Best Long-Lasting Products Evar
December 9, 2012 9:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of buying cheap stuff that doesn't last. Instead, I'm trying to buy better, long-lasting products, even if they cost a bit more up-front. Since it's not always obvious where to find them, I'm querying the hive. What are your favorite well-made, long-lasting products, in any category?

This particular question was brought on by a sweater (looking for one for my dad for Christmas) but I'm constantly facing this question with different products. I'm sure there's great, well-made stuff to be had at the mall at Target or whatever, but mostly I don't have any interest in digging through the huge piles of cheaply-made crap to find them. Instead I'd like instead to find the hidden jewels - places that make fantastic stuff, and sell mainly online or via word of mouth. Often the prices aren't even much higher!

My dad's sweater inspired this question, so if you can point me towards sweaters, that's great. But I'm looking for this kind of recommendation for any category of products. I've seen somewhat similar questions for bags and wool coats, for example, and a SFO company just got a nice profile in Slate making hoodies with this philosophy (and in the USA, too!). That's the kind of thing I'm looking for... with any great products you recommend. Thanks!
posted by captainawesome to Shopping (50 answers total) 155 users marked this as a favorite
Not quite the same, but recent and related. Also check the all-time popular AskMe questions-- "best for the money" etc is a popular topic.
posted by supercres at 9:21 PM on December 9, 2012

Cheap but bombproof
posted by mlis at 9:24 PM on December 9, 2012

I've tried going this route for a little bit with clothing, but I've found that buying clothing that may "cost a bit more up-front" doesn't necessarily lead to an equivalent improvement in durability. Especially where sweaters are concerned, I've gone from buying J. C. Penney sweaters to buying expensive sweaters at Nordstrom Rack and Filene's Basement, and they suffer just as much from pilling and unwanted stretching. I will admit that they are nicer-looking and fit me somewhat better, but they sure don't last any longer.
posted by Nomyte at 9:37 PM on December 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

I was recently feeling frustrated that all my belts end up looking bad so quickly, so I looked at some expensive brands but ended up getting full grain leather belts from and so far they are holding up nicely. And they were very inexpensive. They have a wide range of belts, so I actually called them to have them help me select ones that would hold up well over time.
posted by Dansaman at 9:37 PM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Michelin tires. Having farted around with a dozen brands, my mantra is "just get the Michelins".

Lodge cookware has been mentioned in every one of these bombproof threads for good reason. Also, Le Creuset. They have a 99-year warranty. As long as you have some provenance about where the equipment came from, and you didn't abuse it, you'll get it fixed or replaced.

I bought my HP-41C (not CV) new in 1980 and it still works.

Tom Bihn bags. North Face clothing. MAC and Milwaukee tools. Audio Research sound components. NHT speakers. Lands' End sweaters. Goulds and Jacuzzi pumps. Yaskawa servo-motors. Ka-Bar pocket knives. Brown & Sharpe measurement tools. Mitutoyo measurement tools.
posted by jet_silver at 9:48 PM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

IBM model M keyboards.
posted by tomwheeler at 9:55 PM on December 9, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'm not a gourmet cook by any stretch of the imagination, but I swear by the three Wusthof chef knives I have.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:46 PM on December 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Milwaukee power tools. Lands' End clothing in general. Both worthy of a second mention.

Craftsman HAND tools. Not because they're necessarily so much better than other things available (they probably aren't), but Sears has a no-nonsense replacement policy: you bring in a Craftsman hand tool that's not right and they replace it. This seems to extend to tools that have been pretty horribly abused.
posted by jgreco at 10:47 PM on December 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

You may want to look or search on Reddit's "Buy It For Life" subforum, it is entirely dedicated to this question.

Lodge cast iron cookware, Goruck backpacks, Filson jackets are some of the most common suggestions. (And to each of those categories I'd add Meyer aluminumware, Tough Traveler backpacks/bags, and Sierra Designs parkas, respectively.)

High quality hand tools and good kitchen knives almost always qualify, and make good gifts. High quality pens do as well, except that they tend to get lost.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:49 PM on December 9, 2012 [10 favorites]

I don't have a specific item to suggest, but my grandfather used to beat this concept into my head with a simple yet true maxim. "Johnny," he used to say, "Sometimes, I cannot afford a bargain."
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:52 PM on December 9, 2012 [12 favorites]

So a general principle I've discovered with Durability is that for true everlasting quality you must be able to replace or repair those wear parts which will, logically, be worn out by constant, loving use. In the case of shoes, you must be able to resole them. Furniture can be re-upholstered or refinished, so long as the framing is solid, likewise wood floors.
But for clothing, well, they're a wear part You wear them out. That said, here is some clothing that has withstood extending periods of overloving by myself:
Smartwool Socks.
Dickies and or Ben Davies Gorilla Cut pants.
Zoic Cycling Jersies
posted by Cold Lurkey at 10:59 PM on December 9, 2012

Shoes are the canonical example of this, but (a) I suspect that while this applies to men's shoes generally it only applies to women's work shoes or boots; and (b) there are actually a lot of expensive shoes that are flashy but not especially sturdy. It's worth talking to shoe salesmen about this, and let them guide you to ones which can be resoled over and over again. If they fit you at the start they'll just get more and more comfortable, and if they're a good quality (e.g., full thickness) leather they'll develop a marvellous patina with wear. But keep in mind that you have to resole them before you wear right through the sole, and you have to polish them regularly for this to work.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:21 AM on December 10, 2012

My big thing for spending is boots, because I do a lot of outdoor work / hiking / camping. On that note, Scarpa.
posted by mannequito at 12:27 AM on December 10, 2012

Another thing I've learned is that if you live with roommates, they may damage or ruin your precious, "indestructible" objects. This especially applies to kitchenware.
posted by Nomyte at 1:06 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

As for sweater-buying, a general rule of thumb is this: the softer the sweater, the more likely it is to pill. There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but it is something worth keeping in mind.

If I remember correctly, short fibres are softer than long fibres but are also more likely to "escape" from the yarn leaving you with pills and bobbles. I usually say that you have to expect some pilling from any garment as the shortest fibres will "escape" with wear, but once you have removed the escapees, you should see very little pilling from good-quality fibres (especially if they are spun tightly and are of the long variety).

I tend to go for sweaters with a high wool content but with some acrylic content for easy care (75/25 or even better 80/20). I also don't buy the softest sweaters I can find but prefer to layer with thin cotton shirts underneath.

Sorry, this is not a brand recommendation but just a general shopping tip.
posted by kariebookish at 3:53 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

A warning about the sweater example: moths don't care how much you paid for them.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:14 AM on December 10, 2012 [14 favorites]

Most of the foundation/basics products at Lands' End and Eddie Bauer are excellent value/quality particularly when on sale. You might balk at paying $20 for a t-shirt or $10 for a pair of socks, but they last, and are very comfortable. (When buying, do check the reviews on their sites, some of the cheaper lines are not everything one could hope and the user comments are typically reliable indicators of satisfaction.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:34 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Here to umpteenth anything from Lands End. Durable and classic styling, two traits that work well together.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:29 AM on December 10, 2012

Dale of Norway sweaters, Asolo hiking boots, Finn Comfort shoes, Lodge and LeCreuset, Sabatier carbon steel knives. Antique furniture.
posted by mimi at 5:31 AM on December 10, 2012

Garden Tools - Red Pig Cape Cod Weeder (right or left handed). $20. This thing is the bomb for cultivating small gardens and flower beds, way better than a claw or hand-hoe, and will likely outlast my great-grandkids.

Camera Gear:

- Domke camera bag. Mine is 25 years old. Replacement padding and straps are available, but I haven't needed them. I'm thinking about having the velcro replaced, tho... the bag's good enough where a $25 repair will likely last me another 25 years.
- Tilt-All tripod. Also 25 years old. Survived prolonged submersion in a flooded basement, still sees regular use as a light stand.
- Metz Mecablitz flash units. Mine is 10 years old, has seen heavy use. With the right SCA module (still being made), it works as a dedicated flash with the Big Three (Nikon, Pentax or Canon.) Also, repairable by most camera shops that do repair, Metz is pretty good about parts availability.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:03 AM on December 10, 2012

- Bellroy wallets. I love my Note Sleeve.
- Timbuk2 bags. They have a lifetime guaranty. I had a bag that the zipper started leaking after YEARS, and they gave me a credit to buy a new bag that far exceeded what I paid for my leaky bag and allowed me to get an even better replacement.
- Red Wing Heritage boots
posted by sgo at 6:28 AM on December 10, 2012 [3 favorites]

Ahhhh, I LOVE bombproof stuff. Most of the stuff below is actually pretty affordable (that is to say, you're not paying for a name brand OR luxe touches - you're paying for a product that'll last forever).

- Knives: Forschner Fibrox. Light, deft, maneuverable, wonderful - and much cheaper than fancy-schmancy European forged models.
- Socks: Smartwool.
- Headphones: cloth-cable Altec Lansings are MUCH better than cheapie earbuds (if not as good as the uber-expensive ones) are are often available dirt-cheap on deal-a-day sites.
- Stand mixer: the good, "bowl-lift" model of KitchenAid (not the head-tilt one).
- Shoes: the "Made in England" variant of Doc Martens are awesome. I have a few pairs that are 10+ years old and still look great.
- Cars: the manual-transmission Honda Civic. If I won the lottery TODAY, this is the car I would buy.
- Furniture: anything that's solid, non-pine wood. No MDF, no laminate, just dead tree.
- Cheese/spice/chocolate/etc. graters: Microplane.
- Spices: Penzey's. They are infinitely wonderful and a different beast than supermarket crap, AND they last since you're able to use much less than with less-flavorful spices. I've been plowing through a bag of Penzey's nutmeg for a year now.
- Clothes: Mountain Hardwear stuff is built really, really tough, and is ALSO really attractive.
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:54 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

I have a Filson wool vest on my back right now, and a Benchmade knife in my pocket. Both are excellent, and I fully expect them to last for many years.

Another thing to note is that some companies sell products which aren't bomb-proof, but they provide a warranty which is. L.L.Bean is a good example of this, and I have gotten really good service from Photon Light, Kensington (for trackballs), and Lifetime outdoor products (for a garden shed: they shipped me a new 8'x10' shed floor -- for free -- just to troubleshoot an assembly problem!)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:05 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've heard complaints about Kitchen Aid mixers having gone downhill in recent years, but the Artisan (5qt, head-tilt) stand mixer we got in 2005 has been bombproof. (There have been a couple of times where it has sounded strained, but that was due to me going over reasonable capacity.)

I can't speak for the rest of L.L. Bean's 'Katahdin Iron Works' line, but the jacket I bought in 2007 has worn like iron.

I have an Ogio laptop bag that I also got in 2007 that still looks like new.

Zippo lighters - their "It works or we fix it free" repair policy is legendary. The only bummer is that they're not practical for infrequent use; if left sitting for weeks at a time the lighter fuel evaporates.
posted by usonian at 7:19 AM on December 10, 2012

Yes, another vote for Land's End stuff. It's not the most stylish, and the cut of the clothing favours tall thin people for the most part, but that shit is indestructible. I thought they had a lifetime guarantee but that might be LL Bean instead.
posted by elizardbits at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2012

I've been trying to curb my addiction to cheap cashmere (it's an environmental nightmare, and it pills) and after much reading of past Asks, I ended up buying a Brora cashmere sweater. Some pilling is inevitable, but I can tell it's going to wear better than the low-end, soft sweaters I'd been buying. It doesn't feel as fluffy as cheap sweaters, but as kariebookish notes above, that means it will last longer.

Difficulty: Expensive. Those prices are in pounds!
posted by purpleclover at 7:46 AM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

For men's (and women's for that matter) shoes, go for Clark's. They have really nice traditional styles and last forever. I have had mine for a few years and they show no signs of crapping out anytime soon, and I usually wreck my shoes...

also, REI is a great place to go for a lot of outdoor/sports gear because of their return policy
posted by MD_yeahright at 9:00 AM on December 10, 2012

Darn Tough Socks gives an "unconditional lifetime guarantee." I'm in my first few months of my first pair, but they seem to be holding up well so far...
posted by benbenson at 9:14 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

another vote for Darn Tough Vermont socks. i'm up to about 7 pairs now, everything from seamless cycling/running socks to their super amazing boot sock. I pretty much buy a pair anytime i find them on sale.
posted by th3ph17 at 9:41 AM on December 10, 2012

Another vote for Lands End, I've been a happy customer for decades (although the kids may find their stuff too square).
posted by Rash at 9:41 AM on December 10, 2012

Not so keen on Lands End, their stuff doesn't seem any better or worse than other clothing in the same price category that I have owned (and much of it is made in places where labour laws are not up to European or North American standards, as with any other clothing in the same price category).

For sweaters, I'm gonna recommend Dale. They're warm, simple, built like bloody tanks, never fall apart, never seem to pill and, fortunately, were never in fashion so will never go out of fashion! I love them, and I can't stop buying them. I suspect they'll outlast civilisation.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 10:24 AM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Folks who are recommending Lands End clothing - have you bought from them recently? I did and I wasn't impressed. Many of the reviews on their website complain that they have recently reworked classic items with cheaper fabrics and poor construction.
posted by medusa at 10:37 AM on December 10, 2012 [4 favorites]

Briggs and Riley is a very well-made brand of luggage. My husband has used his B & R rolling duffle for 15 years, traveling several times a year by air. I just bought one for myself, and the new one seems to have the same quality as the older one. My last rolling duffle was by Tumi; I had it for many years. But their new stuff doesn't seem as sturdy.

Nobody discounts Briggs and Riley, but a couple of times a year the company offers 20% off if you spend a certain amount.
posted by wryly at 10:44 AM on December 10, 2012

have you bought from them recently?

True, I haven't bought anything from them in about 5-6 years. I guess it doesn't really surprise me that quality has declined as it has with some other old standby brands.
posted by elizardbits at 11:40 AM on December 10, 2012

Yeah, Lands' End ain't what it used to be -- though it's still my first step down from L.L.Bean.

A decade ago, Lands' End fixed a piece of luggage after the zipper failed rather explosively. Five years after that, when NorthWorst Airline's baggage system cut open the bottom, Lands' End suggested I find a local shop to fix the bag, as they were no longer in the business of repairing things for their customers. I had a luggage sad that day, I can tell you.

(Also, those Dale sweaters are superior. Like many solid-and-durable things, they are basic enough that they never really go out of style, but they were never really in style to begin with. It drives my wife crazy that I am content with my boring, reliable clothes, but her desire to be fashionable and is forever clashing with her desire to buy good, durable clothes. I just shrug, point to L.L.Bean, and let her g on fuming. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 12:08 PM on December 10, 2012

Seconding Lands end not only for their product but their customer service during and after the sale. By far, the easiest and friendliest customer service to deal with. Would pay a higher price to be treated better
posted by radsqd at 1:23 PM on December 10, 2012

Not first hand, but relevant: Farhad Manjoo at wrote a review of American Giant apparel's hooded sweatshirts. In it, he talks about their high quality and durability.
posted by bluejayway at 1:49 PM on December 10, 2012

have you bought from them recently?

Yes, four or five times a year. Just received a great pair of cords which were on sale. Like the last time I was intrigued by a sale item, the sale price quoted over the phone was even cheaper than the one in the catalog. And with the free shipping coupon, those cords were quite a deal. (Note those coupons expire really fast, within a week.)
posted by Rash at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2012

For clothing/gear: Many brands from REI- the house brand, North Face, Patagonia. Anything by LL Bean- they're better quality than Land's End.
Cookware: I know some say they're overpriced, but I love my All Clad pans, Wusthof knives, KitchenAid mixer, and Cuisinart.
I like Clarks for shoes but find that Cole Haan last longer.
posted by percor at 5:40 PM on December 10, 2012

Craftsman mechanics tools, sockets wrenches pliers tin snips screw drivers etc. They ever break, take them into the store and they give you a new one, no questions. It's pretty remarkable -- I haven't bought a set of tin snips in forever, I have wrenches and sockets I bought from them in 1972 and solid as anything, still going strong. Nothing feels better in your (my) hand than a SnapOn wrench and if I were a mechanic that's what I'd have, but Craftsman has served me awfully well, lo these long years.

I do not recommend Craftsman power tools, though they have gotten lots better in recent years, always used to seem that they got the worst designers they could find and had them design the clunkiest, shittiest drills and saws and whatever else; I'd bet that they are now just buying items of someone elses design from China and slapping a Craftsman tag on the saws, which is what everyone else is doing nowadays.

For power tools I like Milwaukee a lot and I love Makita -- I have a Makita screwgun that I've had and used hard for almost thirty years and it's as strong today as it was the day I got it into my hand. Unreal. Makita power tools are just bombproof.

Last year Smartwool socks were mentioned in one of these threads and I bought a couple pair of them, they feel great on the feet but they sure do pill up.

Another strong vote for REI. The best items you can get, and sometimes I get lucky on their outlet site -- I've got a backpack that I expect I'll use for the rest of my life for $19, can often get polarized sunglasses for less than $25 and sometimes under $20. And real good deals on bike gear but only when it's being closed out. If I tried to buy all my clothes from them I'd be broke in about twelve minutes; they're awfully proud of what they have. But they should be proud of it, as they don't offer junk in their store. (I couldn't buy from them anyways as almost no tall sizes.)

But my fave thing about REI, their secret weapon: the bike shop. Oh man! Top quality bike repair at great prices and they're friendly as can be, continual training, pretty much a dream job for a bike mechanic, probably as good as they get, benefits etc. You need not have bought your bike from them, either, though putting together bikes that people have purchased from them seems to take precedent to anything else, as it ought to.

And I don't think that one bicycle brand is better than the next, for the most part -- notice that they all use the same gears and brakes and all the rest of it, and their frames are all made in the same place, or damn sure could be. I'm partial to Giant but that's because they sell an equivalent bike for less than Specialized or whoever else, in that particular line, plus I've had great luck with mine. But do not ever waste your time and/or money on a hundred dollar bike from Walmart, it's garbage, you're going to ride it for a week and it's going to fall apart and it's going to suck and it's going to sit in your garage and you're going to get fat and unhappy and look morose, and be morose, so just don't. Save a few hundred bucks more and buy something worth buying.

Someone upthread mentioned solid wood furniture. Yep. Oak is what I love and what I have, mostly, and it's forever and it's beautiful. I have a black walnut desk and I love it, too, but really -- oak. Buy oak furnishings and you're never, ever going to have to buy again. Pine has it's uses (to burn, for example, in a garbage pile) but furniture isn't one of them, that's for sure; dents so easily, does not have a pretty grain in it, hard to stain it well. Buy oak.

Not sure about Lands End but Eddie Bauer quality has really fallen off in the past few years. I have one pair of jeans I bought in 19-flippin'-98 and wear mostly as work jeans and they are still going on perfectly fine, worn but absolutely solid, still. But new jeans are made from junk materials and fall apart fast. Shirts not as bad but still, fallen way off. Too bad; while lots of their clothing is dorky East Coast Golfer Dude stuff, it was always super high quality, good as it gets.
posted by dancestoblue at 7:09 PM on December 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Kitchen Aid, Cuisinart, and Kershaw are three brands in my kitchen that seem indestructable.

Modern Incra, modern Festool, and pre-WWII Stanley tools. Seconding quality furniture made from solid wood; far, far more expensive, but yeah.

Smartwool socks and Darn Tough socks seem to be the only two items of clothing I can't rapidly destroy. Clark's 'Desert Boots' with the spongy sole are resoleable, which is the only shoe I know at that price point that was designed to be repaired.

Going to a craft fair to find a traditional leather beltmaker has found me belts that last many years instead of laminated department store crap that lasts a few months.

Jansport and Timbuk2 bags both have lifetime guarantees. So do Maglite flashlights; I returned one that was ten years old after a battery exploded *inside* of it, and they replaced it free, and paid the shipping. Damn, I say. Damn.
posted by talldean at 8:10 PM on December 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've run into this same problem with pizza cutters. The cheap ones really don't last. I spent 25 dollars on a pizza cutter and I'll be very surprised if I end up having to get another one. My boss got it from a restaurant supply store.
posted by bernardo78 at 11:18 AM on December 11, 2012

I spontaneously purchased an AUD$70 Edwin Jagger safety razor yesterday, in a sort of bonus kit with an Edwin Jagger badger hair shaving brush, some Proraso "shaving cream in a bowl", and some Merkur blades.

Now I am seriously regretting the badger hair brush and have already ordered a Jack Black cruelty-free shaving brush as a replacement, and I admit this is the first time I have ever used a safety razor, The shave I, a pure beginner, gave myself last night was an epic thing. Sure it doesn't hit so smooth as a Mach 3 or whatever (since I'm not shaving against the grain yet), but the combo of the impeccably-crafted safety razor, the regrettable brush, and the excellent shave cream along with the precision blades is not something I can see myself turning back from.

It was quite an outlay to begin with and was pretty much the least expensive combo set I could have bought (some of them were $700, which is actually quite stupid), and the maths on it look pretty good for the future. Plus they're far less wasteful.

Just be careful with the badger hair brushes. The guy did a good sell and they had some literature on how these are "sustainable" badger hair brushes, and apparently Edwin Jagger is one of the "good guys" (or less bad guys) when it comes to badgers, but I still wish I had never bought it and will be regifting it posthaste after a quick sterilization (in vinegar and Borax, apparently). There are a lot of cruelty-free and synthetic shaving brushes out there that, from what I've read, are as good or better than the very best badger hair brushes, so there's really no excuse and I feel like a shithead.

Still, though. Safety razor. Do it.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:17 PM on December 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh and my next big long-lasting purchases will be a Brisbane-made Bogear messenger bag (I've heard great things about them, plus they're like 50% recycled and made locally), a Lodge cast iron pan, a Lenovo Ideapad laptop, and a case of Tanqueray No. 10 (ymmv).
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:23 PM on December 11, 2012

My year-old Coach bag looks exactly as it did the day I received it, except with stains. I am not kind to purses and I could definitely see this one lasting another 5 years without looking appreciably more worn, and another 10 in good working order.
posted by town of cats at 10:26 PM on December 12, 2012

I didn't think of it in the five minute "Edit" window, and it's been sortof bugging me -- I wrote above that I've not bought tin snips in a long, long time, because of the Sears Craftsman policy of taking back and replacing tools.

But if money was totally out of the picture, Wiss makes tin snips (also called aviation snips by lots of people, for whatever reason) that feel great in the hand, they're sortof the standard.

For sure not the biggest deal, feel a bit dorky coming in here with it, but Wiss snips are the best, IMO, which isn't too humble when it comes to sheet metal tools.

And: Craftsman socket wrenches, the tool itself -- they're really cheaply made now, they can be stripped out easily in an afternoon of brakes on the pickup or whatever. I still have them, and use them, but I've got backups, too, bought at yard sales/pawn shops etc. So just a word of warning there, about their socket wrenches; it's annoying when it happens, esp if I've dug my hands/arms around into whatever position to grab a bolt or what-have-you.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:05 PM on December 12, 2012

I'm typing this on a 2001 Power Macintosh G4 that I bought from a coworker in 2006. It has all original parts, including 512MB of RAM and an 80GB hard disk.

It still runs well (even though it won't run anything later then Mac OS X 10.4) and I use it for email and light web surfing - not much risk of a trojan running on this system. It has a GeekBench score of 378, rather less than my Retina Mac that has a score of 13,200. For comparison, my iPhone 4 has a score around 800.

I think this thing will keep going until the screen on the display burns out. It fits the definition of bombproof quite well, although the original price of $2800 certainly doesn't fit the definition of cheap. Sometimes you can still find them on eBay for $150-$250.
posted by Stoar at 2:08 PM on December 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are two varieties of Craftsman ratchet these days: the incredibly cheap one that looks like it's straight from the '80s, only with more plastic; and the nice one that costs around $35. That's the one you want. Just as invulnerable as ever, tho made in Taiwan these days.

They do have one that's $70, but it's a re-branded Matco. Made in the USA and worth every penny, but a replacement may be tricky to come by in 20 years.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:58 PM on December 17, 2012

I just received this Buck Knife as a Christmas gift, after picking it out for myself - I had spent some time doing casual internet research and zeroed in on Buck, being a long-established brand with a good reputation, still manufacturing in the US... and I was looking for a classic, wood-handled folding/locking blade.

While I obviously haven't had it long enough to state definitively how long-lasting it will be, it's the sort of tool that just feels right in your hand once you heft it... nicely balanced and solid with beautiful fit and finish. With reasonable use and maintenance I expect this knife to last me pretty much forever. And if there's any defect in workmanship, their warranty is pretty general in that regard.
posted by usonian at 12:46 PM on December 18, 2012

I love these kinds of posts. I've written about the way I approach shopping and finding long-lasting stuff in general here, but here are a few of my favorites:

Steel, iron, copper, brass. Bike frame makers are doing amazing things with steel these days. My Salsa Mariachi hardtail mountain bike with a rigid fork gives as smooth a ride as most front-suspension (or even full suspension) aluminum or carbon fiber rigs I've ridden on all but the rockiest terrain and probably weighs less. My heavy-ass chrome/brass Edwin Jager razor with steel double-edge blades gives as good a shave as any of the plastic mult-blade wonders. My cast iron skillet and All Clad stainless pots turn out better food than non-stick, and if you treat them right they're not any more difficult to clean.

A car with a manual transmission. So much more fun to drive than an automatic. I have a Mazda 3 and it's been great, but I've been lusting after a Honda CRZ. It used to be the case that manuals (when properly driven) long outlasted automatics, but I'm not sure if that's true anymore.

A really nice steel chef's nice, and taking the time to learn to sharpen and hone it properly. Unless you cook professionally, a high-end kinfe (> $100) should last at least a decade and maybe your whole life.

Bluetooth headset. My LG Tone headset has changed my life and if it'd existed a few years earlier it probably would have saved my hearing (my audiologist told me my high-range hearing is gone due to "pressure-related trauma" - all the times I snagged my wired headphones on something and ripped them out of my ears). Yes you have to charge them every day, and yes the audio lags when you use them to watch movies (as it does with any Bluetooth headphones), but they're still absolutely worth it.

My iPad with Zagg keyboard case. This has completely replaced my laptop. There are definitely frustrations and limitations, but it has replaced 95% of my non-professional computing activities and the apps are constantly improving. Along with my smartphone, this has replaced doezens of other devices and lightened my load from a giant 30+lb backpack to a light little daypack. Favorite apps: Astrid for lists, Papers for managing, reading and annotating journal articles, Pocket for managing my reading list, Paprika for recipes, iSSH and SplashTop for remote login to my work computer, FeedlerPro for RSS, MadeFire for completely reinventing the comics medium, Evernote, Spotify, Dropbox. Disclaimer: at work I have a Mac Pro desktop and access to a several thousand node cluster where I do all my heavy computing.

Better Bottles (rather than glass carboys) for brewing. I'm generally anti-plastic, but these are an exception. You can carry them full without throwing your back out, and you can drop them without breaking your floor.

Ridel wine glasses and a Vinturi aerator. I know hardcore wine enthusiasts will balk at the aerator, but 95% of the wine I drink is from TJs and costs < $10 and it really does help.

Craft beer (local if possible). I live in NC, which is a hotbed for good craft beer, but there are plenty of mid-sized craft brewers that distribute widely (New Belgium, Rogue, Bells to name a few). There's no good reason not to drink good beer.
posted by infinitemonkey at 4:46 PM on December 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

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