5 mile test: Merrell Heather and Sundial dress

Merrell Heathers and a bit of my Sundial dress.

In my last trip to Europe, I took a Patagonia convertible skirt/dress that did pretty well, with one glaring issue — it was cotton, therefore easily wrinkled, and if I'd have washed it, it would have taken ages to dry.

I spend a fair amount of time on Merrell.com, and while I was there, I ran across the Sundial dress, which I liked the looks of, as well as its 90% polyester/10% spandex fabric blend. So I ordered one, tried it on, and loved it. It's got a flattering empire waist, and is super-comfortable. I've worn it to business meetings, and driving (and pushing my car due to an unfortunate battery incident) on the Pennsylvania turnpike. It always comes out of my suitcase without and wrinkles and feels exceptionally comfortable and nicely fitting when I wear it.

So it didn't really need to go on a 5-mile test — it's pretty much already proven its capabilities. But I wanted to go on an after-work walk, and it was something I could wear to work and then go out and sweat in during DC's hot, humid summer, without worrying about it.

I wore it with Merrell's Heather sandals, which are my sandals of choice for something to kick on and wear around my condo, or even to the pool. They have excellent arch support, and a microfiber footbed, but no ability to adjust the fit, so I was curious whether they'd have the same rubbing issues that I ran into with the Merrell Bassoons.

So I set out on my favorite loop around the Jefferson Memorial, down the National Mall to Union Station, just over 5 miles total. Overall the Heathers did pretty well, until about the last mile or so, when they started to rub in a few places on the top of my foot. Things were a little irritated by the time I got to Union Station, but with no permanent blistering.

The Sundial dress, meanwhile, provided plenty of ventilation during the walk. In addition to the natural ventilation of a dress or skirt, this particular dress has the ability to ruche a portion of the back to create open ventilation between your shoulder blades (check the link to Merrell's site for a photo of this), and it was hot enough that I actually made use of this feature during my walk. This dress is going to have a hard time staying out of my suitcase on future trips.


In which I try video suitcase reviews

So I've been wanting to talk about suitcases for awhile, because, well, I'm mildly obsessed with them. But the more I started to think about the format for a review, the more I thought that pictures just weren't going to do it justice.

And so here we have the first (and probably last) ever video review I've done:

Details on the two newer suitcases:

International Traveler IT-0-1 is listed as a 3.7 lb weight for the 16-inch bag (which is actually 17 inches in length). I got it for just over $65 including shipping on clearance.

Skway Ultralite is listed as a 21 inch bag (in reality 23 inches in total length), and 5.2 lbs. I got mine for $40 but got an amazing deal on it. You're more likely to find it for around $70-$75.

You can still find the older Skyway No Weight online (it also sells under the Union Bay label) in a few corners of the Internet, but I can't say I'd recommend it unless you really like everything I described about it and can stomach the extra three pounds, or it's critical for you to be for-sure under 22 inches. That's not usually the case for me, and yet I can't bring myself to get rid of it, because that bag really served me well in Europe.

I tested the weights on all of them with an analog luggage scale and they're pretty close to what was listed.