Saving money on travel gear is one of the often overlooked parts of budget travel that can have a big impact on your total trip cost.
We're all used to looking for cheap flights and great hotel deals. But when it comes to finding the right gear, whether it be backpack, hiking boots, or something in between, it takes a bit more work (and time) to strike the perfect balance between low cost and high quality. After all, you may not need the most expensive gear in the world, but you don't want something that's going to fall apart within the first 3 days of your trip either.
That's why we teamed up with our friends at Lustre, creators of the free product research assistant, to see if their browser extension could actually be the secret weapon that helps us save time and money by finding us the right travel gear at the perfect price.
What is Lustre?
Lustre is a free browser extension designed to automatically find you the best products while saving you time and money. Lustre doesn't just scour the internet to find the best possible travel gear in your price range. It also crowdsources thousands of reviews and ratings from across the internet – from YouTube and Reddit to CNET and New York Times’ Wirecutter – to guarantee that you’re making the right choice. No more opening 50 browser tabs to compare products or spending hours sifting through review sections.
How does Lustre work for travel gear?
To put Lustre to the test, we decided to shop for some of the travel gear we'd usually want before a big trip. The goal was to strike the perfect balance between budget-friendly and high-quality, reliable gear without spending hours upon hours doing research and sifting through reviews. We selected 3 travel items commonly found on our packing lists, one from each of the following price ranges: $0-$50, $50-$100, and $100+. Then, we evaluated Lustre's results. Here's how it performed.
Rechargeable Battery Pack ($0-$50)
Between snapping a million photos for Instagram and using Google Maps to find your way to that one restaurant you saw on Parts Unknown, your phone battery is likely to take a serious beating on vacation. That’s why rechargeable power banks become virtual must-haves during travel.
As you can see, Lustre’s best overall choice for the 'cheapest battery pack worth buying' was the Anker PowerCore 10000 PD Redux. Personally, I’m a huge fan of Anker’s power banks. I’ve got an older model that has served me very well over the last few years on countless trips and is still going strong. So, as far as I’m concerned, this is a winning choice by Lustre.
Hiking Boots ($50-$100)
If you’ve ever tried to do a sunrise hike in ill-fitting sandals or spent all day climbing the hilly streets of a city like Lisbon in shoes without a hint of arch support, you know that the right pair of shoes can make or break your day, if not your trip. But while it’s definitely worth spending a little bit more on the right shoes, you don’t need boots fit to conquer Everest either. So how did Lustre do finding the balance between quality and price on quality footwear?
According to Lustre, the cheapest hiking boots worth buying were the Merrell Moab Vent 2, both men's and women’s styles. Both pairs come in at under $100, are Amazon bestsellers, and have over 20,000 reviews between the two of them – which we didn’t have to sift through thanks to Lustre.
Travel backpack ($100 and up)
It’s always worth spending a bit more money on a solid travel backpack, especially if you’ll be using it for long stretches of time.
First, you obviously want something that will last longer than one trip and won't lose a strap if mishandled by a careless baggage handler (been there). Then, you want to look for something that can not only comfortably fit all of your essentials (and then some) but also distributes weight well so that you don’t feel like a top-heavy turtle when you’re shuffling through the streets of Bangkok looking for your hotel.
When using Lustre, we went mid-range and searched for backpacks priced around $140. Lustre’s top selection was the Osprey Farpoint 55 and we agree wholeheartedly. Not only is it one of the most popular travel backpacks among digital nomads but at less than $120 (at the time of this post), it’s incredibly well priced. Especially when you consider Osprey’s unbeatable lifetime replacement guarantee.
Start saving money on travel gear
Stop wasting time sifting through reviews, researching products you've never heard of, and wondering if you're actually getting a good deal. Instead, let Lustre do the grunt work for you and download the free browser extension today!
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.