All posts in “Gear”

BMW’s Sneak Peak of the New i4 Reveals It’s Almost an Electric M3

Even if manual-transmission M3s and stupidly powerful V8s remain in the cards for now, BMW, like just about all automakers these days, is in the process of going electric. The challenge with that transition for BMW: carrying over the “ultimate driving machine” ethos that’s long defined the brand.

BMW has already unveiled the iX electric crossover and its distinctive grille. That, we expect, should sell well. But it’s the upcoming i4 sedan that will be the harbinger of BMW’s all-electric performance future.

We saw it in concept form earlier this year; now, BMW has released video of a very-close-to-production version i4 on the test track showing off some of its driving dynamics.

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As you can see above, the i4 will be able to drift. BMW says it will be “effortlessly controllable” and have a specially tuned damper system that will make it “largely insusceptible to any disruption caused by road bumps,” which would certainly be a difference from some tightly wound BMW models we’ve driven.

The BMW i4’s power output should top out around 530 horsepower, which is more than the BMW M3 Competition. A 0-60 mph dash of four seconds would put it about a tick slower than the last-gen M3, though that figure may be conservative.

Visually, the i4 shares a lot with the combustion 3 Series and 4 Series. The faux grille on the test vehicle looks more like those models than the concept, thanksfully, which had a massive kidney.

BMW should unveil the i4 later this calendar year, with the car arriving at dealers sometime in 2022.

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A Cool Tudor Special Edition Dive Watch Is Landing in the U.S.

Think back to 2017, and you may recall a special, limited edition Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze BLUE made in honor of European retailer Bucherer’s 130th birthday (which actually occurred in 2018). Otherwise a standard Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze (43mm bronze case, in-house Tudor movement), the watch featured a special blue dial and blue bezel insert and shipped on a matching blue and gold fabric strap. However, it was only available from Bucherer.

Now, the watch is coming Stateside, and you can buy one exclusively at Tourneau boutiques. Recalling Tudor’s blue-dialed Submariners from the 1970s (as well as the large crown of the 7924 “Big Crown” Sub), the new Black Bay Bronze Bucherer BLUE has a beautiful blue dial and matching bezel insert. Hewn out of a chunk of bronze — and water-resistant to 200m — it features a hefty 43mm case, an extra distressed brown leather strap, and the chronometer-certified, in-house Tudor cal. MT5601 movement with silicon balance spring. The movement features an impressive 70-hour power reserve and a frequency of 4Hz.

tudor bbbb

Tudor

tudor bbbb

Marian Gerard

The blue and gold fabric strap that accompanies the Blue references the original straps fashioned from parachute webbing used by the French Marine Nationale on their Tudor Submariners in the 1970s. The Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze BLUE retails for $4,150 and is available exclusively through Tourneau boutiques nationwide and on Tourneau.com.

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Why a Beloved Audio Company Is Changing Its Tune on Speaker Design

Every speaker, no matter size or shape or quality or cost, is either passive or active. It either relies on an external amplifier somewhere else in your stereo system, or packs all the hardware it needs to play inside its own body. For 15 years, Q Acoustics has made some of our favorite passive bookshelf speakers, like the affordable 3020i and the well-loved Concept 20, exclusively. But now it’s going active with the new Q Active 200. Why?

The popularity of active speakers has grown considerably in the past few years, bringing all sorts of manufacturers along with. Along with Q Acoustic, competitors like KEF and Bowers & Wilkins have also moved to offer new lines of new, active speakers, with amplifiers built directly into their bodies. According to Alex Munro, the Brand Director of Q Acoustics, one big reason for the shift is, essentially, the internet.

Once upon a time, audio gear was primarily sold by third party distributors who had an interest in stocking individual components to cater to all types of buyers and maintain a variety of merchandise. Now that speaker companies can more easily sell directly to consumers, there’s one fewer barrier to making speakers pre-paired with their perfect amp, a design which offers plenty of additional benefits to boot.

It’s a level of calibration not possible with passive designs.

Passive speakers, designed as they are to play nicely with various amps, tend to have high and low-end drivers designed to scale their output in unison based on the power coming. Otherwise, different amps might make a given speaker sound top- or bottom-heavy. “The difference in an active speaker is that you have a separate amplifier for each driver and can then set that amplifier gain level to completely suit [a specific] driver, ” Munro says. It’s a level of calibration that’s not possible with passive designs.

What’s more, you can synchronize the various internal drivers of an individual speaker much more finely than you ever could otherwise. “If you look at the drivers on a Q Active 200, you’ve got two drivers in the front of the cabinet and then you’ve got a subwoofer venting from the rear of the cabinet,” Munro explained. “And we delay the sound going to the front of the cabinet so that both arrive at the listener at the same time.”

q acoustics 200 speaker

Q Acoustics

With its first pair of active speakers, Q Acoustics is opting for an approach that’s significantly different than competitors like the KEF LS50 Wireless, which have been some of the best and most popular active speakers for several years. “KEF took an existing passive speaker — the LS50 — and turned it into an active speaker,” Munro says. “We believe that the benefits of active speakers is that you can do much more if you start at zero, so we started with a blank sheet of paper and we selected the method of reproducing the sound, the driver technology and the driver configuration, in order to suit the fact that we had multiple amplifiers inside.”

You get versatility, simplicity and compactness for your money.

Additionally the Q Active 200 are different from other active speakers because none of its connections are built into the speaker rears. Instead, the speakers come with a separate hub that houses all the analog connections and beams the audio to each speaker wirelessly to minimize the number of cables running around the room.

q acoustics 200 speaker

Q Acoustics

There are downsides to active speakers though. Primarily that they’re expensive. The bottom end starts at around $1,000, where you’ll find the KEF LSX. But you get versatility, simplicity and compactness for your money. Active speakers can be connected directly to a turntable (via phono preamp), TV (via optical or HDMI) or even directly to a smartphone (via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth). There’s no need for a separate receiver or amplifier.

The Q Active 200 cost $1,999, which is expensive, and they don’t even come with the companion speaker stands (Q FS75), which cost $499 for the pair. That brings the total for the Q Active 200 up to $2,500 if you don’t skimp; right in line with the competing KEF LS50 Wireless II, which are the second generation version of the famed LS50 Wireless. It may be a bigger purchase than passive options, but it’s also all you’ll need.

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How to Take Care of All of Your Outdoor Gear

Despite product descriptions that include words like “durable,” “rugged” and even “bombproof,” outdoor gear breaks. It gets dirty, it rips, it loses its waterproofing. This happens despite lifetime guarantees and generous repair-or-replace policies.

But none of these issues need to mean the end of the road; with some basic know-how and a few affordable tools, you can restore your gear and make it last for seasons (and save some money while you’re at it).

How to Clean and Store Your Summer Gear During Winter

Tanner Bowden

These expert-recommended tips will save you a chore next spring — and help your stuff last longer, too.

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How to Clean and Maintain Your Leather Hiking Boots

Chandler Bondurant

With the right care and attention, a pair of well-built leather hiking boots will last for years.

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How to Re-Waterproof Your Jacket

Chase Pellerin

Save yourself a few dollars by learning how to revitalize it with the right tools and a few simple steps.

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How to Repair a Ripped Rain Jacket

Chase Pellerin

Take your rain jacket from hole to whole.

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How to Repair a Ripped Tent

Gear Patrol

Breathe new life into your old tent with a few easy steps.

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How to Wash a Down Sleeping Bag

Gear Patrol

Washing a down sleeping bag (or a down jacket) is simpler than you might think.

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How to Clean and Maintain a Pocket Knife

Chase Pellerin

With proper care and attention, any pocket knife — even the cheap ones — can become a generational heirloom.

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The Ultimate Outdoor Gear Repair Kit

Chase Pellerin

Next time something snaps, rips or leaks, reach not for your credit card, but for a quality gear repair kit.

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Is the 2021 Genesis G80 the Best Value in Modern Luxury Cars?

What is it?

Genesis is Hyundai Motor Group’s luxury brand. The G80 is their midsize sedan, which slots between — you guessed it — the G70 and G90.

Is it new?

Yup. The Genesis G80 is all-new for the 2021 model year. It’s the second-generation version (or third, if you want to get technical, since the outgoing model was a continuation of the Hyundai Genesis).

And when we say new, we mean it. The sedan receives new turbocharged 2.5-liter four-cylinder and twin-turbo 3.5-liter six-cylinder engine options, uses Genesis’s new rear-wheel-drive M3 platform (yes, they called it that), and it employs a new styling language with double LED headlights and a bold, expansive grille. It’s already made a splash, too: the G80 was one of the three finalists for North American Car of the Year, losing out to its corporate relation, the Hyundai Elantra.

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Why is it special?

genesis

Genesis

In a word: value. I would call the G80 an outstanding car even in a vacuum, but you can’t discuss it without noting what an incredible deal it is. The base trim G80 starts at $47,700, around $7,000 less than the Mercedes E-Class or the Audi A6 — yet it comes out swinging with around 50 more horsepower than those cars, as well as plenty of other great standard features. Or if you want to look at it another way, the G80 also delivers a poor man’s Bentley vibe for around a quarter of the price…which isn’t that much of a coincidence, not a coincidence since the designer used to work for Bentley.

How does it drive?

genesis

Genesis

I’d liken the G80 to other recent Hyundai Motor Group successes. You could nitpick it at performance extremes…but why would you, when it’s so exceptional at everyday driving?

I drove the G80 with the smaller 2.5T four-pot engine, but even in the cheaper spec, the 300 horsepower was ample, and the 311 lb-ft of torque delivered at low revs for seamless acceleration. Even in Comfort mode, the G80 is perky and eager to get moving. By all accounts, the 3.5T is excellent, but I don’t see why you would need to level up for the extra 75 hp.

The G80 backs that performance up with refinement. The ride quality sublimely balances comfort and composure, while the cabin stays silent. It’s the sort of experience buyers expect from an Audi or a Mercedes.

What’s it like inside?

genesis

Genesis

Serene and spacious. Or perhaps another way to think of it: Volvo, but without as much minimalism. There are worse places to spend a significant portion of your day.

The G80 performs the Kia Telluride trick of feeling like a car that costs $15,000 more than it does. I drove the top-tier AWD Prestige trim, which upgrades to real leather seatswith so-called “Ergo Motion” technology that provides extra side support, as well as an adjustable driver’s seat cushion and bolster extension. I greatly enjoyed the matte wood finish, and 14.5-inch widescreen infotainment display was excellent, as well.

What’s it cost?

As noted, the Genesis G80 2.5T begins at $47,700. My luxed-out AWD Prestige trim tester with the optional Black Forest Green Metallic paint priced out to $59,550. That’s about the same price as the basic 3.5T G80, which starts at $59,100. I’d take the luxury over the power.

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2021 Genesis G80 AWD Prestige

Powertrain: Turbocharged 2.5-liter inline-four; 8-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive

Horsepower: 300

Torque: 311 lb-ft

EPA Fuel Economy: 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway

Seats: 5


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Now Is a Great Time to Save on the Tools Every Home Needs

Looking for even more great savings? Head over to Today’s Best Deals page to see all our top deals from today.


As we’ve all been spending more time at home throughout the pandemic, you’ve probably started to pay more attention to the little projects that need to be done around the house. Perhaps you’re feeling courageous and want to take on a DIY project of your own. Either way, you’re going to need tools to get these things done.

Power tools may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to what you need to keep around the house, but if you’ve ever tried installing a wall-mounted TV with a screwdriver, you know that there has to be a faster, less painful way of doing things. Right now, Home Depot is offering up huge savings on power tool kits that are easy to stash away in the garage or closet.

Save $100 on this kit from Ryobi, which has just about any power tool you’d need for basic projects, plus two batteries to keep things moving. If you want a more robust kit, check out this one from DeWalt, which is $320 off the normal price. And if a drill and impact driver set is what you’re looking for, Milwaukee makes some of the best in the biz, and are $30 off. If you find yourself looking for something else, there are also tons of other deals on tools up to 40% off.

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These Montblanc Watches Are a Rare 20% Off

watch

Montblanc

Looking for even more great savings? Head over to Today’s Best Deals page to see all our top deals from today.


It isn’t often that everything stops at Gear Patrol HQ and we dial into one specific sale, but news this morning stopped us in our tracks, demanding attention. Mr Porter (sadly, no relation to yours truly) has marked down over a dozen Montblanc watches by 20 percent, which in many cases leads to savings well over $1,000.

Ranging from one of the classiest smartwatches out there to an underappreciated dress watch, this sale has something for every watch enthusiast. We decided to pick out five standouts to highlight below.

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Summit 2 42mm

mrporter.com

$995 $796 (20% off)

Underneath the stainless steel case this watch hides all the smart features you’d expect: GPS, heart rate monitor, microphone, altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, ambient light, NFC payment and Google Pay.

TimeWalker Chronograph Automatic 43mm

mrporter.com

$4,290 $3,432 (20% off)

This racing-inspired chrono (with shades of a Daytona) sports three subdials, a unidirectional ceramic bezel and is powered by a Swiss-made calibre 25 jewel MB 25.07 automatic movement. The steel bracelet offers an elevated look as opposed to a strap.   

1858 Automatic 44mm

mrporter.com

$3,475 $2,780 (20% off)

The 1858 collection is made at the historic Minerva factory, now owned by Montblanc, allowing for the precise replication of aesthetics used on its early- to mid-20th century watches. 

Heritage Chronométrie Twincounter Date Automatic 40mm

mrporter.com

$2,845 $2,276 (20% off)

The twincounter complication housed in this offering is designed in-house at Montblanc and flexes those capabilities. Seconds and (the rare) date subdials give this one a polished yet elevated feel. 

Automatic 40mm

mrporter.com

$7,400 $5,920 (20% off)

This Automatic 40mm is an understated dress watch from Montblanc. The red gold case and alligator strap combine for a classic dress watch look — lance hands help finish it off.

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Himalaya and Taylor Stitch Teamed Up to Create a Stunning Vintage Land Rover

South Carolina-based Himalaya is one of the go-to names for vintage Land Rover Defenders, whether you’re looking for a faithful restoration or a badass, luxed-out resto-mod version. The company just unveiled its latest build, the “Pre-Defender,” is a little different: it’s not based on a Defender, and it’s a collaboration with rugged men’s fashion brand Taylor Stitch.

The restored vehicle is a 1970 Land Rover Series II-A, a precursor to the Defender (hence the build’s name). Himalaya gave it some mechanical improvements to make it more modern and less agricultural: they swapped the engine for a mid-1990s 300 TDI Defender engine, and added an automatic transmission, disc brakes and power steering. Himalaya says this Series II-A can cruise comfortably at 70 mph.

himalaya land rover

Himalaya

himalaya land rover

Himalaya

Taylor Stitch handled the interior design, which features the same waterproof wax suede used in their boots for the seats, center console, gearbox and emergency brake.

The Land Rover is painted in a vintage, Porsche-inspired shade called Aga Blue. It also has a wood-lined truck bed and Himalaya’s custom audio setup.

The press release did not mention whether the Pre-Defender will be sold, merely noting that all available builds will be on the website. Two of our favorite Himalaya Defenders — the 70th Anniversary and the Spectre — are already accounted for there; however, you can still buy the Corvette-engined Alpinist build. Or if you have some serious cash lying around, there’s the $3 million Kodiak and Himalaya package, which includes both a custom Defender and a Kodiak 100 Series II aircraft.

himalaya land rover

Himalaya

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What I’m Drinking to Keep Dry January Actually Dry

brookyn brewery

Brooklyn Brewery

As much as I was looking forward to a new year, I was not ready for Dry January. As a first-time participant, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially since I found myself drinking more often since we started quarantine. Luckily, I’m not alone in my sobriety this January.

A number of reliable non-alcoholic spirit brands have been around, plus a crop of new kids on the block making sober living less of a punishment and more like a reward. They’re so good, in fact, I haven’t felt an urge to drink despite the stress of watching the government nearly collapse, or the inauguration of a new president. Who knows — maybe Dry January will extend into Dry February as long as I don’t finish my supply of these non-alcoholic libations.

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Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects

brooklynbrewery.com

$12.99

Some say the sequel never lives up to the original. Brooklyn Brewery’s first Special Effects is a non-alcoholic hoppy ale that blew away the competition in the alcohol-free beer game. Its IPA, released this year, is a much-appreciated addition to the Special Effects lineup. Resembling a West Coast-style IPA, this brew is fresh and bright with the right amount of bitter hoppiness and fruitiness that makes me question if I grabbed the right can out of the fridge every time.

Ghia

drinkghia.com

$33.00

Campari has a new bright-red aperitivo to compete with. Besides being free of alcohol, Ghia also discloses all of its ingredients — which includes things like riesling white grape juice concentrate and yuzu juice — and has zero added sugar.  On its own, Ghia tastes fruity and floral on the front with a pleasant bitterness that lingers on the tongue. It’s also endlessly mixable. The number of cocktails you can make with Ghia is almost unfathomable and helps to replicate the process of mixing a drink that one may miss when going dry.

Aplós

aplos.world

$48.00

A sip of Aplós is like taking an actual chill pill. The hemp-infused spirit supposedly helps regulate your mood, appetite and sleep. While I do feel a sense of calm after drinking it, I keep coming back to Aplós purely because it tastes really good. It’s citrusy on the forefront with a lingering herbal flavor. This is a drink I can see myself turning to even after Dry January.

Monday Zero Alcohol Gin

food52.com

$40.00

Sweet, sweet gin and tonics are still allowed during Dry January, only because Monday managed to make an alcohol-free gin that actually tastes like the real deal. I’m not sure how Monday does it, but this rivals a lot of the best-known gins out there.

The 12 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers You Can Drink in 2021

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Non-alcoholic beers have come a long way since the days of Prohibition.

Suntory All-Free

ALL-FREE amazon.com

$13.95

Don’t go into a can of Suntory All-Free expecting something to perfectly recreate a beer sans alcohol. While it’s made of hops and barley like beer, it tastes more like cereal-flavored seltzer. Odd as that sounds, All-Free does hit the spot when the beer cravings hit. Now when I think about it, it kind of tastes like Bud Light. 

Seedlip Garden 108 Non-Alcoholic Spirit

SEEDLIP amazon.com

$34.99

Seedlip is an OG when it comes to non-alcoholic spirits. It’s not pretending to be gin or vodka or any clear liquor, and that’s what makes Seedlip taste so good — it’s doing its own thing. The Garden 108 variety smells and tastes like grass. That may be diminishing just how good this spirit tastes, but it is made with a variety of green herbs and vegetables that make you feel like you’ve wandered through a lush garden on a particularly humid morning.

Amass Riverine Non-Alcoholic Spirit

amass.com

$35.00

Amass is known for its botanical-infused spirits, particularly its takes on gin and vodka. The latest addition to its lineup is Riverine, a non-alcoholic spirit made from 14 botanicals, such as juniper, coriander and apple. I’ve been drinking this on the rocks with a splash of sparkling water, which helps to spread out the flavor so I can get a little hint of each botanical. I’m especially a fan of the use of sumac, which provides a tangy, savory and fruity flavor that makes me wonder why more spirits don’t use the spice.

Aarke Carbonator III

aarke amazon.com

$219.00

I never wanted a sparkling water machine, namely because none ever looked that good. Aarke made design a priority, and its Carbonator III sits proudly on my counter. Looks aside, the sleek device turns tap water into seltzer, and when I want a beer, I drink sparking water instead.

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The Best Active Speakers of 2021

Active speakers combine all of the traditional components of a stereo system into a pair of speakers. The amplifier is built inside the speaker and it’s optimized to provide the best possible sound quality for that specific speaker. Most active speakers have a sufficient number of inputs for all of your playback devices and, in most scenarios, a pair of powered or active speakers require only a power source and a minimal number (if any) of cable connections.

The two biggest advantages of modern active speakers are 1) sound quality and 2) ease of use. An active speaker pair is able to deliver stereo sound in a way that popular Wi-Fi speakers, such as a single Sonos Play:5, simply cannot. The speaker-and-amp combo means that active loudspeakers have less moving parts; there’s no need for a separate receiver or an external amplifier, like you would need with passive bookshelf speaker system. And since most active speakers support both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming, you can easily stream music using the service (Spotify, Tidal, Qobuz and Apple Music) you already use. Simply open your preferred music app, select the music and the source (your loudspeakers), and then press play.

Essentially, active speakers generally sound superior to traditional Wi-Fi speakers, and they’re just as simple and easy to control (there are a few active speakers, however, that don’t support wireless streaming). And with a multitude of inputs and connectivity options, they’ve way more versatile. In addition to streaming from your smartphone or laptop, it’s easy to connect most modern active speakers to your television or to your turntable, too.

Active loudspeakers won’t be perfect for everybody. They’re powered speakers, meaning they do require a power source, and aren’t portable. They’re notoriously powerful, so maybe not great for small rooms; and they’re more expensive thanks to there being more components inside each speaker. Active or powered loudspeakers also lock you into a “sound” that was selected by the designer based on all of the internal components (amplifier, DAC); unlike a passive loudspeaker system whose sonic flavor can be altered by changing the other components.

KEF LS50 Wireless II

best bookshelf speakers

Courtesy

Best All-Around

KEF released the LS50 Wireless II in late 2020 and they’re essentially updated and better-sounding versions of the LS50 Wireless (released in 2018). They use the company’s new proprietary Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT), which greatly reduces distortion. They have a new cone neck decoupler and motor system, which, again, helps eliminate distortion. The cabinet size has also been adjusted to give the speakers more bass. Finally, the LS50 Wireless II have adopted one of the best features from their smaller brethren, the KEF LSX, in that the two speakers don’t have to be tethered together; this allows you to place the speakers further apart which is convenient, although it does mean that the speakers will sacrifice some audio quality.

Price: $2,500

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Bowers & Wilkins Formation Duo

best bookshelf speakers

Courtesy

Best Upgrade

In 2019, Bowers & Wilkins released the Duo as part of its Formation series, which also includes an all-in-one speaker, soundbar and wireless subwoofer. The Duo speakers take bits from the company’s other high-end speakers; for example, they have the same carbon dome tweeter found in B&W’s 700 series and the Continuum cone driver from its 800 series. The other neat thing about the Duo is that, along with all its Formation speakers, they’re are able harness leverage the company’s new wireless mesh network technology (called Formation Wireless Technology) that enables them to stream up to 96/24-bit audio, which B&W claim is twice the fidelity of other high-end wireless speakers. Obviously, the price and look of these speakers might not be for everybody, but if you’re looking for the best of the best in active speakers, these are certainly up there.

Price: $4,000

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KEF LSX

best bookshelf speakers

Courtesy

Best Budget

KEF introduced the LSX as a more affordable alternative to the award-winning LS50 Wireless, and for many music listeners, the smaller design may be a smarter buy. The LSX feature KEF’s signature Uni-Q driver array with a 4.5-inch midrange driver, and 0.75-inch aluminum dome tweeter which is powered by a 100-watt power amplifier inside each loudspeaker. The LSX can be set-up as a completely wireless system – meaning the two speakers don’t need to be wired together, like the LS50 Wireless, giving you more freedom to place them wherever you want around your room – but they can achieve higher resolution audio (up to 24-bit/192kHz) when tethered together. One aspect of the LSX that is somewhat glaring is the omission of an internal phono pre-amplifier, so be prepared to add your own if you want to listen to vinyl.

Price: $1,249 $999

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Q Acoustics Q Active 200

best bookshelf speakers

Courtesy

Released in 2021, the Q Active 200 are the company’s first pair of active speakers. They can stream high-res audio (up to 32bit/192kHz) and are designed to compete with the likes of the KEF LS50 Wireless II. That said, the Q Active 200 are unique in a few key ways. First, the wired connections (such as HDMI, optical, RCA and line-in for a turntable) aren’t into the rear of one of the speakers but built into a separate hub; this makes it easy to hide unsightly wires. And secondly, Q Acoustics designed them as stand-mounted speakers and developed a special “Tensegrity” stand to show them off and get them sounding best. The catch is that these special stands will cost you an extra $500.

Price: $2,000

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Vanatoo Transparent Zero

Vanatoo-Transparent-Zero-gear-patrol

Vanatoo has flown under the radar for a number of years with its Transparent One Encore active speakers; which are one of the best sounding active loudspeakers below-$1,000, but if you’re operating on a limited budget youo need to pay close attention to their Transparent Zero desktop speakers which offer a lot more sound quality than you would expect for the price. The Transparent Zero support Bluetooth aptX, include USB, optical, and analog inputs, and 4 x 48-watt per channel class D digital amplifier. The 4-inch aluminum woofer, 4-inch passive radiator, and 1-inch soft dome tweeter offer a full-range presentation with surprisingly deep bass response considering the size of the cabinet. The angled-baffle makes them work well on desktops and bookshelves and that should appeal to students or people who work remotely.

Price: $359

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Kanto Audio TUK

Kanto-Audio-TUK-gear-patrol

Kanto is well known for its affordable active loudspeakers, and the TUK might just be its best. It has ribbon tweeters, which many higher-priced speakers have utilized for years, allowing them to deliver a superior level of detail and airiness. Each speaker has an AMT tweeter and a 5.25-inch aluminum midrange woofer, so in addition to playing rich, detailed audio – they also get loud; the TUK are particularly adept with electronic music, pop, and hip-hop. Kanto has wisely chosen to integrate a MM phono stage, USB DAC, headphone amplifier, and support for Bluetooth aptX HD making the TUK one of the most complete active loudspeaker packages available at any price. Pro tip: the optional stands should be considered mandatory. The TUK will appeal to anyone looking for a complete home or desktop system that comes with everything you need in the box to begin enjoying right away.

Price: $800

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Acoustic Energy AE1 Active

Acoustic-Energy-AE1-Active-gear-patrol

The AE1 are the one active speaker pair on this list that don’t support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth sources – you can’t stream music to them – but they have a huge sonic edge. They feature a full-range two-way design, with a rather robust 50-watt class A/B power amplifier in each loudspeaker. The AE1’s 5-inch woofer, and 1-inch metal dome tweeter have a directness about them that makes them sound far more authoritative than comparably priced systems. The AE1 offer transparency, detail, and impressive soundstage depth in a package that does not take up a lot of space. While you can connect sources to the AE1 directly and use its awkwardly-placed rear volume control, the better route is to connect the loudspeakers to an inexpensive pre-amplifier like the Schiit Audio Freya which will provide greater flexibility and more inputs. The AE1 may not offer the wireless flexibility of its rivals – but it beats almost all of them if sound quality is your biggest priority and don’t mind having to connect them to your playback sources.

Price: $1,390

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Dali Callisto 2C

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With the Callisto 2C, Dali enters the active arena with a three-piece system (2 loudspeakers and Sound Hub) designed for stands or placed on a sturdy media credenza. Powered by a 250-watt class D power amplifier, the Callisto 2C’s 6.5-inch woofer, and unique tweeter array which consists of a 1-inch soft dome tweeter, and hybrid ribbon module can fill a large listening space with ease. The system produces an enormous soundstage with one of the smoothest sounding tweeters you’ll likely to hear. The Sound Hub – which is upgradeable, making this system somewhat format-proof for the foreseeable future– accepts digital and analog sources and transmits to the loudspeakers supporting up to 24-bit/96kHz playback. The system is also MQA-certified if you enjoy streaming from Tidal in that format. If you are looking for a full-range wireless active loudspeaker that can work with both music and movies, and you have a relatively large space to fill, the Callisto 2C might just be what you’re looking for.

Price: $4,750

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Brette Haus Folding Prefab Cabins

When it comes to cabins, we’ve seen everything from the off-the-grid escapes, prefabs and A-frame options that fit all the average needs in one way or another. Latvian startup Brette Haus is re-imagining everything we…

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You’re Out of Time to Buy a New Dodge Durango Hellcat

It’s safe to say that when Dodge announced last year that it would finally be cramming the Hellcat engine into the Durango, it was long overdue. After all, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been churning out vehicles with the supercharged V8 for half a decade; indeed, it’s safe to say that the Dodge brand’s current status as FCA’s performance brand is in large part due to the power and publicity the Hellcat creates.

Well, if you were saving up to add one of these supercharged Durangos to your garage, we have bad news: you’re too late. As of January 21st, Dodge has announced that the entire run of 2021 Durango Hellcats is sold out.

This isn’t a way for Dodge to do something sneaky like drum up interest for a 2021.5 Durango Hellcat, either. The brand had been clear from the start that the 710-hp SUV would be a one-year model. (Read between the lines, and it seems all but assured that’s because an all-new Durango twinned with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is coming next year to replace the current model, which has been around for a full decade.)

The news comes in spite of a report last week that Dodge had found a way to extend production a bit longer, allegedly extending the run into June. Still, that report from Mopar Insiders described the production bump as “incremental,” suggesting it may have just been enough to get the numbers to the magic 2K mark.

If that seems small, well, think about it this way: the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit where the Durango Hellcat is built is not only also responsible for all those other Durango variants, it also builds that related Grand Cherokee — which means it needs to revamp itself for the new model that goes on sale this year.

That said, if you’re now experiencing a case of the bummers because you won’t have a chance to drop $82,490 or more on a high-performance Durango, don’t sweat. The Dodge Durango SRT 392 with its 485-horsepower V8 is still very much available, and while it be around a second slower to 60 miles per hour than the Hellcat and its 3.5-second sprint, it still goes like hell, still carries up to seven people and tows up to 8,700 pounds, looks almost identical — and costs $18,000 less.

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Nobody Is Drinking One of Jim Beam’s Best Bourbons (Still)

Welcome to Shelf Sleepers, our semi-regular guide to the best booze nobody is buying. This time: Baker’s Bourbon, the whiskey embodiment of a post-high-school glow up.

Near the end of 2019, I suggested Baker’s Bourbon — a spirit few people knew, despite its acclaimed family — was about to become a whiskey darling. Being a part of most major bourbon discussion places online, I can tell you that has not happened (Google isn’t reporting increased search traffic around the bottle, either). While this may not be good news for the folks at Jim Beam, it’s good for me.

Baker’s Bourbon was once the redheaded stepchild of the Jim Beam Small Batch Collection. Basil Hayden’s unique bottle design and low proof have lend it popularity as a gift and for those who are just getting into premium bourbon. The polar opposite, Booker’s is a heavyweight bourbon, often clocking in north of 130 proof; it’s earned a healthy reputation with veteran whiskey drinkers. And then there’s Knob Creek, which is perhaps the best value bourbon in America. Until late 2019, Baker’s was a small batch bourbon like all the rest, but priced and proofed so awkwardly most shoppers couldn’t tell who it was really for.

New Baker’s is about $60, 107 proof, at least 7 years old (most bottles I’ve found are closer to 9) and a single barrel product. Depending on how you look at it, that makes it a juiced-up Knob Creek with a chance to be something special or an easier-drinking Booker’s that appreciably more affordable. Because it’s a single barrel product, pinning down consistent profiles isn’t easy, but the three bottles I’ve rushed through generally offer a blend of nutty spiciness and a fair helping of vanilla and oak. That said, the order in which those flavors appear changed from one bottle to the next, and a final bottle shared with my dad over the holidays was closer to anise-infused maple syrup than bourbon.

Fanfare is minimal for now, apart from some notable whiskey reviewers and bloggers giving the new and improved Baker’s high marks. For the sake of my wallet, I hope it stays that way.

Shop Now: $60

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Check Out Nissan’s Super-Cool Pop-Top Electric Camper Van

Here in 2021, delivery vans are going electric, which means the camper van world should follow suit shortly. Nissan, for one, is leaning into it: the brand has just unveiled an all-electric pop-top camper concept, the e-NV200 Winter Camper, which the company says will “bring spark to frosty adventures.” (Get it?)

Nissan did not dive into the nitty-gritty details about the concept, but they did reveal that the van has a custom “Nissan Camper Technology Luxury Kit,” which includes rooftop solar panels charging a 220-volt on-board battery, an integrated kitchen, a refrigerator, folding beds and insulated glass.

As for the vehicle itself, Nissan notes that the van use s”Nissan’s proven electric powertrain technology” that features a “B-mode” for regenerative braking and an “Eco-mode” for reduced energy consumption. It receives some overlanding-themed mods, including “premium off-road tires” and a raised suspension. It also scores accessories like front and rear mudguards.

nissan camper van concept

Nissan

nissan camper van concept interior

Nissan

Overlanding and camping have exploded in popularity, especially over the last year, for obvious covid-related reasons. Providing ready-to-go camper vans from the factory is something automakers are exploring. Mercedes, most notably, launched a pop-top camper van last year. Nissan unveiling this concept can likely be construed as gauging interest in the brand doing something like this in the future.

However, if Nissan does start building custom camper vans, it does not look like it will be for the American market. Nissan plans to kill fleet vehicle production in the U.S. this summer. Nissan also revealed the concept on its global news site, but not the American one, which isn’t an auspicious sign.

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The Best Hiking Shoes of 2021

This definitive guide to the best hiking shoes available provides information on the 10 best hiking shoes as well as tips on what to consider before you make your purchase. In it, we break down each model’s key features, such as support, material, weight and more.

More Great Hiking Shoes

    Why should you buy hiking shoes instead of hiking boots? Because if you aren’t traveling over seriously rugged terrain or carrying a heavily loaded pack, you might not need the full-size version. Hiking shoes are lighter and more nimble than boots, but they still come kitted out with features like Gore-Tex waterproofing, grippy rubber tread and supportive, durable uppers. As a bonus, many of them are sleek enough to pass as everyday footwear around town.

    Danner Trail 2650

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    Best Overall

    Danner’s most iconic hiking boot is the Mountain Light, which, despite what its name might have you believe, is notably not lightweight (it is rugged as hell though). The Trail 2650, however, actually is light. Danner says that they’re 24 ounces a pair, the shoe is its lightest piece of hiking footwear yet. To get there, Danner built its upper with a combination of leather and mesh and used a Vibram outsole for traction.

    The Trail 2650 certainly feels light on the feet, too. It fits much like a trail running shoe (the last that Danner used is based on them), but the construction includes a TPU shank and a heel counter, so they’re sturdy and supportive enough hiking long miles on dirt and clambering over boulders. They’re available with or without waterproofing (a waterproof liner can make hiking shoes hot and lead to sweating) and they’re comfortable enough to wear around town as an everyday shoe, too. For all these reasons, they’re the ideal hiking shoe for most people and uses — for more technical, specific hiking shoes, keep reading.

    Weight: 12 ounces
    Waterproofing: available with Gore-Tex
    Upper: Leather, synthetic
    Sole: Vibram 460

    Price: $150

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    Tecnica Plasma

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    Upgrade Pick

    A year after the release of the full-size Forge, Tecnica brought its custom heat molding to the hiking shoe category with the low-cut Plasma. The process is entirely the same: there are two rounds of heat molding, one for the insole and a second for the upper. It uses the same machine, which is available at retailers where the shoes are sold, and takes less than 30 minutes. (While the Plasma is not the most expensive shoe in this guide, the real step-up is this extra step involved in getting it.) As with the Forge, the result is a hiking shoe that fits immediately — no break-in period.

    The Plasma is on the more rugged end of the hiking shoe spectrum thanks to its stiff rubber outsole, but it’s still more flexible than many approach shoes and suitable to both long and short hikes, though maybe not walking around in a city all day. At first, I worried that the heat treatment wouldn’t be as effective in a shoe because there’s less material to mold, and I wondered if it would still create that tight, ski boot-reminiscent fit. These feelings were alleviated throughout an entire autumn hiking in the Northeast on trails of all types. I never experienced blisters (and I’m particularly prone to them), and my feet stayed comfortable on the longest days. Now my only problem is how to decide between these and the Forge before taking off on a hike.

    Weight: 19.3 ounces
    Waterproofing: Available in waterproof and non-waterproof versions
    Upper: Synthetic
    Sole: Vibram Plasma with Megagrip compound

    Price: $150

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    Merrell Chameleon 8 Stretch

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    Best Budget Hiking Shoe

    Merrell’s Chameleon hiking shoe has been a ranking member in its collection for years, but the brand recently modified it with this lightweight breathable option. It’s not waterproof, but that feature is honestly less important in hiking shoes (water can easily enter from the cuff anyway) than in taller boots. It’s a fair trade for extra breathability and makes it a good shoe for warm weather and dry conditions.

    The Chameleon 8 Stretch uses a speed-lacing system and an elastic bungee-like cord that makes getting them on and cinched very quick — no hooks to thread here. Once tightened, the plastic adjustment tab is fairly difficult and non-intuitive to loosen again, but these shoes can be put on and taken off without loosening the laces.

    It’s another tongueless hiking shoe, which means it’s super comfortable, perhaps even the most comfortable on this list (at least straight out of the box). The cuff is soft and stretchy and provides a close-to-ankle fit that’ll keep larger-sized debris from getting down inside the shoe. This trait is a huge plus for a hiking shoe because, without a tall cuff, gravel and dirt can easily sneak in and make trouble for your feet.

    Weight: 15 ounces
    Waterproofing: available with waterproofing
    Upper: Nubuck leather and synthetic mesh
    Sole: Vibram XS Trek Evo

    Price: $120

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    Salomon X Ultra 4 Gore-Tex

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    Quick-lace systems frequently come with a small yet painful downside: pressure points. Tightened over a thin tongue, those thin cable-laces are easily and woefully felt with ever flex of the foot. Salomon has used this type of lacing on its trail running and hiking footwear for years so it’s no wonder it knows how to avoid that issue, but it’s a pleasant surprise to see how it modified the system to create additional support by channeling it through an inch-long tube on the outside of the foot. The tube is held by an exterior wing-shaped panel — another innovation Salomon pulled from its ultra running shoes — so that the entire shoe grabs onto the foot when you pull the lace tight. The system, combined with Gore-Tex and a responsive midsole, makes for a hiking shoe that’s far more supportive than its minimal form seems like it should be.

    Weight: 13.7 ounces
    Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
    Upper: synthetic
    Sole: Contagrip MA

    Price: $150

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    Hoka One One Kaha Low GTX

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    If you’re familiar with Hoka’s running shoes, then you won’t be surprised by the thick wedge of foam that supports the Kaha Low. But Hoka runners will quickly learn that the Kaha Low’s sole is less bounce and more support (and durability), as a hiking shoe should be. The company actually used its full-sized Kaha as a template, changing as little as possible — the nubuck leather upper, Gore-Tex liner and Vibram outsole are all the same — while making it lighter for faster and shorter hikes. The end result is decidedly sneaker-like too, which makes it easy to get away with around town and at work.

    Weight: 15.8 ounces
    Waterproofing: Gore-Tex
    Upper: Nubuck leather
    Sole: Vibram Megagrip

    Price: $200

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    Salewa Dropline

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    Salewa occupies the technical end of the mountain footwear spectrum. Many of its hiking shoes take rugged inspiration from and feel more like approach shoes, but the Dropline aims for speed first. It’s a more-technical mountain shoe that has a close fit and uses a grippy Pomoca rubber outsole that has a lug pattern suitable for regular hiking. As something of a mix between an approach shoe and a trail running shoe, it’s also slightly lighter and more flexible, which makes it ideal for hikers who like to move fast over technical terrain. We’ve found it handles mud and snow just fine in addition to dry ground, even on steep descents.

    Weight: 12.9 ounces
    Waterproofing: available with Gore-Tex
    Upper: synthetic mesh
    Sole: Pomoca rubber

    Price: $140

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    La Sportiva TX4

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    Technically, La Sportiva’s TX4 is an approach shoe. Approach shoes, lightweight mountain footwear that rock climbers use to reach the base of a wall, typically feature a sticky rubber outsole to provide excellent grip, and the TX4 is no exception there. Its lug pattern and leather upper make it a great choice for full-time trail use, too, even if you have no intention of roping up and going vertical. Our tester praises its construction as “ideal for wet, muddy and loose rocky conditions,” which other approach shoes might not handle as well. Its low profile makes it ideal for use around town if you embrace the outdoorsy look. (And, if you do climb, this might be your new do-everything shoe.)

    Weight: 13 ounces
    Waterproofing: no
    Upper: leather
    Sole: Vibram Megagrip Traverse with Impact Brake System

    Price: $140

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    Arc’teryx Konseal FL

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    Arc’teryx isn’t as well-known for its footwear as it is for its technical apparel, but the Konseal FL lives up to the brand’s high standards for quality. And like its clothing, the shoe packs lots of functionality into a clean and minimalist profile. Colors are coordinated and subtle, and the different materials that are present blend into one another almost invisibly; even the laces are fully integrated into the design, using loops of webbing instead of eyelets.

    The lacing system might be the best part about the Konseal FL. It extends all the way down to the toe so that the fit can be adjusted and fine-tuned as much as possible, which in turn contributes to a better overall hiking experience, especially in technical terrain. The integrated system adjusts smoothly, too, so there’s less tugging and pulling to get the comfortable fit you need.

    The Konseal FL is minimalist in appearance but also somewhat in use. As an approach shoe, it provides plenty of protection with toe and heel caps and a raised midsole sidewall, which is ideal for use in rocky terrain. The shoes don’t have as much cushioning as others on this list though, so fast-hikers and fans of lightweight minimalism will find the most use here.

    Weight: 10.6 ounces
    Waterproofing: No
    Upper: Synthetic
    Sole: Vibram Megagrip

    Price: $155

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    Naglev Unico Kevlar Hiker

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    The Unico comes from the birthplace of outdoor footwear (the Alps), and it’s a shoe designed to be a crossover between a hiking boot and a trail running shoe. Regardless of what it aims to be, it is an impressive piece of footwear, with an upper made of one single piece of Kevlar fabric. That durable exterior is lined with a sock-like wool liner that’s connected at the bottom of the shoe only so that it can “float” inside and better export moisture. The footbed is made of a blend of leather and coconut fibers.

    The Unico is among the burliest hiking shoes to make our list, and that’s thanks to the materials that Naglev so carefully selected in its construction. The rubber outsole is stiff, and the Kevlar is borderline abrasive, but the Unico mitigates these factors with its interior wool liner and leather insole, both of which make the shoe far more comfortable than it looks. Unlike some of the lighter hiking shoes, it does require some break-in — if you’re looking for a more forgiving hiking shoe, check out some of our other picks — but the result is worth the process.

    Weight: N/A
    Waterproofing: Yes
    Upper: Kevlar, TPU, wool liner
    Sole: Natural rubber

    Price: $230

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    Lowa Locarno GTX Lo

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    Take a pair of early 2000s Etnies or Vans, beef it up with more tread and support and you’d arrive at the Locarno GTX Lo. Of the hiking shoes on this list, the Locarno is by far the most casual in appearance, but it’s still reliably apt for trail use. It’s an interesting choice for Lowa, which has a long history as a core hiking brand that dates back to 1923.

    The Locarno is designed as a multi-sport shoe, so it’ll be best for those who use it that way. It has a durable nubuck leather upper and a supportive midsole with ample traction underneath. It’s also equipped with Gore-Tex, which will keep your feet dry through mud and puddles. It’s the type of shoe that won’t excel at any one thing but is great at accomplishing many. If you’re the type of person who only wants to own one pair of shoes or is looking for a solid travel shoe that can be used for many tasks, this is it.

    Weight: 14.5 ounces
    Waterproofing: Gore-Tex S
    Upper: Nubuck leather and fabric
    Sole: Lowa Hybrid Trac

    Price: $210

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Keep Your Ideas Protected With the ICON Sleeve From Incase

Whether you got a new MacBook or MacBook Air for Christmas, or wrote it off as a business expense, it needs protection to make it last as long as possible. That’s where the Incase ICON…

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The Best Affordable Mechanical Watches

Mechanical watches (which include both the hand-winding and automatic variety) have seen a huge uptick in popularity in the last several years, and this considering that battery-powered quartz movements are more cheap and ubiquitous than ever, and smartwatches are seen on more and more wrists as time goes by.

While producing a mechanical wristwatch can be an expensive proposition, the proliferation of relatively inexpensive but high-quality Japanese movements has meant that smaller boutique brands finally have a way to craft affordable hand-winding and automatic timepieces, while the larger brands can make this technology affordable with large-scale production. Whether you’re looking to gift someone a diver or a dress watch, there’s an affordable mechanical watch out there for everybody.

Orient Tristar


At the very entry point into Orient’s mechanical offerings is the obscure “Tristar” line that feels in many ways like the brand’s counterpart to the Seiko 5. Hell, the movement inside (the Orient Caliber 469) is based on a 1970s Seiko caliber which itself formed the basis for the modern 7S. Tristars can be readily had on Amazon or at Long Island Watch for under $100, which is not bad considering they all come stock on stainless steel bracelets.

Price: ~$75

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Seiko 5 SNK805


The Seiko 5 has long been a staple in the Japanese brand’s line, offering inexpensive mechanical goodness to the masses. The SNK805 features a military-inspired dial with day/date function, an automatic movement and 30m of water resistance. With its 37mm stainless steel case and matching nylon strap, the Seiko 5 is the perfect mechanical watch for the field.

Price: ~$99

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Swatch Sistem 51 Clouds


Famous for being the world’s first mechanical watch made completely via automated assembly, the Sistem 51 offers an automatic movement with date visible through a transparent case back. While there are numerous dial and strap options available, this black variant with matching textured strap and case is neutral enough to pair with most casualwear.

Price: $150

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Citizen NH Series


The NH series comes in a few flavors, though mostly in a simple dress watch — as well as a 100-meter dive watch — design. Another option for fans of the obscure is Citizen’s similar NJ series that uses the same Miyota movement but comes in titanium, as opposed to the NH’s stainless steel. With the premium material does come an increase in price, but some NJ references can still be had under $300.

Price: $157

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MVMT Arc Automatic


MVMT may have made a name for itself as a maker of fashion watches, but their most recent offering is a handsome 41mm mechanical timepiece available in several dial colors that utilizes an automatic date movement. A simple design that ships on a leather strap, the Arc is a lot of watch for under $300, and the perfect entry into the world of mechanical timepieces.

Price: $246+

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Timex Marlin California


The newest version of Timex’s popular Marlin line is equipped with a feature beloved by vintage watch enthusiasts: namely, the so-called “California” dial, which features half-Roman and half-Arabic numerals. Beyond this interesting dial, the watch comes packing the basic Miyota 8215 automatic movement which is visible through a display case back.

Price: $249

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Orient Sun & Moon V.3


Finding an affordable complicated watch based upon a mechanical movement is significantly easier said than done, but the Sun & Moon V.3 from Orient manages to integrate a day, date and day/night indicator into a 42.5mm case along with the time. Available in several dial colors, it’s an entry into complicated watchmaking that won’t break the bank.

Price: $270

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Dan Henry 1970


Dan’s Henry’s 1970, available in both 40mm and 44mm sizes and two dial colors, is a tribute to the compressor-cased dive watches of the late 1960s/early 1970s. Featuring an automatic movement and inner rotating bezel as well as a vintage Tropic-style dive strap, the 1970 is a modern homage to a classic case style from the height of scuba diving’s popularity.

Price: $290

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Bulova American Clipper



Bulova’s elegant American Clipper is a simple design that’s perfectly suited to dress watch duty. With its simple dial, day/date function, automatic movement and black leather strap, this is an affordable mechanical piece that’ll go well with any look.

Price: $280

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Spinnaker Cahill

Available in several dial colors with steel bracelets, the Spinnaker Cahill is an affordable choice that offers a lot of value and a cool look. An automatic Miyota 8125 movement with date, sapphire crystal, nicely textured dial and glass bezel make for a timepiece that looks great with casual wear. A water-resistance of 150m also makes the Cahill a watch you can beat up and not worry about.

Price: $350+

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Nodus Sector Pilot

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If you’re on the lookout for a mechanical pilot’s watch but want something contemporary, then the new Sector Pilot Blackbird from Nodus is for you. With its oversize crown, sector dial and count-up bezel, this watch is clearly made for the sky — but a clever day-date display means that it’s perfectly useful on the ground, as well.

Price: $425

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Hamilton Khaki Field Mechanical


A reimagining of Hamilton’s military watches crafted for the U.S. Army, the Khaki Field Mechanical is a modern field watch built with classic mil-spec design cues. A hand-winding movement from ETA and a 24-hour dial help to retain the vintage design influence, while a 38mm case brings the watch firmly into the 21st century.

Price: $495

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Junghans Max Bill Hand-Winding


Max Bill was an iconic designer whose Bauhaus-influenced designs live on in the Junghans watches that bear his name. The hand-winding variant features a glossy dial with Arabic numerals, ETA 2801 hand-winding movement, 34mm stainless steel case and a black leather strap. Whether paired with a suit or with jeans and a t-shirt, this is a watch that never looks out of place.

Price: $690

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