Suppliers (of recommended products)
If you wish to travel far and fast, travel light.
Rather than provide an exhaustive list of supplier and other source references, I have chosen to include only those that I personally have found particularly valuable. Other types of reference links (including some that lead to additional suppliers) are on the TraveLinks page.
Note that all product recommendations stem solely from personal experiences; this is not a commercial venture, and I have no financial interest in either the travel industry or any of the companies I mention, except as disclosed here. The popularity of this site has led to suppliers sending me products for review, and while I am happy to learn of (and try out) new items, I will recommend only those that I (or my wife) have personally used, and found both praiseworthy and deserving of the valuable space in a single small bag.
I strongly encourage you to inform manufacturers that you heard about their products on this Web site, as it helps send the message that their market includes enlightened buyers … people who care about the issues explored here.
And yes, I'm aware that there is a preponderance of U.S.-based suppliers on this page. Being a Canadian, I am perhaps more sensitive to this topic than you might otherwise think. But as noted above, I report on what I know, and the products mentioned on this site are the best that I have found to date. Most of these suppliers will ship worldwide, but this is a dialogue that you should have with them, not me: I try to keep OneBag.com current with respect to product availability, but please realize that this is a moving target, and my personal resources are limited!
Many of the products that I recommend were first brought to my attention by others, but despite OneBag.com's large international audience (about half of whom are not Americans), the majority of such suggestions have been U.S.-based products. Whether this reflects a tendency for American suppliers to more proactively market their goods, I cannot say, but if you (be you a manufacturer or an individual) have a favourite item that you think I should know about, don't hesitate to suggest it. To the extent reasonable, I will use and evaluate it. And if it meets my admittedly demanding criteria, I'll be happy to so inform OneBag.com's more than 3500 daily visitors.
Arguably the most comprehensive mail-order travel product source is Magellan's. Many of the items on my packing list that you don't already have can be obtained from their extensive (1000+) product stock.
That said, remember that all travel product stores stay in business by selling you stuff. As such, and given their broad offerings of tempting gadgets, they can be the bane of the traveller wishing to go light!
ExOfficio is a notable maker of clothing that is superbly designed for the needs of extended travel, and can be found at many retail shops. For warm-weather wear in particular, it's hard to find better products: you could comfortably travel around the world in an ExOfficio Air Strip™ shirt (and many have).
Adventure clothing specialist Tilley Endurables makes quality — if not inexpensive — travel wear; many of their products come with lifetime guarantees, pretty unusual in the clothing business! They have a great eye for classic styles, their "AdventureCloth" stands up to the rigours of travel better than most anything, and their travel socks are unbeatable.
The crew at ScotteVest pretty much own the "stealth" clothing market, having designed an impressive array of travel clothing featuring more built-in pockets than you'll likely ever need (sort of non-goofy-looking alternatives to the iconic photographer's vest); these will be of particular interest to those disposed to carrying cellphones, MP3 players, digital cameras, memory cards, e-book readers, and other technological accoutrements.
Similar (if not always stylish) approaches are purveyed by suppliers such as Jaktogo, Stuffa, Bagket, and Wearable Tech's AyeGear®. Finally, if you're a do-it-yourself type (and have decent sewing skills), owner/designer Marsha McClintock at Saf-T-Pockets Patterns offers an interesting variety of patterns for well-pocketed women's travel clothing.
Another useful mail-order supplier offering a variety of specialized travel clothing is TravelSmith. Their Web site's "outlet" section, which offers special prices on discontinued products, is often the source of tempting bargains.
Amazing Socks is an online shop that makes it easy to find and purchase good travel-friendly socks (i.e., comfortable and fast-drying) at what are often bargain prices.
Active women will find Title Nine of particular interest, as they make a good sports bra that also serves well as a regular one.
It is surprisingly difficult to find high quality, well designed travel packs; many once-excellent brands have disappeared over the years. Product lines that used to include excellent offerings are now more directed to what an ill-informed market seems to demand: ever larger bags, attached wheels, and the like. But the MEI brand, once threatened with extinction, is now capably manufactured in California by Mountain Equipment Inc., operated by a long-time veteran of the original company (and also one of the few manufacturers that produces all its products locally, a pleasant departure from the offshore approach favoured by most). You can — and, I recommend, should — buy MEI bags directly from them. (Do not confuse them with a reseller site for the Voyageur bag, operated by a customer of theirs, who then simply forwards any orders to MEI.)
In 2008 (when U.S. airlines began charging for checked bags), the deluge of interest in carry-on luggage overwhelmed the tiny MEI company, and caused serious delays in their order fulfillment rate. They now seem to have recovered, and able to ship bags in a reasonable period of time (three weeks or less). If you're in a particular hurry for a bag, though, I suggest contacting the company first to see if they can accommodate your schedule. I have always found them to be completely honest — if occasionally beleaguered — in their dealings.
Montana's Red Oxx Manufacturing makes the best general-purpose business bag. Red Oxx, MEI, and New York's Tough Traveler all have appealing dual-purpose offerings; the specific models that I recommend are designed for optimal packing.
The best child carriers are made (and have been for over 20 years) by Tough Traveler.
Kart-A-Bag makes a line of well-engineered, rugged collapsible luggage carts, head and shoulders above the usual stuff you see at the airport gift shops.
An additional "must have" catalog is that of Campmor. Their business is ostensibly camping equipment, but they carry plenty of travel-related products, always have lots of sale/bargain offers, and their regular prices are typically the best to be found anywhere.
Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI) operates both a mail-order business and a large chain of stores. They sell high quality products, including several under their own brand. They're also a successful co-operative, which means that if you become a member (a USD$20 one-time fee), they'll pay you an annual dividend that generally runs about 10% of what you spent with them the previous year (on non-sale items). You don't need to be a member, however, to shop there. REI also operates an "outlet" Web site (separate from their main Web site), selling discontinued and overstock merchandise, and well worth frequent visits if you're looking for bargains.
The Sierra Trading Post produces frequent and interesting catalogs featuring overstock/closeout/seconds merchandise, mostly outdoor clothing and equipment. They also have stores in Cheyenne and Cody, Wyoming, and Reno, Nevada. Their Web site lists all their offerings as well, and sometimes has short-term specials that don't make it into the catalogs.
Walkabout Travel Gear is an online supplier with a modest but well-considered product catalog, and refreshingly competitive prices. They're a great source of viscose Packtowls®, with an extensive (and clearly described) selection of electrical adapters and plug converters as well.
Cascade Designs makes the very handy Packtowl® and a variety of other excellent products for the backpacking crowd.
Travel Medicine offers an extensive assortment of water filters, medical kits, and other health-related products. They also publish the annually updated International Travel Health Guide, covering over 190 countries.
The Leatherman Tool Group manufacturers a line of extremely high quality (25-year warranty!) multifunctional tools, invented by Tim Leatherman after a frustrating European trip during which his Swiss Army knife proved inadequate.
4Sevens sells a variety of excellent LED flashlights (torches), and designs/manufactures the Quark brand of lights that I recommend so highly.
Britain's Design Go offers a variety of travel paraphernalia, including "The Snoozer", a thoughtfully-designed around-the-neck inflatable travel pillow.
The folks at Easy Traveler not only have a broad line of robust, leakproof, refillable squeeze tubes, but they've figured out a way for you to get stuff into them as well.
The recommended International Translator card is not the only product from Kwikpoint; their offerings include several other useful formats and topics.
Chums carries an astounding assortment of eyewear retainers. They also have (hard to find) hat clips, badge holders (for the inveterate convention-goer), and even some clothing.
Venerable Maine retailer L.L.Bean sells my personal favourite travel alarm clock.
For portable mosquito nets (head-sized and full-length), visit the UK's Lifesystems®.
The Easy TravelAir Web site illustrates and sells the airport document pouch that I mention.
If you're seriously into international travelling, you'll want a subscription to the International Travel News. Written by those who actually do it, it's published monthly, in both hard copy (black & white newsprint, typically running to some 160–200 pages) and on-line (which adds colour) versions; you'd be hard pressed to actually read it cover to cover before the next issue arrives! At only USD$23 a year for the on-line edition (including access to back issues), it's a true bargain. Call or e-mail them for a free sample copy.
As discussed in the packing list, animals and other toys fashioned from twisted balloons make good gifts for the children of those you visit. It's an easily learned skill, and clown supplier T. Myers Magic will teach you how to do it (I recommend their "Balloon Sculpture 101" video), and sell you the balloons. They also sell stickers and other giveaway items, and offer a free catalog.