Living in New Zealand, I discovered several products that I fell in love with. Getting apparel made with merino wool at a reasonable price was just a bonus.
The good news is that most of the products I love now have a more extensive distribution worldwide.
Shoe suggestions for a round-the-world trip
Let’s start with the best shoes in the world made by Allbirds. I own at least six pairs. I have taken three of them with me to New York. I even ordered two more pairs while I was here. I only had two pairs on our world trip, and they work from Allbirds.
They are branching into a broader product line, including socks, but their shoes are the best anywhere.
There are several styles, but basically, two primary materials are used. The warmer all-weather “mizzles” are made with merino wool, while the lighter “tree runners” are sourced from eucalyptus tree fibre.
While I was living in New Zealand, Allbirds never had a sale, but that’s changing. Some models and colours will come up on sale occasionally if you’re on their mailing list; I’ve picked up a couple of pairs that way. These are reasonable, even at the regular price, given the cost of a good pair of shoes.
I think the cost of the following socks I’m going to recommend is also reasonable, given their lifetime guarantees.
There are two different producers of socks from New Zealand, both of which have lifetime guarantees. As a side note, you do need to keep your receipt.
The one that you often find recommended is from Icebreaker. Again, these are usually made with merino wool and come in various sizes, shapes and colours. Icebreakers often show up as one of the more recommended socks for travellers.
My favourite is Darn Tough. I think it’s just a personal matter of taste as to whether the socks’ size and thickness are, but both are great choices.
While in Iceland, I took my heavy-duty Icebreaker’s, and I am glad I did. They were perfect for my boots. They are designed specifically for left and right feet. Somehow, I still manage to put them on backwards more than half the time.
There may be a lot of high-end camping, sports and traveller stores, but in my mind, you can’t beat the quality value with Decathlon. Decathlon is a French company throughout Europe and has now branched out to North America. I recommend their small, inexpensive backpacks, which can easily fit into your other suitcases and are perfect for a carry-on. We own at least a half dozen of various colours we use all the time. Next time you see a smaller backpack, see if the brand is Quechua.
While I love my merino sweaters, I must say that they are not the best things to pack for certain types of travel, particularly backpacking. You don’t want to get them wet, you have to wash them carefully, and they may take a while to dry. They are great for colder climates, in my opinion.
I don’t care if scarves are not all that practical for travelling. In some instances, I love to have a few with me. They can dress up an outfit, even a casual one, and of course, they provide warmth from the wind and cold. Just don’t take silk ones. You may prefer the small neck gaiters, which I particularly like.
For colder climates, gloves are a more tricky item. It depends on where you’re going. Once again, I go with different styles of merino gloves with and without fingers. But I don’t think that’s what most people would like. Do you want something warm but not bulky?
Finally, Hats Apparel
We all have our choices regarding wintertime, but beanies or togues are probably the easiest. I look awful in hats, so it will be terrible no matter what I wear. I have a merino set that I love and took with me to Iceland. It was lovely and warm.
Now, most people are going to recommend Tilley hats. I have one. I like it. It looks stupid on me, and I find it too warm. Having a sun hat made of material you can crunch up is essential.
That said, I have found one sun hat maker, Electric Pukeko, that I have fallen in love with. Guess what? Again from New Zealand. Unfortunately, they do not fold up at all.
While living in New Zealand, I stumbled across a hat and a Salvation Army second-hand store. I paid three dollars for it and fell in love with it completely. I took it on our world trip, knowing it would get totally destroyed as these don’t fold up.
These hats aren’t cheap, but well worth it. Unfortunately, you have to pay for shipping. So knowing that I was going through New Zealand on our actual trip, I ordered two and had them sent to a friend. Even though my original one was in bad shape, I insisted on keeping it and travelled on the planes, carrying three hats.