While Gear Patrol editors are deal sleuths and proponents of value-packed items, we acknowledge that there are some products truly worth splurging on. We're not talking about status symbols or flashy brands, rather gear that's purpose-built to perform at the highest level. And though these aren't impulse buys, they represent some of the best-in-class gear for summer. From electric mountain bikes to tower fans, these are the products worth spending a little extra on.
Weighing in at 37 pounds (8 less than the second lightest) and offering a 40-mile range, the Levo SL is a true unicorn. It looks and feels like a pedal bike and almost creates a new category as the first eMTB with a custom-engineered motor and battery. Specialized realized many riders don’t need massive batteries and would rather save the weight. If there is one bike that will convert diehard enduro riders into e-bike junkies, the Levo SL is it.
A year after the release of the full-size Forge, Tecnica brought its custom heat molding to the hiking shoe category with the low-cut Plasma. The process is entirely the same: there are two rounds of heat molding, one for the insole and a second for the upper. It uses the same machine, which is available at retailers where the shoes are sold, and takes less than 30 minutes. (While the Plasma is not the most expensive shoe in this guide, the real step-up is this extra step involved in getting it.) As with the Forge, the result is a hiking shoe that fits immediately — no break-in period.
The Plasma is on the more rugged end of the hiking shoe spectrum thanks to its stiff rubber outsole, but it’s still more flexible than many approach shoes and suitable to both long and short hikes, though maybe not walking around in a city all day.
After sleeping on a number of rough and scraggly linen sheets, I found Cultiver's sheets had a shorter break-in period, thanks to a pre-enzyme wash, compared to comparable linen sheets. Cultiver offers its linen sheets in a wide array of muted and understated colors, which is the result of a first-rate dye process. The weaving, sewing and dyeing are all exceptional, a given considering the price point. At $385 for a queen set, they’re certainly an investment, but they're still nowhere near as expensive as other linen sheets that are of a lesser quality.
The direct-to-consumer "we cut out the middle-man!" bit is tired, but in the case of quality blackout blinds and shades, it's still relevant. Mesken's shades can be ordered in a variety of colors and materials, and the size is completely customizable to fit your window situation. Finding sturdy, good-looking blackout blinds is a smart investment, too; when drawn in the height of summer, they significantly reduce outdoor heat making its way inside, which results in a smaller A/C bill for you.
The most affordable smartwatches are all around the $200 mark. That’s about how much the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 2 costs. It connects seamlessly via Bluetooth to your smartphone apps and automatically tracks your activities and exercises. With an aluminum or stainless steel case, it will stand up to daily use but can also track your sleep patterns.
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The AGV AX-9 is made from lightweight carbon fiber, bringing the weight down to just 3.69 pounds and making it more comfortable for long road miles. It also includes some added features to extends its versatility for ADV riders.
The helmet integrates a multi-modal mouth port, which allows you to remove the standard screen at the front of the helmet, allowing up to 300% more airflow front to back. The helmet also adds an oversized visor for extra aerodynamics and more eye shading. The visor is removable and adjustable, letting you adjust any sail effect on the fly.
A splurge is not a matter of need, and you don’t need a Looft Lighter, but you should want one. It is essentially a super-charged hair dryer that, in 60 seconds or less, brings a cold brick of charcoal to grilling temperature. If you’ve ever grilled with charcoal you’d know that is a modern miracle, given the task typically requires 15 minutes. Because it doesn’t use gas or a flame, it’s also a pretty safe tool.
Made for fish in the six- to 18-inch range, this supple 12-foot rod can take on even the most finicky of trout. It's light, playful and responsive, doing everything you want it to — and then some. An extra $30 will net you a furled line, spool and three hand-tied flies to go with it.
The Inlet is smaller, lighter and cheaper than any of Oru’s other kayaks. It weighs 20 pounds (six less than Oru’s previously lightest model), but it packs down into a polygonal box that’s nearly half the size of the company’s other boats. To get there, Oru’s designers created an all-new folding pattern. We can report that, compared to Oru’s other kayaks, the Inlet is significantly easier and more intuitive to transform from box to boat and back again thanks to this new design. (Oru boasts it can be done in less than five minutes with some practice, and we can confirm that claim.)
This box-pressed cigar was designed to cater to the European profile — it’s milder than many Americans prefer — and it was named for the famous Champagne region. Just like a bottle of bubbly, it might be best saved for special celebratory moments.
You want the Storz & Bickel experience in the palm of your hand? Look no further than the Mighty. The battery-powered Mighty uses a combination of full hot air convection heating and additional conduction, which ensures an efficient vaporization from the first draw. Like the Volcano Hybrid, it has an LED screen for precise temperature control. It has 500 reviews and is rated at five stars for a very good reason.
How to make an entire room as cool as the other side of the pillow. While it's more common to throw money at a Dyson vacuum, its air purifying fans are excellent at what they do in their own right. The Pure Cool air and deletes 99.97 percent of pollutants within it as small as 0.3 microns in size, or about 2 percent the width of a grain of sand, then accelerates the clean air into a cool, slowly oscillating breeze. It also shoots air quality data to your phone, and lets you control it from the app if you want.