Product recs just because
November 5, 2018 12:12 AM   Subscribe

What's a product that you swear by and you would totally recommend to anyone?

Props if you:
• Found this to be useful in an everyday sense
• Were pleasantly surprised to have discovered that such a thing exists
• Believe it has totally changed your life for the better
• Will gift it to someone you care about, so they too can experience the awesomeness
posted by pleasebekind to Grab Bag (113 answers total) 217 users marked this as a favorite
Aspercreme. It relieves pain and doesn't smell or stain clothing.
posted by Cranberry at 12:23 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Silicone menstrual cup!
posted by mymbleth at 12:54 AM on November 5, 2018 [32 favorites]

Wool duvets, specifically Devon Wool. Extremely good at regulating temperature, pleasantly weighty without having weight.
posted by AFII at 1:16 AM on November 5, 2018 [9 favorites]

Bellroy's Travel Wallet includes a tiny, perfect pen and has made it so I do not even need a carryon bag on short-haul flights anymore - between the wallet and a fully charged phone I'm good to go!
posted by mdonley at 1:44 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

1. Can't believe I'm recommending a hair product but there you go - L'Oreal Elvive Extraordinary Hair Oil.

I've stopped using straighteners since discovering it (in the half price section at the supermarket!), the finish with just a blow dry is that good.

2. Loose tea. I haven't used teabags in many years because making a pot of tea, both pot after pot in the kitchen throughout the day or set out on a tray with cups, saucers* and milk jug to settle down to watch something on television is just one of life's under-estimated luxuries. (And make wonderful gifts.)

* Or better yet, mug sized cups, no saucer needed.
posted by humph at 1:52 AM on November 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

G-shock watches
posted by Middlemarch at 2:04 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Reusable, latex-free makeup sponges that you use when damp, such as the Beauty Blender and the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. Totally changes the experience of applying and blending liquid foundations and face powders.
posted by neushoorn at 3:04 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Rawlplug Uno, which has entirely changed my experience of anchoring things in walls.
posted by pipeski at 3:09 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Cast iron Dutch oven. Not quite daily use but will last a few lifetimes, I use mine for roasts, soups, bread, and many other things. Stuff just cooks better in there. Great at home but also great for car camping.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:08 AM on November 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

Wood pellets for cat litter. Cheap, absorbs odors better than regular litter, and becomes compost for my flower beds when the pellets break down.
posted by Cuke at 4:09 AM on November 5, 2018 [10 favorites]

Chemex coffee maker. Definite daily use, easy and reliable, fully cleanable, consistently makes great coffee.
posted by SaltySalticid at 4:12 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Packing Cells for travel. I use these ones, but literally any will do. I don't travel daily, but travel regularly enough that opening a suitcase to organised bliss makes me happy. They also double as clothing compactors so you can fit more in, dirty laundry separators and wash bags for delicates. One Christmas, I gifted them to everybody in my family.

And +1 for menstrual cup.
posted by cholly at 4:18 AM on November 5, 2018 [11 favorites]

Philips Hue smart light bulbs.

1. I thought the colored lights thing would be gimmicky and tiresome after a couple weeks, but it actually isn’t. It can really brighten up your mood to have colored lights sometimes. And even if you don’t need pink and green lights, you can set them for cool or warm light as you prefer, or dim or bright light. No need for an external dimmer switch.

There are also white bulbs that are significantly less expensive than the full-color ones, if you have fixtures for which you want smart bulbs, but don’t need the full-color functionality.

2. The set-up is really easy.

3. The fade-on, fade-off features are quite helpful as part of an overall sleep hygiene routine.

4. Scheduling the lights to turn on and off at certain times is priceless. I live in a northern state where the sun rises late and sets early in the winter. No more having to stumble around in the dark to turn a light on. I also set them to turn off in the morning after I leave for work, so I don’t have to worry about wasting energy.

5. Compatible with Alexa and Google Home.

6. The app is easy to use. You can add additional bulbs and create your own color “scenes” if you like. I have one that automatically dims the lights in my bedroom for when I’m getting ready for bed.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:49 AM on November 5, 2018 [13 favorites]

This $5 IKEA stool. Great for kids who want to climb up to see the kitchen counter, great for grownups to change a lightbulb or dust the top shelf. Incredibly lightweight, sturdy, with non-slip feet and non-slip top. I have three (at least)
posted by nkknkk at 4:50 AM on November 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

Instant pot or some other electric pressure cooker (though mine is an Instant Pot). I cooked with a stovetop pressure cooker for a long time and will keep it in case the power goes out and I need to cook, but my Instant Pot cooks things faster then a dutch oven, with no need for me to be within earshot of the stove, and does it without adding heat to my kitchen which is the main reason I got it. And for dry beans? Love love love it.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 4:56 AM on November 5, 2018 [15 favorites]

Cafe Bustelo espresso if you like rich, dark coffee -- it is cheaper than other supermarket coffee and I think it is the best one.
posted by nantucket at 5:08 AM on November 5, 2018 [17 favorites]

I only tolerate teabags when I'm in the company of people who don't know any better. When I'm at home, it's loose tea all the way. For the making: I've tried lots of different methods and contraptions, but the IngenuiTEA is the only one that meets my requirements for keeping the faff to a minimum when it comes to cleaning.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 5:25 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner, as recommended by Jolie Kerr of The Hairpin. My sister read her book and told me about it a month ago. I've actually managed to clean my bathroom every week for five weeks in a row, which is unprecedented. I've recommended it to two other friends already. It's available in my totally normal grocery store.
posted by carolr at 5:32 AM on November 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

Okay, these aren't exactly useful, but I recently discovered Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Roundels. I picked up a box hoping they would be like Tagalongs and was delighted to find that they are much, much better. They look like cookies but I guess they're really not. Trader Joe's describes them as "a cross between a peanut butter cup and a peppermint patty."
posted by Redstart at 5:41 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

In the useful department, there's the Zip-It drain cleaning tool, which I'm pretty sure I learned about here. I can't believe I lived as long as I did without knowing such a thing existed. Everyone should have one.
posted by Redstart at 5:46 AM on November 5, 2018 [20 favorites]

Luci lights!

Also weed dragon, tubshroom, and +1 for the diva cup. Things I thought I would hate but turned out to love: my kindle and a set of remote-controlled flameless candles.
posted by headnsouth at 5:49 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Aveeno Intense Relief Hand Cream. I don't know that it lasts 24 hours as described on the label, but it's the best I've found for general hand dryness, like from handling papers and handwashing all day at work.
posted by wellred at 5:51 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Very recently. I was looking for a winter coat that would actually keep me warm instead of being chilly (I get cold instantly in michigan, even in the summer). There was a pop-up store called Moosejaw nearby, and they carried canadian goose, arc-techwhatever, North Face, Patagonia, everything. Well, they also have a store-brand called... "Moosejaw", and their coats were 1/4th the price of other coats and just as warm and nice. For all the research I did on this, I never knew. here's the coat I got, with a 10% off coupon (by searching for it).
posted by bbqturtle at 5:52 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I got the Eufy Robovac 11S on the recommendation of the Wirecutter, because even though I was skeptical of the utility of a robot vacuum, our cat hair situation was completely out of control, but it has exceeded even my highest expectations. To be clear, it requires a bit of a reframing of your concept of vacuuming. The suction is not mighty, and the collection chamber is teensy, so the first time you run it, it will not do a perfect job. However, if you run it daily (as easy to do as a simple button press), it achieves perfection over a couple of days, and then maintains it with almost zero energy on your part. Absolute game changer, and with the $20 coupon on Amazon right now, it is less than $200.

We've only had it for a few weeks, so I can't speak to longevity, but most of the parts that will wear down are easily removable for cleaning or replacement.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:59 AM on November 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Melamine abrasive sponges ("Magic Erasers") - amazingly good at cleaning bathroom and kitchen surfaces; mostly useless for anything else.
posted by moonmilk at 6:02 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Oh! One product that changed my life is the "Oral Breeze" waterpik that hooks into your shower - so you don't have to refill it or clean it, or charge it. It's 100x better than real Waterpik branded stuff and 1/10th the price!

I feel like I have a ton of things like this, so here's a list of "other things" I was thinking of:

Board Games:

Best Lightweight Party Game: "One Night Ultimate Werewolf." Best game for EVERYONE ELSE: "Camel Up!" Best board game accessories: Scythe Metal Coins and Clear Acrylic Poker Chip Trays. "Pandemic Legacy" is the best gaming experience out there if you are going to play with 4 players consistently for a few months.


The "Doggone Good" rapid rewards pouch for a treat pouch. Bully Sticks for a chew toy. Kongs for another chew toy. And, I don't know why, but the toy where you can hide squirrels in it is absolutely crack for my pup. Look up Squirrel dog toy, it's the one with the stump.
posted by bbqturtle at 6:04 AM on November 5, 2018 [8 favorites]

A white noise machine. We have a Marpac brand one, but I’m sure other brands will do. We got one for our baby, but got so used to it when we shared a room that we bought a second one for our room and I just bought a travel one.
posted by wsquared at 6:07 AM on November 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

Eddie Bauer Travex line for women, especially this skirt and this shirt. No ironing or folding required, you can wad them up and throw them on the floor and they remain wearable. I can bike to work in them, the skirt has generous pockets, they repel liquid for when I inevitably spill my morning tea down my front. I bought a couple in different colors and honestly the only thing keeping me from buying 5 and wearing this same outfit every day is that people would talk about me at work.
posted by soren_lorensen at 6:08 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

OK so this is pretty situational, but this pizza-shaped inflatable swimming float is ugly as sin but the exact perfect shape and size for a float. Your whole body can float on it, it supports your head, you can easily dangle your feet if you want or keep them out if you want, it's very stable in the water but light and flexible too, there are drink holders, you can make a whole pizza if you have friends with pizza floats...I bought it on a whim but it fulfills all my floating needs after a lifetime of thinking all floats are just not that good.
posted by lampoil at 6:13 AM on November 5, 2018 [9 favorites]

Onox foot spray. Do you have stinky feet? You need this stuff, it's magical. I walk to work in DC summers, and it even took care of my disgusting foot stench. Amazing.
posted by backwards compatible at 6:14 AM on November 5, 2018

Uni-Ball Jetstream Retractable Ball Point Pens. I've been using them exclusively for 10 years or so.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:15 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

A bathtub overflow drain cover, which I actually bought off of a Metafilter thread. I'm tall, my bathtub is the maximum length possible in my tiny bathroom, and this little gadget is the difference between constant sit-up-slide-down acrobatics (plus constantly adding water) and actually having my knees and shoulders warm at once. Definitely my best purchase this year.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 6:20 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I love, love, love my weighted blanket. I got mine from Etsy. Note: be very, very careful if you have small children. There have been a few terrible tragedies.

And nthing Instant Pot.
posted by FencingGal at 6:20 AM on November 5, 2018

2nding Oral Breeze. And they also have good customer telephone support (or at least they did 6 years ago--haven't called them since due to: longevity!)
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:34 AM on November 5, 2018

I have had my bug trapper for many years and use it frequently to rescue insects and spiders. It's also a great little gift for children with an entomological interest.
This tea infuser works beautifully for very fine herb teas like chamomile and rooibos and is easy to clean.
posted by Botanizer at 6:37 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Thorlo socks. I wear them every day. Super cushiony and comfortable, and they're very durable.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:39 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

You would likely enjoy CoolTools, started by Kevin Kelly, former editor of the Whole Earth Catalogs - "Access To Tools", Senior Maverick for Wired, exceptional photographer, and more.

From Ask.Me, I learned bout the best ice scraper of all time. The brass blade is softer and will not scratch the window like a paint scraper. If you live where there might be ice on the windshield, you have to have one.

At my hardware store, I got a tiny LED flashlight that plugs in to the cigarette lighter and now I give them as gifts. It's always in the car, it's always charged. I also buy those $1 multi-LED flashlights to leave around the house, because the batteries will corrode and ruin them. And if you don't have a headlamp - flashlight you wear on your forehead, you really want one. If I could only have 1 flashlight, it would be the headlamp.

Thanks for the question; I love the answers so far.
posted by theora55 at 6:39 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Wool buff -- I went into REI looking for a good winter hat, and got talked into a buff. It's now my favorite piece of fall/winter gear and I've converted several friends too. I lost my first one on a trip and bought a replacement the same day I realized it was gone. Your neck stays warm, but it's breathable, you can cover whatever part of your head feels cold, and the merino wool version doesn't smell bad despite ample use/sweat. It takes up about as much room as a pair of socks. Really just an incredible thing. I use it walking to work, playing sports on dreary days, hiking, etc.

2nding Smart lights -- I rarely use the color features, but being able to dim and turn on/off lights from bed is absolutely game changing for my sleep routine. I bought four off-brand bulbs in 2014 and they're still going strong. I will never go back to 'dumb' bulbs.

Extra, long, phone chargers -- I have several extra phone chargers strategically placed around the house- desk, couch side table, bedside table, suitcase, etc. It's great when friends visit and need to charge, and I never have to worry about keeping track of them or fussing with them when I travel. (Caveat: no pets)
posted by matrixclown at 6:43 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

In the "games" category:

* The Klutz Press book of classic board games. All the games are two-player only, but it comes with a die and enough pieces to play any of the 15 games in the book. All the games are simple enough to grasp but challenging enough on a strategy level.

* Exploding Kittens. It's easy to explain gameplay (some people initially get confused, but only because the rules are a little counter-intuitive compared to other card games), and each game tends to be pretty short - and fast-paced enough that people who are out of the game end up getting caught up in watching. It's also possible for a newbie to win their first time out which is encouraging for them (I brought it one Christmas and taught it to my Mom, and she beat the pants off me).

* The app-based game Out Of The Loop. Only one person needs it on their phone, and the app does all the work of organizing the game play - all the players have to do is follow its directions and ask each other questions. It's sort of a weird cross between "Passwords" and those other party games where one person is secretly odd man out and everyone has to identify them or something. I discovered it at a games festival this summer and it sucked me in. (There's a freeware version, even, but the full version is only about five bucks, and you only need one person to have it on their phone anyway.)

In general:

I recommend the cookbook The Moosewood Daily Special in every third cooking AskMe. It is all soups and salads, with a handful of recipes for things like salad dressings or nice bread or rolls. A lot of the soups and salads are meant to be paired together - the name "Daily Special" comes from the fact that the Moosewood restaurant has a lunch special where you can pick one of the salads of the day and one of the soups of the day as a combo plate with a roll or something. It has a metric assload of different recipes using every conceivable vegetable and cooking technique, and a lot of the soups and salads are hearty enough to be complete meals. I use the hell out of it, especially in summer when I am trying to stay on top of a very bountiful CSA basket - I make a couple batches of a couple different things and just keep them in the fridge, and then lunch and dinner become "I'll have a cup of this soup and a little of this salad". Maybe I add a grilled chicken leg or something.

It also basically taught me how to become an improvisational cook - after a solid year of working with it, I had the epiphany that "wait....all these vegetable soups are the same recipe, just using different vegetables." And I've gotten way more improvisational with their recipes, which is helping me grow as a chef. (But I follow their biscuit recipe pretty slavishly because it always works.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:59 AM on November 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Blundstone boots are comfortable, waterproof, extremely durable, versatile, and quick to put on. They're super practical.

Extra long phone chargers.

Sleeping on a silky pillowcase is great for long hair- fewer tangles.

Unscented Curel lotion is incredible for dry flaky skin.

Facebook Marketplace for random home stuff and especially kid stuff. Way cheaper to buy secondhand goods, usually in great shape.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:05 AM on November 5, 2018

Seconding the Eufy vacuum. Mine died after nine months—apparently you’re supposed to clean their filters regularly!—and they sent me a brand new one, no questions asked.

I would marry my Minaal backpack if it were legal.
posted by suncages at 7:11 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sleepphones. I love them so much for travel.

Silicone baking mats, to save on cleanup.
posted by jeather at 7:11 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

I'm not fancy enough to do links:

Leatherman wave: I have 2 and have given 5 as gifts. If you work in a factory this is essential. I carry an entire toolbox on my hip for all manner of quick fixes.

Superfeet green: life savers. Years of plantar fasciitis, many insoles tried, this is what finally worked.
posted by booooooze at 7:14 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

I seem to recommend these dusting cloths every chance I get. They trap all the dust and polish at the same time. Nothing else even comes close.

This is the best product I've found for hanging your purse from a table or bar. It accommodates some pretty thick tables and holds your purse quite securely.

Salux towels are far preferable to a washcloth in the shower. They not only create a great soapy lather, but also exfoliate as you wash. I'm a firm believer in exfoliation in the fight against dry skin, clearing all the dead skin cells away so that your lotion can actually do its job.

And, of course, Smartwool socks are a godsend for those of us whose feet tend to run hot.
posted by DrGail at 7:18 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

A coffee warmer like this.

I like to drink my coffee slowly so this is the difference between cold, sad coffee and coffee that is a pleasure to drink. I bet that they are actually pretty interchangeable, so I don't know about a specific brand recommendation, but it is something that makes a small but happy difference to my mornings.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 7:21 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Those down jackets that fold up into a tiny stuff sack, from uniqlo and probably elsewhere. Here in San Francisco, one lives in my backpack year - round.
posted by twoplussix at 7:27 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Vornado fans. Their retro designs look awesome.

Also, it looks like Hunter makes a similar retro fan. I've never used their portable fans, but their (pricey!!!) high-end ceiling fans will last decades as long as you oil them.
posted by Seeking Direction at 7:31 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

TofuXpress. Worth every penny.
posted by 6thsense at 7:37 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Magnesium citrate tablets for muscle cramps. Can and do recommend constantly!
Zip style drain cleaners (no specific brand).
Agree with Salux scrubbing towels!
This Victorinox fish spatula is magic.
Not a specific brand but the wonder of a heated tile floor in the bathroom in a cold climate is something I never get over. Must be experienced to be appreciated.
posted by HotToddy at 7:41 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

For boating fans, my Icom vhf handheld radio was the first battery-powered item I ever had that kept it's charge over months of disuse.

My LLBean Baxter State Parka keeps me warm. I just never worry about being cold in the Connecticut winter.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:43 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

A Physicians Assistant who specialized in dermatology recommended CereVe facial cleanser. Hydrating, gentle, cheap, great for reactive skin, no perfumes, etc. - I now have the whole family using it.

Also, not sure why these are not better known in the US: Spot Covers. Stick one on your whitehead and it soaks it up like the smallest, most disgusting sponge. Your skin will clear overnight. Magic!
posted by Ink-stained wretch at 7:49 AM on November 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


Y'all, I don't how how they do it, but Target makes a line of bedsheets that is resistant to benzoyl peroxide, and they are the softest sheets ever. They're polyester, so if you're an all-natural-fiber person you may not dig it, but seriously they are hella soft.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:50 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lifesavers candy (generally the fruit kind are the best) are the best for dry cough/tickle. As you feel your throat getting ready for a cough, suck hard and it will soothe. Doesn't leave mouth scummy like cough drops. Works well with dry mouth breathing because your nose is too clogged up.

Adding Borax to laundry gets rid of the stink!

A little bit of Blistex (this one) under your nose at night helps to get you to sleep when you have a cold. The menthol soothes, and it also heals your nose up.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:54 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yes to packing cubes, extra-long charging cables (I have charging cables everywhere including one in all my bags and backpacks - that way I'm never without it) and Uni-ball Jetstream pens.

If you like scented candles, burn (ha) the extra money on decent ones that have good scent throw. (Yankee Candle works for me, YMMV.) It makes a huge difference to have the scent pervade the entire room, or the entire floor of the house, as opposed to, with cheap candles, just kinda... hang there and only be noticeable within a half meter of the candle, if that. And I have a really good sense of smell, I notice smells most people don't - if I can't smell a candle, it really, really sucks.

I got a little silicone handle for shopping bags (off AliExpress, I honestly have no idea if you could find it somewhere else, but probably) - makes carrying heavyish grocery bags much more comfortable.

Compeed cold sore patches. If you can get past the freakout of putting a sticker over your cold sore (my mum can't), they work so much better than the cream. The whole thing gets less scabby and gross, you're not constantly making yourself bleed by cracking the scab, and it also reduces the risk of you migrating the little fucker elsewhere.
posted by sailoreagle at 7:57 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Cerave cream for dry skin.
The Aeropress for coffee.
A Jetboil when camping.
posted by kerf at 8:02 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Ostrich feather duster. Dusts without moving everything around. Use on plaster dust, even. Swirl through the dust, shake outside, repeat.
posted by Enid Lareg at 8:06 AM on November 5, 2018

I use black muji 0.38mm ballpoint gel pens pretty much exclusively for writing and lineart.

I also swear by the Traveler's Notebook, a leather cover which holds multiple notebook inserts, I use a graph paper insert for everything about my consulting job, and a blank one for drawings/diagrams and can refill as each one gets used up.

I use and have bought the NARS Orgasm blush stick for several people, on me (white, fair to medium skin, cool coloring) and friends of several other ethnicities, it is a perfect, super-subtle, slightly highlighted blush for a not-really-made up look and very difficult to mess up the application.

I wince anytime I look at the price tag of Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray but its the most amazing, volumizing, texture-for-days-without-grease hair product I've ever used and I'm never without it.

Nthing Smartwool socks, I wear them every day, have gifted them to people, and where I used to regularly get foot blisters I now get them maybe twice a year.
posted by zingiberene at 8:13 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I love my Bugzooka. It’s similar to the bug trapper mentioned above, but for those who prefer more distance between themselves and insects. (Especially since I recently found my first house centipede.)

I found a bee inside my condo and was able to easily catch and release it outside, with no harm to either me or the bee.
posted by elphaba at 8:17 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

The Simplex tea kettle. Expensive as hell, but: heats water more quickly than you will believe possible; will last 100 years; looks pretty on your stovetop. I've had mine for 23 years, have given it as a gift to special people, and love it every time I use it, which is daily.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:30 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

TubShroom for keeping hair out of your drain!
posted by soelo at 8:35 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

- Whole Foods brand dry skin hand cream
- Burts Bees lip balm
- Avalon Organics Clarifying Lemon Shampoo
- Pretty much anything from
- Trader Joes Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches
posted by jazzbaby at 8:39 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

There are a handful of products i am absolutely evangelical about:
1. Menstrual cups
2. Sonicare electric toothbrush
3. SQUATTY POTTY (every time i travel, i regret not bringing it with me)
4. My kindle paperwhite. (Because i still can't get over that i can buy books while i am in the bathtub)
posted by August Fury at 8:44 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

You will find a large categorized list of such items at CoolTools. Many of those recommended above are already included.
posted by TDIpod at 8:51 AM on November 5, 2018

Everyone has said Smartwool socks, but they also make long underwear -- so cozy and comfy. I often wear mine as pajamas.

These stretchy pants for outside work and hiking. They're warm, super comfortable, and sturdy enough that brambles and other grabby plants are not a problem.

Muck books beat Bogs hands down and do not leak!

(Why yes, I do live in a place that's cold and wet and spend a lot of time outdoors, why do you ask?)
posted by libraryhead at 9:02 AM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

They have all been mentioned above, but seconding:
Leatherman. I have the Skeletool. I use it daily
Superfeet. Converted my work boots from "ugh" to "oh. Huh, not sore at all" in one morning (i.e. my feet were sore from the previous week, still...)
Wool socks. Smartwool is my go-to, but I have some REI-brand socks that I can recall wearing back in 2005, and are now only mostly worn out.

3M safety glasses with lights on the side. Holy crap it's so nice when working on something at a weird angle.
posted by notsnot at 9:04 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

A counter-opinion: Darn Tough socks: the plain ones (Standard Crew Light) are fine for work and weekends, and the twenty bucks are well spent when you realize they still look new after a year.

Feather Hi-Stainless DE razor blades.

Zojirushi travel coffee mug, 16- or 20-ounce.

U.S. Army Military Sleep system a.k.a. Modular Sleep system (two sleeping bags + bivy + two stuff sacks set), available all over the damn Internet.

Moosehide mittens & moosehide belts from the shop of the late Henry Held in Ely, MN.

Moosehide mukluks from Steger Mukluks, about two blocks up the same street. (I have knee-high Arctics for when it snows and Scout moccasins for all the damn time: the rubber soles are SO SOFT.)

Fisher Bullet Space Pens fit in a pocket or bag and always work, anywhere.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:10 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

The Sephora Precision Pore Cleansing Pad.

It's $6. It sticks to my sink with a little suction cup. It's bright pink, so I can see it without my glasses on. And with the help of one of my other mainstays – Trader Joe's Nourish All-in-One Facial Cleanser – its gentle silicone bristles remove sunscreen from my face without removing a layer of skin.

I wear sunscreen daily. My MO for removing it is to massage my face for 15-20 seconds with a little safflower oil to break up the sunscreen, then I cover my face with the TJ's cleanser, add water, and go to town with the Pore Cleansing Pad, rinsing well with a lot of cold water to get everything off.

And as The Strategist's Alison Freer points out in this paean: "Silicone is also bacteria-resistant, and it’s easy to sterilize this little pad even further by pouring a little rubbing alcohol all over it every so often."
posted by virago at 9:15 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Items that have instantly provided a lifestyle upgrade:

Magnetized hooks for hanging tools, apron, mitts, etc. on the refrigerator. Neodymium magnets, not the cheap $2 ones.

Handsfree phone mount for the car.

Car phone charger via the electric lighter

Obligatory extra long charger cables, in multiples.

External battery pack for phone, for those extra long, battery-intensive days on the road.

Large external monitor for laptop.

Hand spray showerhead

Small plugin fan for bathroom

Space heater for bathroom for when the days turn colder.

Rowenta fan with a silent mode for sleeping peacefully on hot nights.

Small electric heating pad for keeping laps and toes warm when on the computer, or to warm up the bed on a cold night

Contiga water bottle with the button-push flip top - keeps everything clean and neat.

Baggu shopping bags, because they are cute, ultra portable, and durable compared to random $1/free store bags.

Lots of reusable microfiber rags for cleaning - I'm much more likely to clean when there is a rag ready to go anytime.

A clothes hanger with built in clips for drying individual small items

A library card

A transportation/bus card
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 9:29 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, an eye mask when traveling

Bluetooth speaker for listening to podcasts off my phone
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 9:32 AM on November 5, 2018

One of my all-time highest-ROI possessions is a glow-in-the-dark cat ID tag that I have on my keychain. It simply says "$ REWARD $ / Call or text [my number]." I've lost my keys more than once and this tiny thing was a godsend. It gives me huge peace of mind, the glow makes it dead-simple to find my keys in the bottom of a bag or under a car seat, and I give them to everyone I can think of. (This company makes tons of other colors/shapes too, all on Amazon.)
posted by argonauta at 9:33 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

A tailor's measuring tape to help with purchasing clothes online.
posted by Goblin Barbarian at 9:37 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

A mattress heating pad. There's nothing like climbing into a prewarmed bed.
posted by 6thsense at 9:58 AM on November 5, 2018 [9 favorites]

I love this question.

Barkeeper's Friend for all your bath- and kitchen-cleaning needs.

Another $5 IKEA stool which I use as a shower chair and has improved my life immeasurably--sitting down to scrub your heels or suds your hair or whatever is fantastic, and I firmly believe that everyone, regardless of ability level, could benefit from having a shower shair.

I love my Phone Loop and rec them to everyone I know. It seems silly to pay for what's basically a piece of sturdy ribbon with some sticky bits, but it was absolutely life changing for me and I can't say enough good things about them.

Vernors ginger soda, which is the best ginger soda, and is the only thing that helps when you're sick with stomach bugs or similar.

Buckley's cough syrup, which is only available in Canada and which I love so much that I just paid $16 for a 200ml bottle of it on Amazon, and the only part of it that I regret is that most of that money will go to a middleman and not the company.
posted by mishafletch at 10:04 AM on November 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

One of those deodorants that is nothing but alum salt in a plastic holder. It works better for me than regular deodorant, does not stain, and I love that it has no scent.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:08 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Darn Tough Socks - these have replaced all my smartwool socks. I especially love their boot socks.

Nthing silicone menstrual cup. Combine with reusable cloth pads (flannel is the absolute best) for a fuss-free period.
posted by carrioncomfort at 10:09 AM on November 5, 2018

Fiskars scissors
posted by muthecow at 10:24 AM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Costco List:

Field Socks (I used to use darn tough socks but I actually like the costco field socks better)
Vodka (indistinguishable from grey goose)
Cake (We got our wedding cake from costco and it's filled with mousse - it's honestly the best cake I've had, and a huge sheet is like $15)
Rotisserie Chickens (It's the best, an best cost/lb out there)
posted by bbqturtle at 10:25 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Sleepphones, Superfeet insoles (I don't know how you know which ones to use, my PT told me), mattress heating pad OMG (which was a gift).

Nobody has mentioned noise-cancelling headphones, but they're a game-changer. I have wired Bose QC 25s. They're the only thing that saves me in an open office, and they're great for planes too.

Speaking of planes, can I say that TSA Pre-Check is also a game-changer? (I also have Global Entry but I haven't flown internationally yet.) I actually gifted this to my dad for his birthday, including navigating the annoying website for him.
posted by radioamy at 10:46 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

posted by dfan at 10:46 AM on November 5, 2018

Drysol antiperspirant. I do not have hyperhidrosis, just garden variety sweating on a hot day or during exercise. I apply Drysol on clean and dry pits before bed, and shower it off the next morning. I'm dry and sweat-free for months, and I don't stink! I don't use any other antiperspirant or deodorant, just the Drysol application 3-4x a year (yes, you read that right).

My partner, who used to sweat through undershirts and formal work shirts, said that discovering Drysol was the most important and useful thing he got out of meeting me. Second most important was marrying me, hah! Now he has complete freedom to wear whatever colour shirts he wants and he is no longer self-conscious about sweaty pits at work.

Drysol is available OTC in Canada.
posted by tinydancer at 10:52 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Trader Joe's skincare. Especially the lavender salt scrub, the stick sunscreen, and the antioxidant (not the SPF) face lotion.

NTH menstrual cup.

Moleskine stickums for the spots where your new shoes give you blisters.

Cord keeper dots
posted by assenav at 11:05 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Harbor Freight Can Crusher
Aside from the 3x+ space saving, it's a fun stress relief.
posted by Sophont at 11:28 AM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Barkeeper's Friend.

Also, Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser.

posted by under_petticoat_rule at 11:33 AM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Washing your sheets with maybe 1/2 a cup of PineSol / Lestoil. Good for oily spots from rich lotions / face oil / just being kinda greasy. Either of these is also good for pretreating oily stains on clothes.

Cheap wet/dry electric shaver is almost as close as a razor, with way less skin irritation and no cuts. I got the cheapest one at Target and shave way more often (uh, and more places) now.

The Libby (overdrive) app for library e-books is so good, and so much better than versions from a few years ago.

Also: Instant Pot / wool socks / menstrual cups / Salux cloth / Uniball pens
posted by momus_window at 11:44 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Tarte Shape Tape Concealer is a tired white girl's wet dream.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:52 AM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

This question and the answers so far have all made me very happy. My recommendations:

Repeats: the Aeropress, noise-cancelling headphones (specifically the Bose QC35ii), Instant Pot

Swiss+Tech Utility Key: I carry this with me everywhere. It's not as useful as a real pocketknife, but it'll get through airport security and it works in a pinch.

Gear Ties: The best cable organizers.

Maybelline Green Stick: Are you a ruddy-faced person of European descent who would like to be less ruddy-faced, perhaps because people are going to be taking pictures of you, or just because you're tired of looking like a tomato all the time? Buy this and never have that problem again.

Weber Camping Grill: Fits on our tiny-ass balcony and lets me grill in an apartment in a high-rise.

Gustbuster Umbrella: The only umbrella I am willing to carry and use regularly in Chicago.

Phillips Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock: I don't know how I woke up before I had this. Makes the whole process of coming back to consciousness much more pleasant.

Honest Amish Beard Conditioner: My beard isn't enormous, but this keeps it soft and smelling good.

Cuisinart Electric Kettle: Super-easy to use and has a variety of built-in target temperatures for different uses - coffee, various kinds of tea, and a full boil.

All-Clad 12" Stainless Steel Frying Pan: One of only two pans that I use on a regular basis.

Lodge 12" Cast Iron Skillet: The other one.

Guillotine (card game): One of the few games I've had a lot of luck getting people who aren't really gamers to play and fall in love with.

Bellroy Hide-And-Seek Wallet: The best wallet I've owned; lots of hideaway pockets and great organization.

Tom Bihn Cadet briefcase: My day-to-day carry; holds everything I need, but is small enough to discourage over-packing.

Tom Bihn Aeronaut carry-on: My go-to carry-on anytime I don't have to travel with nice clothes, and my go-to duffle bag for any car trip.

AmazonBasics Foam roller: Probably the highest-yield mobility/pre-hab tool for most people. Regular use will make you feel and move better.

8" Wusthof Chef's Knife: I like the heavy German-style knives, and the Wusthof is the best mass-market option.

NixPlay Seed Digital Picture Frame: My wife and I got two of these, loaded the app onto both of our phones, and had photos up and displaying in minutes. Really fun way to display the zillion pictures you have locked in your camera roll most of the time.
posted by protocoach at 12:15 PM on November 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

Make your pizzas on this. Much better results than a stone, ime.
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:23 PM on November 5, 2018

It's been said before, but this is the best hoodie on the planet.
Is it insane to pay $108 for a hoodie?
But if you care about this sort of thing, then, well... this is the best hoodie on the planet.
posted by The Bellman at 12:43 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're a woman who needs to dress somewhat business casual in a snowy environment, invest in a pair or two of La Canadienne boots. Expensive but they hold up for years, are completely waterproof and as warm as it gets without being a full-on winter boot.
posted by peacheater at 12:50 PM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Paula's Choice skincare, particularly their products targeted at people with redness/Rosacea.

Flour sack towels, jumbo if you have long hair or large dogs, the regular 28" ones are otherwise great as kitchen/utility towels.

Ankle length hoodie robe (plus size) (currently on sale) (it's got pockets)

V-shaped pillow plus Sobakawa cloud pillow.

mDesign bins for the refrigerator and the top shelf of cabinets (and, like, everywhere else)

The Target microfiber sheets EmpressCallipygos linked above, except they have the best cutest sometimes funniest prints. You have to just watch all the type, because the options cycle frequently. But they wash like a dream and just look great, and yes are very soft.

Adjustable height folding tables - narrower and deeper (and square, which I'd never seen before searching today). The height adjusts to coffee table, kids table, and regular table heights (unfortunately none of them come in counter height, but you can put bed risers under the legs). We're house renters and these have served so many purposes under so many tablecloths - desks, sideboard, extra patio table, coffee table, craft/project table, meeting tables. They're usually a little cheaper in stores than online because they're expensive to ship, and you can often find them at discount/drug stores seasonally, plus your usual big box stores.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:05 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Recumbent bicycles (better than cars! better than upright bicycles!)! Turmeric (the medicinal variety - better than ibuprofen)! Houses painted rainbow (would totally paint a stripe of someone else's rainbow)! Community garden plots (enough tomatoes for everyone!)! Interlibrary Loan (so THAT's where all the rest of the books are)! Bike buckets (waterproof! Like $100 cheaper than Ortliebs AND they don't sag into your wheel AND they have great carrying capacity)! Generator-powered bike lights (eg Busch + Müller, supernova... I haven't changed a battery in 5 years of night riding)!
posted by aniola at 1:30 PM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I don't even know what these are called, collapsible fabric storage bins? Not the file box size that you use for storage. These are small bins made from stiff fabric that can mash flat. They are great for traveling because they corral all the bits and bobs on the night table/desk so you don't lose them or leave things behind. Then you sort through and pack everything up, and flatten the bin to fit in your bag. I've found mine at Daiso, the Japanese version of a Dollar Store.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:33 PM on November 5, 2018

Olay Total Effects moisturizer. I've been using it since I was in my late 20s. I am now 52 and most people are shocked when I tell them my age; they seem to genuinely think I am younger than I am. When I run out of the Total Effects, and I've tried other moisturizers, my skin breaks out and rebels. It's honestly one of the few things in my life that I've relied on continuously for decades.
posted by annieb at 1:49 PM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

You want to have a gourmet set up in your home? Let me lay on you:

1) Mercer knives which do not break the bank and are excellent. They were usually bought by culinary school students but have achieved broader commercial success. I have both Genesis and Asian pieces. They have been rock solid and performed as well as my way more expensive pieces (I am staring at you Kramer knives). They are available through Amazon. Seriously, quality is high, price is cheap and I do not feel guilty about being deemed worthy of a knife blade forged by swordsmiths to the Ninja.

2) Covet the performance of the All-Clad but the All-Clad gives you the sticker shock? Then your option for tri-ply stainless would be Tramontina which seems to only still be available at Walmart. Don't believe me , then read the Serious Eats Pan Showdown. These are my favorite pans to get friends when they divorce besides a Bon Voyage cake.

3) A piece of equipment you maybe surprised that you use more than you thought would be Benriner Japanese mandoline. Get this with a cut glove, too for maximum hand safety and get the larger size, if you can.

4) if you are fortunate enough to have serious yard sales and second hand shops then nothing can be better than vintage cast iron that has the glass like smooth surface of your dreams. Lodge does not smoothe their stuff and has a rough interior surface. Cut the years of smoothing and buy vintage/antique. Delicious things come from a well seasoned cast iron pan, which are CHEAP.
posted by jadepearl at 5:10 PM on November 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

Microplane graters. Seriously. Also keeping your kitchen knives sharp makes them work better and less likely to injure someone. A simple turn box like this Lansky works well. The kitchen towels for 70¢ at Ikea are great.

If you like cooking on cast iron but don't have the patience to find a vintage Wagner at an estate sale, buy a 10" skillet from Smithey Ironware.

If you drink coffee that you make at home, you need a good burr grinder. The Baratza Encore is so much better than the spinny blade grinders. People have recommended the Chemex which is great, I also like the Hario Woodneck. NB: Some people call this the "Hario Nel" because the filter is flannel cloth. Don't be one of those people. Buy beans from a local roaster within a week of their roast date, use them promptly, enjoy your coffee.

A small pocket knife is frequently useful and less intimidating than people often expect. The Mini Griptilian is a great one in a sheepsfoot blade. Another good one is the Spyderco Dragonfly series. Plain edge is best unless you know you need a serrated edge.

Multitools are a good compromise if it can live in a bag or glove compartment instead of your trouser pockets. Leatherman's Skeletool is simple and light but they have several models. Or go classic with a Swiss Army knife.

A good headlamp gives you hands-free light wherever you look, whether that's hiking or crawling into a tight space to fix something. Petzl, Black Diamond, Princeton Tec are reliable brands. Get one with a spot and flood mode as well as a red LED. Rechargeable is nice, but you can also use Eneloops in a standard AA or AAA headlamp— that way you can use alkaline spares in an emergency.

There are some great sock recommendations upthread, my pick is the REI Merino hikers in whatever weight and height you prefer. They last a long time and go on sale a few times a year.

If you like comfortable shoes that aren't made by a big international brand:
- Allbirds are merino wool that breathes and flexes, made sustainably
- Quoddys are handmade in Maine, either stock sizes or custom for your own personal feets
- LL Bean Boots and Maine Hunting Shoes (especially the made in Maine ones) are legit, definitely size down a full size and get some of those warm wool socks
- Teva Mush IIs with the canvas straps are the best thong-style sandals. They're cushy but don't get crushed like Reefs do.
- Danner still makes some of their boot models in the USA, many are available in wide sizes, and many can be resoled.

For personal care stuff, Aesop, Kiehl's, and even Big Cloud (the Dollar Shave Club house brand) are great. Some time ago my partner found some Turkish towels on Amazon for less than $10 each and we've never used terry bath towels again.

This Rab jacket is so good that my partner and I both own one. It's warm and waterproof enough for the PNW without getting too stuffy, and the insulation is super soft and comfortable even in a T-shirt or tank top. They're not a popular brand in the USA yet but they make such solid gear.

If you're a person who wears women's clothes, Eileen Fisher is quality standards in good materials that are both office appropriate and comfortable.
If you're a person who wears denim, Shockoe Atelier designs, cuts, and finishes their garments in Richmond, VA. They put in the effort to find unusual fabric batches and repair their jeans for free for life.
If you're a denim-wearing person who wears women's clothes, Dovetail Workwear makes workwear for women that's actually cut to fit and actually made durably.

Felco garden shears come in several sizes. They can be adjusted, sharpened, and the blades can be replaced.
WD-40 is not a lubricant; it's a water displacer. Use an appropriate lubricant for whatever squeak or tool you need. 3-in-1 (Jesus Oil) and Triflow work for most things. The old folks at your local mom & pop hardware store will steer you to the right product for other needs.
3M Super 33+ electrical tape and 6910 gaff tape really are better than the off-brand.
California Air Tools' ultra quiet compressors really are ultra quiet. Like hearing safe in the same room quiet. It's a game changer if you use air tools.

In the studio, I'm really into the Rotring 800 mechanical pencil, which has a retractable barrel that protects the lead and tip. My lead holders are mostly old Koh-i-noor. I like the grey body Staedtler felt tip pens which have a better tip feel than Microns, although Copics have replaceable tips and ink reservoirs.
Field Notes are great pocket-sized notebooks that come in blank, lined, and grid. Occasionally they'll make a dot grid. I still like Rhodia for larger (A6 thru A4) notebooks, and have moved from Moleskine to Leuchtturm for more pages and nicer feeling paper with a subtle dot grid. Most of this stuff you can find at a good local stationery store, or on Amazon.

I think that's all I have for now.
posted by a halcyon day at 5:15 PM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

I rarely buy new things because I'm poor, but two new items I purchased in the past year that were expensive (for me) and still totally worth the outlay:

Arborwear hoodie. I didn't get the double thick, but I'm okay with that because I don't live on the Arctic Tundra. It's like wearing a sleeping bag. It's soft and fleecy and utterly indestructable. It got me through a long winter job digging fence holes, and tending horses outside. So many great details, so useful. Buy one now before the hipsters discover them and they double in price.

Seiko 5 watch. There are a million different styles, in prices from $50-250. It's a fairly simple and bulletproof movement watch with day + date. NATO straps are cheap and can dress it up or down. Never get stuck with a dead battery again (it auto-winds). It varies about a minute per week, but I can live with that. My phone is no longer my go-to when I just need to check the time, as a result: less distractions. Bonus hint: Maratac watch bands. Best $10 you'll ever spend. Utterly indestructable, easily cleanable.

My short list of brands I scoop up used: Wagner or Griswold cast iron; Snap-On, US made Vise Grips, or Williams tools; SwingAway can openers; Patagonia outdoor clothes; and Pointer brand coats and overalls. All can be found with some searching in piles of stuff on tables at yard sales, flea markets or thrift stores, all will outlive you.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 5:42 PM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I see some of these have been mentioned already. I listed them before reading other's recs because ... I have no idea, actually. Anyway, I have concluded I am boring and I buy way too much stuff from Amazon.

Airscape coffee canister. I've bought one for each of my kids and one for a friend at work. Beans keep several weeks with no staling at all.

Great Northern popcorn popper. Amazing and fun. Not sure where this was the first 58 years of my life. Some of the similar ones are less good.

8 quart Instant Pot. I think the extra size is helpful for stock-making but probably not otherwise.

Sugru moldable glue. You can modify all kinds of things with this stuff and it is fun, too.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 6:11 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Smartwool Secret Sleuth socks

Litter Robot

Working Hands

RTIC tumblers (cheaper than YETI but work just as well!)

This USB fan

+1 on the Tubshroom!
+1 on the brass ice scraper!
+1 on anything CeraVe, but especially the AM sunscreen/moisturizer
+1 Squatty Potty
posted by elsietheeel at 6:22 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I forgot to list the thing that truly has changed my life in the past year: this tiny, USB-powered, rechargeable white noise machine. I keep it on all the time plugged into a USB plug, but will keep running for 8-10 hours if the power goes out, is about the size of a ping pong ball, is still quite loud and dimensional (I keep mine in a bowl for extra acoustics), and is loopless so you're never hearing a seam in the sounds.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:36 PM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

One of the most life-changing products I have is my AirBake cookie sheet. (I have an AirBake jellyroll pan, too, for when I need a pan with sides.) My cookies, biscuits or scones never get burnt on the bottom. If you love your baked goods to have dark brown, crusty bottoms and edges you won't like using an AirBake sheet, but if you like them evenly cooked and not a bit burnt and have a hard time making them come out that way, you need AirBake.
posted by Redstart at 7:03 PM on November 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Gingher sewing scissors are amazing! So much more comfortable than even the most ergonomic handles, light in your hand, and wicked sharp.
posted by exceptinsects at 7:16 PM on November 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Citizen Watches, Filson Flannel, Kershaw Kitchen Shears, Sonicare Toothbrush, Eureka Tents, Tom Binh Bags, Darn Tough Socks.

I love mine, I've given all of them as gifts as well, and regret nothing.
posted by talldean at 7:18 PM on November 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

I live in Oregon. It's cold here. I recommend Costco women's merino wool socks, alpaca wool fingerless gloves (from etsy) and Cuddle Duds long johns. And rose hip oil to add to Aveeno lotion to fight dry skin.
posted by DixieBaby at 8:05 PM on November 5, 2018

Anyone who's trying to pump milk needs to at least consider Pumpin' Pal flanges as an alternative to those awkward conical things that other companies offer. So much better.
posted by teremala at 5:17 AM on November 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

This lamp. Amazon is mad at them for some reason - they took down all the reviews and won't let me add one, but I've bought 3 of them, and they're great. Solid, tiltable, and the dimmers+remote work so well.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 5:22 AM on November 6, 2018

Stuff that I recommend all the time —


Chinese slicer/cleaver a/k/a chef's knife. Almost rectangular blade around 2.5 in by 8 in. Almost the only knife I need, except for cheese.
Cheese plane. For cheese.
A real vegetable peeler. Don't keep something that is awkward to use - you will hate it. I use an all-stainless "Dual Julienne & Vegetable Peeler" type, but never use the julienne side.

Pressure cooker. Essential in my life for rice and beans.
Baking paper - a box of sheets rather than the roll.
Foodservice packs of plastic wrap. It takes up a little more space but will last for years.
Cambro brand lidded food containers. The foodservice standard for a reason. I have some bodies that are 25 years old and have minimal wear. You will replace lids on occasion.


DMT Dia-Sharp diamond bench stones for sharpening knives, chisels, plane blades, and so on. I use the same one in the kitchen and the shop.
Japanese-style fishtail [a/k/a splayed] prybar; sometimes called a restorer's prybar.
4 inch locking pliers. A super-useful compact size for miscellaneous fix-it needs. Get a few pairs, they are small and prone to wandering. I totally get that locking pliers are over-used and mis-used, but when you need one you are glad to have one.
12 gauge extension cords for power tools and outdoor equipment. Physics ain't no joke - be prepared for the amps.
Handscrew wood clamps in various medium [6, 8, 10] sizes.
Pilot drill countersinks.
Better-quality files.
LED shop lights

Personal care

Wool-blend socks that truly fit and last - several good brands are in the market.


Library membership/card.
Aldren Watson's Hand Tools - Their Ways and Working Beautiful and plays it down the middle.

The following are less everyday in nature but really upped my game —


Balloon whip. Handbeaten egg whites and whipped cream are totally possible with the right tool. Don't get a comically large one - it's not a prop.


Spring dividers. When possible, don't take a measurement with a numbered rule, use dividers to transfer and mark the distance.
Brad-point drill bits for wood.
Kugihiki flush-cutting saw. A no-set fine-tooth saw with a flexible blade.
One-handed bar clamps / spreaders. One of the niftier "modern" products that I use. The kind of thing that is so useful that I can stomach all the plastic and brightly color in-mold decoration.
Automatic center punch. A tool more typically used in metalworking, but very helpful in wood also. Punches mark your work with a dimple, creating a starting point that prevents screws and drills from wandering. You can use a punch and hammer, but the automatic punch takes the place of those two and can be actuated one-handedly.
Laser level.
Carbide scraper. The hardness of carbide makes it useful in unexpected places. Remove paint, wood, grout, flatten plaster, shape plastic and tile. Almost too aggressive in some situations - will take a deep gouge if it gets away from you, so take it easy.
Carbide-edge utility knife blades. They outlast the conventional ones. A small thing with a big payoff.
Modeler's rasp. I recently got one and it has really improved my life.
Sarco Multi-Glaze Type M Putty for puttying windows. Regular glazing compound is crap.

Finally, more a matter of bias than OMG! —

Worm-drive circular saw.
Maze brand nails.
Lutz brand zinc-body utility knife in a high viz color.

Danner boots.
Filson Mackinaw wool vest.
posted by Glomar response at 6:40 AM on November 6, 2018 [8 favorites]

To go with the Dutch ovens mentioned above: a lid lifter. You lift the lid straight up, preventing charcoal ash from spilling into your food.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:53 AM on November 6, 2018

a little late chime in, but I love my Leaf Shave as much as I like my Menstrual cup.

You replace just the blades in it, so it doesn't make trash, and it's made of metal and feels heavy and nice and is not like shaving with a safety razor, it's very much like shaving with a venus. I cut up my knees pretty bad trying to find a plastic free shaving solution, but here we are, solved! They're currently sold out (probably because of my constant evangelizing) but hopefully they'll be back soon.

Things I also like:

Bamix immersion blender.
Zojirushi. (we have their travel mugs, coffee maker, rice cooker and breadmaker. all excellent.)
Jojoba oil. (clean your face, remove makeup, moisturize skin, moisturize hair! doesn't give me immediate acne like coconut oil!)
Eddie bauer hooded flannel shirts.
Lee Valley Tools.
posted by euphoria066 at 1:49 PM on November 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

I know this suggestion is a bit costly, and I highly recommend you purchase them whenever they're on sale at Zappos, 6pm, or ebay, but Cole Haan shoes have been an absolute joy to walk in. I purchased a pair of these for a 10-day trip to London and Paris last year. I easily walked 250K steps during that trip and for 5 of those days, these shoes were my go-to. Still have 'em and they're still as comfortable as when I purchased them. I enjoyed these so much, I've purchased 3 more pairs and the dress shoes are just. as. comfortable. Consider me a fan!
posted by Tardis_Spin at 3:18 PM on November 6, 2018

We inherited this huge white Braun immersion blender. It looks like something inappropriate smuggled out of East Germany during the cold war. It's an older version of this. I thought they were some sort of silly indulgence for kitchen cultists, but it is surprisingly useful. I mostly use it when making Two Sleevers Butter Chicken in our 8 quart InstantPot. My wife makes whipped cream with it, and I should probably use it for scrambled eggs too.

I used to have a Leatherman Micra. I gave it to a friend when I was leaving China, and since that time have probably spent more than the price of a Micra buying assorted stuff that just doesn't work as well.

That said, this Gerber utility blade costs about six bucks and is awesome. You'll start looking for things to slice open, because it's so satisfying. I hang it off one of those closeable wire loops on my key chain.

Oh, and get the cheapest mechanical keyboard with a good rating on Amazon.
posted by mecran01 at 7:35 PM on November 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

A few more:

Seconding Zojirushi, particularly their rice cooker.

Contigo waterbottles - completely leakproof and one-hand opening, but it doesn't make you work to get water out of it like some waterbottles do.

Paul Green shoes - another expensive brand of shoes but so worth it for my feet.

This strange detangling brush from Remington - really works on my extremely knot-prone hair.

I know that Canada Goose has had a reputation for being overly trendy for the past five years or so, but seriously my winter coat from them has lasted five years with nary a whimper, and I see no reason why it wouldn't last at least another five. And sooooo warm.
posted by peacheater at 12:34 PM on November 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Casio Digital Watch Is water resistant and has all the info on the face without having to mash anything inf and it’s super inexpensive. Only watch I have used for about 15 years and have owned 3.

I also like the Gerber Dime Mutitool.

I love a kindle paperwhite for reading, and also have the app on my iPhone and iPad because. I just wish that it would also sync up your last read position in periodicals like it does with books. I have always read digitally - palm pilot, pocket pc, game boy with the after market emulator cart... just an easy way to have much book in a small space.
posted by kabong the wiser at 10:59 AM on November 8, 2018

« Older A bird in the hand is better than waiting for more...   |   Need some input for upgrading a video card Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments