All posts in “Gear”

The 10 Best New Wellness Products of the Year

This story is part of the GP100, our list of the 100 best new products of the year. Read the introduction to the series here, and stay tuned for more lists like it throughout the month.

Over the past 18 months, the coronavirus pandemic highlighted vast gaps in healthcare and personal wellness. For many people, it was a time to reprioritize health and focus on positive lifestyle changes. Brands took note and in 2021 released a slew of new products to help people put wellness first. Standout products covered a range of areas, from sleep to hearing to nutrition and more. But, perhaps the most notable area of growth was in teaching — new courses designed to help you help yourself.

Game Changer: Bose SoundControl Hearing Aids

bose soundcontrol™ hearing aids

Henry Phillips

Battery Life: 56 hours per set of zinc-air batteries

Trial Period: 90 days, risk free

Times You’ll Have to Scream “What?!”: Way fewer

Price: $850

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The vast majority of adults, somewhere in the vicinity of 3/4ths, have a device that improves their eyesight. From reading glasses to contacts, vision correction is a well-established part of everyday life.

But what about your ears? According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, nearly 50 million Americans suffer from some degree of hearing loss, and millions never seek help at all. Bose is trying to bridge that gap with SoundControl.

bose soundcontrol™ hearing aids

Bose

Traditionally, acquiring hearing aids has been a costly and arduous experience of seeing an audiologist and buying custom-tuned aids at a cost of potentially thousands of dollars per year, often without the help of insurance. Alternatively, there’s the option of trying your luck with cheaper one-size-fits all devices, the aural equivalent of drug-store reading glasses that will more likely than not leave you preferring to just yell “what?!” instead.

The primary innovation Bose hit on with SoundControl is a self-tuning process, which lets the user adjust the balance of their amplification precisely with an intuitive app. It may sound like an obvious solution, but it’s a bigger deal than it sounds: to meet the industry first of FDA clearance, Bose had to prove with a clinical study that its “self-fitting” provides satisfaction on par with an audiologist’s tuning for adults with mild to moderate loss.

And then, of course, there’s the price. At $850, Bose SoundControl hearing aids aren’t what you might call “cheap,” but they’re significantly affordable than many other options, while still boasting the discrete form-factor and all-day battery life that more earbud-style solutions just can’t match.

At the end of the day, all this adds up to a product that could improve the lives of millions who have been “hard of hearing” for too long.

bose soundcontrol™ hearing aids

Henry Phillips

Masterclass: Joe Holder’s Fitness and Wellness Fundamentals

masterclass joe holder

MasterClass

Classes: 12

Runtime: 158 mins
Includes: Lessons, workouts, how-tos
Price: $15+/month

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Why subscribe to overpriced nutrition plans and at-home workout classes when you can learn the foundations for a healthy lifestyle in one 12-part (two-and-a-half hours total) Masterclass series by Joe Holder, founder of fitness philosophy The Ocho System, a Nike Master Trainer and Hyperice Expert?

masterclass joe holder

MasterClass

His philosophy, Ocho — or “One Can Help Others. Others Can Help One.” — addresses eight areas he considers the core components of wellness: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, social, occupational and financial. In an episode about eating, for example, he equips viewers with the tools to make smarter decisions in the grocery store, but also once you’re at home, too. He emphasizes unprocessed foods over pre-packaged ones, lobbies for a handful of “food hacks” (no spoilers) over diet fads and even runs you through what he calls “exercise snacks,” quick workouts you can do without weights or machines.

What impressed most about Holder’s class, though, was his ability to distance himself from the toxicity of typical “wellness” content. He comes across as though he’s genuinely here to help. And, instead of merely leading you along a continuum of murderous HIIT workouts — although he hosts three workouts you can easily return to in this series — he holds your hand through everything else, too: recovering, reading up on the data you receive from smart fitness accessories and setting yourself up for future successes long after Holder’s class is no longer offered.

masterclass joe holder

MasterClass

Fitbit Charge 5

fitbit charge 5

Fitbit

Battery life: Up to seven days

Charge time: two hours
Colors: 3

Price: $180

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fitbit charge 5

Fitbit

The line between smartwatch and fitness tracker was irrevocably blurred years ago — and the Fitbit Charge 5 lies firmly on it. The wearable has been completely redesigned from its predecessors so that it’s thinner, lighter and just more comfortable to wear. Most importantly, the Charge 5 has a way bigger and better display that’s always-on (so you can check your stats at a glance without raising a wrist) and shows color (instead of black-and-white) so it’s easier to read. It’s also jammed packed with all the sensors and fitness-tracking capabilities that you’d want in a high-end wearable. Don’t want (or want to pay for) an Apple Watch? Get this Fitbit.

DB101 How to Microdose

db101 how to microdose

Double Blind

Classes: 14

Biggest Perk: Live group video support
Host: FlowState Micro Founder Adam Bramlage
Price: $150

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db101 how to microdose

Double Blind

In this class from independent psychedelics-focused print magazine DoubleBlind, Adam Bramlage, a microdosing coach and educator, will walk you through how to use psilocybin mushrooms or LSD for more than just a one-night trip, step by step. Bramlage, an industry veteran with thousands of clients registered for his private microdosing practice, Flow State Micro, from people on SSRIs with diagnosed depression to people looking to alter their relationship with alcohol, lose weight or just improve their mood, manages to relay a lot of information without overwhelming or coming across too heady.

db101 how to microdose

Double Blind

For under $200 dollars, you’re given access to 14 classes, ranging in concentration from scientific studies supporting microdosing to risks and contradictions to consider. Double Blind trusted Bramlage to present the concept with an open mind, as it isn’t for everyone. But, research that supports its impactfulness for the right type of person is ever-growing: Scientists determined that mushrooms have the potential to benefit those impacted by autism or anxiety, PTSD and even addiction; they’ve been decriminalized in several states, too, and legalized for use in private therapeutic practices.

Surely, even if you’re uninterested right now, it’s best to get ahead of the growing industry. And there’s no better way to improve your understanding of it all than with Double Blind and Adam Bramlage. Plus, once you enroll you’re offered three live support sessions with Bramlage for questions, concerns and clear-cut answers to common questions.

Coway Airmega 250

coway airmega 250

Coway

Dimensions: 19 x 20 x 8 inches

Purifies: 930 square feet
Weight: 20 lbs

Price: $399

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coway airmega 250

Coway

As you should with water you drink or bathe in, it’s important to check for pollutants or toxins in the air you breathe — and probably now more than ever. An air purification system for your home is a costly addition for anyone, but there are portable air purifiers aplenty that do the same work on a much smaller scale. Coway’s Airmega 250 is small, but its size-to-power ratio impresses. Capable of cleaning the air in a 960 square foot room, the device is just 18 inches tall and roughly 20 wide.

Inside, there’s a washable pre-filter, a Green True HEPA filter and an activated carbon filter, a trio capable of clearing 99.999 percent of particles as small as 0.01 micrometers, which is smaller than most viruses and bacteria.

Marlow Pillow

marlow pillow

Marlow

Country of Origin: China

Warranty: Two years

Sizes: Standard; king

Price: $65

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marlow pillow

Marlow

Shopping for pillows is very much a Goldilocks-like search for the perfect firmness. But with the advent of adjustable pillows, that search is over. Marlow, a pillow brand from the cult-favorite bedding company Brooklinen, is here with an adjustable pillow that eschews removable fill or layers for an intuitive zipper system to adjust for firmness. If you need something firm, keep it zipped tight; if you need something softer, fully unzip it — those who are more fickle with their pillow can find the perfect firmness somewhere between zipped and unzipped.

Marlow’s selling point is its adjustability, but it’s the little details that push this pillow towards perfect-level status. Hot sleepers — aka those who overheat in their sleep — will appreciate Marlow’s attempt to keep them cool at night. The fill is a combination of memory foam and polyester for breathability, which are encased in a mesh layer to further help with airflow. That means no waking up in the middle of the night in a puddle of your own head sweat. Its outer layer is crafted from buttery soft sateen — the same type its parent company uses for its much-loved sheets — so it’s smooth against your face if for some odd reason you don’t believe in pillowcases.

The pillow is backed by a two-year warranty, and those who are hesitant about buying a $65 pillow (you get a discount if you bundle up) have a full year to return it back to Marlow. So if you’re not looking to make like Goldilocks in your search for the perfect pillow, Marlow is the way to go.

marlow pillow

Marlow

Mattias Cover

mattias cover

Mattias

Size: 1.6 ml
Skin Tones: Six
Covers: Acne, blemishes, dark circles
Price: $20

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mattias cover

Mattias

It might’ve been Hims’ Blur Stick (and its ad with A-Rod) that broke the men’s makeup levee, but it was Mattias’ Cover that impressed most this year. The easy-to-use pencil concealer for acne, dark circles or hyperpigmentation is fragrance-free and packed with Vitamin E, an incredible healer for dry or dull skin (and raging acne, too). It comes in six skin shades, pools on the foam tip with a few clicks and rubs in rather easily. Plus, through plenty of testing (damn maskne…), we found it always covered what we asked it to and never clogged pores.

It also opened the door to further makeup explorations. I’m not saying you should jump right into eyeshadow or a pinky lipstick, but concealer, toner and primers are not out of the question. Makeup has been taboo for most men for far too long — but hell, it’s important we remind you most formulas are gender-neutral. If you need reassuring, Mattias’ Cover is proudly for men. Treat it like a Tide-to-Go stick (but not like Tide Pods; don’t eat it). Turn to it whenever an angry pimple arises or you look a little splotchy. It’ll quickly conceal whatever it is you’re trying to cover up while healing the surface levels of your skin from within.

Moon Juice Ting

moon juice ting

Moon Juice

B vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12

Other ingredients: Malic Acid, Organic Mango Flavor, Organic Monk Fruit Extract
Subscription: Save 20% on first order and 10% on others

Price: $42

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Moon Juice founder Amanda Chantal Bacon wanted to create a more accessible way to access the effects she felt when taking B12 shots. The result: Ting. A water-soluble B Complex extracted from organic Tulsi and Guava, it helps convert fat, protein, and carbs into energy. B vitamins can be found naturally in a variety of foods like grains, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and fresh vegetables, among other things. But deficiency of these vitamins can cause slow metabolism, fatigue and brain fog. This supplement boosts metabolism, supports normal serotonin production and helps with mood regulation.

moon juice ting

Moon Juice

Moon Juice combines an Organic B Complex from Southern India with Methylated B12 from Spain, ginseng from Canada and folate from Switzerland. The ginseng helps boost sustainable energy without crashes, unlike the boost from caffeine. It also includes the organic mango flavor and when mixed into water — the brand recommends .5 tsp in 16-ounces — tastes better than many supplements on the market.

The recommended daily allowance of B vitamins varies in each person, so you should consult your doctor to make sure the dosage is right for you. After at least two weeks, users will begin to notice numerous health benefits. B vitamins have also been shown to prevent the onset of various types of cancer, reduce the physiological response to stress and play a role in the prevention of Parkinson’s disease. Ting comes in a 1.7-ounce package that can be distributed in 25 servings.

OffCourt + Dogpound Performance Body Spray

offcourt dogpound performance body spray

OffCourt

Volume: 3.4 ounces
Notes: Citrus, suede, vetiver, neroli
Formula: Aluminum-free, probiotic-heavy
Price: $18

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performance body spray

OffCourt

Traditional roll-on deodorants can irritate the skin and, honestly, few work well enough to warrant enduring chemical burns to keep your pits dry (and BO-free). OffCourt, a new line of canned aerosol deodorants, fights odor-causing bacteria with prebiotics. The brand’s one of the first to package these ingredients in a spray, and with a designer fragrance to boot.

With notes of citrus, suede, vetiver and neroli, the deodorant goes on easily and lasts up to eight hours. Think of it as Axe ushered into the 21st century.

Lusso Cloud x MOPQ Pelli Slides

mopq slippers

Courtesy

Inspired by: A photo of Justin Bieber in hotel slippers

Sizes: 5-15 (whole sizes)
Colors: Bone, Cactus, Sand

Price: $150

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Lusso Cloud — the affordable, comfort-sneaker brand by legendary footwear designer Jon Buscemi and skateboarder-turned-entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek — teamed up with minimalist California brand Museum of Peace and Quiet to produce tonal versions of the brand’s Pelli slides. The easy-on shoes feature waffle knit uppers made with recycled bamboo and memory foam and a super soft footbed consisting of perforated memory foam layered between an IPEVA outsole and a latex top sheet. A grosgrain pull-tab features MOPQ’s logo and the style comes in three subtle colors: Sand, Cactus and Bone. Comfortable footwear has never looked so good.

mopq slipers

Courtesy

Why Does My Cleaver Have a Hole in It?

Welcome to Further Details, a series dedicated to ubiquitous but overlooked elements hidden on your favorite products. This week: that mysterious hole in your cleaver.

Every kitchen should have a chef’s knife. But when it comes to breaking down hard things — like bones or hard-skinned vegetables — a cleaver is the way to go. Cleavers are a heavyweight knife with a rectangular blade that’s perfect for chopping through things a typical chef’s knife can’t. They also have a peculiar feature that other knives don’t have: a hole in the blade. But what is it for? Don’t worry, your knife isn’t defective — it’s just a thoughtful detail to save space.

That hole in your cleaver is a way for you to hang the knife when not in use. It’s as simple as that. Cleavers are way too big to store in a knife block (though you should really be storing your knives on a knife bar), and if you throw them into a kitchen drawer, they’re going to end up cutting you by accident or getting dull over time. Butchers have loved cleavers for centuries, and hanging them by the blade keeps a workstation clear while being easy (and safe) to grab by the handle.

cleaver hanging on a hook
Butchers have used the hole in their cleaver to hang them from meat hooks for easy access.

JuergenBosseGetty Images

Other theories about the hole include: reducing the weight of the knife (how much weight do you actually lose from that tiny hole?), preventing meat from sticking (the hole isn’t even close to where it would make contact with meat) and using it as leverage to pull the knife out when it gets stuck in something (you don’t need a hole to do that). As Occam’s razor posits, the simplest theory is true: It’s just a way to hang!

Now that you know what the hole in the cleaver is for, it’s time to get one for yourself. Whether you need to butcher a chicken, break down carcasses (of the edible variety) or chop some vegetables, the cleaver will be the workhorse of your kitchen. And you already know where you’ll store it.

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The Best Small Camping Trailers

Road trips and overlanding are more popular than ever — but not everyone can afford (or wants to) own an RV, an Airstream Classic or a custom-built overlanding rig. For some, the occasional weekend getaway to a nearby destination will quell whatever travel bug may bite (even if it leads to being bitten by new bugs).

To that end, small travel trailers are a great option for those who want the convenience of adventure but don’t have the budget or storage space to maintain the typical large vehicle associated with exploring the great outdoors.

Mini-campers are budget friendly, with many available for less than $10,000. The more the amenities, though, (like a bathroom) and the more the price tag. Nevertheless, they are compact and light, which makes them easier to maneuver.

For this list, we focus on small camping trailers that have a gross weight vehicle rating (GVWR) of no more than 5,000 pounds, do not exceed 20 feet in length (so they can fit in the average-sized garage), and can be easily towed by a mid-size truck or SUV — or, in some cases, even a regular sedan.

Small Camping Trailers from Brands You Already Know

Airstream Bambi

airstream bambi

Airstream

No surprise that the road-tripping icon has a line of lightweight single-axle trailers. Along with Airstream’s classic design, Bambi models feature neutral interior colors, stainless steel appliances, plenty of windows, and a retractable awning. The entry-level Bambi 16RB measures about 16 feet long, and has a maximum GVWR of 3,500 pounds.

Price: $52,700+

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Winnebago Micro Minnie

winnebago micro minnie

Winnebago

The ever-familiar Winnebago offers the Micro Minnie. These trailers are small in size, but offer big room for families. Even though it’s a double-axle camper (most small camping trailers use a single axle), the Micro Minnie is just seven feet wide — but smartly laid out. Sleeping quarters accommodate up to five, and windows on either side provide a nice cross-breeze on cool nights. Other amenities include USB ports and WiFi connectivity.

Price: $23,808+

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Dub Box

dub box trailer

Dub Box

Not a familiar name, sure — but in terms of design, if you don’t think Volkswagen when you think of road camping, are you even thinking? The Dub Box, which sits about 16 feet long and has a 2,314-pound GVWR, will definitely make people do a double take. Other standard features include a kitchen with a two-burner stovetop and fridge, LED lighting, room for a double-sized mattress. A pop-up rooftop, you ask? Of course, that’s an option.

Price: $22,187+

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The Most Affordable Small Camping Trailers

SylvanSport GO

sylvansport go trailer

SylvanSport

The SylvanSport GO may not look like much of anything in road mode, but it’s basically a Transformer — a boring trailer that transforms into a tent camper/utility hauler/equipment rack. Measuring less than seven feet long, the pop-up tent setup expands to accommodate two XL-twin mattresses or one king. Also, it’s extremely lightweight at just 840 pounds.

Price: $10,995+

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Aspen Classic Mini

aspen classic mini

Aspen

If you only have the spare change you find in couch cushions, consider the Aspen Classic. The six-foot-long tent camper weighs just 350 pounds. Measuring up to 12-1/2 feet when fully opened, standard features include a king-size foam mattress, a heavy-duty seam-sealed tent, and smart built-ins like zippered access ports to storage compartments or a cooler.

Price: $3,000+

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Cute and Compact Camping Trailers

Happier Camper HC1

happier camper hc1 trailer

Happier Camper

Don’t let the cutesy retro vibe of Happier Camper fool you. The HC1 model is 13 feet in length, offers a 6’1” interior height, features a modular indoor/outdoor layout, and has a GVWR of just 3,500 pounds. With its Adaptiv floor plan, you can customize your camper like it’s a life-sized Lego model. The downside? There’s only room for two.

Price: $29,950+

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Jayco Jay Feather Micro

jayco jay feather micro

Jayco

Jayco offers a plethora of compact and affordable mini trailers, but the most mini is the Jay Feather Micro. There are five models with GVWRs between 2,795 and 5,750 pounds. Worth noting, though, is that all but the smallest model include a bathroom — with a separate shower and toilet.

Price: $16,838+

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Polydrops P17

polydrops p17

Polydrops

The Polydrops P17 measures 13’7” in length, but has less than four feet of interior height. Yet thanks to its gullwing doors, a foldable 3/4-sized mattress, movable table, and up to 8.7” of insulation, the P17 offers unexpected spaciousness and all-weather durability. Options include a solar panel, skylight, and galley.

Price: $14,990+

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Scamp Travel Trailers

scamp travel trailers

Scamp

Because Scamp trailers are sold factory direct, each order is essentially a custom build. The small trailers fit four, come in 13-, 16-, and 19-foot lengths, and are available in Standard or Deluxe trims — which really just means, bathroom or bunk beds? The GVWR for the 16-footer is 3,500 pounds, but Scamp says all sizes have been designed to be towed by small vehicles.

Price: ~$15,000+

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Small Off-Road Camping Trailers

Colorado Campworks Nomadic System One

colorado campworks nomadic system one

Campworks

Built for overlanding with a small footprint of barely nine feet, the Nomadic System One is 100-percent solar powered for on-demand hot water and induction cooking. Rugged but towable with a 2,000-pound dry weight, other features include a galley, a winter-ready structure and exterior mounts for gear.

Price: $40,000+

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Mobi Nomad Mobi X

mobi nomad mobi x

Mobi Nomad

The Mobi X by Mobi Nomad is a read-to-go camper. Roughly 12 feet long and with a 3,300-pound GVWR, the Mobi X comfortably fits two, but can expand to accommodate up to six people. Standard features include a high-pressure water system with heater, LED lighting, and heavy duty equipment rack.

Price: ~$20,000+

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Taxa Outdoors Cricket

taxa outdoors cricket trailer

Taxa Outdoors

With a NASA-inspired design, the 15-foot Taxa Outdoors Cricket was built to handle the outdoors. Lightweight and rugged, the small trailer can sleep two adults and two children, features a modular design, innovative storage solutions inside and out as well as lots of windows for cross ventilation.

Price: $34,950+

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Small Teardrop Camping Trailers

nuCamp Tab 400

nucamp tab 400

nüCamp

The nuCamp Tab 400 features an old-school teardrop design but with new school amenities, like instant hot water and air conditioning. A compact 18 feet in length, the Tab 400 still offers a dedicated queen-sized-bed sleeping space, a spacious kitchen with storage, a three-person dinette area, and a wet bath.

Price: $31,000+

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Timberleaf Classic Teardrop

timberleaf classic teardrop

Timberleaf

The Classic Teardrop Trailer by Timberleaf features one of the largest skylights of any teardrop-style trailer on the market. At 10 feet in length, there’s plenty of usable space for a queen-size mattress, storage shelves, and an equally-laid out kitchen galley. The camper can also be customized with Allroad and Off-Road packages depending on your needs.

Price: $23,400+

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All the Best Coffee Gear That Came Out in 2021

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2021.

The beautiful invention that is coffee has been around for centuries, yet somehow we manage to find ways to make coffee new and exciting. In 2021, innovations in coffee were no exception. We found new ways to drink coffee (hello, Minor Figures canned coffees), new ways to get exceptional coffee to your doorstep just by sending a text (Fellow Drops, we see you) and even a new-and-improved take on the humble French press (we get it, Fellow, you do coffee gear). Regardless of how you take your coffee, there’s something for everyone in this list of new coffee gear from 2021.

Flying Coffee The French Roast

flying coffee the french roast

Flying Coffee

Wes Anderson was back this year with his new film The French Dispatch, and the release has been hyped up with some highly collectible merch. You could have picked up a copy of the French Dispatch magazine from New York City’s Casa Magazines, or you can still grab a bag of coffee, the French Roast, made with recently founded coffee brand Flying Coffee. The Colombian beans harken back to when French roast was every coffee nerds go-to type of bean, which has since fallen out of favor for fruity and sweet light-roast beans. The French Roast has a smoky-sweet flavor with hints of chocolate and nuts. It’s the type of coffee you’d expect a French Dispatch journalist to drink black, its coffee staining their notebook, though it would work wonderfully paired with milk and sugar.

Price: $20

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Great Fellow Kettle

great fellow kettle

Great Jones

Millennial direct-to-consumer cookware brand Great Jones and coffee accessories brand Fellow have teamed up to become Great Fellow. It’s not an actual new brand, but it is the name of Great Jones’ take on the ever-popular Fellow Stagg EKG kettle, our Just Get This pick for an electric kettle. The kettle comes decked out in a green (dubbed broccoli) colorway, while the power button/temperature dial comes is yellow (or mustard). Get this if Fellow’s kettle in black just wasn’t to your liking.

Price: $160

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Fellow Carter Move Mug with 360° Lid

fellow carter move mug with 360° lid

Fellow

Fellow’s Carter Move Mug is one of the best travel coffee cups out there. It has a ceramic coating that won’t leech flavors into your joe, and it’ll keep it hot or cold for up to three hours. With the addition of the new 360° lid, the Carter Move is even better. Instead of having a single place on the lid to sip from, you can drink from anywhere on the lid. As little of a detail as that sounds like it may be, it makes drinking coffee on the go so much easier. And if you already have a Move mug, you can buy the 360° lid on its own for $10.

Price: $30+

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Partners Coffee Rockaway Cold Brew

partners coffee rockaway cold brew

Partners Coffee

As if cold brew couldn’t get any simpler, Brooklyn-based coffee roasters Partners Coffee made its cold-brew blend of coffee beans into tea bag-like satchels for easier cold brewing. Each package of Rockaway Cold Brew contains four pouches of pre-ground coffee, so all you have to do is steep it in 24 ounces of water for a day to get delicious cafe-quality cold brew.

Price: $16

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Fellow Clara French Press

fellow clara french press

Fellow

Fellow released its version of a French press earlier this month, and it’s about as Fellow as it gets. From the matte black construction to the thoughtful details, it promises to make a better cup of French press coffee. It has an ultra-fine mesh filter to reduce the muddiness of your coffee, an agitation stick to help with coffee extraction and a non-stick coating to help with cleanup.

The only hesitation about getting one may be its price: $99 for matte black or $129 for matte black with walnut accents.

Price: $99+

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Quintal Coffee Subscription

quintal coffee subscription

Quintal Coffee

Eduardo Umaña and former World Barista Champion Raul Rodas source and roast rare Latin American coffee — at origin — every month and send it to your door. It’s only just begun, but the first round of coffee was exceptional, and $20 a month for 10 ounces of some of the best coffee in the world isn’t a bad deal at all.

Price: $20

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Alldae Cascara Tea

alldae cascara tea

Alldae Cascara

If you’ve never had it, cascara is tea made from the skin of the fruit of the coffee plant. When processing these fruits to get the seed (what we call the coffee bean), the skins are removed and typically discarded. Cascara gives them delicious purpose. Alldae is a new company making cascara out of Gesha coffee from Panama. If you’re hunting a mid-afternoon pick-me-up that isn’t as jarring as a cup of coffee, Alldae’s canned cascaras are an excellent option. I like the pineapple flavor best.

Price: $24 (six-pack)

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Fellow Shimmy Coffee Sieve

fellow shimmy coffee sieve

Fellow

No matter how good your coffee grinder is, you’re bound to get a little thing called microfines, which are basically super-tiny coffee grinds that can ruin your coffee’s flavor. While some may not notice how much those microfines are affecting their coffee, you can trust that your coffee would taste way better without them. The answer to removing these microfines is called a coffee sieve, and Fellow just released its own take on the device, called the Shimmy. All you do is place your ground coffee in the canister and give it a little shake to displace the microfines from the coffee grounds you’ll actually be using to brew. Give it a try with any coffee brewing method you use to make a better cup of joe.

Price: $49

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Grady’s Cold Brew The Spouch

grady's cold brew the spouch

Grady’s Cold Brew

Since launching in 2011 as a brand of bottled concentrates of New Orleans-style cold brew, Grady’s has since expanded into ready-to-drink and brew-it-yourself iterations. New Orleans-style cold brew, if you’re not familiar, is a cold brew made with coffee, chicory and spices. The brand’s new Spouch makes it easier than ever to make your own cold brew at home. The Spouch, which is a portmanteau of “pouch” and “spout,” makes 48 ounces of cold brew that can be then poured straight from the cold-brewing vessel.

Price: $8

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Fellow Drops

fellow drops

Fellow Drops

If you’re riding the internet coffee wave, consider Fellow’s text-to-order service. Load your credit card info and phone number in and receive intermittent texts with specialty-grade, freshly roasted coffee. The roaster roster is varied, so you’ll be able to try a number of coffees from around the U.S. It also feels a bit anti-tech to order coffee through text, as silly as that sounds, and that’s never a bad thing.

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Osma Pro

osma pro

Osma

The whole shtick around cold brew is that it takes a long time to make, and the result is a fairly lackluster cup of low-acidity coffee. Osma’s new countertop brewer, the Osma Pro, can supposedly make cold brew coffee in just 90 seconds. Just add ice, water and coffee and the Osma Pro essentially recirculates the water through the grounds to get a three-ounce espresso shot or 12-ounce cold brew in less time than it takes to explain exactly what’s going on.

Price: $695

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Humblemaker Coffee TACA Blend

humblemaker coffee taca blend

Humblemaker Coffee

For Autism Awareness Month in April, California-based coffee roaster made a blend for The Autism Community in Action, a non-profit that supports families raising children with autism. All proceeds from sales of the TACA blend go to the organization, one that has a special place in the heart of Humblemaker co-founder Bryan Marseilles, who has two children on the autism spectrum. This coffee isn’t just all about doing good — it’s a good coffee in and of itself with notes of dark chocolate, vanilla bean and caramel.

Price: $18

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Minor Figures Canned Coffees and Teas

minor figures canned coffees and teas

Minor Figures

You may have seen Minor Figures’ oat milk before. The brand is known for drawing attention thanks to its quirky branding, and the oat milk itself has a dedicated fanbase, mostly comprising coffee lovers and baristas. It’s now making canned coffees and teas mixed with its infamous oat milk, and it’s like having a barista making café-quality beverages in your home. The lineup includes a latte, matcha latte, chai latte and mocha, all of which can be found in select indie coffee shops and Whole Foods (later in April in mid-Atlantic stores) across the US.

Price: $30/12-pack

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Western Rise Is Offering a Rare 20% off Sitewide

Looking for even more great savings? Subscribe to our daily newsletter Today’s Best Deals and have them sent straight to your inbox.


Save 20 percent on Western Rise apparel with the code YEAREND.

There are a ton of brands out there doing technical travel and adventure apparel really well. The options seem to be endless these days, but when we think of this competitive category, our minds tend to drift straight to Western Rise. The brand makes excellent polos, button-downs, pants and workout gear that stays comfortable no matter what you throw at it thanks to its superlative design and fabric choices.

Western Rise

Western Rise AT Pant

Western Rise

Western Rise

Western Rise Limitless Merino Button-Down Shirt

Western Rise

If you need some more recommendations, we love the Diversion Pant as our go-to denim alternative, the StrongCore Merino Tee for travel and the Session tee for workouts.

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The Best Bags and Backpacks Released in 2021

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2021.


Bags, even more so than most clothing, serve a function — to stow, protect and transport our EDC (and then some). As such, they have to really work, meaning they can’t falter at the first sign of some of additional weight or melt whenever mild weather turns sour. All of the bags below emphasize function first and foremost but balance form just the same. TLDR: These look good but the get the job done. (That’s why they’re the best bags of the year.)

Billykirk No. 237 Briefcase

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Billykirk’s No. 237 Briefcase was recently redesigned to be bigger, feature leather handles and have brass feet so it stands upright on its own. Ultimately, these tweaks turned a bag we already loved into a bag we really, really love.

Price: $725

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Sealand Core Pronto Water Repellent Crossbody Bag

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This Sealand Crossbody Bag is big enough to carry your EDC, like a phone, wallet and a few keys — plus AirPods and a vaccine card. The bag is water repellent, too, which means your valuables won’t get wet.

Price: $45

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Pleasures x Eastpak Padded Backpack

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Pleasures channels the angst of adolescence for this collab backpack with Eastpak, which comes decorated in a dozen patches, illustrations and other add-ons.

Price: $90

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Joshu+Vela Palermo Tote

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San Francisco bag brand Joshuvela’s new tote, the Palermo, is built from 24-ounce cotton canvas with a 10-ounce cotton canvas liner. There are six pockets on the inside and all of the trim is vegetable-tanned Italian leather. It’s luxe while retaining an air of simplicity.

Price: $298

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State Lorimer Fanny Pack

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State’s simple Fanny Pack is a favorite of mine, because it’s simple. So many bags are loaded with unnecessary pockets, branding, mesh buckets and straps that they become cumbersome to carry. This iteration has two zipper pockets for safe keeping but nothing extra.

Price: $85

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Craighill Arris Tote

craighill arris tote

Craighill

Featuring a bag made from nylon and straps made from rubberized mesh webbing, the Craighill Arris Tote is an easy, do-it-all tower for getting groceries, going to the park or the beach, eventually.

Price: $175

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Public School New York x Montblanc Duffle

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Montblanc and Public School New York — by Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow (the designer spearheading Tom Brady’s forthcoming clothing line, BRADY) — dropped a collection of bags and luggage this week. The entire line is made from ECONYL, a sustainable fabric sewn from material waste. There are leather accents and luxe features, but it’s environmentally friendly for the most part.

Price: $1,555

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Garbstore x Porter Sacoche Hour Bag

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Fanny pack not for you? Tote bag too much? Garbstore and Porter’s collaborative Sacoche Hour Bag blends the best of both, resulting in a carry-all that has enough room for the things you’d usually put in your pockets but not much more. Impossible to weigh down, easy to wear.

Price: $250

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Herschel x Birdwell Alexander Tote

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I’ve preached about the versatility of Herschel’s insulated Alexander Tote before. I even called it the best beach bag you can buy. Now, it’s gotten even better. This revamped version comes cut from Surfnyl, Birdwell’s proprietary nylon fabric (which they use for their boardshorts). It also features a luggage trolley strap, utility handles, a zippered internal pocket, and a classic camo liner.

Price: $100

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Rimowa Essential Cabin Carry-On Suitcase

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What better way to welcome a return to routine travel than with an upgraded carry-on? Rimowa’s new online-only Essential option comes in a new translucent hue, Lime Yellow. It’s a bold green with black accents, TSA-approved locks, flex dividers, and a telescopic handle.

Price: $820

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King Kennedy Rugs Tote Bag

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Made in Los Angeles from vintage Turkish rugs, these tote bags are completely unique. Each one is features a leather bottom, 7-ounce canvas reinforment (lined with a nylon interior) and folded veg-tanned leather handles. There’s also a 9-inch interior pocket for storing your valuables.

Price: $525

Troubadour x Sunspel Tote

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This tote is the perfect size for daily outing around town. It’s made from waterproof canvas and features leather handles, a padded laptop pocket and elasticated sections to small items in place.

Price: $325

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Wardrobe Essentials Are Seriously Affordable at Everlane’s Huge End-of-Year Sale

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


Now at Everlane, you can save on the brand’s range of already affordable wardrobe essentials courtesy of the brand’s fairly expansive End of Year sale. The sale includes great discounts on tees, sweatshirts, coats, jackets, pants and much more — perfect if you want to pick up some staple garments for everyday wear. Hurry though, as stocks are already becoming a bit limited and the deep discounts end on December 31 at midnight.

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In Praise of the One-Watch Collection

Not long ago I realized I am surrounded by collectors. They are everywhere and nothing is off-limits: sneakers, cast-iron skillets, small-batch soju, comic books, vintage bikes, vintage Prada, cameras, wine, motorcycles, vinyl, Linotype fonts, classic arcade games. There is no way to duck these conversations, which are as interesting as a slideshow of someone else’s vacation, even though I’ve learned to spot them coming. Collectors, at least the ones itching to talk about themselves, all have the same tell, a delighted little nod of feigned modesty, which immediately precedes long monologues about their cars or watches or bourbons or once, bafflingly, Crocs.

“Well, you see” — and here comes the nod and a conspiratorial tone like they’re finally revealing the dark secret of just how interesting they are — “I’m a bit of a collector.” Ah, yes, well. You don’t say. Tell me more.

To be fair, collecting can be a fine pursuit. Noble, even. The best collections arrange history into still life, the specific details and composition revealing odd little tidbits about ourselves as a species. The proper selection of objects arranged just so can tell a story — how Cubism evolved to express the anxiety of a rapidly modernizing world, for example, or how much ’70s car designers loved cocaine.

But collecting mostly seems exhausting. I know a man who keeps his tweed collection across state lines, piles of the stuff in a rented storage container in New Jersey, which he never sees because he’s too busy buying more tweed. A photographer friend once insisted I get myself “some real glass” — by which he meant vintage and blindingly expensive — if I planned to keep posting to Instagram; only a collector could figure out how to make a free app require several thousand dollars and the regular use of a darkroom.

Not long ago collecting was the purview of the leisure class and nerds. So where do they come from, these teeming hordes with all their stuff?

I say social media is driving the surge — platforms that let users feed themselves content of their choosing. As Hannibal Lecter explained to Clarice, we begin by coveting what we see every day. Now consider the average watch enthusiast and the boundless array of Instagram accounts, Facebook groups, forums and enthusiast sites available in his pocket at every moment — the staggering volume of horological pornography consumed in a given day, each example caressing the prefrontal cortex, stimulating arousal. The mind boggles. Then it yearns. Then it starts making demands.

There’s a better, not to say easier, way. First, find one thing you like more than everything else; something that fits you perfectly. If we’re talking watches, pick something you can wear every day, that works with a suit or jeans. Something that can take a licking and makes you happy every time you look at it. Take your time, don’t rush, do research. Buy it in person even if you have to travel. Spend money on it, even a lot of money if necessary, because the last part is the toughest and it might sting: unfollow all the Instagram accounts, bail on the forums, stop reading the magazines and don’t buy another damn example, for years or possibly ever.

Let your brain settle on the new thing. Contemplate it until the newness wears off, then just wear it. I keep on my wrist a weighty steel chunk of Swiss engineering, understated and unkillable and stamped with a logo that passes for alternate currency in every country on earth. It took me a long time to scratch up enough to buy it and just as long to get used to wearing something worth the cost of a decent motorcycle. Now I almost never think about it, but when I do it makes me happy; in that way, and because it will last forever, it’s an excellent value. As soon as I buy another watch, that value diminishes.

I’m not immune to the yearning. A new Patek Phillippe Aquanaut Chrono or a perfect old Cartier Tortue still occasionally pops into my feed, giving my brain an unwelcome tickle and riling up the imagination. Does that watch better represent who I am as a person? Or maybe a “weekend watch” really is a necessity like the magazines tell me. Certainly, in any case, a gentleman is not expected to wear the same watch in summer heat and winter chill?

But this is a capitulation to marketers insisting wristwatches are somehow more relevant the less necessary they become — despite having become, basically, jewelry: functionally unnecessary but good for an accepted form of adult dress-up. (Now I’m a pilot! Now I’m a diver! Now I’m James Bond!) In endlessly obsessing over the various movements, manufactures, fonts and complications, or deliberating which timepiece goes just so with your blazer, you’re ignoring the only pure function a wristwatch still provides: it’s a memento mori, a reminder that the time, not the watch, is what matters. Because that time can be spent only once, no matter how many watches you collect.

A version of this article originally appeared in Issue Nine of Gear Patrol Magazine with the headline “In Praise of the One-Watch Collection” Subscribe today.

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My Cat’s Tiny Tent Is More Adorable Than It Has Any Right to Be

If you know me, or at least if you know me on the internet, you will know I am a dude who likes to do dude stuff. In the past year or two I have jumped out of a plane, rappelled off a fair number of cliffs, paddled whitewater in Alaska, ridden my bike around Rwanda and drunk my fair share of craft beer. I own a pocket knife and frequently use it for things other than opening Amazon packages. I have had a gun pulled on me twice and there’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t drink whiskey, often the really cheap face puckering whiskey. You know, dude stuff.

The problem with conventional cisgender masculinity is that it’s ridiculous. Look I have done lots of badass shit but you know what I will never do? Sleep without three pillows. I have hauled inflatable pillows up and down literal mountains because this is something I will not compromise on. Also, I recently discovered conditioner and hauled a bottle of it on a 1000-kilometer bikepacking trip because I like how it makes my hair feel.

Last year, I raced my bike 200 miles across the dust and heat of the plains of Kansas, but halfway around I felt sad so I stopped for a while to watch videos of my cat doing silly things. When I’m not drinking rotgut or sleeping in the bed of my truck I like to do plenty of things that are not so ridiculously macho, in fact they are so ridiculously un-macho that you might, if you were so inclined, pull out any of the dozen weird insults for non-gender-conforming men.

Which leads me to my favorite piece of outdoor gear. It’s not my truck-top tent, although I do love that. It’s not my titanium gravel bike or my really nice Norwegian knife or my “beat to death but still working fine” hiking boots. It is, in fact, a tiny tent that my cat can sit in when we pretend she is camping.

I didn’t grow up as a man who loves cats, but I guess I haven’t had a boy’s haircut since I was 16 and I had a massive affinity for extra thick eyeliner for a while in the early 2000s. It wasn’t until I put away the eyeliner and moved in with my now wife that I realized quite how wonderful cats are.

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Working from home gave me plenty of opportunity to bond with her old cat, Nala, who would sit on my lap as I debated how much I could swear in stories that were supposed to be “family friendly.” But it wasn’t really until we went out, got drunk, received a text message with a picture of a small kitten, immediately committed to adopting her, and woke up with hangovers and a new pet that I really fell in love.

She fit in my hand when we got her, and we called her Moose because that was funny and she was kind of chocolate colored. I hand fed her milk when she was a baby, I buy her costumes every Halloween, and right now she is sleeping on my desk. I have a bracelet which is the same as her collar and I wear it so much — every second of every day — I have a tanline from it. Also, she was once published by a prominent national publication when she walked across my keyboard and thanks to the miracles of autocorrect added a sentence that a copy editor thought belonged there.

So yeah, I really like cats. I also love the outdoors, and I am a pretty heavyweight gear nerd. I own several GPS devices and my apartment smells of festering base layers. But among the Dyneema and the 4-way stretch active denim, my favorite piece of gear is one that doesn’t even go outside at all.

This tiny tent is the only review product in years that I have met the FedEx guy on the porch for. It is also the only product that my cat has ever preferred to the box which the thing came in, and that includes several premium cat trees. I am not the only one who likes it; it seems to have been the fastest-ever tent to sell out on REI.com. (Editor’s note: The Matador tent in question is no longer available there, but you can get it at its own site, tinytents.com.)

Now, what exactly do I do with my tiny tent? Not much, really. I unzip the fly sheet and the bug netting (because yes it has proper bug netting like a proper tent as befits a cat of refined tastes), and then I watch my cat go and sit in it and she sits in it, and she looks at me, and my heart melts. That’s it.

I do realize there are other ways you could spend $25, for instance you could purchase two fancy beers and leave a decent tip or a solid half liter of awful whiskey. But this cat tent won’t leave you with a lingering sense of regret that emanates from your liver. It will, in fact, leave you with a warm glow inside that emanates from your heart. And if you think that isn’t a very manly thing to say, I’ll kick your teeth in.

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The author’s cat, Moose, in the author’s Tiny Tent.

Price: $24.99

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The Best New Furniture of 2021

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2021.

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Revival Laurel Canyon Rug Collection

revival laurel canyon rug collection

Revival

Revival’s latest collection of rugs pays homage to the ’70s. The four rugs are hand-knotted with New Zealand wool, featuring raised, cut-pile motifs. Some of our favorites include the Joan and the Grier.

Price: $429+

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Burrow Field Sofa

burrow field sofa

Burrow

Burrow practically popularized the sofa-in-a-box concept with its first sofa design, the Nomad. Since then, it’s released a whole mess of home furnishings, and now it released its third sofa collection, the Field. With a slimmer profile than the original Nomad, with a look that also has some design elements of its second sofa collection, the Range, the Field sofas give shoppers another excellent couch option. And like the other sofas, Field can grow (or shrink) with you thanks to its modular design and ease of delivery.

Price: $1,095+

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Lego Collection x Target

For the new Lego collaboration with Target, expect more than just a handful of exclusive-to-Target Lego sets. There are over 300 items in the Lego Collection x Target, ranging from kids clothing to home decor. Everything has a similar motif about it like bright Lego-like colors or a recurring block image. Either way, it seems this collection came at just the right time for the gifting season.

Price: $2+

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Cat Person x Jason Wu

cat person x jason wu

Cat Person

If you’re a cat person then, well, you should be shopping at Cat Person, a brand of design-forward cat gear for your feline friend(s). Its latest collection is designed in partnership with fashion designer Jason Wu, who worked on a hideaway scoop and holder, a little box, a blacked-out bowl, cat toy and collaboration hoodie. Yes, your cat only wears designer.

Price: $7+

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Herman Miller Comma Chair

herman miller comma chair

Herman Miller

Herman Miller’s latest chair pays homage to every writer’s favorite punctuation (kidding). The Comma Chair, designed by Michael Anastassiades, is a fairly bare bones chair with a circular seat, rounded back and straight legs. It’s available in six wood finishes and either leather or wood seating. Now we’re looking forward to an Em Dash sofa, the Semicolon chair or Ampersand bean bag.

Price: $995

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The Citizenry Hinoki Collection

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The Citizenry

In expanding its Hinoki Collection, home goods store The Citizenry has added four new products made in the fragrant and soft wood: a bench, a nightstand, a nightstand with a drawer and a counter stool. The pieces are crafted from hinoki sourced in Okawa, Japan, by the The Okawa Hinoki Workshop, a fair-trade workshop that’s been mastering the art of making furniture for over four generations. The pieces perfectly complement the existing pieces of a side table, floor mirror, sauna set and — the much-lovedbath mat.

Price: $750

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Fritz Hansen Oxford Chair

oxford chair

Fritz Hansen

In 1965, architect and furniture designer Arne Jacobsen designed the Oxford chair for professors at St. Catherine’s College at the University of Oxford. The task chair was designed to look good but also to be a comfortable place to sit for long hours, which is basically what everyone is looking for in an office chair these days. This could explain why Fritz Hansen is relaunching the Oxford chair with a few modern upgrades. The new Oxford chair comes in either a low or tall option for its backrest, as well as an upgraded tilt mechanics and adjustable seat height, angled armrests so the chair can fit under desks and a number of upholstery options to suit everyone’s taste.

Price: $2,255+

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Bed Bath & Beyond Studio 3B

bed bath and beyond x apartment 3b

Bed Bath & Beyond

Bed Bath & Beyond has been going hard with the in-house brands lately. Its latest, Studio 3B, combines modern design and contemporary aesthetics for every room in the home. The collection includes practically everything you could think of from furniture — like bar carts and a desk — to bedding. And to top it all off, it’s incredibly affordable.

Price: $4+

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Steelcase Karman

steelcase karman™ office chair

Steelcase

Steelcase makes a number of amazing office chairs, one of which, the Series 1, is our pick for the best overall office chair. The brand has done it again with the release of its new Karman chair, which is equipped with a new type of mesh textile, called Intermix, that alleviates pressure on the sitter. Karman is meant to make you feel weightless thanks to a lightweight flexible frame. Whereas most mesh chairs use a rigid frame, the Karman’s adapts to your movements providing support without being hard. And if you’re sick of the typical black office chair, Karman comes in 13 colors and finishes. The chair will be available in early 2022, and we’ll keep our eyes out for when you can finally buy it.

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CB2 x Kravitz Design

cb2 x kravitz design

CB2

Lenny Kravitz is a global rockstar so it makes sense that his collection with CB2 draws inspiration from all over the world. (Though one could wonder why the rocker has a furniture collection to begin with.) As CB2 describes it, the collection, “[draws] inspiration from the ateliers of Europe, the markets of Africa and beyond.” The collection runs the gamut from throw pillows to beds, each with its own distinct personality. If I had an endless supply of money and square footage, you could find the Imbu sectional, Traverse rug and Kibo media credenza in my home.

Price: $8+

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West Elm Kids x The Old Truck

west elm kids x the old truck

West Elm

If you don’t have kids (or you’re just not a children’s books fanatic), “The Old Truck” is a popular block-print illustration book for kids. And now, thanks to West Elm, your kids can immerse themselves in the world of “The Old Truck” with its collection at the furniture retailer. Shop quilts, wallpaper and a lamp to have your kids feeling like they just jumped into a book.

Price: $15+

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Assistant Editor, Home and Design Will Price is Gear Patrol’s home and drinks editor.

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The 15 Best Accessories Released in 2021

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear, rounding up the most notable releases of 2021.


Accessories are the extras — hats, sunglasses, jewelry, fragrances, bandanas, belts, you name it. They’re supposed to be fun, and they serve as a way to express yourself even in corporate settings. Can’t wear your favorite band tee into the office (if you’re still going there)? Try a ring or some colorful sunglasses for the car ride in. The options are endless, but these were the some of our favorite accessories released this year.

Craighill Radial Cuff

craighill radial cuff

Craighill

This simple brass cuff has a slightly beveled edge and comes in five different fits, designed to mirror the particular oval of the wrist. The understated design will compliment a range of styles, and it’s ideal for jewelry aficionados and newcomers alike.

Price: $58

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Mister Green x Akila Rose Tinted Lenses for Red Eyes Philosophy Glasses

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LA-based cannabis-adjacent shop Mister Green Life Store loves tongue-in-cheek releases. From the outpost’s General Psychedelics line to their “Rose Tinted Lenses for Red Eyes” eyewear collaboration with Akila, they’re always slipping in reminders that they’re 420-friendly. The second installment of the aforementioned accessories release, dubbed Philosophy, is no exception. It takes cues from styles worn by jazz players and “cultural revolutionaries,” all while establishing a unique look of its own.

Price: $115

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Western Hydrodynamic Research Promotional Hat

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Western Hydrodynamic Research’s hats have been sold out for a while, but they just got a restock. The hat features an adjustable shock cord bungee closure secured by brass grommets.

Price: $42

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Sabah Sun Santa Fe

sabah sun santa fe sunglasses

Sabah

Sabah, the brand best known for comfortable Turkish slippers, stepped into eyewear this year. These rounded, burnt amber shades are handmade in Italy using acetate and Carl Zeiss lenses. Every pair comes with its own unique leather case, by the way.

Price: $265

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Company x Joshu+Vela Mask

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Chaz Bear (aka Toro y Moi) makes a bunch of products through his studio, Company. The newest collab is a set of hats and masks with Bay Area brand Joshu+Vela. The printed fabric is made from South Carolina-grown cotton in L.A., and the mask is cut and sewn in San Francisco. Also, of course, it’s adjustable.

Price: $30

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Warby Parker x The Paris Review Roland

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I’ve seen plenty of collaborations between publications and brands: the New York Times’ concept store with Knickerbocker; our own collab with Taylor Stitch; Monocle’s clothing line with A Kind of Guise. They’re all impressively cool, and Warby Parker x The Paris Review is no exception. A tad pretentious? Maybe. But I wear glasses and I read The Paris Review. This is right up my alley, I guess.

Price: $95

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Gramicci x Brain Dead Bucket Hat

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Gramicci and Brain Dead’s collaborative bucket hat features a mix of colors, and the duo’s redesigned text logo on the brim. It’s made from 100-percent cotton and is available in one size.

Price: $60

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Bandits Bandanas “Concrete Jungle”

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Bandits Bandanas are made from organic cotton at a Fair Trade-certified facility in India. The brand’s designs feature work from various artists — like this one from Brooklyn-based tattoo artist Rosa Bluestone Perr. On top of being one of the cooler bandanas you can get, 10 percent of the proceeds go to support a charity of the artist’s choosing (in this case Food Bank 4 NYC).

Price: $30

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Stoffa Foca 179

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These sold out fast. In fact, all six styles New York made-to-measure clothier Stoffa released this week vanished within hours. They were part of an ongoing series — called Edition — of special releases launched by the brand. Edition 004 was a “series of vintage deadstock F.O.C.A. sunglasses. Crafted in Cadore, Italy in the 1960s. Curated and prepared in collaboration with Lucio Stramare and his talented team of restorers.”

Price: $275

SOLD OUT

19-69 x Camp High Higher Peace

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A mix of the familiar and foreign, 19-69’s collab scent with peace-peddling streetwear brand Camp High features notes of nature and davana, vetiver and plastic. It’s pleasant, I promise.

Price: $189

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Tutu La Peña Belt

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Fields Outfitting launched The Market this year, a place to showcase other Argentine makers. This La Peña Belt from Tutu is made from best-in-class vegetable-tanned leather and finished with hand-done beeswax thread embroidery.

Price: $99

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Knickerbocker x Good Art Hlywd The 10-Gallon Hat

knickerbocker x good art hlywd the 10 gallon hat

Knickerbocker

Sure, sure, sure. I hear you. What’s an incense holder have to do with style? Well, this one was made by jeweler Good Art Hlywd in a limited number — just 25, to be exact. They’re available via Knickerbocker, whether to hold an incense stick or to cradle your cigarette (or joint).

Price: $1,625

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Parks Project Tie Dye Balaclava

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Every purchase of this Parks Project Balaclava — in a kind of mossy, marine tie dye — supports Open OutDoors for Kids, a non-profit that provides National Park access and education for children across the US.

Price: $58

SOLD OUT

Drake’s Ecru Striped Sport Socks

drake's ecru striped sport socks

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Oftentimes the most noticeable upgrade to your everyday wardrobe comes via a softer, more stylish sock. Drake’s does a Striped Sport iteration made from ribbed knit 100-percent cotton. (Get three pairs for $60, by the way.)

Price: $25

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Jacques Marie Mage x Jeff Goldblum Jeff Shadow 2

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Jeff Goldblum and Jacques Marie Mage’s collaborative sunglasses sold out fast. (There were just 500 pairs.) Black from the front but made from clear acetate and precious gold metal wiring on the sides, they’re a striking set of frames that prove thinner — they say tailored — than most. They’re an ode to Goldblum’s style, but also quite the flex from JMM.

Price: $650

SOLD OUT

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The Coolest Speakers and Soundbars That Were Released in 2021

This story is part of our end-of-year series This Year in Gear rounding up the most notable releases of 2021. For more stories like this, click here.

This was a banner year for audio products, specifically speakers, soundbars and home theater systems. There are more speakers that support high-resolution audio (and there needs to be, given that lossless audio boomed this year). Dolby Atmos soundbars and surround sound systems got more innovation and more affordable. And just all the biggest audio manufacturers — Sony, Bang & Olufsen, Bowers & Wilkins, Sony, JBL and more —all seemed to announce numerous cool new gadgets.

JBL L52 Classic

tech roundup

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The JBL L52 Classic are the company’s newest vintage-inspired bookshelf speakers. They’re effectively a smaller and cheaper version of the company’s $2,500 L82 Classic, which were released last year. They have the same walnut wood veneer enclosure and striking foam grille (available in black, blue or orange), only the L52 Classic will be small enough to actually fit on your bookshelf. They’ll go on sale sometime this fall.

Price: $1,000

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Q Acoustics Concept Series

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Q Acoustics

The British audio company Q Acoustics is best known for its high performing yet affordable bookshelf speakers, and it has brought that same mantra over to its home theater range. The new set of Concept speakers — Concept 30 (standmount, $1,299/pair), Concept 50 (floorstander, $2,999/pair) and Concept 90 (center channel, $999/ea) — bring over technologies from its high-end Concept 300 and 500 speakers, and put them in a more affordable package.

The new Concept home theater speakers will be available at the end of October.

Price: $999 — $2,999

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Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series D4

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Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins has updated its flagship 800 Series Diamond range of loudspeakers. The fourth generation series — aka “D4” — have a new cabinet design, a new suspension system, and a redesigned housing for the tweeter, all of which are meant to further eliminate distortions and deliver a lifelike and unrivaled sound. Like with the previous D3 line, the D4 line consists of seven speakers (two standmounted, three floorstanding and two center channels) that range from $5,500 to $35,000. These are serious audiophile speakers.

Price: $5,500 — $35,000

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Klipsch Forte IV Loudspeakers

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The Forte IV are the newest addition to Klipsch’s famed Heritage Series. They’re an improved version of the original Forte loudspeakers, which were first debuted in 1985 and one of the company’s best selling speakers of all time. The Forte IV have a vastly improved sound thanks to a host of acoustic enhancements, but they still have the classic wood exterior that make them look timeless. You can buy them in four finishes: American Walnut, Natural Cherry, Black Ash and Distressed Oak.

Price: $4,500

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Sonus faber The Lumina II and The Lumina V

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The Italian luxury hi-fi company Sonus faber has added two speakers to its affordable line of Lumina speakers. There’s the Lumina II, a new pair of bookshelf speakers that cost $1,200, and the Lumina V (pictured), a new pair of floor-standing speakers that cost $2,800. Both are high-performing and beautifully-designed speakers that can be used as a stereo pair or integrated in a larger multi-channel home theater system with the company’s other Lumina speakers.

Price: $1,200 — $2,800

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Q Acoustics M20

q acoustics

Q Acoustics

The M20 is a wireless music system consisting of two bookshelf-sized powered speakers. It isn’t as big or as expensive as the company’s recent Q Active 200 speakers, but it does carry over some similar features, such as Point to Point (P2P) cabinet bracing technology and support for high-resolution audio (up to 24bit/192kHz). Maybe most importantly, it houses both wireless (via Bluetooth 5.0)and analog connections (via optical and minijack) so you can easily stream music or connect it directly to your TV or turntable. There’s no built-in Wi-Fi or HDMI connection.

Price: $599

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Kanto YU Passive Bookshelf Speakers

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Kanto launched two new sets of passive bookshelf speakers, both of which cost less than $200. There’s the YU Passive 5.25″ ($199/pair), which features a 5.25-inch Kevlar woofer and 1-inch silk dome tweeter, and the YU Passive 4″ ($159/pair), a 4-inch woofer and 1-inch silk-dome tweeter. The two sets of speakers look basically identical, other than the YU Passive 5.25″ being slightly larger, and being passive bookshelf speakers, they’re also very flexible. You can use them as desktop speakers if you a DAC/amplifier, or you can use them as TV or stereo speakers with a receiver. Available now.

Price: $159/pair (4″); $199/pair (5.25″)

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Pioneer DJ VM Series of Active Monitors

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Pioneer DJ announced a new line of active near-field speaker monitors that are designed to emulate the sound of a studio or club, but in your own space. There are three different-sized models: VM-50 ($169), VM-70 ($229) and VM-80 ($289). Each speaker will be decked out with a 4 mm-thick aluminum front baffle, Class D amplifier, Aramid fiber cones and Vortex Bass Accelerator, all of which, according to the company, are designed to “accurately reproduces sounds, including deep low-end frequencies while cutting out unwanted vibrations.”

Price: $169+

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JBL 4309 Bookshelf Speakers

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The JBL 4309 studio monitors are essentially smaller and more affordable versions of the company’s high-end 4349 studio monitors, which run for $7,500. Each 4309 loudspeaker is decked out with the company’s 1-inch tweeter, 6.5-inch mid-bass driver and twin-firing reflex ports, so that it sounds as dynamic as its larger sibling. And each speaker looks stunning, with a blue baffle, wooden veneer (either walnut or black walnut) and cloth grille — they’ve already been given a 2021 Red Dot Design Award.

Price: $2,000/pair

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Polk Audio R200 Bookshelf Speaker

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Polk Audio announced the Reserve Series, its new line of high-performing loudspeakers that take many technologies from its flagship Legend Series (such as Pinnacle Ring Radiator tweeters and Turbine Cone Midrange drivers) and put them in a more affordable package. The Reserve Series is comprised of various different-sized floor-standing speakers, centre channel speakers and bookshelf speakers, as well as a height module to complete the Dolby Atmos home theater system. All speakers are available now.

(Pictured: The R200 is the larger of the two new pairs of bookshelf speakers in the Reserve Series. The R100 bookshelf speakers are smaller and $100 cheaper. )

Price: $699

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Fluance A-Series Bookshelf Speakers

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Fluance is a Canadian-based audio company that’s best known for its line of affordable yet high-end turntables. This week, it announced two new pairs of powered bookshelf speakers that can partner those turntables. There’s the Ai41 and Ai61, the latter being the slightly larger, more powerful and better-sounding of the two — but besides that, they’re basically identical. Both speakers can be connected to any turntable with a built-in preamp. They have built-in Bluetooth so you can stream directly from your smartphone or computer. And you can even use them as TV speakers via an optical or RCA connection. The best part? Both pairs cost less than $300.

Price: $249/pair (Ai41); $299/pair (Ai61)

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Beosound Emerge

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Bang & Olufsen’s newest high-end wireless speaker, the Beosound Emerge, is designed to blend in with the other books on your bookshelf (although it kind of looks a little like a shrunk down version of the Flatiron building). It’s a relatively small powered speaker supports a number of wireless connectivities, including AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, Chromecast and Bluetooth. It can be set up to work as a smart speaker that responds to “Hey Google” voice commands, too. It will be available this fall in either black or gold (the latter will cost an extra $200).

Price: $699+

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Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 28

bang and olufsen

Bang & Olufsen

Bang & Olufsen’s BeoLab 28 is a pair of luxury floorstanding speakers that promise excellent sound and copious connectivity options. Each speaker has three 3” full range drivers, a 1” tweeter on the front, and a down-firing subwoofer, and they’re packed with technologies that allow you to calibrate the sound to your specific room. The speakers support AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect and Bluetooth, as well as wired connections such as Ethernet and line-in/optical. The other cool thing is that the speakers come with a replaceable connectivity module, which the company claims make them essentially future-proof.

Price: $14,750/pair

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Symfonisk Picture Frame WiFi Speaker

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Sonos and Ikea added a new speaker to their existing Symfonisk line. The all-new Symfonisk Picture Frame WiFi Speaker is designed to hang on your wall and looks like a piece of art. (The speaker also has rubber feet so you lean it up against a wall, in case you don’t want to hang it.) As for sound, speaker will work similarly like a Sonos One SL; there’s no built-in mic or voice assistant. It can be stereo paired with another Symfonisk Picture Frame Speaker, or grouped with any other Sonos or Symfonisk multi-room system.

Price: $199

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Syng Cell Alpha

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Syng

The Cell Alpha is a high-end spaceship-looking wireless speaker that’s been designed by an ex-Apple engineer who worked on the HomePod (as well as a vast number of other Apple products). According to the company, it’s the world’s first “Triphonic” speaker, meaning it’s able to play spatial dynamic audio that’s way more immersive than traditional stereo. It supposedly sounds great on its own, but the company actually recommends pairing three together in a room for the best possible sound — which is a very expensive proposition. The speaker supports Spotify Connect and AirPlay 2, and it has dual USB-C ports for analog connections.

Price: $1,799

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Devialet Phantom I

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We’ve been big fans of Devialet’s beautiful-yet-alien-looking wireless speakers for years, and we got a new one: the Phantom I. It still looks and works the same as the company’s previous Phantom speakers — its two opposing woofers pulsate against one another, in perfect symmetry, without ever touching — but the French audio company has made the Phantom I more power efficient, so it supposedly sounds way better. They also gave it support for AirPlay 2 and a fancy new physical remote. As for price, well, it’s still expensive. The Phantom I comes in two versions — 103dB or 108db — and they cost $2,200 and $3,200,

Price: $2,200+

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Bang & Olufsen Beosound Explore

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Bang & Olufsen announced a new ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker called the Beosound Explore. The speaker is designed to be super rugged and drop resistant, and it is thanks to its hard anodised aluminium shell. It also comes with a small carabiner so you can attach to your backpack. Other than its unique design, the Beosound Explore’s standout feature is battery life — it promises 27 hours playtime, which is pretty incredible given its size. The speaker is available in three different beautiful finishes, including black, green and gray. Available now.

Price: $199

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Bang & Olufsen Beosound Level

bang olufsen

Bang & Olufsen

The Beosound Level is a unique take of the portable home speaker because, well, Bang & Olufsen expects that it will last you a really long time. Like many many years. It has built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, similar to the Sonos Move, but it also has what B&O is calling a “modular design.” Basically, it’s designed so that it can be taken apart and that its various components can be replaced, like the chipset or the battery, when they become antiquated in the future. It’s also designed to sound and look great for years and years. The Beosound Level will be available in late April.

Price: $1,499

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Sonos Roam

sonos roam

Sonos

The Sonos Roam is the company’s smallest and most portable speaker ever. It’s essentially a much smaller version — about 1/6th the size — of the Move, which Sonos released in late 2019. But while the Move costs an intimidating $399, which is more than most people are willing to spend on a portable speaker, the Roam comes in at a surprisingly affordable $179.

Price: $179

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JBL Flip 6

tech roundup

JBL

The JBL Flip 6 is a new and improved version of the fan-favorite Flip 5 portable speaker. It has a more rugged design (IP67 vs the Flip 5’s IPX7), some updated internals and a redesigned JBL logo on its side. It’s available now in a number of different colors.

Price: $130

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Sony SRS-XB13

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The Sony SRS-XB13 is the company’s smallest portable Bluetooth speaker — it’s effectively half the size of a soda can. It’s the next-generation version of the SRS-XB12, which looked identical, but the SRS-XB13 now charges via USB-C and delivers true 360-degree sound. Other than that, the SRS-XB13 is still a good portable speaker for people looking for a small and affordable option. If you’re looking for more room-filling sound, we recommend spending a little more on Sony’s SRS-XB23, which you can pick up for just below $100.

Price: $59

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Sony SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000

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Sony has officially released its first wireless speakers that support the 360 Reality Audio, which is the company’s immersive sound technology (similar to Dolby Atmos); previously, you had to use a different company’s speaker, like a Echo Studio, to take advantage of this audio format. Both of Sony’s speakers, the SRS-RA3000 and the SRS-RA5000 (pictured), the latter being the better sounding and more expensive version, support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth streaming. And they have a built-in microphone that allows them to self-calibrate for the room so they sound best. If you’re looking for a powerful and premium wireless speaker — that’s not portable — that can play true 360-degree sound, consider these one of your best bets.

Price: $298 (SRS-RA3000); $698 (SRS-RA5000)

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Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin (2021 Model)

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Bowers & Wilkins

Bowers & Wilkins released a new and improved version of its iconic Zeppelin speaker. The last iteration of the speaker, the Zeppelin Wireless, was released in 2015 and this new version keeps mostly the same look and feel, with the difference being that the new version is completely wireless — there are no analog connections — and it supports AirPlay 2 and comes integrated with Alexa (just like an Echo) for voice controls. It supports both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth (AptX) streaming, and it’s able to be integrated in a multi-room system with other new Zeppelin speakers, B&W’s existing line of Formation speakers, as well as other AirPlay 2 speakers.

The new B&W Zeppelin is available today in either light or dark grey.

Price: $799

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Bose SoundLink Flex

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Bose

Bose announced a new affordable, rugged and ultra-portable Bluetooth speaker called the SoundLink Flex. It’s really water-resistant and durable — IP67 rated — and it’ll even float, in the event you drop it in the pool or tub. Bose promises incredible sound compared to other similarly-sized speakers, thanks to a custom transducer and dual-opposing passive radiators, too. It lacks Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning there’s no voice assistant, but you can sync it with other Bose speakers and soundbars that you have in your house (via a companion app) to give you the multi-room effect.

Price: $149

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LG Xboom 360 RP4

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LG

The Xboom 360 RP4 is LG’s newest portable party speaker. It’s not a small speaker, weighing nearly 13, but it’s able true 360-degree audio and output a hefty 120-watts of power. It has an integrated handle and, most conspicuously, a lantern that can be customized (via a companion app) to shine whatever color you want the party vibe to be.

Price: $400

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Bose Smart Soundbar 900

tech roundup

Bose

Bose introduced its latest flagship soundbar, the Smart Soundbar 900, and it’s the company’s first ever soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos (finally!). The new soundbar — which replaces the Bose Smart Soundbar 700 in the company’s lineup — has a HDMI eARC connection, supports multiple streaming methods over Wi-Fi (including AirPlay 2) and Bluetooth, and it can be integrated to support Alexa and Google Assistant so you can summon music with your voice. At $900, this is very much a competitor to the Sonos Arc.

Price: $900

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Sonos Beam (Gen 2)

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Sonos

Sonos announced the second generation of its Sonos Beam soundbar, notable for being a Dolby Atmos capable soundbar that comes in under the $500 mark. At half the price of the flagship Sonos Arc (which is now $900 after a price hike that affected a number of Sonos speakers), the Beam makes for a relatively affordable entry into Dolby Atmos for the relatively budget conscious, or those with small rooms to fill. Without the upward-firing drivers of the Arc, it won’t have quite the same quality (or quantity) of sound, but it’s definitely a worthwhile addition to many a Sonos system for its size and price.

Price: $449

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Sony HT-A5000

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Sony

The Sony HT-A5000 is the company’s newest Dolby Atmos soundbar, and it’s essentially a smaller and $400-cheaper version of the company’s HT-A7000 soundbar, which was recently announced in July. The HT-A5000 is a 5.1.2-channel soundbar (instead of a HT-A7000’s 7.1.2) and supports all the same technologies, including Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and 360 Reality Audio. It has one HDMI 2.1 (eARC) connection (instead of HT-A7000’s two), making it a great option for people with new TVs and next-generation consoles.

Price: $1,000

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JBL L75ms Music System

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The JBL L75ms has similar retro vibes to the company’s L52 Classic, but it’s a much more modern system. It’s actually a five-channel powered speaker system — two tweeters, two woofers and a midrange driver — that’s capable of streaming high-resolution audio (up to 32-bit/192kHz). It’s also extremely versatile. You can connect to your TV (via HDMI ARC) or your turntable (thanks to its built-in phono preamp). It also supports a range of streaming options, including AirPlay 2, Chromecast or Bluetooth.

Price: $1,500

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Sony HT-A9 Speaker System

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Sony

The Sony HT-A9 is an innovative home theater system that does away with the soundbar completely. Instead, it’s comprised of a control box, which you plug into your TV, and four wireless speakers that you place around the room. The four speakers — which act dedicated right, left, rear-right and rear-left channels — talk to each other wirelessly and are able to deliver an immersive surround sound experience that supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Sony’s 360 Reality Audio. The system will support Chromecast, AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect for easy music streaming, as well.

Price: $1,800

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Sony HT-A7000 Soundbar

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Sony

The Sony HT-A7000 is the company’s newest high-end Dolby Atmos soundbar. It’s 7-channel soundbar with two HDMI 2.1 with eARC connections, meaning it’ll work with the latest-and-greatest 4K and 8K televisions as well as the latest generation consoles (like the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X). It can stream high-resolution audio, including Sony’s immersive audio format, 360 Reality Audio; it also supports Apple AirPlay 2, Chromecast, Spotify Connect. The Sony HT-A7000 soundbar costs $1,300 on its own. You add the company’s newest SA-RS3S satellite speakers for an extra $350, or $400 or $700 on own of its two new subwoofers.

Price: $1,300+

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TCL Roku TV Wireless Sound Bar

tech

TCL

TCL has been in the business of affordable 4k TVs for years and it has made various lines of soundbar-and-subwoofer systems to pair with those TVs, too. The company’s newest soundbar, the Roku TV Wireless Soundbar, is its first “wireless” soundbar, meaning unlike its previous soundbars, the Roku TV Wireless Soundbar doesn’t have any HDMI or other audio ports. You plug it, pair it to your Roku TV over Wi-Fi and it just works. It’s designed as a simple solution for people who want to get better sound out of their Roku TV without having to pay too much.

Price: $180

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Klipsch Cinema 1200 and 800 Soundbars

klipsch cinema 1200 sound bar

Klipsch

Klipsch announced its first two Dolby Atmos soundbars. The Cinema 120o ($1,499) is a 5.1.4 surround sound system (which is able to decode Atmos in full 7.1.​4) and the Cinema 800 ($799) is a more traditional soundbar-and-subwoofer combo. Other than the size and power of the soundbar and wireless woofer (and the fact that the Cinema 800 doesn’t with satellite speakers), the two systems are very similar. They both connect to your TV via an eARC-enabled HDMI 2.1 port (which supports the passthrough of up to 8K HDR and Dolby Vision). And they have built-in Bluetooth and support Alexa and Google Assistant.

Price: $799 — $1,499

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Monoprice SB-600

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The SB-600 is a complete 5.1.2 that costs less than $500, making it one of the most affordable surround sound systems you can buy. It has a host of connectivity options, including coaxial, optical, USB and a 3.5mm line-in jack. It also has built-in Bluetooth for streaming music when not watching TV.

Price: $450

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Bluesound Pulse Soundbar+

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The Bluesound Pulse Soundbar+ is a Dolby Atmos soundbar that’s very much a competitor to the Sonos Arc. It costs the same ($899) and has pretty much all the same connections and abilities; Bluesound is known for its ecosystem of wireless multi-room speakers, just like Sonos, so the Pulse Soundbar+ can easily be built out into a true surround sound system. It’s available in either black or white finishes, although the later costs $100 extra.

Price: $899+

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Today’s Best Deals: Save on Bowflex Adjustable Kettlebells, Woolrich Deals & More

Welcome to Deals of Note, where Gear Patrol captures all the best deals of the day. You can also visit GearPatrol.com/Deals for constant updates on the latest deals discovered by our team.

EDITOR’S PICKS

The most rare or exceptional deals picked by Gear Patrol’s product experts.

HOME & FURNITURE DEALS

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Today’s Best Deals: Save on +J Outerwear at Uniqlo, Ray-Ban Deals & More

Welcome to Deals of Note, where Gear Patrol captures all the best deals of the day. You can also visit GearPatrol.com/Deals for constant updates on the latest deals discovered by our team.

EDITOR’S PICKS

The most rare or exceptional deals picked by Gear Patrol’s product experts.

HOME & FURNITURE DEALS

OUTDOOR DEALS

FITNESS DEALS

STYLE DEALS

TECH DEALS

WATCH DEALS

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This Company Will Build the Convertible Land Rover Defender of Your Dreams

Back in 2020 (remember 2020? It feels like a decade ago),Land Rover at long last revived the Defender nameplate as a new, unibody-based-but-still-seriously-off-road-capable SUV. The brand carried over many elements from the previous model, like the short-wheelbase two-door 90 version you can now get with a V8. One option from the classic Defender that didn’t make the current version, however, was the soft-top convertible version.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t get one.

heritage customs defender

Heritage Customs

Dutch Land Rover specialists Heritage Customs has just announced they will be building coachbuilt Valiance Convertible builds based on the new Defender 90. They will produce a limited run of just five vehicles for the first generation in 2022.

Buyers will be able to choose from three build options: Convertible Côte d’Azur (Blue), Convertible Solihull Sand (Green) and Convertible Kokkini Paralia (Matte Red). Each build includes a semi-electric soft top, bespoke wheels and bespoke interior and Magic Metal exterior elements.

Heritage Customs says the Valiance Convertible will cost $160,000 before taxes and shipping — a lot, sure, but par for the course when it comes to custom Defenders. The price presumably includes the cost of the stock Land Rover Defender 90 itself. No word yet on build times.

If you like what Heritage Customs is doing aesthetically but want it in a more practical Defender 110 model and without the chopped top, the brand offers Valiance conversions starting around $23,000. Heritage Customs also sells its 20-inch and 22-inch wheels for the new Defender a la carte.

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This Extendable Off-Road Camping Trailer Is Rugged, Spacious and Very Cool

Sure, there are a lot of cool off-road camping trailers out there. But typically, the added capability to follow your off-roader into the great beyond forces you to sacrifice living space and amenities. A German company, Hunter Nature, has resolved that problem with their Campravan Raptor XC — a slide-out, extendable camping trailer.

The Raptor XC’s rear compartment extends out 6.9 feet to provide a sleeping compartment when parked. Owners can roll it out manually — Hunter Nature says it’s a 30-second job for one person — or choose an optional electric motor to do it automatically.

raptor xc camping trailer

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raptor xc camping trailer

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That extendable compartment leaves room for an L-shaped sleeping area — which can convert into another sleeping bed to bring the sleeping capacity to four —as well as a wet bath with a toilet and a shower and a kitchenette with a refrigerator, two-burner stove and sink. The trailer also has a panoramic roof and large windows to let in natural light. The trailer also has insulated walls and a Truma 4 CP plus heating system for use in cold weather.

For off-roading capability, the Raptor XC has 31-inch BF Goodrich tires, and you can add an optional air suspension. The trailer shows a fair amount of articulation in the display videos. The trailer weighs 2,778 pounds, allowing it to be towed by a crossover like the Subaru Outback Wilderness.

The Hunter Nature website does not mention pricing or availability for the Campravan Raptor XC, but we feel safe assuming it won’t be available Stateside. Uncrate lists the price for the trailer at $44,000.

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Are Some Brands Too Big to Die?

Look around. While there are more new brands than any one mind could possibly fathom, there are countless established ones simply trying to keep up: Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic, J.Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch, to name a few. These brands, once revered for pioneering certain pieces or entire parts of our wardrobes, have, some might argue, wilted with age, as anything managed by too many hands would over the span of several decades. Different executives set forth different goals and incentives, outlined new crowds and corners of the market to cater to and tapped creatives from other brands to helm theirs. The results, for the most part, seem promising at first but falter shortly thereafter. Why? Well, because nothing good lasts, I guess — at least not at that scale.

brooks brothers

Brooks Brothers

brooks brothers

Brooks Brothers

It’s why Banana Republic tapped savvy executive Ana Andjelic for a Chief Brand Officer role only to lose her less than 10 months after she took the job. (Details on her departure are sparse, to be fair.) It’s also why Abercrombie & Fitch, which turned its stale mall aesthetic into a formidable e-commerce operation, canned SVP of Men’s and Women’s Design, Aaron Levine, in April 2021 after six years successfully turning the ship around. Brooks Brothers was all but dead — truly; it filed for bankruptcy and shuttered 51 stores in 2020 — until it was acquired by the parent company that owns Forever 21; they enlisted Michael Bastian for the job of Creative Director with the hopes that he, a veteran of the prep aesthetic, could right the wrongs that lead to financial ruin. Among the label’s first priorities under his leadership? To “put all the bones back into the brand — not reinvent the wheel, but get all the spokes back in the wheel,” Bastian tells Esquire. But then it’ll be on to sportswear — half-zips, sweatpants, stretch chinos and gym shorts. Ugh.

banana republic

Banana Republic

Will it work? We’ll see. The brand’s better known for its Oxford shirts and sweaters; both are back, by the way, but they probably won’t get the same kind of promotion, save for placement in interviews in Esquire or GQ and in sponsored IG posts by young men living in NYC — so the sudden appearance of soft pants and slouchy T-shirts might turn off customers expecting a return to form. A similar thing happened in 2015 when Abercrombie & Fitch deviated from its sexy, albeit largely adolescent, image in favor of more modern, inclusive clothing and ad campaigns. Sales dipped for several years until they surged in 2020 and 2021 — right after they fired Levine. (They’re still wrong for that.)

Net sales for the brand last quarter rose 10-percent compared to the year prior, signaling not only increased demand but improved conversions. The plan’s working, it seems. But over at Banana Republic, a subset of Gap, sales are down 18-percent compared to where numbers were in 2019. The messaging might not be working, but it has spawned several “Is Banana Republic Back?” stories — this one included. Over at J.Crew, the same storyline’s been foretold — X hot designer ushers brand into a new era — but the new creative lead, Supreme and Noah’s Brendon Babenzien, won’t see his designs hit shelves until late 2022. There’s new energy afoot over at the Crew, but there’s no telling whether it’s working, or if it’ll stick, until he’s officially in charge (and had at least a few seasons under his belt).

j crew

J.Crew

j crew

J.Crew

But let’s say, just for example’s sake, it doesn’t. Each of these brands — again, not picking on them, they’re just examples that support my case — have faced hardships over the years. Hell, Banana Republic was founded in 1978; J.Crew in 1983; Brooks Brothers in 1818; Abercrombie & Fitch in 1892; it couldn’t have always been rainbows and sunshine. So, what would happen if one really did disappear? Could it? Could consumers let it go? Could venture capitalists, too? Or, is there too much value in brand names? In the contributions they’ve made to clothing as we know it? Or is there always profit left to be juiced out of each label’s history and lore?

On a much smaller scale, Best Made represents how even a young brand’s DNA cannot die — at least not until customers no longer care and venture capitalists no longer see a way to make even more money. The brand, founded in 2009 by Peter Buchanan-Smith, catered to city-dwellers with a penchant for DIY and the outdoors. See: enamel-coated axes, bold beanies called “Caps of Courage” and so on and so forth. It suffered severe losses in 2019 and needed resuscitated by 2020’s end. Then Duluth Trading Company bought the name and whatever inventory was left. The employees, the brand’s existing stores and partnerships it had aligned under its previous owner, however, were not a part of the deal. As such, things went quiet for a while, but Duluth has the operation up and running again — axes, clothing, camping gear and brass-coated bravado included.

abercrombie and fitch

Abercrombie & Fitch

Will it perform? It’s totally possible. For Duluth, the experiment didn’t require a whole lot of heavy lifting — just a bit of money up front. Avid fans were surely excited to see it return, while those that steered clear while it was independent — oftentimes because it was too expensive — might bite now that things often go on sale. (The site’s 25-percent off as I type this.) Companies this size can do that, cut the retail price and make up the margin elsewhere, while upstart brands oftentimes aren’t able to make the same sacrifices. It’s why, without sizable investment (and a divvying up of ownership rights in return), small brands don’t break the surface. Inversely, it seems, that’s why big brands stick around. Oh, and brand loyalty, I guess, but don’t their designs look increasingly all the same?

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Reviewing Clarks’ Beloved Desert Boots

Although you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t owned a pair of Clarks Desert Boots at some point in their life, the iconic chukka isn’t Clarks’ best-selling shoe. The Wallabee is. Surprising, right? Surely, since the Desert Boot is undoubtedly the easier silhouette to style, but just because it isn’t the top performer doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t beat out others in its category. (Hint: It does.)

But it also defined a category of its own — at least in Western markets. While the Desert Boot is a type of chukka, it stands alone as the originator of the desert boot category, one which now includes copies and knockoffs aplenty (both with and without the signature soft sole). Clarks, the company (then called C & J Clark), was founded in 1825, and it wasn’t until 1948 that the Desert Boot debuted — in Australia of all places. There, because board members were unimpressed with the original design and didn’t think it was fit for the UK market, Clarks debuted the boot an adaptation of a style Nathan Clark, the great-grandson of C+J Clark (aka Clarks) founder James Clark, found in Cairo a few years prior. Soldiers in Burma, by way of South Africa, trusted the boots, then made from reverse leather for a suede-like look, in all types of weather, because they were comfortable, hard-wearing and, for then’s standards, easy to make.

In just under a year, Clarks exported the then officially suede Desert Boot to Jamaica — where they remain popular to this day — and then the US, via a small booth (and a dedicated salesman) inside the 1949 New York Shoe Fair. Eventually, as you now know, the boots made their way back to the UK and then abroad once more — at last Clarks made them in mass quantities. Why? Well, because people loved that they looked casual yet classy and were comfortable yet surprisingly hard-wearing (considering the soft bottom).

That made them appealing to several camps — the beatniks and artists, preppies and adventurers — but for the same reasons: They’re versatile, comfortable and perfectly ubiquitous, meaning they’re everywhere but interesting each time.

clarks desert boots

Clarks

The Good

Clarks’ Desert Boots are typically made from suede, which means they’re soft — plus, since the sole’s made from crepe (coagulated latex) it’s soft, too. This combination makes the boot comfortable, of course, but light, easy to pack and low profile. It’s why adventurers, who could essentially fold them into any size suitcase, and the beatniks, who wouldn’t dare bother with fancy material things, loved them just the same.

It’s why people do today, too. They pair nicely with plain chinos or are passable with a plain suit. They offer the ease of the sneaker with the sophistication of a more stylish shoe. Plus, with these there’s no fiddling with speed hooks or bothering with a “break in” period, if you believe in those. They’re good to go right out of the gate — in whatever color, or textile (standard, polished leather or vegan biomaterial included), you choose.

An Expert’s Opinion:

“These are the most comfortable shoes on Earth. And they’re dirt cheap if you buy them at the right place. You can kick them off in a second when you’re going through airport security, which is a big benefit in my line of work. But they’re great for anything. I buy about three or four pairs at a time. When one pair dies, I just rotate it out,” Anthony Bourdain told Men’s Journal.

clarks desert boots

Clarks

clarks desert boots

Clarks

The Bad

These are so easy to wear they sometimes feel like a copout. Plus, they’re so abundant that it often seems like you’re one of many millions wearing a pair — which, honestly, you definitely are. But is that really a bad thing? They’re so good that they’re beloved by millions; who cares?

I do; that’s why I’m (and you’re) here. Honestly, Clarks’ Desert Boots can feel a bit basic — and look it, too. Everyone from your dad to your beginner younger brother owns a pair, and that came make feeling en vogue in them pretty difficult. Plus, crepe soles and suede uppers wears down far faster than a stiff leather exterior and a Vibram outsole (or even a double-stacked leather one). But crepe offers comfort and a completely different look; so, it’s your choice.

Another common complaint is that the two eyelets simply aren’t enough. For those used to boots that lace up high over the ankle, with or without speed hooks, these may make it feel like your foot’s sliding around inside. And it may be. Sizing down a half size is my recommendation in order to ensure the proper fit. That way you don’t have to lace them so tight that you’re cutting off circulation.

clarks desert boots

Clarks

The Verdict

Clarks’ Desert Boots do their job, and have for nearly 75 years — far longer if you count its predecessors in Egypt and East Asia. So, trust that they’ll be everything I mentioned and more: comfortable, super easy to match with slacks or standard jeans and, it goes without saying, something you will definitely not regret ordering — just as long as you measure your foot first (or trust my recommendation to size down a half size) to be sure they fit.

Should these be your end all be all boot? No. But they’re a great starting place, especially if you’ve never owned a pair. Everyone has to at least once, but steer clear of re-upping unless you really love them or you’re opting for a new iteration — like Todd Snyder’s shearling rendition or one of the woven versions. It’s true that, since these have been around for the better part of a century, there are plenty of imitations — both better and worse. Seek out an upgrade (like Astorflex’s Greenflex, which cost $40 dollars more).

Shop

Desert Boot Grey Suede

Clarks clarksusa.com

$150.00

Desert Boot Sand Suede

Clarks clarksusa.com

$150.00

Desert Boot Beeswax Leather

Clarks Clarks

$150.00

Desert Boot Dark Tan Leather

Clarks clarksusa.com

$150.00

Desert Boot Brown Vegan

Clarks Clarks

$150.00

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Today’s Best Deals: Savings on Dog Gear at Kurgo, $69 off AirPods Pro & More

Welcome to Deals of Note, where Gear Patrol captures all the best deals of the day. You can also visit GearPatrol.com/Deals for constant updates on the latest deals discovered by our team.

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BMW M May Build Another Wild Special Edition Car, Rumor Says

BMW’s M high-performance division celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2022, and the brand plans to celebrate the large round number with massive M-brand product launches. BMW will launch the production version of the wild, gaudy-looking plug-in hybrid XM crossover and the M3 Touring wagon in other markets. There have been rumors of a seriously wild iM2 electric car as well — and now, rumors suggest BMW may have yet another fun M car in the works for 2022.

A purported BMW insider recently told BMW Blog that BMW will produce a “very special limited edition M4.” The source says this M4 would be “unique” and built in “extremely limited” numbers for a few months beginning in November 2022. The BMW Blog source also says the special edition M4 could be configured like the upcoming M4 CSL with a manual transmission and other features specific to the vehicle.

The M4 CSL is expected to arrive in summer 2022. That should be an exclusive car in its own right; BMW has only used the Compact Sport Leichtbau designation twice in its history. BMW Blog has the 3.0-liter inline-six on the CSL tuned up to 550 horsepower, about 10% more than the M4 Competition. The CSL should have a significant weight reduction package and may push the price tag above $100,000.

So this rumored new M4 model would be even more exclusive than the CSL and BMW Blog says it will also be distinct from the 50th-anniversary editions of the M3/M4 that BMW may produce as well. Here’s hoping one of the distinctive features is a more reasonably proportioned kidney grille.

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