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Ford’s New Vehicle Could Completely Change the Camper Van World

<!–Ford’s Electric Transit Could Change the Camper Van World • Gear Patrol<!– –>

carbon-free vanlife

Ford has received a lot of attention for the Mustang Mach-E, its forthcoming muscle car-inspired electric crossover. The electric F-150 pickup truck should be kind of a big deal, too. Ford’s new electric Transit van, which the brand just announced will arrive for the 2022 model year, is liable to be much less widely heralded — but it should be equally important for the world.

An electric cargo van, after all, will reduce overall fleet emissions around the world, as companies like Amazon and UPS switch over from gas-powered vehicles to EVs. It will be great for Ford’s bottom line for deliveries. And perhaps most interestingly, it’ll also offer environmentally-conscious camper van enthusiasts a compelling and versatile zero-emissions option.

Camper van outfitters will have a ton of flexibility with this new EV van. Ford will sell the electric Transit with three different roof heights and three different body lengths. There will also be a bare cutaway cab version for manufacturers that want to customize it. It’ll come with Ford’s suite of driver assistant technologies and an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot, and have access to the massive continent-wide charging network Ford is building.

Ford was scant on the initial details; we don’t know what sort of range the electric Transit will offer, or how much it will cost, and the 2022 model year is a broad timeframe for a launch, meaning we could see it as soon as next January or as late as September 2022. But this should be a major step forward. And, unlike many great things camper-related, the electric Transit will be sold in the United States.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Duffy

Tyler Duffy is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Staff Writer. He used to write about sports for The Big Lead and The Athletic. He has a black belt in toddler wrangling. He’s based outside Detroit.

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This Clever Camp Stool Packs Down to the Size of a Whiskey Bottle — and Weighs Even Less

<!–This Clever Camp Stool Packs Down to the Size of a Whiskey Bottle — and Weighs Even Less • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Take a Load Off

OK, we admit it: as gear enthusiasts, we are sometimes prone to exaggeration. But the moment we laid eyes on the Hillsound BTR at last June’s Outdoor Retailer trade show, we were in love, and nearly a year later, that love remains true. The name stands for Better Than a Rock, and when it comes to taking a break on the trail, that’s exactly what it is.

The ultralight and packable product folds up small enough to stash in your pack’s water bottle slot, ready to unfurl into a surprisingly comfortable camp stool at a moment’s notice. And now, after months upon months of anxious watching and waiting, we’re stoked to say the BTR is available for purchase.

The BTR is available in two sizes, 14-inch and 17-inch, and while the former is naturally more transportable, the latter is highly recommended for those on the taller side (like, say, 6 feet and over). Condensed, the 14-incher is just 12.6 inches tall, quite comparable to your average 750-milliliter whiskey bottle. Both units weigh less than a pound (the 14-incher is just 12.6 ounces) and can support up to 240 pounds thanks to 100 percent nylon mesh fabric and aluminum alloy poles.

One other feature we love is Phantom Lock: the twisting telescopic legs magically lock out once fully engaged, capably supporting your trailside or campfire activities until it’s time to pack up and go.


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Steve Mazzucchi

Steve Mazzucchi is Gear Patrol’s outdoors and fitness editor. Outside the office, you can find him mountain biking, snowboarding, motorcycling or sipping a dram of Laphroaig and daydreaming about such things.

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One of the Country’s Best Bottles of Bourbon Hits Shelves Across the Country

<!–One of the Country’s Best Bottles of Bourbon Hits Shelves Across the Country • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Four Roses Small Batch Select

Good news from the world of whiskey: Four Roses Distillery will increase the distribution of its critically acclaimed bourbon Small Batch Select, reports Beverage Dynamics. More than a dozen states (Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin) join California, Georgia, Kentucky, New York and Texas, where bottles of the whiskey were previously limited.

Small Batch Select follows a trend in American whiskey-making; the juice is non-chill filtered, giving it a full, oily mouthfeel. In designing the bourbon, Four Roses Master Distiller Brent Elliot opted to blend six of the distillery’s 10 base recipes, four of which were also used in the award-winning 130th Anniversary Small Batch that can go for as much as $500 on the secondary market. Both whiskeys have Goldilocks proofs that clock in just above 100.

Expect a fair retail price of $55 to $60 for bottles of Small Batch Select. We recommend it neat with a few drops of water.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Jack Seemer

Jack Seemer is the deputy editor at Gear Patrol. Since joining the publication in 2014, he has reported on a wide range of subjects, including menswear, smart home technology, cookware and craft beer.

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Oris’s Flagship Dive Watch Is Available in a New Case Size

<!–Oris’s Flagship Dive Watch Is Available in a New Case Size • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Aquis Date

Independent Swiss watchmaker Oris’s Aquis dive watch is a value-laden platform that’s formed the basis for myriad special editions and complications. Unpretentious and geared toward serious divers, the Aquis collection offers professional dive specs with a range of features, sizes and dial colors.

Now, Oris has announced two new Aquis Date models, one of which joins the collection of 39.5mm watches, and a second in a brand new size of 41.5mm. Both watches feature 300m of water resistance, unidirectional rotating dive bezels and optional stainless steel bracelets with special clasp-extension systems (the 41.5mm model is also available with a rubber strap). Other features include a domed sapphire crystal, a mineral glass case back, a screw-down crown, the Sellita SW 200-1 automatic movement with 38 hours of power reserve and applied indices with SuperLumiNova. The 41.5mm model on rubber will carry a price of $2,000, while both models on bracelets will be priced at $2,200.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.



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This Pull-Out Kitchen Turns Almost Any SUV into a Great Car Camper

Plowing deep into the woods with all your supplies crammed in a backpack can be fun, but when it comes to escaping civilization, it’s way easier to do it in a motor vehicle. Car camping offers the same joys of freedom and outdoor immersion as other forms of sleeping in the great outdoors — yet it lets you carry far more gear to make life easier.

Case in point: If you’re hiking through the woods, you’re basically stuck eating MREs or their civilian equivalents. If you’re camping out of your car, however, you can whip up delightful dinners on the likes of the Nomad Kitchen.

Nomad Kitchen Company’s title product, which is soon to go on sale, is a compact pull-out cooking station that’s designed to bring a bit of the overlanding life to more modest vehicles. Thanks to its compact dimensions — it’s just 20.5 inches wide, 25.5 inches deep and 14 inches tall when stowed — it can slide into the cargo bay of even cars as compact inside as the Toyota Prius, Subaru Crosstrek and Audi E-Tron. Installation requires no physical mods; for most vehicles, it’s as simple as strapping it down to the attachment points found in the backs of many cars.

When extended, the Nomad Kitchen offers four feet of cooking space, and can support up to 200 pounds. The basic package includes a stainless steel washbasin, trash bags, a drying rack storage basket, a bamboo precise-fit cutting board, a custom strap for mounting your stove’s fuel canister and hooks for hanging utensils, as well as everything need to secure the box in your ride.

While it doesn’t come with water tanks or a stove, it’s designed to be paired with a wide variety of both, accepting any gas stove up to 23.75 inches wide, 13 inches deep and 4.5-inches high and up to 14 gallons of water storage.

If this all sounds like exactly the sort of gear you need to make your 2020 camping goals come true, the Nomad Kitchen goes on sale on IndieGogo on March 17th. The basic price is $1,099, but the company is offering an deal: sign up ahead of time for their pre-sale, and you’ll be able to buy it for $699.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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Rakoh’s All Day Chelsea Boot Is The Go-Anywhere, Do-Anything Shoe You’ve Been Waiting For

You’re standing in your bedroom, staring down at your overstuffed carry-on and deluding yourself with the idea that maybe, if you just smush everything down a bit harder, you’ll be able to pack that second pair of shoes and avoid spending your entire vacation in ugly airplane sneakers. Suddenly your phone buzzes; your Uber has arrived, and you realize in a moment of cold, sweaty clarity that you’re too late. The shoes won’t fit. Airplane sneakers it is.

At least, that would have been the case prior to the launch of the footwear brand Rakoh. After finding himself in precisely this predicament one too many times, Rakoh’s founder, Raphael Kohlberg, took it upon himself to make a shoe that was comfortable enough to walk around in all day and stylish enough to wear out all night; a shoe that works hard and wears easy. Enter the All Day Chelsea Boot: a handsome, handmade Chelsea boot cut and sewn in Italy from premium Italian leather, combined with lightweight technical materials for flexibility, comfort and traction. This is the go-anywhere, do-anything shoe that you’ve been waiting for — a shoe for where you’re going, and for wearing while you go. All you have to do is pick a color.

19 New Style Releases We’re Obsessing About This Week

It’s the time of year when designers, brands and retailers begin to stock their digital shelves with new-season goods. For us, that means a rolodex of open browser tabs and auto-fill credit card info. From the new school of prep, to innovative techwear to the basics we’ll leave the office for, these are our favorite style releases of the week.

Corridor Summer Acid Plaid Western Shirt

Big plaid makes for a big western shirt.

Uniqlo U Wide Fit Crew Neck Sweatshirt

I literally left my desk in the middle of writing this piece to go uptown and buy this exact Christoph Lemaire-designed sweatshirt. You know, for research. My findings are that it’s great and I have no regrets.

Vans Spring Sneaker Drop

Vans’ latest spring drop of sneakers is wild and includes psychedelic colorways, checkerboard monk straps and a shoe in the middle of evolving into another shoe.

Adsum 3/4 Zip

Adsum’s brand of pared-back sportswear is deep in the closets of the creative set. This 3/4 Zip was clearly a good one — it’s already sold out.

Ooe Yofukuten Bags

The masterful denim duo behind Ooe Yofukuten turned their expertise toward a lineup of vintage-inspired bags. Turns out their jeans making skills translate very well to bags.

Engineered Garments Cotton Ripstop Trousers

But who needs bags to carry your stuff when you’ve got pants like this?

Aime Leon Dore SS20

New York outfit Aime Leon Dore just dropped the lookbook for its spring collection. I’ll likely leave my desk to “research” the collection as well.

Our Legacy Box Shirt

Our Legacy’s box shirt is reincarnated every season in very different fabrics. This time, it’s reached enlightenment.

RTH O-Ring Belt

SoCal by way of Texas by way of Ralph Lauren store RTH makes a compelling case for animal print belts. And yes, we are compelled.

Nike x Tom Sachs

Nike teamed up with New York artist Tom Sachs to for a space-inspired collaboration that features the return of their 2018 collaboration of down-filled shorts and a space helmet-inspired beanie.

Studio D’artisan Kasezome Sashiko Jacket

East meets West with Studio D’artisan’s take on a classic Wrangler jacket, swapping out the usual denim for hardy indigo-dyed sashiko.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip Thom Browne Edition

Thom Browne constantly pushes fashion’s envelope. Now he’s pushing (and folding) its buttons.

Everlane Court Sneaker

Everlane goes toe-to-toe with basketball shoe competitors, equipped with full-grain leather and a low carbon footprint.

Stone Island Plated Reflective With Dust Color Finish

Italian techwear brand Stone Island focuses its innovative eyes with glass. Literally. Its latest jacket and shorts combo uses thousands of tiny glass beads to achieve an effect that’s simultaneously iridescent and dusty.

Patagonia Airshed Visor

It’s bright out. And you’re not a sunglasses guy. And you also don’t want to mess up your hair. Plus, you like Patagonia.

Undercover UCY4404-1 Top Black

Sorry I’m not home right now. I’m dressing into spiderwebs.

D.S. & Durga Freetrapper Cologne

A new scent for the new season.

Caputo & Co. Silver Ball Chain Bracelet

Unless you’re a celebrity, keep the ice chill.

Kapital American Quilt Hospital Jacket

When you can’t decide on a pattern but you can only buy one Kapital jacket.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

Bulova Is Bringing Back One of Our Favorite American Military Watches

<!–Bulova Is Bringing Back One of Our Favorite American Military Watches • Gear Patrol<!– –>

The “Hack” Watch

If you’re a fan of military watches, you may recall last year’s “Hack Watch” from Bulova, a modern recreation of the MIL-W-3818A spec from the 1950s and 1960s that was updated as a limited edition for Macy’s. At least one fan of the watch (who may or may not be the guy writing this news brief…) hoped that Bulova would deliver a mechanical version, and lo and behold, they’ve come through.

The new Military Collection consists of “an assortment of timepieces inspired by vintage historical watches that have been modernized for a contemporary lifestyle.” Two of the new pieces are based on the MIL-W-3818A spec but now feature the automatic Miyota caliber 82S0, a three-hand movement with a 42-hour power reserve. (The third watch in the collection is the A-15 Pilot Watch, based on a watch evidently produced toward the end of World War II and that, admittedly, I had never heard of before today. Shows you what I know.)

The new Hack Watch models are available in two versions: one features an ivory dial and a brushed stainless steel case with a black leather NATO strap, while the second features a black dial with a grey stainless steel case that looks very much like a “parkerized” military wristwatch from the 1950s or 60s accompanied by a green leather NATO strap. Both models feature inner 24-hour tracks, luminescent cathedral hands and indices, domed mineral crystals, 30m of water resistance and 38mm cases, updated from the diminutive ~31-32mm of the originals.

Pricing is set at $350 for the ivory-dialed model and $450 for the black dial, and both are available now directly from Bulova’s website.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.



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Everlane’s Latest Sneakers Are a Slam Dunk

<!–Everlane’s Latest Sneakers Are a Slam Dunk • Gear Patrol<!– –>


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These Are Two of the Best Leather Jackets You’ll Ever See

<!–3sixteen and Schott’s Latest Jacket Collaboration Uses Custom Horsehide • Gear Patrol<!– –>

3sixteen x Schott

Arguably two of the coolest leather jackets ever made are the motorcycle jacket and the bomber jacket. Built for the skies and the asphalt respectively, the near-indestructible jackets have been central figures in the fashion landscape for decades with countless brands riffing on the staple outerwear.

Premium denim brand 3sixteen and American leather brand Schott have designed covetable versions of both styles for their second collaboration. The jackets use a special Chromexcel teacore horsehide tanned exclusively for this collaboration by the famed Horween Leather Company in Chicago. While the leather starts out a deep black, rich brown undertones will reveal themselves with wear.

The motorcycle jacket is a stripped-down version of Schott’s classic Perfecto jacket, leaving out the belt and epaulets and adding nickel hardware. The A-2 Bomber is cut with a modern fit and includes a removable sheepskin collar. To top things off, these heirloom pieces are lined with a cozy all-cotton Japanese flannel, as if you didn’t want to wear them enough already.

Both jackets retail for $1200.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.



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Some of the Coolest Sunglasses We’ve Seen Cost Less Than $100

<!–Some of the Coolest Sunglasses We’ve Seen Cost Less Than $100 • Gear Patrol<!– –>

From Akila

Los Angeles eyewear brand Akila makes high-quality, limited-run sunglasses at self-described “anti-industry” prices. That means you can pick up some incredibly stylish shades for just $95.

The brand’s Legacy model utilizes plant-based cellulose acetate frames — an earth-conscious alternative to cheaper plastics — that allow for a range of unique colors and patterns. Complete with 5-barrel hinges and stainless steel temple cores, these frames are paired with Optical lass 1 nylon lenses (read: clear and durable) in distinct colors and tints.

Akila offers a handful of different frame styles in various colors, but each release is incredibly limited. The latest iteration of the Legacy — an onyx acetate frame with yellow lenses — is capped at just 100 pairs.

For less than $100, these frames are hard to pass up. They offer the aesthetic and quality of luxury eyewear at a very accessible price — and you’d be hard-pressed to find something else this cool without breaking the bank.

Great Japanese-Made Sunglasses

Italy has long reigned in the realm of premium eyewear, but a profusion of average frame construction has diminished its reputation among industry experts. Their new darling? Japan, where eyewear manufacturing is concentrated in the Fukui Prefecture. Read the Story
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
John Zientek

John Zientek is Gear Patrol’s style editor and in-house guitar authority. He grew up on the West Coast.

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This Swanky Rose Gold G-Shock is Affordable and Tough as Ever

<!–This Swanky Rose Gold G-Shock is Affordable and Tough as Ever • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Casio x Kith

Classic Casio G-Shock models like the squarish G5600 series and the rounder G6900 are famously indestructible, inexpensive, and encased in plastic. (Never mind the irony that premium-priced, metal-cased versions of these iconic G-Shocks seem to work so well — because they do.) Following the release of recent G-Shock GM6900 watches with steel outer cases in black, silver, and yellow gold finishes, a collaboration with apparel retailer Kith NYC has resulted in an even swankier limited edition in rose gold.

Props to Kith for choosing a positive (dark-on-light) LCD display for its vastly superior legibility (and its classic style). This tier of metal-cased watches, in fact, merely represents a steel cover atop a more traditional plastic inner case, so none of the famous G-Shock toughness should be compromised. (If you want fully metal-cased G-Shocks, these are available, though they’re more expensive and not yet available in this 6900 form.)

Kith’s G-Shock interpretation stands out most for its rose gold case, but there are a number of other notable details and Kith branding that differentiate from other GM6900 models. The prominent button at 6 o’clock is emblazoned with “KITH” instead of its usual “G,” and the resin band and its rose gold-toned keeper also feature the retailer’s logo.

This is a limited edition for the partnership available at physical retail locations and on the Kith website, though the number of pieces produced has not yet been confirmed. It also commands a price premium of $150 in this version over the non-limited yellow gold version directly from G-Shock, which is typical for such special-edition G-Shocks. The Kith x Casio G-Shock GM6900 has a price of $380 and comes with two Kith-branded resin straps in black and white.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Zen Love

Zen Love is Gear Patrol’s watch writer. He avoids the snooty side of the watch world, and seeks out food in NYC that resembles what he loved while living in Asia for over a decade.

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The Next Big Japanese Whisky Is $40 and Available Everywhere

<!–The Next Big Japanese Whisky Is $40 and Available Everywhere • Gear Patrol<!– –>


For the first time in a long time, a reasonably priced Japanese whisky has made its way to the US. A combination of corn and malt whiskies aged between three and five years, Tenjaku is the first Japanese whisky to retail for under $50 since Suntory dropped Toki into the US market four years ago.

Not much is known about Tenjaku other than it’s rolling out across the US now, is bottled at a very light 80 proof and will retail for $40, according to Whisky Advocate. Both the malt and corn whiskey portions of the blend are also aged in bourbon casks.

In the four year gap between Toki and Tenjako, Nikka’s From the Barrel offering — available most places for $50 to $70 — came the closest to achieving “everyday whiskey” status. By and large, Japanese whisky is overhyped and overpriced; its fame thanks in large part to labels with kanji type, rarity and plenty of international award recognition.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Will Price

Will Price is Gear Patrol’s home and drinks editor. He’s from Atlanta and lives in Brooklyn. He’s interested in bourbon, houseplants, cheap Japanese pens, and cast-iron skillets — maybe a little too much.

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The Rarest Game Console Ever Can Be Yours… For Just $360,000

<!–The Fabled ‘Nintendo PlayStation’ Only Costs $360,000 (So Far) • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Not everyone gets to own a Nintendo PlayStation

Back before Nintendo decided to make the cartridge-based Nintendo 64 and before Sony decided to make its line of disc-based PlayStation consoles, there was a brief collaboration between the two giants. The result? The rare, prototype “Nintendo PlayStation.” It obviously never came to market, but a prototype is up for auction and may well go for upwards of $1 million.

Its original owners came into possession of the strange piece of video game history through a bankruptcy auction that included items from a former Sony CEO. The strange device, one of only about 200 hundred prototypes ever made, is the only surviving console known to have survived. The auction, which will continue for 21 more days, has already attracted big bids, with the price already up to over $300,000 and is attracting attention from people with mountains of cash, who you’d be hard-pressed to outbid.

The owners of the console reportedly turned down a $1.2 million offer to purchase the device outright, which says plenty about how high they expect the number to go. This could wind up being the most expensive video game console of all time.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Eric Limer

Eric Limer is Gear Patrol’s tech editor. A resident of Weehawken, NJ, his current obsessions include mechanical keyboards, mechanical pencils and Formula 1.

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One of the Biggest Tech Events of the Year Just Got Canceled

<!–One of the Biggest Tech Events of the Year Just Got Canceled • Gear Patrol<!– –>

Coronavirus is having a growing impact on consumer tech

Mobile World Congress, held annually in Barcelona, Spain, is one of the biggest international tech events of the year. The international show is typically home to (or at least concurrent with) announcements from some of the largest phone-making companies across the globe. Not this year, however, as it has been fully canceled on account of concerns about the coronavirus.

Yesterday, the governing body behind the event announced the cancelation citing “due regard to the safe and healthy environment in Barcelona and the host country today” and “the global concern regarding the coronavirus outbreak, travel concern and other circumstances.”

Mobile World Congress isn’t the only consumer tech event that coronavirus may have disrupted. Analysts have suggested that the supply chain disruptions the virus is causing in China could also impact the planned release of the new Xbox and Playstation consoles later this year, and potentially the new iPhone as well.

Further delays are only predictions at the moment, but the outbreak is making it increasingly clear to even casual consumers how the supply chains used to produce all your favorite gadgets is a global web with roots that almost always trace back to China in one way or another. It’s a good a reminder as any that these products don’t just grow on trees.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Eric Limer

Eric Limer is Gear Patrol’s tech editor. A resident of Weehawken, NJ, his current obsessions include mechanical keyboards, mechanical pencils and Formula 1.

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There’s a Ton of New Stuff at Ikea This Month. Here’s the Best of It

Ikea is giving shoppers a reason to stop by its stores in February. The Swedish powerhouse is launching two limited collections — the Frekvens and the Borstads — and adding over 50 new pieces to its permanent collection. And keeping in line with the brand’s ethos, everything is well-conceived and affordable. To see all Ikea’s latest drops, go here.

Frekvens Collection

Ikea and Teenage Engineering, a Swedish creative collective, collaborated on the limited-edition Frekvens line of gear designed to help you host the “ultimate home party.” The highlight of the collection is the array of portable speakers that can be combined to create a sound system for whatever the party entails.


Baskets! Finally, Ikea has a range of natural material baskets to toss stuff in. The limited collection includes blanket holders made of bamboo, rattan, seagrass, banana fiber, poplar and jute
that come in a range of sizes and shapes. It’s not

Borstad Collection

The Borstad collection is a farmhouse-chic line of goods focused on spring cleaning. Think handwoven baskets, steel rinsing tubs and wooden drying racks for a look that says “I don’t like to do chores, but when I do, I want to look like an extra on “Little House on the Prairie.’”

Permanent Collection

And finally, Ikea will be adding dozens of items to its permanent collection. Key pieces include a variety of textiles in varying shades of green, a versatile cabinet with an attached mirror and a collection of woven baskets.

Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Tyler Chin

Tyler Chin is Gear Patrol’s Editorial Associate for Editorial Operations. He’s from Queens, where tempers are short and commutes are long. Too bad the MTA doesn’t have a team like Ed-Ops.

More by Tyler Chin | Follow on Instagram · Contact via Email

Feast Your Eyes on Nike’s Unreleased Running Shoe Used to Break the Two-Hour Marathon

Well, it’s official — even if it’s unofficial. With the help of a flat, optimized course, a crew of elite pacers and Maurten supplementation, Eliud Kipchoge did what was once considered impossible over the weekend: run a marathon in under two hours. Though it’s not an actual world record (thanks to the aforementioned factors), it’s still an incredible feat, one that’s left many people asking about one other key ingredient: Was it the shoes??

Ah yes, the shoes. Tackling this challenge in Vienna, Austria, Kipchoge — the current marathon world record holder and 2016 Olympic champ — laced up a pair of as-yet-unreleased Nike Next% running sneakers. While the brand continues to play it a bit close to the vest, thanks to some investigative work by Believe in the Run, we do know a few things about these mystical shoes. 

The blog uncovered a filing with the US Patent and Trademark Office that reveals the specifics of what may be this particular shoe, which may be called the alphaFLY. Short takeaway: this thing is funky, flexy and fast. What follows are some of the highlights. 

Carbon Fiber Is Critical

The sole consists of four cushioning pods, two layers of midsole foam and (wait for it) three carbon-fiber plates. That’s two more than any other shoe, and now we can’t help thinking of the Schick/Gillette razor race of yesteryear, when they just kept adding blades, to the point where an Onion article started as a joke and became reality. 

The Divided Midsole Has Many Layers

The midsole has four different levels, and it’s fully segmented between the heel and forefoot, with the rear section looking comically beefy but not all that different from past Vaporfly shoes. Meanwhile, the forefoot really showcases the plates and cushioning pods, which are either filled with fluid or foam. 

Energy Return Seems Inevitable

The plates and pods team up to prevent hotspots, nurture a more responsive ride and add extra stability, theorizes Believe in the Run’s Robbe Reddinger, who adds that there must be some energy return involved as well, considering what Kipchoge was able to accomplish.

We’ve Seen This Upper Before

The lightweight, meshlike upper appears consistent with material seen on track spikes at the recent World Championships in Doha, so it’s likely Nike strongly believes in this approach and that we will see it on a variety of shoes in the future.

Time will tell if consumers will be able to purchase these exact shoes or some sort of modified version. Meantime, the next best thing is the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT% ($250), a pretty kickass shoe in its own right. 


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Amazon’s Echo Buds Sound Great But There’s a Catch

One of the star products to be announced at Amazon’s big hardware event today was the Echo Buds ($130), the company’s first true wireless earbuds. Not only do they undercut the cost of most true wireless earbuds, including AirPods, by a ton but Amazon revealed that they’ve partnered with Bose to integrate its noise-reduction technology (which is a little different than its noise-canceling technology) into the Echo Buds. And these earbuds cost just $130.

After the event, I was able to get a little hands-on time with Echo Buds and was even able to listen to two songs (“Trampoline by Shaed” and Bruce Springsteen’s “For You”) and here are my initial impressions.

First and foremost, they sound great, especially for $130 earbuds. It was loud with good mids and strong bass. I’ve tested a boatload of true wireless earbuds in the past two-plus years and these are right in the mix with the better ones.

The noise-reduction ability also seems good at first blush, but I’m not ready to say its perfect just yet. I tested the Echo Buds in a crowded room, and while I could barely hear the noise around me, these earbuds fit really snug, and it’s hard to tell which of these two things was primarily responsible for the effect. Still, there’s plenty to be hopeful for here so far. (It’s also worth noting that, to my understanding, noise-reduction technology isn’t as Bose’s full-fledged noise-cancellation technology.)

But there are a couple of catches. The biggest is that the Echo Buds require you to download and use the Alexa app to get the most out of them, which is at best a hassle. You need the Echo Buds setup properly in your Alexa app to enable the noise-reduction technology and the “Hey Alexa” features, and Amazon still has a ways to go in proving that these added Alexa features will actually be useful. If you don’t want to deal with the app, you can use them as standard Bluetooth buds, but you’ll be missing out on the noise-reduction technology.

They also charge with micro-USB, a style of charger that’s rapidly phased out and can’t deliver the kind of quick charge power that USB-C can. But mostly it’s frustrating you won’t be able to charge your earbuds with the same charger you use with a new laptop, Nintendo Switch or Android phone.

Lastly, the plastic Echo Buds do feel a little bit cheap compared to headphones like Master & Dynamic MW07s or Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless. But at the price point, you can’t really complain too much.

All in all, Amazon’s first buds are certainly impressive, and it’s a real surprise that they’ve got a type of Bose’s noise-canceling tech before Bose’s true wireless buds have even come out. But with Bose is gearing up to release the Bose Noise Cancelling Earbuds 700 in early 2020, it seems more that the headphone maker has plenty more in store for its own product, which will no doubt cost a lot more.

The Echo Buds ($130) are available for pre-order right now, for a ship date of October 30th.

These Pots and Pans Were Designed to Teach You How to Cook

Cookware brand Equal Parts isn’t trying to make peak performance cooking equipment. It doesn’t want to be a direct-to-consumer All-Clad and it doesn’t make a big deal of how much money you save buying directly from them. Instead, Equal Parts, the first brand under the Pattern umbrella, makes pots, pans and kitchen gear for people who don’t know the difference between a sauté pan and a skillet.

Pattern co-founder and chief creative officer Emmett Shine and Equal Parts general manager Tyler Sgro started with a simple task: create a cookware company that got people who aren’t cooking into the kitchen.

“Not a lot of people actually know what poaching is versus frying, searing, blanching and so on. If you didn’t grow up in a kitchen, those things are intimidating,” Shine said. “What does the home cook want? What’s something they’re actually going to use?”

The culmination of years of research, data collecting and testing, Equal Parts’ beginner-friendly cookware collections are here.

Equal Parts murdered-out “Big Pan” in action.

Sgro and Shine say every feature is tied to pain point with traditional cookware. The cookware is aluminum because it’s lighter and heats faster than steel, and it’s coated in a ceramic mixture that cleans up easily and heats evenly. Everything from the pots and pans to the mixing bowls are designed to nest, making cabinet space less of an issue, and every item is dishwasher-safe. Even the vocabulary is edited for simplicity — “big pan” instead of sauté pan, “small pot” in place of saucier.

The brand even goes as far as offering an 8-week text-based “coaching” package with every cookware set. Buyers can text coaches cooking-related questions seven days a week, from simple recipe queries to custom meal advice based on what ingredients are on hand.

“Our intention was not to be another pro-sumer brand, it was to focus on the millions and millions of young adults in America who have worked hard, live in a space that’s not as big as they’d like and have less skill in the kitchen than they’d prefer,” Shine said.

Equal Parts products are available in sets starting at $249. Sets may include anything from a few pieces of ceramic-coated aluminum cookware or an entire kitchen suite.

Four Years in the Making, This Minimalist Pen Is the First of Its Kind

Grovemade CEO and co-founder Ken Tomita takes no issue with cheap pens — he appreciates Pilot G-2s and Muji gel pens as much as the next guy; but in Tomita’s vision of the perfect workspace, disposable pens felt out of place. After four years of starting, iterating, giving up and starting over, Tomita and team made their own replacement. The Grovemade Desk Pen, a pen meant to stay put in one spot, is here.

The pen is available in a matte black finished aluminum or a heavier, glossier brass and start at $50. The two said the idea of a desk pen — a pen that’s left on a desk for display, notetaking, signing documents and so on — hadn’t dawned upon them until they looked through the results of a customer survey that asked past customers to send photos of their workspaces in.

Tomita said the photos were full of put-together workspaces and not-so-nice pens. “You know how there are these nice t-shirts now that cost like $70 and last five times as long? It’s kind of a leap until you’ve gone to that level and realize what you’re missing out on. I’ve never had a nice pen before the one we made,” he said.

The Grovemade Desk Pen in ceramic-coated aluminum.

The final product is a weighty, twist-action pen made from billets of aluminum or brass run through a Swiss Screw Machine. It features a satisfying snap when the action completes and the pen tip is in place, and three facets that provide a better grip and ensure it can’t roll off the desk. Also to ensure it doesn’t roll off the desk, pens can be purchased with pen stands made of the same material as the pen, with hardwood inlays and a cork base. Plus, the pen insert itself is a Schmidt Rollerball P8126, a refill well known in pen geekdom.

Tomita recognizes his pen is never going to be the one pen for all people — he says that’s an impossible task to place on a designer. Instead, it’s a minimal, idiosyncratic take on a bygone category. They’re available now starting at $50.