By Rob Shaul
Spend money on things you use everyday. Here’s my list in no order:
1. T-Shirts that Fit
When you find one, buy several. This is different for everyone, depending on your individual build. I’m short and stocky (5’7″, 160#). Most shirts that fit me for length are too tight across the chest and shoulders. Most that fit in the chest and shoulders are too long. Below are the two I’ve found that fit me perfectly.
- Patagonia Cool Daily T-Shirt. These are great for training, great for every day. I buy the non-logo ones, black, white, and athletic gray. These aren’t cheap …. $35/apiece, but they mine have help up under almost daily wear for 2-3 years. The athletic gray shirts are silky-soft and incredible to train in. Being polyester, these shirts dry super fast – and I’ll swim in them and use them as baselayers for backcountry missions. I buy size Medium.
- Carhartt Force T-Shirt – A cotton/poly blend, these shirts are great for daily wear and outside work, but I also use them for training. They don’t dry as fast as the Cool Daily shirts, but faster than pure cotton. I buy size medium.
- Billabong T-Shirts – Billabong is a surf company and I’ve found their medium T-Shirts fit well and wear cozy. On sale I can pick these up for $15 and the company offers free shipping and returns.
2. Arcteryx Jackets, Shorts, and Pants
Yep, it’s expensive, but as someone who’s cycled through plenty of mountaineering/backcountry jackets and other clothing, Arcteryx fit and design are worth the premium. I especially endorse jackets, softshell pants, and nylon shorts. Avoid the shirts unless you are tall and lean … they don’t fit my short/stocky frame. These are the Arcteryx products I especially endorse:
- Proton LT Hoody – Most versatile jacket in my kit, it’s truly a 4-season jacket for me here in Wyoming. Light, synthetic fill, and breathable, I wear it to work on most mornings, year-round, and it’s in my pack for every overnight trip. It’s replaced all the fleece jackets I own (except during hunting season – because it isn’t camo), and the light down-fill puffys. In the winter, I’ll layer a waterproof shell over it for skiing, and add a Carhartt vest for trips to the grocery store. The Atom LT Hoody is a bigger seller, but this is a better jacket. Fit is awesome for my short/stocky frame. I buy size medium.
- Beta LT Jacket – You’ll get sticker shock, but this will be the only waterproof shell you’ll need. It’s bomber enough for resort skiing, yet light enough for my backcountry ski shell and backpacking and backcountry hunting shell (I have the green color). Size medium is perfect.
- Lefroy Short – Size 30 fits perfect. Nylon – so quick drying and super durable. I live in them all summer long … swimming, working, hiking, backpacking, etc.
- Gamma LT Pant – I own 3 pair (tan, black, gray) all size small and purchased 6 years ago – and they are comfortable over my chunky butt and thighs, but not too long for my stubby legs. Made of nylon, they are thin, do a good job at blocking the wind, dry super fast, and are incredibly durable. In the summer I backpack in them (I roll up the bottoms and wear them as “capris”), and in the early Spring and Late Fall, I wear them for vertical training efforts (hike up, run-down) and trail running. In the winter I run, skate ski in them … and all year round, I wear them casually. I’m wearing my tan ones as I type this.
3. Gym Training Shorts that Fit
I picked up some The North Face backpacking shorts 8 years ago – found their fit perfect, and immediately purchased 4 more pairs – all gray. They are still my go-to training shorts. I’ve tried other shorts over the years, Under Armor and even (gasp) Lululemon – but they’ve been passed along and my TNF shorts have lasted and performed. They’ve never failed. They are durable, move with me through squats, lunges, runs, etc. Mine have pockets and an integrated belt … but the reason they continue to be my everyday wear is because they fit perfect. The North Face no longer makes them … so you’ll have to find the brand/model of shorts that fit you. When you find them, buy several pairs.
4. Klean Kanteen Insulated 12oz Thermos
I drink a lot of coffee, and this thermos is my coffee co-pilot. Mine is army green, dented in several places from drops, and has paint chipping off. When the lid gets gunked up, I can easily take it apart, clean it, put it back together, and the seal is as good as new. I like the 12oz size – it’s perfect for a single cup of coffee, and small enough that I can fit into the side of my jacket pocket when I’m headed out the door at 5:30 am when it’s minus 16 degrees at my house. I see that Klean Kanteen has updated this model from mine, but I trust the quality remains. Expensive, but worth every penny.
5. Carhartt Rugged Stretch Pants and Shorts
Most comfortable pants and shorts I own. Heavy, but when broken in, they wear like butter. My go-to summer/spring/fall work pants and shorts – I wear them fixing fence, getting firewood, etc. In the winter, the pants are pajama-like in softness and comfort. In the summer, I’ll wear the shorts to lounge around in. I don’t own a pair of jeans … these have replaced them.
6. Hoka One One Recovery Slides
Hard to describe how cushy these slides are. I wear them year round … in the winter with socks as slippers, in the summer for anytime I want/need sandals. I take them off last thing at night before slipping under the covers, and first thing in the morning when my feet hit the floor. So light, I’ve even taken them backpacking for around the camp. I’ve worn out two pair.
7. LL Bean Boots
I’ve owned mine for 15+ years – and they are no worse for wear. I don’t know how LL Bean does it with these boots, but they are at once comfortable/soft, and firm. Waterproof, yet breath enough to wear inside for extended periods. Loose enough to throw them on quick without tying for a quick trip outside to refill the firewood box, yet stiff enough when laced tight that I’ve used them for bowhunting elk after a late September snow storm. They deserve the hype. Mine are the 10″, uninsulated model – great wet weather Spring and Fall boot, and with a warm pair of socks, will work 20-degrees in the Winter, or colder if you’re moving.
8. Smartphone Wallet Case
First I went to a front pocket wallet, then, after I lost it, I moved to a “wallet case” for my iphone SE. Now, instead of having to keep track of my phone, wallet and truck keys, now all I have to keep track of is my phone and keys – I’ve cut down the list by 1/3! My case cost $20 on Amazon, protects my phone and holds 2 credit cards, my driver’s license and health insurance card.
9. Leather Couch
Got kids and dogs? Take my word for it and spend the extra money for a leather couch. Ours is a sectional purchased on sale from Macy’s and delivered to Wyoming. Expensive, but so worth it for comfort, clean up and durability. Buy once, cry once ….
10. Dyson Cordless Vacuum
I would have never purchased this myself, but my wife did, and the thing is truly amazing. Ours is over 2 years old, works like new, and makes vacuuming actually “fun.” Yes – it’s worth the $300 price tag.
11. Buckwheat Pillow
I’ve slept on one of these for 20+ years. Unlike down pillows, I can mold my buckwheat pillow to fit under my neck, thus keeping my spine neutral when sleeping. When using a down pillow, my head/neck is always propped up on the pillow, and I wake up with a sore neck. I see now they make buckwheat neck pillows – which might be even better.
12. Patagonia Merino Socks
My choice for summer cardio is hiking up a steep hill, off-trail, and running down. Running down is especially hard on shoes and socks, as the dirt, gravel, and rocks get inside and chew everything up. Over the years I’ve cycles through several pairs of shoes, but only a couple pair of these merino socks from Patagonia. It’s amazing how durable they are, and the job they do for me whether gym training, trail running, or backcountry hunting, backpacking, etc. I wear a pair every day and several of my pairs are 5+ years old.
13. Outdoor Research Echo Boxer Briefs
Only underwear I own. I stumbled on these 5-6 years ago, and promptly threw out all my other underwear. Light, breathable, dry super quick, and durable (I’ve yet to wear a pair out).
14. Bedside Pee Bottle
A couple years ago I spent a week in the hospital with a severe kidney infection. The nurses were tasked with tracking how much I was urinating and so next to my bed they placed a wide-mouth, pee bottle. At the time, in addition to a kidney infection, I was recovering from foot surgery and was using crutches – making going to the bathroom all that much more of a pain. The convenience of this bedside pee bottle was a revelation, and on return home, with me came the bottle. It was a cheap model, with a questionable lid, so I soon replaced it with an old, dark green, plastic, nalgene-like, wide-mouth water bottle I had in the garage. I can’t tell you how many times prior to having a bedside pee bottle, I woke up at 0130 to go to the bathroom, and by the time I got back to bed, couldn’t go back to sleep. With my bedside pee bottle, I can almost get up and relieve myself without opening my eyes. Rarely now do I not fall back to sleep. Mine is dark green (so it’s not gross to look at), and decorated with a piece of red duct tape so everyone knows it’s not filled with water …. Your wife/partner will think you’re gross, but she’ll appreciate not being woken up by your zero dark thirty bathroom trips. Your mind, body, and mood will appreciate the ability to go back to sleep.
15. Oral-B Toothbrush
I was stupidly against buying a $30 electric toothbrush until 10 years ago after visiting the dentist and coming away with a big bill. These toothbrushes are amazing and clean your teeth better than I could ever do with a cheap manual toothbrush.
16. A Quality Watch
I grew up before cell phones and learned to appreciate a watch will at the Coast Guard Academy. Only recently (past 5 years or so) have I come to appreciate the workmanship, wonder, and pleasure a quality, mechanical wrist watch, can give. I’m not talking about a super expensive luxury watch, or a cheap, blingy fashion watch, but rather a quality, mechanical “tool” watch, usually a diver, what you can get wet, can take a beating, and isn’t so expensive you have to baby it. Today I’m wearing a classic Seiko black SKX 007 I purchased years ago. However, the SKX shares time on my wrist with a Garmin Instinct II Solar digital watch. Battery lasts 30 days, solar panel, GPS tracking, fitness tracking, stop watch, interval timer, etc. It’s on my wrist while hunting and otherwise in the backcountry.
What’s on your list of Everyday Things worth every Penny? Share in the comments below….