip it all the way forward the top/lid will not stay up while you are accessing your gear. This doesn’t provide any protection if it’s raining when you need to add or remove gear.

Vehicle Compatibility/Aerodynamics

Due to its short length and flexible construction, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’eaad5ca2-a40d-11e8-8153-15a7dfbcc5b7′] has almost universal vehicle compatibility. It is crucial to note that unlike the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f45a0377-a40d-11e8-986e-332e1e7c2f9d’] and [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fb2cfe17-a40d-11e8-a40d-f55e356df8db’], this soft-sided cartop carrier can function with or without a roof rack. This is a major advantage.  If you elect to install the cargo container directly on the car top, I suggest using some sort of protection against wear to the paint job. Rightline sells products to fit this need.

The [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’04ff55f6-a40e-11e8-bec0-27099766ae25′] is not as aerodynamic as its hard-top counterparts. Also, the aerodynamics continues to decrease if the compartment is not filled completely. Not only can this increase fuel consumption, it can be very noisy.

Installation

While it is a little more time-consuming, the installation of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0b80d504-a40e-11e8-9718-7d6b2004ae03′] is pretty straightforward and can be accomplished by a single person. Place the compartment on top of the vehicle and then attach the four mounting straps either to the roof rack or directly to the four door frames.

Protection

As you would expect, the protection afforded by the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’122daa1d-a40e-11e8-a572-d91100d4a1f1′] is different from that offered by the top two contenders for best cargo box.

Security

Inevitably the security provided by a soft-sided cartop carrier is less comprehensive than that of a hard-top cargo box. That said, Rightline has taken several steps to secure your valuables. The fabric is UV protected PVC Semi-Coated Mesh. This is a very tough, durable fabric that resists cutting. The reinforced zippers include a loop for utilizing a padlock to prevent intruders from unzipping the carrier.

Weatherproofing

Contrary to what you might expect, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1d492378-a40e-11e8-9f8a-2f6f754da676′] is not only ‘weatherproof’, it’s actually ‘waterproof’. The fabric, a UV protected PVC semi-coated mesh is waterproof. The stitching is welded to waterproof the seams.

Finally, the urethane coated ZipRight system prevents any water from entering at the zipper. Rightline has taken extensive steps to give this product top-of-the-line waterproof reliability.

Appearance & Durability

While appearance is largely subject, most people would say that the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’25f76e01-a40e-11e8-93d0-750c6663333c’] is functional, not stylish. However, the grey and black fabric with eye-catching Rightline wolf logo, do make for an attractive, if not slick, presentation.

The cargo carrier is made with premium materials and is highly durable. The UV protection keeps the fabric from fading in the sun, preserving the quality appearance through the seasons.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Mounting Clips Difficult to Use Without a Roof Rack

Although a major potential advantage of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’309812f2-a40e-11e8-860f-05e6f5abfa2c’] is the ability to use it without a roof-top carrier, several reviewers mention difficulty mounting it securely. There is also the possibility that the mounting straps and clips will cause the seal on the car door to gap, exposing the interior of the vehicle to wind and precipitation.

Temperature Concerns With the Zippers and Seals

Sub-Freezing temperatures can begin to negatively impact the zippers and the seals that waterproof the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3cc3eb4f-a40e-11e8-ba64-973d218ffd4c’]. Temperature changes in combination with rubbing can cause a decrease in durability. This is an important word of caution for anyone traveling extensively at high elevations or upper latitudes.

All the Nitty Gritty

[amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’46584f6a-a40e-11e8-b9e6-3b2fef88c712′] [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4bf736fe-a40e-11e8-ac89-a935acf0f788′] [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’515f2f36-a40e-11e8-b319-37d3dc5c804a’]
Capacity 18 cubic feet 17 cubic feet 18 cubic feet
Weight 52 lbs 44 lbs 8.6 lbs
Dimensions 94″ x 37″ x 17″ 84″ x 34.5″ x 17″ 48″ x 40″ x 19″
Max Ski Length 215 cm 198 cm ——
Materials Carbonite Diamond-Textured Aero Skin PVC Semi-Coated Mesh
Box Opening Dual Side Dual Side ——
Needs Roof Rack Yes Yes No
Security Integrated SKS Lock System SecureLock None

The Bottom Line

Car-top carriers are excellent options for improving the quality of group travel by freeing up valuable interior real-estate for the comfort of your companions.

If you have the wallet and the storage for it, hard-sided carriers contend for the very best cargo box on the market. Both the [amazon_textlink asin=’B00JQWHZII’ text=’Yakima Skybox’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’7050f019-a40e-11e8-ada4-fbd9f48876f7′] and the [amazon_textlink asin=’B009NN5Q2W’ text=’Thule Force’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’777dcad2-a40e-11e8-9945-23825d0449f7′] are excellent options in this arena. You really won’t go wrong with a purchase from these top producers.

If your situation doesn’t allow for something so lavish, the [amazon_textlink asin=’B0012INT98′ text=’Rightline Gear Sport 3′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8ad87926-a40e-11e8-a469-bf02b5c7cf5f’] is the best soft-sided cargo box we considered. It will provide many of the same functions and will, most importantly, keep your gear safe and dry.

Before making an investment in a product that needs to work with other items you own (in this case your vehicle), take the time to carefully confirm compatibility. There are many online resources to give you the information you need to make an informed purchase.

Then, pack up, pick a point on the map, and go. Travel brings us all together in a way that remote communication cannot. Get out there and experience the world first-hand. See you at the next pit-stop!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I leave unattended items in my roof-top cargo carrier?

Depending on the type of cargo carrier you have, there are several security concerns. Cargo carrier keys may be interchangeable, allowing for the possibility that a stranger could use his or her key in your carrier. Obviously, cloth carriers can be cut. In short, items in the carrier will not be as secure as they are in your car.

The answer really comes down to your judgment. If you are in a low-crime area or will be gone a short period of time, you may be perfectly secure leaving your carrier full. If not, it may be better to take any valuables with you or store them in the car.

Q: Does adding a roof-top cargo carrier increase safety risks on the road?

This is an excellent question and one that doesn’t have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. First of all, always observe a few universal rules:

  • Don’t impede sight lines.
  • Only use the equipment as intended.
  • Don’t exceed the equipment’s advised weight/capacity limits.
  • Always secure the equipment using included/approved materials.

After that, consider certain physical differences in your vehicle such as a higher center of gravity and an increased overall weight (increasing stopping distances). A quick Google search for Safety Tips will reveal even more ways to increase your peace of mind when using a car top cargo box.

Want to increase your personal packing arsenal? Check out Rhonda Alamour’s article Best Luggage Sets for Travel of All Distances.

Posted on

Best Luggage Sets for Travel of All Distances

As an avid procrastinator, I have neglected to purchase an adequate luggage set before my trip and ended up shoving anything and everything into duffle bags, a variety of purses, and sometimes even trash bags. Nothing says vacation quite like hauling a trash bag of clothes onto a hotel elevator. I realized I had hit a new low and ditched my wayward packing habits aside and invested 6 months worth of research, traveling from store to store and season to season for the best luggage sets for travel.

No trip is complete without chaotically rummaging through closets and garages to find a luggage set the right size to pack all of the essentials for travel (or if you’re like me replace “essentials” with everything but the kitchen sink). Whether you’re traveling for leisure, work, or personal reasons having the right luggage set to meet your needs will remove a major stressor from your trip.

Finding the Right Luggage Sets

Everybody has different reasons for traveling and different needs in terms of size and quality of luggage. All three of my favorite sets are functional, attractive, and the perfect for travel far and near. My top pick, the Caribbean Joe Luggage Castaway 4-Piece Spinner Suitcase Set, is classy and professional. I would take this set on business as soon as I would take it on vacation.

Next, the Samsonite Omni PC 3 Piece Set Spinner features a hard shell and does an incredible job of keeping valuables intact. Last, the Bago Lightweight Family Travel Luggage Set takes organization and functionality to a whole new level with 23 items included. These three luggage sets are excellent products for travel and can ensure you won’t find yourself standing on your suitcase attempting to force the zipper to close (I’ve been there).

Best Luggage Sets: Caribbean Joe Luggage Castaway 4-Piece Spinner Suitcase Set

Design

The traditional design of this luggage set is one of its most appealing features. In fact, the design of this luggage set is actually island-inspired, hence the name Caribbean Joe. It features polyester fabric which is cross-weaved to make a bold statement on the outer pocket. This design is continued as an accented trim on each side of the luggage. The Caribbean Joe luggage set can be purchased in either chocolate or olive.   

Apart from size (carry-on, medium, and large), the three suitcases included are identical in design:

  • 2 Outer Zipper Pockets
  • 8 Spinner Wheels
  • Fully Lined
  • Reinforced Push Button Handle
  • Clear Toiletries Zipper Case Inside

The 4 piece Caribbean Joe set includes a tote/duffle bag with a similar design. It also features a cross-weaved accent – but only on the front of the bag. There is a small front zipper pocket and then the main zipper at the top of the bag. I love that this tote includes both short handles for carrying and a long strap if you prefer to carry it on your shoulder.

Functionality

The Caribbean Joe Luggage Set is my absolute favorite on this list because it works for an overnight trip to your parents’ house as well as it does for an international long-term getaway. First, it’s important to me to have options and if necessary to pack several bags. This luggage set offers such a wide variety of sizes that I’m always able to pack efficiently and to have extra room left over. Having these options is especially useful when I’m traveling from a mild-weathered place to a freezing destination. 

It is also important because it seems like most people return from a trip with more in their bags than they left with. Mom’s sending you home with blackberry jam? No problem. Souvenirs from the beach? Tuck them right in with the beach towel.

Pockets

Additionally, the outer pockets are a great feature on this luggage set. These pockets are included on both the suitcases and the smaller duffel bag. Oftentimes, I like to separate a few items for easy access when I’m packing. This luggage set makes it easy to do so. The smaller pocket at the top is perfect for small toiletries while the larger pocket could hold a reading book, snacks, and other mid-sized items.

Finally, the physical functionality of this luggage set is exactly what I’d hoped for. The handles have a push button which allows you to extend and retract. If you’re running around a busy airport, you’ll want to be able to comfortably grip your luggage. Speaking of running, the spinner wheels allow for easy transportation. You can push or pull your luggage in any direction without having to do an awkward dance like you would have to do with a traditional suitcase.

Dimensions and Details

It’s important to understand the exact size of the luggage set you are purchasing to avoid being disappointed once it arrives in the mail. The Caribbean Joe Luggage Set dimensions are as follows:

Including wheels and handle

  • Tote: 16” x 13” x 8”
  • Carry-on: 21.5” x 14” x 9”
  • Medium: 25.5” x 16.2” x 11.7”
  • Large: 29.5” x 18.2” x 12.8”

Without wheels and handle

  • Carry-on: 20” x 14” x 8”
  • Medium: 24” x 16” x 9”
  • Large: 28” x 18” x 10.5”

Weight of luggage

  • Tote: 3 lbs
  • Carry-on: 7.8 lbs
  • Medium: 8.9 lbs
  • Large: 10.8 lbs

Quick Summary  

The Caribbean Joe Luggage Set is perfect for every type of travel. It includes three different sized suitcases and one tote/duffle bag. This set’s beautiful island-inspired design is sophisticated and works perfectly for business and leisure. Finally, the luggage set’s functionality and thoughtful design make it easy to transport. If you are a serious traveler, look no further than this perfect luggage set!

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00VSYLL0A’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’17b0a0c3-9151-11e8-807f-1b5336298adc’]

Runner-Up Luggage Sets: Samsonite Omni PC 3 Piece Set Spinner 

Design

When investing in a luggage set, it’s important to me that it be not only functional but also attractive. After all, the set is going to be traveling with me for the long-term and speaks volumes about its owner. I find the sleek textured design of this hard shell luggage set to be incredibly attractive and modern.

The simple one-note color is striking and feels appropriate for any type of travel. This luggage set also comes with color options including Black, Caribbean Blue, Silver, and Teal.

There are three suitcases included in the Samsonite Luggage Set (small, medium, and large) which include the following features:

  • Polycarbonate Scratch-Resistant Hard Shell Cover
  • Lightweight
  • 360 Degree Spinner Wheels
  • Zip Interior, Dividers, Cross-Straps
  • Side TSA Lock

Unlike the Caribbean Joe Luggage Set above, the Samsonite Luggage Set does not include a fourth tote bag. However, the side-mounted TSA lock is a unique feature that will come in handy during every travel experience.

Functionality

This luggage set does not include any exterior zipper pockets due to the hardshell case. However, the quality of the case does prevent other luggage or objects from smashing any important items that you may have in your suitcase. Similar to the Caribbean Joe set above, this Samsonite Luggage Set includes important zipper pockets and cross-straps in the interior.

I find this to be very helpful when I’m traveling, especially if I’m checking in luggage at the airport. The last situation I want is to find my suitcase a jumbled mess once arriving at my destination.

Fun Extras

With travel comes risk. One of my favorite features is the TSA-approved side locks for the suitcase. It gives me peace of mind to know that no sticky fingers will be rummaging through my suitcase when I’m not around. This luggage set also includes an adjustable handle and spinner wheels to make transportation a breeze. You can rest assured that these suitcases will be able to make it down the driveway, through the airport, and in the elevator wherever you travel.

In the past, I have purchased suitcases that when empty felt like I was carrying a ton of bricks. You definitely will not have that problem with this luggage set. It has been specifically designed to be lightweight. This is great not only for your back but to save money on checked luggage.

Dimensions and Details

Suitcase Dimensions

  • Small: 19” x 14.5” x 9.75”
  • Medium: 24” x 17.5” x 11.5”
  • Large: 28.5” x 20.5” x 13.5”

Weight of luggage

  • Small: 6.81 lbs
  • Medium: 8.34 lbs
  • Large: 10.35 lbs

Quick Summary  

While the Samsonite Luggage Set includes one less bag than our pick above, it may be the perfect set for you if you’re a frequent traveler. The three suitcases allow for flexible packing and long-term trips. Since the luggage set is made of a hard shell it is less likely that your items will be damaged during travel. To add extra security, this set even includes a TSA lock for each suitcase. Overall, you won’t be disappointed in the quality and versatility of this product!

 

[amazon_link asins=’B013WFOBYA’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’c78b17b5-9151-11e8-a9c5-b3162c334777′]

Honorable Mention: Bago Lightweight Family Travel Luggage Set

Design

The Bago Lightweight Family Travel Luggage Set is drastically different in almost every way from the Caribbean Joe and Samsonite sets featured above. It comes with a large duffle bag and different sized “packing cubes” which go inside to organize your luggage. The 23 items you will receive with this purchase include:

  • 8 Travel Packing Cubes
  • Large Folding Duffle Bag
  • Large Toiletry Bag
  • Folding Backpack
  • 12 Organizer Plastic Zip Bags

I love the variety of colors which set this apart from the luggage sets above. You have the option of choosing from the following: black, blue, green, pink, purple, or red. However, don’t be fooled by the casual look of this luggage set.

Bonuses

It is designed with quality zippers and Ripstop fabric meant to last. Even better, the fabric is also water resistant – which is perfect for rainy days or for adventurous travelers. This is also a good option if you’re traveling to places like Ireland or the Scottish Highlands where rain is almost always on the forecast.

As a bonus, the Bago Luggage Set includes 12 various sized zipper bags. These work well for all of the little odds and ends that get loose in your luggage. I find them useful for earrings, writing utensils, and even on-the-go snacks.

Functionality is the name of the game with the Bago Lightweight Family Travel Luggage Set. Although this set definitely steps up your organization game, one of its drawbacks is the lack of wheels. Be aware that you will have to carry this luggage wherever you go. Pack light!

Functionality

Every single piece of this luggage set was thought out to function for the busy traveler. The eight storage cubes allow you to separate outfits or even to designate clothes for each member of the family. This is a brilliant design feature and makes it easy to pull out exactly what you need.

Usually, the first time I search for pajamas, everything in my suitcase ends up all over the hotel room. However, with this luggage set all I have to do is pull out the storage cube for pajamas and everything else stays intact.

It’s hard to pick a favorite part of the Bago Luggage Set but if you really twisted my arm I would say it’s the large toiletry bag. Not only does it have multiple inner and outer compartments, but it also has a little hook so that you can hang it up. The bag perfectly organizes every toiletry item. To be honest, I have started using this at home until I find a decent organization case that fits my space.

Extra Uses

The major components of this luggage set are foldable. For example, the foldable backpack included is a great feature. Planning a hike or a sightseeing tour? Tuck the backpack into your duffle bag. You can unfold it later and pack only what you need for the day. Keep in mind that more and more destinations are charging for plastic bags. If you have your backpack, you can easily pack things up without spending money here and there for bags.

In fact, the entire duffle bag is a great emergency bag.

I like to pack this into one of my larger suitcases such as the ones in the Caribbean Joe and Samsonite luggage sets. Then, if I go over on weight at the airport I already have a bag to lighten the load. It’s also great for souvenirs if you want to pack it and bring it back full. Personally, I like to pass all of my clothes in duffle and leave some of my bigger items in a well-packed suitcase.

Dimensions and Details

Dimensions

  • Medium Packing Cubes: 13.4” x 8.7” x 4”
  • Large Packing Cubes: 15.8” x 11.8” x 4”
  • Large Duffle Bag: 11” x 15” x 27” (folds up to 11.8″ x 12.6″)
  • Foldable Backpack: 14.17” x 8.66” x 13.39”
  • Toiletry Bag: 10” x 4” x 9”
  • Small Zip Bags: 9.5” x 15.1”
  • Medium Zip Bags: 7.9” x 12.4”
  • Large Zip Bags: 5.9″ x 9.25″

Weight of luggage

  • Large Duffle Bag: 1.5 lb

Quick Summary  

If you’re looking for organization, packing for a family, or an adventurous outdoor traveler the Bago Luggage Set is perfect for you. It includes storage cubes to separate clothes, zip bags, a toiletry kit, and even a foldable backpack in addition to the large duffle bag. This set includes strong zippers, rip-resistant fabric, and is water-resistant. It’s the perfect go, go, go travel set!

 

[amazon_link asins=’B01MR2YN01′ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’82816084-9153-11e8-9d1f-8fe1604a63c7′]

Ready to Travel?

Never again will I make the mistake of purchasing cheap luggage sets. Taking the time to invest in a quality set makes traveling less of a pain and gives me more time to focus on enjoying myself. All three of the above luggage sets are made of quality materials and make packing a streamlined experience.

If you’re looking for a sophisticated set with a variety of options for luggage look no further than the Caribbean Joe Luggage Set. Want more protection for your luggage? Check out the hard shell exterior and TSA lock included with the Samsonite Luggage Set. Or if you’re needing an organized system that’s easy to fill up or pack away try the Bago Family Luggage Set. No matter what you choose, you are on your way to a great travel experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can these luggage sets be used as a carry-on?

Potentially. The individual pieces of luggage in the Caribbean Joe, Samsonite, and Bago Family luggage sets can be used as carry-on items so long as they meet the airline dimension requirements. For the Caribbean Joe Luggage Set this would likely be the tote bag or small suitcase, for the Samsonite it may be the small suitcase, and for the Bago set it may be the individual cubes.

Can these luggage sets be used as checked baggage?

Yes. Quality materials make up all three luggage sets and can withstand rough handling during air transportation. Always pack carefully though, as items may shift while being transported. Cushioning breakables within clothing items and sealing bottles with cling (or a shower cap!) are good strategies to protect your items.

Do these luggage sets have wheels?

The Caribbean Joe and Samsonite luggage sets both have 360-degree spinning wheels on their suitcases. However, the Bago Family Travel Luggage Set and the tote bag from the Caribbean Joe set do not include wheels and must be carried.

Are these luggage sets water resistant?

The Bago Family Travel set is water-resistant as are the outer pieces of the hard shell Samsonite Luggage Set. It is not recommended to expose the Caribbean Joe set to significant amounts of water.

Posted on

The Best Camping Hammock for Camping and Backpacking

the best hammocks

Is there anything more relaxing than swinging in a hammock and listening to nothing but the sound of the wind in the trees? I don’t think so! If you are looking for the best camping hammock for your next camping or backpacking trip, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you want to replace your tent and sleeping bag or just want to relax in the evenings before bed, a hammock is a great addition to any camping setup. In fact, once I started camping with a hammock several years ago, I was happy to leave my tent and sleeping pad at home.

We’ve compiled a list of our top hammock picks, starting with our number one choice. [amazon_textlink asin=’B017YXMQXO’ text=’The Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Mosquito Hammock’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’fbfe2045-6ffb-11e8-a8cf-453cdcc7500d’] is our top pick because of its versatility, comfort, and ease of use.

We’ve already shared our top pick for family tents, but what about camping hammocks? For the best camping hammock for your next adventure, read on:

Our Top Pick: [amazon_textlink asin=’B017YXMQXO’ text=’The Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro Mosquito Hammock’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’16ea7cf9-6fe5-11e8-90b7-21786c35e1a5′]

Versatility

The most obvious versatile feature of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B017YXMQXO’ text=’Grand Trunk Skeeter Beeter Pro’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’66da5aed-6fe5-11e8-a5e8-352e50274949′] is right in the name: with the integrated mosquito net, you won’t need to worry about mosquitos, noseeums, or any other nighttime pest. Although I almost always camp with a mosquito net because my region is so humid and warm, some campers prefer to sleep with nothing above them. Even if you plan to sleep with a mosquito net, what about times when you want to sit in the hammock during the day and have a perfectly clear view? Simply flip the hammock over—it’s reversible—and you will have an equally comfortable set up but without a mosquito net.

Comfort

[amazon_textlink asin=’B017YXMQXO’ text=’The Skeeter Beeter Pro’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’83e9032b-6fe5-11e8-90dc-992a650f8a96′] is wider than many hammocks designed for use on the trail. Instead of narrowing at the feet, it is over ten feet long and a full five feet wide through the entire main body of the hammock. There’s plenty of room to share with a small child or relax with another adult.

In addition to being wide enough to be comfortable in any sleeping or lounging position, the parachute nylon is smooth and soft on your bare skin. Even the bug net is made of a softer material than others on the market. Although it’s best to avoid letting the bug net actually touch your skin (so the bugs can’t simply bite you through the holes), I much prefer netting that doesn’t make me itch on contact.

Ease of Use

While you can definitely find camping hammocks that are lighter or have more features than the [amazon_textlink asin=’B017YXMQXO’ text=’Skeeter Beeter Pro’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’8ff916c4-6fe5-11e8-bafc-753a79c82edd’], its overall ease of use is hard to beat. The suspension system designed to hold the bug net away from your body and face is incredibly simple to configure. The hammock itself attaches to tree straps with a heavy-duty carabiner—no complicated adjusting or instructions needed.

If you are new to camping in a hammock, easy set up should be at the top of your must-have list. There is nothing so discouraging as adjusting and fiddling with a hammock for an hour after your friends’ tents are already set and they are eating or hiking without you (don’t ask me how I know).

On the other hand, if you are more experienced with camping or lounging hammocks, you will appreciate the fact that the [amazon_textlink asin=’B017YXMQXO’ text=’Skeeter Beeter Pro’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’99b80d4e-6fe5-11e8-8bfb-cf8073e7d4bb’] can be used with other rope kits. If you have or find a lighter system or one that is easier to use, your hammock will still be fully compatible with your preferred rope/carabiner set up.

The Details

Material: 70D parachute nylon

Dimensions: 10.6’x5′

Weight: 26.45oz

Weight limit: 400lb

Included with the hammock: carabiners, rope kit, stuff sack, suspension kit

 

[amazon_link asins=’B017YXMQXO’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’53150af5-702c-11e8-8660-9f2d600552a5′]

The Best All-In-One Camping Hammock System: [amazon_textlink asin=’B004GYWO6E’ text=’Hennessy Hammock Expedition Series’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’33828118-702d-11e8-bf64-3b7fb2ff6404′]

Coming in a close second for the best camping hammock is [amazon_textlink asin=’B004GYWO6E’ text=’Hennessy Hammock’s Expedition Series Hammock’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’c972fca8-6fe5-11e8-b2c9-234995c07b29′]. Hennessey Hammocks have been a favorite among campers and hikers for years. The Expedition Series comes with everything you need to hit the trail: hanging straps, ropes, a built-n bug net, and a coated nylon rain fly.

Unique Features

One of the most unique features of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B004GYWO6E’ text=’Expedition Series’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e9bd20f8-6fe5-11e8-94a5-afaf27f44788′] is the bottom entry option. When you order your hammock, you can select from a traditional zippered entry or Hennessey’s patented classic design.

If you opt for the classic entry, you will get in and out of the hammock from the bottom. The main advantage of a bottom entry is reducing the number of bugs that come into the hammock with you at night. Getting out of the hammock is also as easy as simply standing up instead of fighting to slide and roll out in the morning.

Size

In the end, the primary reason we opted for the [amazon_textlink asin=’B017YXMQXO’ text=’Skeeter Beeter Pro’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’f6d331da-6fe5-11e8-b9a2-ad083bc530d9′] instead of the [amazon_textlink asin=’B004GYWO6E’ text=’Expedition Series’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’027a986b-6fe6-11e8-bee4-cd5c2b676377′] is because of size. [amazon_textlink asin=’B004GYWO6E’ text=’The Expedition Series’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’10e6ea23-6fe6-11e8-b4aa-9348fb43a792′] is only rated for up to 250lb and is recommended for campers under 6′ tall.

That’s not to say a comfortable night’s sleep can’t be managed in a single hammock. In fact, this particular hammock is shaped specifically to encourage asymmetrical, diagonal sleeping (which is often the most comfortable position in any hammock). Taller or larger campers should look at the [amazon_textlink asin=’B005HJZVYY’ text=’Hennessey Hammock Explorer Deluxe Series’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a1b27b30-6fe6-11e8-bce5-0727019eda1e’] for a little extra length, but I still prefer a double hammock when I have the option.

Ease of Use

Maybe because of the shape, setup is slightly more complicated with this hammock as well. After setting up and taking down the hammock once or twice, however, you shouldn’t have any problems. Just give yourself extra time for setup on your first trip so you don’t get stuck setting up your hammock in the dark.

The Details

Material: 70D nylon shell, 30D no-see-um netting

Dimensions: 10’x4.9′

Weight: 3lb 6oz (including the rain fly)

Weight limit: 250lb

Included with the hammock: rope kit, webbing straps, rain fly, stuff sack 

The Best Camping Hammock for Getting Started with Hammock Camping: Eagle’s Nest Outfitter’s ENO DoubleNest Hammock

 

One of the most beautiful and lightweight camping hammocks on the market is [amazon_textlink asin=’B001DDPGNO’ text=’Eagle Nest Outfitter’s ENO DoubleNest Hammock’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0e1f9833-6fe7-11e8-86f8-839a3ca32a63′]. This is a fantastic option for backpackers worried about pack weight or anyone looking for an occasional hammock that doesn’t take up much room in storage.

With so much camping gear only available in the same few shades of red, blue, and green, it is always so refreshing to see bright colors and pattern options. Eagle’s Nest Outfitter does not disappoint: the [amazon_textlink asin=’B001DDPGNO’ text=’ENO DoubleNest Hammock’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1a55a9a8-6fe7-11e8-b788-b5fee5d44857′] comes in over 40 color combinations!

Size and Strength

Even though the [amazon_textlink asin=’B001DDPGNO’ text=’ENO DoubleNest Hammock’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’2219ba4f-6fe7-11e8-9fdd-27bc9ae21f25′] is incredibly light (only 19oz!), it is also durable and strong. Made from high tenacity 70D nylon with triple-stitched seams, it is strong enough to support 400lb without adding extra weight or bulk. It’s not the longest double hammock on our list, but there is still plenty of room, especially for its overall weight.

The fabric is especially nice if you expect your hammock to get wet because it dries so quickly and easily. The thin and breathable nature of the fabric does mean it melts easily—keep this hammock well away from any flame or heat source (a good idea with any hammock).

Ease of Use

I especially like the quality of weight of ENO’s strap and carabiner setup, but you will need to provide your own tree straps or stand. There is also no bug netting of any kind, but that does mean the hammock is even easier to set up. Ultimately, this is my favorite hammock to recommend to friends considering camping in a hammock who just need a quality, lightweight option that is quick to set up and easy to store.

The Details

Material: 70D high tenacity nylon taffeta

Dimensions: 9.3’x6.2′

Weight: 19oz

Weight limit: 400lb

Included with the hammock: carabiners, stuff sack with compression strap

The Best Camping Hammock If You Need More Insulation: Eagle’s Nest Outfitters ENO Reactor Hammock

If you’ve ever slept the night on an air mattress, you know how cold it can get with cool air beneath you at night. Sleeping in a hammock is no different. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I prefer hammock camping to tent camping. Because I do most of my camping during humid summers, the extra chill is welcome.

If you aren’t expecting it, however, you might pack too lightly and end up being too cold for comfort throughout the night. [amazon_textlink asin=’B006XBSX2M’ text=’Eagle’s Nest Outfitter’s ENO Reactor’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’19c29e7c-6fec-11e8-aa69-653f8c5a081e’] has you covered: the bottom layer includes both extra insulation and a sleeping pad sleeve.

Size and Strength

Although the [amazon_textlink asin=’B006XBSX2M’ text=’ENO Reactor’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’101f459d-6fec-11e8-aaee-23e96b59c6e3′] is sold as a single hammock, it supports up to 400lb and is just as wide as some of the double hammocks on our list. You will have plenty of room to spread out and relax.

You can use with hammock alone if you prefer a looser fit or slide a sleeping pad into the sleeping pad sleeve for extra insulation and padding. Even without the sleeping pad, you’ll find this hammock to be the warmest of any of the hammocks on our list.

Great For Side-Sleepers!

Another reason you might like sleeping with a sleeping pad is that it will stretch out the hammock for you a bit on each side. Getting used to sleeping in a hammock can be easier for side sleepers especially if they don’t feel like the hammock is swallowing them whole. A sleeping pad can help!

Like the [amazon_textlink asin=’B001DDPGNO’ text=’ENO DoubleNest’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’40ce63c8-6fed-11e8-8f17-8dbd9fd902c3′], the [amazon_textlink asin=’B006XBSX2M’ text=’ENO Reactor’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4767d7f0-6fed-11e8-969d-25c9b676fcc1′] does not come with tree straps or a bug net. You will need to provide your own. The hanging hardware that is attached to the hammock is very high quality and lightweight as well, which is a feature I appreciate.

The Details

Material: double layered 70D high tenacity nylon taffeta

Dimensions: 9.’x5.5′

Weight: 1lb 11oz

Weight limit: 400lb

Included with the hammock: carabiners, stuff sack with compression strap

What to Look For in the Best Camping Hammock

Whether you are new to the world of camping hammocks or looking to upgrade an old model, you might be surprised at how many options there really are on the market for camping hammocks. With every brand claiming to make the best camping hammock, how do you choose? I recommend starting with four considerations: intended use, size, material, ease of use, and extras.

Intended Use

Is this hammock going to be your sole option for sleeping on your camping trip? On a recent camping trip, I didn’t even bother packing a tent. When I was first starting with hammock camping, however, I often packed my hammock in addition to my regular tent and sleeping bag setup.

If you plan to use your hammock as simply a backup or a place to lounge and nap, look for a lightweight hammock that is easy to set up and take down. You don’t want to mess with a difficult set up for only occasional use, even if the hammock itself has fewer extras than other models.

Intended Use – Considerations

If you’re ready to commit to sleeping only in a hammock, then comfort and extra features will be more important than they would be otherwise. You will definitely want a hammock with a rain fly and bug netting if there is any chance of rain or insects on your camping trip. Extra bulk or weight might not matter either since you won’t have a tent to carry at all.

On the other hand, if you are carrying all of your gear a long distance, weight and bulk may be the most important factors. For camping in cold weather, look for a hammock that includes (or at least fits) extra padding or insulation.

The best camping hammock has everything you need and not much else. Only you can know what your hammock’s intended use will be. Once you have a clear idea of how you plan to use it, you are ready to shop around.

Size

The best camping hammock for you is like something out of a fairy tale: not too big and not too small. The “right size” varies by person, however. Look for a hammock that gives you enough room to sleep and lounge comfortably without being so big that you feel like you’re being swallowed whole.

Width

Hammocks generally come in single or double width. Like I mentioned earlier, I only use double hammocks even though I prefer to sleep alone. I like the option of inviting a friend or one of my children to swing in the hammock with me during the day.

I want to be able to spread out as much as I want at night. As a result, I aim for a hammock that is around 5′ wide. A narrower hammock is often easier to set up and pack in and out, though, so your ideal size might be different from mine.

Weight

Another consideration to make is the weight of the hammock. If you plan to backpack with your hammock, you will want something made from a lightweight material. Parachute, taffeta, or ripstop nylon are good options. Don’t forget to add the weight of any straps or rain fly. You should be able to subtract the weight of a tent, however, since you won’t need both.

Capacity

Don’t forget to check the weight capacity of any hammock you consider taking on the trail. All the hammocks on this list but one are rated for up to 400lb. If you need a sturdier hammock to fit more than one person, a larger camper, or you plus all your gear, shop around accordingly.

Material

The material from which your hammock is made will determine the weight, durability, water resistance, and comfort. Most camping hammocks are made from the same types of weather-resistant nylon as tents and rain flys. Backpack hammocks, on the other hand, are generally made from cloth or rope.

Even if you don’t plan to camp in the rain, nylon fabric is preferable for a camping hammock. It is lighter weight, more durable, and easy to keep clean.

Breathability vs. Weather Resistance

The more waterproofing a material receives, the less breathable it tends to be. When it comes to the best camping hammock, I prefer to focus on breathability first. One of my favorite things about sleeping in a hammock instead of a tent is how cool and breezy it is.

I have no desire to give that up, even if it’s going to rain. I don’t want to feel stifled or overheated in the hammock! If you are concerned about rain during your trip, hang a rain fly above your hammock. Store your gear in your car or under a canopy.

How Nylon Fabric is Rated

When you shop for the best camping hammock, you may be confused by the way nylon fabric is rated. Most camping hammocks are rated in Deniers (the D in something like 70D nylon). A simple way to compare Denier ratings is to think of them as the size of the fibers in the nylon. The higher the number, the thicker the individual threads that make up the material.

Microfiber material, for example, has a very low Denier rating. Backpacks and duffel bags are usually given a rating of 100D+. Because you’re looking for durability and easy cleaning in a hammock, the best camping hammocks have 50D ratings or higher.

Extras

Little details can turn a good hammock into the best camping hammock. Here are some features to look for. You might not find (or want) a hammock that has all of these, but it’s helpful to know what your options are:

  • A built-in stuff sack makes it easy to put the hammock away quickly.
  • A rain fly is always a good idea if there is a chance of rain on your trip.
  • Mosquito/no-see-um netting is a must-have for many parts of the country. I won’t ever use a hammock without it because of where I live, but you can also purchase a separate bug net like [amazon_textlink asin=’B005TOR6RW’ text=’Grand Trunk’s Mozzy Mosquito Netting’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’537b0ef4-6ffe-11e8-bd36-07deb77d090f’] if your hammock does not come with bug netting.
  • Ridgeline organizers give you a place to put your glasses, flashlight, cell phone, or chapstick while you sleep.
  • Versatile anchor points allow you total freedom when setting up your hammock.
  • A decent suspension system protects the trees you use to anchor your hammock and makes setup quick and easy.
  • Stakes hold a rain fly in place while still letting you feel cool breezes while you rest in your hammock. If your hammock comes with a rain fly, make sure there are also stakes that come with it.
  • A sleeping pad sleeve keeps your sleeping pad from slipping around underneath you while you sleep.

You can always add just about any one of these extras. If you know from the very beginning that you want something specific, however, the best camping hammock will be whichever one hits all the points on your wishlist.

Q&A

Can I sleep in a hammock if I have a bad back?

Absolutely! In fact, many campers find sleeping a hammock to be much more comfortable for a sore back or joints than sleeping on the ground or on a cot. If you hike into your campsite, you will probably also find that carrying a hammock instead of a tent relieves quite a bit of the strain on your back in the first place. Most hammocks weigh under 3lb!

What is the most comfortable way to sleep in a hammock?

In general, most hammock campers find success angling themselves slightly to keep the hammock open. Despite popular belief, though, it’s possible to sleep comfortably on your side, back, and stomach in a hammock! Try moving your feet six inches to the left and your head six inches to the right (or the other way around) and notice how much more open and flat the hammock gets.

Can I use a sleeping bag in my hammock?

Yes, if you want to. The coldest part of the hammock will be at the bottom, so you may just end up sleeping on top of the sleeping bag instead of inside. You might also consider a lightweight underquilt instead of a traditional sleeping bag. An underquilt will give you more freedom of movement than a mummy-style sleeping bag.

How do I hang a hammock?

Your hammock should come with instructions. If not, or if you need more help, check YouTube for suggestions. There are many ways to hang a hammock depending on the suspension system you’re using and where you plan to camp. You can even successfully hang your hammock in areas with very few trees if you get creative. Whatever you do, be sure to choose a rope system that does not harm the bark of the anchor trees.

Posted on

The Best Air Mattresses on the Market Today

best air mattresses

Travellers, hosts, and campers alike all extol the virtues of air mattresses. But travelers, hosts, and campers alike have all had experiences with bad air mattresses. Maybe it was impossible to inflate, maybe it slowly lost air throughout the night, or maybe it tore so easily that you were barely able to get one use out of it. Whatever the experience, it becomes clear very quickly that not all air mattresses are created equal.

In my experience, I have used air mattresses to expand the sleeping capacity of hotel rooms, to host family and friends in my one bedroom apartment, and while sleeping outdoors. Those are all unique circumstances, so below we have listed the three best air mattresses for each situation.

Best Air Mattresses for Hotels

Let’s break this down before we get to the product list. If we are looking for the best air mattresses for hotel rooms, we are probably traveling to the hotel room in question. Automatically that means we’re looking for an air mattress that travels well. We are also looking for space-saving air mattresses, since hotel rooms generally do not have a ton of floor space. Also, hotel rooms have a lot of outlets, so an air mattress you can plug in to inflate is doable. With that in mind, here are our top three picks.

AeroBed with Built-In Pump

This air mattress has a built-in pump, which automatically means it is easier to pack than beds that have external pumps. It weighs 11.36 pounds and has 3.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon. Aerobed is famous for their oval coil construction which mimics a traditional mattress, and it comes in full and queen sizes. It is a low-profile bed, which isn’t always the most comfortable, but it makes it much more compact for travel.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B006FTIXDG’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’5508f96b-fd4d-11e7-82f5-09d0bcde7ad4′]

Intex Comfort Plush Mid Rise Dura-Beam Airbed with Built-in Electric Pump

This air mattress also has a built-in pump. It comes in a twin size but is raised further off of the ground than the AeroBed, which is better for comfort. It weighs slightly more at 12.6 pounds. That may seem trivial, but when it comes to airline luggage weight restrictions, every ounce counts.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00GIIA29M’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’232d9b5f-fd4d-11e7-8979-f9a029463aae’]

Intex Pillow Rest Classic Airbed with Built-In Pillow and Electric Pump

This air mattress is the smallest and lightest on the list, while still featuring a built-in electric pump. It comes in a twin size and is low profile. The compact size and built-in pillow cuts down on the material to make it easier to pack. It is also inexpensive and weighs only 9.5 pounds.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B002PLM54Q’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’0528ac6f-fd4d-11e7-819f-919fb25f8d9b’]

 

Best Air Mattresses for Your Home

If you are using an air mattress for out of town guests, and not to travel out of town yourself, you are likely to have a different set of priorities. First of all, space is much less of an issue. That means we can prioritize comfort over weight and dimensions; also, internal vs. external pumps become less important. Below are our top 3 picks for the best air mattresses for your home.

SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress with ComfortCoil Technology & Internal High Capacity Pump

This is the Cadillac of air mattresses. It tops more than a few “best air mattresses of 2017” lists. It has a built-in pump, sits high off of the ground, and features 40 internal air coils to mimic a real mattress. If you want to make sure your guests are as comfortable as they can be during their stay, this is the mattress to get.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00FAW4O0A’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’e86ed9b8-fd4c-11e7-8e49-db81d3924279′]

Coleman Queen Airbed Folding Cot with Side Tables and 4D Battery Pump

This air mattress isn’t just a mattress, but practically it’s own bedroom set. It comes with a battery-operated pump, along with a folding cot which serves to raise the mattress off of the ground. This also provides your guests with valuable under-bed storage space for their luggage, and a built-in side table during their stay.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B00AU6AVLW’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’c6186a19-fd4c-11e7-9066-9591cf19c0c7′]

Etekcity Upgraded Air Mattress Blow Up Elevated Raised Bed Inflatable Airbed with Built-in Electric Pump

This air mattress is an Amazon bestseller, and it’s easy to see why. It is elevated for maximum comfort, features a built-in electric pump, and the inner construction makes it stable and comfortable.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B0787VTJGQ’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’a9097395-fd4c-11e7-a7a4-65460573ba5f’]

 

Best Air Mattress for Camping

If you plan to sleep outdoors, whether it be in a tent or under the stars, you are probably going to want something to keep you off the cold, hard ground. That being said, there are a few key features that your mattress must have. First, it has to be compact, light, and easy to transport. Second, it can’t have a plug-in pump. If it has a pump at all it should be battery operated. Third, and last, it’s got to be durable. Below are our top 3 picks for the best air mattresses for camping.

Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Self-Inflating Foam Camping Air Mattress

This mattress is pricey, but if you are an avid camper, it is probably worth it. It’s got very high reviews, which indicates it is comfortable and holds up well. It comes with a sack with a carrying handle for portability and weighs a measly 6.75 pounds.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B018APB96K’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’6e1aebf6-fd48-11e7-88ff-879b0c5ec689′]

Intex Classic Downy Airbed Set with 2 Pillows and Double Quick Hand Pump

This mattress is low profile and comes with a hand-pump which eliminates the need for electricity. It is waterproof, which is great for the outdoors, and even comes with two inflatable pillows.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B000HBIL9O’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’24bb8115-fd48-11e7-979a-ab1964d9ee5a’]

FreeLand Camping Self Inflating Sleeping Pad with Attached Pillow Lightweight Air Sleeping Pads

This air mattress has it all for the casual camper. It self-inflates, is inexpensive, comes with an attached pillow, and is the lightest weight on the list at only 3.3lbs. It’s also got high reviews on Amazon — a good indication that you are going to be satisfied.

 

[amazon_link asins=’B01MXVY7XI’ template=’Custom’ store=’walletpath-20′ marketplace=’US’ text=” link_id=’a5778c84-fd47-11e7-9e61-5b3eb2b4d000′]

 

Safe travels and sweet dreams. Enjoy your air mattress!

Posted on

Top 6 hidden costs that can trip up your travel budget

A weaker euro and pound has made international travel even more attractive for the average US tourist, especially in a year when the dollar was already going great guns and has been the strongest in the past one decade.

Nevertheless, any sort of travel these days involves so many hidden expenses such as tourist taxes, entry fees, parking charges, foreign transaction fee and more that if unaccounted for, these charges can easily send your travel budget for a toss. Let’s go through such 6 hidden costs that you must keep in mind:

tripped travel budget

Baggage fees

Being uninformed about the airline’s policy related to checked luggage can result in a pretty awkward situation for you at the airport. All airlines usually have their own specific fees and rules when it comes to checked baggage. You must inquire about them beforehand, in order to avoid getting any surprises at the check-in counter.

Even though few airlines like Southwest may allow you to check one piece of luggage for free on its domestic flights, others usually charge a minimum of $ 25 per bag checked in. So, if you’re a family of four, just the cost of checking your bags can be more than $ 100 each way. Not accounting for such added expense can easily derail your travel budget.

Resort fees

Easily the most hated hidden charge throughout the world, it’s an additional fees that can double up your cost of stay at certain locations. Hotels and resorts justify this additional fee as a cover for services like Wi-Fi access, toiletries, on-site gym, coffee etc. all of which should probably be free anyways.

Las Vegas in particular is known for the exorbitant resort fees charged in hotels there. It isn’t uncommon for these Sin City establishments to add an extra $ 35 – $ 40 per night to the customers’ bills.

Some other popular destinations where you may expect such daily resort fee are Mexico, Caribbean, Hawaii, Florida and more. Please keep in mind that this fee isn’t normally included in the final price given to you. Information related to it can usually be found only in the terms and conditions of the establishment. So, it’s always better to ask your travel agent or the hotel before making a reservation.

Hotel and Airport ATM charges

Making cash withdrawals abroad on your vacation can turn out to be a pretty expensive affair, especially if you’re holed up in a place where you’re not left with much choices, for instance your hotel or at the airport. It’s observed that the bigger banks normally charge the most, for instance, the Bank of America puts a $5 charge on every withdrawal made from a non-Bank of America ATM abroad.

If you don’t want to resort to large wads of cash to avoid such fees, inquire about the international partner ATMs of your bank. Although you may still pay a fee, it’s most likely to be much lesser than charged at the non-partner ATMs.

Foreign transaction fees

Almost everyone uses credit cards on his/her domestic and foreign travels these days. After all, it’s the most convenient form of payment! Considering that majority of credit cards come with zero liability on fraudulent charges, they make an excellent alternative to the conventional bank debit cards.

Furthermore, since credit cards automatically make currency exchanges on foreign purchases, they can also save you in terms of the commission fees and hassle incurred in trading your dollars for local currency.

However, many such credit cards feature a foreign transaction fees of 3% or more. Hence, make sure that you understand these charges and preferably opt for a zero foreign transaction fee credit card during your travels abroad.

Mobile roaming charges

Considering the present age and times, not being able to use your mobile phone on your vacation may seem like a punishment (although it may actually turn out to be a blessing if you give it a shot!).

If you want to stay connected during your holiday but don’t wish to incur hefty roaming charges, contact your service provider and opt for some temporary international plan. In fact, many subscribers of the T-Mobile Simple Plan already have such roaming facility included in their plans.

Additionally or alternatively, it may be a great idea to invest into some free of cost VoIP application for making audio/video calls and IMs. Such apps can be a godsend if your hotel offers free Wi-Fi services or asks for a nominal charge for them.

Airline fees and taxes

Make sure that you check your airline ticket for the exact amount/percentage of fees and taxes put on it. You’d be normally required to cough up a nominal $ 5.60 charge per leg in terms of airline fees as mandated by the Federal Government for domestic air travel. However, such taxes, fuel surcharges and fees can sum up to hundreds of dollars for international flights.

Please note that these extras may not be all that evident at the time of booking your ticket. This is because such fees and taxes are built into the ticket cost. The only time you may notice them is when you’re redeeming your air miles, as these miles only cover the ticket cost; the fees and taxes need to be paid separately by you.

It’s very important to watch out for such fees and taxes as they can easily throw your travel budget off track (especially if you were planning to redeem your airline miles). Although there’s no way to avoid them besides completely changing your travel plans, you can opt certain strategies to circumvent them smartly. For instance, flying via Iceland rather than London can save you many hundred dollars in departure taxes. In addition, if you’re going to use your air miles, it would be best to look up the award fares much ahead of time in order to get a better understanding of such fees and taxes. The only way you can plan for such extras is by being aware of them.

 

Posted on

How can I Protect Myself from Identity Fraud?

This almost goes without saying, but identity fraud is a very real thing. A lot of people just dismiss the idea of “cyber hackers” and “digital thieves” and go on their merry way …and then it happens to them. Suddenly, those “online pirates” as my mother calls them don’t seem so made-up now do they?

1594411528_1512b1aad5_b

I certainly didn’t think my identity and information was at risk. What information could I possibly have that is worth taking? And then it happened to me. While my credit card service was able to alert me in time before any damage was done, it was still pretty jarring to know that someone out there was actually trying to victimize me. I imagined a dude in a ski mask sitting alone behind his keyboard in a dark room somewhere, trying to break into my Wells Fargo account and getting repeatedly locked out (I don’t know why he was wearing the mask if he was alone…this is just my imagination).

Point is, identity thieves are out there, and they are coming after you and your digital information –but don’t worry, it’s a lot less scary than it all sounds.

While your Microsoft OneDrive account or Google Drive may be your first thought of what it is that these digital thieves are after, chances are that it’s not. What they want is your credit card and banking info, and that’s pretty much it. So that report you have to give next week for work on the Hamilton report? Yeah, that’s more than likely pretty safe from being digitally snatched up.

Below we take a look at some of the top tips that are currently being given out on how you can avoid being another victim to identify fraud.

 

Don’t go logging in on just any computer.

This may sound like some pretty standard advice, but you need to keep track of where you are logging in.

When Facebook first became a popular thing (post The Facebook), everybody started flooding into Apple stores and experiencing the joy that it is to log onto their personal profiles away from their home PC’s. Thing was, they never logged out.

Strangers would just walk up to the computers and boot up the internet browser and start browsing the pages of their Facebook accounts with no problem at all. Besides posting something silly as a status post, there isn’t much damage to be done, but imagine if instead of Facebook, you logged into your Chase account?Even though you think you logged out successfully, there still could be a way on the public computer for your information to be brought up again.

While the Facebook example may be a harmless example of identity fraud, you still need to apply this concept of being sure that you are logging out completely. Whether you are in the Apple store testing out the latest iPad, or a public library (people still visit those, right?), or a University computer, you need to be sure that any website you access with personalized credentials (a log in ID and password), that you are logging out completely. To be safe, log out and try to get back in and see how easy it is. If you can’t re-enter without resubmitting your credentials, then you have successfully logged out. Good job.

 

Put ’em through the shredder.

You know that guy who comes by around 1 in the morning and fishes through your recycling bins for bottles and salvageables on the nights you put the bins out on the curb? Who’s to say that same guy couldn’t also be an identity thief rummaging through your trash for bills and other forms that have your personal info on them? Chances are that he is not (my guy’s name is Hector, and he’s got my back. I asked him about it.), but you never know. Identity thieves could be anyone…

To avoid the possibility of Hector or any other identity thief from obtaining personal info on you via your garbage, take the simple precaution of shredding your forms. It’s a simple step that could prevent you from being the next victim of identity fraud.

A shredding device is not very expensive, so it is worth the investment if it means security. Oh, and be sure to get one that shreds sideways AND long ways. If it’s just one way, the shreds can be pieced back together pretty easily (you’ve seen them do it in the movies and on NCIS a few times).

 

Be cautious as to where you share information.

Keep track of the websites that you go on and submit your personal information. Identify thieves are pretty smart, so they have devised more than just a few convincing ways to get you to give them your information.

Websites that are for online retail for example are an easy target. If the website you do your online shopping on is that of a reputable establishment that you know and trust and recognize (Target.com, J. Crew, or even just plain Amazon.com), then you don’t really have to worry. But if it is a new website that you have never heard of but want to buy something off of –proceed with utmost caution.

If you are feeling uneasy about giving your credit card info to this new website, there is nothing wrong with just backing off. But if you just have to have that purchase, then look for some cues that can verify the validity of the vendor. Is there contact info? Are there misspellings on the website copy? Are the images on the website original and not public domain pictures with watermarks? Does it mention payment security options? Things like this are the kinds of the things that you can check for if you are feeling uneasy about entering in your credit card info online.

Better safe than sorry.

 

That chip on your card that takes forever? That actually helps.

Although it takes forever, the little square chip in your credit card actually helps cut down on the risk of identity fraud.

When swiping, it is easier for your credit card number and routing number to be recorded and possibly stolen from a program virus, but the credit card chip takes that possibility out by creating a fake number and submitting your funds through that instead of your real one… and all of this happens in that minute and half that your card is slipped into that chip reader. Okay, so it isn’t really a minute and a half, but it sure feels like it!

Point is, take the option of having the chip read rather than card swiped whenever you can.

 

Be vigilant – check in with your bank reports.

We live in the 21 century, where everything and anything is connected to the internet. So really, there is no excuse for you to not be checking on your monetary accounts on the regular. On top of that, you can even download the official apps from the banks or credit card firms themselves to monitor your funds and accounts on the go (just be sure they are verified and official before putting in your credentials to log on).

The more you know and are familiar with your funds and account levels, the more likely it will be for you to notice that something is off or awry with your account.

 

Don’t have wimpy passwords.

Even though we have wall after wall of security, they don’t mean a thing if you have a weak password. Many websites are trying to help you out by forcing users to have a password of certain strength in order to allow you to sign up with them, but many of us who have been using the same password for the last 10 years and use that same password on all of our log in ID’s should really update them.

So if you are using “PaSsword” as your secret word, and think you are outsmarting the identity thieves because you capitalized the first and third letter, try harder.

 

Many credit card services offer fraud alert systems.

When I was on vacation in Orlando with my family not too long ago, I got a call from my bank, and they very politely inquired if I purchased a “Churro” in the state of Florida recently. I politely shared that I in fact did purchase said Mexican pastry, and then remembered that I never alerted my bank that I was planning on taking a trip to the other side of the country (I live in Los Angeles). Oops.

I hung up the call and felt pretty safe and confident that even though it was because of my negligence that they called, my credit card company had my back. They, like pretty much all other modern credit card services, had their own security monitoring staff checking for oddities around the clock. I thought that was pretty cool, and one thing that is nice to know is that if you don’t catch on that your identity has been stolen, somebody else who works for the credit card company probably will. And if not, they will try to help you figure out which purchases were by you, or by Hector (the alleged identity thief who rifles through trash cans).

 

There are many ways to prevent identity fraud, and more are being created and designed every day. In a world of always advancing tech, it can feel pretty scary to know that there are people out there who want to steal and snatch up your personal information, but in spite of that, there are even more technological advances that are being made to fight back.

I mark all of this up as a pro and a con of living in the digital age. Do you have an identity fraud story? Let us know how it was prevented in the comments below!

Posted on

Comparing the Discover it Miles vs. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus

A number of varied travel credit cards are available to individuals with the wanderlust bug. Utilizing rewards credit cards with extensive travel benefits, from frequent flyer points bonuses or statement credits on travel related purchases, can have a major impact on the total cost of your next big trip. But, it can be a challenge to determine which travel credit card is truly the best in terms of rewards, extra perks, and costs. Let’s take a look at two heavy hitters in the travel rewards card genre: the Discover it Miles credit card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card.
download (1)                download

It’s all about the Points

The Discover it Miles card is specifically designed for the traveler with a penchant for simplicity. As a flat rate rewards card, the Discover it Miles program allows card members the opportunity to earn 1.5 miles on each dollar spent, regardless of category or amount. There are no bonus categories to track on a quarterly basis, and no reduction in rewards earnings once points reach a certain level, making this card a smart choice. As an additional bonus for new card members, Discover is offering to automatically match all miles earned at the end of the first account year with a limit and without having to make a minimum dollar amount of purchases.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus is also considered a flat rate rewards card, but offers 2 points for each dollar spent. There are no rotating categories that increase rewards potential, and no limit on how many miles can be earned in any given time period. Compared to the Discover it Miles credit card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus program offers a bonus for new card members as well. After a minimum of $3,000 are spent in the first 90 days after account opening, card members with Barclaycard Arrival Plus earn 40,000 bonus miles.

The Discover it Miles credit card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card differ in terms of miles redemption, despite being similar in terms of flat rate rewards. Discover it card members can redeem accumulated miles in any value, at any time, and miles never expire as long as the account remains in good standing. Redemption can be taken as a statement credit for travel related purchases, or as a cash back deposit into a checking or savings account. In addition, Discover it Miles members can receive up to $30 back each year for in-flight Wi-Fi purchases.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card requires a minimum of 10,000 miles to accumulate prior to card members having the opportunity to redeem. Barclaycard miles can only be redeemed for qualifying travel purchases made with the card, as a statement credit, which means only purchases of $100 or more that took place within the last 120 days. For new card members who do not end up qualifying for the bonus mile promotion, reaching the required minimum for miles redemption with the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card could present some challenges. However, Barclaycard Arrival Plus card members earn 5% in miles back that can be used for their next redemption, each and every time miles are redeemed.

Added Value through Member Benefits

Both Discover and Barclaycard offer attractive benefits for card members. First, both Discover and Barclaycard provide card members with free access to their individual FICO scores either through the respective mobile app or the desktop log-in. That’s where the benefit similarities end, as the travel credit cards differ in most other value-added aspects.

Discover it Miles card members have a variety of security features inherent to the card that make it appealing for those concerned about ongoing control. The Freeze It feature allows card members to prevent new purchases, cash advances or balance transfers on the card if it is temporarily lost or stolen, simply by selecting the option in the mobile app or online. Additionally, free overnight card replacement is available for all card members when needed. Discover also provides 24/7 monitoring of accounts to ensure no suspicious activity is taking place.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus card members also have access to a number of added benefits, including travel accident and trip cancellation insurance. Baggage delay insurance as well as auto rental collision damage waivers are also available to card members on the go. Barclaycard also provides $0 fraud liability on any unauthorized charges made with the card, providing added peace of mind for card members. Not found with Discover it Miles card members is the direct access to MasterCard World Elite Concierge and Luxury Travel Benefits that Barclaycard Arrival Plus members have automatically. This enhanced benefit is incredibly valuable to those who travel often or are seeking a unique experience while away.

The Dollars and Cents

The main difference between the Discover it Miles card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card is the cost. Barclaycard members are subject to an annual fee of $89, although it is waived for the first year the account is open; Discover it Miles card members do not pay an annual fee at all. Both card options offer no foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the United States – a lifesaver for those who travel abroad often.

Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card members are subject to an APR for purchases and balance transfers of either 16.24% or 20.24%, based on creditworthiness. Discover it Miles card members start as low as 11.24% for purchase APRs, and can go as high as 23.24%, again based on credit history and score. The Discover it Miles credit card comes with a 0% introductory rate on purchases for the first 12 months, while the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card comes with a 0% balance transfer offer, also for the first 12 months.

Which is Right for You?

Both the Discover it Miles card and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card are top contenders in the world of travel credit cards, but it is important to know what you want out of a card prior to applying. Although the Discover it Miles card comes with a lower rewards earning rate (1.5), the flexibility to redeem for statement credits or cash back is an attractive perk, as is the lack of an annual fee. For those who are strictly seeking out a travel rewards card and spend enough to justify the annual fee and high redemption barrier, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus credit card may be the better option.

Posted on

Is now a good time to travel to Europe because of Brexit?

Hell yeah, say travel experts!

It’s no news that UK’s decision of leaving the European Union had sent shock waves throughout the world when the announcement was made on June 23, 2016. Although it may take months and perhaps even years for the full impact of this decision to become evident, one aspect that will certainly change with regard to United States is travel.

Missing piece from a European jigsaw puzzle revealing British flag and Brexit question

The British Pound took a harsh beating soon after the Brexit voting results were out. The official UK currency dropped almost 11% and reached a new low of $ 1.32, the lowest since 1985 when it had fallen down to $ 1.05. It continues to hover around the $ 1.30 mark at the time of writing this article. With the summer travel season around the corner, the Brexit is expected to have a major impact on the US travelers’ plans, especially the ones heading to Europe. Following are some facts that you should be aware of:

Best time to visit Edinburg and/or London

Your decision of visiting Europe, and United Kingdom should be based on some simple math. The British pound stood at $ 1.56 in June 2015. As of today, it’s at around $ 1.3. It’s pretty clear that it’ll be extremely affordable to holiday in major UK cities like Edinburgh and London compared to the past few years.

You’ll get the maximum bang for every dollar spent, whether on hotels, retail outlets, food or anything else. To give you an idea, a standard room in a four-star hotel in London’s West End area would’ve set you back by around $ 400 or £ 256 per night in June 2015. Today, the same room can be booked by spending $ 332 per night! Almost $ 70 less!

Many travel prediction websites are expecting the border implications due to Brexit resulting in major benefits for the travelers. Stringent border controls are expected to make London less travel friendly compared to other European destinations, especially as a transit hub. A cheaper pound will not only ease-up the local operating costs, it may also result in lower airfare to United Kingdom in the times to come.

Keep a close watch on the euro

Not just the British pound, Euro also dropped by around 3% post the Brexit announcement. It was trading at around $ 1.1 on June 24, 2016. Its value was around $ 1.12 on June 24, 2015. It’s believed that travel to countries like Italy, Greece and France won’t be very cheap compared to the last summer. Nevertheless, every dollar saved is a dollar earned!

No change in the procedures at the European or UK Borders

Nothing will change for US travelers with regard to their experience at the European or UK Borders post the Brexit announcement. They’ll still need to present their valid passports when entering any of the European Union countries and Britain. Once UK is out of the European Union, which may take a few years, it’s the UK and European citizens who’ll face maximum troubles at their foreign Borders.

Expect longer queues

Just as the Canadian travelers get the privilege of using the US citizen lines at all the customs checkpoints throughout United States, EU citizens enjoy the same kind of privilege in the form of shorter and separate customs lines at all the European airports. This may change completely after Brexit.

75 million passengers departed and arrived from/to the London’s Heathrow airport in the year 2015. A large percentage of those travelers were from EU countries, meaning that they used separate queues and faced lesser restrictions at the customs points. After Brexit, it’s highly likely that they’ll need to use the same general line that’s used by international travelers (including US citizens).

Things may go out of hand, leading to nightmarish situations, if the airport doesn’t allocate sufficient resources and funds to deal with such expected gridlocks.

Airfare may go up

The open skies agreement that was inked in the year 1994 allowed all European airlines to fly to anywhere in Europe without any restrictions. With the UK moving out of the European Union, all UK-based airlines may cease to enjoy this benefit.

It should be noted that this agreement had enabled several low-cost operators such as easyJet and Ryanair to enjoy great success on the European routes, providing travelers with extremely affordable airfare. Anyone could hop from one country to the other at extremely low fares. Furthermore, the competition between such low-cost carriers immensely benefited the Europe-bound travelers from the UK. However, all that might change significantly in the next few years. Please keep in mind that even though the Brexit vote was conducted on June 23, it may take at least couple of years for the United Kingdom to separate itself from European Union.

Upon leaving the EU, UK will need to draft fresh air service agreements for each one of its airlines traveling to other European countries, most likely resulting in higher airfare. EasyJet’s CEO Carolyn McCall has been especially vocal about the possible impact of Brexit on low-cost UK carriers. She’s been pleading with the government to keep the aviation industry out of its exit decision. It should be noted that UK airlines play a very key role in the EU aviation market, and are extremely important to the trade and consumers of the region.

It’s not just the low-cost carriers that are extremely worried, major airlines such as British Airways are feeling the impact as well. As per IAG (International Airlines Group) which owns the British Airways, the UK referendum may not have a huge long-term impact on its operations and business overall. Nevertheless, it believes that the Brexit shock might have a short-term impact on the airfare.

Hence, even though travel to UK destinations might get cheaper for the US travelers (owing to a cheaper pound), travel to Europe from UK is expected to get pricier. So, if you’re a US citizen traveling to UK this season, take out your travel rewards cards and make the most of them. Here’s how you can travel for less!

 

Posted on

What is Brexit? And how does it impact the American economy?

Technocrats and politicians of all stripes have been doing their best to convince Americans that the recent exit of Britain from the EU is not going to have any economic impact on them. However, is that really so?

Let’s find out what the Brexit means and what it means for the American economy.

Brexit and US

Brexit is the short form of “British Exit,” which refers to the historic referendum given by the British people on June 23, 2016, to exit from the European Union. While the referendum resulted in jubilant celebrations by the Euroskeptics throughout Europe, it sent shock waves through the global markets, causing the British pound to plummet to its lowest in many decades. The British Prime Minister David Cameron, who had been constantly supporting U.K.’s inclusion in the European Union, announced that he’d step down from his position in October this year.

The Brexit is also expected to have a major impact on the US economy, which has already been facing some tough times lately. In fact, Janet Yellen, the US Central Bank chief had forewarned that the Brexit would negatively impact the US economy and the financial conditions globally.

Although the US-UK trade constitutes only 0.5% of the total US economic activity, the connections between these two nations go far beyond the direct trade activity.

Following are some ways in which Brexit is expected to harm the American economy:

Concerns regarding the EU’s strength

One of the reasons why the markets world over reacted the way they did to Brexit was because many were concerned about the other EU countries also leaving the union in the times to come. In fact, the French leader Maine Le Pen has been urging the country to hold its own referendum vote. Italy and Netherlands may also consider holding similar referendums.

The European Union serves as a major trading bloc and has significant trade partnerships with United States and China. Its breakage could result in plenty of global uncertainty, resulting in possible restructuring of the several US trade deals.

Many experts on the other hand feel that the fears of EU breaking up are blown out of proportion. UK has always used British Pound as its currency, and other nations like France will simply need to replace Euro with their old currency. However, France may have a much bigger transitional challenge compared to the UK.

However, the high chances of UK going into recession, and the possibility of UK actually facing a major economic storm, may deter other nations from taking a similar step.

Market volatility may drag down the US growth

The United States’ economic activity is majorly determined by the American consumers. The economy won’t grow if the American consumers don’t spend. And the amount of money they spend depends a lot on what they think about the American economy. No one buys cars and/or homes if the future looks bleak. Even a small dent in the stock market can whittle down public confidence.

Brexit has already created a pretty volatile global environment and if the markets continue to behave adversely, American consumers and business owners will start reconsidering their spending plans.

Whether the US economy will be significantly impacted by the Brexit or not will be determined by whether the equities tumble enough to dent the consumer and business confidence or not. Any cutbacks by the consumers can result in major problems for the US economy.

Although many are hopeful after the US economy posted its largest job gains in eight months, in June 2016, it cannot be denied that the overall US economic growth was sluggish in winter.

Brexit has US Fed Reserve in two minds about rate hikes

The Federal Reserve had projected in December 2015 that it would increase the rates at least four times in 2016, something that signaled the US economy’s recovery from recession. Interest rate hikes encourage savers to save more as they can get higher returns on their deposits. However, the Fed committee members revised their prediction to just one rate hike owing to the weak economic growth.

If the market volatility resulting from the Brexit continues, the US employers slow down their hiring and the consumers cut down on their spending, it won’t be surprising to see Fed not increasing the rate even once in the year 2016.

The things haven’t gone exactly as the Federal Reserve had predicted in December last year. It had increased the rates in December 2015, for the first time in almost a decade. That raise was to serve as a liftoff for more rate hikes in 2016. But the Fed has been brought down to earth after the Brexit.

Brexit has strengthened the dollar, which isn’t too good for the US trade

On June 24, 2016, a day after the Brexit, the US dollar posted its biggest one-day gain (of 6.3%) against the British pound since 1967. Even though a strong dollar may be good news for the American travellers, it isn’t so good when it comes to the US businesses that sell their goods overseas.

Talking about the global marketplace, a strong dollar increases the prices of the ‘Made in USA’ products, making them less attractive compared to the products from other countries. It can hurt sales figures of corporate giants like Nike, Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, Apple etc considerably. It’s also one of the reasons why the American businesses have been in a sort of ‘earnings recession’ phase and their profits have been declining continuously.

Many experts believe that the biggest impact of Brexit on the American economy has been the dollar impact. If the US dollar continues to surge against the British pound, the American corporates are going to suffer on the profits’ front for a longer time period. Simply put, a strong US dollar hampers the US exports. We already saw in the year 2015 how the dollar’s strength pushed the US manufacturing sector into a five-month recession. The sector lost around 39,000 jobs over the last 12 months.

The US manufacturing and trade industry is going to get hit pretty badly if the dollar continues its gains in this post-Brexit era.

Final Word

Although the things don’t look so good at the macroeconomic level, if you’re a US citizen, the best thing you could do is take a quick vacation to the UK! Britain has never been this affordable for Americans!