All posts in “New”

4 Noise-Canceling Headphones That Are on Sale Now

If you’re looking for a solid pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones, but don’t want to fork over MSRP prices – we’ve got you covered. Below, you’ll find four great deals on some of our favorite noise-canceling headphones by Sony, Bose, Sennheiser and Jabra.

Sony WH-1000XM3

Sony’s flagship noise-canceling headphones typically cost $348, which is what they’re going on Amazon and Sony’s website, however you can get a pretty sweet deal if you shop on eBay. It’s selling new, black or silver models for $270

Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Even though these aren’t Bose’s flagship noise-canceling headphones anymore (that title now belongs to the Headphones 700), the QuietComfort 35 II are excellent and arguably more comfortable and travel-friendly than the above Sony’s. They’re also on sale on eBay.

Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2

The price is a little bit of a misnomer, here. That’s because Sennheiser just released a newer version of this headphone, the Momentum Wireless 3, and is likley trying to phase out these new-year-old models. That said, these are great-sounding noise-canceling headphones with a great industrial design.

Jabra Elite 85h

Jabra’s noise-canceling headphones have been getting rave reviews online. In his review, David Carnoy of CNET wrote that “The Jabra Elite 85h is a good alternative Bose and Sony noise-canceling models for slightly less money, particularly if you value call quality.” And now Amazon is selling these headphones for an extra $50 off.

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

These Are Best Bourbons of the Year, According to the World’s Leading Whiskey Expert

Love it or hate it, longtime whiskey writer and critic Jim Murray’s tastebuds have the power to make bottles disappear off shelves. Containing upwards of 1,500 individual bottle reviews, his annual Whisky Bible is a guide to the good, bad and ugly of the whiskey world. It also crowns what Murray believes are the best whiskeys of the year. And as he’s gone on record saying, he believes Kentucky is making the best whiskeys in the world. Here are Murray’s picks for the best bourbons of 2019 (find the full list of winners here).

1792 Full Proof

World Whisky of the Year: This year, Murray crowned a $45 bottle of bourbon the absolute best whiskey of the year. Made at Barton Distillery and owned by the Sazerac Company, 1792 Full Proof, a no-age-statement whiskey from a lesser-known producer, is not a whiskey one would expect to win such an award. We expect it to fly off shelves in the coming weeks.

E.H. Tayor Jr. Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond

Best No-Age-Statement (Single Barrel): Buffalo Trace’s E.H. Taylor line is made with its famed Mashbill #1 (the same as Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, etc.) and always Bottled-in-Bond. Its Single Barrel expression is slightly more difficult to track down than the more available Small Batch, and typically runs about $55 to $75 in stores. Though it doesn’t bear an age statement, because it’s Bottled-in-Bond you can be sure it’s aged at least four years.

Russel’s Reserve Single Barrel

Best Aged 9 Years and Under: Made by Wild Turkey, this mid-priced, readily available bourbons has been a good value for years. At a solid 110 proof, it’s a non-chill-filtered bourbon aged in extra-charred American oak casks, imbuing the whiskey with added vanilla and caramael notes. Find it in most markets for around $50.

Elijah Craig Barrel Proof

Best Aged 10 to 12 Years: A perennial award-getter gets more awards. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof drops three times a year and its contents are aged for at least 12 years. Due to its unusually high proofs (regularly above 130) and significant maturation, it’s one of the “biggest” drams you can pour. It’s usually available between $65 and $80.

Pappy Van Winkle 15-Year

Best Aged 11 to 15 Years: The first of two Pappies to land in Murray’s winner’s column. No, you likely won’t find it at retail prices. If you want to know more about America’s most famous bourbon, read this.

Michter’s 20-Year

Best Aged 16 to 20 Years: Michter’s 20-year-old juice is selected by Master Distiller Pamela Heilmann and sourced from an unknown distiller. It’s nearly impossible to find at stores, even after a two-year release hiatus to stabilize supply. What you pay for this bottle is up to the seller.

Pappy Van Winkle 23-Year

Best Aged 21 Years and Up: A king of kings. The 23-year-old Pappy is the most valuable of the wheated wonders and will not be had without strong connections or a fat check. Expect to pay multiple thousands of dollars.

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

There’s a Massive Sale on One of Our Favorite Helmet Brands Right Now

Fall may be here and winter closing in quickly, but you’d be hard-pressed to know it based on the climate across much of America these days. Skiiers may not be stoked about that, but motorcycle riders sure are. And if this added burst of nice riding weather has you stoked to hit the road every chance you can before the snow flies, then why not take this chance to grab a new Arai helmet for up to 60 percent off at RevZilla’s closeout sale?

The sale covers a wide spectrum of Arai’s high-quality lids, with numerous colorways, liveries and styles to choose from. Helmets for both off-road and on-road riders are up for grabs, with several versions of Arai’s VX Pro for the former and plenty of variants of the DT-X (as well as examples of the Signet-X and Quantum-X) for the latter, all for hundreds of dollars less than you’d pay at the store.

We’ve culled a few of our favorites below, but if you don’t see anything you like here, hit up RevZilla’s site directly to peruse all the options up for grabs.

VX Pro 4 Bogle Helmet by Arai $750 $390

DT-X Helmet by Arai $600 $400

Quantum-X Sting Helmet by Arai $830 $450

DT-X Edwards Legend Helmet by Arai $740 $400

VX Pro 4 Dazzle Helmet by Arai $750 $300

DT-X Pace Helmet by Arai $730 $400
Gear Patrol also recommends:
Bell Eliminator Helmet ($400)
Shoei RF-1200 Helmet ($486)
Bell Bullitt Helmet ($400)
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.

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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The Complete Guide to Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon Whiskey: Hype and History Explained

You’d think Pappy Van Winkle is a brand that needs no introduction — except that it does. The truth is that most people don’t know anything about “Pappy,” other than that it’s supposed to be the best of its kind. So let’s set the record straight. Here’s everything you need to know about America’s most-sought-after spirit.

Pappy History, Abbreviated

Opening Shop: Pappy Van Winkle refers to Julian Sr. “Pappy” Van Winkle, who created the original line of Van Winkle whiskeys. Van Winkle is a Dutch name that loosely translates to “from shopkeeper.” After gaining some experience through jobs and an earlier distilling venture before Prohibition, Julian Sr. opened a new Stitzel-Weller distillery in 1931 at the age of 61 outside of Louisville. He influenced the business until his death in 1965 at the age of 91.

A Decades-Long Decline: In the 1970s and 1980s, the public’s drinking preferences shifted towards other spirits (especially vodka), a change that severely damaged the bourbon industry. After years of steady declines in sales and a disagreement between heirs around what to do with the business, Pappy’s son, Julian Jr., sold the Stitzel-Weller distillery and the rights to all of its whiskey brands in 1972 — except for the Old Rip Van Winkle name.

Julian Jr.’s decision to purchase back some of the Stitzel-Weller whiskey stock and bottle it under the Old Rip Van Winkle label had preserved his father’s work to some degree, but the market for Kentucky’s whiskey remained dry. Julian Jr. died in 1981, leaving the Old Rip Van Winkle line and the Stitzel-Weller stocks to his son, Julian III. Around that same time, Stitzel-Weller stopped bottling for the Van Winkle family. So Julian III switched to the Hoffman Distillery down the road in Lawrenceburg to bottle and store his whiskey.

Mr. Pappy Van WInkle himself.

Mr. Pappy Van Winkle himself.

The Comeback: In the late ’80s and early ’90s, bourbon started creeping back into American drinking culture, and Julian III’s brand began garnering attention. He began sourcing older whiskeys he purchased from other distilleries — Stitzel-Weller chief among them — and released a 10-year-old bourbon, followed by 12-, 14- and eventually 20- and 23-year-old bourbons. A Chicago sales rep entered the 20-year-old bottle into the Beverage Tasting Institute’s panel, where it scored a 99. It was the company’s first big break. According to Julian III, the bourbon inside that bottle had been purchased from Wild Turkey, who had acquired it themselves from a distillery called Old Boone. This was the genesis of Pappy hype culture.

Whiskey Craze: The question of who made the juice inside any particular bottle of Pappy Van Winkle is a huge source of debate and interest for die-hard whiskey fans, particularly in the light of the Buffalo Trace partnership. There is no possible way that Buffalo Trace could produce the exact same bourbon that had won Pappy awards in the past.

At some point after 2002, a portion of whiskey produced by Buffalo Trace was being mingled with the old Stitzel-Weller stock to create new bottles of Pappy and Old Rip Van Winkle. The speculation on which vintages of each offering stopped including Stitzel-produced bourbon, a distillery with a certain mystique, have added mystery to Pappy lore, and made older bottles far more valuable.

Today, few names in whiskey demand the money and interest Pappy does, and none trigger the same fanatical cold calling of liquor stores hundreds of miles away.

How to Buy Pappy

Spoilers: short of having a connection with a liquor store owner or distributor, there are no guarantees in the hunt for Pappy. Use these best practices wisely, but temper expectations at the door.

Get on the List: Even the best liquor stores are limited to the allocated bottle count distributed to them. After Buffalo Trace has sent out the year’s allotment, there won’t be new bottles until the next year. This means stores have very few bottles and lots of customers who want them. The most common solution for shops of all sizes is a raffle, so ask the cashier at your local spots if one exists and get yourself on it. Winning the raffle won’t net you a free bottle, but at least you get a chance to buy it.

Look at a Map: Stores in population centers are more likely to be allocated coveted whiskey, but they’re also more likely to pull huge crowds. Stores with less visitors or in lower-populated areas are allocated less of the good stuff. This makes the edges of suburbia prime whiskey hunting territory — where retailers are more likely to receive Pappy and there are fewer people fighting for each bottle.

Be a Good Customer: The simple and sagely advice of all experienced whiskey collectors. Give your business to a store near you over a period of time and you’re more likely to get a “sure” when asking about rare or allocated bottles. It should be noted that this technique is employed more effectively with smaller stores, as larger ones aren’t necessarily fighting to keep every customer that comes through the door.

Open Up Your Wallet: It can be comforting (or obnoxious) to know that once every method is exhausted, there are always sellers somewhere out there. It could be a friend of a friend, some guy on Craigslist or an exchange through Facebook direct message, but rest assured someone out there is willing to take you for all you’re worth for the whiskey you seek. It will be expensive and you could get ripped off (fake Pappy is not uncommon), but, like it or not, these secondary buying markets do exist.

Mark Your Calendar: The Pappy Van Winkle Collection releases around the same time every year — late October to November. Whether you’re chasing it at retail (best of luck!), signing up for raffles or resigning yourself to paying exorbitant secondary market prices, that’s when new bottles begin circulating. Be warned: most shop owners are either hesitant to provide, or flat-out don’t know, when their allocation will arrive. Shipping to stores can vary by region, state and city; short of having a friend who works for the distributor, you won’t know exactly when it’s landing.

Pappy-Van-winkle-Bottles-Gear-Patrol

Every Bottle of Pappy, Explained

The Pappy Van Winkle Collection is made up of six bottles. Find tasting information, retail prices and street prices for all six here.

Old Rip Van Winkle 10-Year

Retail Price: $70
Street Price: ~$500
Proof: 107

A charming, out-of-place wizard with a rifle pressed across his chest dons the label of the most available of the Van Winkle whiskeys. It’s just under barrel proof, with a splash of water added after it’s batched to reign it in. Its proof and age mean there’s a flavor punch, but it’s mostly baking spices, wood and alcohol, rather than the sweetness that earned Pappy its rep. It’s a great bottle to track down for completionists or those who just want a bottle for bragging rights.

Van Winkle Special Reserve 12-Year

Retail Price: $80
Street Price: ~$700
Proof: 90

Special Reserve 12-year is the Van Winkle whiskey for the Basil Hayden’s drinker. Forgive the heresy of this comparison, anyone who’s tried it knows it to be true. Its lower proof (90) and average maturation time (for Pappy, at least) means you don’t get harsher alcohol burn on the nose or palate and you don’t get swallowed up by oak tannins. That said, like Basil Hayden’s, it’s satisfying for everyone from the novice to the seasoned pro.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 15-Year

Retail Price: $120
Street Price: ~$1,000
Proof: 107

Only three of the bottles in the greater Pappy Van Winkle Collection bear the word “Pappy” on them — this is the youngest. It’s different from its fellow PVW bottles in one major way, and a few minor ones. Major: it’s bottled at barrel proof (107), the only expression in the collection handled that way. So while you get some of the sweetness associated with older Pappy, you also get a thick, oily body and a healthy burn on the first few sips. It used to be the go-to Pappy for those tip-toeing into the collection, but its second-hand price has climbed from splurge to you-better-check-your-bank-account in recent years.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 20-Year

Retail Price: $200
Street Price: ~$1,500
Proof: 90

The most-awarded of the Pappys, it’s often said 20-year can be mistaken for a fine cognac. It’s significantly lower proof (90) than its compatriots, sacrificing its body for a wicked balance of wood tannins and fruity sweetness. This bottle hasn’t been a reasonable buy in decades, so don’t expect to find any deals here.

Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve 23-Year

Retail Price: $300
Street Price: ~$2,400
Proof: 96

This is unobtanium. The oldest of the Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserves sits right between its younger siblings in proof (96), but distant in flavor. The last three years of maturation it boasts over the 20-year are very clear — this is a woody, tannic, mouth-drying whiskey. Some of the floral, fruit-driven sweetness of the 15- and 20-year is diminished because of this. This isn’t to say it’s not an exceptional sipper; rather, it’s not what anyone would call “smooth.” If you find it under $1,000 anywhere, buy it — you’ll be able to sell it to some schmuck for at least twice that much.

Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye 13-Year

Retail Price: $120
Street Price: ~$1,250
Proof: 96

This is a rye, but we can assume it isn’t a high-rye. The stuff drinks just like bourbon and is probably the second or third best-reviewed of the entire collection. It’s one of the oldest ryes on the market (Sazerac Rye from Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection steals the crown) and it shows in spades — whatever spiciness you associate with rye is bowled over by a rich mix of tobacco, honey, toffee and fruit. This is the Van Winkle whiskey for the whiskey nerd in your life.

10 Solid Places to Shop for Men’s Furniture Online

There’s more to the furniture world than Ikea, CB2 and legacy furniture makers. These days, a number of internet-native companies have joined the competition with all manner of aesthetics and prices represented. Here are 10 of the best spots for guys to buy furniture online.

Dims.

Dims.’s Eugene Kim would prefer if you didn’t call his company the “Warby Park of” anything. Dims. (the period is always there) isn’t a design house as much as it is a design incubator. Designers who lack decades-long résumés pitch Kim on their pieces and, if produced, earn royalties off of them. In the original design space, its prices are competitive, with products listed from $145 to $795. To date, there’s a coffee table, side table, dining table and bar cart.

Can’t Miss: Barbican Trolley ($350)

Artifox

Artifox’s products look like they were designed for full-stack developers with good taste. Its tech-minimalist aesthetic stems from Sarah and Dan Mirth’s blend of interior and industrial design backgrounds; the collection heavily features hardwoods, powder-coated steel and small-but-useful organization measures (the headphone hook and cable management grid are great). The lineup includes the things you’d expect to find in a small apartment space — bike racks, wall shelves, monitor raisers and side tables included. Prices are on the higher end, but not unreasonable, with an oak desk starting just under $1,000.

Can’t Miss: Desk 02 ($950+)

Floyd

Floyd may be of the same flat-pack ilk as many of its direct-to-consumer forebearers, but comparison stops there. It’s assemblable (and disassemblable) furniture made of heavy birchwood and thick-gauge steel and it’s meant to last — all rareties in its space. With a nice balance of heavy materials and light colors, the look is a sort of whimsical-industrial. Starting a few years back with just a platform bedframe, its catalog has now opened up to include a sofa, shelves and tables. Its prices are fairly moderate.

Can’t Miss: The Platform Bed ($650)

Akron Street

It’s all about the wood. Every piece in Hansley Yunez and Lulu Li’s catalog is made, at least in part, of American white oak. In spite of that, few pieces are visually heavy and all are, given the materials and original designs, surprisingly affordable. Its wares include chairs, tables, desks, bedframes, coat racks, media consoles and more.

Can’t Miss: Small Tenon Oak Table ($277)

Article

Article doesn’t look much different than most internet furniture retailers, but it is. Where others are built overnight with seed funding and venture capital, Article has taken longer to reach its size than most, and unlike others on this list, Article doesn’t necessarily have a specialty. There are hundreds of products in its catalog, ranging from mid-century sofas to boho-inspired wall shelves. The upshot: you could furnish an entire home with Article and hit myriad styles throughout, and do so affordably. Plus, it’s one of few retailers — online or off — to include the absolute maximum of information on product spec sheets (check out the rub counts on upholstered sofas and chairs).

Can’t Miss: Sven Sofa ($999)

Burrow

Burrow’s greatest strength is listening to its customers just enough. Its initial collection of sofas upholstered sofas were met with praise, but they weren’t perfect; buyers said the arms were too high to comfortably lean against for a nap, the cushions took too long to break in and the built-in phone charger in the base was too flimsy. Oh, and it should come in leather. It updated the collection in 2019 to remedy all those issues and doubled down on quick shipping and easy assembly, a combination which made its sofas our favorite on the internet. The brand makes sofas, sectionals, armchairs and ottomans in a number of upholstery and leather options.

Can’t Miss: The Nomad Leather Sofa ($1,995)

Schoolhouse

The driving force behind Schoolhouse’s founding was a nostalgia for heavy things. Brian Faherty’s Portland, Oregon-based company, which started as a mail-order catalog selling old school, cast-iron molded glass shades, makes everything from barware to hardware to extendable dining room tables, each piece intended to become what Faherty calls a “modern heirloom.” Visually, its pieces are either direct descendants or reminiscent of various art and design movements of the 20th century (Art Deco, Cubism, Mid-Century Modern all makes appearances), but because its products are made Stateside and in an uncompromising manner, don’t come looking for a bargain. They’re built to stick with you for a lifetime.

Can’t Miss: Jack Loveseat ($2,199)

Muji

Muji isn’t a new company, but it is new to America. The intensely Japanese company makes damn near everything — house slippers, gel-ink pens, facewash, tea kettles and beanbags included — but its furniture is quietly one of its strongest categories, despite a significantly depleted stock compared to its Japanese equivalent. Look for a satisfying mix of smart storage, compact seating and a series of cult-favorite beanbags at fair prices. Also a plus: the brand recently updated the look and functionality of its outdated online store, which makes things a lot easier.

Can’t Miss: SUS Steel Shelving Unit ($250)

Vipp

Vipp is a high-end Danish design house that recently launched its first full-fledged furniture collection online, but its beginnings are, shall we say, humbler. The company made a name for itself making the best damn trashcans in the world and has become a respected fixture in Scandinavian design. Expect powder-coated aluminum frames dressed up with luxe materials, high price points and lots of people asking where you found your chair.

Can’t Miss: Chair w/ Leather ($950)

Hay

Hay’s ability to bend smart ideas and forms from its Danish roots with a playful disposition is second to none, and since Herman Miller acquired a portion of the company in 2018, its stuff is finally available in the US. And unlike Herman Miller, Hay’s products typically register at more manageable price points. Look for furniture that seems normal but throws you a curveballe, like a black marble-topped coffee table with a frame made of rebar.

Can’t Miss: Don’t Leave Me Side Table ($165)

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

Here’s How to Make Your Outdoor Gear Last Forever

Our warm-weather playground is closing for the season, which means that soon, you’ll be trading wheels for skis and waders for down jackets. We know — the winter stoke is real. But resist the urge to shove all your gear into the garage to be dealt with next spring; there’s work to be done.

Dirt and grime do a good job of hiding damage that’s accumulated over six months of fun. When it comes to something like a mountain bike, that buildup can impede the function of your drivetrain and other components. “Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to ride when the weather clears and getting stopped by surprise mechanical issues,” notes Nick Martin, founder of The Pro’s Closet, the largest e-retailer for pre-owned bikes and cycling gear.

And when it comes to a sport like climbing, poorly cared for gear can become a safety issue. “Taking a couple of hours in between seasons to go through all your gear is what sets you up for success — and safety — next season,” says Matt Hickethier, senior outdoor instructor for REI’s Denver location. Plus, you paid serious money for some of this stuff. “If you take care of high-quality hiking boots season after season, they can last you 20 years,” he adds.

Caring for your gear might not be as simple as leafing through the instruction manual (which you probably threw in the trash anyway). Below, you’ll find the best way to clean, dry, care for and store all your favorite summer gear so it’s ready for action at the first sign of a thaw next year.

Camping Gear

Sleeping Bags

Clean: You want to wash your sleeping bag as little as possible, especially if it’s down, since it makes the insulation clump and reduces its lifespan. (Hickethier likes to sleep with a liner and just washes that every few trips.) At the end of the season, place the bag in a front-load washing machine and use a mild detergent. The centralized spin on top-load machines can tear the stitching apart; if that’s all you have, lay your sleeping bag out and scrub it with an abrasive plastic brush and mild detergent. Then hose it off.

Dry: Hang to dry.

Care: If your bag came waterproof from its maker, use a spray (like Nikwax TX-Direct Spray-On) to restore that repellency.

Store: Once it’s completely dry, either hang the bag in your gear closet or put it in a mesh or breathable cotton bag that’s larger than the stuff sack you keep it in for trips. You want to keep the insulation as high a loft — that’s the fluffiness — as possible. Compression compromises the bag’s resilience, Hickethier says.

Cooking Equipment

Clean: Wipe down stoves and pots just like you would those in your kitchen, getting rid of any food particles that could breed bacteria or mold over the winter months. If you have a gas line, light the stove, then shut the gas off at the bottle rather than on the stove. According to Hickethier, this lets the gas flush through the line to the burner completely, and when it stops, you know the line is clear.

Dry: Let all components air dry. If the stove uses jet fuel, dry upside down so water isn’t pooling through the system.

Store: Your stove and cooking gear should be stored inside, away from the elements, which can erode the metal. Regulations for storing fuel vary by state and area, but if you have a flammables closet in your garage, that’s ideal. Otherwise, make sure it’s in an area that’s well ventilated, well contained and not going to overheat.

Tents

Clean: It’s important to get all the dirt off and out of your tent before storing it — any sand will act like sandpaper and degrade all your soft materials including stitching, Hickethier says. Turn the tent inside out, shake it, then scrub both it and the rainfly with a mild detergent (like Dawn) and a soft-bristled brush. Clean the ends of the poles that go into the ground and the stakes. Hose everything down.

Dry: Reassemble the entire tent and let it dry out somewhere indoors like in the garage, basement, even living room — UV rays actually wear down the materials over time, and since your tent obviously sits in the sun most of its erected life, you want to limit exposure as much as possible, Hickethier says.

Care: Put a UV treatment on the outside of the tent and the rainfly to extend its life. If there’s any peeling on the rainfly, treat with a waterproofing material like Nikwax. Check all your seams and cover any tape that’s peeling with silicone glue.

Store: Break down the poles and load them into the tent bag first. Never store poles under tension since they can start to wear out if taut over time, Hickethier says. Next, stuff the rainfly in the bag randomly, in a kind of circular pattern, followed by the body of the tent, then the footprint. Contrary to common sense organizational instincts, folding your tent is a no-no. “Every time you fold your tent, you’re creating constant wear on the same spots which will eventually break down the material, waterproofing and seams,” Hickethier explains.

Sleeping Pads

Clean: Inflate the pad, then hose it down, scrubbing with a mild detergent if it’s dirty.

Dry: Dry inside, out of UV light and inflated to ensure no water gets caught in creases.

Store: If it’s pillow style, pack the pad back down and store in its stuff sack. If it’s foam and self-inflatable, store the pad partially inflated with valves open to prevent the foam from breaking down under compression.

Hiking Gear

Hiking Boots

Clean: At the end of the season, do a thorough version of what you should do after every hike: Pull out the insoles, then give your boots a light wash with water, mild detergent or leather cleaner (if applicable) and a soft brush.

Dry: Hang boots upside down to allow air to flow in and excess moisture to drain out until they’re completely dry.

Care: Check all materials for degradation. If your boots are leather and puckering, turning a lighter color, or starting to look like dry skin, apply leather conditioner (Nikwax makes a good one) and let that set, then re-waterproof with a wax-based solution or silicone-based wax. Unlace your boots and check the strings’ conditions — if they’re fraying anywhere (it’ll likely be where they’re crossing a grommet) replace them. Check all metal components, like the hooks that help cinch the ankle cuff, and make sure there’s no damage or warping there. If the soles are separating anywhere, use a silicone glue (though if your soles are Vibram, contact the manufacturer because they should put a whole new one on for you).

Store: Keep boots in a dry, low-light spot, like the bottom of your closet or in a container in a low-humidity garage.

Backpacks

Clean: At the very least, empty your pack, turn it inside out and shake it to get all the small pieces of dirt and food out. If your pack has seen a lot of mud, turn it right side out and use a mild soap (like Dawn), a vinyl or plastic scrub brush and lukewarm water, scrubbing in a circular motion until all the dirt is gone. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, so it doesn’t shrink the material, Hickethier says. Check the straps and the buckle components for embedded mud or dirt.

Dry: Lay flat outside to dry.

Care: Check that the stitching isn’t fraying or peeling anywhere and that all hard components (i.e., plastic buckles) are still functioning correctly. Replace before storing.

Store: Don’t hang the bag — leaving the straps under tension, even lightly, will cause the material to stretch over time. Instead, compress the pack in a storage bin and store it somewhere with low moisture.

Water Reservoirs

Clean: A poorly cleaned, sealed reservoir is the perfect environment to breed mold and bacteria, Hickethier says. If your bladder had anything other than water in it (like an electrolyte drink) or there are signs of mineral buildup from hard water, use a dissolvable tablet, like Bottle Bright or CamelBak Cleaning Tablets, which create a bubble effect to scrub the inside of the reservoir. Run through the line, then rinse the whole thing out. (You can also use warm water, silicone-safe soap like Dawn and a soft brush, but the soap is harder to get out completely.)

Dry: Disconnect the line (if it has one), drain all the water, then hang vertically to dry (like over a hook). Some newer bladders will turn inside out, which is ideal. Otherwise, invest in a reservoir hanger (like this one from Camelbak) which is designed to keep the rubber and silicone components open so the bladder can drip dry completely.

Store: Keep the cap off, then fold the hose in half and tuck the bend into the mouth of the bladder to keep it open. Store it with the rest of your hiking gear. Some people also like to store the whole thing in their freezer to ensure no mildew develops.

Biking Gear

Road and Mountain Bikes

Clean: It’s definitely possible to wash a bike too much or too hard, says Martin. “Bikes are full of moving parts that are small and delicate,” he explains. “Overzealous washing can actually force crucial lubricants out of these parts and push dirt and grime in.” Be gentle: fill a spray bottle with warm water and a little mild dish soap (this, according to Martin, works just as well as bike-specific degreasers) and spray the whole thing down. Use a soft brush or cloth to agitate dirt and grime, especially on the chain and drivetrain. “A dirty or unlubricated drivetrain will cause a lot of premature wear, noise and shifting issues,” he adds. Rinse the frame and components with a hose or a bucket of clean water.

Dry: “Leaving your bike dripping wet is a recipe for corrosion,” Martin says. Take a small cloth and wipe down everything you can reach, including the chain and drivetrain. You can use a detailing spray (like Pedro’s Bike Lust) on the painted surfaces for an extra sheen and help in repelling dirt and dust during storage and on your next ride.

Care: Once dry, apply a chain lubricant to your drivetrain. “Only the chain needs lubrication and only on the rollers,” Martin warns. Use a rag to wipe away any excess lube that lands outside the chain or on the cassette, chainrings and derailleur pulleys. Run your shifter up and down through all the gears to make sure it doesn’t need any more tuning before you store. Then, take an inventory of what maintenance you can do during the off-season. For mountain bikes, you want to service the suspension once a year, either on your own or at a bike or suspension shop, Martin advises. On any bike, check all your consumable components like the chain, tire and brake pads for wear, and replace them if needed.

Store: Store your bike indoors — namely somewhere dry and shielded from the weather, because sun, wind, rain and snow will damage and shorten the lifespan of every component on your bike, Martin says. (If you have no choice but to keep it outside, get a waterproof cover and maintain it regularly.) You can keep it on the ground, but the most convenient way to store a bike is on a hook. For road, cyclocross or gravel bikes, hang them however you like (i.e., upside down or vertically from the ceiling or wall). Mountain bikes with suspension forks should be hung vertically — never upside down — with the front wheel up to keep the seals and foam rings in the fork from drying out.

Cycling Shoes

Clean: Pull out the insoles and wash with water, mild detergent or leather cleaner and a soft brush.

Dry: Stuff with newspaper and set in an airy space to let dry. Be sure they dry completely before storing.

Store: Keep shoes in a dry, shady spot, like a container in a low-humidity garage.

Helmets

Clean: Take a brush and clean with warm water and a gentle soap or shampoo, since you already know that won’t irritate your skin, Martin points out.

Dry: Hang to dry in a well-ventilated area.

Store: Store in a container in a low-humidity garage (out in the open risks dust and cobwebs).

Fishing Gear

Fly Lines

Clean: “Your line is exposed to dirt, sand, rocks and all kinds of funky stuff in the water that wants to decrease slickness and start breaking down the line,” observes Shawn Combs, Director of Product Development for Rod & Tackle at Orvis. Run the entire line through a Scientific Anglers cleaning pad — or a paper towel if you’re in a pinch.

Dry: Air dry.

Store: Re-spool your reel and store.

Rods

Clean: Wipe down with a clean, dry cloth. Wash reel in warm water with a soft cloth.

Dry: Air dry.

Store: Store in a rod tube.

Waders and Boots

Clean: River water should be rinsed off with a hose, and any mud on your boots scrubbed off with a soft brush and gentle dish soap.

Dry: Hang your waders to dry. Stuff boots with newspaper and leave in a well-ventilated area.

Store: Fold waders and store alongside boots in a container.

Climbing Gear

The most significant care aspect of climbing gear is to adhere to the manufacturer recommendations of life expectancy since your life depends on the reliability of these products. “Even if a rope was never used, it still has a life expectancy for how long that piece of gear is serviceable,” Hickethier explains. Info for harnesses, ropes and protective equipment can all be found on the manufacturer’s website.

Harnesses

Clean: You may still use your harness inside during the winter, but you want to clean all the dirt and grime from the outdoor season off. Always handwash it to prevent fraying and breaking, Hickethier says. Scrub the soft material and metal parts with warm, soapy water.

Dry: Hang inside to dry.

Care: Before you store it, as well as before each use, inspect the stitching, lacing and hard components of your harness. Fix anything immediately — if you forget and head out with a broken buckle, it’s hazardous, Hickethier points out.

Store: Pack flat, somewhere dry, so the material doesn’t stretch out.

Climbing Shoes

Clean: Since bouldering shoes get more dusty than dirty and have a particular grip to them, skip the soap and rinse with warm water until it runs clear.

Dry: Stuff with newspaper and set in a well-ventilated area to dry.

Store: Store alongside the rest of your climbing gear.

Ropes

Clean: Fill your bathtub or sink with warm water and add rope wash (like this one from Beal) and let it soak according to the package instructions. If the water is exceptionally dirty, drain and repeat until the water runs clear.

Dry: Set rope outside to dry.

Store: Wrapping a rope tightly can create kinks and degrade the fibers over time, Hickethier says. Instead, coil it loosely on the ground or hung on two supports (like nails). Store away from UV light.

Cams

Clean: If the metal parts have gunk built up inside, rinse with hot water and mild soap.

Dry: Wipe dry with a cloth.

Care: Lubricate the metal parts you washed, as well as any clean cams in need of some slickness (use a product like Metolius Cam Lube). Check the webbing to ensure it’s clean and not wearing down. If it’s degrading, most companies will re-sling it for you, Hickethier says.

Store: Attach to a carabiner to keep organized, then store with the rest of your climbing gear.

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

Is This Still the Perfect Entry-Level Smartwatch?

Last fall, Fitbit released the Fitbit Versa – and I loved it. It was a simple-to-use smartwatch that was slim and bespoke, relatively affordable, an excellent fitness tracker and it had a battery life that lasted nearly a week. It was a great entry-level smartwatch for basically anybody, but especially casual smartwatch wearers, and it worked equally well with both iPhone and Android.

The next generation of that smartwatch, the Versa 2, doesn’t mess too much with last year’s success. It has the same relative look and feel of the original Versa, but Fitbit updated in nearly every way. It has an even simpler design, a better processor, a new OLED display (a welcome improvement over the Versa’s LCD display), and improved sleep tracking. The most “touted” new feature is the addition of Alexa integration, so you can tell the smartwatch to do things like set alarms and control your other compatible smart home devices. Lastly is price: the Versa 2 comes exactly the same as last year’s Versa.

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The Good: The Versa 2 is a better entry-level smartwatch than last year’s Versa, which is something you’d both expect and welcome. The two most important upgrades are that the Versa two now has an always-on display (if you select it) and superior sleep tracking feature, called Sleep Score, which gives you a nice little rating out of 100 – the higher the number, the better your sleep. If you’re fine wearing a smartwatch to bed and you want to track your sleep, the Versa 2 is exactly what you want.

As was true with the Versa, a huge selling point of the Versa 2 is its battery life. If you elect to not have an always-on display (it’s off by default) the Versa 2 can last between five and six days on a single charge; if you have the always-on display, it lasts around three days. Either way, this battery life which is huge, especially when you consider an Apple Watch lasts roughly 18 hours and is not designed to wear while you’re sleeping.

There are two other big reasons to buy a Versa 2. First, it’s solid and intuitive fitness-tracking abilities. It has an always-on heart-rate monitor and can accurately track things like steps and calories. It also, like the Apple Watch, has automatic workout detection, so if you forget to start a walk, run, bike ride or pool workout, the smartwatch won’t skip a beat. And secondly, the Versa 2 is very slim and lightweight, and it’s one of the most comfortable smartwatches that I’ve ever worn.

Who It’s For: The Versa 2 is an entry-level smartwatch designed for anybody who wants a good fitness tracker with some smartwatch-y features (like see call and text notifications, and control music). If you’re somebody who wants to keep track of your sleeping, the Versa 2 is particularly good. It works equally well for iPhone and Android users.

Watch Out For: The new Alexa integration might come as a welcome addition for some, but it really shouldn’t be the main reason to buy this smartwatch. The fact is that most people don’t really need (or want) to talk to Alexa when they’re outside the house. Also, talking to Alexa on the Versa 2 isn’t like talking to Siri on the Apple Watch. For instance, you can’t tell Alexa to send text messages, open certain apps or even play/pause music; all it can do is answer specific queries (“Alexa, what’s the weather?”), set timers and alarms, and control some of your connected smart home gadgets. The other thing is that there’s no speaker, so you won’t be able to hear Alexa and all its answers will just appear on the screen – it’s far from a seamless experience.

As was true with the Versa, the Versa 2 lacks a dedicated GPS, meaning if you want reliable workout data you’ll have to have your smartphone nearby. This is a big bummer for runners. There’s also no LTE model available for the Versa 2.

There’s a new Spotify app that’s available on the Versa 2, which isn’t available on the Versa, but it’s not super helpful. Like with the Apple Watch, the Spotify app on the Versa 2 doesn’t let you download anything (playlists, albums, songs, podcasts) for offline listening. If you’re a Spotify Premium subscriber, only a select few Garmin and Samsung smartwatches do this.

Also, the Versa 2 still comes with a proprietary charger. The annoying thing is that it looks and feels just like the proprietary charger that came with the original Versa, which I didn’t like to begin with, but it’s actually not the same and won’t work with previous Versa smartwatches. I still have and use my Versa, and mixed up the chargers on several occasions, which was obviously frustrating.

Alternatives: Fitbit has a right to feel frustrated after the latest Apple hardware announcements. That’s because, in addition to announcing new high-end Apple Watches, Apple also dramatically reduced the price of its two-year-old smartwatch – you can now buy an Apple Watch Series 3 for $200, which is the exact price of the Fitbit Versa 2. Basically, if you have an iPhone and you want an entry-level smartwatch that works well with it, the Series 3 is probably a better bet.

Verdict: The Versa 2 is a better version of last year’s Versa, which was the best entry-level smartwatch for most people, Android or iPhone owner, who just wanted an easy-to-use smartwatch to track fitness. A year later, the Versa 2’s main problem is that there’s more competition, especially within its $200 price range. The Versa 2’s best qualities are its 6-day battery life, its great fitness and sleep tracking, and it’s super-slim design. If you those things are important to you, then the Versa 2 remains one of the best – if not the best – entry-level smartwatches you can buy. However, the reality is that the Versa 2 will feel more like a glorified fitness tracker than an actual smartwatch, especially if you have an iPhone or Samsung smartphone.

What Others Are Saying:

• “If you’re not wedded to Fitbit’s platform, the Versa 2 is a harder sell when you compare it with other $200 smartwatches, such as the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active and the Apple Watch Series 3, which both have GPS, onboard music storage and contactless payments. One feature that could set the Versa 2 apart is Fitbit’s new subscription service, but it will take a lot to convince me to spend $80 more per year. Still, the Versa 2 is a very good fitness-focused smartwatch that offers plenty of insights into your overall health, subscription or not.” — Mike Prospero, Tom’s Guide

• “Overall, the Versa 2’s fitness tracking features are the best and most comprehensive you’ll find on any smartwatch, even though it doesn’t have a dedicated GPS radio and relies on your phone for GPS tracking.” — Dan Seifert, The Verge

• “If not for its connectivity problems, the Versa 2 would be an excellent smartwatch. It offers accurate, comprehensive fitness features and a nice design for a reasonable price. It’s also one of the longest-lasting smartwatches around, while the Alexa integration makes it more useful than its predecessor. I just wish Fitbit would get its Bluetooth act together already, and give me a better OS.” — Cherlynn Low, Engadget

Key Specs

Display: 300 x 300 pixel touchscreen AMOLED
Water resistance: swimproof; up to 50 meters
Sensors: 3-axis accelerometer, optical heart rate monitor, altimeter, ambient light sensor, vibration motor, NFC
Battery life: up to 6 days; ~3 days with always-on display

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Fitbit provided this product for review.

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Why Every Kitchen Absolutely Needs at Least One Enormous Cast-Iron Skillet

If you’ve been in New York City for more than a week, there’s a good chance you’ve eaten something with Craig Koketsu’s fingerprints on it. The partner and executive chef of the city’s Quality Branded restaurant group develops recipes, techniques and processes for each of its five neighborhood spots (Quality Meats, Park Avenue Summer (Autumn, Winter, Spring), Quality Italian, Quality Eats and Quality Meats). His style is classic with a touch of modern flair and he’s been named one of NYC’s top up-and-coming chefs by both New York Magazine and Esquire. From the benefits of a set of heavy-duty mixing bowls to a really, really big cast-iron skillet, these are the things Chef Craig Koketsu couldn’t live without.

Vollrath Heavy Weight Mixing Bowls

“The curve of and depth of these bowls is perfect. You can mix and whisk aggressively in them and don’t have to worry about spillage. The heavier gauge of the stainless steel also makes for more even heat distribution when you use them as a double boiler to make hollandaise. I have one in almost every size, and since they nest, they don’t take up a lot of space.”

LamsonSharp Slotted Turner

“Hands down my favorite offset spatula. I use it mostly when I’m working the griddle — its sharp edge makes sure that every bit of the golden brown sear stays on the scallop. It’s also the perfect size and ridgidity to fillet Dover sole tableside. Lastly, it’s ideal for cutting and scooping out brownies from the pan.”

Mac Professional Series Bread Slicer

“Deadly sharp, it’s equally adept at slicing through roast beef as it is through a crusty baguette. And it passes the overripe tomato test with flying colors. The long blade also allows you to make longer strokes which result in cleaner slices.”

Field Cast Iron Skillet (No. 12)

“The cooking surface of this incredibly well-made pan is practically non-stick. I also love its straight sides which make for perfectly round parmesan fricos and old-fashioned cornbread. When considering sizing, my advice is to go big, especially since the pan is easy to handle because it’s lighter weight. Also, you can always cook less in a larger pan, but you can’t always cook more in a smaller pan — the 12-inch diameter allows me to cook four medium-sized pancakes at the same time which saves loads of time when I have friends over for brunch.”

More Chef-Approved Kitchen Gear

From a lava stone molcajete to a disposable thermometer to a very, very old-school pasta maker, these four professional chefs reflect on the gear they couldn’t do their jobs without. 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.

The One Watch That Goes From Deep Sea to Beach Side with Ease

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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.

The Sonos Move Does It All, For Better and For Worse

The Sonos Move ($399) represents a bunch of “firsts” for Sonos. It’s the company’s first Bluetooth speaker, its first portable speaker and, thus, its first speaker to have a built-in battery (which Sonos had to build from scratch). Unlike all other Sonos speakers before it, the Move is designed to be listened to in, around and outside the home. And if you’re wondering, yes, the Move is weatherproof and drop-resistant, making it Sonos’s first truly rugged speaker, too.

Of course, the Move is still a Sonos speaker and it’s designed to work as such. It can connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network and, via the Sonos app, be grouped with other Sonos speakers in a multi-room system. It’s also a smart speaker, just like the Sonos One, so you can speak to Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant and request a song, adjust the volume or ask about the weather.

There are a couple of big questions surrounding the Move. In terms of sound quality, how does it compare to other Sonos speakers? And how should the Move be used? Is it more of a traditional Sonos speaker that, instead of being tethered to the wall, can be carried from room to room? Or is it more a portable Bluetooth speaker, designed to be listened to outside?

The biggest question, at least for me, has to do with the “Sonos experience.” The audio company is so beloved because its speakers sound great and work with almost every music streaming service, but, most importantly, they’re easy enough for anybody to use. So the fact that the Move can be constantly be moved around, switched between Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modes – does that negatively impact that Sonos experience?

The Good: The Sonos Move has that “Sonos sound” – it sounds warm, lively and punchy, both inside and outside, just as you’d expect from a Sonos speaker. Sonos specially designed it with a downward-firing tweeter and forward-firing woofer, and the result is that the Move has more of a 360-dree sound than any other speaker. (Fun fact: even though the Play:1 and Sonos One speakers have a dotted grill the wraps sound most of the speaker, both are still forward-firing and not omnidirectional speakers.) In terms of sound quality and power, the Sonos Move sounds more closely to the Sonos One ($199) rather than the larger and more expensive Play:5 ($499); but it’s definitely in-between the two.

The other neat thing about the Move is that Sonos rejiggered TruePlay technology so that it works with the Move. TruePlay is the in-app feature that helps tune each Sonos speaker so that it sounds best for the room it’s in; it’s a typically a one-time process that requires you to wave your smartphone around while the speaker makes some strange noises. Sonos knew this would be a pain in the ass with the Move, to have listeners set up TruePlay every time they moved the speaker, so they developed Automatic TruePlay.

Instead of going through the app and waving your phone around (typical TruePlay behavior), the Move uses its built-in microphones and automatically tunes itself ever time you move it. It’s convenient and you can hear the difference. For example, when you move the Move from an open space to a closed-in space, like a media cabinet, you can hear the speaker lower its bass and crank up its mids and treble. All this happens in the space of a few seconds and, again, it requires nothing out of the listener (the microphones have to be on, though). Pretty cool.

When it’s not on its charging dock, or charging via USB-C, the Move has a ten-hour battery life – which is decent. That said, it has a pretty neat trick to save battery life. Anytime the speaker is not powered and it’s not playing music, meaning it could be in either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth modes, the Move will automatically turn off after a few minutes. According to Sonos, the Move can stay in this “Suspend mode” for up to five days before needing a visit back to the charger.

The biggest thing, at least for me, is that the Move doesn’t really complicate or change the Sonos experience. Because it’s the first Sonos speaker that has automatic TruePlay, it arguably makes the Move even easier to set up than other speakers. If there’s one caveat to this “Sonos experience,” it’s that the Move will automatically connect back to your home’s Wi-Fi when switching back from Bluetooth mode, but it won’t regroup with your other Sonos speakers. Basically, you’ll have to visit the Sonos app if you want to regroup your speakers after using the Move as a Bluetooth speaker. Not the end of the world, but something to watch out for.

Who It’s For: The Sonos Move won’t be for everybody. In fact, it’s a speaker with a hint of irony about it. Sonos designed it so that it could work for anybody in any situation – whether that’s indoors or outdoors, in your home or far from it – but it’s actually a speaker that’s optimal for a select few people. It’d be a great addition to somebody’s household who just wants a great-sounding speaker in every room of their house, but only wants to buy one speaker. If the person has a Sonos system and has an outdoor space (backyard or patio) that’s covered by Wi-Fi, then the Move would be a great way to extend your home’s sound outdoors. Finally, if the person is just a die-hard Sonos enthusiast, they really can’t go wrong with the Move.

Watch Out For: The Sonos Move loses many of its best features when being used as a Bluetooth speaker. It can’t function as a smart speaker, so you can’t access Alexa or Google Assistant. Its automatic TruePlay doesn’t work, so it won’t sound as good as it possibly could. It’s can’t operate as a stereo pair with another Sonos Move (both speakers have to be connected to Wi-Fi for stereo pairing).

It’s also the first Sonos speaker that you’ll have to worry about replacing its battery (because it’s the only one to have a battery). Sonos claims that its battery should last roughly three years or 900 charges, but this will be an extra cost down the road; Sonos will sell the replaceable batteries, but they have yet to announce pricing. It’s worth noting that even if the Move’s battery does die, as long as it’s connected to power it will still function as a typical Sonos speaker.

At $399, the Sonos Move definitely feels expensive for what it is. It’s also not a small speaker and even though Sonos claims that it’s a great portable Bluetooth speaker (which I feel it definitely is), I have a hard time picturing many people lugging this 6-pound speaker to the beach.

Alternatives: As far as getting an entry-level Sonos speaker, you could buy two One ($199/ea) or two One SL ($179/ea) speakers, each of which has almost the same audio quality as the Move. If you don’t care about the versatility of the Move, just the audio quality, the Play:5 is a little bit more expensive and definitely is the superior-sounding speaker.

If you’re not committed to the Sonos ecosystem, there are plenty of alternatives. For instance, the UE Blast ($100) and UE Megablast ($170+), both of which are smart Wi-Fi speakers that work with Alexa and they are two of the best portable Bluetooth speakers, too.

It’s worth point out that Bose, arguably Sonos’s biggest speaker rival, recently released the Bose Portable Home Speaker ($349), which is a very similar speaker to the Sonos Move. The Bose Portable Home Speaker works with both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, and can be grouped with Bose’s other multi-room speaker.

Verdict: The Sonos Move is a completely different kind of Sonos speaker, yet it still manages to feel…like a Sonos speaker. It sounds great, truly, and in some respects, it’s actually easier to set up and get playing than any other new Sonos speaker. That said, it feels a little expensive for what it is and unless you’re really going to take advantage of its versatility – take it from room to room, take it outdoors, and use it as true Bluetooth speaker – Sonos makes several other more affordable speakers that you’ll probably enjoy just as much.

What Others Are Saying:

• “For a lot of serious Sonos fans, the Move will be a no-brainer. Folks have been wondering for years when Sonos will make the jump to Bluetooth and make its famously exceptional multi-room wireless speaker systems more versatile. A lot of those people have invested hundreds if not thousands of dollars into their Sonos systems, and the idea of adding one more—one that has Bluetooth, that can go anywhere—is exciting. The Move sounds like a Sonos speaker. It works with all the other Sonos speakers. Sure, a Sonos diehard will love this thing. The average consumer just looking for a portable speaker, however, might not be so enthusiastic.” — Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo

• “The Move also cannot connect to multiple phones or devices at a time either, so you only get to have one DJ at your party. Oh, and though Sonos is known for its ability to group multiple speakers into ad-hoc zones, this isn’t possible on Bluetooth. And that’s despite many competing speakers, like that Megaboom we keep mentioning, having the ability to daisy-chain together. For now, it’s clear that Sonos still sees Bluetooth as an add-on, not a core focus. Sonos could add more Bluetooth features in the future via app updates (something it does frequently), but the company’s heart still lies with Wi-Fi..” — Jeffrey Van Camp, Wired

• “The biggest question that most people seem to have about the Move is about whether it’s worth the nearly $400 price tag. Frankly, it’s a tough price to swallow for what largely amounts to a $200 Sonos One with a battery bolted to the bottom of it. It’s also a lot more money than the typical Bluetooth speaker costs. But the Move also does things that no other Sonos speaker nor any other Bluetooth speaker can do, and it does it all without compromising on sound quality, volume, or features.” — Chris Welch, The Verge

Key Specs

Drivers: One downward-firing tweeter, one mid-woofer; two Class-D digital amplifiers
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, AirPlay 2
Battery: up to 10 hours
Water Resistance: IP56 rating
Weight: 6.6 pounds

Sonos provided this product for review.

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

This Is the Best Smart Lock for Most Homes (And Now It’s on Sale)

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This Absurd Backup Battery Can Charge Every Gadget You Own and Then Some

Portable power is a quickly evolving category, and Ecoflow’s Delta 1300 demonstrates just how far it’s come. Lithium-ion batteries are not just for your phone; this compact and powerful battery bank is a lightweight gas-free, emissions-free generator that’s powerful enough to run woodshop tools, office electronics, a portable refrigerator or medical device, and light enough to carry between locations. As an emergency back-up generator, it will keep you charged and comfortable in a power outage, but it has so much functionality it won’t gather dust while you’re waiting for the next blackout. In addition to charging phone, drone, and laptop, and to running circular saws, air compressors, and lights, Delta can charge an electric car enough to eke out another five to seven miles until you can get to a proper charger.

The Good: The Delta 1300 has 6 AC outlets, 2 USB-C PD ports, 4 USB outlets, and it’s rechargeable from a wall socket, carport, or solar panel. This unit plugs into the wall with the same cord you’d use to plug in a computer. There’s no specialized, device-specific power brick required, so you don’t have to worry about misplacing your charger. The Delta can juice 13 devices simultaneously, which means you’ll be popular at festivals and trade shows with one of these in your tent, van or booth. A large LCD screen tells you how much battery the lithium-ion bank has left, both by percentage and hours. The readout is based on the Delta’s activity at any specific time. For example, it’ll likely read 99 hours when you plug in your dead cell phone. If it’s charging a large Dometic fridge/freezer, the readout will more likely be 20-32 hours. It’s super portable at around 30 lbs and the size of a toaster oven with oversized handles that are easy to grab

Who It’s For: If you’ve ever considered a gas-powered generator as an emergency backup, you’re a candidate for Delta. If you want to run power tools away from a wall plug or without the hassle of ultra-long extension cords you need one of these. If you live off-grid, whether you’re stationary or mobile, Delta can power your lights, tools, electronics and appliances. In an emergency not only will it power a fan or heater, lights, and microwave, it can power a medical device like a CPAP. It can also give people who require electrical medical devices some freedom to roam.

Watch Out For: It’ll take you some time actually using the Delta before you’ll be able to get a good handle on how long it will actually last in various scenarios. Most electrical devices pull power at a variable rate, so the number of remaining hours of power displayed on Delta’s screen may change without notice if your gadgets suddenly get a bit hungrier. I plugged a Dometic fridge/freezer into the Delta, and the screen told me I had 38 hours of run time. Four hours later, the screen told me I had 20 hours of run time. The change makes sense. When the fridge needed cooling, its energy consumption was greater. The Delta records its own power output continuously and as it does, the unit adjusts its battery life readout. When the fridge reached temperature, then the remaining battery time on Delta’s screen went back up. That said, the battery life estimates shared by EcoFlow seem to be extremely accurate and not inflated.

Alternatives: There are other battery-powered generators out there, as well as gas-powered generators. Most gas generators are more expensive, as are other powerful battery generators. Gas generators are loud, smelly and you can’t run them safely inside because of their carbon monoxide emissions. They need annual maintenance. Delta requires no annual maintenance. The battery maintains its charge for a year untouched, and the only noise is a quiet hum. The only emission from Delta is a little bit of heat.

There are other battery power banks on the market, like the Goal Zero Yeti 1400. That unit takes 12 times longer to charge plugged into a wall, it weighs 50 percent more, and it’s slower to charge with a solar panel. EcofFow’s claimed power capabilities for the Delta 1300 are considerably greater than those claimed by Goal Zero for the Yeti 1400. The Yeti 1400 is twice the price and claims a lifecycle of 500 charges, versus EcoFlow Delta’s claimed life of 800 charges.

Review:

To use Delta, you press the power button and then press a second on/off switch for AC or DC power. The LCD screen, in addition to telling you hours and battery percentage remaining, indicates high and low temperature, whether the fan is working, input, output with an overload warning.

We ran every tool we had and charged every device: circular saws, table saws, shop vacs, computers, phones, fridges and more. We were only able to fully drain the battery during the course of normal use when we plugged in a full freezer trying to cool its contents from 14°F to 0°F. The battery lasted at least 20 hours; we woke up to it needing a recharge.

Delta goes from zero percent charge to 80 percent charge in an hour, and can fully charge with just two hours plugged into the wall. EcoFlow says Delta charges in four hours via a solar panel. In order achieve such short charge times, EcoFlow also developed a charging technology, bi-directional X-stream Charge, that allows alternating current AC from a wall outlet to be directly inputted into Delta’s inverter, increasing its charging power at the same time. “By passing through the inverter directly, we can increase charging speed to more than ten times of the traditional AC to DC adapter cable,” said EcoFlow found Eli Harris. The proprietary charging technology also integrates all direct current power supplies below DC 60V, from an adapter, solar or car DC output, into one input port. The result is that users don’t need to consider whether they recharge Delta with a wall plug or solar panel. The system automatically recognizes the power source.

In addition to a new charing technology, the company built an entire proprietary internal integrated architecture from the ground up to maximize Delta’s power storage efficiency. EcoFlow designed and developed every component inside Delta, which includes more than 100 battery cells. Harris said one of the company’s biggest challenge was effectively monitoring and managing the operation of the whole system in real-time. EcoFlow’s battery management system was key. Harris and his team built it so the main controller collects the temperature and power status of each battery cell in real-time and then adjusts the charging current and the voltage to ensure the safest, fastest charging rate. When the unit is in idle, the battery management system monitors and adjusts the unit’s power status to ensure lower power consumption and extended standby power storage, which is how the company achieved a shelf-life of a year plus.

Delta is designed to take a beating. The unit we tested was pre-production, so did not have the correct casing. But we know from testing EcoFlow’s River battery bank that they know how to make their power banks durable without a heavy, bulky full-steel casing. Harris says that Delta’s housing was inspired by Tesla, and that final production will use a combination of aerospace-grade aluminum and high-strength steel to give Delta maximum strength and structural rigidity. It will be combined with impact-absorbing plastic, protective rigid metal plates, and four aluminum pillar reinforcements so that Delta is worthy of withstanding the hazards of a job site, garage project or bouncing around in the back of an off-road vehicle.

Verdict: Harris says he created EcoFlow to build this generator, and while we expect the company to blow this battery’s capacity out of the water with future versions, this one is undoubtedly worth owning for anyone who needs a reliable source of power or backup power. The Delta raised over $1M in the first 48 hours on Kickstarter, and it’s currently nearing $1.5M. Delta 1300 is an awesome solution for home or home office, van life and for powering tools away from a wired source of electricity. None of the claims made on EcoFlow’s Delta Kickstarter page are exaggerated. We were impressed with Delta’s power, versatility, quick charge time and compact size. Support Delta before the campaign closes on October 19—and as thanks for your trust in the company’s technology, you get peace of mind via a lifetime battery warranty.

Key Specs

Weight: 30 lbs
Ports: 6 AC outlets, 2 USB-C PD, 4 USB
Shelf Life: 12 months
AC Output: 1600w (surge 3100w)
Charge Time: 1.7 hours
Type: Lithium-Ion
Price: $699

EcoFlow provided this product for review.

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The Best Upgrades to Your Cheap, Disposable Pens Are Surprisingly Affordable

There are three inevitabilities we will experience during our time on this mortal coil: we are born, we will die, and sometime in between, we will use a BIC Cristal pen. The company claims to have sold over 100 billion of dirt-cheap pen since the design launched in 1950.

Despite its humble price, the Cristal is a bonafide design icon. The pen is on permanent display at the Museum of Modern Art and was revolutionary for its time. The hexagonal shape, modeled after a wooden pencil, provided better grip and wouldn’t roll from a tabletop. And assuming you could hold on to one long enough to be concerned about it running out of ink, the transparent fuselage easily showed the user how much ink was left inside. Few manage such a feat. This is the downfall of the BIC Cristal.

Cheap, disposable pens can bring out a lot of bad habits. We lose them, we chew on them and we toss them in the trash without a second thought. This is before considering that the cheap pen, while plenty useful, isn’t all that special to write with.

Enter, the moderate upgrade. We’re not talking three-figure Montblanc’s and gold-nibbed Parkers. There is a whole world of high-end ballpoints under the $20 mark. A fair bit more than a $3 package of BIC Cristals, for sure, but between their high-quality builds and refillable cartridges, they’ll last you eons longer. These are the best upgrades to your cheap pen collection.

OHTO Horizon

OHTO was established in Japan in 1929 and started making ballpoints 20 years later, so even if you haven’t heard of it, know it isn’t a spring chicken when it comes to the writing utensil game. OHTO’s well-known for making fine-tipped writers (including the absurdly slim Minimo), and the Horizon is no different coming stock with a 0.7mm tip and cartridge nestled in its sleek, aluminum barrel. Better still is the fact that the pen will take a multitude of cartridge refills, including Pilot’s Hi-Tec-C, revered among pen nerds for its smooth, consistent writing action and needle-thin tip.

Caran d’Ache 849

The Caran d’Ache 849 shares the BIC Cristal’s hexagonal fuselage, which gives it a similarly comfortable grip, but the aluminum construction is more durable and more satisfying to hold than the BIC’s cheap plastic. The overall effect is sleek, and since the 849 is Caran d’Ache’s mainstay products — it was introduced in 1969 — there are endless colors and finishes to choose from. One of the calling cards of the 849 is its stainless-steel “Goliath” cartridge, which the brand claims is good for 8,000 meters, or nearly five miles of writing line.

Pilot Metropolitan

Pilot’s Metropolitain is better known as an entry-level fountain pen, but it comes in a ballpoint guise, too. The body is thick and round, not all dissimilar from something you’d expect to see on an ‘80s executive’s desk, but the variety of monochrome matte finishes makes it look and feel more appropriate for the 21st century. The body is made from brass so it’s weighty; a good thing if you tend to write with a heavy hand.

Fisher Space Pen

You don’t need to be a certifiable pen dork to know the story of the Fisher Space Pen: developed in the 1960s, it was designed to write in zero gravity for astronauts. You’ll never go to space, but it’s nice to know that if Elon Musk’s idea for a moon colony pans out (it won’t) that at the very least you can write with it in any situation, in any orientation, on any surface. That makes it particularly suitable for EDC types who find themselves jotting notes anywhere that isn’t a flat desktop.

Kaweco Classic Sport Ballpoint

Like the Metropolitan, Kaweco’s Classic Sport is well known as a cheap fountain pen, but the ballpoint version is not to be slept on. Like it’s nibbed brethren, the fuselage is thick, hexagonal and made from a thick, durable plastic. Yes, it lacks the metallic composition of other pens on this list, but it allows for a girthy body without excessive weight and means you can opt for a clear variant if you appreciate the transparency of the BIC Cristal. It will also accommodate a massive amount of refills — Jet Pen, for instance, lists a whopping 77 cartridges that are compatible.

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

This Is the Best Smartwatch for iPhone Owners

The Apple Watch has been the best smartwatch for anybody with an iPhone for years, but it feels like the fifth-generation model, the Apple Watch Series 5 ($399+), has the most to live up to. That’s because its predecessor, the Series 4, set the bar so darn high. It was the first Apple Watch to look different, with a larger edge-to-edge display and a thinner, lighter body; plus Apple gave it a bunch of innovative features (like fall detection and an electrical heart sensor) and basically upgraded it in every way.

Now that the Series 5 is here, you’ll notice that it looks strikingly similar to the Series 4. It’s the same size and thinness; it has the same rotating crown dial with a little red circle; and it has many of the same sensors and health tracking features. But the differences are there. The Series 5 is the first Apple Watch to have an always-on display. It’s the first Apple Watch to have a built-in compass. And it’s the first Apple Watch to come in four different finishes, including aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic and all-new titanium.

The Apple Watch Series 5 is available in GPS-only and cellular models, and starts at $399.

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The photographed Apple Watch Series 5 has the all-new titanium case. It’s a 44mm model and goes for $849.

The Good: The always-on Retina display is the standout feature of the Series 5. Even for people who have worn an Apple Watch for years, like myself, it’s going to feel like a big deal because it actually changes the way you interact with the Apple Watch. With the always-on display, there’s no need to rotate your wrist to see check the time or see that your workout is still tracking – it’s just there. It also will probably prevent many social faux pas that were caused by previous Apple Watch models; seeing other person check the time or look at their watch can be distracting, after all.

It’s true that the always-on Retina display is always-on, but it’s not always bright. The watch face still lights up when you raise your wrist, just like it did with the Series 4, but it then transitions to an idle dark mode when you lower your wrist back down; what’s happening is that the display’s refresh rate gets lowered to one screen refresh per second (or 1Hz), which allows the Series 5 to use very little battery life and give the appearance of always being on. This allows the Series 5 to get the same full-day battery life as its predecessor. Apple updated all its old Apple Watch faces so they work with the Series 5’s always-on display – pretty cool – plus they added quite a few new ones, too.

The Series 5 is the first Apple Watch to have a built-in compass. There’s a dedicated compass app on the Series 4, but other Apple Watch apps, like Apple Maps, take advantage of it.

As mentioned before, Apple is offering the Series 5 in more options than ever. The aluminum version of the Series 5 is the most affordable and is the only one that can be purchased without cellular. The stainless steel version is heavier and more durable, so it feels more premium, but it starts at $699. The brand-new titanium version is significantly lighter than the stainless steel version, and it’s also more scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant and hypoallergenic. And then there’s the ceramic version, which a high-end material that’s usually reserved for luxury watches. If you purchase any Series 5 through Apple Watch Studio (meaning online or in an Apple Store), you can pair it with almost any watch band you want (there are some restrictions).

The Series 5 is the first Apple Watch to have a built-in compass. There’s a dedicated compass app that you can access, which I rarely used, but the real benefit of the compass is how it works with other Apple Watch apps, such as Apple Maps. For example, when you’re using Apple Maps you can now see which direction just by looking at your Series 5. You’ll see the “field-of-view cone” rotate with direction you’re looking, which makes Apple Maps on the Series 5 feel way trustworthy. (Previously, you’d have to take out your iPhone to get the same sense of direction.) For those who are easily disoriented when navigating from A to B, like me, or have difficulty grasping your bearings when getting off the subway – like me – this new Apple Watch feature will save you a headache and a five-minute walk in the wrong direction.

The best part of the Series 5, and maybe you’ll roll your eyes, is that it feels like an Apple Watch – familiar – and it has all the best features of the Series 4. You can still pair it with your AirPods and listen to music sans iPhone. It still has the heart rate sensors and built-in ECG. It still has fall detection and Emergency SOS. It still has a GPS and it can track your runs. It’s waterproof enough so you can wear it swimming. It still tracks your steps and other metrics so you can complete your activity rings. And, of course, it works super well with iMessage.

The last thing to note is that all Series 5 models have 32GB of internal memory, which is actually twice as much as the 16GB on the Series 4. This might not be a huge deal for people who don’t plan on downloading music or a bunch of extra apps on the Series 5, but if you do, or if your current Apple Watch is already nearing its max storage, it might make sense to upgrade to the Series 5.

Who It’s For: Any iPhone owner who wants Apple’s best-ever smartwatch. Or if they desperately want an Apple Watch with an always-on display. Or if they want one of the Series 5’s higher-end finishes (and they’re willing to pay for it). The last big reason to get the Series 5 is if they’re going to take advantage of the Series 5’s built-in compass.

Watch Out For: No matter which Apple Watch Series 5 you buy, aside from the obvious difference between cellular and GPS-only models, they’re all going to have the same functionality. That means that the $1,300 ceramic model and the $399 aluminum model are built with the same internals and will keep track of the same metrics. There’s little downside to getting the cheaper models, other than how their aluminum finish looks and feels. (Although the stainless steel and titanium models are slightly more durable.)

One thing that I’ve been hoping for awhile is that the Apple Watch will start playing better with Spotify. Yes, there’s a Spotify app for the Apple Watch. And yes, if you have an LTE model you can stream music, but I wish the Spotify app would allow you to download albums and playlists for offline listening, similar to what several Garmin and Samsung smartwatches can do. As with previous Apple Watch models, the Series 5 is really only designed to download and store playlists from Apple Music.

Alternatives: The Apple Watch Series 4 is the most obvious alternative, but Apple did something a little bit sneaky this year – they stopped selling it. You can still purchase the Series 4 for third-party sellers like Amazon or Best Buy, for a slightly discounted rate. The Series 4 looks and feels (especially the aluminum models) very similar to the Series 5, and it’s a great option for Apple Watch wearers who don’t need always-on display.

If you don’t want to pay that much for a Series 5 (or Series 4), Apple is still selling the Series 3 but it lowered the starting price to just $199 – it’s undoubtedly the best entry-level smartwatch for people with an iPhone. The trade-offs are pretty clear, however, as the Series 3 doesn’t have the large nice display, the slim design or the many fancy sensors that enable a lot of the Apple Watch’s newer features. The Series 3 does have a built-in GPS and it’ll still accurately track your runs.

Verdict: The Apple Watch Series 5 is undoubtedly the best smartwatch that Apple has ever made, and it comes with the feature – an always-on display – that most people having been asking for. That said, with a few spec bumps and a few new capabilities, the Series 5 is admittedly an iterative upgrade over last year’s Series 4. If you’re not swayed by the premium materials, like the new titanium case, it really comes down to Series 5’s always-on display and how much you want it.

Key Specs

Case sizes: 40mm or 44mm
Case options: Aluminum, stainless steel, titanium and ceramic
Display: Always-On Retina display
Processor: 64-bit dual-core S5 processor
Storage: 32GB
Sensors: electrical and optical heart rate sensors, gyroscope, accelerometer, compass
Water resistance: 50 meters
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0

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Apple provided this product for review.

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

2019 Airstream Bambi Review: The Stylish, Easy Way into Camping Trailer Life

By this point, the only way you don’t know what an Airstream is if you’re a vampire who’s been asleep in a cave for the last century. The aluminum-sided travel trailers have been rolling along America’s roads since the ’30s, their iconic design capturing eyes with the same ease they reflect sunlight. They’ve been featured in countless films and TV shows, and transformed into homes, AirBnBs and works of art.

For 2019, the eight-decade-old company has added a new model to its lineup: the diminutive, adorably-named Bambi. Ask Airstream where the name “Bambi” came from, and they’ll say founder Wally Byam named it after a type of agile deer he saw while overlanding across Africa in the ‘60s. (Dollars to donuts he actually named it after a certain Disney movie, but that’s neither here nor there.) It’s been a common nickname for the company’s small, single-axle trailers for more than half a century — but now, the name has finally been given the honor of formally becoming part of the team, signifying the two-wheeled rigs that are the most affordable way to hop aboard one of the company’s classic aluminum trailers.

The Good: It may be compact, but the Bambi crams more usable space and features into its limited length than most studio apartments. My Bambi 19CB tester was the second-smallest variant, yet in spite of being a mere 18 feet 11 inches long — shorter than a Rolls-Royce Phantom — it had space for a two-burner gas stove, a stainless steel sink, a refrigerator and freezer, an LED television (with integrated antenna), a built-in stereo, a memory foam mattress (sized somewhere between a twin and a double), even a shower and a flushing toilet.

Even with all that gear inside, the interior has a fair amount of space to spread out. During an impromptu Brooklyn tailgate party, I managed to fit seven or eight adults (and one large dog) inside comfortably, with room to spare for snacks and a soft Yeti cooler backpack. A family with kids might find it cramped, but it’s more than spacious enough to serve as a good base of operations for a single adult or a couple.

Who It’s For: First-time Airstreamers looking to dip their toe into the world of trailering adventure; empty-nesters who want to roam freely in retirement but don’t want to wrangle giant trailers and full-size pickup trucks.

Watch Out For: Backing up. As the model that seems most likely to be adopted by trailering novices, you might think the Bambi would pack some sort of technological magic to help maneuver it in reverse more easily.

Nooooooooooooooooope.

Spinning my trailer 180 degrees required a good 30 minutes of Austin Powers-style shuffling back and forth, and that was with the help of the kind owner of the Hipcamp camp site we were staying at — a man whose own history included training people how to drive heavy equipment in the army. A backup camera is standard, though it wasn’t hooked up on mine; regardless, it wouldn’t have done much beyond tell me where I would have gone were I able to keep the thing moving in a straight line for more than three seconds. The first company to sort out some sort of idiot-proof trailer-reversing technology — brake-based torque vectoring? Computer-controlled active steering? SpaceX-inspired compressed air thrusters? — deserves to make a mint.

Alternatives: Safari Condo Alto R-Series ($29,500+); Homegrown Trailers Woodland ($39,495+); Forest River Alpha Wolf ($25,995+); Airstream Nest ($45,900)

Review: Full disclosure: In spite of more than a decade of driving and writing about automobiles, I can count the number of times I’ve towed a trailer on one hand. Actually, I can count the number of times I’ve towed that weren’t under the well-supervised confines of a media junket on one finger; that sole instance involved towing a U-Haul U-Box through a couple dozen miles of country roads, then winding up stuck at a closed bridge on a one-lane road because I couldn’t reverse to a turnaround spot.

So it was with a bit of trepidation that I hitched the Bambi up to the Ford Ranger XLT I’d borrowed as a tow vehicle for a weekend of criss-crossing New Jersey and the lower boroughs of New York City. Yet the Bambi-and-Ranger duo proved blissfully easy to handle, even when winding them through the tight streets of Brooklyn or on the open highways of the Dirty Jerz. The tidy proportions meant turns never proved a problem (at least, when going forwards); the trailer’s brakes were reassuringly dependable and solid, always snapping on in sync with the Ford’s discs; and the Ranger’s EcoBoost engine made easy work of the trailer’s weight, hauling it up to mile-per-minute velocity without issue. Going much beyond that felt a mite worrisome, however; by 70 mph, every imperfection in the road seemed to be magnified into a shimmy in the Bambi that prompted unwanted visions of tank-slapper flips or pileup-causing detachments.

Still, Airstream life isn’t about speed; it’s about taking things slow and easy, leaving troubles and stresses behind in favor of the freedom of the open road. (There’s a reason the Indiana-based company offers a Tommy Bahama trim level on some models.)

Once the driving and parking (and reversing, and re-parking) was done and I’d settled truck and trailer in the tree-lined camping spot within spitting distance of the Delaware River, the Bambi came into its own. The starboard-side awning’s coverage area is on the smaller side, but it’s enough to keep the sun off one or two chairs — or to give you a place to dry before coming aboard in a squall. The nice weather meant I parked my butt in a nearby camping chair instead, but it was nice to know it was there if needed.

My hosts provided fresh water and a power hookup, but I wound up needing neither; the on-board battery never came close to losing all its power, thanks to the solar panel mounted atop the roof. (Pre-wiring for a solar panel is standard, but the panel itself is an option; considering how well it worked, I’d suggest making it the first box you check.) Running the air conditioner built into the roof would probably guzzle the electrons faster than the solar panel could replenish them, but I never needed it, in spite of summertime temps; between the shady interior, the twin roof-mounted ventilation fans and the plentiful screened-in windows (and the screen door), the Bambi’s interior stayed breezy and cool all day long, in country and city alike.

The toilet situation, should you be curious, is best described as “acceptable.” The 19CB variant’s loo occupies an odd middle ground amongst Airstream lavatories; while smaller trailers and touring coaches place the toilet in the shower and larger ones have a miniature bathroom with an actual door, the 19-footer uses an odd W-folding wall that’s designed to offer some semblance of privacy for the tight corner. In practice, it’s less than ideal; let’s just say you should ask anyone else in the trailer to vacate the premises before using the restroom. Functionally, however, it works just fine.

Admittedly, I didn’t have a chance to use the shower — folding my frame inside that tiny space seemed like a violation of the Geneva Convention — so I can’t vouch for the efficacy of its handheld nozzle. (Exhibitionists might have better luck with the outdoor “shower,” a similar handheld nozzle with hot and cold knobs tucked away in one of the exterior ports.) That said, I never had any issues with the flow or temperature of the water blasting from either the kitchen or bathroom sink — which, like the keyholes in a nuclear missile silo, are exactly far apart enough that one person can’t use them both simultaneously — so I have no reason to assume the shower would be anything less than effective.

Another reason to assume the best from the hot water supply: the two-burner gas stove proved as adept as any found in a modern house, if a mite smaller. Same could be said for the kitchen table, which has room for four provided everyone’s comfortable rubbing flanks and knees; same goes for the fridge and freezer combo, too. (The latter can reportedly be quite the power suck; should you rather save the electrons, a good Yeti cooler and a couple bags of ice will likely be every bit as effective for 24-48 hours.)

Indeed, all told, the Bambi does an exceedingly good impression of a tiny, efficient apartment — good enough to tempt this New Yorker away from his hard-won one-bedroom. The night before I had to return the trailer, after my friends had left, I wound up laying in bed watching football on the television, eating a s’more made over the gas stove’s burner. The TV reception was better than in my apartment; the memory foam mattress was comfy than my couch; the sounds of the park beside me more relaxing than the rumble of cable trucks making their way home to their garage near my place. In that moment, it wasn’t hard to see the appeal in tossing that Great American Dream of Homeownership out in favor of living out my days in an elegant rolling apartment.

Verdict: By striking a perfect balance between size, style and comfort, the Airstream Bambi delivers the right combination of features to endear it to anyone who’s long harbored dreams of rolling across the land with a shiny trailer behind them, following the whims of the road. Sure, you can snag a new travel trailer for far less money — but doing so would mean swapping those timeless looks for the blocky looks and garish pseudo-airbrushed designs of most travel trailers and RVs, which are utterly lacking in both elegance and Instagram-ability. (Let’s not pretend the latter is unimportant.)

Indeed, the Bambi pulled off something I never would have expected: It made me into a camping trailer person. I spend my time stuck in traffic fantasizing about car camping trips out West; now I fantasize about doing it with an Airstream.

2019 Airstream Bambi 19CB: Key Specs

Length: 18 feet, 11 inches
Weight: 3,650 pounds
Windows: 11
Refrigerator Size: 4.3 cubic feet
Sleeping Capacity: Up to four people, but two of them better be tiny

Airstream provided this product for review.

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

The Best Barrel-Finished Bourbons, Ryes and Scotches You Can Buy

Beyond Oak

The Best Barrel-Finished Bourbons, Ryes and Scotches You Can Buy


Making whiskey is closer to designing clothes than building the new iPhone. The whiskey of today is more varied, more plentiful and likely of a higher quality than it has ever been, but it is still whiskey. The years-long process required to create whiskey means innovation comes slow, but when distilleries latch on to something new, they go all-in.

In recent years, that something new is barrel finishing, the practice of dumping mature whiskey into new barrels for a short period of time with the intent of imbuing the whiskey with touches of something different. The technique is not unique to one type of whiskey or one type of distiller (though it is somewhat more popular with craft distillers) and mashbill, maturation and barrel type matching is essentially endless. But, like any experiment, not all turn out for the better. From rum to Syrah to orange curaçao, here are recent examples that hit the mark.

Chivas Regal Mizunara

Mizunara oak grows at half the pace and covers much less ground than its American or French counterparts, and it’s much more porous (and therefore prone to leaking). This adds up to an extremely expensive barrel (in 2018, Wine Enthusiast reported a single barrel costs more than $6,000). Chivas’ scotch finished for a few months in Mizunara is still predominantly scotch, but its hints of coconut and sandalwood only come from one place.

High West Yippee Ki-Yay

High West makes weird whiskey. The Utah distillery uses rye whiskeys from two to 16 years of age in this blend, and finished the whole batch in former vermouth and Syrah barrels. There is nothing on the liquor store shelf to compare it to.

Bellemeade Honey Cask Bourbon

The San Francisco World Spirits Competition’s “Best Special Barrel-Finished Bourbon” of 2019 is a pun. In distilling patois, the honey barrel is a cask of whiskey so perfectly balanced in age and location in a rickhouse that it is the platonic ideal of a whiskey barrel. Bellemeade’s Honey Cask Bourbon takes it literally, finishing its barrel strength bourbon in casks used to store honey.

Blood Oath Pact No. 5

Created by a food scientist with more than 20 years of whiskey blending experience, Blood Oath releases, called “Pacts,” are all different and all put a premium on barrel finishing. The fifth pact is a blend of 13-year-old bourbon, 11-year-old wheated bourbon and 8-year-old bourbon finished in Caribbean rum barrels. Expect something a bit sweeter than you’re used to.

Sagamore Spirit Port Finish Rye Whiskey

Port-finished whiskeys are more common than most barrel finishes, but this one is easily the most talked about of late. Winner of a few “Best Rye Whiskey” awards, Sagamore Spirit’s ported rye leans heavily into the jam, plum-like qualities of a good port while its spicy rye base still cuts through.

WhistlePig The Boss Hog, Spirit of Mauve

WhistlePig’s Boss Hog series is the Canadian rye whiskey sourcing masters highest-end whiskey. A 13-year-old straight rye finished in ex-Calvados barrels. Calvados, a pear or apple brandy distilled from cider, is best known for its flavors attachment to the land it’s produced on. The result in this case is a mature, easy-sipping rye with a swell of apple on the nose.

Parker’s Heritage Collection 12th Edition

This won’t be easy to find. Heaven Hill Distillery’s Parker’s whiskey releases annually and usually sells out shortly after, but if you’re able to track down last year’s release, you’re in for a treat. Classic Kentucky bourbon finished in former Orange Curaçao barrels, this is about as strange a barrel finish as you’ll find. Expect an enormous citrusy pop with a slightly bitter followthrough.

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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.

iPhone 11 Pro Review: Hands Down, The Best iPhone Ever

The most compelling and conspicuous feature of the iPhone 11 Pro is its triple-camera system, and after using it for the better part of the week, it’s definitely the best and most versatile set of cameras that Apple has ever put in any iPhone. The ultra-wide lens will feel like a pretty significant upgrade for anybody who has an older iPhone, but as the iPhone 11 has it too, it really comes down to the telephoto lens and how if you’ll take full advantage of it. This extra lens enables the two Pro models to take two different kinds of Portrait Mode photos, one that is really zoomed-in (which is similar to what the iPhone XS could do) and one that is more zoomed-out (which is exactly the same Portrait mode as the iPhone 11) for those who want to grab for background in the photo. If you find yourself taking a lot of photos of people and pets, rather than landscapes, this extra telephoto lens feels like a real selling point.

The nice thing about all three lenses is that they all take the same quality photo. Each is a 12-megapixel camera that has its own high-quality sensor, so you can expect a pretty decent photo nobody which lens you’re using (this is not the case for most other smartphones with a multi-camera system). Each of the three lenses is capable of shooting 4K video at 60fps, which is a nice feature for vloggers and videographers to have. It’s worth noting that despite the extra lenses, like the iPhone 11, the Pro’s Night Mode only really works while using the wide lens (you can technically use Night Mode with the ultra-wide lens, but it’s really just a blown-up shot taken by the wide lens.

Night Mode on the new iPhone 11 Pro is pretty incredible.

Aside from the size and triple-camera system, the third big selling point of the iPhone 11 Pro is its hardware. Its OLED display is significantly better than the LCD display of the iPhone 11, but it’s also better than the Super Retina display of last year’s iPhone XS; the new “Super Retina XDR” display is brighter (1,200 nits versus the iPhone XS’s 600 nits) with double the contrast ratio. It’s easy to get lost in the tech jargon, but the bottom line is this: iPhone 11 Pro’s display is the best and brightest display ever in a smartphone. So if you’re somebody who plays a lot of mobile games or streams lots of shows on your iPhone, that’s a good reason to upgrade to the Pro.

Battery life is the last big reason to upgrade to the Pro if you have an older iPhone. To date, the iPhone XR has been the gold standard of long-lasting iPhones, getting almost two days of juice, and the iPhone 11 Pros are almost at that level. Apple claims that both iPhone 11 Pros get four and five hours better than their predecessors, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max, and it’s actually pretty noticeable. The secret to the improved battery life is, yes, the A13 Bionic chip helps with energy efficiency, but Apple also put a slightly larger battery in its newer phones. This is a pretty significant thing, as it also means that the new iPhones are ever-so-slightly heavier and thicker – Apple is sacrificing design for usability, which is actually a breath of fresh air.

There are a quick few things to add to round out the “good” features. Apple says the Face ID is 30-percent faster on the new iPhones and even better at recognizing your face when resting flat on a table; however, in the week I’ve had the phones I’ve actually had a difficult time telling the difference – it’s still fast. Apple also improved AirDrop on the new iPhones, allowing you to point your iPhone at other new iPhones and AirDrop files to whomever you’re pointing at (although the iPhones must have Apple’s new U1 chip and iOS 13). And, finally, Apple is including an 18-watt USB-C wall adapter and a USB-C to Lightning cable in the box, which makes the iPhone 11 Pro feel a little bit more “Pro.”