Online Shopping Picks: Best Men’s Travel Accessories

Where in the world (or across the country?) will you be heading this summer?

Where in the world (or across the country?) will you be heading this summer?

So with summer coming up quickly and Memorial Day approaching even faster, there’s a good chance you’ll be hitting the road in the coming weeks and months – be it for a music festival, a trip to see old friends, a summer wedding or some much-deserved R-and-R. Either way, how exactly are you going to get there and what are you going to bring? I’ll leave you to figure out your travel reservations — but in the meantime, get prepped to pack with all of the stylish essentials you’ll need, from a great weekender bag to the clothing you might want to throw in it.

The Weekender Bag: Navali Stowaway Weekender Bag — $200

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe.  A different color than the version up on the site now, but still a great model.

The Navali Stowaway Weekender bag in Carafe. A different color than the version up on the site now, but still a great model.

While the version for sale on the brand’s site right now comes in different color options than the bag pictured above, the nuts and bolts are still the same. With a Navali bag, you get a unique combination of quality and a relatively affordable price — a bag you’re going to depend on for getting from point A to point B had better be reliable, well-built and good-looking to boot.  It’s made from durable cotton canvas and features added reinforcement at key stress points and leather handles. If you’re in need of a larger or more business-friendly suitcase, you could pick up something sleek and minimal from Tumi.

The Dopp Kit: J. Crew Factory Carson Travel Kit — $34.50 And Toiletries — Brickell Men’s Products

J. Crew Factory's Carson Travel Kit pictured with some other travel essentials. Rubber strap watch by Stuhrling. Stainless steel watch by Invicta. Toiletries by Brickell Men's Products.

J. Crew Factory’s Carson Travel Kit pictured with some other travel essentials. Rubber strap watch by Stuhrling. Stainless steel watch by Invicta. Toiletries by Brickell Men’s Products.

Once you’ve loaded up your weekender bag with budget style essentials fit for a trip, what are you going to do with those toiletries? Even doing something as simple as buying a nicer receptacle for that plastic Ziploc bag to get through security helps tie together the complete travel/style combination. J. Crew Factory’s Carson Travel Kit comes in rugged shades of olive, khaki or deep navy, any of which would be a fine (and durable) addition to your travel lineup. On the cheaper yet still nice-looking side, Target is also making a nice toiletries kit. As far as grooming supplies go, you can’t go wrong on the skin and body care front with some travel-sized essentials from Brickell  Men’s Products — they’re affordably priced and they really do work wonders for your skin (full review here).

The Everyday Carry: Issara Laptop Sleeve (11″ or 13″)  — $116.10 OR $125.10

Navy + leather = quality your laptop can appreciate.

Navy + leather = quality your laptop can appreciate.

For those of us who pack up the laptop when we hit the road, carrying around something with a bit of a luxe feel to it can be a nice upgrade. There are less expensive, sporty options out there but something made out of fine full-grain leather like this laptop sleeve feels great to the touch and befits a laptop that probably cost a pretty penny. This piece and others are available for pre-order now, so keep that in mind as you hit the road. On another note, the navy leather is another step up as far as travel gear goes. If that color isn’t your thing, it’s also available in cognac or black.

The Wallet: Linjer Leather Goods Mocha Billfold

Made out of vegetable-tanned leather and with enough room for everything you need to hit the road.

Made out of vegetable-tanned leather and with enough room for everything you need to hit the road.

This accessory is another item that can easily become part of your everyday carry outside of travel, too. Linjer’s mocha billfold wallet is a beautifully crafted piece made out of supple leather. It’s got enough space for six cards and a nifty hidden pocket for important documents (or just extra cash). The site is taking pre-orders for those pieces currently, but if you travel exceptionally light and want a piece with some personality, The Hill-Side’s card cases combine excellent fabrics and leather in a slim profile. Of course, as part of your everday carry, it’d be wise to pack a sharp watch — best be on schedule!

The Reading Material: A great book

Weekend reading pictured. Would recommend a smaller book for travel. Leather valet tray by Made Supply Co. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

Weekend reading pictured. Would recommend a smaller book for travel. Leather valet tray by Made Supply Co. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta.

I’m a voracious reader in my spare time (if you’ve been following along with the weekly Friday Read pieces, you know that much), but getting into a great book is one of my favorite things to do when traveling. Picking up something digitally if you have a Kindle is definitely a nice option, and I also prefer excellent longform-focused sites like Narratively for digital perusal.

The Travel Outfit

An outfit that moves from place to place with easy. Unconstructed navy blazer by J. Crew. Chambray shirt by GAP. Suede wingtips by Oliberté. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta. Black denim by American Apparel.

An outfit that moves from place to place with easy. Unconstructed navy blazer by J. Crew. Chambray shirt by GAP. Suede wingtips by Oliberté. Stainless steel dive watch by Invicta. Black denim by American Apparel.

What to wear while traveling is likely an entirely different post in and of itself (keep your eyes peeled for that!), but outfits that straddle the line between dressy and casual definitely seem to work the best — think something casual-cool, like the unconstructed blazer seen above with a four-season chambray shirt and black (or blue) denim for spring & summer travel. The goal would be to look good but be comfortable moving around and sitting — the suede wingtips seen above could easily be swapped out for white sneakers, while the chambray shirt could be traded in for a pocket tee; in the cold weather, a navy wool blazer would work just the same. Conversely, a great bomber jacket and a short-sleeve henley worn with dark denim works for spring and summer layering as you travel between chillier and hotter climes. Of course, if you’re bringing a suit to a destination, the best suggestion seems to be to simply wear it — more terrific suggestions on dressing for travel from the team at Dappered over here.

Now that you know the bag to grab and what to fill it with, let me know — what are your must-have travel essentials? What items not shown here would pack instead?

The Watchery

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Bundled up: Packing for a chilly Michigan weekend

Although I’m based in Brooklyn now (along with my amazing girlfriend Liz), my roots are in mid-Michigan. I grew up twenty minutes from Michigan State University, wrote and edited news and sports for three years at The State News and absolutely consider myself a Spartan at heart — sorry to disappoint any Wolverine fans reading the blog (see you in October, yes?). So all of that makes this weekend pretty special — I’m flying back into Lansing, Mich., on Friday and taking the short drive down the road to reconnect with great friends from both high school and college.

A picture from my stint as sports editor at The State News, circa spring 2014 (I'm on the far left).

A picture from my stint as sports editor at The State News, circa spring 2014 (I’m on the far left).

It’s an exciting trip, one that I’ve been looking forward to for a while. With that being said, I’m still aiming to get around in style. It should be a pretty chilly weekend back in the Mitten (unlike a trip this past summer to San Francisco), so I’m aiming to to be warm and still look good. Of course, I’ll be bringing all my gear in my trusty Navali Stowaway Weekender and a well-worn Kenneth Cole Reaction messenger bag. Check out the photos and line-up below to see what’s trip-worthy.

Most of what's going in the bag this weekend. Sweaters and shirts top left, bags top right. Jeans, shoes and socks bottom left. Dopp kit and other accessories on the bottom right.

Most of what’s going in the bag this weekend. Sweaters and shirts top left, bags top right. Jeans, shoes and socks bottom left. Dopp kit and other accessories on the bottom right. Not pictured: Overcoat, scarf and gloves.

Kenneth Cole Wool-Blend Overcoat (Sold out; for more on great topcoats, click here)

J. Crew Factory Scarf and Target Merona Black Leather Gloves (Sold-out; similar option here)

Todd Snyder shawl-collar cardigan (Sold-out; similar option here)

Reigning Champ Raglan Crewneck Sweatshirt (Budget-friendly option here)

Bonobos Rhodes Collar Blue OCBD (Similar option here)

GAP Chambray Shirt

Everlane White Henley 

American Apparel Charcoal Jersey Pocket T-shirt

Bonobos Slim Tailored Travel Jeans in Allegheny Oak (Review here)

Bonobos Slim Tailored Blue Jeans in Resin Dark Rinse

Target Merona Braided Leather Belt

Perry Ellis Black Webbed Belt

JCP Stafford Camlin Wingtip Boots (Sold-out; similar option here)

Billy Reid x K-Swiss Leather Sneakers

J. Crew Factory Printed Socks

J. Crew Ribbed Stripe Socks and Red Foulard Socks (Sold out; similar option here)

Stuhrling Aquadiver Manta Ray Watch

Invicta Pro Diver 8926 Watch

For toiletries: J. Crew Factory Dopp Kit and Brickell Men’s Products Face Wash & Moisturizer

At first glance, that might seem like a lot of clothes for one weekend. However, each piece has its purpose in combatting the cold Michigan weather. I plan to wear the crewneck sweatshirt, blue OCBD, Bonobos Travel Jeans and wingtip boots on the plane, layered under my charcoal overcoat. That same combination should feasibly work on Friday out and about in East Lansing, although based on conditions on the ground there, I might switch over to my leather sneakers for more casual wear.

A close-up look at some personal favorites. Pictured: Billy Reid x K-Swiss sneakers, Gap chambray and Bonobos Travel Jeans in Allegheny Oak.

A close-up look at some personal favorites. Pictured: Billy Reid x K-Swiss sneakers, GAP chambray and Bonobos Travel Jeans in Allegheny Oak.

For the rest of the weekend, I plan to layer either the Reigning Champ crewneck or Todd Snyder cardigan (a recent purchase —check out another photo here) with my Everlane henley, the GAP chambray shirt or the charcoal pocket T-shirt. Any combination should work well given the weather and the relatively interchangeable colors of each piece. And since the trip should involve some visits to East Lansing’s finer establishments, either sweater should also look stylish but not too dressy. If the weather proves warmer than expected, any of the above shirts could be worn on their own, too.

I’m definitely looking forward to wearing more casual outfits this weekend, as I tend to stay pretty dressed up during the week. On the accessories front, either casual belt should fit right in  — since my sneakers are a rugged, worn-in brown leather and part of casual pairings, I’m not too concerned about matching with the casual black belt from Perry Ellis or my black rubber-strap watch.

The key accessories for this trip. Pictured: J. Crew Factory Dopp Kit, Perry Ellis Black Webbed Belt, Target Merona Braided Leather Belt, Invicta & Stuhrling Watches, along with some Brickell Men's Products.

The key accessories for this trip. Pictured: J. Crew Factory Dopp Kit, Perry Ellis Black Webbed Belt, Target Merona Braided Leather Belt and Invicta & Stuhrling watches, along with some recent pick-ups from Brickell Men’s Products.

That brown leather belt from Target’s Merona line has proven to be durable and versatile as well, bringing the right amount of fall and winter texture to casual outfits. It can be worn with either set of shoes, too (on that note — if it proves extremely snowy, the sneakers might have to stay in the bag). With a lot of varying shades of blue in various outfits, darker navy or red socks should offer a nice contrast, while the grey patterned socks can be worn casually with any combination (because matching your socks to your pants is old-fashioned, right?).

As to my accessories, I’m admittedly a watch guy — my collection recently grew to include a Form-Function-Form No. 8 Chromexcel Horween leather strap. However, for maximum versatility, I’ll be bringing my silver Invicta dive watch to pair with either belt or shoe combination (for more on the watch, see the above review). I’m also packing a black rubber-strap watch as a second, more casual option. Of course, no trip would be complete without a handy (and stylish) dopp kit, like the terrific olive waxed cotton option from J. Crew Factory pictured above. Mine will definitely include some skincare essentials I just picked up from Brickell Men’s Products. With all the above in mind, hopefully this bag is packed for maximum versatility and style.

Next week, check back for a recap on the trip and this packing plan! 

What’s in your bag when you hit the road? Any travel must-haves?

The Product Review: Brickell Men’s Products

Reviewing an up-and-coming skincare brand.

Reviewing an up-and-coming skincare brand.

While lots of us put care into our appearance and overall style, there are parts that seem to get overlooked (speaking from personal experience here) — namely, skin care! You’ve simply got to have the best men’s grooming essentials on deck these days. It’s part of the full package in terms of taking care of yourself physically and mentally, and it’s probably even more important than the clothes you wear — after all, it’s an indicator of overall health, and that’s why you need the best men’s grooming picks for day-to-night skincare. A terrific post from our friends over at Effortless Gent really got me thinking about this concept — Josh from Brickell Men’s Products preaches the importance of developing a daily skincare routine (and using high-quality products, like those from Brickell, to do it). Given the EG-approved recommendation, that was enough for me to take the plunge myself.

I picked up the Purifying Charcoal Face Wash and added in a sample of the brand’s Daily Essential Face Moisturizer for Men, both using a discount code related to Effortless Gent (the brand is currently knocking 15% off your first purchase if you sign up via email). They rolled into my mailbox about a week ago, giving me ample time to test them out — and the results are in! Now the brand has gotten quite a bit of press across the past few months, so those testimonials would be an excellent source to check out, too.

For other grooming brands I love, be sure to check out Oars + Alps — use the code BEAU15 to get 15 percent off at checkout. Go ahead and check out the excellent men’s grooming gear at Huron, too. 

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Charcoal face wash that capitalizes on a recent skincare trend (with good presentation, to boot).

 

The first thing that jumps out is the packaging, seen at the top of the page. The cardboard box is crisp and sturdy, stamped with a masculine logo, much like other guys’ skincare brands out there — not that that’s a bad thing, by any means. The full-size face wash bottle is a nice, deep emerald green color – a small detail to be sure, but that makes it pleasing to look at. Other products on the site feature either that same green shade or a deep red bottle color.

As for starting to use the product itself, there weren’t any visible directions on the bottle (not that many are needed for face wash, anyhow) — but that was rectified with a tips email that came the day after the package was received, outlining best practices for using the charcoal face wash. For the record, using a dime-sized amount of product with warm water works best to wash your face, followed by cold water to clean off.

Charcoal face wash on the left, with a moisturizer sample on the right.

Charcoal face wash on the left, with a moisturizer sample on the right.

Pairing the face wash with the moisturizer immediately thereafter (and following that process twice a day) has yielded some pretty pleasing results. I’ve noticed that despite the cold winter weather, my face doesn’t feel dry – using both products helps a great deal with beating winter skin irritation. Neither product drys out the skin either, something that can be an issue with other skincare products. While I’m no expert in skincare by any means, those are definitely positives to using these products. I’d expect that that same quality extends elsewhere, too.

In the future, I’m definitely inclined to purchase a larger version of the moisturizer, and I’d definitely add other products — like the shampoo or the body wash. Note that they also produce, among other products, a full line of shaving items (minus the razor and blades), and travel sizes for each.

Pricing is comparable to other skincare brands for like-minded products (in this case, the moisturizer is slightly pricier than the Jack Black option because Brickell offers a larger bottle). Knocking off 15% on your first order is definitely preferable at the moment, but extremely frequent refills shouldn’t be needed — so this option hopefully won’t stretch too many budgets. They’re definitely a solid bet among several other competitors — going with a surefire option like this could be a great way to complete an overall lifestyle routine. 

What are your skincare steps? What products would you recommend? Any experience with Brickell Men’s Products? And what are your thoughts on the best grooming brands for men right now? Leave your thoughts below!