The word “best” gets thrown around a lot these days — so much, in fact, that it can sometimes read empty. At Gear Patrol, we use “best” to describe things our team believes to be superlative within their context. Innovative materials, considered design, cutting-edge tech, an approachable price tag. These are 100 products that have one, if not all, of these features, and represent something truly excellent in their respective categories.
Tech and Gadgets
For the average consumer, tech has never been better. In fact, thanks to a plethora of professional and consumer reviews, the average joe enjoys a commentary firewall against poorly made tech. The one gotcha? There’s more gear than ever, and it’s full of noise. If you’re of the mindset “buy less, buy better”, then getting the right product can sometimes be a paralysis of choice.
Our one take-away recommendation this year is that you shouldn’t commit to any particular product, but instead commit to an ecosystem and build around that. Are you pot committed to Amazon Prime? Buy an Echo and look for Alexa-enabled devices. Die-hard Apple and iTunes user? Buy Apple hardware. The convenience of compatibility will almost outweigh any short-term pricing decision you make right now, and it ensures your devices work better together for longer.
Elsewhere, we’ve spent the year focusing on the products we love at Gear Patrol: premium audio, high performing photography and camera gear, smartphones, and home entertainment. Our picks, from all your friends here at the Gear Patrol Tech Desk, are below.
Naim Uniti Atom All-in-One Receiver
Outside of premium home speakers or high-end components, premium audio hasn’t seen a lot of blockbuster releases; it seems like all the attention goes to portable gadgets and smart speakers these days. But don’t tell that to the folks at Naim. The Uniti Atom is one of the most exciting home audio products we’ve tested in years. Let’s start with how it looks: it’s stunning. Monolithic in black with a beautiful LCD, the Atom’s pièce de résistance is its sauce-sized volume knob on top. Not a single person will walk by the Atom and not want to touch or modulate it.
But the Atom isn’t just for show — the sonic substance runs deep. The all-in-one design takes a page out of the simplification that all users are looking for nowadays. Just add a pair of great speakers, and the Atom takes care of the rest. At 40W per channel pumped from a Class A/B amplifier, the Atom can handle many high-end applications. On the connectivity front, the Atom doesn’t pull any punches. It’ll serve as a hub to your primary entertainment with built-in support for Tidal or Spotify, multi-room audio, an optional HDMI port (that’s isolated from disturbing the rest of the audio circuitry), and every other modern input. If you’re looking for life beyond the soundbar, but not quite ready for a massive component-based system, you really should look nowhere else than the Uniti Atom. It soars.
Samsung Galaxy Note8
With the cloud of the Note7 disaster still lingering in everybody’s minds, we would’ve forgiven Samsung if it opted to abandon the Note line altogether. They didn’t, though, and instead delivered its best and biggest-screen smartphone ever: the Galaxy Note8. It arguably has the best rear-camera system of any smartphone, including the iPhone X. It has the best selfie camera, too. The Note8 is completely unique, with its stylus and its ability to take notes on the phone’s locked screen. It’s also, along with the S8 and S8+, the most objectively beautiful smartphone — not even the iPhone X compete with it.
Read the review, here.
Bose QC35 II
In an increasingly crowded field, Bose continues to make our favorite noise-canceling headphones. The QC35 IIs share the same excellent noise-canceling ability, sound quality and general aesthetic as its predecessor, the QC35s, but add a button on the left ear cup to access Google Assistant. This allows you to do things like calling a friend, change the song and search for directions, all without taking your phone out of your pocket. You don’t have to use Google Assistant, though, and can instead program the button to switch between different levels of noise cancellation. The flexibility to use these headphones the way you want is great, but the real kicker is that the Bose QC35 IIs are lighter, more foldable (therefore travel-friendly) and just generally more comfortable than any other pair we’ve tested this year.
Read the review, here.
LG C7 OLED 4K HDR TV
If you haven’t bought an OLED TV yet, that’s understandable: they’re a fair bit more expensive than the LED TVs that have been around for years. However, OLEDs can produce much more vibrant colors, brighter whites, and darker darks — and are frankly the best TVs you can buy. Also, their prices are finally becoming more reasonable. Of those OLEDs, the LG C7 Series is the creme de la creme. It produces arguably the best picture quality of any of them, with Wirecutter naming the C7 the best TV they’ve ever tested.
Read our review, here.
Sony A7R III
This year, the Sony A7R III raised the bar for what professional full-frame cameras systems could be. Thanks to its incredible sensor and an advanced processor (which it borrowed from the A9), the A7R III combines excellent high-resolution imagery with an absurdly fast and accurate — it’s capable of up to 10 fps continuous shooting speeds with full autofocus and autoexposure tracking, even in silent shutter mode. But that’s not all. The A7R III comes with a host of features not found on its predecessor, the A7R II, which will please landscape, portrait and studio photographers, as well as just about everyone else. It has a larger battery, a second memory-card slot, a rear joystick for easier tuning of settings while shooting, and a flicker-free view through the electronic viewfinder while shooting at high speed. It also has an optional Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode where, according to our contributor Eric Adams, “the camera moves the sensor in one-pixel increments to capture four separate RAW images for each shot, totaling 169 million pixels You can then combine the images into a single frame with “overwhelming” resolution and color fidelity.” Lastly, the A7R III shares the same great 4K video capturing capabilities to the A7R II. It’s really the complete package when it comes to full-frame mirrorless camera systems.
Read our list of best digital cameras of 2017, here.
The Nintendo Switch took the gaming world by storm this year for two reasons. One: It was a convertible, portable home console, unlike anything the gaming world had seen before. And more importantly, because it was propelled by a number of games that are arguably among the best of 2017, such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Whether you’re a youngster or somebody who grew up Nintendo classics, the Nintendo Switch is a delight.
Nikon was nice enough to loan me this camera for a month. I shot 8500 photos over 18 stories. At the beginning, I brought two backup cameras. By the ends I didn’t. This is the core difference between Nikon’s DSLRs and their mirrorless competitors. Consider one other key stat: the “drastically improved” battery of the Sony A7R III will last 650 shots, the 850’s battery will last for 1,850. The key takeaway from my time with the D850 is that at the very top end the DSLR isn’t in danger because, simply put, they are unbelievably good.
Sure the D850 has a stunning 45.7-megapixel sensor and an autofocus system derived from the nearly untouchable D5. And of course it’ll shoot 7 frames per second and 4K video but that’s not the selling point these days. The selling point is that not only will you get class-leading image performance, but it’s also that you’ll get that same performance whether the camera is caked in mud, dusted in snow, or doused in rain. With the D850, Nikon has established themselves as the single best choice for a camera that can do anything, everywhere.
Read our list of best digital cameras of 2017, here.
Apple Watch Series 3
Apple remedied the initial cellular issues that some experienced with Series 3 (via a software update). That was a hiccup, for sure, but now the Series 3 is frankly the best Apple Watch ever, whether you get an LTE or GPS-only model. The Series 3 is much faster, more energy efficient and more water resistant (up to 50 meters) than any other Apple Watch. It also boasts a couple of other nice features. It’s able to continuously track heart rate, and detect your resting and recovery rates as well. Siri is able to speak out loud, too. And if you have an LTE model, you can stream music and answer calls without your phone. All those are firsts for an Apple Watch. It’s the best smartwatch and fitness tracker you can buy.
Read the review, here.
Ultimate Ears Blast and MegaBlast
The Blast and MegaBlast are Ultimate Ear’s first ever smart speakers. When connected to wi-fi you can ask Alexa to play music or answer trivia questions, the same way as you would with an Amazon Echo or the new Sonos One. But really, these really excel as rugged and portable Bluetooth speaker. The MegaBlast is the loudest speaker UE has ever made, coming in at 40-percent louder than the Megaboom. And both are waterproof. For anybody looking for a loud, great sounding Bluetooth speaker, these are what I’d tell them to put their money toward.
Read about the best hi-fi Bluetooth speakers, here.
Voice control is something many Sonos owners have wanted for years — and it’s finally here with the Sonos One. You can use Alexa to control Amazon Music Unlimited and Spotify, if you’re a subscriber of either, and it delivers the same excellent audio quality of a Play:1 speaker. Admittedly, this speaker isn’t doing anything revolutionary (voice control speakers were a dime a dozen this year), but that fact you can easily control the audio on the most popular multiroom speakers — that’s kind of a big deal. Plus, it doesn’t cost anything outrageous.
Read the review, here.
Bowers & Wilkins P7 Wireless
We’re in an era of wireless headphones. Thanks to technology like aptX, there’s increasingly little reason to deal with the hassle of wired headphones, even on the higher end. Sure, you’ll want a proper headphone amp and cans if you’re sitting down for a critical listening session, but for the 85-percent of us who just want great sound, reliability and supreme convenience, wireless headphones with near lossless streaming are a godsend — particularly for the office-bound music jockey.
Bowers & Wilkins stormed the premium audio space with their P series (the P5 wireless headphones are the most commonly owned pair in our office), but the P7’s sonic performance truly impresses. When the good folks at B&W followed up the P7 with a wireless model, we became smitten. There are a few quibbles with the P7 Wireless headphones (they go to sleep far too quickly), but for a long afternoon of sonic performance, you won’t find a better pair out there. As for the sound: the best way we can sum it up is this: perfectly balanced. The 17-hour battery life, long-term comfort, and outstanding initial build quality are just icing on the cake.
Read our review on B&W’s new wireless noise-canceling headphones, here.
The iPhone X isn’t the revolutionary phone we wanted, but it’s the one we deserved (thanks, Commish). Why? Well, let’s first ask ourselves: was anyone really comfortable getting rid of the home button or switching to new gestures we had spent a decade ingraining into an entire generations’ worth of hands? Nope. But Apple did it with the iPhone X by committing to a technology that, while not perfect, shows that there’s a better way. That tech is Face ID, and it’s the most important part of the iPhone X outside of the camera. Even the stunning OLED screen that calibrates itself to all environments and speed all play second fiddle to Face ID. For convenience, it’s a half generation behind the ease of Touch ID, and we found that to be the case with a lot of testing here at Gear Patrol, but sometimes, you have to take a step back to leap forward, and that’s exactly what Apple has done.
But this isn’t a story just about Face ID and the iPhone X. It’s also about camera technology of which the iPhone X is simply leading the class: and no, I’m not talking just about the photography optics (which are also class-leading), but the power that Apple is harnessing by coupling insane ARM silicon processing with functions like TrueDepth technology. The two are setting the stage for Augmented Reality, which will dominate our lives in the next several years. It’s without a doubt one of the most important reasons the iPhone X is at least a generation ahead of the competition and our choice for smartphone of the year.
Read the review, here.
Dell UltraSharp 38 Curved Monitor
There are two ways you can go when choosing a monitor. On one end, we loved the 27-inch LG Ultrafine 5K for its sheer resolution performance (14.7 million pixels, which is 77-percent more than a typical 4K display) combined with a wide color gamut that produces stunningly accurate colors, but after a few months of testing the LG, we couldn’t help but think that the monitor is undercooked; it showcases the pieces Apple will use when they release their own monitors in the future.
On the other hand, the Dell UltraSharp 38-inch Curved IPS LED Monitor came at us from left field. A curved widescreen display feels like a gimmick, a vestige of curved TVs, but after a solid month using our tester, we’ve changed our tune. The Dell serves only one purpose, to make you a productivity badass. If you work in an open office like ours (or anywhere there are distractions), you will literally feel the sheer task-mastering horsepower of the Dell within a few days use. One of the lesser-touted aspects of a monitor this wide is its ability to block your peripheral vision, which can be incredibly useful for those seeking focus. There’s a bit of spin-up time realizing you actually have that much space to use. And unlike a dual-monitor setup, your ever-critical center stage workspace isn’t bisected by two monitors’ bezels. Emails on the left, your primary app in the middle, Slack and iMessage on the right, and you, my friends, are in business.
This isn’t a gaming monitor, and it’s certainly not for color-critical uses. The matte screen and subdued-yet-accurate color display will reduce fatigue, and while it’s still a 72-dpi display, you quickly forget the loss in resolution as you begin crushing to-do. If your primary work app suite consists of spreadsheets, browsers, and writing then you should strongly consider giving an ultra-widescreen monitor a try and the Dell is the one we’d put our money toward.
Apple iMac Pro
If you’re an Apple nerd and lamented the seemingly lack of progress in computer hardware the past couple of years (Mac Mini anyone?) then the iMac Pro is a Space Gray Phoenix. Unapologetically “Pro,” the iMac Pro makes a bold statement about professional users: give it to me simple. The iMac Pro delivers an “order it and forget it” experience. Pick your cores, your ram and your storage, and get to work — we’ll see you in a few years.
The iMac Pro can top out at over $13,000 — and that’s fine. With the iMac Pro, Apple is setting itself a new standard for professional users on desktop machines (one we’d love to see make its way to laptops). For what it’s worth, the iMac Pro is a buzzer shot inclusion in our gear of the year from your friends here on the Tech Desk. It’s also the one product in this entire lineup we haven’t tested. But the iMac Pro warrants inclusion because of its reasoning. It’s a bellwether for professional Apple users that says: “you have not been abandoned” and if that’s not one of the most reassuring statements for high-end users then we’re not sure what is.
Roku Streaming Stick Plus
The biggest names in streaming devices — Amazon, Roku, Google and Apple — all mad a big push towards 4K this year. Most of their 4K streaming sticks are very similar, admittedly, so spotting the differences mainly comes down to a few things: price, HDR compatibility, apps supported, and the interface you’re comfortable with. For us, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus edges out the rest. It supports pretty much every streaming service you want (YouTube, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Now), and doesn’t prioritize content, as Amazon’s Fire TV 4K often does with Amazon content. It supports HDR10 (not Dolby Vision, unfortunately) and has a really smooth and easy-to-use OS. Oh yea, it also costs less than $70.
Amazon Echo (2nd-Gen)
If there’s one thing we’re almost certain of, it’s that smart speakers, and the battle for your home assistant, will be one of the fiercest battle in tech next year. Amazon is willing to bet on savvier consumers over sound quality right now, and that sounds (quite literally) about right. During our test of the 2nd-Gen Echo, we weren’t incredibly impressed by the incremental audio improvements in the Echo over the previous generation, but we were impressed by the massive price drop (50 percent). Moves like that virtually guarantee Amazon a space in everyone’s home, and as long as Amazon continues to make the Echo more useful and not just an impromptu music player (or Jeopardy session), the Echo has a long, very long, future in people’s homes. We wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon is toying with the idea of giving Prime members an Echo Dot free at some point, but until then, if you’re ready for your first smart speaker, the $100 2nd-gen Echo is worth every penny.
Read the review, here.
Grado Pro Series PS2000e
Let’s get right to it. The Grado Professional Series PS2000e’s are the best Grado headphones, we’ve ever listened to and one of the best headphones we’ve listened to period. But for 90% of you reading this, these headphones aren’t designed for you and that’s totally fine, irrespective of the $2,700 price tag. Still, I still encourage you to come along for this audition because the PS2000e’s are worth every penny.
We have a penchant for professional grade gear at Gear Patrol. Call it a magnetism for source material, which makes the PS2000e’s so alluring. They’re unapologetically professional. A bit like a pro photographer working in a studio with “RAW” files, the PS2000e’s get as far out of the way as possible, and that’s the whole point. Accurate audio reproduction sounds simple in theory, but it’s an almost infinitely complex process to develop, which is why the Grado team have taken 2 years to develop the PS2000e’s as a sequel to the PS1000e headphones. Good things just take time.
There’s little Grado has done to imbue these headphones with a “sound signature” you’d see in most consumer-grade headphones. Just sit down for a full album listen with the remastered version of Eric Clapton “Unplugged” to see what we’re talking about. The sound is so authentic even a casual listener will immediately hear the difference. It’ll make you smile. And speaking of charm, we’re still bowled over with the fact that Grado gets away with its ultra bare-bones packaging (Grado team, please let us know if you’d like us to help with your packaging, we’d gladly donate our team’s time). If you’ve had a conversation with the Grado family as we’ve been lucky to have, it doesn’t take long to realize that they truly believe their mantra of “as much sound as money can buy.” With this year’s release of the PS2000e headphones, Grado has done just that and why these are our audiophile headphones of the year.
Xbox One X
On one hand, the Xbox One X doesn’t seem that impressive. It plays the exact same games as other Xbox One consoles. It streams the same apps. And you can play online against the same people as they play on their “lesser” Xbox One consoles. So why get it? The fact is the Xbox One X is designed to get the most out of new 4K HDR televisions, in a way that older consoles, including the PS4 Pro (the Xbox One X’s closest competitor), simply cannot. It has a custom GPU engine that runs at 1,172MHz (compared to the PS4 Pro’s 911MHz); it has 6 teraFLOPS of graphical processing power (compared to the PS4 Pro’s 4.2 teraFLOPS); And it plays games natively at true 4K at 60 fps. If you have a 4K TV and spend a substantial amount of time playing video games, this is the console you want.
Read the review, here.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
When an industry is brimming with reputable brands — both old and young — making awesome gear, it’s difficult to define what’s best. And what makes a great outdoor product anyway? Is it features that make time spent in the backcountry more comfortable? Unparalleled technical capabilities? Compelling design? This year, it was all of these and more.
Arc’teryx Bora AR Backpacks
Trekking backpacks have gone through quite an evolution since the days of metal frames. What once were heavy and bulky bags made of cobbled-together components are now fully-integrated systems that work in tandem with the body as it hikes over the constantly-varying terrain. Arc’teryx’s Bora AR backpacks represent another significant step down this path. The benefits of the Bora are twofold. The packs are highly adjustable thanks to a system called (ironically) GridLock, which lets users quickly unclip and modify the shoulder straps where they meet the back panel of the bag. But the backpack also targets comfort in a big way — the hipbelt is constructed on a sliding and rotating system called RotoGlide, and behaves like a gimbal to keep everything level and balanced for a less jarring walking experience.
Patagonia Sleeping Bags
One of the first products Yvon Chouinard ever made for himself was a down sleeping bag. It was an entirely custom job, with overstuffed baffles and a zipper right down the middle. But as his outdoor gear company took off, the sleeping bag never appeared alongside the fleeces and jackets in its catalogs. Until this year, when Patagonia released its first ever sleeping bags. The bags are an immediate throwback to the descriptions of Chouinard’s first early attempts, with big, puffy, vertical baffles and that zipper right down the middle, which also make them unique when compared to those of other coveted outdoor brands. But these sleeping bags aren’t all nostalgia; the outer shell is made with a super lightweight nylon ripstop called Pertex Quantum, and its interior is Patagonia’s own Houdini fabric. And, of course, the entire piece is made as responsibly as possible with 850-fill traceable goose down.
BioLite Solar Home 620
BioLite is perhaps most well-known for its stick-powered smokeless camp stove that doubles as a portable power source, but the Brooklyn-based tech/camping company is making some real innovation waves in what it calls emerging markets. These are places where energy is scarce and, as a result, health problems are real. Smokeless, energy-producing cookstoves are a big piece of this (they’re much larger than the backpacking models), and so are small, easy-to-install solar units. As it turns out, those solar units are also great for cabins, sheds, and Sprinter vans inhabited by many well-to-do wanderers, too. The SolarHome 620 is the first of BioLite’s emerging markets products that it’s offering to the everyday consumer and its preliminary run is already sold out (but you can still order for an early 2018 delivery).
MtnLogic Alpine Workwear
Athlete testing is no uncommon thing in the outdoor industry, and neither are athlete-founded brands. Athletes are, after all, the most rigorous end users of a product — they’re constantly in the field, and they know what gear should be. But a company whose entire R and D team is made up of athletes (in this case, a group of elite climbing guides based on Mt. Rainier)? That’s something entirely new, and that’s MtnLogic. Founded by Peter Whittaker, son of legendary mountaineer Lou Whittaker and an accomplished climber in his right, MtnLogic’s core principle is that what’s best for professional mountain guides is best for everyone. Every piece of MtnLogic apparel is thoroughly tested by the guide team and worn over 100,000 vertical feet on Rainier and the tallest peaks in the world.
Eddie Bauer Evertherm Down Jacket
Because technological advances in insulation typically happen on the molecular, fiber level, they often aren’t seen. That’s almost true for Eddie Bauer’s EverTherm Jacket, which is arguably the brand’s most innovative yet. The down-filled jacket has no baffles — that’s because Eddie Bauer has figured out how to arrange the down feathers in a single sheet, (the new material is called Thindown), which means no extra stitching (frequent fail points in a jacket) and much less bulk with all the same lightweight warmth. It works; the EverTherm is remarkably warmer than it looks, which was one of Eddie Bauer’s goals in designing the new technology.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Shell
Hyperlite Mountain Gear, a Maine-based company that has made many of our lists of best backpacking gear, released its first piece of clothing back in August of this year. It’s dubbed “The Shell,” and like all of Hyperlite’s equipment, it’s made from Dyneema — an ultralight and durable fiber that, in terms of its strength-to-weight ratio, is one of the strongest materials on the planet. It’s 15 times stronger than steel, and its high durability and low weight make it a favorite among the ultralight crowd. Hyperlite’s jacket also has an eVent waterproof breathable membrane with a waterproof rating of 10,000mm and a breathability rating of 32,000 gm2/24hr. That puts The Shell on par with most other eVent membrane jackets. Where it differs is its weight: Depending on size, the jacket weighs between 5.16 and 6.20 ounces.
Zero Tolerance 0055
Pocket knives have been around for centuries, and there isn’t much room for serious innovation surrounding a blade that folds into its handle. But, some companies are pushing the boundaries of knife design, and Zero Tolerance is one of them. While many blade makers look to the heritage and tradition of the past for their knives, Zero Tolerance dove into the future with the 0055. Designed in collaboration with Gus T. Cecchini, the 0055 utilizes sharp angles in both the S35VN stainless steel blade and its titanium handle. The aesthetic effect is decidedly futuristic, without straying toward kitsch. But the 0055 isn’t all looks — its action, built on ball bearings, is as smooth as they come.
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
The Micro Puff the lightest jacket Patagonia has ever made. On the outside, it looks just like any other synthetic insulation jacket, if not with just a little extra sheen. The outer shell is constructed from a super lightweight, water-repellent ripstop nylon called Pertex Quantum. Instead of using horizontal baffles, as it does with many of its down jackets, or the quilted design exemplified in its Nano Puff, Patagonia applied a unique stitching pattern to create a mostly-continuous maze of channels that prevent the insulation from bunching. The real innovation is on the inside: Patagonia developed a new type of insulation called PlumaFill that’s made up of down-mimicking polyester fibers that are secured together in one continuous, fluffy line.
It’s been a while since tents have seen any real, substantial innovation, and Kammok’s four-in-one Sunda is a welcome blurring of the line between tent and hammock. If any brand were to succeed at creating a shelter that could be suspended over the ground, it would be Kammok, whose well-designed, lightweight hammocks stand out in a now-crowded segment of camping industry. The Sunda can be pitched on the ground with or without its fly, or even without the interior as a shelter. But it’s also the first tent that can also be used as a floating shelter (or just a regular solo hammock). Suspension is required to set up other examples of tree tents, and the necessity of more than two anchor points makes it a cumbersome and finicky task (plus, they’re huge, but the Sunda places simplicity and versatility as its core properties; this tent can go anywhere. But even as a conventional tent the Sunda is noteworthy — it’s constructed with premium materials, packs small, integrates two vestibules for gear storage, and its extra-long design makes for an exceptionally spacious interior.
Note: Purchasing products through our links may earn us a portion of the sale, which supports our editorial team’s mission. Learn more here.
Sports and Fitness
It was a year of incremental advancements and innovations in the sports and fitness world. No single product blew us completely out of the water, but there were still many that got us excited. Material technology again took steps forward, as it did last year, and that continues to be a driving force of innovation in the outdoor industry as brands continue to make offerings lighter, more breathable, more waterproof or simply more comfortable.
Salomon S/Lab ME:sh
ME:sh was born out of a request from trail runner Kilian Jornet to Salomon’s Footwear R&D team for a pair of shoes designed specifically to match the anatomy of his feet. That was back in 2008. Now, you don’t have to be an ultramarathon runner or hold the fastest ascents and descents of Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and Denali to get some ME:sh custom runners from S/Lab.
In order to produce the perfect fit, Salomon simplified what a shoe is meant for (anatomical biomechanics, transportation through local environments, aesthetics) and what a shoe is (ME:sh is built from 12 components instead of the average 50). The Twinskin upper is woven using a 3D knit technique; the lower is built according to the consumer’s drop, cushioning, and outsole specifications; and the two are then joined manually. ME:sh will be available in four different models, including the fully custom Unique To Me model, location-specific Unique to Community models and two Kilian Jornet models.
Polartec’s new Delta Fabric works to move sweat away from your body more efficiently than anything else on the market. It’s constructed from a weave of two different fibers, one hydrophilic and one hydrophobic. The fiber closest to the skin is hydrophobic, to move moisture away from the skin and out to the outer layer; the fiber on the outside is hydrophilic, to absorb that sweat and evaporate it out.
The fabric first launched on Outdoor Research’s Guage tee but is now available from other select partners like Rhone. On paper, Delta sounds like it would be mostly marketing jargon and you’re probably thinking that your standard synthetic weave workout tee does just fine. All it takes is one workout in a Delta tee to be converted.
Giro Prolight Techlace
The Prolight Techlace weighs just 150 grams and utilizes TeXtreme, some of the same carbon fiber that’s used in many Formula 1 cars. Along with using one of the lightest carbon fibers available, Giro trimmed weight everywhere that they could. Instead of using replaceable rubber sole pads, they opted for non-replaceable, glued-on pads, which saved upwards of 10 grams. They also stripped away as much material from the upper as they could while still providing the support the brand is known for. The traditional Teijin microfiber has been combined with an ultra-light and breathable techmesh.
Giro estimates, by some clever math (i.e., not in actual results), that if Richie Porte had worn the Prolight Techlace up the Alpe d’Huez instead of his Sidis, he would have saved 15 seconds. 15 seconds. The Tour de France is won and lost by narrower margins than that. But even if you aren’t a pro cyclist, the Prolight Techlace offers impressive features and upsides. In practice, the shoe is incredibly comfortable. The Techlace system evenly distributes pressure along the top of your foot. As far as ideal shoes for summer riding, it doesn’t get much better — it’s unmatched in breathability. The one downside? The shoe will retail at $400. But if you’re serious about your cycling, there simply isn’t a better lightweight shoe.
Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR
The Spartan Sport Wrist HR was Suunto’s first entry into wrist-based heart rate monitoring. The brand shied away from the wrist HR technology in the early iterations because it was notoriously inaccurate. Now, however, the heart rate tech has gotten to the point where Suunto feels comfortable applying it to the Spartan, one of the best all-around fitness-tracking GPS smartwatches out there.
If you’re serious about your fitness and need the most accurate data in the smallest, most approachable package possible, this is your fitness tracker. If you’re looking to see how many steps you can log in a day, there are other products on the market that accomplish that for a significantly smaller sum. But in the realm of performance running watches, our friends in Finland nailed this one.
Specialized Diverge S-Works
Gravel grinding and adventure cycling are at the front of the zeitgeist for the cycling industry. Stretches of dirt road and pea-gravel-laden switchbacks are the dream scenario for many cyclists today. In following that trend, Specialized redesigned its Diverge adventure bike using some of the most innovative tech it has developed to date — most notably, a shock absorber in the headtube and a 35mm seat post dropper.
The headtube shock-absorbing technology is called Future Shock, which is actually a bit humorous considering shock absorbing stems have been around for some time — ever heard of Softride? It first debuted in the Specialized Roubaix but has been refined even more for the Diverge. Instead of using a linear spring like the Roubaix (designed to absorb small road chatter), the Diverge’s mainspring is progressive, or more like a mountain bike shock, and ramps up as you go through the 20mm of travel. Additionally, the Diverge comes with a storage compartment above the bottom bracket with room for a tube, CO2 inflator and cartridge, valve extender, multi-tool, and tire lever. To power through the gravel and help soak up road chatter, the Diverge comes standard with 38mm tires.
Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%
Many running insiders believe that plates, made of carbon fiber or similar materials, are the next technological innovation that will drive the industry forward — ourselves included. The Zoom Vaporfly 4% is one of the first shoes to hit the market containing that technology. In combination with Nike’s new ZoomX foam, it makes Adidas’s Boost foam shoes feel like wet noodles.
The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% hit the market this year and made waves with Nike’s Breaking2 project. Despite coming up just short in that endeavor, the 4% had it’s fair share of successes this year — including Shalane Flanagan’s win at the New York City Marathon, the first time an American woman has won that race since 1977. Winners at Chicago and Boston were also wearing the Vaporfly 4%. The shoe is currently unavailable unless you’re an elite marathoner, but Nike currently has a page up on its site with a red version of the shoe with “Coming Soon.”
The North Face Hyperair Jacket
The North Face Hyperair Jacket was one of a few products that launched this year with Gore-Tex’s “membrane out” technology. Instead of being laminated with a face fabric and lining material like a traditional 3L jacket, the Hyperair is effectively a 1L jacket. This was the biggest technological advancement in rainwear this year. But beyond just being a 1L jacket, the Hyperair also features Gore-Tex’s Active membrane, which breathes better than any other Gore-Tex product on the market. According to The North Face, it’s the brand’s most breathable lightweight running jacket ever.
Wahoo ELEMNT Bolt
It’s best to think of the ELEMNT Bolt as a bit of a trust buster. Ever since GPS cycling computers were a thing, Garmin was really the only company worth buying. Sure there were others but clunky design and less-than-stellar performance cemented the monopoly. The Garmin Edge series was good, but it has grown complicated and bogged down with features, while at the same time failing to embrace a lot of newer tech that could help manage that mess. Thankfully, last year, Wahoo fitness (also makers of stationary trainers) introduced the ELEMNT — a fully featured, beautifully designed cycling computer that fixed just about all of the issues with Garmin computers. Then, this year, Wahoo released the Bolt which is essentially the same tech as the ELEMNT in a smaller, prettier, more affordable package ($100 cheaper than the ELEMNT or Garmin Edge 520). It’s the cycling computer that Teddy Roosevelt would want you to buy. — Henry Phillips
Oakley EVZero Stride Prizm
There were countless pairs of sport-specific sunglasses released this year. If we were to try to list them all here, this story would be 60 pages long. Instead, we picked only the best pair: Oakley’s EVZero Stride Prizm. The Stride by far the best iteration of the EVZero series which also includes the Path, our previous favorite pair. The Strides are significantly more stylish than the Paths and feature Oakley’s Prizm lens technology.
There are a number of different Prizm lenses including Sport, Snow and Everyday. So, let’s say you’re on top of that mountain — the Prizm Snow lens would bring out crucial details in snow texture by precisely enhancing the color contrast normally hidden in winter environments. It’s been a game-changer for athletes (and even bike commuters — hello, shitty asphalt). While we recommend the Stride for road cycling, you could easily use it for just about everything and we wouldn’t judge you for wearing them social settings.
After years of and ogling the smooth carbon fiber and sleek branding and design of German bike brand Canyon, cyclists in the U.S. are finally able to take to the road on the forbidden fruit. Just as motoring enthusiasts covet the performance edition cars and wagons of Europe, cyclists have long awaited the stateside arrival of Canyon bikes — and for good reason. The company operates on a direct-to-consumer model, which allows them to bring high quality parts and frames to market at competitive prices. Previously, the only way to ride a Canyon in the US was to bring one back through customs after a trip abroad, or to borrow one for a ride from one of the Rapha Cycle Clubs. In 2017 though, that finally changed and now anyone interested in a Canyon bike can order directly from Canyon’s website.
The Aeroad is the brand’s flagship aero road bike and is a worthy example of Canyon’s prowess and engineering capabilities. It’s impossibly light and stiff, quick and comfortable all at the same time. A handful of Canyon’s other models have also come stateside including the Strive and Spectral on the mountain side and the Ultimate and Inflite on the road/gravel side.
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It was a big year for watches but a bigger year for enthusiasts. Though the numbers pointed to a tough 2016 and early 2017 for the Swiss watch industry, things appear to be bouncing back, thanks in no small part to watchmakers actually adapting to the changes in the industry and acquiescing to enthusiast’s vocal complaints and desires.
For one, luxury brands, such as IWC, started to embrace e-commerce. Efforts to bring back beloved references and create more accurate vintage reissues were also in full force. But perhaps most exciting was a movement by brands to offer more value for money, in part advancing the science and art of watchmaking at universal price points.
The Marlin caused quite a stir upon its release in the fall. Not only is it Timex’s first hand-winder in decades, it’s one of the few mechanical watches you can get under $200. That’s not all, though — its design is a completely accurate recreation of the ’60s original. And while Timex’s affordable quartz watches have dominated the lower end of the market, a reentry into mechanical watches could ignite more enthusiasm from young buyers for mechanical timekeeping. Given the overwhelming popularity of the Marlin (it has already sold out twice, though there should be more on the way), it would make sense for Timex to pursue more heritage-inspired mechanical timepieces in 2018.
Tissot Everytime Swissmatic
Like Timex, Tissot made a bold entry into the affordable mechanical market this year with the Everytime Swissmatic. Coming in at under $400, it’s one of the cheapest Swiss automatics you can buy. Its movement is derived from the revolutionary Swatch Sistim51, which is made through a fully-autonomous process. While that movement appeared in the Swatch Sistim51 lineup, the Everytime Swissmatic is a more mainstream package given its slim proportions and Bauhaus aesthetic. Ultimately, we found the Everytime Swissmatic lacked some finer details when we reviewed it, but it’s a heartening sign that Swiss watchmakers realize the importance of building captivating entry-level mechanics for would-be enthusiasts.
Seiko Presage Collection
Seiko’s Presage collection technically debuted in the U.S. in 2016, but the brand expanded its lineup with some gorgeous additions this year. Seiko’s fairly utilitarian automatics make up the guts of this year’s new Presage additions but each one goes the extra mile regarding dial design and finishing — a remarkable feat, given that the industry has seemingly forgotten that dial textures can add so much to a watch’s personality. From the shimmering guilloche of the sub-$500 Cocktail Time to its $1,000 enamel dial watches, they show that you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a timepiece that looks like a piece of art.
Tudor Black Bay Heritage Chrono
As ETA seeks to end the sale of its movements to third-party watchmakers, it has left many among the industry looking for solutions. For some, that means simply finding another supplier. For others, it means making their own movements. And while the latter strategy has been Tudor’s go-to in recent years, it resorted to the former for its newest chronograph, the Black Bay Heritage. The source of that movement was also unexpected: Breitling, who supplied its Caliber B01. And while that forms the basis for this new movement, Tudor reworked it with its own winding rotor, finishing, regulating system and a silicon balance spring. It’s not an unprecedented move for two competing watchmakers to team up on a movement, but it is an inspired one in the face of ETA’s massive industry upheaval.
Tag Heuer Autavia
Tag Heuer has plenty of iconic racing chronographs in its archive. The Carrera. The Monaco. The Monza. But the Autavia might just be its most anticipated comeback yet. The original was a fixture in the ’60s and ’70s racing scene, and Tag Heuer managed to wring out as much hype with the revival as it could with a tournament-style vote-athon to determine which reference should make a comeback. Unsurprisingly, the winner was wholly deserving: the reference 2446, famously worn by F1 driver Jochen Rindt. While the watch isn’t exactly an exact recreation (it’s ballooned quite a bit), many enthusiasts have been waiting years for this vaunted watch.
1957 was a big year for Omega — it saw the release of three of its most iconic watches: the Speedmaster, the Seamaster and the Railmaster. For the 60th anniversary of all three, Omega pulled out all the stops. Using a digital scanning technology, the brand was able to recreate the look and feel of the ’57 originals. The result is a trio of watches that truly feels ripped out of the ’50s. Case diameters are reserved and the dials all have faint “tropical” patina and warm, beige markers that take on the look of faded radium lume. Many watchmakers try to recreate their past glories but Omega’s trilogy is perhaps the most faithful recreation we’ve seen all year.
Cartier Drive de Cartier Extra Flat
Cartier is a brand with serious horological pedigree, especially when it comes to its watch case designs (its rectangular Tank models are iconic). That said, it’s always had something of a crusty air amoung young watch buyers. The Drive de Cartier Extra Flat, though, might be the watch that proves Cartier can still reinvent the case. It maintains the brand’s signature Roman numeral-adorned dial design but comes in a thin, squircle case that gives the brand’s traditional look new life.
Compared to last year’s bombshell release of the new Daytona, Rolex’s 2017 Baselworld announcements felt mum. Still, the re-introduction of the Sea-Dweller was a show-stopper. Its looks are based on the early “Single Red” reference, and, as such, it features a single line of red text — it’s the first time a Sea-Dweller has gotten red text since the 1970s. It has a helium escape valve (the original was a pioneer of this feature) and though the watch features a controversial date magnifier on the crystal (Sea-Dwellers have never had this), few can argue against the fact that it’s a return to form for one of the coolest professional watches ever made.
A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite
If you love watches, you almost certainly love A Lange. & Söhne. At the end of the day, the brand doesn’t let complexity get in the way of elegance and the Tourbograph Perpetual Pour Le Mérite is the sort of logical conclusion to that ethos. Depite the fact that it combines a split-seconds chronograph, a perpetual calendar (with a moonphase indicator) and a tourbillon with a fusée and chain mechanism (which feeds constant energy from the barrel to the going train for superior accuracy), it’s all laid out in an achingly-beautiful configuration with gorgeous, exclusive-to-Glashütte finishings.
Zenith Defy Lab
While watchmakers have managed to insight small, incremental advances in mechanical movements, on the whole, the basic principles of mechanical watchmaking have remained the same for hundreds of years, utilizing a traditional balance spring escapement. Zenith’s Defy, though, is genuinely a rethinking of that mechanism. It replaces the entire escapement — which normally comprises some 30 parts — with one large, single silicon disk oscillating at a rapid 108,000 beats per hour. The result is a mechanical watch accurate to within 0.3 seconds per day, which greatly outpaces even certified chronometers.
Home and Design
At first glance, the home seems somewhat immune to innovation. After all, how much can you really improve the light bulb, doorknob or trash can? If 2017 taught us anything, however, it’s that the home doesn’t shy away from fresh perspectives. In fact, it welcomes them.
Molekule Air Purifier
Conventional air purifiers rely on HEPA filters, which were developed as part of the Manhattan Project; they haven’t changed much since. Funded through the EPA and Department of Defense, Molekule launched over the summer to much excitement. Why? The air purifier relies patented Photo Electrochemical Oxidation (PECO) technology to eliminate indoor air pollution on the molecular level. According to the company, it’s capable of eliminating pollutants 1,000 times smaller than standard air purifiers.
Marpac Dohm Elite
Earlier this year, Marpac, the company behind the Dohm — which, by the way, is endorsed by everyone from GQ to the The New York Times — finally released an updated version of its beloved, fashionably unfashionable white noise machine. Dubbed the Dohm Elite, the new model was designed by the legendary architecture and design firm Michael Graves Design. It features a slightly sleeker, textured body and comes in five different colors.
Casper Wave Mattress
Casper Sleep debuted a new high-end mattress called the Wave. While the New York-based brand has expanded its product range over the years — including but not limited to pillows and dog mats – this is its first mattress launch since the original Casper came to market in 2014. The Wave features what Casper Sleep calls the Natural Geometry System — a patent-pending support system that conforms to the shape of the sleeper at 36 different points — as well as a hypersensitive top foam layer for a softer, more “liquid-y feeling,” as described by the company’s Chief Product Officer, Jeff Chapin. Deeper sleep won’t come cheap, however; the Wave starts at $1000 for a twin — almost double that of the entry-level Casper.
IKEA Odger Chair
With the Odger — a $75 chair inspired by springform cake pans and ski bindings — IKEA combines sustainable materials with low-effort construction. Available in brown, whitish beige and blue, it’s made from 30 percent recycled wood and at least 55 percent recycled plastic. The rounded edges and bowl-shaped seat stick to the minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic shoppers have come to expect from the Swedish giant.
August Smart Lock Pro
New to August’s respected lineup of smart locks, the Smart Lock Pro is a wifi- and Bluetooth-enabled, HomeKit-compatible deadbolt that borrows from the original August Smart Lock. Coupled with DoorSense, the Smart Lock Pro offers Active Monitoring, a beta program that alerts users if a door has been left ajar for an extended period of time. Designed by Yves Béhar.
Simplehuman Sensor Can with Voice Control
Hear us out: a $250 automatic trash can makes navigating a busy kitchen quicker and less stressful. Especially if you’re short on time and your hands are full. While it features a motion sensor that opens the can with a simple wave of your hand, it’s carrot is the voice control capability. From the couch, just say, “open can,” to channel your inner Steph Curry.
LIFX Mini Day & Dusk Bulb
LIFX, creator of the first wifi-enabled multicolored LED smart bulb, diversified its product line with three new “mini” lights this year. At $45, the LIFX Mini costs $15 less than LIFX’s flagship smart bulb, yet boasts many of the same features, like variable shades of white and full spectrum color. The LIFX Mini Day & Dusk may serve as its most practical addition, however. It lacks the full spectrum color of the original LIFX, but calibrates brightness and light temperature throughout the day in accordance with sunrise and sunset, as well as pre-set wake and sleep times.
Pilgrim Collection Zoé Diffuser
Pilgrim Collections’s Zoé packs a humidifier, aromatherapy defuser and a meditation device all into one device. But it’s real point of difference to most humidifiers and diffusers you’ll find at big-box department store: it’s actually something to feel good about bringing into your home. It features a handsome design constructed from handmade ceramic and oak wood.
Grovemade Desk Shelf System
Grovemade’s Desk Shelf system — handmade in Portland, Oregon, with walnut, pine, leather, aluminum and merino wool — includes an elevated shelf, desk pad, laptop stand and tray. It’s humble, yet genius, in its mission: to create visual borders. It’s also designed to help users quickly transition from digital (computer and keyboard) to analog (pen and paper) workspaces.
Florence Knoll Relaxed Sofa
An icon of mid-century aesthetic, Knoll’s classic lounge sofa — defined by its spare, angular profile — debuted in 1954, finding its way into tens of thousands of homes and office in subsequent years. This year, Knoll began offering a softer, more-relaxed variation of the famous sofa. It features deeper proportions for prolonged comfort. You could call it one for the bingers.
Areaware Bitmap Textiles by Susan Kare
In September, Susan Kare, a digital design pioneer and creator of the icons and fonts for Apple’s original Macintosh operating system, teamed up with housewares company Areaware for a series of double-woven jacquard coasters, tea towels, napkins and placemats made from organic cotton. While not direct copies of Kare’s icons for Apple, the tableware is similarly two-toned and gridded — the ideal upgrade for design obsessives and Apple nerds.
An oft-repeated axiom states that the world of men’s style moves at a glacial pace. Wardrobes are built on strong foundations that have essentially gone unchanged for half a century. That said, there have been a number of new products in 2017 that added to the menswear idiom. Some collections focused on innovation, utilizing new production methods and materials. Other releases filled a need for more affordable style. And some merely epitomized the culmination of strong craftsmanship and quality materials. No matter your personal style, 2017 had something worth incorporating into your wardrobe.
The Armoury Dress Shoes
Designed by legendary bespoke Japanese shoemaker Yohei Fukuda, this collection is made up of three styles — a wingtip oxford, a semi-brogue cap-toe oxford and a traditional cap-toe oxford — available in two colorways each. They’re made in Northampton, England, and feature Goodyear welt construction, full linings and calf-leather uppers. All of the shoes are imitation brogues and cap toes, a style where the decorative detailing is done with stitching as opposed to using separate pieces of leather. Because this style utilizes a single-piece leather upper, the result is a sleeker design that’s both comfortable and enduring — it will have less-pronounced creases over its life.
Levi’s Wellthread x Outerknown Sustainable Denim
In fall, Outerknown teamed up with Levi’s to create a line of sustainable denim that’s easier on the planet than traditional denim. The jeans feature Levi’s Water-less fabric that saves more than 65 percent of the water used in the dye process (compared to conventional dying) and up to 50 percent less water than traditional finishing. They’re made from 100 percent Supima cotton and the components of the garment — fabric, thread, pocketing, labels — are designed for recyclability and future closed-loop recycling projects.
Proximity Manufacturing Deadstock Flannel Shirts
Greensboro-based Proximity Manufacturing Company makes a strong case for classic Americana with its debut collection. Among the offerings —- button-up shirts, baseball caps and a baseball tee -— the Vintage Limited Series flannel shirts ($280) tell the best story: The shirts, finished with antique button sets, are constructed from deadstock cotton flannel woven by Cone Mills in the ‘70s. They’re based on the silouette of a mid-century full-cut work shirt and sewn on early 20th-century Singer and Union Special sewing machines.
Vans UltraRange Shoe
The UltraRange was born to meet the needs of professional athletes — providing comfort for constant travel around the globe. It features a new UltraCush Lite midsole foam compound for all-day-long comfort with a Reverse Waffle Lug tread for outstanding grip across a variety of terrains. It also features a seamless LuxLiner internal sock wrapping your foot for a more comfortable and faster-reacting shoe. The result is an incredibly light-weight, capable shoe designed to deal with every step of your journey.
Grovemade Minimalist Knife
A modern take on the Japanese higonokami, this friction folder pocketknife features a single-piece handle, machined from a solid piece of metal (either aluminum or brass). Its 2.8-inch blade is hand-sharpened from a piece of 440C stainless steel. The Minimalist Knife ranges in price from $99 for unfinished aluminum to $109 for aluminum with a Cerakote finish and up to $119 for brass.
MR P. Collection
Online menswear retailer Mr Porter launched an in-house line of style essentials dubbed MR P. this fall. The competitively-priced collection features products in a range of categories — denim, knitwear, outerwear, shirting, suiting, sweats — that compliment Mr Porter’s current roster of brands. With a focus on timeless design, quality fabric and thoughtful construction, MR P. stands strong next to menswear’s best. It’s all the pieces you need, with the taste you expect.
Red Wing Heritage Leather Goods
Featuring a range of leather from its own S.B. Foot Tanning Company, this collection includes wallets (six styles available in three types of leather), belts (available in eight types of leather), gloves (lined and unlined), coasters and a dopp kit. The accessories are fairly priced, and range from $29 (for coasters) to $190 (for the trucker wallet).
Earlier this year, Everlane released two men’s jean styles (slim fit and straight fit) in three colorways, each priced at only $68. Cut from 11-ounce Japanese denim sourced from the Kaihara mill, the jeans feature a zip fly, five-pocket construction and minimal branding. The company works with a Silver LEED certified factory in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to manufacture the jeans. The factory recycles 98 percent of the water used in the production process, drastically reducing the amount needed to make each pair, while aerial drying techniques further reduce stress on the environment.
Goodfellow & Co.
Target’s new affordable in-house mens line takes strong aethetic cues from heritage-inspired brands. Standouts from the collection include the line of slim-fitting chinos ($23), available in muted colors such as gray and army green, and the Deconstructed Chino Blazer ($40). Shoppers might also be surprised to find selvedge denim and an insulated bomber jacket ($45) -– all for less than you would spend on sale items at J.Crew.
Cole Haan Zerogrand Stitchlite Wintip Oxford
Cole Haan’s sneaker-like dress shoes one-up Nike — instead of the familiar Cole Haan laser-cut uppers, these new shoes are made of a stretchy knit material for supreme, sock-like comfort and very un-dress-shoe-like agility.
Vollebak 100 Year Hoodie
Vollebak’s 100 Year Hoodie is made from soft and breathable 100 percent Kevlar fleece. It’s highly resistant to rips and abrasion, and also able to withstand extreme temperatures. The designers at Vollebak opted to leave the fabric undyed, showcasing the fiber’s pale yellow hue, which will darken when exposed to sunglight, giving the garment an aged look within days. Different shades, marks and lines will appear over time.
RRL Limited-Edition Polo Western Collection
Inspired by the ’78 Polo Western collection, this release features a range of garments including jeans, western shirts, fringed coats and vests. The standout piece, though, is the head-turning ranch coat. Made from double-faced wool-blend jacquard, it features a lamb shearing collar, corozo buttons and an adjustable belt at the back. Each style has a very limited run, so if there is something of interest still available, act now.
Northwestern Knitting Co. Hooded Zip Sweatshirt
Northwestern Knitting Co. added to its line of American-made basics with a classic raglan sleeve zip hoodie. And, it might be the best hoodie you can buy. Cut from the company’s trademark Merino Dual Cloth (read: easy to care for, warm, breathable, flexible), it features a two-way Riri zipper, cover stitched seams and a rib inset at the waist. The price may seem a little high to some, but you’re paying for quality.
Innovations in grooming products are aimed to help us look and feel our best. The distractions of dry skin or unkempt hair are just that: distractions. The most notable grooming products released helped relieve us from such disturbances. Naturally derived products and versatile stylers made up the bulk of these releases with a couple light and friendly fragrances rounding out the list.
Baxter of California Sulfate-Free Daily Face Wash
This face wash uses coconut-derived cleansing agents to do away with dirt and excess oil. It includes aloe vera and allantoin to reduce redness and hydrate the skin while the inclusion of caffeine helps energize and refresh. Fragrance-free and paraben-free, this is ideal for all skin types and can be used with beards.
Living Proof T.B.D. Multi-Tasking Styler
The T.B.D. Multi-Tasking Styler is formulated to style hair in a variety of ways without weighing it down. The Healthy Hair Molecule (OFPMA) and a non-silicone emollient blend is easy to work through hair. Ideal for all hair types (and safe to use on color and chemically-treated hair), it can be used on damp or dry hair to achieve different looks.
Sam McKnight Modern Hairspray
This hairspray has a verdant scent rich with green leaf, herbs and green garden notes. It’s a great multi-styling mist that can add volume, texture and lasting hold. And, at the end of the day, it brushes out with ease.
Scalp Revival Charcoal and Tea Tree Scalp Scalp Treatment
For people suffering from a dry or irritated scalp, this treatment is a great way to remove buildup and add hydration. It uses Binchotan charcoal to draw impurities from the scalp, a blend of peppermint and spearmint oils to reduce itchiness and tea tree oil to help heal and reduce inflammation. The inclusion of witch hazel normalizes oil production and the inclusion of biotin helps support healthy hair growth. Best of all, this product is 98 percent naturally derived.
Perricone MD CBx for Men Collection
Naturally derived from Cannabis sativa, this line of products is made up of a face wash, a moisturizer and a post-shave treatment. The phytocannainoids help calm irritation, soothe dry complexions, balance over-oily skin and promote moisture-retention. These benefits are perfect for people who suffer from dry or irritated skin from shaving or exposure to the elements.
Virtue Recovery Shampoo
This shampoo rebuilds damaged hair while dissolving daily buildup. It utilizes Alpha Kerata 60ku, a whole human keratin that heals and repairs hair, along with hydrolyzed quinoa (a plant protein), baobab seed oil (for hydration) and grapefruit extract (to revitalize the scalp). Free of parabens, sulfates, phthalates, color and dye, this is ideal for those whose hair needs a little extra something.
Acqua di Parma Colonia Pura Collection
Made up of a cologne, shower gel and aftershave, this collection features Acqua di Parma’s new fragrance called Colonia Pura. A lighter version of the brand’s trademark scent, this has a base note of narcissus and is noticeably less peppery than other offerings from Acqua di Parma. Elements of bergamot, orange, cedar wood and patchouli make this scent a well-rounded offering to wear in both the summer and the winter.
Aesop Hwyl Eau de Parfum
Aesop’s latest fragrance, made in partnership with perfumer Barnabé Fillion, is an unobtrusive scent inspired by a Japanese forest. Smoky, spicy and earthy, this is an intriguing fragrance to work into your fall grooming arsenal. It doesn’t scream “Look at me!” — and that’s just the point. It’s quiet and complex, a fragrance for the introspective.
Food and Drink
The category of food and drink can be binary. On one end of the spectrum, you have brands committed to the classics — the cast-iron skillet, lump charcoal, water — and making these things the best versions of themselves. On the other, you’ll find companies pushing boundaries with designs that test users’ modern-day habits or simply factor them in more consciously. Here’s a snapshot of the year’s best products on both ends.
Instant Pot Ultra
The Instant Pot was arguably this year’s hottest Christmas item. Its newest model is the brand’s most powerful yet. It takes a cue from old-school cooking by putting more control in the user’s hands. The six-quart Instant Pot ULTRA features an updated dial-operated interface and 10 presets, including a new “ULTRA” manual setting, which allows users to customize pressurization, temperature and cooking time.
Breville Precision Brewer
Breville’s first 60-ounce drip coffee maker, the Precision Brewer was awarded SCA certification for its ability to precisely control temperature, flow rate and contact time. Its patent-pending Steep & Release valve automatically holds water in contact with coffee without the carafe in place, a feature that conveniently allows users to make cold brew.
Third Wave Water
Of all the variables that go into the average cup of joe, water, which makes up more than 98 percent of coffee, is the most overlooked. Third Wave Water wants to address that. Founded by Taylor Minor, of Ohio’s Telemetry Roasters, and Charles Nick, of The Wright Cup, Third Wave Water was developed as an alternative to expensive filtration systems, and a solution to regional differences in tap and bottled water. Third Wave Water’s capsules dissolve to re-mineralize purified water with a balanced blend of calcium, magnesium and sodium. When steeped in coffee beans, the resultant cup boasts a brighter, more consistent flavor.
Electrolux Grand Cuisine
The Electrolux Grand Cuisine is, without exaggeration, superlative in every way. Its reflective glass surfaces dissolve into the surrounding cabinetry and countertops, rendering the machines nearly invisible. The precision technology that each piece promises is outwardly intimidating, yet their interfaces are comically simple. Grand Cuisine so easily lends itself to hyperbole because it is so far ahead of everything else on the market today. It plants a flag and heralds the kitchen of the future — making complex appliances destined for ubiquity in a decade’s time available in the present day.
The Field Skillet
To market this year after a successful Kickstarter in 2016, The Field Skillet is 25 to 50 percent lighter than traditional skillets. But what really separates it from your standard big-box variety is the exceptionally smooth cooking surface; look closely and you’ll find that most $20 cast-iron skillets feature a rough, pebbly finish, which translates into an uneven cooking surface. Available in two sizes, one an inch larger to accommodate additional servings.
Kalamazoo Quebracho Charcoal
Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet, known for making some of the finest grills on the planet, now makes what may be the best lump charcoal, too. Its Quebracho Charcoal is made from dense Quebracho Blanco wood harvested in the Chaco region of South America. The company claims that it burns hotter and is denser than most hardwood lump charcoal while generating very little ash.
IKEA PS 2017 Dinnerware
Ikea launched several notable products this year, including, for example, the $75 Odger chair. But it’s most fun would be this dinnerware collection. Designed by Maja Ganszyniec, it features a plate ($3) and bowl ($2) geared toward contemporary urban lifestyles — specifically, eating while lounging on a couch, and balancing dinner in one hand while scrolling on a computer with the other.
The most interesting spirit of the year isn’t really a spirit at all. Seedlip is a London-based distillery that works not with alcohol but with herbal copper pot distillations. Having made waves in the U.K., Seedlip came stateside this year and it can be found on some of the most respected bar menus in the country, including those of Michelin-starred restaurants The French Laundry, Atelier Crenn and Eleven Madison Park.
Ben Milam Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey
The Ben Milam Distillery only opened its doors this March, but its spirits are already earning major accolades. At this year’s San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Ben Milam Bourbon was awarded an ultra-rare Double Gold medal, bestowed only upon spirits that are unanimously given Gold medal distinction during the competition’s blind tasting panel. The single-barrel bourbon is marked by brown sugar and caramel on the nose, with notes of vanilla and cinnamon. Distribution is currently limited, with the award-winning whiskey available only at the label’s distillery in Blanco, Texas and select liquor stores in the Lone Star State.
Cars and Motorcycles
2017 will forever go down as a landmark year in both the motorcycle and automotive industries. Innovation, design and performance generously adorned new cars and bikes throughout the year, making it abundantly clear that we’re at the threshold of a new era.
Successes in the small and mid-sized motorcycle market herald a new generation of riders, ready to take to the streets on a genre of bikes that haven’t seen this level of popularity in the U.S. in decades. Liter-bikes that were once headline-grabbers and show-stoppers are now losing out to the excitement surrounding retro-styled cafe racers and small adventure bikes. Over in the four-wheeled world, the horsepower war raged on while many new manufacturers introduced all-new design languages and raised the bar on performance and engineering. This year has been a watershed moment of sorts — which only makes us more excited about the innovations and advancements yet to come.
2017 Ducati Scrambler Desert Sled
Originally poised as an entry-level motorcycle to the Ducati brand, the Scrambler quickly morphed into a beast of its own: an entire sub-brand. And to keep things fresh, Ducati spun off different versions of the Scrambler, though the first round of models were merely optional-extra showcases with special paint jobs, like many other bikes on the market using “scrambler” terminology. When the Desert Sled came along, it was anything but. A higher ground clearance, re-tuned, longer-travel suspension and a redesigned and reinforced frame turned the Ducati into the shining dirt-slinging definition of a true Scrambler.
2017 Mercedes-AMG GT R
When the Mercedes-AMG announced the GT as the successor to the gull-winged SLS, no one was disappointed with the looks or with the performance, but something felt lacking. It was clear AMG was holding back, and the GT R is evidence of that. Admittedly, even with 577 horsepower, the 4.0-liter twin turbo V8 powering the GT R still feels as if it has more to give, but the GT R feels like the car the base GT should have been right out of the gate. It’s a perfect balance between hardcore, race-bred performance and real-world road manners. Is there another, more powerful version on the way? Almost certainly. But that extra punch might push the next-level GT too far in one direction. Right now, the GT R sits in the sweet spot.
2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifolio
If the 4C was Alfa Romeo’s initial wave to reestablish its presence in the U.S., the Giulia Quadrifolio is the cavalry — a full-on assault to firmly plant a flag on American soil. The Italian enlisted the help of a few Ferrari engineers to help design, engineer and tune the all-new four-door. On handling alone, the Giulia put the well-entrenched Germans sports sedans on notice, making short work of canyon roads, backcountry lanes and track days all the same. Under the hood, the Giulia gets power from what essentially amounts to a Ferrari 488 twin turbo V8 with two cylinders removed. The Giulia Quadrifolio may not wear a Ferrari badge, but in spirit it’s clear from which part of the family it descends.
2018 Lincoln Navigator
In terms of luxury, capability and technology, the all-new Navigator — the first complete redesign in its 20-year history — is replete with technology and comfort and convenience features that are, simply put, on par with those found in the quarter-million-dollar luxury stratus. Exterior design is elegant yet oversized; inside, horizontal lines draw your eye from left to right over a retro-modern, progressive styling. It drives like a dream, but to its competition it’s more of a nightmare. Topping out right around $100K, this is the luxury SUV to pay attention to in 2018.
2018 Audi TT RS
The constant march of innovation and technology means it’s inevitable that even the most practical modern cars will outperform the supercars and sports cars from decades past. That’s what you’re witnessing with the 2017 Audi TT RS, except that you don’t have to go back decades to find an exotic performance car with similar numbers — just look to Audi’s own 2012 R8 4.2-liter V8. The twin-turbo five-cylinder in the TT RS makes nearly as much horsepower as the V8 but doesn’t have to worry about pulling around an extra 150 pounds. The TT RS represents a page in Audi’s history where upper echelon performance was repackaged and made available for the rest of us.
2017 Honda CRF250L Rally
Big, heavy, intimidating motorcycles dominate the world of adventure riding — and it makes sense. When it comes to overlanding, monstrous SUVs are the ideal four-wheelers, so when it comes to two-wheeled adventures you want something just as tough and durable. But, in fact, that doesn’t mean it has to be just as big. There’s an entirely new generation of riders looking to explore the world of motorcycles and up until recently, the ADV world seemed to shut out the less experienced or smaller-statured riders. The CRF250L Rally opened those doors back up with a friendly, approachable engine and all the basic extras you need to competently tackle the road less traveled.
2017 Aston Martin DB11
Of all the cars on this list, the Aston Martin may be the most drastic step into the future for any mainstream manufacturer. Not only is it the next in line in the legendary DB class from Aston Martin, but the DB11 ushers in a completely new design language and is also the first car from the brand to benefit from a collaboration with Mercedes-Benz. For the foreseeable future, all Aston Martins will have re-tuned Mercedes engines — the DB11 utilizes the same fantastic V8 from the Mercedes-AMG GT.
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country
The V90 Cross Country carries on a now two-decade-old series of rugged, all-terrain-focused vehicles from everyone’s favorite Swedish carmaker. It’s new from the ground up, meaning it’s purpose-built to, well, be better. It’s better-looking, not derivative; supremely comfortable, not smugly cushy; power delivery and management are engineered for excellent response and mileage, an aim of Volvo’s new era. The V90 CC is sports 8.3-inches of ground clearance (it’s raised 2.4 over the standard V90) and a satisfying combination of luxury, sport, tech, safety and design all rolled into one wagon — a great representation of Volvo’s latest design direction and a solid nod to its quirky performance past.
Lexus LC 500
The all-new LC 500 is so original and impressive in design execution that it automatically rises to the top — above BMW’s stale 6-Series and Mercedes’ admittedly very plush but quite staid S-Class Coupe. The LC 500 is based on an entirely new front-engine, rear-drive platform with an all-new 10-speed transmission, rear steering and a true dual exhaust. It’s got ultra compact, high-tech LED headlights; the weird “spindle grille” for which Lexus is notorious has been modified to blend more beautifully with the car’s design, both inside and out. Point is, there is a boatload of new and impressive on this car, which drives like a dream, stands out from the crowd and satisfies enthusiasts. The LC500 is a very, very attractive shot across the bow of the competition.
2017 Honda Civic Type-R
It only took 20 years and five generations, but the Honda Civic Type R has finally made it to American soil. Combining the sensibility, practicality and reliability of the Honda Civic with the raucous 306-horsepower turbocharged inline-four engine and bringing back the top-of-the-line performance hatch back nearly created a bigger stir than when the new NSX finally broke cover.
2017 McLaren 720S
As far as 2017’s crop of supercars are concerned, the McLaren 720S comes out above the rest armed with the all-new 4.0-liter V8 and sleek, flowing design language. But it’s not the engine or the looks that earn the new McLaren Super Series family member top marks, it’s that the Woking manufacturer was able built such an incredibly powerful, capable mid-engined supercar for the track that’s also weirdly civil on everyday roads.
Singer Vehicle Design x Williams Advanced Engineering
When musical supergroups band together, energy and excitement surrounding the project is electrifying — the prospect of something truly great is almost too much to bear. The same is true in the automotive world, like when Singer Vehicle Design teamed up with Formula 1 stalwarts Williams Advanced Engineering and Hans Metzger, the man responsible for Porsche’s most famous air-cooled engine. Singer handled the design while Metzger set about on making an air-cooled flat-six for the 21st Century, then Williams focused on making the entire package light as a feather. The result is a classically-styled sports car with modern performance and handling, powered by a 500-horsepower engine that screams all the way to 9,000 rpm.