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The Best Filtered Water Bottles For Travel

filtered water bottle

Water is essential for biological life but also the biggest ripoff in an airport. Not to mention it’s usually sold in plastic containers so a filtered water bottle can not only save you money but creates less waste as well. There are a variety of options for travelers making a straightforward accessory a potentially complicated decision.

To make it easy, there are basically two types of filtered water bottles to be aware of and these are the best filtered water bottles of each to travel with.

In Short, Two Types

Basically there are two primary types of filtered water bottle – those designed for hikers and those for tap water. For most travelers, the latter is what you’re looking for. The majority of filtered water bottles are made to purify tap water, which is useful at airports, new cities, or at the gym. Essentially, they improve the taste of and eliminate the most common bacteria (down to 0.01 micron) you might come across in already treated water.

The SurviMate won’t filter heavy metals or viruses meaning you can’t just fill it up from a lake and chug. But it can help you get cleaner water from drinking fountains at airports plus has replaceable filters.

Straight Outta Nature

On the other hand if you’ll be hiking or know you won’t have access to treated water, the GRAYL filters out nearly all bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals. GRAYL uses a manual pump system that can remove larger sediments as well. It might be a bit overkill depending on where you’ll be traveling but for the best portable water protection, the GRAYL is worth the investment.

More Options To Choose From

Of all the filtered water bottles I tested, the primary differences between the types were small. Tap water filters generally have a .01 micron limit and many SurviMate knockoffs don’t have replaceable filters. (Many claim the filters are “coming soon” but SurviMate’s been around a while and have filters that last a year under regular use of 4 liters/1 gallon per day.)

As for the wilderness water filters, the prices generally go up based on the amount of water being filtered but for backpackers a typical water bottle size is ideal. Other options like UV pens I’ve found aren’t as reliable since they can’t remove large particles or heavy metals from water like the GRAYL. You can check this map to see where you can and can’t drink the local water, filter tap as you go, or GRAYL for the great outdoors.

Where To Find The Best Street Food In Berlin (Vegan Options)

Being a crossroads of creativity and culture, Berlin has quietly been cultivating one of the best street food scenes in the world. For years craving the tastes of nonconformity, Berliners are open to many things, including food from around the world. Spice does not scare locals here, uncharacteristic of many other parts of Germany.

In a city where anything goes, finding an option for your particular preferences or dietary restrictions is easy enough. Starting with some of Turkish street foods that are unintentionally vegetarian and in many cases, vegan.

Breakfast Options – Akin Simit

There are two places in particular I would recommend visiting during the morning hours. During the week, if you’re in the Kruezberg area Akin Simit Fruhstuckshaus serves a variety of Turkish pastries. Straightforward and vegan, you can have a simit (a sort of Turkish bagel) or vegetarian pogaca (baked dough ball of butter and happy thoughts).

akin simit berlin

Sunday Mornings – Klas Backerei

On Sundays though, if you’re looking for Turkish breakfast, it’s better to head to Klas Backerei. They’re open all other days of the week (except Saturdays) which is a shame since Sunday is when they expand their breakfast menu. Before you walk in though if you’re just hungry enough for a quick snack, there’s a window where you can pick up gozleme. Those sell out very quickly and it’s the best place to find these flat hand-rolled flat dough pies stuffed with spinach, cheese… it varies.

klas backerei

Further inside, Klas Backerei has lentil soup, menemen (Turkish omelet), olives, strong tea, Turkish coffee plus a few other morning staples. Meat eaters, it’s worth getting a sucuk omelet, which is a greasy beef sausage that’s slightly so spicy on top of runny eggs. Gozleme on the side and some soft white bread to soak up what’s left is a small secret near Gorlitzer metro station.

Raw Meatball Without Meat. Also Not Raw

Cig kofte literally translates into raw meat ball in Turkish but these days it’s actually cooked bulgur wheat kneaded into spicy bites. Originally the spice was used to eliminate bacteria from raw beef – a version that still exists – although in a place like Berlin, going vegan is a smart business move.

  • Cigkofte Berlin (Herrfurthstraße 32) – you can find several other Turkish foods that have been made vegan, like icli kofte (kibbeh).

There are a lot of good options at Cigköfte Berlin with a vegan or vegetarian plate option – either are a good choice. You’ll get a variation of cig kofte (you can wrap in lettuce leave or flat bread), stuffed grape leaves, and other veg items you can choose from.

Curry 61

Honestly it’s hard to get a bad currywurst in much of Germany although many would argue it’s hard to get a good one. A large pork sausage covered in cheap ketchup with a sprinkle of curry doesn’t leave a lot of room for culinary expression. I’m highlighting the rather popular Curry 61 since they also have a vegan option of the otherwise meaty street food.

currywurst

Markthalle Neun – Thursday Only

If you’re in Berlin on a Thursday night, this is where you need to go. A large street food festival happens in Markthalle Neun every Thursday from around 5pm-10pm. There’s street food from all over the world – momo man is also there! – lots of German beer, and a wonderful atmosphere. It’s impossible not to be happy here as you try snacks from Uruguay, Syria, Japan and more at close to 100 food stalls.

Keep It Going

One of the nice things about Berlin is that many traditionally meat based dishes have their vegan counterparts but the reverse is also true. Meat lovers will love Berlin but if you’re traveling with a mixed crowd of herbi-omnivores, in most cases you can all enjoy a meal at the same place.

A few other restaurants that are a good examples of this are Heimweh in Kreuzberg where you’ll find kumpir – a massive baked potato you can fill with over 30 ingredients. Vegan, vegetarian, regular person – it’s all about the toppings you choose. Finally, across much of town doner kebab stalls like Tekbir Doner will almost always have a hellim (halloumi cheese) option. A native cheese of Cyprus that’s found a home in Berlin for its growing vegetarian population.

The Best Pizza In The Washington D.C. Area Is Arlington’s Pupatella

I’ve written about Pupatella before, back when it was a food cart in 2007 and shared a slice with you a few years later. Since then Pupatella, Arlington’s Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) certified pizzeria, has grown but still retains a unique flavor in the D.C. area. Since you’ve already read about Pupatella, let me show you why you should visit in the video above. Enjoy!

GORUCK GR2 34L vs. 40L: Choosing The Right Size For You

Extremely durable, GORUCK’s GR2 series backpacks are appealing choices if you’re looking for a medium-sized travel bag with a tough aesthetic and smart internal organization. The GR2 are popular for many reasons but when deciding to buy one, trying to pick between the 34 liter (L) or the 40L can be tricky.

GORUCK’s website recommends if you’re 5’8” (172 centimeters) or shorter, go with the 34L. Taller people, go with the larger bag. Easy advice to follow for those who are decently away from that common average height. To see what a GR2 34L and 40L look like on someone about 5’8”, you can watch my video above or read on.

The Differences Simplified

Looking at the specs, the GR2 40L is only two inches taller than the 34L, with all the other dimensions the same. The 40L does weigh more though, a noticeable half pound (~250 grams) in the hand. In both cases, neither of these bags look huge because of the black color and smart use of the space. The GR2 doesn’t bulge at the bottom or sides like many bags this size, even if it’s stuffed to capacity.

goruck gr2 34l vs 40l

Let’s begin there. If you already have a larger (30 liter or more) backpack filled to capacity – particularly with electronics – go with the GR2 40L. I say this because even if you’re a lot shorter than 172cm, if you’re maxing out a 30-33 liter bag (like the Aer Travel Pack 2) already, you may as well get the bump up in space. You should probably carry less since one thing most travelers should avoid is a backpack that touches the top of your butt cheeks when you walk.

Cheeky Measurement

Backpacks that touch the top (or lower) of your butt cheeks when walking cause the bag to move with every step. That constant motion causes a continual shift in weight that becomes very uncomfortable quickly, particularly as the load increases. For many people 5’8”, the 40L won’t touch the top of your butt, especially when it is full since the bag tends to “lift” away from your lower back when fully packed. It’s fairly close though, so your individual torso length will make all the difference here.

  • Shirts – Another reason not to get the 40L if it’s going to move across your back with every step – the 1000 Denier nylon used on the GR2 is strong, but also hard on clothing. You’ll go through a lot of shirts if you get a GORUCK GR2 that’s too big.

goruck gr2

15-Inch Laptops

One thing to be aware of is the 2-inch (5 cm) shorter 34L makes it difficult to get a larger laptop in and out of the laptop pocket when the rest of the bag is full. I use an Incase sleeve to protect my laptop when traveling but even without that, it’s a very tight fit requiring some gentle jamming into the GR2. Smashing your laptop in and out of this pocket can’t be good for your expensive Macbook Pro, for example. Personally, the smaller laptop pocket was a deal-breaker on the GR2 34L I was maxing in the front compartments. Some electronics like mirrorless cameras do well with compression, laptops do not.

Still Right In The Middle?

Ultimately, if you’re 5’8”, the 40L may not be too big on you. It’s really the length that’s in question here – at 22 inches (~59 cm) long it’s a close call. I understand GORUCK leaving in some leeway here and the absolute height cutoff is probably closer to 5’7” or 6 (168-170 cm). I’d suggest if you’re around 5’8”, trying to pack or reorganize a bit because the 34L can practically hold everything a 40L can. (I was able to fit all my electronic gear, albeit tightly.) If you’re shorter than 5’7” then the added space of the 40L won’t be worth the discomfort during travel.

In case you still can’t decide, order both bags and try them on (fully loaded) to see how they fit. GORUCK has a generous return 30-day return policy if you decide to return one or both back. Some (much less expensive) backpacks you may also want to look at are The North Face Recon, Thule Subterra 34L, and Swissgear 1900 which are shorter bags but deeper, allowing for larger capacities on smaller frames.

Washington DC’s Best Chinese Restaurant Has A Spicy Secret Menu

There’s a pleasantly stubborn hole in the wall restaurant in Washington D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood that serves Szechuan cuisine, with an ingredient missing on most menus. For the longest time at Great Wall Szechuan House you could only find this mouth numbing taste in Chinese, at the back of the menu.

These days though, the special Ma-La section is on the first page of Great Wall’s menu but as the surrounding shops and restaurants reflect the new money in Logan Circle, it’s still something of a secret to outsiders. You can watch my video above or read on.

Give Me The Ma

Szechuan food originates from the Chinese province of the same name and most distinctly distinguished by it’s brightly colored punch you in the face sort of spice, which is the “la”. A great number of Chinese restaurants around the world are typically based around the Szechuan name but don’t often include the “ma” part of the equation.

great wall szechuan house dc

The “ma” is a mouth numbing effect that comes from a naturally occurring chemical in the Szechuan peppercorn (hydroxy alpha sanshool in case you were wondering). Combined with garlic, fennel, and a few other ingredients mala dishes likely originated as a working class food to add flavors to the bland original ingredients.

Great Wall’s Secret

Mala dishes have evolved since then but remain a mind-body experience of heat, not for timid tongues. In the kitchen of Great Wall Szechuan House’s small dining area (seats around 40 maximum) is a chef who knows Szechuan (also spelled Sichuan) flavors and has the spices to implement them. Locals living around the area are familiar with Great Wall but visitors and newly implanted government-corporate types are likely to pass it by for the larger, more polished hipster-elite restaurants all around.

great wall szechuan house menu

Right on the first page of the menu is where you’ll find the once secret Ma-La Specials at Great Wall. Order your choice and great ready for a hot roller coaster. If “hot roller coaster” sounds frightening to you, go with some of the blander, more traditional international Chinese restaurant choices on the menu. But if the thought of assaulting your senses with mouth fire and sweat as flavorful chilies seep into your skull sounds like fun, Great Wall Szechuan House is the restaurant for you.

great wall washington dc

Doorstop To A Shift

Great Wall Szechuan House reflects the steady movement of investment and gentrification up into the north-central part of Washington D.C. area from downtown. A little over a decade ago, a lot of the places around Logan Circle and Adams Morgan a few blocks up were hole in the walls. New residents with higher rents have lead to a changing face of the eateries here. Amid its polished upscale neighbors, Great Wall Szechuan House stands out where it matters most, on the menu.

You can find Great Wall Szechuan House at 1527 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, open everyday from late mornings to late evenings.

Timbuk2 Copilot Review And Discount Trick

Travelers looking for a new suitcase should take a close look at the thoughtfully designed and thoroughly durable Timbuk2 Copilot series that comes with a small discount trick.

Stop Here

Depending on your travel budget, a Timbuk2 bag might not be for you. People who take less than one or two trips a year probably won’t see (for a long time anyway) the immediate benefit of such a well-built bag. Particularly though for air travelers who check-in their luggage more than 6 or 7 times annually, the Copilot series has a lot of advantages worth its price tag.

timbuk2 copilot

What’s A Timbuk2 Copilot

Timbuk2 is a San Fransisco based brand that’s somewhat hipster blended with business sleek. Their Copilot series comes in 4 different sizes: 42, 52, 80, and 108 liters. You can review all the dimensions here but basically:

The exterior of the Copilot luggage is made of Cordura nylon (over 1000 Denier if you’re wondering) which is the standard for tough as hell bags. Internally, Timbuk2 use a variety of nylon, polyester, and other fabrics for a combination of strong but light fabric. And lightweight they are – even the gigantic 108 Copilot is just 4.6 kilos (10lbs) – compared to most bags that size pushing well over 6.5 kg (15 lbs).

timbuk2 copilot

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Timbuk2 don’t use materials that are toxic in any way, plus have an excellent recycling program for older bags. (They give you 20% back as well on your next purchase after you send the old bag back, which is a nice touch to the environmental benefits.)

Design That Makes Sense

Too often bag manufacturers try to get fancy, adding superfluous pockets that only take up space. Smart designers create bags, like the Copilot, that give users more flexibility to organize on their own. The Copilots (they’re all designed the same just at different sizes) open up clam shell style. On the outer pocket there’s quick access to the front compartment.

timbuk2 copilot 80l

Both interior sides of the “shell” have a mesh divider you can choose to use or not. All of the bags are spacious since they don’t have pockets in the way to steal space – but the clam shell style doesn’t work well with particularly bulky items. It’s perfect for clothes but if you’re lugging around boxy gifts, or large stuff that doesn’t compress, the Copilot can be tricky to pack.

Additional nice touches include skateboard wheels resulting in a very smooth roll without any pullback on your arms. Those wheels are also strong enough for skateboards plus they can be found all over the world if needed. The handle is also one of the smoothest I’ve used on roller luggage.

Save Some Money On A Timbuk2

Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Copilot series. For most of you interested in this bag, it’s a matter of finding the right size. Minimalists will appreciate the 42 and 52L varieties, most travelers who don’t mind a bigger bag will be happy with the 80L. Unless you’re a family who wants to use a single suitcase, think very carefully before deciding on the 108L. In any event you can return most bags with a minor (less than $10) processing fee.

Finally, to sweeten the deal for yourself, go through the Timbuk2 checkout process. Add the bag you want to the cart, fill in your details (especially email), then submit to get to the payment page. At this point, don’t submit your payment and just wait 24 hours. Typically Timbuk2 will send a 10-15% discount to your inbox to encourage you to complete the purchase. There’s also a popup on their site often but the email discount might be a bit more enticing so it’s best to wait and see. Good luck!

About Anil Polat

foxnomad aboutHi, I'm Anil. foXnoMad is where I combine travel and tech to help you travel smarter. I'm on a journey to every country in the world and you're invited to join the adventure! Read More


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