Let’s talk on-the-go products.
Over the holidays I was, as usual, traveling a lot. As I went from place to place, I noticed that I had acquired a group of little products that had disproportionately improved my abnormal nomadic existence. These products improved my life so much that, not only do I keep purchasing them, but I find myself continuously recommending them to others. Finally, I figured instead of spreading them around one-by-one, a post might be more helpful.
What’s below are a list of those widgets– clothes, workstations, exercise equipment, tech, coffee accessories– made for the ramblers such as I. And, hopefully, such as you.
This is the best drink tumbler of all time, no question. So, first, a thank you to the lovely and talented Calli M Swofford (I made up that middle initial), owner of Miller Lane Mercantile. I’d be lost without you.
There are several problems with other canteen-like containers. They are as follows:
- they don’t maintain the temperature of the drink
- the outside of the bottle itself gets warm or cold making it uncomfortable to hold
- it’s too big (that’s what I would have liked her to say, but she certainly did not)
- it’s too small (that’s what she said, but I pretended I didn’t here her)
- they look dumb
The Kinto suffers none of these flaws. Not only is it sleek, highly portable, and spill safe, but it keeps your drinks the exact same temperature the entire day.
True to its Japanese routes, it is a manufacturing marvel. I’ve left the Kinto filled with cold brew coffee directly in hours of sunlight on the beach, and left it with hot tea in a cold car for an entire day. The result– basically the same exact temp liquid when I retrieved it. It’s amazing.
And for the price—it can’t be beat.
(2) BONTEC Stand Up Desk Extension ($70).
For those of you who aren’t interested in shelling out $600-700 for one of those fancy electronic riser desks, this is the next best thing. And even if you have the expendable income for an Uplift, for me, the BONTEC is actually the better product.
One key reason for it’s supremacy: (this won’t be hard to guess) it’s portable. For a rovering gnome like me, portability is a prime-time asset. The other keys to the BONTEC are:
- zero assembly required (I’m not handy)
- height adjustable (I’m not tall)
- not that big (“my home is very poor“)
(3) J-Flex Pull Up Handles ($115)
Let’s get one thing clear– that’s not my upper back.
But the delusion is, with the J-Flex on my side, those rear delts are in my future. So, before you get any other door-frame, pull-up bar—STOP.
The J-Flex is the single best door-frame pull-up contraption in the home gym game. The secret behind its greatness? You probably guessed portability, since I’m a gypsy. Very close, but it’s actually second place here.
The key issue with most door-frame, pull-up contraptions is an install process that makes Jews like myself feel inadequate. I need a low barrier to start, preferably one that’s tool-free.
Enter: J-Flex. You just simply pull the two handles apart and, spring-like, they snap into place. It takes maybe 30 toolless seconds. Next thing you know, you’re ready to drastically undershoot the amount of pull ups you told your friend you could do.
Oh, and they’re portable…
(4) Cold Brew Coffee Sock. ($14)
Tired of paying $5 per cold brew purchase? Want the smooth and rich taste of cold brew without the Omicroness of the coffee shop? Get yo’self a Sock.
Gotta hand this one over to my boy, JT. No, not that JT. And no, not that second or third JT you were thinking of. It’s the drummer boy JT behind the great Family Company, and doogie influencer, Golden Loutreiver. Josh turned me onto The Sock and it’s one of the better purchases you can make if you’re a cold brew fan.
The only edit from me would be not to get the gallon jar from them (it has a shitty spout), but get your own glass dispenser on Amazon ($44).
(5) Logitech iPad Case and Keyboard ($98).
For all of the existence of this website (including these words right now), I’ve been typing, not on a laptop, but on an iPad.
How do I create such majesty on such a limited device? By converting form into function with the Logitech keyboard case. It converts the once fragile, inapplicable pad into a standable, typeable–and, yes, portable–brick shit-house.
As for the spellbinding prose– that’s sold separately.
(6) Gymnastic Rings ($40)
Again, not my arms. And I can’t do that.
Another confesh–I’m no gymnast. I’ve got hip flexors wound so tight, I’m like the leg version of Henry Rowengartner’s arm (without the benefits). Wow, that was a deep-cut reference, thanks for staying with me. So before you move on because ‘you’re not a gymnast’—let me tell you this: rings might be the single best piece of exercise equipment I’ve ever purchased.
Here are some possible objections that I’m going to obliterate:
But Justin, I’m a real man. I need to bench press. Listen, Deebo, the last thing I’ll ever claim is that I’m a real man. But have you ever seen the arms of a gymnast? Jacked af.
But Justin, I’m too weak for rings. I can’t even do a pull up. No, Nancy—the only thing weak on you is your mind. You can start at any level. Just like a TRX, you can hang them low enough to use your legs.
But Justin, I don’t have a high beam. Where am I supposed to hang them? Basically anywhere. I’ve hung them the following places: trees, monkey bars, swing set, ladder, the railing of a deck, railing of a balcony, off the statue of David. Anywhere.
These particular rings are best because the wood and straps are all legit, strong, and good for grip. Just don’t expect to pull this move your first time out. Still holding.
(7) The Best Basketball (~$30 – $120).
I’ve gotten back into basketball the last two years. Shooting and playing full court about three times per week, or so. It’s a blasty blast.
I’ve found two outdoor balls that I like (neither is perfect) and one indoor ball which is the unquestioned pinnacle of balls and feels like holding a firm, leather cloud (it’s also priced that way). Having these basketballs are so enjoyable, that even I, a slightly above average pickup player, feel like Steph.
Just remember: Guys, it’s 29.5 if you’re looking for NBA. Gals: 28.5 for WNBA.
Indoor (i.e. the we’re in heaven ball): Evolution
(8) USB-C Adapter, Macbook Air ($19)
Work a lot on the go with you laptop? Keep finding yourself in places with no outlets to plug in your phone? Have we got a solution for you (it’s just me). And it’s just so simple.
I can’t tell you the amount of times, roaming from coffee shop to coffee shop, that I’ve been seated somewhere only to realize three things: (1) my phone is dying, (2) there’s no outlets around, (3) but I have an underutilized, mostly-charged Macbook. [Quick note – do we have to say a phone is ‘dying’? Seems dramatic].
When that happens, and I’m on the phone a lot (not doing business, but looking for unlikely prospects on Bumble) it can be a problem. That was, until I found you, Model A1632 charger, made in china. Now, I can swipe right at my leisure.
The A1632–or just ‘the 632’ for those on the up and up– turns your laptop into a phone charger. Now, that may seem like a big-ass charger, but it cancels out the need for two other things: those heavy mobile chargers and coffee shops with outlets.
That is, until your laptop dies…
(9) Levis 511 Flex Jeans.
I am by no means Mr Fashion. I own, like, eight sets of clothing that I wear on a weekly rotation. (Seven for each day, one in case of fire). But I do have some tried and true rules.
Rule#1: It must fit well
Rule #2: it must look casual
Rule #3: nothing extravagant
For those reasons, Levis usually has something, or a couple somethings for me. I say usually, because a lot of times, the Levis fit can be a bit boxy or long. But that’s not the case with the flex jean, folks–straight fire.
For people who don’t have chicken legs, but still want the ‘skinny’ look, these are your jean. Tell ’em Justin sent ya (actually don’t. They will just be confused).
(10) Smartwool Socks ($19)
Let’s stay on functional clothing for a second. We’re talkin’ socks.
Now I know a lot of you think you’re all cool and noble with your Bombas. But here’s the problem, I’ve worn Bombas, and while I’m into what they’re doing, socking the unfortunate, I think their socks are somewhere between OK and good. But they’re no Smartwools.
BTW – this product is not for you folks making your feet suffer through those 1996 white things you get for $10 a dozen at Target. That’s a tragedy. This is to those of you who have respect for yourself, and your soles. You need to upgrade your underwear.
On socks, I have to say, there are some close competitors at the top (Balega comes to mind). But my favorite sock for comfort, for function, and for awesomeness are definitely the Smartwools. I choose the running ones normally, but I also have hiking. $20 a pair isn’t cheap, but they last a long time, and you just feel better. Mostly because you are.
(11) Ex-Officio Sport Mesh Boxer Briefs ($22)
I was first pointed to these years ago by Tim Ferriss, I think in The Four-Hour Work Week, one of the all-time most misunderstood books. So thanks, Timbo.
I’ve tried plenty of other boxer briefs, including the fancy name brands. None of them compare. These are the best for a few reasons:
- water resistant
- crouch hug
(12) Laptop Backpack ($40).
About six months ago, I was feeling a summer high and just about to buy some fancy, cool backpack for like $250. But then I realized a few truths: (1) I’m not fancy, (2) I’m not cool, and (3) there was nothing really that special about this timbuk2-looking thing. The pockets weren’t very functional. It wasn’t very spacious. The bag sort of sucked.
It was a classic case of style over utility. Which, as you know, I am not a fan of. That’s why I don’t like tube tops. They look nice but they don’t actually work as tops. The entire night the girl is constantly pulling up the top (top? more like mid). I suggest wearing at least one of those Andre-the-Giant single-strappers and letting go of the tube.
In short, the Matein is the Andre The Giant of the backpack world. Next.
(13) Maamgic Mens Sweat Shorts ($25).
Just stop right there. I waited until #13 to give you the biggest secret in the home lounging world. These shorts are the most unquestionably fabulous product on this entire list. Specifically, my nights and early mornings at home have become magical.
You can have your LuLu and your Vuori. Not interested. Sure, it’s brave to throw your support behind a no-name brand that you can’t pronounce. But when your shorts are good to your balls, you get ballsy. Was that joke gross and stupid? Yes. So, on brand.
The point is, just get the shorts, even if you are ball-less.
(14) Rock Dove Men’s Slippers ($23).
Sorry gals, I know this is another men’s product. But what do you want from me—I’m a man (at least on paper).
Now that I got that guilt off my hairy, jewish chest, let’s get to the slippers on my Jewish feet (on the smaller side). I’m not sure these are the best slippers in the world, certainly not for style. And I’m sure you can get some sort of plush Ugg b.s.
But for $23, these are everything I want a slipper to be—fit well, cloud like, simple.
(15) Malker Front and Rear Bike Lights ($10).
Gotta tip the cap here to my buddy Matt Diamond. That’s right THE Matty D. The guy who brought you Hiccups and Sneezes, The Exit Interviews, and one of the best birthday golf classics of all time: the “You Call That A Golf Course Memorial Classic.”
I was riding my bike home from Matt’s one evening and noticed it was way after dark. My man Dig said to me—get this—want to use my lights? What? I was blown away. What a sweet kid.
Now at first, I was scared we had a pull-up bar problem—install. Nah, dawg. These Malkers are the J-Flex of bike lights (except they make you less masculine). These things are as easy as fastening a seatbelt. You simply pull it around the bar, and clip it to itself. Great product.
Now, like The Riddler, I can be safe while I’m biking at night.
(16) Stainless Steel Kettle.
Two things an electric kettle should have: it should be fast and have a thermometer. That’s basically all you need. This one has the added style points for the gooseneck. Score one for tea and coffee time. Speaking of which…
(17) French Press (for Tea) ($20).
Why am I specifying it for tea? Because drinking a French press coffee was recently just linked with higher cholesterol. Why? The theory is because you have larger particles that get in. Mind you, it was only large amount of consumption that led to the increase– like five cups per day, which would kill me. But things that raise your LDL are probably not great overall.
I still have one maybe once every couple weeks, but no longer a common thing. For coffee, I now either go cold brew with the Sock or pour-over with a Chemex. The FP, however, I now use mostly for loose leaf teas.
Just get loose leaf tea, put in a couple table spoons, fill the thing with hot water (temp changes based on tea) and wait 3-5 minutes. Easy as it gets.
(18) Leafside Smoothies and Bowls (~$100).
You know those times when you want a quick smoothie or oatmeal, but (a) don’t have enough good ingredients in the fridge and / or (b) don’t feel like going through the prep and clean involved, but (c) still want something healthy with no sugar, oils, or b.s. added? That’s when you pull out a Cacao Cherry Smoothie packet or Apple Cinnamon Crunch Oatmeal Leafside.
I found these through Dr. Michael Greger, a plant-based doctor (who, btw, also has a great sense of humor). The Smoothies are a mixture of freeze-dried fruit and powdered veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and spices. The oatmeals are similar, but obviously the grains are not powdered.
If you’re a keto person, these aren’t for you. But if you’re into whole plant foods, dried or blended, it is. Just add ice and water (or milk) and it’s ready in a few minutes.
(19) Instant Pot. ($90)
Ok, I know I am late to the game here, but if you don’t have an Instapot at this point, in the worlds of the Road Dog, Jesse James: your ass better call somebody.
Why is the Instantpot so great? I walk into my apartment, I put in a cup of dry beans (usually lentils), I add a cup and change of water, I turn on pressure cook on for 10 minutes. Then I take a walk around the block or shower, or read— anything I want to do for 15-20 minutes (it takes ~5 minutes to pressurize) that has nothing to do with paying attention to cooking. I then come back, and they are cooked to perfection.
If you are still eating your beans from cans— you haven’t lived. Canned beans now taste like mush to me. Instapotted lentils are firm yet succulent. Same with grains or veggies.
My go-to, on-the-go snacks.
In a forthcoming article, I’ll talk about how I’ve, yet again, changed the way I eat. Although it appears that shifting calories earlier in the day is better for fat-loss, eating a lot early in the day makes me feel full. When I feel full, my brain gets a little bit dull (duller than usual). So I’ve switched to a new routine which has proven to work very effectively.
What I do is this– I eat my first food of the day at around 10am. But instead of that being a bulky meal or a lot of calories, keep it dense but light with snacks— specifically healthy snacks. Not a Cliff Bar or something like that, but snacks that are made from real food– you know, actually healthy.
My go-to combo is the Almond Butter Lupii bar, a bean and date based bar from a company started by two bad-ass women in New York and the Bear Bar – a savory 160 calorie bar out of San Diego. Altogether, it’s about 15 g of protein, 15 grams of fiber. It’s filing enough that I’m not hungry, but not too filling that it impacts my thinking.