I always read when I travel, and books are heavy and take up space, so I like to bring an e-reader along. I've destroyed two of the old models of the Kindle over the years (just a little too thin and light), but they have a new Oasis model, with 8 GB storage, that's water-resistant. And I like its soft-lighting options, preventing you from keeping a traveling companion awake when reading at night ($249.99, BestBuy.com). Less pricey options include the waterproof Kobo Libra ($149.99, us.kobobooks.com), and the NOOK GlowLight 4 ($149.99, BN.com), with 32 GB storage and backlighting that’s easy on the eyes, available Dec. 8. —Bill Fink, an award-winning travel writer whose work has appeared in Lonely Planet, Frommer's, The San Francisco Chronicle and many other outlets.
Courtesy Backcountry, Arc’teryx; Columbia
Versatile travel pants for men
This is a great gift for the traveling guy in your life. Because I pack light when I travel, I need my clothes to serve multiple purposes. So I always bring along pants that are sturdy, stretchy and water-resistant for hiking, comfy to wear on a plane, and decent looking enough to wear out to dinner at the end of a day. Some good examples of multiuse pants include The Diamond Anchor Stretch Pant ($120, backcountry.com), made of a cotton/nylon blend; Arc'teryx Palisade Pants ($169, arcteryx.com); and Columbia’s nylon Men’s Silver Ridge Convertible Pants ($60, Columbia.com). With the latter, you can zip off the bottom and — voilà! — you have shorts. —B.F.
Courtesy REI; L.L Bean; Samsonite
Stuff duffel bag
I always travel with a stuff duffel bag — a large tote that compresses into a small pouch. I find myself reaching for it at the end of trips when there’s no room left in my suitcase for souvenirs. But the bag can also come in handy at the beginning of a journey. On my last flight, my suitcase weighed in at just over 50 pounds, an overage that was going to cost me a $100 overweight fee. But instead, I pulled out my duffel and filled it with a few pairs of shoes from my suitcase, reducing my luggage weight by a couple pounds. I took the bag aboard as a carry-on and avoided the extra charge. A few good options include the ultralight REI Co-op Stuff Travel Duffel ($34.95, rei.com), the L.L. Bean Stowaway II Duffle ($49.95, llbean.com) and the Samsonite Foldaway Duffle ($34, samsonite.com). —Larry Bleiberg is president of the Society of American Travel Writers, a frequent contributor to BBC Travel and the creator of CivilRightsTravel.com.
Courtesy Eagle Creek; REI; Matador
Small packable daypack
These weigh just a few ounces and, as with the stuff bag, fold up into a tiny bundle that can fit into a jacket pocket. I use one on outings to explore cities and visit museums, or on hikes. It’s the perfect size for holding snacks, chargers and a guidebook. Nice picks include Eagle Creek's Packable Daypack ($36.95, eaglecreek.com); the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Travel Day Pack ($39.95, rei.com), just 2.5 ounces and compact enough to fit in the palm of your hand when folded up; and the Freerain22 Waterproof Packable Backpack ($99.99, matadorup.com). —L.B.
Courtesy Aloha, REI, Geckobrands
Whether I’m going to soak in hot springs in Iceland or snorkel in Hawaii, I travel with a waterproof midsize pouch from Aloha Collection ($42, alohacollection.com). The botanical prints always take me somewhere, even if I’m just heading to my local pool. You can also opt for a slim turquoise version, the Nite Ize Waterproof travel pouch ($30, rei.com) that’ll protect your electronics from all kinds of watery mishaps — or your clothes from toiletry spillage in your suitcase. Or for something smaller and sporty, there's Geckobrands' Waterproof Phone Tote, which comes in seven different colors and camo patterns ($24.99, geckobrands.com). —E.G.
Courtesy Trtl; Uncommon Goods; Infinity PillowCourtesy Trtl; Uncommon Goods; Infinity Pillow
Sleeping on a plane can be particularly difficult when you’re stuck in the middle seat: Unless you're traveling with a companion upon whose shoulder you can nap (or are able to make fast friends with the stranger seated next to you), you've got nowhere to rest your head. Enter the Trtl Travel Pillow ($26.99, trtltravel.com), a soft fleece scarf that has hidden internal support for your head if you want to lean it to the side. Another scarf with a secret weapon: the Convertible Travel Pillow Infinity Scarf, which has an inflatable pillow packed inside ($40, uncommongoods.com). A less-compact option — so maybe better for long car trips than flights — is the Infinity Pillow ($39, infinitypillow.co), a loop of padded fabric that twists and rolls into endless shapes, and comes in nine different colors. Ball it up and as a pillow to rest against a car window, stuff it behind your back for lumbar support, or wrap it around your ears to muffle noise while you doze. —C.I.