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What do all successful travelers have in common? Often, it’s an arsenal of great gear. After all, what you pack can make a big difference when exploring the best of the world. For our annual Gear of the Year list, National Geographic travel editors searched far and wide for the coolest products to pack. We also asked experts—from pro cyclists to adventure photographers—what they look for in everything from bike racks to binoculars. Here’s what we’re most excited to take with us in 2024.
Durable roller bag for tight spaces: Cotopaxi Allpa
Award-winning travel journalist Tim Neville has journeyed on yaks, buses, and “countless heaving boats” and says that when it comes to packs, “a water-resistant exterior, beefy zippers, and soft, tough sides are non-negotiable.” The newest Cotopaxi Allpa has two sturdy wheels made to handle cobblestone streets, stairs, and other rough surfaces. Like earlier versions of the bag, it’s constructed of 100 percent recycled pre-consumer waste (extra materials from the manufacturing process) and features a split-case design and mesh compartments for intuitive organization.
Buy it now: REI, from $350, 38L (carry-on compatible) and 65L | Amazon, $349.99
100 percent recycled backpacks: Patagonia Black Hole Collection
Patagonia’s popular duffel bag collection is now completely made from post-consumer recycled (used materials diverted from landfills) polyester ripstop that resists tearing. The Fair Trade Certified pieces still come with a weather-resistant TPU-film laminate coating, rendering them virtually indestructible. We like the addition of a new interior pocket for stashing smaller valuables, such as cords and keys. For even more convenience, look for a duffel with wheels rolling out in August. Available in multiple styles and sizes.
Buy the collection now: REI, $30.93-$239
GPS tracker/virtual fence dog collar: Halo 3
Halo’s newest GPS tracking collar not only keeps tabs on dogs with a propensity to escape or wander, it also lets you set a virtual fence to keep them confined to a geographic area, such as a campsite. It takes time for pups to acclimate to the collar’s alerts, which vary from beeps to vibrations. But the Halo app comes loaded with training tips from no less than National Geographic’s pro trainer Cesar Millan. Available in small and medium/large for dogs 20 pounds and up.
Fast-drying wool base layer: Ibex Woolies Pro Tech
Ibex’s new collection (tops, bottoms, boxer briefs) is constructed from Nuyarn, purportedly the world’s first performance wool. It’s made from non-twisted fibers, enabling the wool to retain more of its natural properties, such as body temperature regulation. The company claims that this lets the fabric dry five times faster than conventional 100 percent, ring-spun merino wool. It also weighs 35 percent less and offers 35 percent more stretch—two factors National Geographic contributing photographer Brent Stirton appreciates. “I want lightweight, but durable, and a little stretch is a must.”
Buy it now: Ibex (Men’s), $115 | Ibex (Women’s), $115
Recyclable rain jacket: Patagonia Boulder Fork
Patagonia has plenty of outerwear made from recycled material. This rain jacket, however, is the first from the 50-year-old company that you can recycle. We like the adjustable cuffs, hem, and hood (great for keeping extra dry) and the three zippered chest pockets, which give you plenty of places to stash your things. The sleek, not-too-boxy silhouette is an added bonus.
Coming soon: February 2024, $229
Waterproof, sustainable hiking boots: Oboz Cottonwood
This new boot, ideal for day hikes on uneven, wet terrain, is the Montana-based company’s most sustainable yet. Both the low- and mid-profile designs incorporate at least 20 percent recycled, responsibly sourced materials by weight. Even better, Oboz’s “B-DRY” lining is designed to maximize waterproofing and breathability—top qualities to look for in hiking boots, especially for trekking through tropical regions or cruising around on Zodiacs.
Coming soon: Spring 2024, from $155
Featherlight binoculars: Swarovski Optik CL Curio
Slightly larger than a deck of cards and weighing just 8.9 ounces, Swarovski’s Optik CL Curio binoculars are the lightest, most compact binoculars we’ve found—exactly what you want in the field. With a sleek, seamless bridge by industrial designer Marc Newson, they’re also pretty stylish. With 7x magnification, a 21mm effective objective lens diameter, 7.7° field of view, and 90 percent light transmission, you’ll be able to discern a border collie from a coyote at 100 yards away and count the cracks in the craters of the moon at night.
Buy it now: Amazon, $899
Budget-friendly, feature-loaded binoculars: Nocs Field Issue
Birdwatchers on a budget will appreciate Nocs’ new Field Issue, which marries the high-quality optics of the Pro Issue with the size and durability of the Standard Issue. It’s ideal for an off-road adventure when you want a super-wide, crisp view in a variety of lighting conditions. Like all the company’s binoculars, this mid-size (it weighs 16.7 ounces) pair is waterproof and fog-proof. But unlike other models, it features the brand’s finest central focusing. While it comes with a cleaning cloth and strap, consider upgrading to a harness to prevent it from awkwardly swinging around your neck.
Buy it now: Nocs Provisions, $175
Carry-on that converts into a table: PROPS
This hard-side carry-on has fold-out legs that turn the suitcase into a footrest or a table for your laptop during layovers or travel delays. It’s great for small hotel rooms without luggage racks. The built-in compression packing system and space-saving clamshell opening holds a surprising amount for a 22-inch bag. Look for a 26-inch model in October 2024.
Buy it now: Magellan’s, $329
Super grippy water sandals: Teva Hydratrek
Inspired by tree frogs, Teva’s latest sandal is built so that a maximum amount of surface area on the outsole stays in contact with the ground. Extra texturing on the top sole helps wet feet stay put, while the quick-dry, traceable recycled webbing helps with durability. An added bonus for light packers: These are water sandals you can also hike in.
Robust, fast charger: Anker Prime Power Bank 250W
At 27,650 mAh, Anker’s newest model is packed with power. “At least 20,000 mAh is the sweet spot because it allows me to charge my phone four to five times and my laptop once or twice,” says Barry Hoffner, founder of the education nonprofit Caravan to Class, who relied on a power bank while taking public buses across more than 170 countries. This new model takes 28 minutes to charge a 16-inch MacBook Pro to 50 percent—a big improvement from last year’s 140W model, which took 40. Yet, at 99.54 watt hours, it still falls under TSA’s 100-watt-hour limit for carry-on packing. Pairing and Bluetooth connectivity via the Anker app enables you to track it if you lose it.
Buy it now: Amazon, $179.99
Portable solar panel: BigBlue SolarPowa 30 ETFE Camping Solar Panel Charger
BigBlue’s latest travel-friendly solar panel is now made with an ETFE layer, a fluorine-based plastic that can withstand high temperatures. It also resists water, dust, corrosion, and stains—a key feature, says travel journalist and author Brent Rose, who used solar panels to power up his electronics during a recent cross-country trip. This model reportedly lasts twice as long as a traditional panel and folds to the size of a 14-inch laptop—which not only saves space, but also exposes less surface area to damaging elements.
Buy it now: Amazon, $79.99
Endlessly customizable backpack: Osprey Archeon
Osprey’s new Archeon set lets you customize your pack via quick-release straps—ideal for when you’re trekking and don’t want to take your full 60L kit on shorter day hikes. Start with the foundational day pack and add accordingly. The chest rig, which straps over your shoulders like a BabyBjorn, maximizes versatility. You can wear it backward, forward, and around your waist like a fanny pack—just attach the day pack’s removable hip belt. Each piece sold separately.
Coming soon: February 2024, $50-$300
Padded storage cube: Away The Protective Packing Cube (6L)
Part of Away’s outdoor-centric For All Routes (F.A.R.) collection, the sturdy 6L packing cube has extra padding and six customizable dividers for storing fragile items, like larger electronics or a small pair of binoculars. A removable shoulder strap lets you wear the cube as a crossbody bag when you need to transport just a few things from your suitcase. Plus, it’s made of recycled materials and ships in compostable packaging.
Buy it now: Away, $72
Heavy-duty universal bike rack: Thule Epos
A good bike rack should have turn and brake signals, according to retired professional cyclist George Hincapie. Thule’s newest model includes both signals, plus telescopic arms with pivoting cradles that let you attach any type of bike, even an e-bike weighing up to 60 pounds. It works on any car; in some cases with an easy-to-install hitch. We especially appreciate that it folds up and wheels away for storage. (It weighs just 38 pounds.)
Buy it now: REI, $999.95 | Amazon, $999.95
Dog harness/rescue sling: Fido Pro Panza
Hiking in remote areas with your dog can be risky, especially since search and rescue often isn’t equipped for pups. Vets recommend it’s best to be prepared and to think in advance how you can get your dog out of a difficult situation. It’s also a great idea to pack a rescue harness. We like this newly patented harness because it converts into a sling that you can wrap around your dog without too much maneuvering. Included custom pads can save your shoulders over longer distances too. Fits most breeds 35-120 pounds.
Buy it now: Backcountry, $139
Dog first aid travel kits: Wolf Republic First Aid Kit & Adventure Dog Medical Kit
Having a dog-specific first aid kit can be especially handy while traveling, especially if you’re doing adventurous or sporty activities. We love Wolf Republic’s loaded kit for longer trips and Adventure Ready’s compact one for short day hikes. Both come stocked with vet-approved must-haves including triple antibiotic spray, self-adhesive bandages, saline wash, and tweezers.
Buy it now: Wolf Republic First Aid Kit, $56
Editor’s note: This article has been updated for clarity.
Reporting by Katie Jackson, a Montana-based travel journalist and gear tester.
*Although we are sharing our personal opinions of these experiences or products with you, National Geographic is not endorsing these experiences or products on behalf of anyone. It has not performed product safety testing on any of these products, did not manufacture them, and is not selling, or distributing them and is not making any representations about the safety or caliber of these products or experiences for individual consumers. Prices and availability are subject to change from the date of publication.