Handyman, craftsman, mister-fix-it, Dad. Call him what you like, but the Do-It-Yourselfer on your list gives his all for you, no matter the task. Be honest: that beautiful new deck that causes envy in the eyes of all your friends would’ve been a creaking pile of splinters were it not for him, and you’d probably be sharing space with Fido out in the yard — in the K9 condo he designed and built no less — had he not stepped in to save your recent en suite experiment. Like most men of his ilk, your handyman rarely receives anything more than a hot coffee to start his day and a cold brew to finish it, which is fine by him. Isn’t it about time you gave him something more? Here are a few gift ideas that should ensure your calls for help continue to get answered.
Grizzly Adams, you are not
Straight edge razors, Dollar Shave Club, electric, Mach 3, safety razors…for the clean-shaven out there, options truly abound. For those of us who opt for a little or a lot of facial hair, though, companies seem less inclined to provide choices. Keeping that beard trim and looking good is important regardless of season, particularly when research has shown women are more attracted to men with heavy stubble than their clean-shaven counterparts. In the interest of cleaning up this situation, we’ve rounded up our favorite beard trimmers.
For relaxing times...
Last week hummus and yoga were “in”, and while they’re not out yet, there’s a new top dog in Popularville: Japanese Whisky. Notice the spelling — that’s whisky with a -y, like Scotch whisky, not whiskey with an -ey, the spelling used for U.S. and Irish varietals. Yes, the Japanese whisky industry was modeled after the Scottish single malt industry’s practice of distilling and blending under one roof, but it’s since taken on a life of its own. As a result of several recent victories over Scottish whiskies at blind tasting competitions, Japan’s best-kept secret escaped, and the world is eager to test the hype. We tasted five of the best 12-year-old Japanese whisky offerings, and we can assure you that the hype is warranted.
There are basically two schools of thought when assembling a kit for an ultramarathon: comprehensive preparation and more weight, or as minimalist as possible. For first-time ultra-distance runners, the decision can be a little confounding. You want to be very prepared and very light. This setup for the Vermont 50 — a trail run — reflects a good balance of preparedness and weight, with a bias toward the former in the choice of a hydration pack.
Pages of legends
Every man’s library should consist of great books. Of course, regardless of how many classics you’ve read, if you’re a devotee of automobilia, your shelves should also house some truly great car books. We take a look at some of the best automotive books around in hopes that you’ll get your hands on some of them, park yourself in a comfy chair and spend a weekend afternoon imagining the sights, sounds and smells of great motoring.
Not for pancakes
Fall is upon us, and there’s no better way to usher in the cooler months than with a spirit seemingly created in autumn’s honor: Knob Creek Smoked Maple Bourbon ($31). To be clear, we’ve been completely satisfied with the standard Knob Creek 9 Year Straight Bourbon, but expanding whiskey horizons can’t be a bad thing. Still, adding flavoring to a solid whiskey can be a risky endeavor. Did Knob Creek gamble and lose by producing something tantamount to being whacked in the face by a maple syrup bottle, or did they win by creating a real bourbon that hums its own tune?
Orange is the New Black
Since 2010, San Francisco-based DSPTCH has designed rugged, functional camera straps that pair military-spec webbing and Paracord with high-quality hardware. They’re available in a variety of excellent, reserved hues, but we couldn’t help but wonder what a combination of blaze orange and matte black hardware might look like. Neither could DSPTCH — and so we’re pleased to introduce GP x DSPTCH straps in our signature color.
Gear worth its weight in...
Competing in endurance mountain bike racing requires a significant amount of time on the bike. There are days when you eat your breakfast and lunch on the go, get on your bike before the sun comes up and even get lost in the woods trying to find six hours worth of trails. We all settle into distinct collections of gear to make the bike our home, but for us, this kit offers the perfect blend of performance, durability and comfort.
Yes, you deserve this
With the onset of colder months just around the corner and ever-increasing smoking bans that span the globe, we thought we’d impart some stogie wisdom your way. While the weather permits, slip on the flip flops, get a good adult beverage in your hand, fire up a great cigar and relax that red hot brain of yours as the sun starts to set. We’ve assembled an array of smoking pleasure to please the range of palates, along with our recommendations for matching liquid delights.
A look beyond the usual suspects
Once you’ve got your bike, which you should by now, the next step is to pick up the appropriate accessories. For commuters, second only to a helmet is a suitable bag that holds the necessities and, beyond that, meets specific, personal work- or looks-related criteria. The next thing to consider is the style of bag — backpack, messenger or something else entirely? We’ve got all of the above, with a preference toward backpacks.
You’ve got the latest DSLR, a smattering of lenses and the best location in the world, but try as you might, things are still looking more Monet than Ansel Adams. Even with the best image stabilization technology and neurosurgeon hands, photos will loose their crispness around exposures longer than 1/20th of a second. Past that, you’re going to need something sturdy to rest on. Less is more, we say. Here are our three favorite monopods.
This list of our favorite photography books represents an attempt, however incomplete, to reseat the photo book in its rightful place alongside the
Scarface posters Warhols lining your walls. We wouldn’t call it a compendium of the greatest photographers or a comprehensive survey of the medium — it’s just a few selections to help broaden your photographic horizons, or at the very least spark some compelling conversation around the coffee table.
Gimme some sugar(cane)
In the final throes of summer each year, before we dust off the leather boots, get out the lambswool sweaters and prepare to toss the first curse at Old Man Winter, we spend a little extra time with Old Man Rum. Pretty good company, this guy: a spirit distilled from sugarcane juice or molasses, with few other rules to govern its production and aging. That makes for a drink that varies greatly in style and provenance. The five rums we’re enjoying now reflect that variety of tastes.
Slopes? We'll take our water flat, thanks
Sprinkler, fire hydrant, beach or pool: they’re all great ways to cool off when the mercury spikes. Then there’s waterskiing. Often overshadowed by its alpine brother, waterskiing is a heck of a lot of fun and doesn’t require donning a neck warmer. There’s nothing like carving a perfect turn and throwing up a 15-foot wall of spray behind you, all under sunny skies and, preferably, with some bikini-clad babes close by. Here’s the gear you need to get there.
Read up, ride on
Imagine a crisp fall day where the trails are hooking up so nicely it feels like you’re riding on rails. It’s so sweet you decide to skip the parking lot and continue on. After a few more miles you’ve peaked with adrenaline and start to put more power down to get up a small, steep climb — and your chain snaps. When “F***!” is the first thing that comes to mind, instead of, “Sweet, I finally get to use my new multitool!”, well, that’s when you phone home to say you’ll be late for dinner.
This scenario can be a moment to shine rather than a disaster — and in many other instances, a wealth of knowledge and the right tools can save you hundreds of dollars over the lifespan of your bike. All it takes is an understanding of a few basic repairs. We’ve picked out our favorite bike repair books so you can back to the car in time for steaks.
To stop a thief
Cities are graveyards for stolen bikes, with bent wheels and ragged frames hanging off anything nailed to the ground. Remains. The air is thick with the ghosts of bikes that were stolen completely — Fujis, Treks, Surlys. You can almost hear their cute little bells chirping. Estimates for stolen bikes in the U.S. between one and two million per year, and they’re difficult to get back because most people don’t write down serial numbers or register their bikes — and bike theft isn’t exactly law enforcement’s number one priority. The good news is that with a serious lock, proper locking technique and the good sense to take the darn thing inside at night, we’ll all meet again in the bike lane when the sun rises tomorrow.
Just add water
While we love diving for its ability to transport us to an alien world, defy gravity and commune with nature, we also love it for the gear. Diving may be the most gear-intensive sport out there, with the possible exception of mountain climbing. Without your mask, you don’t see, without your tank and regulator, you don’t breathe, without your dive computer, you risk a nasty case of the bends. For our recent trip to the Bahamas, we packed along our favorite warm water diving kit, a collection of necessities, safety backups and just a little bit of style.
Small batch, big pleasures
Asking us to choose between whiskey (bourbon) and whisky (single malt scotch) is like posing the question, “Would you prefer to drive a C2 Corvette Split Window or a Jaguar E-Type?” The answer is always “both and yes.” But if you’re a single malt devotee, you’d do right to expand your taste horizons, and the best way to experiment with bourbon is to go small batch — the complexities are pleasing, and you’ll find yourself a worshiper in many different temples. There’s a lot to love. Here are tasting notes on our five favorite small batch bourbons worth warming your palate.
Cold Off the Presses
Iced coffee has been a longstanding warm-weather alternative to the hot stuff since forever, but there have always been drawbacks. As you’d expect, brewing hot coffee and then putting it on ice leads to a watery, acidic brew with as much flavor as Chuck D’s solo career. The answer is cold brew. Using cold or…
There are dozens — if not hundreds — of guys making custom leather straps these days, and a few doing nylon. You can too. All it really takes is some serious time on Google and YouTube looking for information, a leather supplier, a few knives, needle and thread, and Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours of practice.
In case you don’t have that kind of time, we’ve rounded up some top current strap makers for your sampling pleasure. And lest you think these guys are dilettantes, at least two of them parlayed their passion into an OEM manufacturing concern for well-known watch brands.
You've got the beast, now protect it
There’s no denying the Samsung Galaxy S4’s universal mass appeal. Dynamic functionality combined with surreal processing power make it by far the most dominant smartphone ever built. But truth be told, all that badass technology isn’t enough to masquerade the handset’s cheap and conservative design. Think we’re being too harsh? Google the top GS4 reviews and you’ll see nearly every major mobile critic shares the same sentiments.
Sammy’s decision to don the next-gen Galaxy with a plastic rear cover left a bad impression on consumers from the git-go. And with recent damage tests and teardown reports suggesting the GS4 is more fragile than the iPhone 5, it’s only wise to invest in an insurance policy after spending serious coin on such a device.You’re only spoiled for choice. We narrow down the field to 30 or so.
Shades built for speed
Sunglasses are sunglasses, right? If you’re serious about safe driving, the answer is a resounding no. You can’t just slap on a pair of clearance carousel drugstore shades and expect a great behind-the-wheel experience; nor does spending $300 on top-of-the-line sunglasses necessarily get you the best sunglasses for the road. You’ll want to spend less time looking in the rearview mirror to see if they match your hair and more time concentrating on negotiating that hairpin turn like you were related to Fangio. We offer up some of the best in our roundup.
Tell people you begin the day with a swim and they’re bound to reply with a look that’s equal parts envy, bewilderment and awe. Who swims, for exercise, in the morning? Who risks certain athlete’s foot and doesn’t mind going to work with goggle eyes? How many people pee in the pool? Old people and triathletes, that’s who. And everyone. But the reality is that swimming is the perfect impact-free sport for long-term fitness and short-term ripped abs, and while you can do it with nothing but a pair of Speedos and a smile, having a stocked duffel can make the experience more fulfilling than a philosophical conversation with Ryan Lochte — much more.
Relax into weightlessness
It made me angry that the obese woman could swim faster than me. In my bubble of intense training for my first triathlon I’d fashioned an idea of justice that allowed fit people to just naturally be better than other people at everything. I raked and windmilled my arms through the water in the windowless, basement-level pool at the local YMCA. 5:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds. By 5:45 a.m. I’d be winded, exhausted. Have a Gu. Adjust my goggles. Stretch the lats out. Out at 6:00 a.m., even more angry. There had to be a better way to learn how to swim.
There’s nothing like a bottle beach plum liqueur to conjure even totally made up memories of summering on the Atlantic coast. The only such spirit with a commercial release? Greenhook Ginsmiths Beach Plum Gin Liqueur ($50), made in Brooklyn, NY, by the young distillery whose American Dry Gin we’ve also sampled.
Brace for Betas
Walk into any amazon.com these days and you’ll be confronted with an incredibly massive library of video games; a new field of consoles (see sidebar below) just adds to the melee. How do you sort the Grand Theft Autos from the ExtremePaintbrawls*? We took a look at the crop of upcoming games for both current-gen and next-gen consoles and found the games you should be looking forward to.
Same country, new port
Pike Creek Whiskey was available stateside in the 90s. Slow sales soon put the importation experiment to an end, despite a budding cult following. Now, Pernod Ricard is reintroducing the spirit back to select American markets. Unlike typical Canadian whiskies, Pike Creek is finished in Port barrels, and left at the mercy of the elements in unheated warehouses. But is it really a different? Read our full review to find out.
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.
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.