When you hit your 30s, you notice a distinct change come over you. The evidence accumulates gradually: You’re baffled by a new fashion trend. You learn about a new social media outlet...in a New York Times article. Your parents refer to each other by their first names and talk about sex in front of you. Conversations with your friends inevitably lead to bathroom renovations. You hum along to “Alejandro” by Lady Gaga and realize that album debuted 12 years ago. You catch yourself boring a teenager with an inane college story which is at least 50 percent apocryphal. You are getting old.
Well, you aren’t old per se. But you are no longer young or cool. The zeitgeist has passed you by. You’re outside the targeted 18-34 advertising demographic. It seems like yesterday you were a rising Millennial ruining the world with your penchant for avocado toast. Now you’re a potentially geriatric millennial getting zinged by Gen Z. You don’t know what "cheugy" means, whether you are cheugy or whether “cheugy” has ever demonstrably been a thing outside of media articles.
This realization that you’re aging can be daunting — you’ve never not been young before. But it can also be liberating: You’re more grounded in your 30s. You’ve got disposable income and a retirement account. Consider it a time to grow relationships, shed excess baggage, discover the world, invest in timeless quality and lay the foundations for the future life you want.
Here are 30 products to help you on your way through your 30s.
Get Organized With:
A Daily Planner
You’ve got a lot of shit going on, personally and professionally. Keeping tabs on everything in your head only compounds the stress. Your electronic devices do come with virtual organization tools, but they also bring a whirlwind of distractions. We’d suggest writing everything down in an old-fashioned daily planner. Checking off tasks as you go feels gratifying. And you can close the book on your day — literally — when it’s time to unwind. We love the feel of this one from Moleskine.
A Baby Carrier
Having your first kid can be a rude adjustment — parenting can be profoundly exhausting. Your halcyon days of rolling out of bed after 6:45 AM and easing into your day with a cup of coffee are gone. But it’s important not to lose your sense of adventure — even if adventure is just doing everyday things out in the world. The Baby Bjorn carrier allows you to do a modicum of adulting while watching the baby. And on the not insignificant chance that your outing gets ruined by some inopportune fluid expenditure, it’s machine-washable.
A Robot Vacuum
Keeping your home clean is vital, especially during the pandemic where your residence is likely serving as a home office, restaurant, and childcare facility. You may not have the time to do it. Paying someone to come out frequently can get expensive. Just take the plunge, get a Roomba and make sure to capture your cat’s reaction on video.
Maybe you’re finally hiking the Appalachian Trail. Maybe you’re just commuting in to work with your laptop. Perhaps your partner flagrantly ignored your pleas to buy a reasonably gender-neutral diaper bag. Whatever the activity, a high-quality, versatile backpack just makes life easier. Our Outdoors and Fitness editor recommends the Topo Rover. It’s durable, affordable and stylish. It also comes in a wide range of colors to suit your personality.
A Rubber Band
You — yes, you — spend too much time on social media. It’s a time suck. It’s addictive. It provides no joy in your life. And it stops you from enjoying experiences with the people who love you. You still need your smartphone to function in modern life — as much as you want to take a hammer to it. Getting a secondary phone like the Light Phone 2 is probably too much effort. Here’s a trick: Wrap a rubber band around your phone. It won’t stop you from using it. But it will make doing so just annoying enough to have to disengage autopilot before doing so. Don’t worry about losing one. The package you buy will have at least 200 extra.
Upgrade Your Wardrobe With:
Some Classic Sneakers
Being a sneakerhead has gone mainstream. The kids seem to be wearing them with everything. There’s a lot of variety and confusion out there — Jerry Seinfeld’s white Nikes now make him a prescient fashion maven? Your best bet is to avoid the avant-garde options and stick to the classics. Gear Patrol’s Style desk suggests a good pair of Converse Chuck 70s. They look like the timeless Chuck Taylors. But for an extra $30, you get a bit more of an upscale finish with tougher canvas, a bigger toe box and outsole and a more comfortable insole.
A Baseball (or Dad) Hat
Sure, there are a few glorious Alec Baldwin types walking around out there, but the rest of us can fall prey to some hair pitfalls. Maybe you’re having some coverage issues. That combination of salt and pepper and sun bleaching in the summer can also look a little weird. Or perhaps you’ve just been too busy to book a haircut. A baseball hat can be a great casual cure-all. (Just don’t try a flat cap unless you own a Morgan.) You can rep your favorite sports team or beer purveyor. However, GP Style editors recommend choosing a plain hat with texture — think corduroy suede or wool — to avoid looking like an undercover cop or a delivery driver.
A Well-Tailored Suit
Yes, your current suit has been a glorified closet ornament during the pandemic. And you’re probably expecting us to tell you this is the time to invest in a high-quality suit made from the finest materials on offer. But you don’t need to do that. The secret is to find an excellent tailor who can make that decent suit you bought from J.Crew look like you paid much more for it.
A Quality Watch
You've been working for a decade now, you've got some money put aside — so let's skip the "value plays" and get right down to it: The Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight is a no-brainer of a watch for an adult. It's versatile, robust, comes in several colors and materials, and can absolutely be worn to work or a night out on the town. Is it inexpensive? No — it costs real money. But it's by no means outrageous considering the in-house movement from Rolex's sister brand; the perfect sizing; the incredible looks; and the fact that you can positively beat the shit out of it without a care in the world. And the best part? When your grandkid inherits it from your kid one day, it'll still be just as cool as the day you bought it, and just as useful.
An Appropriate Pair of Jeans
Jeans are a utilitarian dream. They go well with everything. But it’s easy to wear the wrong ones. Wide ones are in, but don’t drown in denim. Stick to regular-fit or slimmer, meaning pants that flatter the legs rather than overwhelm them with fabric. Selvedge ones are a smart bet for someone who can dedicate decades to the same pair, but you’re probably better off buying a washed pair. 501s will never let you down.
A Clothes Steamer
You’re an adult. Everyone on your last Zoom call noticed that wrinkled shirt and judged you for it. It’s time to take care of your clothing and buy a clothes steamer. Here’s a handheld model from Conair that heats up in 40 seconds, provides up to 15 minutes of continuous steaming, kills germs and will keep you from looking like a rumpled schlub.
Take Care of Your Body With:
You’re getting older — the last thing you want to look is even older than you are. It’s time to take care of your skin. One of the best ways to do that is to wear sunscreen — daily. You can splurge on an expensive formula designed for your face like Ursa Major’s Daily Defense Lotion or go with your more budget-friendly bottle of Neutrogena. Adjust the SPF as needed.
A Percussion Massage Gun
Yes, you can still do your Armageddon workouts and Ultramarathons in your 30s. The differences are how terrible you’re going to feel afterward and how long that feeling is going to last. A percussion massage gun can offer targeted therapy deep into your muscles to help improve blood flow and recovery. You can shell out for a big name like the Theragun or opt for the top GP pick Ekrin B37, which is a bit cheaper. It’s a significant investment either way, but it'll be cheaper than keeping a massage therapist on speed dial.
Drinking remains a pleasant pastime in your 30s. But you don’t spring back to "fully functional" as quickly afterward. And if you drink too often, you’ll find your t-shirts fitting more snugly than you’d like. Spindrift can be a great alternative to that cocktail you don’t need. It uses natural ingredients to pack a bit more flavor than your typical sparkling water. And popping a slice of lemon into that can of the half iced tea/half lemon flavor — which is only five calories — will feel like an event.
An Eye De-Puffer Stick
You’re not sleeping enough. It could be persistent stress, or it could be your son having nightmares after his aunt and uncle decided to show him “Ghostbusters.” Either way, coffee consumption can’t hide your eyes broadcasting your actual state of exhaustion. Shoehorning a “skincare routine” into your life can be daunting. Kiehl’s makes it easy with their Facial Fuel Eye De-Puffer. It comes as a stick, which you can apply easily at any time of day. You’ll still be tired, but people will stop asking about it.
You could use some more fresh air, and running short errands by gasoline-powered vehicle feels wasteful. You’ve been wondering whether you’d look absurd zooming around on an e-scooter at your age. (And the answer is, yes, you absolutely would.) Consider a lower-tech option: a bicycle. Your legs don’t produce any emissions. You get a little extra exercise. It’s an activity you can do with kids. And there are some great options out there, whether you’re looking for some affordable vintage style or want to throw a little more money at the project.
A Yoga Mat
Yoga is great exercise and a powerful restorer for the body and mind. We wholeheartedly recommend it, especially if you think you’re too inflexible. But even if you aren’t a budding yogi, a yoga mat is a versatile, easy-to-store necessity for any home gym. You can use it for crunches, push-ups and squats. (It can also be a great place for your dog to chill.) Lululemon’s 5mm Reversible mat is super-grippy, comfortable and durable.
A Baby Foot
Maybe the first part of your body to unduly age in your 30s is your feet. One day you’re heedlessly wearing flip-flops. The next day you wake up and realize your feet look like they belong to a hobbit — a hobbit who has been through every battle in Lord of the Rings. You probably want to go to a beach again at some point, so, it’s time to address what’s going on down there. Try Baby Foot, sort of a face mask for your feet. It gets rid of the dead skin and callouses without needing to painfully self-flagellate with a pumice stone.
Some days, you’re going to wake up feeling like shit. You could be hungover. You could be dehydrated. Your heartburn may be going haywire after you hit the pizza and buffalo wings a bit too hard. Did you catch your kid’s cold? Allergies acting up? The possibilities are endless. And you don’t have time to figure out the right cure. Alka Seltzer covers all options. The tablets come in neat little portable packets that can be stuffed pretty much anywhere. And they're fizzy.
Take Care of Your Mind With:
Your life has gotten noisier. Household members and their noise-making devices have multiplied. Perhaps you’ve moved to the burbs, and at least one person is blowing leaves or mowing a lawn at all hours of the day. Before you go full-on Mr. Grinch about the NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, NOISE, consider a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. Sony’s WH-1000MX4 headphones kill the noise, deliver high-quality sound and are comfortable — even if you don’t quite understand how all of the touch controls work.
Your brain changes as you develop, and after about age 25 your fully developed prefrontal cortex takes over. On the plus side, you become more proficient and focused, make more responsible decisions and stop wearing puka shell necklaces. But you can also be prone to settling into established routines and viewpoints. We say break that routine and broaden your horizons by learning another language. It'll take some extra effort at this age, but if you’ve always wanted to learn Japanese or Mandarin, there’s no better time to do so than right now with Rosetta Stone.
We get it — you’ve been home a lot during the pandemic. You’ve consumed a lot of streaming shows and podcasts. But so has everyone else, and talking about them swiftly gets insufferable. It’s time to bring books back into your life. You may not have time to sit down to read, but you definitely have time to listen while you’re commuting or plowing through some dishes. Audible has a huge selection of Audiobooks, and you can use Whispersync to go back and forth between the Audiobook and your Kindle.
Weed may be legal in your state. Huzzah! The trouble is you have grown-up shit to do. Getting stoned off your face and leaving your friends protracted, rambling voicemails lamenting humanity’s lack of progress exploring outer space can't be an everyday occurrence anymore. Dad Grass is smokable hemp. It provides a relaxing hit of CBD without the mind-bending THC. And because it’s not weed, it’s legal in all 50 states.
Upgrade Your Home (and Garage) With:
To quote Ted Lasso’s Roy Kent quoting Nikki Sixx from Mötley Crüe: Behind the Music: “date your wife.” Flowers for a partner are always thoughtful, whether celebrating a special occasion or not. Have them delivered from Urban Stems. (Or save some money, show up to your local florist, ask for fewer than a dozen roses and pay by the flower.) Florists are also incapable of letting you leave without throwing a few garnishes in there, so it looks like an arrangement.
A Cast Iron Skillet
Yes, you are ordering too much takeout. And everyone in your life knows about that cupboard of shame where you stash the single-use plastic bags, extra utensils and soy sauce packets. Whether you’re a beleaguered dad or flying solo, feeding yourself and others is an essential life skill. Also, it would violate the Gear Patrol buying guide bylaws if we did not recommend a cast-iron skillet. Owning one offers a wide range of dinner options for cooks of every skill level. And while you can certainly plunk down for a fancy model, you can also score a decent American-made Lodge skillet starting at around $10.
A Premium Mattress
It’s easy to overlook your mattress. But even if you aren’t sleeping as much as you would like, you’re still spending a significant portion of your day lying down on it. And that sinking spot is wreaking havoc on your neck and lower back alignment. Upgrading to a new, higher quality and — hey, why not? — bigger mattress is a worthwhile investment. Saatva’s classic mattress is a hybrid with a mix of springs and foam and a plush European pillow top.
An Ergonomic Desk Chair
You may not write for a living. But your job still likely involves sitting at a desk and staring at a screen for long hours. You’ve been doing it almost every day for years, and you feel it in your back and neck daily. You can get by with a supportive seat cushion and some targeted foam rolling. But if your home office is now your de facto office, it may be worth leveling up to an adjustable ergonomic desk chair like the Ergochair Pro from Autonomous.
Plants are a great, low-cost way to brighten up a room and project that a normal, mature person lives there. (Nothing says “I’m not a serial killer” better than having a few plants sprinkled around your residence.) Whether you want to go all-in on some indoor cultivation or just want a great-looking faux plant strategically placed in the Zoom meeting background, the Sill should have you covered.
A Hyundai or Kia Crossover
You may not be buying your first new car in your 30s, but it may be the first time you’re putting significant money down on one. It’s 2021 so odds are you probably want an SUV. You need something spacious. You want something that feels premium and pleasant to drive with a bit of capability. You don’t want to get ripped off. Hyundai and Kia are offering de facto luxury SUVs for mass-market money. The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade are both excellent three-row options. The Kia Sorento and Hyundai Santa Fe are a little smaller but offer both sporty and hybrid options. Have a little cash to play with? Want something that looks kind of like a Bentley? Check out the new SUV offering from Hyundai’s luxury brand, the Genesis GV80.
A Quality Couch
HGTV will try to sell you on open concepts and kitchen islands. But the couch is always the central gathering point of your home. You can’t own a futon as a functional adult. And it’s time to explore the world beyond that threadbare Ikea sofa and invest in a quality couch. Our Home desk writers recommend you check out the offerings at BenchMade Modern or — if you’re a packaging enthusiast who prefers that things arrive at your house in a tidy box — Burrow.