Photo: Suzie Dundas

Things We Love: The Matador Team's 9 Favorite Pieces of Travel Gear and More This Month

Technology + Gear
by Matador Creators Jun 28, 2024

Summer, and therefore summer travel and all the outdoor adventure it brings, is in full swing in the northern hemisphere. Yet depending on where you travel this season, you could face triple-digit temperatures, chilly rainy days (that may or may not keep you indoors), or perfect temperate weather. We’ve seen it all this month.

The global Matador Network team is constantly testing gear, speaking with founders, and learning more about the people who create the things that make travel easier. Some of those things don’t live up to their claims in real-world trials. Others very much do. The latter are the ones that we recommend to friends, readers, and anyone who will listen to.

This month, that included a versatile travel jacket, day packs, truck bed camping mattresses, and more.

We hope you love the gear we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to make a purchase. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.

On CloudFlyer 4

Photo: On

On offers a wide range of stylish and colorful athletic shoes, but the quality is unfortunately very inconsistent. I’ve tried four different models, and only two have proven durable enough to justify the high price. The first are the Cloudtrax hiking boots, and the second are the CloudFlyer 4 running shoes, which have become my favorite sneakers — both for getting out in the world and staying close to home.

The CloudFlyer 4 are very light and have a plushy interior and thick outsoles, making for an extremely comfortable, cushy experience no matter what you’re doing. While I don’t run, I do walk extensively every day, and from day one the CloudFlyer 4 shoes have never been painful or irritating.

The CloudFlyer 4 is stylish enough to work with athletic wear, a pair of jeans, shorts, or even a casual denim skirt so that you can stay comfortable, no matter the situation. The range of colors available also make it easy to match these shoes to everything in your wardrobe. — Morgane Croissant, Deputy Editor

Buy: $139.95 to $179.95

Mystery Ranch Super Market Day Pack

Photo: Mystery Ranch

Mystery Ranch’s Super Market Day Pack strikes a great balance of style and practicality. The unusual shape of the pack (wider at the top than at the bottom), as well as the range of beautiful colors available, are what first caught my eye. After using it on a couple of trips and for everyday errands, I can attest that it’s not only pretty, but also functional. Mystery Ranch’s Super Market Day Pack can hold 22 liters of stuff, including a laptop (up to 15 inches) in the padded laptop sleeve, and a large water bottle in the special insert that, surprisingly, is located inside the pack. Both the main pocket and the front pocket are extremely spacious and zippered, while the small third pocket located in the back (also zippered) is the ideal spot for smaller and precious items like a phone and passport.

The pack is made of 100 percent textured polyester, but feels soft and extremely durable. The only issue with the material is that it will keep your back very hot if you carry the pack for extended periods of time in warm weather. Note that while the outer material is not waterproof, the main pocket is lined with weather-resistant material.

Mystery Ranch’s Super Market Day Pack works great as a day pack to go to the office, the beach, or hit the grocery store. It also works as an overnight bag for a night away, or even as a personal item during flights. I took it on over 10 flights and it fit perfectly under the seat in front of me every time, even in smaller regional aircrafts — Morgane Croissant, Deputy Editor

Buy: $89

Arc’teryx summer performance hiking gear

Photo: Arc’teryx

The UK has experienced one of the wettest seasons in decades this year, so I needed some lightweight hiking gear that I could layer. The Cerium Hybrid Hoody by Arc’teryx is part of the brand’s recent performance collection, and it’s ideal for variable weather conditions. It’s feather-light, well-insulated, and has exceptional airflow. There’s a handy stash bag in the pocket, so you can quickly reduce it and put it in your day pack if the sun comes out. Arc’teryx’s Essent Utility Leggings are also great for short hikes and multi-day adventures. I have these in black and cherish the side pockets that are perfect for your cell, valuables, or snack bar. They are butter-soft, high-waisted, and provide excellent support. — Katie Scott Aiton, Editor

Buy Cerium Hybrid Hoody: $239.83

Buy Essent Utility Leggings: $140

Luno Air Camping Mattress

Photo: Luno

The Luno Air Mattress is a comfortable car camping mattress designed for your truck bed. It’s made of a durable, waterproof nylon material that’s easy to clean. The mattress inflates to about four inches tall and folds up into a compact bag for easy storage. It comes with an electric pump for inflation, but you can also deflate it manually. I drive a 2006 Toyota Tacoma with a 6-foot bed, and the mattress we ordered was custom-made for our truck bed size and wraps around the tire wells seamlessly.

My wife, our toddler, and myself slept comfortably on the Luno Air Mattress on a recent camping trip, and there was still room for our small dog. It makes car camping much more comfortable, especially compared to sleeping on the ground or a thin air mattress in the back of the truck, as we’d done for years prior to getting this new setup. In general, the mattress helped us avoid the usual aches and pains that come with car camping at age 40 – a big plus for keeping us out camping as often as we’d like to be. — Tim Wenger, Transactional Content Editor

Buy: $329.99

Allyz travel insurance app from Allianz

Photo: Allianz Partners

A travel tool I loved this month isn’t a piece of gear, but a piece of tech. Travel insurance company Allianz released a new app called Allyz that allows policy holders to manage their travel insurance policies and file claims, effectively making the experience closer to that of home or auto insurance. I hold an annual travel insurance policy with them, something I’d never tried until this year, and plan to continue doing so in the future – and through the app I was able to easily work through a claims process recently and get all the information I needed for my policy. Because I already had a policy, all I needed to do was download the app and create an account. Filing a claim took about 10 minutes. Because it’s an annual policy, the options for what can be covered and how it’s handled are broader than typical travel insurance plans, taking some of the stress off when travel mishaps inevitably happen. — Tim Wenger, Transactional Content Editor


Fjallraven Kajka

Photo: Fjallraven

I’ve been using the same backpacking pack for years, but switched to a Kajka this summer. I dislike bags that are overengineered, with pockets for every little thing, and the Kajka hits the balance between thoughtful and simple. There’s one huge interior pocket (with top or full-front access), ideal for lining it with a garbage bag or shoving in a large bear bin. It has the requisite water bottle pockets on each side, as well two large large side compartments big enough for extra layers, a sleeping pad, or a pair of insulated camp shoes. That allows you better distribute weight to the sides, rather than the back, which makes for a more comfortable carry.

Other features I liked were velcro loops to hold hiking poles, a brain (top compartment) that doubles as a day pack or flips in front of your chest for each access to gear like camera lenses or snacks. It’s also wildly sustainable, with a birchwood frame and recycled materials, eco-friendly waterproofing (which can be reactivated at any Fjallraven store for free for the life of the product), and a solid repair program, so you don’t need to throw the whole bag out if you damage the frame or need a compression strap replaced.

I found it comfortable right out of the store with minimal adjustments. The smaller size has tapered straps and shorter hip belts to fit smaller torsos, and the larger size accommodates up to a 55-inch waist – but they’re unisex otherwise. The 55L size should be good for the vast majority of backpackers, unless you’re carrying unusual or extra-large gear. — Suzie Dundas, Commissioning Editor

Buy: $325

Kula Cloth

Photo: Kula Cloth

Never had I ever used a Kula Cloth – which made me pretty late to the game compared to many hikers and backpackers.

What is a Kula Cloth, you ask? In a nutshell, it’s a wipe for peeing in the woods, serving as an alternative to using toilet paper (which creates backcountry waste, or has to be carried out), or to drip-drying, which can leave you with a soggy butt. One side of the cloth is absorbent and antimicrobial, the other is the clean side (so don’t wipe with that).

It clips to the outside of your backpack with an extra clip to fold it in half, theoretically keeping the “pee” side away from everything else when not in use. It weighs basically nothing, and you can toss it in the washing machine with the rest of your clothes when you get back from your hike.

After having used one, I can attest that it’s a welcome addition to your hiking backpack, and way more hygienic and eco-friendly than packing toilet paper in and out. Obviously, it’s for urine only – if you need to poop in the woods, you’ll still need to do that the old-fashioned way. — Suzie Dundas, Commissioning Editor

Buy: $17+

Decathlon Quechua SH500 Mid Winter Hiking Warm Socks

Photo: Decathlon

When I bought these pairs of socks from Decathlon Spain, they seemed too cheap to be any good (two pairs for $20), but they surprised me big time. They’ve even outperformed more expensive wool socks from the same brand (which I also bought, but don’t use). These Quechua socks have kept my feet warm and dry in the hectic weather of Buenos Aires this June, no matter how horribly humid and cold it gets. — Debbie Gonzalez Canada, SEO Editor

Buy: $19.99

Madison Creek Blowing Rock Vintage-Washed Cotton Jacket

Photo: Madison Creek Outfitters

Madison Creek’s Blowing Rock has become my go-to travel jacket over the past couple of months. The lightweight poplin fabric was versatile enough with the sleeves pulled up and collar pulled down to be comfortable going on an early flight from Denver to the midday heat of Jamaica — and handled the snowy weather on the way back with ease when fully zipped up. On a spring week in LA, it transitioned seamlessly from day to night. The name comes from Blowing Rock, North Carolina (one of the highest peakest on the Eastern Blue Ridge Parkway), and is inspired by the 1980s pigment garment-dyed jackets that had a nice patina.

While the aesthetics are a nice bonus, it’s the utility that makes it the ideal travel jacket. It has two zippered front pockets, one internal zipper pocket, and two snap-closure side pockets. That’s plenty for securely holding travel documents, and keeps things close for when you quickly need to get from customs to a taxi to your accommodations. Plus, the jacket packs tight and doesn’t take too much luggage space when it’s in my suitcase instead of on. — Nickolaus Hines, Managing Editor

Buy: $295

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