i love u smartwool!
August 10, 2009 5:31 PM   Subscribe

Super efficient/awesome clothing &/or gadgets that have changed your life? I finally bought a lightweight soft wicking wool undershirt and it's a revelation. I can't believe that it took me so long to realize how much BETTER they are than standard cotton or synthetics. Does anyone else have any similar recommendations?
posted by leotrotsky to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (38 answers total) 155 users marked this as a favorite
The saddest day of my life was when I used my wealthier friend's bottle of $60 shampoo and realized that rich people shampoo is indeed far, far superior to drugstore shampoo. I cry a single tear of despair every time I have to open my shabby bottle of Pantene conditioner.
posted by zoomorphic at 5:46 PM on August 10, 2009 [9 favorites]

Hah, was just about to suggest SmartWool socks before I saw your title.

I took up running earlier this year and swapping my old, "all-purpose" trainers for some lightweight running shoes (mine are Saucony) made all the difference in the world. In general, shoes are one area where a slight upgrade in quality can make a massive difference in comfort.
posted by betafilter at 5:46 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

I love the Bookgem and the Smartpen, and use them all of the time.

The Bookgem is a great little bookholder, and the livescribe smartpen records everything you write in a notebook so that you can easily sync it with your computer and archive your notes. The best thing that the smartpen does is record audio as you write, letting you touch a word in your notes and instantly hear what was being said at that moment. Great for lectures (provided the lecturer doesn't mind you recording them).
posted by umbú at 5:51 PM on August 10, 2009 [4 favorites]

I discovered convertible pants this year. Quick zip-off of the legs makes for instant shorts, UPF 30 sun protection, water resistant, very light weight. Great for the outdoorsman. Also from Columbia.
posted by netbros at 5:55 PM on August 10, 2009

- Swimmer's shampoo really does make my hair more awesome than regular shampoo used after swimming.
- Silk long underwear is a great insulator that doesn't make you look like a marshmallow in the winter [beats longjohns or even wool stuff for a close-to-you layer]
- electric mattress pad warmer made it possible for me to live in Vermont in the winter [and love it] and didn't kill my electric bill.
- All wheel drive is light years different from/better than front wheel drive and good tires.
posted by jessamyn at 5:57 PM on August 10, 2009

Coppertone aerosol sunscreen has been a great discovery for me. As an ultimate player, I often spend entire weekends out in the sun and always found regular re-application tedious and frustrating since the greasiness makes catching and throwing difficult. The aerosol applies in seconds quite evenly and prevents sunburn very well without getting the hands messy.
posted by Cogito at 6:01 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

The Cock Bib, hands down. OK, kidding. I wear hiking socks because they're padded, moisture wicking, and perfect for moonwalking on hardwood floors. Clinical strength antiperspirant is amazing. I love this vacuum infuser tumbler, which can be used to brew coffee or loose leaf tea and it will keep your beverage piping hot for hours and hours. Our Sonicare toothbrush is wondrous, as are noise-canceling headphones.
posted by HotPatatta at 6:04 PM on August 10, 2009

Well, it might be a big DUHRRR, but wool socks are the bees' knees. I'm just now wearing out the ones I bought in 2005. I don't really care that they're not particularly fashionable, but hiking socks are just right for cushion when doing construction.

In the same vein, those Superfeet inserts are fantastic. They turned my steel-toed boots from things that made me say, "My dogs are *barkin'*!" every night when I got home, to being able to stay on a ladder for hours at a time.
posted by notsnot at 6:05 PM on August 10, 2009

iPhone. It's an alarm clock, flashlight, atlas, entire library of books, voice recorder, movie player, guitar tuner, mileage and expense tracker, currency converter, dictionary, calendar, time tracker, note taker, shopping list, newspaper, radio that gets a bajillion stations, camera, photo album, language teacher, music player, and phone. It has helped me downsize and travel super-light.

Also seconding silk underwear and Smartwool socks.
posted by PatoPata at 6:10 PM on August 10, 2009 [7 favorites]

An electric water kettle. I know old style kettles look cute and all, but an electric one has made my mornings (and cold winter evenings) much, much more awesome.
posted by raztaj at 6:13 PM on August 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Smartwool underwear. I have a pair of boxer briefs for my bike commute, and they are so vastly superior to cotton. They are the only pair of boxer briefs I have ever not hated wearing. And, uh... after an hour and a half of riding, I can take my pants off without knocking myself unconscious.

Can't speak to the silk comparison, though.
posted by McBearclaw at 6:16 PM on August 10, 2009

Not really clothing or a gadget, but it's fits in the 'same object/better material' category: hydrocolloid bandaids. A friend just opened my eyes to these, and they're so far superior to regular bandaids that I will now happily pay the $12 for a package of four (!) the next time I need them. Much better comfort, much faster healing, long-lasting, and less scarring.
posted by daisyace at 6:29 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

For the office, definitely a wireless optical mouse. I was at my desk earlier today thinking how long it's been since I had to take a mouse apart and scrape the gunk out of it.

For the outdoors, a charcoal chimney is vastly superior to charcoal lighter fluid. Although it's not really a gadget, you'd never use charcoal briquettes again once you've known the joy of Missouri Lump Charcoal. Finally, my many trips to Seattle have taught me that grilled salmon on cedar or alderwood planks* is both easy and delicious.

* This is not my picture — it's just one I found to illustrate how planks are used for grilling.
posted by tomwheeler at 6:32 PM on August 10, 2009

Hmm... This is what I meant to link to for grilling salmon on planks.
posted by tomwheeler at 6:33 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

vibram five fingers made me enjoy running again.
posted by zentrification at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2009

Nthing Silks. They keep you warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. I wear them under layers of Ren Fair garb, which is also usually silk (for the same reasons, as well as looking good). I can get into full combat reenactment with a suit of armor on, and not feel overheated or chilled when they get wet with sweat. Undergarments, long johns, socks or sock liners, shirts, and night shirts. Winter Silks is a good place to shop for them.

The other thing I use a lot are SIGG reusable water bottles. It takes a bit to get into the habit of using them instead of just grabbing a plastic bottle, but you can bottle up water before you leave the house / office, and have it with you while hiking / camping / walking, saving you money and landfill. The SIGG brand specifically are durable (mine survive the full combat mentioned above), and have a layer inside that is chemically inert, to prevent leeching of the bottle into the contents.
posted by GJSchaller at 6:41 PM on August 10, 2009

I love my Leatherman multitool and won't leave home without it.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:24 PM on August 10, 2009

Nthing convertible pants, aerosol sunscreen, and silk long underwear.

Adding silk sock liners under wool socks or, better yet, fur blend or cashmere socks.

Wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up helps me sleep like a baby. It is so wonderful! Use a hooded tee or anything you can find for warmer weather.

Baja model swim goggles from Speedo if you're not quite ready for/can't justify Barracudas yet. Great field of vision.

Weightlifting gloves (a UO among Mefites).

Thick shearling slippers.

Silk in wool and/or cotton sweaters.
posted by jgirl at 7:48 PM on August 10, 2009

And Thorlo socks! I can't believe I left that out. When I wore my first pair, I wanted to buy them for all my friends and family. I also felt that way about my small, sofa-pillow sized buckwheat pillow.
posted by jgirl at 7:52 PM on August 10, 2009

Down boots to wear while sleeping. Must have them when I travel. If your feet are warm, all is good.
posted by effluvia at 7:59 PM on August 10, 2009

Breathe Right nasal strips changed how much I rest will asleep.

If I use them I wake up rested and energetic. If I don't, i wake up tired.
posted by edmz at 8:09 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

LED Headlamp, never use a regular flashlight again.

KEEN sandals/flip flops. I was always stubbing my toe, even walking down the sidewalk. I cannot count how many times their toe guard has saved me from losing a nail.

Lubriderm SPF 15 skin lotion. It feels like you are wearing regular lotion, which is a necessity to wear in dry areas like Colorado, and you are always protected from the sun (another necessity in high altitudes)

Vibrating Toothbrush. How lovely my teeth feel with every brush!
posted by boulder20something at 8:19 PM on August 10, 2009

listening to audiobooks to get to sleep at night instead of regular reading. I sleep about a million times better.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 8:36 PM on August 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

This feels like a weird thing to admit in public, but I love my tongue scraper. I finally feel like I'm getting all the nasty germs off my tongue when I brush my teeth without all the unpleasant gagging.

The iconcertcal plug-in for itunes has saved me from missing some really great concerts. It's hard to keep track of who is coming to my city and this shows me at a quick glance which of the musicians that are in my itunes database have upcoming shows.

This over-priced herbsaver thing has allowed me to start buying fresh herbs without getting so irritated about how quickly they go bad. It's encouraged me to use less dried herbs in my cooking and has certainly improved the flavor.

Finally, and perhaps a bit off topic, but I credit Solar Oil for finally putting an end to my hangnail issues. I used to get really bad hangnails, even though I'd put lotion on my hands all the time, and this has made a huge difference.
posted by diamondsky at 9:44 PM on August 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Since moving to a cold climate I've discovered that wearing a wool hat when it's cold actually does keep my whole body warmer.

I'm trying to use fewer plastic bags when shopping, so I have one of those little foldable nylon bags (similar to these Envirosax). I particularly like the fact that it folds up very small so I can keep it in my purse--that way I've always got it on hand, unlike the big reusable canvas grocery bags that I never seem to remember to bring with me to the store.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:24 PM on August 10, 2009

If you want a website devoted to this entire topic, check out the Cool Tools blog.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:30 PM on August 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

Netti Shy Shorts for cycling. I spent many uncomfortable years riding my bike in ordinary pants because I thought cycling clothes were for posers. Shy shorts have the padded, seam-free construction of cycling shorts, with an outer layer that looks remarkably normal. Simple, but a revelation to me at the time.
posted by embrangled at 12:27 AM on August 11, 2009

I love my small hammer which has a handle that unscrews to reveal three screwdrivers in ever diminishing sizes, one of which fits the tiny screws in house fans perfectly. And my long forceps which I bought for a third hand while restringing dolls but which I use more often to fish hair out of the bathroom sink's drain. Bonus: DH never borrows and loses these as he does all my other tools. I make things, so nthing the love of real wool, silk and cotton. There's nothing that smells, feels or wears as well as wool and silk. Love the superwash wool, too. Oh, yes, and the single serving automatic coffe maker with the gold filter so I don't have to waste paper, water or coffee, and I get hot coffee, not lukewarm like some other gadgets that have ended up in the GoodWill. Oh, and the only quiet vacuum I've ever found, which is called Oxygen, but which we've named Little Green as it's a nice bug green colour. It's so quiet it confuses the critters who aren't sure how to react as they hated the old vacuum. And it works sooo much better than the old Hoover. And my book light as I'm a misery once the weather starts to turn in November.

I love DH's armoured kevlar bike gear as it keeps him safe. He loves the wicking undies, special bike riding socks (don't ask) and vented helmet he bought. And the sunglasses he wears at night. So, even though most of this house is deliberately vintage, there are some new things that I just wouldn't want to do without.
posted by x46 at 2:44 AM on August 11, 2009

Bike shorts. If you ride, you must have them. Then you can spend more money, and upgrade to bib shorts.

Seconding electric water kettle.

Also, I'm a late adopter, but I don't know how I listened to music without my ipod.
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 7:44 AM on August 11, 2009

Try a waffle-weave towel in place of the standard terry-cloth. Rather than soaking every bead of moisture off your body on contact, these require a little work -- you need to actually dry yourself. But once done, hang it up and it will dry quickly because there's almost nothing to it. It doesn't stink after a few days, and it's light and skinny in the laundry. And they're pretty cheap.
posted by condour75 at 11:01 AM on August 11, 2009

Along with some smartwool socks, how about a pair of genuine shell cordovan leather shoes from Alden Shoes or Allen Edmonds? Each pair is made of real horsehide and built to last 10-15 years. Maintenance is super easy, requiring only a cloth to buff, clean, and polish twice a year. And the fit is superb--the leather becomes incredibly soft and comforms to the shape of your feet after 2-3 weeks of wear-in.
posted by chalbe at 3:25 PM on August 11, 2009

GPS. I don't think I can say enough good things about not getting lost on the way to places.
posted by twins named Lugubrious and Salubrious at 4:16 PM on August 11, 2009

not quite clothing or a gadget, but maple syrup is WAY better than "breakfast syrup" (aunt jemima or mrs. butterworth).
posted by asras at 7:46 PM on August 13, 2009

This cut bucket if you do any painting at all. Worth twice as much and lasts forever. Trust me on this.
posted by qsysopr at 12:41 PM on August 15, 2009

A couple of seasons ago, I got an Icebreaker Skin200 longsleeve shirt made out of 100% merino wool. It's the most amazing garment ever. I use it for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing, and once I get my core body temperature up, it's all I need in temperatures above 20 deg F.

It looks like they don't make the Skin200 anymore, but Icebreaker still has similar products.
posted by jimfl at 12:23 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Electric toothbrush
Double layered socks for running
posted by kaizen at 8:18 AM on August 23, 2009

- A really good messenger bag has made my days easier. I use my Chrome Metropolis every day.

- Take a look at buying some original art. I picked up a fairly big piece that I love for about $200, and it's been well worth it.

- Get your home entertainment dialed the way you want it. This means a lot of different things for a lot of different people; maybe a game table for some, a poker table for others. For me, it's a decently large TV with plenty of floor space for inviting people over for rock band.

- Mentioned in the other thread, but don't underestimate the power of a good chef's knife.
posted by craven_morhead at 8:10 AM on August 29, 2009

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