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As travelers, we often collect “trip tokens” as a way of materializing our memories. But what if there were a way to give back to the world while compiling those keepsakes?

This idea was the seed that became Traveller Collective.

darryl mcivor


Founded in 2015 by Darryl McIvor of Vancouver, Traveller Collective offers a product that is simple — yet sentimental — in an effort to overcome the “massive inequalities” in our world. Handmade by McIvor and his team in Vancouver, the product is a leather keychain clip with washer-like rings that are engraved with a two- or three-letter code representing every country, U.S. state or Canadian province you’ve visited.

The clips — which come in brown, black and tan — cost $18.50 apiece, while the metal spacers range from $2 to $3.25 each. Up to 25 percent of every sale goes toward nonprofits and charitable causes around the globe.

We caught up with Darryl to chat about the creation of Traveller Collective, the impact it’s having on global communities and what’s coming next for the company.

Independent Traveler: Tell us a little bit about the Traveller Collective product. Why a keychain clip and spacers, rather than — let’s say — patches or pins?
Darryl McIvor:
I really wanted to create something based around travel and giving back. You know how you always see people with flag patches on their backpacks? I liked that idea — the concept of having a simple reminder of the places that you’ve been. But I didn’t really like the idea of patches. I always felt it was kind of loud, kind of in your face. I wanted something much more subtle, something much more personalized.

IT: Can you talk a little bit about the inspiration behind Traveller Collective?
DM:
We launched in the summer of 2015. Really for me — and for the business in general — the ability for us to travel the world and do that type of thing is so far off from what so many people in the world have the ability to do. … So for us, it was kind of a reminder of that, and showing gratitude. It was never about counting countries or seeing how many different countries you could get to. It was more of a reminder to go out, travel and really aspire to do more.

IT: What sorts of nonprofits, charities and projects has Traveller Collective funded so far?
DM:
Our First project was about clean water. … We partnered with a nonprofit in New York called charity: water. We did a project with them and raised $10,000 to build a well in Ethiopia.

There’s also a local nonprofit we’ve started working with called imagine1day. We raised $10,000 last year to build a school in Ethiopia. We also ran this big contest last October, where we had one of our customers and imagine1day come with us to Ethiopia. After being on the ground in Ethiopia and meeting the majority of the staff in imagine1day, I knew I wanted to work with them again. Just the things that they’re doing and the sustainability aspects that they’ve instilled in these projects is really important to us. We decided to do another project with them. We’re raising money for it now, and running another contest where we’re going to bring one of the customers in October [2017] to visit the school and meet the community.

traveller collective keychain


IT: People love collecting tokens from their travels. How does the Traveller Collective keychain add a special element to that concept?
DM:
For me, it’s just the meaning behind it. Whether you get a small ring that’s engraved with a country, or if you get a small trinket, it means something to everyone in their own certain aspect. Some rings for some people might be six months in a certain place; for some people it might only be a weekend. But it’s so individual that everyone has their own story behind it. My Australia ring would mean something so different from someone else’s Australia ring, and the stories behind each of those represents an entirely different trip at a different time. For me, it’s having all of these altogether in one spot and being able to glance at it from time to time; to go back over some of the memories, and to really inspire people to go out and make more.

IT: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned while traveling?
DM:
The things I enjoy most about my personality I attribute to traveling: my patience, my understanding, my gratitude. I don’t think I would have learned those things in the capacity I know them now unless I was traveling. That’s one of the reasons we want people to get out there and travel more; it changes them. I think we’re all better off if we have more gratitude, understanding and appreciation for the way other people live.

IT: Is there one spacer you can associate with your favorite travel memory or destination?
DM:
Anytime anyone asks me my favorite country, I always say — which might be a little cheesy — Canada. I love traveling, but I really enjoy coming back to Canada. Every time you come back from a new place it just provides different perspectives on what your home is and what your country is, and that’s really important to me.

IT: How many silver spacers do you have on your own keychain?
DM:
I just went to Belgium for the first time at the end of January, and I believe that was my 32nd country.

Check out the Traveller Collective website for info on upcoming projects, contests and products.

See more travel interviews!

Social Impact Travel: A Q&A with Michal Alter
Voluntourism: Does It Really Help?

— interview conducted by Christina Janansky

Being “good” at travel isn’t the point of travel.

wayfarer's handbook


Evan S. Rice learned this first hand when he quit his job at age 25, bought a one-way ticket to East Africa and wandered the world for 10 months. As an independent traveler in the truest sense, Rice wasn’t a travel expert when he set out on that first trip. But with dozens of stamps in his passport now, Rice has solid road warrior experience that he’s now sharing with others.

Rice compiled his best travel tips in a new book called The Wayfarer’s Handbook: A Field Guide for the Independent Traveler. The book is a fun and random collection of modern-day travel advice, trivia and anecdotes, including these 10 tips and tidbits:

10. The irresistible feeling to quit your job, abandon your family and go travel is called “dromomania.”

9. There’s an ancient reason why you don’t sleep well the first night of a trip. The left hemisphere of the brain stays fully alert the first night you sleep in an unfamiliar place, “likely the result of an evolutionary trait protecting humans from predators,” Rice writes about a 2016 jet lag study.

8. Putting your hands in your pockets in South Korea and Turkey can imply boredom or lack of respect.

7. There are no generally accepted rules about waiting in line. In England, Canada and the U.S., people systematically queue up. In Japan, people leave a piece of tape or a token to mark their place in line. In China, if you let someone go ahead of you, you’re acknowledging that that person is of higher class.

6. Rice details 27 common scams that travelers should be aware of. These include having your bag sliced open during a long bus or train journey and a super-friendly local offering to tour you around his city under the guise of practicing his English and then demanding payment.

5. Only three countries in the world have not adopted the metric system: the United States, Liberia and Myanmar.

4. In Japanese, the term yokomeshi means the stress of stringing together a few learned words to try to communicate with a foreigner. It literally means “cooked rice eaten horizontally.”

3. Among items banned in Saudi Arabia: old newspapers, fireworks and “greeting cards with small musical devices which work automatically when the card is moved.”

2. If you buy an item in a developing country with a fluctuating economy, don’t be surprised to receive your change in the form of candy, soda, matches or other token items. A lot of people don’t have enough currency to make change.

1. In some countries, locals only smile at people they know personally. Smiling at a stranger could be perceived as insincere, mocking or just plain odd.

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–written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

Michal Alter has spent her career working on behalf of underserved communities. So when the Israel native and New York resident decided to launch a tourism operation two years ago, the needs of others were at the forefront of her mind.

michal alter


The company Alter cofounded, Visit.org, allows travelers to find and book authentic and impactful excursions in the U.S. and overseas. Visit.org carefully vets the organizations it works with to ensure that the activities make a social impact and that 100 percent of the fees a traveler pays for an activity is invested in the local community.

From her office in New York, Alter talked with us about this rapidly growing platform for what she called “social impact travel experiences.”

Independent Traveler: Why did you start this company?
Michal Alter:
We launched Visit.org in 2015 in response to the travel industry’s immense potential to generate economic sustainability for local communities. The $7 trillion travel industry is the world’s top economic driver, yet only 5 percent of earnings are left in local hands. With this in mind, we created a platform that enables social ventures like nonprofits and other community-based enterprises to create and market mainstream tourism products that will finance their missions.

IT: How many different activities could a traveler book through Visit.org?
MA:
As of March 2017, we have 545 exclusive experiences in 65 countries. We aim to reach more than 1,000 do-good partners by the end of the year.

IT: Why is it important for travelers to support local communities?
MA:
When we do not support local communities, local cultures and natural resources get diluted. What makes the destination so unique and different from our own home towns then disappears. When travelers support local communities, they are leaving funds directly in the hands of the local hosts whose communities’ natural resources, labor, social fabrics and cultures are affected.

IT: What are some of the more unusual experiences someone could arrange through Visit.org?
MA:
Some of my favorite experiences are in always inspiring Paris. The most unusual offers guests the chance to upcycle trash into artwork. Visitors repurpose waste into something beautiful as well as learn about the importance of responsible waste management.

In Cuzco, Peru, you can go to a potato park with a group that works to preserve local ancestral agricultural knowledge and celebrate the country’s unique potato heritage. There are 1,500 native types of potatoes grown in Peru!

IT: Can you tell me a little about the vetting process you go through before selecting the organizations you partner with?
MA:
We focus on partnerships with locally operated grassroots organizations as they are the best equipped to serve their communities; they have vast knowledge and understanding of the issues. Our high-level vetting criteria includes confirming a measurable track record of significant impact on the local community and a commitment that 100 percent of hosts’ revenue from the experience will be invested into the local community. We then conduct extensive online research about potential organizations and use existing official databases of highly vetted nonprofits around the globe to identify new partners.

Once we’ve identified a new potential partner organization, we send someone from our global network of more than 200 “travel ambassadors” to visit the organizations in person. After the meeting, the ambassador fills out a detailed report.

IT: Your activities are not very expensive. Do people have a misperception that social impactful travel equals more expensive travel?
MA:
There is definitely that misconception. It comes from the fact that a lot of what is marketed to consumers as “social impactful travel” is either an expensive and long-term volunteer tourism commitment, or a high-end, highly curated culturally immersive itinerary. This is where Visit.org’s innovation lies, as we make impactful travel experiences both affordable and easy to book.

IT: If a traveler is told that an excursion or activity will support the local community, what can he or she do to confirm that’s indeed the case?
MA:
Travelers can check a provider’s website to see what type of company it is, review the mission statement, research what the vendor is incentivized by and see how revenue will be spent. Also, check customer reviews to see if past guests had meaningful experiences and look to see if the company has responsible travel certifications from such organizations as the Center for Responsible Travel, the Global Sustainable Tourism Council and the International Ecotourism Society.

IT: What have been some of your most memorable culturally immersive experiences from your travels?
MA:
I recently visited Al Hagal, an Israeli social enterprise that leads yearlong youth empowerment programs through surfing to underserved youth from around the country. I took my first wave-surfing lesson. Surfing the waves for the first time was a lot of fun, but much more powerful was getting to know the staff and youth, taking in the contagious passion with which the staff speaks about their youth program, and listening to stories of transformation from the program’s participants.

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Voluntourism: Does It Really Help?

— interview conducted by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

Each time I visit New York, I try to embed myself in a different part of the city. Every neighborhood has a different personality, and getting to know more of them has given me a broader appreciation of the greatest city in the world.

traveler with smartphone


For my latest jaunt, I selected the Lower East Side as my base. Two days would never be enough to wander the whole neighborhood and find the best spots to feed my interests in local history and food, so I turned to a newly revamped app to guide me.

Trip.com was my best buddy that weekend, providing personalized recommendations I could have only figured out through hours of advance research — time I didn’t have. At Trip.com’s recommendation, I took a 90-minute Lower East Side walking tour via the Tenement Museum that brought my fuzzy high school memory of U.S. immigrant history back to life. I wandered through the floor-to-ceiling aisles of Economy Candy, a sweets shop in business since 1937. I gorged on fresh arepas at a tiny Venezuelan restaurant and sampled Swedish breakfast pastries for the first time. And I took in an $11, hourlong improv comedy show.

How did Trip.com know these spots were right up my alley? When you download the free app and set up your account, you select from among 20 “tribes” that describe your personality and travel style. I selected “arty,” “foodies” and “local.” Other tribes include “luxury,” “adventure,” “families” and “spiritual.”

trip.com screenshot


Recommendations pop up based on your location and the reviews of others with your same travel interests. For example, 98 percent of other app-using foodies and 87 percent of other travelers who like local spots enjoyed the Essex Street Market, so I popped in there to have lunch one day. Eight-six percent of other arty people liked a gift shop called Alphabets.

I added my own reviews and also created “postcards” (though it wasn’t exactly clear to me what the difference was between the two). With each review or postcard you add, you gain points and badges, if you’re competitive about tracking that sort of thing.

Trip.com has incorporated technologies that also make recommendations based on the local weather. If it’s raining one day, the app won’t give you outdoor suggestions. And in 15 cities, the app provides a calendar of special events. I plan to use this in my own home city too — it sounds quite useful.

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— written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

While renting an Airbnb property in 2015, Stefan Grant and a group of friends received a visit from a pair of police officers. The officers told him that neighbors had reported the house was being robbed, Grant said.

stefan grant noirbnb


An innocent mistake or a case of discrimination? Grant and his friends, who are black, said they were certain it was the latter. Following the attention he received after a Twitter post about the incident went viral, Grant had an in-person meeting with Airbnb executives to talk about discrimination and how the company could better serve his community.

In response to a multitude of reports of discrimination based on race, age, gender and other factors, Airbnb implemented new policies and procedures in September 2016.

But Grant was not satisfied. He and a partner thus have decided to start their own short-term rental company, Noirbnb, which aims to provide welcoming and safe spaces for black travelers and for anyone who may have faced discrimination in the past.

Grant chatted with us about the company he’s soon to launch.

Independent Traveler: Where are you in terms of the company development?
Stefan Grant:
We’re very close to our full launch. We have a few thousand properties so far, and more are signing up every day.

IT: Why is a service like this important for travelers?
SG:
I think a service like Noirbnb is important because it understands and caters to the unique experiences of black travelers and other travelers of color. It also provides a space for accepting people of all walks of life to connect with each other and build awesome new relationships.

IT: Do you think the changes Airbnb implemented last year to make its service more “colorblind” have been effective?
SG:
I don’t think they have been effective because we still see instances of rampant discrimination taking place on Airbnb all the time. I also don’t think that people should be “colorblind.” People should see people for who they are because our uniqueness is what makes the world a more beautiful place, and to blind ourselves to that is dismissive and counterproductive.

IT: Tell us a little about some of the property owners who have signed up so far.
SG:
We have a variety of different properties, from large homes and villas to apartments, condos and even a boat. Many people who’ve signed up with us tell us they love our mission and what we’re setting out to do. Our hosts come in all facets, and it means the world to us that they want to be part of what we’re building at Noirbnb.

woman on sofa


IT: What else will be different from your competitors?
SG:
We have a few differentiators that we plan on rolling out that will separate us from our competitors. But we don’t want to give away too much of our “secret sauce” before we launch.

IT: Is your aim to attract black-owned properties or black-friendly properties? Or both?
SG:
Our goal is to attract black-owned properties as well as black-friendly properties.

IT: Do you anticipate that other groups of people who face discrimination, such as gay travelers or travelers of other ethnic backgrounds, will be drawn to use your service too?
SG:
We do anticipate that people of other ethnic backgrounds or members of the LGBT community will gravitate toward us because in many ways our experiences overlap and intersect. We also created Noirbnb for them because we want our platform to really be a diverse and welcoming community where people can feel free to be themselves.

IT: Once the site is up and running, where’s the first place that you want to book?
SG:
Once the site is up and running, I think I’d like to visit Cuba, South Africa or London. Those places are so beautiful and culturally diverse. They’ve been calling me for a while.

See more travel interviews!

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— interview conducted by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

When I travel, my smartphone acts as my camera, wallet, GPS, e-reader, MP3 player, communication center, and means of streaming movies and TV on long flights. Without it, my trips are far more cumbersome, but the more I use it, the more quickly the “low battery” notifications roll in.

mycharge hubxtra portable charger


Over the years, I’ve tried several portable chargers — tiny energy packs that are plugged into the wall ahead of time and brought along as a means of backup power. No matter how long I charged them, none ever seemed to be able to properly refuel my phone in a reasonable amount of time.

Enter the MyCharge HubXtra. This lightweight portable charger took my phone’s battery life from 6 to 60 percent in 45 minutes, with a full charge after about two hours. The best part is that, afterward, the HubXtra itself was still at 75 percent power.

What We Liked
It worked. There’s not much worse than investing in a product only to find out it doesn’t live up to the hype — especially in a pinch. Not only did the HubXtra do its job, but it did so quickly.

It has a long life. In addition to holding enough juice for more than one charge when it’s at capacity, the HubXtra comes fully powered up, so you can use it right out of the package. (The device charges via a standard two-pronged plug that folds out from the back.)

It’s versatile. In addition to cell phones, the HubXtra can charge other electronics like tablets, e-readers, MP3 players, wearables and Bluetooth speakers.

It can power up more than one device at a time, even while plugged in. The charger comes with two built-in lightning micro-USB cable connections — one that fits most recent iPhones and one for most recent Android devices — and they can both be used at the same time, even when the HubXtra itself is charging.

It’s easy to pack. Measuring 4.1 x 2.5 x 0.9 inches and weighing a mere half-pound, the HubXtra will fit in nearly any bag, and it looks as sleek as it sounds.

What We Didn’t Like
It’s expensive. The HubXtra retails for $69.99 on the MyCharge website and $54.95 on Amazon. Considering how many chargers are available at a price point of $30 or less, it’s a little pricey.

It could soon be obsolete. A tech savvy-friend with one of the most recently released Android devices was unable to use the HubXtra without an adapter because it doesn’t offer the most updated cables. For the price, it should.

It only comes in one color. This is a minor quibble, but give us some color! Although the power pack’s metallic silver finish gives it a sleek, industrial look, a choice of one hue simply isn’t enough.

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–written by Ashley Kosciolek

Editorial Disclosure: Some products are sent to us free of charge to be considered for review. We choose products to review based on their relevance and usefulness to our readers. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not promise any editorial coverage, particularly positive reviews.

Looking to pack lighter? You can save some space in your suitcase by storing your stuff in the clothes you wear. SCOTTeVEST offers a line of vests, jackets, pants and other clothing specifically designed with tons of pockets to help you stow gadgets and other essential items on your person instead of in a purse or backpack.

scottevest quest vest


I tested out the SCOTTeVEST Q.U.E.S.T., a vest that boasts a whopping 42 pockets, to see what it offers for travelers. Here’s what I discovered.

What We Liked
It’s cleverly designed. The designers clearly put a lot of thought into the layout of the Q.U.E.S.T., with pockets specifically meant for items such as cell phones, passports, tablets, glasses and pens. (Most of these compartments are labeled with little graphics so you can tell what’s supposed to go where.) Then there are dozens of catch-all pockets for everything else. Some are more useful than others — I’m not sure exactly what you’d want to put in the large back compartment, given that most items wouldn’t be all that comfortable to lean back on when you sit down — but there are plenty of pockets to customize in any way you see fit.

It’s attractive and well made. The vest feels well crafted and has a sleek, attractive look.

It’s water-resistant. When I poured water on both the hood and the body of the vest, it beaded up and ran right off.

There are tons of little surprises. Open the RFID-blocking pocket, and you’ll find a little document pouch that you can remove and then Velcro back in. The glasses pocket offers a soft cloth for wiping your lenses. There are holes and loops throughout to thread cords for earbuds or chargers.

It’s not just good for travel. Sure, the vest can save you space on vacation, but it’s also useful at home for day hikers who don’t want to carry a backpack or women who want to go shopping without lugging a heavy purse.

scottevest quest vest


What We Didn’t Like
It gets bulky. Realistically most travelers won’t use all 42 pockets; once you start putting in things like a full-size water bottle or multiple gadgets, the vest starts looking bulky and less flattering. If you do plan to use most of the pockets, you might want to order a size larger than you normally would to give yourself a little more space.

You may lose track of some of your things. There are so many pockets so close to each other — some divided only by a thin layer of fabric — that I sometimes forgot where I’d put certain items. In one case I could feel that there was a bottle of antibacterial hand gel in a certain quadrant of the vest, but I had to try about three different zippers before I could access the pocket I needed.

There’s only one color option. Other vests from SCOTTeVEST come in hues like blue, white and red, but the Q.U.E.S.T. is currently only available in black for women. (Men can buy the Q.U.E.S.T. in black or beige.)

It’s not cheap. The Q.U.E.S.T. is currently on sale for $175 at the SCOTTeVEST website and at Amazon. (To buy the men’s version, see the SCOTTeVEST website or Amazon.)

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— written by Sarah Schlichter

Editorial Disclosure: Some products are sent to us free of charge to be considered for review. We choose products to review based on their relevance and usefulness to our readers. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not promise any editorial coverage, particularly positive reviews.

Coping with a mental illness like anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression can sometimes be so difficult that it prevents you from traveling. At other times, the illness is managed well enough that you can travel, but the challenging feelings still tag along like an unwanted companion. A day at the beach, for instance, feels like anything but.

illustration of traveling with depression


“Traveling feels like you’re making a huge mistake,” says writer Lauren Juliff, who suffers from severe anxiety. “Everyone says to trust your intuition when you travel, but I had to learn to silence the voice in my head that was always telling me that something was going to go seriously wrong.”

Juliff, who has been traveling steadily since 2011 and writes about her experiences on her website Never Ending Footsteps, is among those featured in an online collection of illustrations that show what it’s like to travel while suffering from symptoms of a mental illness.

The images drive home how isolating it can be to travel when you aren’t feeling at your peak. If you’re traveling for pleasure, you’re supposed to be happy and having fun. If you’re traveling for work, you’re supposed to be sharp and at your best.

illustration of traveling with anxiety


English artist Loren Conner took on the project because it touched her in personal ways. She has dealt with anxiety and depression since her teens, and people close to her have also coped with a variety of mental illnesses. Her illustrations were featured in a Staysure article on traveling with mental illness.

“I am aware of the difficulties and struggles people suffering can go through in their day-to-day life,” said Conner, who lives outside of London. “I knew I had to portray and translate all these feelings as best as I could for people to connect and understand them and realize they’re not alone in their experiences.”

Having such struggles doesn’t mean you need to just stay home. You still can travel, but you need to prepare yourself for what you might encounter.

illustration of traveling with ptsd


“For me planning is key. This carries across to when I’m actually on holiday, so I can mentally prepare for any tricky situations that could arise,” says 18-year-old Ellen White, who writes about obsessive-compulsive disorder at Ellen’s OCD Blog.

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Do you have similar challenges? Share your tips in the comments below.

— written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

Travelers who spend a lot of time exploring cities and riding public transportation have natural concerns about pickpockets. While the best way to protect your valuables is to stow them in a money belt hidden under your clothes, you don’t want to expose it each time you need to pay for a coffee or buy a souvenir — and that’s where the Rogue Front Pocket Wallet comes in.

rogue front pocket wallet


Because front pockets tend to be deeper, they’re considered a safer spot to stow your wallet than back pockets if you’re looking to deter thieves. The Rogue Front Pocket Wallet is designed with a curved shape so it fits more naturally into a front pocket; you are supposed to put the pointy end down and the curved part out. How does it work? I asked my husband and frequent travel partner to give it a try.

What We Liked
It feels well made. The wallet is constructed of real leather and appears sturdy and well stitched.

It fits comfortably. My husband used the wallet in several different pairs of pants and didn’t have any issues with how it fit.

It blocks RFID skimming. Although experts disagree on just how much of a threat RFID skimming actually is, this is still a nice security feature just in case.

It’s made in Maine. Americans sick of seeing “made in China” on every product can support a homegrown business with this purchase.

What We Didn’t Like
There’s some wasted space. The way the wallet is stitched means that the pocket for bills and receipts isn’t as wide as it looks, with what feels like a couple of inches of space sealed off. While U.S. bills fit fine, my husband had to fold quite a few longer receipts instead of sliding them in flat, making the wallet bulk up quickly.

rogue front pocket wallet


It takes up more space than many other wallets. Because of the curved design, the Rogue wallet is taller (5 inches) than a lot of standard men’s wallets. My husband’s old trifold wallet fit just as well in his front pocket (where he’s worn it for years), and because it was smaller he was able to get it deeper into the pocket — which might be an even better hedge against theft.

It has adequate but not plentiful storage. There are three slots that hold up to six cards, plus a see-through ID pocket, another pocket for miscellaneous items, and a larger compartment for bills and receipts. There’s plenty of room for the basics, but men who carry a lot of cards might prefer a few more slots.

Rogue Industries offers a variety of front pocket wallets as well as money clips, women’s bags, women’s clutches and more. The classic front pocket wallet that we tested retails for $45 at the Rogue website or $40 at Amazon.

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Editorial Disclosure: Some products are sent to us free of charge to be considered for review. We choose products to review based on their relevance and usefulness to our readers. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not promise any editorial coverage, particularly positive reviews.

— written by Sarah Schlichter

Hiking in Alaska? Strolling around Singapore? No matter the type of trip, a good daypack is a vital part of any traveler’s arsenal. I recently tested out the Matador Freerain24, a daypack that can be rolled up into a small storage bag when you’re not using it. Is this the right backpack for you? Read on.

matador freerain24 daypack


What We Liked
It’s waterproof. Aside from the front and side pockets, the bag is well sealed and will protect your stuff in a rainstorm.

It’s lightweight and space-efficient. The bag weighs just 5.5 ounces and folds up into a drawstring bag that fits in the palm of your hand.

It’s stronger than it seems. The fabric is so thin that I worried it would tear easily. But while the tag cautions users to keep the bag away from “abrasive surfaces and sharp objects,” I attempted to stab it with a pen and found it more puncture-resistant than it initially seemed.

It holds a lot. For such a lightweight pack, it holds more than you might expect. The main compartment has a 24-liter capacity, and I was able to get several garments into it along with books, snacks and a couple of bottles of water with no problem.

What We Didn’t Like
There aren’t many pockets. The main part of the bag is a single large compartment, with no internal pockets or slots to keep things organized. There is a vertical pocket on the front of the bag as well as two pockets on the sides for water bottles or other items.

It’s a little tricky to put back in the bag. If you struggle to refold a map or to squeeze everything back into your suitcase at the end of a trip, you might also have a hard time rolling this backpack into the right shape and size to fit back into its little storage bag.

matador freerain24 daypack


There’s no sternum strap. Many travelers rely on a strap across the chest to help stabilize the shoulder straps and balance the weight of the pack. That may or may not matter with such a lightweight daypack, but if a sternum strap is important to you, then you’ll need to add one yourself to the Freerain24.

It’s a little pricey. At $59.99, the Freerain24 costs more than many other daypacks on the market.

You can purchase the Freerain24 at the Matador website.

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Editorial Disclosure: Some products are sent to us free of charge to be considered for review. We choose products to review based on their relevance and usefulness to our readers. We offer our unbiased opinions and do not promise any editorial coverage, particularly positive reviews.

–written by Sarah Schlichter