Bespoke Morning Reads

After catching up on the latest episode of White Collar1 and clearing my Instapaper queue, I spent the rest of my morning going through a few gear websites. While not all carry wares with the vintage feel that almost every item on Huckberry’s store has, each site picks out the best product for its respective category, whether styled to match this century or not. Personally, I prefer the former: I love gear and apparel that could have come out of a 1900s-era general store. It looks cool, works great, and I know it will last so long as I take care of it.

I started out with ITS Tactical looking for modern tactical equipment, things I could use every day and take with me when I went camping. However, while I did find one or two items that fit this bill, the site’s design made any navigation too unwieldy and confusing to find anything more than a few semi-interesting articles. If only have a limited amount of time to spend on cool gear sites, I would not spend it here.

Much more my style, Best Made Company features bespoke, artisanal wares ranging from organic syrup to rucksacks. Personally, I love — and still may purchase — the peanut lighter. Although I generally prefer starting fires with matches, I would happily make an exception for this little guy.

Similarly inspired with a much greater focus on apparel, Cloak & Dapper sells everything from socks to tie bars. Although I have no need for such elegant clothing at this point in my life, I realize some do, and that I will as well in the future.

Ostensibly a site about slim wallets, clicking Bellroy’s “LEARN” menu item opens a whole new world of great tips and tricks for traveling light, packing well, and caring for traditionally finicky materials like leather. Their shop does not feature as wide a range of products as the aforementioned sites, but Bellroy makes up for lack of variety with excellent articles.

J. L. Lawson & Co.. Primarily dealing in brass accessories, I found their blog the only mildly interesting aspect of this website. I did enjoy the I made it out of... video, though, which took me back to this time last year and the hours I spent over a mill and lathe machining parts for a robot.

Honorable mentions:

Sites that I did not set out to visit this morning but later did so to compare products with these other shops, or just places I wanted to point out because — as the saying goes — every day someone is born who has not seen The Flintstones: while some of you may already know and frequent these websites, at least one person will have never heard of them before.

Huckberry Store. As previously mentioned, Huckberry’s store features an impressive range of products in every category. Like Bellroy, Huckberry does not just sell merchandise, but writes as well: their journal entries and newsletters are both consistently great and well worth the read.

I first discovered Topo Designs when Huckberry featured one of their backpacks, the Klettersack, on their store a few months ago, and have since only managed to avoid spending way too much on their site through a herculean effort: they not only offer neat products, but useful ones as well. A dangerous combination, for sure.

Tools & Toys. I have talked about Shawn Blanc’s venture Tools & Toys a few times in the past after reading an excellent review of a just-launched app or new gadget, always in a complimentary tone: their reviews are not only short and succinct, but well-researched as well. I would not have to stretch far in order to confidently say that Tools & Toys reviews are some of the best on the internet.

Similarly, The Wirecutter has gained a reputation as the premiere device review site, and rightfully so: whether writing about the best solar battery pack — I want one — or Mission Workshop’s R6 Arkiv Field Backpack — I really want one — The Wirecutter’s articles strike a difficult balance between in-depth reporting and the succinct style I have come to appreciate so much from Tools & Toys.

So there you have it, the websites I spent my morning with, and will likely spend many an hour more with as I drool over some gadget or tool until I eventually break down and add it to my cart.

Wow. Just when it had started to fall back into the usual refrain of Neal and Peter getting a case and then solving it by the hour’s end, White Collar’s writers shifted gear with the last few episodes and threw us curve ball after curve ball, daring us to keep up and challenging everyone to predict the next. Needless to say, I did not see this coming. USA Network really does make some of the best shows on television today.