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.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you like. A product should bring you value, though I think people tend to mistake perceived value with actual real-world value. My belief is that you should occasionally indulge in the former, but always be willing to pay as much as possible for the latter. If a $500 watch can make you happy as a clam, then that’s worth every penny. If an alligator skin sofa is something you think will impress others but is a nightmare to sit in, then, well, take a minute and think things through.

I tend to value things by its enduringness: Can I see myself using this in the foreseeable future? Is it simple for me to understand? If yes, I don’t really care what the price is. I’m happy to pay a premium or take some time to save for it. Lately, as life has gotten more complex with the job and family, I’ve accelerated pruning down my product assembly. The things that bring me joy are what entertain me and make me faster — that’s the unifying characteristic of my Staff Picks this year.

Gap Crew T-Shirt

I threw out my entire wardrobe a couple years ago and now just have these in black, navy and charcoal. I wear them year-round.

1997 Defender 90 NAS

It almost seems borderline cliché to own a Defender now, but you know what? I really don’t care. As one of modern motoring’s seminal creations, the Defender will outlive trends. I recently sold mine and am looking forward to starting the hunt for a replacement very soon. After all, that part’s half the fun.

Officine Panerai Luminor Marina 111

The watch that rekindled my interest in watches, as well as a bit of a watch strap fetish. I dress down all of mine — the brightwork of bracelets just doesn’t work well on me. Unless it’s yellow gold. [Editor’s Note: The Luminor Marina 111 has been discontinued; a similar watch, the 8-Day Luminor, is linked here.]

Rolex GMT Master II

As with The Godfather, the GMT Master’s sequel is better than the original. And just like The Dark Knight trilogy, the Batman dial is my favorite. (I’m also finished with movie analogies.) Stainless steel, 40mm. Some advice: buy retail, but take care to not overpay.

Apple AirPods

This is hands-down Apple’s greatest product since the iPhone. My spidey sense says the fight for the way people listen to music is one of the most important frontiers in tech. Without anyone really noticing, Apple has become a highly respectable audio company (long-term redemption for the iPod Hi-Fi), which is a natural evolution to being such a force in the music business, thanks to iTunes. If the AirPods demonstrate anything, it’s that we should expect a lot from the forthcoming HomePod.

Bowers & Wilkins PM1

I live in an apartment, so there’s only so much I can do when it comes to hi-fi. The PM1’s are, in my opinion, one of B&W’s greatest speakers dollar for dollar. Compact in size, enormous in sound, the their only downside is their hunger for wattage: they devour power like hot butter on toast. But, my god, the sound…

Genuine Joe Coffee Cup

I waxed about this cup in an earlier story, but it warrants another mention — especially now that fall is in full force. My go-to cup is back in business. None of the magic is lost, either; it’s the best to-go cup if you’re not good with travel mugs. It’s sturdy enough to use all day and goes right back into the recycle bin.

If you prefer, the waste-friendly option would be the Zojirushi vacuum sealed mug. It’s an ace, and sinister in matte black.

Sharpie Permanent Marker

Let’s unpack this one. When I need to get super productive and Apple Notes just won’t cut it (as damn good as it is), here’s what I do: I pull out some loose-leaf paper, fold it in half, and use a black sharpie to jot down a to-do list. Starting each day with a massive to-do list is a recipe for disaster for me, so a Sharpie and a half-fold sheet of paper limits what I can write and keeps me focused. I’ll also admit that I have a Pavlovian reaction to the smell of Sharpies now — I associate it with getting shit done.

Tumi Alpha Bravo Continental

I don’t travel as much as I used to, but when I do, I’m reminded how much I love this bag. It’s not as Teutonic or cool as an aluminum Rimowa, but my travel habits tend to just be about efficiency now. This bag can service 90 percent of my travel needs, from a two-day weekend to a five-day business trip, in a pinch.

Barena Unstructured Blazer

My job doesn’t require suits anymore, so I’ve adopted, for better or worse, the startup uniform. This one’s a splurge. Barena runs small to size, and their blazers are slim fit, so I have to actually wear a — gulp — XXL. It still looks tier-one though.

Cole Haan Allenby Waterproof Chukka

Seems like everyone’s got shoes in this series. I’m not a huge shoe guy, but I love these Allenby waterproof chukkas. They work with khakis and denim and they’re waterproof. Done.

The Grail

Grail: Mercedes-Benz AMG E63 S Estate

The responsible bruiser. After all, I am a dad. Just throw a Thule Force on top, a Clek Fllo car seat in the back, and call it a day. Oh, and I’d take a few days off and do European Delivery.

Just for shits and giggles though, here’s how I’d build it out:

  • Polar White, 20-inch AMG twin five-spoke wheels w/gray accents
  • Macchiato Beige/Black Nappa Leather
  • Natural Grain w/ Ash Wood
  • AMG Advanced Lighting
  • AMG Night Package
  • AMG Performance Seats
  • AMG Ceramic Composite Brakes
  • AMG Performance Exhaust System
  • All Weather Floor Mats
  • All Our Staff Picks In One Place

    All the gear we can’t live without. Read the Story