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Staff Picks: Nick Caruso, Associate Editor

A Lotuff weekender, ceramic coffee dripper, Kindle Paperwhite and more.

Chase Pellerin

Editor’s Note: As a collective, the Gear Patrol staff is a wealth of knowledge about products. This series is our way of showcasing and sharing our insights and endorsements. Our hope is that you enjoy it all — and perhaps discover something new you’ll love too.

My relationship with products is somewhat tangled. I love and value great things, but I find consumerism has the potential to be problematic — it’s too dangerously easy to be swept up in a competition to have the latest and greatest. Boiled down, this is the argument of Want versus Need. To that end, I’ve been actively culling excess stuff — the unused and unloved things that at one time were “wants” — and have vowed to avoid acquiring anything disposable in nature and/or that I don’t need, with few exceptions.

But I still seek out great products. When I land on a great one, I don’t start looking for the next until the first meets its end — whenever that may be. I can’t always purchase the absolute best, so finding contentment with the “good enough” is necessarily fine by me. That’s why I’m especially lucky to work in the industry I do: it grants me access to products I otherwise would not come across, like driving a McLaren or Aston Martin on a semi-regular basis. Still, everything here is part and parcel of my philosophy: great things I use constantly and will keep close to forever and cherish as a result. Nothing more.

Lotuff Leather No. 10 Weekend Bag

Zero question — this is simply the best weekender. It’s gorgeous, it’s made to last multiple lifetimes. I visited the Lotuff factory over the summer and watched artists lovingly manipulating leather and hardware to make all manner of bags and briefcases. That convinced me of the quality and craftsmanship that went into my bag; its looks and feel and fragrance convince anyone and everyone else.

Buy Now: $850

Orient Ray II Diver Watch

I have wanted a steel dive watch in this exact style for years and years, and the truth is that I may never be able to buy an Omega Seamaster. Orient is a Japanese brand that makes their movements in-house; their watches come in all sorts of styles and are of really superb quality. It’s a fraction of the price of that Omega, but I’ll be damned if I don’t smile proudly when I clasp it to my wrist every morning.

Buy Now: $335

Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Cinema and television are super important to me, whether in the form of simple escapism or as a chance to study screenwriting and cinematography and acting. I love having access to all the streaming services all on a simple, inexpensive, easy-to-use stick. A couple clicks and I always find something to watch on one of many accounts that I, uhh, totally pay for myself.

Buy Now: $40

Western Rise Men’s AT Slim Rivet Pant

I own — and constantly wear — two pairs of these suckers. In fact, Western Rise quoted me on their website. The fit is excellent, like modern chinos or jeans. The colors are just unique enough to stand out. But what I like most about them is how tough they are: last week, I was not exercising proper knife usage and opened a box toward myself; the knife slipped and the blade hit me right in the crotch. Granted, the blade was pretty dull, but no abrasions whatsoever — on the pants or on me.

Buy Now: $129

Nobis The Yatesy Parka

When I wear this parka, I feel like a supervillain from Hoth. Mine is dark blue with black accents; for a coat so packed with down, it’s actually quite a trim silhouette. The coat is waterproof and just stupid warm. My best memory of the Yatesy was driving a Bentley Continental GT Convertible with the top down. In late December. In Michigan. While wearing a Santa hat. I felt like the patron saint of conspicuous consumption but, man, was I toasty.

Buy Now: $1,195

Tanors Ceramic Coffee Dripper

I’m cheating with this one — my directions for the entire staff were to include an item that was less than ten bucks. This is a dollar more. This is also why it’s good to be in charge. I use this little fella every morning, sometimes more than once (with filters, of course). It’s just so damn simple and, especially for a single guy usually brewing java just for himself, couldn’t be more perfect.

Buy Now: $11

Master & Dynamic ME05 Earphones

I want to be really, really clear about this one. I hate — I’m consciously using the word “hate” to describe my feelings — that Apple ditched the headphone jack on new iPhones. I understand it, but I will not be happy about it. Regardless, I use that stupid, shitty dongle to attach these pristine, beautifully-made-from-solid-brass earbuds to listen to my music and podcasts. They fit so well in my ears that it actually feels good to pop ’em in, and sound quality — dumbfuck dongle notwithstanding — is, for my tastes, superb.

Buy Now: $199

KOIO Collective Capri Bianco Leather Sneakers

So…I’m not a cool dresser. When I was younger I used to really pay attention to style, and while I still wear clothing that fits and is made well and looks good, I’ve settled into a pretty standard, middle-of-the-road way of dressing. The last trend that appealed to me was “normcore” even though I resent calling it a trend. ANYWAY, what I’m saying is that the whole “white sneakers” look that I’ve noticed creeping into the mainstream over the last few years — well, I’m into it. These mostly-white leather sneaks made their way into my life over a year ago and they’re super comfortable, subtly styled and actually kinda cool.

Buy Now: $248

Kindle Paperwhite E-Reader

Over a decade ago, my parents gave me my first iPod — the second-generation Shuffle, which was the square clip-on varietal. I thought MP3 players were so dumb and pointless — who needs to carry an entire GIGABYTE of music on their shirt? But, ten years, six iPhones and a Spotify Premium subscription later, it’s clear they were so, so right. Same thing happened with the Kindle. I like “acoustic” books, and for years didn’t see the point in having an e-reader — then I buckled, admitting I was curious about the Paperwhite. Mom and dad gave me one last Christmas, I loved it to death, left it on an airplane (thanks for nothing, Delta lost & found), bought a new one to replace it and now I love Nick’s Kindle 2.0 just as much as its predecessor. A clear-as-crystal, light-as-a-feather library at my fingertips (No SIM card connectivity — why would anyone need that?). It’s Star Trek-level amazing, and I’ll use it until it disintegrates.

Buy Now: $120

The Grail

Steinway Model B Classic Grand Piano

I’ve played for 25 years and studied classically in college, where it became clear that a prior nerve injury in my right hand would keep me from becoming a great pianist. (Sometimes, I still think about Bach fugues, and my eye starts to stress-twitch.) But, boy do I love a piano — give me a stack of sheet music, and I’ll play for an entire weekend. Give me enough money to buy a Model B and an acoustically-sound home to put it in, and I may never leave.

Learn More: Here

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