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Innovative travel products that earned high remarks during Shop TODAY’s 2024 Travel Gear Awards, starting at $16

Shop wow-worthy products like a multitasking duffel bag to a self-filtering water bottle
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY; Courtesy Becca Delman

As shopping editors, we're constantly receiving and reviewing products across all categories, searching for the best of the best. From time to time, there are items that leave us more than impressed — and they're not always from the brands that we'd expect.

Our 2024 Shop TODAY Travel Gear Awards is a testament to that fact. After reviewing over 100 travel must-haves and putting them through extensive evaluations, we determined the best in the business, including quite a few that were quite unexpected.

From a transformative duffel bag to a rain jacket that kept multiple editors dry throughout a New York City rainstorm, the products below have features beyond what we could've asked for in a travel product.

Award-winning travel innovators | Has your product been featured? | How we chose | Meet the experts

Award-winning travel innovators

Hanes Original Soft Brushed Fleece Joggers

Value: 5/5 | Quality: 4.3/5 | Satisfaction 5/5 | Overall score: 4.7/5 | Award: Best overall jogger/travel pant | Sizes: XS-2XL | Colors: 3

Did you think Hanes only made undergarments? Think again. These fleece joggers proved to be our editors' favorite when it came to joggers and travel pants, with one of them even asking "Can I live in these joggers, please?"

With a forgiving waistband and a fleece interior, they were practically living in these sweats, noting that they even replaced their normal go-to's.

"They are hands down the softest pair of sweatpants I’ve ever tried on," says associate commerce editor Dani Musacchio. "They fit perfectly — not too baggy but not too form-fitting."

Brita Premium Filtering Water Bottle

Value: 5/5 | Quality: 4/5 | Satisfaction 4/5 | Overall score: 4.3/5 | Award: Best budget water bottle | Size: 26 ounces | Colors: 7

While this water bottle is not insulated, it took home the award for best budget water bottle for its self-filtering powers, that help make this brand a go-to for clean water.

Especially helpful and reassuring when traveling internationally, the straw on this water bottle can be enclosed to prevent leaks and spills.

Patagonia Ultralight Black Hole Mini Hip Pack

Value: 4/5 | Quality: 4/5 | Satisfaction 5/5 | Overall score: 4.3/5 | Award: Best belt bag | Size: 1 liter | Colors: 8

This small but mighty hip pack proved to be a powerhouse of a product during testing since it can pack into itself, passed our waterproofing test and can be worn multiple ways.

Plus, it truly earned the nickname of being a "black hole" bag, storing the essentials and then some, making it more than ideal for day trips.

Carhartt Vertical Snap Tote

Value: 4/5 | Quality: 5/5 | Satisfaction 3/5 | Overall score: 4/5 | Award: Best waterproof / all weather tote | Dimensions: 15.5” X 14” X 5.5” | Colors: 2

What was once a brand designed for blue collar workers has now been transformed into one that provides utilitarian products for the masses — and this tote bag is a perfect example.

It passed our waterproofing test with flying colors, as water slid right off of it when doused. It's extremely lightweight to carry, and the exterior fabric proves to be both sturdy and durable.

Plus, it has more pockets than you can fill, with three interior pockets and two wide water bottle pockets on the side.

CORSurf Huakai Jacket

Value: 4.5/5 | Quality: 5/5 | Satisfaction 4.5/5 | Overall Score: 4.7/5 | Category: Best waterproof jacket | Sizes: S-2XL | Colors: 3

Each of our editors who tested this rain jacket during New York City's week-long stint of rainy weather noted there were no cons, helping it earn perfect remarks all across the board.

"This jacket is lightweight but still insulates — it kept me much warmer than expected!" says editor Evan Siegel. "I appreciate that it has drawstrings at the waist so I can adjust the fit, and pockets for all my essentials."

Halfday The Garment Duffel

Value: 5/5 | Quality: 4/5 | Satisfaction 3/5 | Overall Score: 4/5 | Award: Best innovative carry-on | Sizes: 40 & 45 liter options available | Colors: 10

If there was one product that truly impressed our team, it was this 2-in-1, garment-turned-duffel bag. It arrives as a garment bag, and when you zip it up, turns into a spacious 40- or 45-liter duffel, complete with two side pockets for shoes, as well as a carrying strap.

It passed our in-house waterproofing test, revealing no wet spots in the interior after being splashed with water, meaning your nicest outfits are protected against the elements while inside the bag.

Shop TODAY readers can save 25% off by using the code TODAY at checkout on the brand's site, now through April 25.

Spanx AirEssentials Jumpsuit

Value: 4/5 | Quality: 4.7/5 | Satisfaction 4.7/5 | Overall score: 4.4 | Award: Best one-and-done outfit | Size: XS-3X; with petite, regular and tall options available | Colors: 3

It's no secret that we're big fans of Spanx. Their "light-as-air" fabric makes it easy to fall in love with a number of their products, but especially this one-and-done outfit.

"I’ve always sworn that jumpsuits just weren’t for me," says Musacchio. "I’ve brought so many into dressing rooms only to leave them on the rack. When I put this one on, I was shocked by how flattering it looked on me. I love how the waist cinches in without feeling too restrictive. The material is unbelievably soft and it feels like I’m wearing sweatpants. This is definitely coming with me on my next trip — it’s the ultimate cozy one-and-done outfit."

Timbuk2 Impulse Travel Backpack Duffel

Value: 4/5 | Quality: 5/5 | Satisfaction 4/5 | Overall score: 4.3 | Award: Best travel daypack | Size: 45 liters | Weight: 3.7 pounds | Colors: 1

Another splurge-worthy product, this daypack can be worn as a backpack or carried as a duffel, helping it beat out top brands. Plus, you can pack it multiple ways, thanks to the many compartments and pockets.

With a main compartment to pack into, or top, side and hip pockets, you'll have no trouble fitting everything you need into this 45-liter backpack.

One feature that helped this bag shine was the waist strap, which alleviated some weight off the shoulders when wearing it.

Baggallini Gramercy Carry-On Duffel

Value: 5/5 | Quality: 4/5 | Satisfaction 4/5 | Overall score: 4.3 | Award: Best splurge carry-on | Dimensions: 21.5”w x 12”h x 11.5”d | Weight: 6.9 pounds | Colors: 3

While this product is notably a splurge, the amount of space it provides could help you save in the long run by not having to check a bag for longer trips.

With multiple compartments, interior pockets (each complete with a mesh lining!) and additional shoe storage built into the bottom, this multitasking duffel can be rolled throughout the terminal or carried to your destination.

Some things to keep in mind is that it doesn't come with 360-degree wheels and was initially pretty heavy before being packed with items.

Has your product been featured?

Shop TODAY is editorially independent and our team of editors and writers work hard to pick the best products to share with our readers and viewers. We may license our logo to brands or products that have been featured on Shop TODAY. Click here if you’re interested in licensing your inclusion in Shop TODAY content or to learn more from our licensing partner, Wrights Media.

How we chose

We sorted through hundreds of new launches, editor recommendations, trending products flooding our social media pages and tried and true products to curate a list of must-have travel items worth reviewing for our awards. We then tried the products in our studios, putting them through practical experiments to see if they meet requirements when it comes to durability, function and quality for travel gear. Then, our team of editors and writers signed up to try out apparel and shoes, putting them to the test in New York City — and as far as Guatemala — to see how they held up. Finally, our panel of experts reviewed some of our winners and gave feedback based on their expertise.

Meet the experts

  • Brady Schrock is a flight attendant for a commercial airline.
  • Katie Jackson is a travel writer and expert, who also served on our panel of experts in 2023.
  • Jonathan Alder is a luxury travel planner and adviser, and CEO of Jonathan’s Travels, a travel management company.