We write about hundreds of products every 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 the vast online-shopping universe — including the women’s deodorant E-40 is proud to use, a new category of skin care that’s sustainable (and fun to use), and a Swedish porch broom that sweeps “with the élan of an ice dancer.”
The note-taking tablet our tech writer is selling his Kindles to buy
As a “longtime marginalia scribbler,” Strategist tech writer Jordan McMahon used Kindles for years until he found this tablet to be the closest replacement to a pen and printed page, he says. Compared to the six-inch display of a basic Kindle, the Kobo Elipsa 2E has a 10.3-inch screen, so its text reads crisp even in direct sunlight, and there’s more space to jot down thoughts, McMahon says. With a handy stylus that magnetically attaches to the top of the Elipsa, users can write directly onto any e-book — something other readers (like the Kindle Scribe) don’t offer, McMahon says. And beyond its note-taking features, the Elipsa has the added advantage of letting him save dozens of articles to Pocket, a read-it-later app, and the color-adjustable e-ink screen makes the experience as “pleasurable as reading a newspaper,” McMahon says.
A tiny porch broom for “tending to your own margins”
For our My Week With series, Strategist contributor (and self-described sweeping enthusiast) Leah Finnegan tested this Swedish-made porch broom from Iris Hantverk that wound up becoming one of the most profound objects she’s ever owned. At the start of a six-day trial, Finnegan says the short handle required “bending over like Kate McKinnon in those Verizon ads” to tidy her floors. But after emailing the brand’s co-founder, Finnegan learned that the cleaning tool’s thin, rough bristles are meant to remove dirt and snow from shoes in entryway spaces. Afterward, Finnegan says the $80 broom began to “serve the inside of her home by existing on the outside.” Or, as she puts it, the sweeper was “cleaning in the margins.”
The affordable white T-shirts you’ll find in Mick Jenkins’s green room
It’s not all Aesop hand wash and Don Julio. “When you’re a touring artist and they want your rider, put T-shirts and underwear on there,” says rapper Mick Jenkins, who discovered these tees after trying different ones all over the country. Jenkins says Goodfellow is the best option from Target or Walmart because the collars are thick, but not too thick, and the material is lightweight without feeling flimsy. “Also, I’m tall, and I can get frustrated with shirts that, when you get to XL, they’re either not very large or they’re extremely long,” Jenkins says. “Goodfellow is right in the middle.”
Washable, knit ballet flats for clomping through puddles this fall
Rothy’s previously appeared on our site when Strategist contributor Erika Veurink wrote that they were ultra-comfy even after walking 15,000 steps a day. And last week, the brand made another showing on our list of the best ballet flats with this supportive square-toed style. They come recommended by writer and illustrator Maggie Slover, who discovered them last season, and says they’re perfect for sudden rainstorms and “travel like a dream.” Slover credits their breathable, waterproof mesh, which adds an interesting texture to outfits, she says. The shoes and their insoles are also machine-washable, so they’re a breeze to clean if you do get caught in a downpour when fall weather finally arrives.
A mermaid-themed backpack with clasps for clipping bike helmets (or lunch boxes) …
If your child spent summertime playing mermaids in the kiddie pool, this printed backpack from Pottery Barn’s popular Mackenzie line could make back-to-school a tad smoother. In our guide to the best backpacks for kids, Mollie Chen, an operating partner at Acora and co-founder of Birchbox, recommends this rucksack (her 3- and 6-year-olds both have the small size) because they’re “big enough for a folder, with tons of compartments for art supplies and other treasures, but not so big they tip over.” Meanwhile, Strategist contributor Youngna Park says that, compared to other brands, these offer more exterior pockets and clasps for greater adjustability, which can be used for hooking on a bike helmet or strapping the pack to a suitcase. And if your kid is already moving on from mermaidcore, there’s a variety of themes ranging from soccer and space to Minecraft and Disney princesses, plus six sizes and two styles (mini through extra-large, and rolling and adaptive, respectively).
… and on-sale sandwich bags to last (more than) an entire year of school meals
With back-to-school shopping well underway, Strategist deals editor Sam Daly uncovered an array of deeply discounted essentials for students of all ages, including this reusable sandwich bag from Strategist-favorite brand Stasher (that’s also part of our Kitchen 100). Nicole Silber, a pediatric nutritionist with FoodieKid, says it’s a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic, plus it’s ideal for middle-school kids “who find lunch boxes too ‘childish.’” And because each bag is dishwasher-, freezer-, and oven-safe, they can be used for cooking or food storage for those starting the semester in a dorm room or a college apartment.
A sustainable (and travel-friendly) serum in stick form
Strategist contributor Kaleigh Fasanella says she’s never without some sort of moisturizer nearby, but now she can’t stop reaching for a new category of skin care: solid serums, which are full of powerful actives like their liquid counterparts but in a waterless form so they’re more sustainable and spill proof. This twist-up gel from Hero — maker of our favorite pimple patches — applies seamlessly and absorbs within seconds, while also nourishing Fasanella’s extremely parched skin, she says. It contains a blend of soothing and hydrating ingredients to reduce redness and flakiness around the nose and mouth, and “it has a subtle cooling effect that feels really refreshing,” Fasanella says.
The women’s deodorant that replaced E-40’s Mennen
Rapper E-40 can’t live without this lavender-scented deodorant, which he says is “long-lasting and stands strong through it all.” When he was younger, E-40 says he used Mennen, but it “didn’t hold up to perspiring,” so he opted for this gel-based alternative his mom introduced to him. “A lot of men from the hood used Secret — ain’t no shame in the game — and I still do,” E-40 says of the brand, quoting their commercials back in the day: “Made for a woman, but strong enough for a man.”
A 1,000-pound tub for “deeply intense, full-body-numbing cold”
Cold therapy has many alleged benefits, such as helping with weight loss, alleviating depression, and reducing muscle soreness — and Strategist writer Jeremy Rellosa, who’s training for a marathon, decided to test a tub from Plunge in his Brooklyn backyard to see how icy baths might affect his athletic performance. The Plunge, “which looks like a cross between a sleek bathtub and a human-size Yeti cooler,” Rellosa says, filters and chills water at a constant 39 degrees and takes less than an hour to set up. After two months of submersions in his “personal recovery pool” at least five times a week, Rellosa says he’s stayed injury-free and his entire body feels less sore and achy after runs.
Durable swim goggles for a late-summer sub-in
If your swim goggles snapped, it’s not too late to find a replacement (that you can continue to wear when you take your front crawl to an indoor pool this autumn). As seen in our roundup of the best swim goggles, we named this pair from Aqua Sphere our best durable choice. They come recommended by swim coach Paul Hunt, who says their all-rubber construction is made to last, though they’re still comfortable on the face with a “nice silicone fit around your eye, meaning it doesn’t hurt too much.” The lenses are also clear and curved, allowing for a broader range of vision underwater, Hunt says, adding that he tells everyone to use them.
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.