It’s never too early to start dreaming of your next sunny getaway, right? Well, it’s also never too early to start thinking of how you’re going to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. UV Couture is a line of Canadian-made-and-designed clothing with 50+ UPF (the fabric equivalent of SPF). In comparison, a typical white T-shirt has a UPF of just 4. The most useful item may be the Paulina Full-Zip Jacket, which provides full coverage yet still keeps you cool. It’s easy to throw on over a sundress or light top on days you’re going back and forth between indoors and out. And it’s long enough to cover your butt, so you can wear it with leggings and not feel too exposed. I find it especially useful in my non-beach life, when I wear it on my walk to work: I’m protected without having to smell like coconut at the office all day. Available in white and black. $115; uvcouture.com - Domini Clark
Tilley Belt Bag
Tilley, the Canadian company best known for its eponymous hats, is smart enough to avoid the term “fanny pack” for its stylish belt bag. Made from Italian leather, the adjustable belt fits waist sizes from 34 to 44 inches. The bag itself has plenty of storage space for its modest size – eight inches long by five inches tall. There’s a main zippered pouch plus a smaller one in the front. The smartest feature, especially for anyone who doesn’t want to have to fiddle with zippers to get to a ringing cellphone or other quick-grab item, is an open pocket between the two zippered pouches. The whole thing is big enough to fit the essentials – phone, cash, keys – but small enough to be stylish and unobtrusive.
Too often, these types of bags have way too much going on, or come with just one large pocket that isn’t practical. The metal clasp is easy to use and the leather gives the bag a sturdy feel. With its glossy leather exterior and pink interior, it may be too eye-catching for people who prefer discretion over style. Now they just need to make a men’s version. $140; tilley.com - Dave McGinn
In these tense times of full flights and even fuller overhead bins, Heys Vantage “smart luggage” carry-on is your friend. It is roomy yet regulation size, so you’ll have no trouble avoiding those baggage fees. This is a front-loading piece – an innovation in hard-side luggage that lets you stack your stuff from the bottom up, instead of packing two halves and mashing them together. Laptops get prime placement with a padded pocket in the front-access compartment. Depending on how you work the zippers, this compartment opens as if on hinge (to slip out the computer) or like a door (to grab other items). Gel padding under the handle is a brilliant idea, and much appreciated when you’re forced to lug this bag instead of letting it glide along on its smooth, four spinning wheels. A dimpled polycarbonate exterior is not as cute as the flashy patterns Heys is known for, but it is much more durable. Clever and convenient, this luggage is made to last. A bag worth investing in. $160; heys.ca - Catherine Dawson March
LittleLife Ultralight S3
Travelling with an infant? Good luck packing light. The LittleLife Ultralight 3S, available at MEC, promises a streamlined solution. Essentially, it’s a backpack that carries your child with zippered pockets to hold a couple of spare diapers, books, wipes and snacks. With your child on your back, your hands are free – travelling through an airport just got a lot easier.
It meets carry-on luggage requirements for most airlines and the knapsack portion is spacious enough to hold everything you may need for a flight. An exterior zippered front pocket easily holds your wallet and passport, even a small toy, but you won’t be able to reach it without taking the backpack off. The adjustable seat offers a comfortable ride, too – my 16-month-old daughter enthusiastically yelped, “backpack!” as I put her in and enjoyed peeking at strangers over my shoulder. Great for travel, the LittleLife Ultralight 3S is best used with another adult. Stashing your gear and your infant on your back makes life much easier, but you will need an extra pair of hands to reach them. $190; mec.ca - Wency Leung
Victorinox, Victoria collection
Victorinox, a brand best known for its knives, luggage and high-end men’s wear, is launching a line of travel bags for women. How do I know they’re for women? The Victoria collection is (for some reason) daintier and smaller, and uses a lot of purple and lime green as interior colours. The most multipurpose (and cutest, I’ll be honest) carry-all in the line is called Sage. It might look like a purse, but it packs like a roomy carry-on.
A padded spot for your notebook or tablet still leaves plenty of room for a wallet, snacks and so on. Another micro-suede pocket protects your sunglasses from scratches, and expansion zips on either end of the bag mean you can slim down once you’ve unloaded at your destination.
The Sage features at least eight pockets (I may have missed some) – enough that if you’re not careful you might forget where you packed your ear buds. My favourite is the rear pocket, which zips open at the bottom to slip over the handle of your wheelie bag (thoughtfully, a second pocket remains useable in this quick-access spot). Thin black leather straps make the purse attractive and sleek, but if you overload it for a day of exploring, expect those chic handles to make painful dents in your shoulder.
Purse and carry-on, this one does both well. Pair it with a wheelie bag and you won’t need to waste time at the baggage carousel. $225, available at select retailers and swissarmy.com/ca - Catherine Dawson March
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