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I banged my forehead against the wall, silently cursing myself for signing up for this class.

Scattered in front of me were several novels, each at least four inches thick.

On my computer screen, the blinking cursor in the middle of a blank Word doc taunted me. Where, oh where, was my paper that was due in less than 10 hours?

I felt like it was jammed down the back of my throat. Jammed to a place I’d never been and couldn’t find. A place that I didn’t know existed until I signed up for a course on J.R.R. Tolkien and found out that place’s name: Middle-Earth.

Definition: Middle-Earth: A fantasy land populated by dwarves, elves, hobbits, and the like; a world set in a wild, rugged world that looks remarkably like New Zealand.

Instantly recognizable to movie goers as the visually-striking world that director Peter Jackson, director, brought to life in the stunning Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.

Many years ago when I was yanking a paper out, word by word, for my midterm in a Tolkien class, I never thought I’d want to visit the Shire.

Peter Jackson, you charming devil, changed that feeling by filming all three Lord of the Rings movies in jaw-dropping New Zealand.

Basic Packing List

If you’re headed to New Zealand, this is your basic packing list. Start here and then tweak for the region you’re visiting and the time of year. There’s a big difference between the sunny north coast of the north island, with palm trees, and watching penguins surf ashore outside of Oamaru on the cold, drizzly south coast of the south island in winter.

  • Waterproof and windproof jacket
  • Scarf to ward off chills
  • Long-sleeve layers
  • T-shirts to layer
  • Tank tops to layer
  • Sunglasses
  • Fellowship of the Ring
  • Two Towers
  • The Return of the King

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Remember those beach weekends where you tried to squeeze every last minute of available time jumping through crashing waves and flipping in that heavily chlorinated hotel pool? When the fortieth call of, “We’re leaving in five minutes!” finally arrived, you dripped the whole way to the car and then there were only two options. You’d either wind up sitting in that soggy, gross, wet bathing suit for the duration of the journey home or you’d jam soaking wet stuff into a plastic grocery bag or ziplock in hopes of keeping the rest of the luggage damp and mildew-infested.

Travel has changed since we were kids.  Today we all have mini-computers in the palms of our hands, can book accommodation with the click of a button in the middle of the night and can even get our groceries delivered by drone. Regardless of the newfound technologies, most travelers still do their best to take in every last possible minute of each extraordinary adventure and those wet bathing suits still remain something to ‘deal with.’ Can we agree that the plastic bags are a drag and don’t work that well? Now, there’s a better way: Enter the wet/dry bag.

The Wet/Dry Bag

Many weekend and urban travelers pack everything in one bag. Those ‘going out’ outfits snuggle in next to your swimsuit, sweaty gym kit, or snow-angel attire and it all (usually) makes its way home. We head straight off the slopes, straight from the mud-run, straight from the three day thru-hike, or directly from the pool to our method of transport home and everything still gets thrown in that one bag.

Aimed at keeping your adventurous spirit in tact and keeping your gear from getting ruined, the Outbreaker wet/dry bag is a perfect addition to your travel pack.

The Specs

  • Dimensions: 10x10x5” (packed)
  • Volume: 8 liters
  • Weight: .2 lb
  • Material: Waterproof sailcloth/Duraflex buckle
  • Features: Anti-fungal/anti-microbial coating

Click to continue…

Have you ever walked into an REI (or visited their website) in search of a new bag and found yourself immediately overwhelmed?

I know I have and I design bags for a living. Everything on the wall looks both incredibly similar and vastly different. I mean, on the surface the backpacks all do the same job. They all allow you to carry a bunch of shit, hands free, with the weight distributed across both of your shoulders. But, I know these are all different; figuring out how they’re different is the hard part.

Which Bag is Right for You?

Things don’t get much easier when you isolate a single brand. Earlier today I was looking at a bag company’s website, a bag company I really like, and they listed 12 backpacks that look virtually the same in size, shape and function. These aren’t just different colors or different materials, but completely different bags. They are sized and shaped slightly differently. They have slightly different features.

They are all presented, however, as equally sized tiny thumbnails in 4 neatly organized rows. Sure, it looks pretty, but it makes the differences in the products nearly imperceptible.

I don’t want to blame the designers here. I know many of them. They’re really smart and talented. I know they have a specific person and experience in mind when they design each and every bag. As a consumer, though, I can’t figure it out.

Extensively researching the the things I buy is something I enjoy; it’s fun. But figuring out which bag I like shouldn’t require an advanced degree. Bags just aren’t that complicated.

Solving this problem… in addition to, you know, designing awesome products… is one of my main jobs at Tortuga. Our solution? To design collections of products around specific travel experiences. Each individual product must be awesome on its own, but also function seamlessly with the other products in the collection. The Outbreaker Collection is the first incarnation of this idea. Click to continue…