We write about hundreds of products each week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked some of our recent favorites: expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and very good deals we uncovered while trawling through the vast online-shopping universe — including T-Pain’s electric wine opener, a rangoli mat for Diwali, and some delightfully throwback gas-station sunglasses.
A smartphone keyboard for travel typing
When Strategist writer Kat Gillespie was booking flights to Athens last summer, she was prompted to buy this $34 folding smartphone keyboard to alleviate space that might have otherwise been occupied by her MacBook. “Portability is its primary feature, but I also actively enjoy typing on this thing,” Gillespie says of the responsive keys that have a “satisfying click-clack” sound. She also notes the keyboard’s intuitive Bluetooth function and impressive battery life.
A rangoli mat for Diwali celebrations
In our latest installment of Steal My Party, we spoke to Avani Modi Sarkar, co-founder of Modi Toys, who walks us through how she hosts a kid-friendly Diwali, also known as the festival of lights, which lasts for five days beginning October 24 this year. To keep the younger guests occupied while also teaching them about their culture, Sarkar has them decorate these rangoli mats, which are a symbol meant to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. “The rangoli is basically a foam mat with intricate designs cut into it about an inch or so deep, so it has space for the kids to fill each one in,” Modi says. “It’s something for them to do, and they get to see the finished product.”
All-over body wipes for hot-flash relief
To thwart hot flashes, Strategist contributor Cheryl Kramer Kaye has rounded up her menopause must-haves, which includes these body wipes. “I love that it’s large and fragrance-free, and the packaging snaps closed so the wipes won’t dry out,” Kaye says. Also safe to use as “intimate” wipes, these are pH-balanced with no added hormones, and can be applied “from head to toe, nooks and crannies included, to clean up after a sweat sesh,” she says.
Lenny Kravitz’s all-purpose soap
When we spoke to Lenny Kravitz about his favorite things, he called out this almond-scented soap, which he uses on his dog, himself, and his clothes. “You could even put a little bit of it on your finger and wash your mouth out,” he says. “All of Dr. Bronner’s scents smell good, but this is by far my favorite.”
T-Pain’s electric corkscrew
When we asked T-Pain about the things he can’t live without, the rapper and producer mentioned this electric wine opener he found on one of his monthly Target visits. “You get your wine open in about ten seconds, and you don’t have all the pieces of cork in the wine bottle like when I do it,” he says. “My favorite wine right now is Chateau Ste. Michelle. Supercheap, $9 a bottle, in and out. Three bottles, and you’ll have yourself a pretty good time at night, or any time.”
A drag-queen-approved mushroom USB flash drive
For our “Assistant Files” series, we spoke to Brandon Lim, who works as a personal assistant to Trixie Mattel, one of the most recognizable drag queens in the world. To store Mattel’s DJ-ing mixes, Lim has purchased countless hard drives, but this one is particularly special. “These little mushroom drives are a bit of fun escapism, even just behind the scenes,” he says. “People recognize her form as that of a doll from their childhoods, but she’s so bawdy and whip-smart. Like these drives, she’s a combination of cute packaging and a strong product. It’s all part and parcel of the same thing.”
The gold standard of gas-station sunglasses
As Strategist contributor Laura Reilly has noticed, the classic gas-station sunglass silhouette — “a brandless, wraparound style that lands somewhere between speed-demon monster-trucker and ’00s ‘It’ girl” — is being worn by fashion people everywhere. Thom Bettridge, the head of content at SSENSE, regularly posts pictures of himself in performance Oakleys, making these the gold standard for high-end gas-station sunglasses, Reilly says.
A mobile controller that’s better than a Switch and a Steam Deck
With joysticks and buttons, a 3.5-mm. headphone jack, and a USB-C or Lightning port (depending on whether you’re team Android or iPhone), this mobile controller has turned Strategist writer Jordan McMahon’s phone into a first-class gaming experience. Backbone is compatible with cloud-gaming services such as Xbox Cloud Gaming and works with games you’ve downloaded from the app store (as long as the developer has added support for hardware controllers). “Convenience is where the Backbone shines,” McMahon says. “Sure, a Switch or Steam Deck can fit into most backpacks without much hassle, but I always have my phone on me anyway, and an iPhone plus a Backbone can easily fit into most small bags, fanny packs, or even an adequately sized clutch.”
A jacket for scaling mountains or cold strolls
In our roundup of the best apparel and accessories to buy from Patagonia, Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa dubbed the Nano Air his most versatile outdoor jacket. “I can wear it for easy hikes in cool weather, or use it as my main insulator or heavy layer on winter days around town,” Rellosa says. “And it’s just downright cozy.” As an experienced outdoorsman, Rellosa has tested it against similar jackets from other brands, including the Arc’teryx Atom LT, the Mountain Hardwear Kor Strata, and the North Face Ventrix, but this one remains his favorite. “I will die for (or in) my Patagonia Nano Air Jacket,” he says.
Sanzo’s Asian-inspired sparkling water
If you’re looking for a thoughtful (and affordable) gift, shop our guide to the best under-$50 items from Asian and Asian American-owned brands and small businesses, most of which we’ve written about before. Founded by Sandro Roco, a Queens-born Filipino American, the sparkling water brand is available in Asian-inspired flavors such as lychee, calamansi, mango, and yuzu. This sampler will let the recipient try each one, or go for one flavor if you already know their taste.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.