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Cannonball!

Kit: Epic Pool Party

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.

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Only good things in store

Mix It Up: Great Store-Bought Mixers

A decent drink can be hard to find, especially when you’re at home. For the do-it-yourselfers who would rather the “do” simply be mixing the strong stuff with the not-so-strong stuff, we’ve compiled a list of the top five mixers you can find in your friendly neighborhood high-end liquor store. All you have to do is add booze, ice and maybe a wry wink as you drop in the cocktail straw.

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Board optional, shorts required

Short Sell: This Summer’s 5 Best Board Shorts

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.

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Call for backup

Five Alive: 5 Best iPhone 5 Battery Cases

Doubling battery life is a no-brainer. Options run the gamut for solutions to Apple’s latest quick-to-die wonder — and we really mean run the gamut. It’s a bit of the Wild West in the battery case world at the moment, so start here with our five best selections, then do your homework and make sure what you choose will get you what you want.

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The good kind of shady

Clear for Takeoff: 5 Aviators for the Summer

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.

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Don't call it a video game

iRacing: the Best Racing Simulator Out There

You’re sitting on the grid at Road America in a classic Lotus 79. The red turns green and you light ‘em up. Accelerating hard down the front straight, you dice for racing room with two or three dozen other drivers around the world before pouring into turn one. Yep, you read that right. Those other drivers aren’t FROM around the world, they ARE around the world. This is internet racing on iRacing.com

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Poring over coffee's simplest method

Kit: The Perfect Pour Over Coffee Set

Occam’s razor: A philosophical principle suggesting that simpler explanations tend to be better than complex ones. It has broad application, from medicine to ethics to proofs of the existence of God. Now if we apply the razor to our morning coffee, as the thinking men of Gear Patrol are wont to do, we can scrap our fancy drip machines and super-automatic espresso makers and still get a world-class cup of coffee without doing much more than pouring hot water over coffee grounds. We’ve assembled a pour over kit with all the basics to get you started — at a very affordable price.

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Good tequila? Aqui

Tasting Notes: Qui Tequila

Last Cinco de Mayo you ended up in the gutter with an extra-large sombrero shading your bloodshot eyes. Ready to grow up a bit for this year’s celebration? May we recommend Qui tequila ($57), sipped straight while you fight the waves of heartburn your taco feast brings on.

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Fly-ready folders

Keep Calm Carry-Ons: 5 Best TSA-Approved Pocket Knives

Many of us remember the days of over-zealous and hyper-vigilant guardians of flight security; I’ve had children’s safety scissors, nail clippers (sans nail file), and three wooden toy swords (gifts for my sons) turned away in the name of national security. Being a serving member of the military didn’t help, even on the occasion when I was flying with both a service rifle and pistol on a contract aircraft.

The lifting of the Transportation Security Agency’s prohibition on knives brings both a boon for your every day carry (EDC) and a challenge in deciding on a folding knife that meets the TSA’s parameters. Wading into travel regulations and the many suitable sharp options on the market, we’ve picked five knives (plus a bonus) that will both get the odd job done and actually make it onto a plane.

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Kicking It Old School

100 Years On the Pitch: Nike’s Centennial U.S. Soccer Kit

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.

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If you can't beat 'em (in soccer), join 'em

Tasting Notes: Maison Leblon Reserva Especial

With Brazil coming into dominance on a world scale in preparation for its 2012 Olympics and World Cup hosting job, it only makes sense that some Carnival culture would find its way into our borders. But cachaça? What is exactly is that stuff? In short, it’s Brazil’s most popular distilled alcoholic beverage, a cousin of rum made from fermented sugarcane juice rather than molasses. Leblon’s Maison Leblon Reserva Especial ($28) refines the liquor’s raw power through a two-year aging process in Limousin French Oak Barrels.

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The Powers that be

Tasting Notes: Powers John’s Lane Release

One of Ireland’s most popular whiskeys now has a big brother worthy of any fine whiskey collection. In fact, at roughly $70 a bottle Powers John’s Lane Release is one of the best, bang-for-your-buck Irish Whiskeys on the market today.

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Where to store it when the going gets tough

Die-Hard Drives: 5 Best Rugged Hard Drives

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.

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Bad for running, worse for fighting

Combat Flip Flops

For a completely different idea on winning in Afghanistan, take a look at the brain child of two former Army Rangers and a friend. Working from the idea that we can’t kill our way to victory in a counter-insurgency conflict and from the inspired slogan, “Business, not bullets”, Combat Flip Flops ($65) promotes a strong Afghan economy to sustain and build on the successes of the past 10 years.

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You should unwind -- but your favorite timepiece shouldn't

Wound Up: 5 Best Watch Winders

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.

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Far over the misty mountains cold...

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-ray 3D

Good old Bilbo. In a way, he’s the granddad we all hope to be: pipe-smoking octogenarian, enjoying good food and reminiscing about better times when he ran around with a crazy bunch of dudes who pulled pranks on rubes (trolls) and escaped some tight situations (trolling the Goblin King in the Misty Mountains). Of course, there’s other appeal to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on Blu-ray 3D ($28).

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Making pirates everywhere happy for 310 years

Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum

Mount Gay’s Black Barrel Rum is a small batch from the mind of Master Blender Allen Smith that combines previously aged reserves from both pot and column distillates and finishes them with an extended stay in deeply charred Bourbon oak barrels. The end result is a dark coppery-gold liquid with a nose of citrus, complimented by vanilla and charred wood.

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Don't Sweat The Wet

Outex Waterproof DSLR Cover

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.

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You wish you were this flexible

Nike Free Trainer 5.0

The Nike Free Trainer 5.0 is the latest generation of the footwear company’s ultra successful Free (no, not that kind of free) line and was inspired by Chinese finger traps. Yup, you read that right.

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Third Time's the Charm

Roku 3

The newly announced Roku 3 ($100) is as close to a set-top-box stud as we can currently hope for, armed on the hardware front with 1080p video output, an HDMI connection, dual-band wireless, Ethernet and USB ports, and a microSD slot for additional storage.

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Grill Power

Tested: BioLite Portable Grill

Back-to-nature gourmands, rejoice — the BioLite Portable Grill ($60) saves you from suffering through camp dinners made of only canned soup and stick-toasted weenies, while still powering your decidedly non-forest-friendly electronic devices.

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Better, faster, stronger

Grip-N-Go: 5 Best Multi-Tools

You’re not the guy who has a frequent buyer card at Sears, so you can’t always find the perfect tool in your less-than-organized garage. Perhaps a versatile multi-tool would be your best ally. Multi-tools have been around for twenty years, and they’re not going away anytime soon. Today’s multi-tools are better than ever, with innovative designs that are only limited by the imagination. If you’re wondering what all-around multi-tool to purchase, we have five of the best full-sized multi-tools on the market today.

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Shoes for the year-round runner

10 Best Winter Running Shoes

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere lasts four months, but for all intents and purposes the conditions it imposes on runners — cold winds, snow, ice, mud and generally unpredictable terrain — are good for another two. That’s half a year on a treadmill or cross-training in another discipline. That won’t do for most runners. Aside from the functional pre-race advantages of running on roads and trails, exercising in the cold has been associated with all kinds of health benefits, from increased calorie burn to improved stress-coping capacity.

Fortunately, there’s a battery of winter running shoes that perform and protect, many of them incorporating positive design elements from the minimalist running movement — shoes that are, in other words, more than glorified lightweight hikers. We’ve got the 10 best here. Lace up, put the law offices of Jim Sokolove on speed-dial, and get outside.

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We Don't See Nothin' Wrong With a Little Bump and Grind

Grind it Out: 10 Best Coffee Grinders

You like the line at your favorite coffee shop? Ok, besides the cute barista, you can do better: start by grinding your own beans, then check back with Gear Patrol for other suggestions for stepping up to the big leagues. The journey from coffee hack to ambrosia connoisseur begins with freshly ground java in your French press, drip, or espresso machine. A quick primer first, and then on to our top 10 picks.

A hearty thanks to the good folks at Clive Coffee for their expertise and assistance in producing this buying guide. If you're on the quest for top-tier coffee gear, your search is finally over.
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Coffee table, meet coffee book

Table Service: 5 Great Coffee Table Books About Coffee

Left unattended, the ubiquitous coffee table quickly becomes a gatekeeper of everything from last October’s cable bill (you paid that, didn’t you?) to the feet of undisciplined friends and family. We know you run a tighter ship than most and appreciate how a well-placed read can stimulate conversations faster than a triple shot. Here’s a crop of coffee-themed books worthy of displacing Ansel Adams or your decades-long dedication to the Maxim Hot 100.

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Great outdoors, great coffee

Camp Caffeine: Lessons in Outdoor Brewing

Something about sitting atop an unexplored peak to watch the sunrise while enjoying your favorite coffee just feels right. Maybe it’s the sub-freezing temperatures and obligatory wind chill, or it’s the all night trek catching up with you. With that in mind, we’ve got the best tried and true methods for brewing your favorite coffee for you next adventure, be it a weekend of car camping or a full blown backcountry expedition.

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Old School, High Quality, No BS

Owen & Fred

In the constant pursuit of a high-quality, stylish lifestyle, it’s understandable that we men may stray from the path a time or two — a truck stop frozen burrito here, a discount-grade pair of white socks there. Most times, though, we regret purchasing shoddy products. Owen & Fred, The Store For Men is a response to just such disappointing gimmickry, providing the superbly crafted choice for everything from dopp kits to ties to kitchen accessories and all the rest.

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We've Bean Reading

Grounded Literature: 5 Great Books About Coffee

Feet up, couch bound with a good book in one hand and a hot cup of coffee in the other is a reader’s rite of passage. Those co-mingling aromas of parchment and fresh grounds are undeniably intoxicating. Any favorite book can be heightened by the pairing, but it being the Fortnight of Coffee and all, we decided to filter some new picks in a sort of meta-coffee vein: five first-rate reads to further your knowledge of one of the world’s most popular drinks.

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Hot coffee, un-burned crotch

En Route: 5 Best Commuter Mugs

Life seems to get difficult quick if you can’t bring your coffee with you; but if you spill, your treasured drink can become a mortal enemy. Nobody wants that. The solution is a great travel mug — one that keeps your coffee hot, your sips accessible and your crotch free of searing pain and disappointment. Finding the best mug for your cup holder (or mesh slot on your favorite backpack) isn’t as easy as you’d think, but we’ve gone ahead and done it anyway, because hell, it’s the Fortnight of Coffee. Here’s five great mugs, ranging from 12 to 17 ounces, for the backcountry hippie to the sharply dressed office warrior.

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Tiny wheels, big dreams

Playforever Toys

Miss racing your old toys across the tile floor? Playforever toys ($28-$60) — cars, motorcycles and airplanes — will have you practicing your engine revving noises in no time.