My husband, Chris, hates stuff. He has always hated stuff. And now that I try out every product I write about and our house is overrun with products that are in various states of testing, he probably hates stuff even more. Like a lot of guys, he’s really hard to buy for, but every once in a while, he spies something that piques his interest. So let me present a Father’s Day gift guide curated by the most discriminating customer I know: my husband.
“Trae gave me this last year for Christmas, and it’s easily one of my favorite gifts. I work from home, and this is a stress reliever. Plus, our daughter has taken to it, which makes it that much better. It’s sturdy, easy to assemble and easy to move.”
3-Output USB Solar Battery Pack ($79.95) at Cobra
“I am not a gadget guy, but this is one gadget I rely on almost daily—along with the Bluetooth speaker listed below. It’s compact, so you can pop it out anywhere to grab some sun power and charge your cell phone while you’re on the move. And the energy’s free.”
Ogio Renegade Messenger Bag ($99.99) at eBags
“This is especially practical when squeezing through the crowds on the New York City subway. You get easy access in front (rather than having to take off a backpack), and the bag is perfect for a laptop, a couple of books, paperwork, your cell phone and that solar charger. It even has a sleeve that slides over my suitcase handle. I’m told it’s stylish, but that wouldn’t much matter if it didn’t do the job.”
JBL Clip+ Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($49.99) at Best Buy
“Here’s another happy concession to gadgetry. It’s small, water-resistant and portable (it clips to things), and it has a surprisingly full sound for the size. Pair the speaker with Bluetooth or plug it in with the handy attached wire. Use a couple of them, and you’ve got a concert hall.”
iTunes and Powell’s Books gift cards (prices vary) at Apple and Powell’s Books
“I get these from my mother-in-law on account of my music and book geekery. As a firm believer in paying for music—downloading for free is theft—the iTunes card is an easy yes. The Powell’s card not only feeds my yen for books, but it also supports one of the great independent American booksellers.”
Mrs. Belem Father’s Day Grill Special ($22) at Belem Co.
“As I write, I am eating a tasty dish made with Mrs. Belem’s Cajun–seasoned salt. No joke.” [Pause for bite.] “I cook often—way back when, I did it for a living—and these bright flavors are often in the mix. A little jar goes a long way.”
Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven ($58.97) at Walmart
“I know that Trae is planning to give this to me for Father’s Day this year. (The box arrived before she had a chance to hide it.) I’ve been coveting our friends’ Le Creuset set of yellow-enameled cookware for a few years now, and while I don’t know this brand, Trae’s crack research says it tests just as well at a third of the cost.”