If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? Regular readers of the Strategist will know that we’ve previously turned to resident Cool Guy Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) to help us answer both of those questions. For more of Chris’s advice, he’s now answering reader questions for us in a regular column. If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, drop us an email with the subject line “Ask Chris” at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for reminding me that pure hell, a.k.a. winter in New York City, is quickly approaching. Nothing I look forward to more than trudging through dirty snow on a cold, dark morning. Being prepared is critical; wet socks will make any day worse.
The Strategist recently helped a female reader find a “short, cool” puffer for $180 or less. Can you point me to some men’s puffers that meet the same criteria?
I didn’t embrace the puffer until a few years ago. I always felt a bit silly in them, and thought I looked like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (maybe I do?). Then I quickly realized that the puffer is the most practical style of winter jacket on the market. I haven’t looked back since.
My No. 1 will always be from the gods at Patagonia. The Micro Puff Jacket may be a little more than you want to spend (though both REI and Backcountry are now selling a handful of new coats in past seasons’ colors at a discount), but it will last forever, and if anything goes wrong, the brand offers to fix or replace stuff bought from it or authorized retailers. A true investment. Also, so many fun colors! I love the Peppergrass Green above, but black is probably a more practical choice.
The Ultra Light Down Puffer from Uniqlo is thick, puffy, and water-repellant, and comes in at the right price. I love the orange! Think of it as a mood lifter for those dark winter days.
Montbell also makes a well-priced ($179, perfect!) and cool-looking down jacket. Very light, incredibly warm, easily packable — it comes highly recommended by people I know who actually enjoy doing shit outdoors. Since walking to Whole Foods in January is my version of hiking … I trust them.
I’m starting to think about holiday gift shopping, and one thing you read about everywhere as a great gift is candles. But they’re so prevalent that I’ve developed a bit of candle fatigue. What are some other relatively inexpensive but substantial-feeling things to give that might strike the same note as a candle, but aren’t a candle?
Candle fatigue! It could never happen to me. But I see your angle. A candle, while a wonderful gift, will eventually cease to burn. The opposite of the gift that keeps on giving. Something in a similar price range, with a little more lasting power, should do the trick. May I?
I also like Grown Alchemist’s sweet orange, cedarwood, and sage hand soap. It smells great and is infused with coconut oil, making it super hydrating — something we all need during the colder months.
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