Call it the “Goldilocks of Bags” if you like, though sometimes it seems like more of a “Unicorn of Bags”: the perfectly sized and properly priced duffel can be elusive (hell, brands can’t even decide one way to spell it). When the occasion calls for light packing in something that’ll easily fit in the back seat or sling comfortably over your shoulder there are myriad options, but how many of them can be considered worth a buy? What follows are 30 of the best duffel bags to fit every budget. These represent a vast array of materials, styles, colors and purposes, but suffice it to say each of these duffels is just right.
Make like Stirling Moss
It’s hard to believe how different a hot commute in hair-pulling traffic can be from a balmy mid-afternoon drive on an open road in the countryside — both in the same car. Nothing brings back the freedom of summer like a great drive, and unless you’re cursed with a 36-month lease of a kiddie-hauler that now smells like sour milk, it’s high time you planned just such a trip. Now it’s time to get you equipped.
Ditch the hulk for some helpful tech
Most of us are out of touch with our bodies. We clueless about calories, how much we’re walking in a day, or even how to check our own heart rate. Luckily, there’s a host of new fitness trackers that make training truly personal. Strap them onto your wrist or toss them in your pocket and they’ll track your every move — every step you take, every minute you sleep, every calorie you inhale or burn off. Read on for our five best bets for prying you off the couch — and tracking your efforts.
Keep your tablet tickin'
The iPad’s extreme portability is simultaneously glaringly obvious and overlooked in favor of its flashier tech wonders. The take-it-anywhere-ness of the iPad is also perhaps its biggest downside: we tend to treat it like the things it replaced, the books and magazines that we could toss without a care. That usually doesn’t work out well. Here are 30 great options — leather, wool, propped, or otherwise — that should keep your tablet ticking and looking good.
Go forth and perform
Warm weather: we can’t say enough good things about it. There’s something noble about putting on cold weather gear and sticking it out all winter, but running in the summer, sweat pouring off your brow, hat and clothing looking like the Bonneville salt flats, the first sip of Heed after a 20 miles in the scorching heat, runner babes in short shorts — this is pure, unadulterated sport pleasure. Here’s the gear we’re wearing. If you’re prepping for a race or just like to hit the pavement for an hour after work, this stuff has performance written all over it.
Around the country, where people can’t easily access a natural body of water, they’ll flock to fake ones for some relaxation, fun, and relief from the heat. This is the seasonal blessing and curse of the fortunate few who own — or have access to — a pool. If you fall into this category and are already bemoaning your hosting duties to come, may we remind you of the wise words of
“Uncle” Ben Parker Voltaire, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Think that bowl of corn chips (“but they’re restaurant style!”) and playing some Jimmy Buffet from your puny laptop speakers answers the call? You are woefully mistaken.
It’s time to take your waterside shindigs to another plane. What we’re talking about is the kind of event that’ll haunt Charlie Sheen’s dreams and leave the neighborhood gabbing for decades. We’ve got your shopping list right here.
GP's Resident Leadfoot
The fifth installment of our Staff Favorites series features Mr. Amos Kwon. Amos is, simply put, a man’s man. He’s entirely focused on family (he’s a proud husband and, more recently, a father), but he’s also passionate about cars (he’s the heart and soul of our automotive coverage), cigars (it’s amazing that he hasn’t yet hired a personal Cuban roller), Scotch, and a mean EDC. He’s a diligent, talented writer, zipping absurd humor (we still can’t get over his “Whoever chose this… should be slapped with a pair of wet Depends” line) into the tight copy of his otherwise earnest reviews. We’re proud to have this proud Chicagoan on the team — and his favorite gear doesn’t disappoint.
What's that, now?
A respite from noise might seem thin on paper, but spend a few hours on an inescapable airplane with crying babies, heaving green-faced passengers or even a chatty cathy neighbor and get back to us on what you’re willing to pay for a little peace and music. What’s more, NC options have some of the best sound profiles available, making them true gems for audiophiles and the easily distracted alike. Considering the vastly small market for noise-canceling headsets available at the moment, the problem isn’t necessarily narrowing down the field — it’s choosing the best one for your audio needs. From pioneering audio staples to buzzing newcomers, these are the noise cancelers worth turning your ears to.
Gear for a 3-week Caribbean journey
Packing for three weeks of travel could easily balloon into roller bags, laptop cases and fanny packs. If you’re staying in luxury hotels and somebody else is handling your gear, fine. Bring the sheepskin robe. But if you may have to spend full days carrying your luggage on your back, then you’re limited to the essentials. Here’s what I stuffed into my GORUCK GR2 for three weeks in Cuba.
Getting attached to GORUCK's Weekend Bag
On my first night with the GORUCK GR2 ($395) we slept together in a bus station — and we’ve been going steady since. Specifically, after a flight from Cancun to Havana and midnight bus from Havana to Santa Clara, in the geographical center of Cuba, I looped a carabiner through the side webbing of the GR2, clipped it to my jacket’s pit vents, rested my head gently against her rugged 1000D cordura, and knocked off for six hours in a metal row chair.
Board optional, shorts required
Some of the best days of summer are spent out on the water — or at least relaxing, sipping beers and socializing near it. But what to wear? Board shorts are the safest (and best) bet in our book, providing the rugged construction necessary for water sports with a look and form — thanks to a rigid waistband, fly, snaps, ties and quick-drying, stretchy material — that also lends itself to an inland hike for boardwalk pizza. We’ve herded our five favorite board shorts of the year for your wearing pleasure here.
The good kind of shady
Finally the brightness of summer is on its way. Now, for the harsh reality: you’ve had plenty of time during the last five months of gray to forget where you left your last set of sunglasses. If you’re in need of a new pair, the beloved aviator never goes out of style, pairs well with everything from a suit to board shorts, and just looks damn good. Read on for the five best aviators for summer 2013.
Confirm your searing desires
Summer is bearing down fast, and no man passes up the opportunity to get outside and burn some meat (ok, and perhaps a vegetable or two). It is, simply, an integral summer experience, whether enjoyed in the backyard, at a tailgate, in the campsite or on your tiny urban front step.
My dad had a saying: “When it’s burning, it’s cooking. When it’s black it’s done.” This might explain the lack of repeat visitors, but maybe it was the limited tools he had to work with that contributed to his cynical approach to backyard grilling. With any of the 10 excellent grills here, you’ll not only find the right one to suit your particular needs — everything from searing steaks, to cooking a pair of burgers, to smoking an entire pig — you’ll guarantee a line around the block for your ‘cue, and a long list of friends who won’t stop asking when you’re having them over again.
Meet the concept cars of the sneaker world
Nike has been a dominant force in basketball for years, equipping some of the game’s biggest stars with footwear both on and off the court. Recently, we had the chance to sit down with Nike Basketball Design Director, Leo Chang, to discuss the second generation of the Elite Series, a limited collection of kicks designed for Nike’s premier athletes just in the time for playoff season. Given the stakes, the series which originally launched last year, provides a unique opportunity for Leo and his team to push what’s possible. It’s about designing the best for the best, when limitations have left the building.
Smartphones have made typical point-and-shoots about as useful as Ryan Lochte in a public speaking class. But until our favorite thigh weights gain a thicker skin, there will always be space for tougher rigs designed to take a licking and keep on clicking. Toss one of these rugged cameras into your bag before your next big adventure, and maybe you’ll finally capture some evidence to go along with that hell of a yarn.
Zero Drop, Zero Limits
The vernacular of the running shoe industry has morphed in recent years. While we were out pounding pavement and burning trails, the polo-clad retailer who spoke of under- and overpronation (often interchangeably) has been replaced by a more sophisticated runner who uses terms like “minimalist”, “zero-drop” and “windlass effect”. New slang is good, but it can be confusing — and it doesn’t necessarily bring us closer to understanding what makes the perfect running shoe. To get a better grasp on what goes into running shoes today we spoke with Golden Harper, founder of Altra Zero Drop Footwear.
The term “noise canceling headphones” almost always summons images of big puffy over-the-ear numbers. As wonderful as those can be, they’re bulky to pack if you’re traveling light, and during workouts, they suck — providing a feeling akin to sweating with scones strapped to your head. Austrian headphone maker AKG’s K391 NC offer up noise canceling features in a compact package. We tried out a pair.
A Hard Shell for the Hard Charger
Traveling fast and light on a backpacking or climbing trip is a worthy goal. But while less junk stuffed in your pack means easier miles of trail, sometimes what’s left behind would otherwise keep you warm, dry and comfortable. Westcomb’s Focus Hoody claims to provide excellent protection in an ultralight form. We took it into the elements to see how it would fare.
Kicking It Old School
Soccer has never held our collective national attention like other sports — with Landon Donovan’s goal in extra time against Algeria during the 2010 world cup and Brandi Chastain’s sports bra celebration being the two possible exceptions. So who knew that 2013 represents the 100-year anniversary of the birth of U.S. soccer, originally established as the United States Football Association, a not-for-profit, governing body of soccer in America? Nike’s Centennial kit celebrates this notable milestone with throwback duds for players and fans alike.
Hone your inner survivalist
No, it’s not made especially for a zombie outbreak. The Lansky T.A.S.K. (Tactical Apocalypse Survival Kit) ($200) is aimed at avoiding (or taking down) whatever your own personal apocalypse may be. We break it down.
Where to store it when the going gets tough
In today’s digital era of technology, “Knowledge is Power” has taken on a much broader meaning as data becomes our most valued asset. How we as users go about portably accessing and backing up these personal files — music, photos, financial documents, and third-party software — has proven to be just as critical. Whether it’s the aspiring music producer shopping beats around to labels or the established accountant keeping tabs of clients’ paper trails, everyone can use a sturdy and high-functioning portable hard drive, especially those who remain adventurous and (naturally or otherwise) accident prone.
We’re talking an external device that can withstand the daily wear and tear. Something that can handle being tossed in the messenger bag; something that can survive a natural disaster. Need we remind you of Hurricane Sandy, or of last Friday’s party at your place? Didn’t think so. Luckily for you, there’s a handful of damage-proof HHDs available sure to safeguard all your stored data — and we’ve found the best.
A room for you and the conch-ubine
At the invitation of the Hyatt Key West, we shacked up there for a long weekend to explore the island, the last stop in the Keys. While the other Keys are known for their beaches (Bahia Honda), diving (Key Largo) and fishing (Marathon), Key West is known principally for its eccentricity: it’s the place that values individuality, the arts, fresh seafood, rowdy bars, polydactyl cats and drag shows. The Hyatt is refuge amid the stir.
high and dry
To soothe the discomfort of a damp, rocky and generally pokey forest floor when camping, ground-bound tenters have to make sure they’ve come equipped, which is a drag en route. The Blue Ridge Camping Hammock ($140) combines the comforts of being high, dry and comfortably cradled during your next forest foray.
Look Like a Local
It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to Whistler for early spring powder turns or Fort Lander for the summer climbing festival; mountain style is a little different than your garden variety runway fare. Put the moonboots and sweat pants down. You’re not fooling anyone. We’ve put together a few indispensable mountain style standards, chock full of storied, quality brands, to help you blend in with the locals — unless you’re heading to any ski resort in Montana. In that case, it’s time to stock up on Wrangler and Carhartt.
We’ve always had a love for the timepieces of Victorinox Swiss Army, so a new limited edition version of the Victorinox Swiss Army 1989 Original Chronograph ($495), the first watch they ever made, really tugs at the heartstrings.
There’s no shortage of speakers vying for your computer’s affections. The trouble is, most have land grab aspirations that put Ted Turner’s to shame. Nocs NS2 Air Monitors ($450) are precisely designed to suit even the “coziest” of desktop environments, but like any child of the information age, prefer not to be pigeonholed by any single role.
You should unwind -- but your favorite timepiece shouldn't
A self-winding mechanical watch only lives up to its name if it’s kept moving. On your wrist, there’s no problem — the motion of your arm keeps the rotor spinning, which winds the mainspring. But leave it on your bedside table for a couple of days and you’ll need to crank it by hand and set the time and date. While that’s no great hardship with one or two watches, once your collection grows to more than that, you’re going to want a watch winder.
So which one to get? The one in the SkyMall catalog should be fine for your $40,000 Patek Philippe, right? Wrong. We’ve rounded up five of the best winders, from $40 to $7,000, to help you choose the right one for your budget and your quiver of timepieces.
Don't Sweat The Wet
Problem: you want to use your DSLR to shoot some rad watersport photos, but standing on the shoreline or using those disposable waterproof cameras isn’t nearly rad enough. And even less rad is trying to fit your personal rig into a Ziplock freezer bag to protect it from the wet. Solution: Outex waterproof DSLR covers.
That's nothing to sneeze at
Look on your bookshelf, in your armoire, wherever you stash your toiletries. We’d bet a shiny buffalo nickel you’ve got one bottle of cologne there, maybe a second collecting dust. That one you’ve got smells like getting socked with a powdery diaper, but the the packaging made you think of white sand, bracing saltwater and azure skies. What happened? More to the point, how did you end up with that bottle? For all the energy men expend making decisions about what to buy (we should know), we put comparatively little effort into cologne. That changes now. We’re going to take some of the guesswork out by testing men’s cologne here at GP, starting with a look at five men’s fragrances from niche brands we like.
This is the incredible technology you're looking for
Want to use simple hand gestures to move around robots, control iTunes, play video games and way, way more without spending an entire lunar cycle on Dagobah bunking with a rambunctious green midget? The MYO gesture control armband ($149) is the answer.