Discovering great products isn’t just something Gear Patrol staffers do for a day job. It’s a kind of an obsession — one that informs both what we get for our friends and family, and what ends up on our own lists. This holiday season, in addition to publishing a bevy of holiday gift guides for you to sift through, our staffers are letting you take a peek at their go-to gifts. See more here, and check out our other holiday gift guides.
Stocking Stuffer: There’s nothing quite as romantic as a late New York summer night at Arthur Ashe stadium taking in the U.S. Open with a frosty Heinken, but until life comes back to normal (god bless us all) I’ll take Mario Tennis Aces with my kids in the living room. I haven’t played real tennis since my middle school lessons, but the learning curve is nil and the more you play, the more strategic you realize you need to be. Otherwise, the game play is quintessential Nintendo, which means fun. Now, can anyone at Nintendo reading this talk to someone down at marketing about releasing an updated Mario Golf?
I've been relegated to working out of our basement (and certainly feel lucky to even have that), but dammit if I don't find myself wanting a fridge under my standing desk. Diet Coke, easy-pack charcuterie and a bar of chocolate. I don't care whether you think it's straight out of a SkyMall or Spencer's Gifts, this is a vessel fit to hold a desk jockey's finest. Black, please.
I fantasize about taking a month off to pack the family up into an obnoxiously large motor home (Class A, of course) and watch my kids agog at the sights of massive Redwoods, the Grand Canyon or splendor of the Great Smoky Mountains. But until then, what better way to support and participate in one of America's most resplendent assets, the National Parks.
I'm convinced that outside of great luggage, this is one of the best extra large packing duffels you can buy for the money. Unlike the simpler (yet perhaps more famous) direct competitor, the North Face Base Camp duffel, the Patagonia features some simple yet welcome amenities like (gasp) a few pockets including one accessible from the inside or out, which comes in very handy when the bag is packed to the gills, and removable shoulder straps. A stealthy monotone Patagonia livery and 100% recycled fabric make it a perfect gift for the gear-lover. I should know, I have two, but I won't mind if Santa drops off a third.
The Splurge: The first time I listened to a pair of Sonus Faber's was a pair of floorstanding Cremona's at an old friend's (now) husband's flat in London. It was a decade ago, but I can hear it like it was yesterday and I'll never forget the violin string grilles.. They were achingly beautiful and achingly out of any conceivable price range. The Sonetto II, while certainly an indulgence, makes that Sonus Faber hi-fi dream more accessible yet still a stunning performer. The fine-furniture-grade design speaks for itself, but the technical side aspects no less of a marvel: dynamic, surprisingly spacious and incredibly detailed. Amplified properly, you'll swear you can point out each instrument blindfolded. These speakers truly belie their size and price.