These are a few of my favorite things.
Why do we buy the things we buy? Or for that matter, why do we buy this item over that similar item? I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately.
We’ve all purchased something to “just-get-me-by-for-now.” I know I’ve done it. Many times I find myself bummed that I didn’t spend the extra cash on a higher quality item in order to save a few bucks in the short run. Unsurprised, I usually find myself disappointed in some fashion as time marches on.
Other times, I find that I pay a little extra for something special. Why? Well, there are lots of reasons why I buy the things I buy. Today, however, I want to talk specifically about what it means to purchase something of high quality.
We’re not talking about buying something with the highest price, but rather, making a purchase that will provide you with the most return on your investment. You know, the good stuff in life.
So, where am I going with this? Well, I’m certainly not going to preach to you about why you should buy a Surly over something else. You’re smart enough to make that decision on your own.
I’m here today to give you a taste of 10 quality things I’ve run across in 2012 that I feel are worth paying a little extra money for. I’ve found them to be of particularly high quality, some old, some new. I digress.
Let’s call it, Greg’s Favorite Things
Some of this stuff I own. Some, I wish I owned. No I’m not being paid to say these things so kill your conspiracy theory. In fact, please let me know if you think you’ve got something I should see that should replace one of the items on my list. Okay? Okay.
In no particular order, my list begins.
1. Benchmade Griptillian Folding Pocket Knife.
I’ve owned my Benchmade for over 5 years now. I bought the Black on Black model with a Tanto point from little outfitter in Hendersonville, N.C. while I was working as a Mountain Bike Trip Leader at Camp Mondamin.
The thing I like most about the Griptillian is that the body of the knife is tough. I’ve used it as a hammer, opened about 5,000 beers with it, used it as a pry bar. You name it. The grip is still in great shape and contours the hand nicely.
The locking mechanism from Benchmade is, in my opinion one of the best on the market. It’s a snap to engage with only one hand and allows the blade to lock into position with the flick of a wrist.
Also, the blade is very sharp and holds an edge for a long time under heavy use. Cutting rope, paper, heavy packing tape and dissecting fish with ease.
2. Bulleit Rye from the Bulleit Distillery Lawrenceburg, KY.
Admittedly, I am not a Bourbon or Whiskey snob. In fact, I know very little about how this stuff is made or why it tastes so damn good. Bulleit Rye is smooth and subtle, even to the untrained palette. It’s perfect for sipping, shooting, and mixing. What I like most about this Rye is it has a kick and then a slow warm up in the belly. This distilled delight will wake up your taste buds without burning your goozle. This Whisky is perfect for passing around the table and enjoying good conversation.
3. Kawasaki KLR 650
For me, this motorcycle is the perfect machine for the things I like to do and is also a great platform for trips I’d like to take in the future. With the KLR you get a lot of bang for your buck. The 650cc thumper engine is relatively simple to repair or hop-up and the amount of used and aftermarket parts available are astounding. The bike will run right up to 100mph which is fast enough for me any day. Also, the KLR is a work horse. I’ve mounted a Happy trails Top Box for carrying and stacking cargo and plan to also mount Happy Trails Pannier Boxes this spring for extended trips. The bike handles it’s own well in both on and off road situations and is light enough for even a novice rider like myself to maneuver even in precarious situations. I’ll see the Gun Flint trail on my KLR this summer.
4. Red Wing 926 6-inch Work Boot
I never understood why some people swear by one pair of boots over another until now. First, the experience I got at my local Red Wing store was fantastic. We sized my foot for length and width and tried on probably 6 pairs so I could find the model that felt the best. My feet are long and narrow so a size 12A was the ticket for me. The full leather 926 has standard lacing over the top of the foot and then presents two sets of studs for friction lacing at about ankle height. This boot can be resoled, re-stiched, and mended from top to bottom. For me, the best part is the replaceable insole, which means you can shove in a new foot bed and essentially have a new pair of boots that has already been worn and stretched to your own feet. These boots look great and perform like a true work boot should. They are comfortable and stable all day, everyday and make my feet smile.
5. Ruger MK series .22 Pistol
Yes, this is a gun folks. Sorry if I have offended you.
I don’t own one of these Rugers yet, however, I have had the pleasure of holding a nice stainless model in my hand at the Gander Mountain off of Flying Cloud Drive (for the locals). This little guy is everything I want in a target pistol. The action is time tested and smooth and the finish is very pretty. The Ruger .22 pistol over the years has been a favorite among avid shooters for its reliability and accuracy even when very dirty. Any of the Ruger MK or even Pre-MK Standard models would make a nice addition to your bug out bag because of their relatively light-weight and tack driving ability. I’ll likely get set up with an MK III in stainless steel and wooden grips if I can find one. I plan to use mine for fun “plinking” and maybe even small game hunting.
6. Pentel Graph Gear 500 Pencil
The Graph Gear 500 is one of those pencils you just don’t want to lose. I love this thing and have a minor freak out when it goes missing. Fortunately for $4 I can grab a new one at a drug store at any time. This mechanical pencil comes in multiple lead diameter configurations to suit any of your needs. The shaft is hard plastic that meets a knurled metal barrel at the grip. The elongated nose of the utensil keeps the thin stick of lead securely locked in place and safe from breaking. Even when dropped! Most people throw pencils away or lose them and move on. The Pentel Graph Gear 500, however, has staying power and feels great in my hand. Yup, a pencil is one of my favorite things.
7. Brooks B-17 Saddle with Copper rivets
The classic look and hard-fought appeal of the Brooks B-17 is almost unmistakable. These fine leather saddles are far more than a beauty to behold. The B-17 is made of high-grade leather that at first feels a lot liking sitting on a board. After a little pre-conditioning and a few hundred miles you have yourself a saddle that is durable, beautiful and COMFORTABLE! This saddle will form to fit your body when it breaks in. My personal saddle is a dyed black and features hand pounded rivets which I find more comfortable than the cheaper steel rivets. If you’re looking to have a “relationship” with your saddle over many years, the B-17 is worth a second look. Especially, if you have a bony ass or wider-set hips, speaking from experience.
8. Mole Skin Hardbound Journal
I’ll admit I’ve had a long time obsession with good stationary. Admission is half the battle right? The Mole Skin Hard Bound Journal is my favorite thing to write in. The exterior is tough, usually bound with a standard black cover. The pages are rather thick. You never have to worry about bleed-through and writing on either side of the paper is much more enjoyable. One the Front page there is a space for your name, contact information if lost, and a line for a cash reward if you choose to offer one. On the back interior cover there is small folder for things like business cards, bus tickets or your favorite baseball card. I prefer the 5 X 8.25 inches model with the graph paper lines. Graph paper is great for doodles or writing prose. These notebooks are more expensive than most, however, I’ve found it very satisfying to add another full-notebook to my collection.
9. Stanley Adventure Carbonated Drink Bottle 32 Oz.
I scored this bottle at a tradeshow a couple years back so technically I never paid for it. That said, it’s a great bottle. I’ve used it for beer many times and I’ve never had any leakage. Also, the beer usually has some carbonation left even after a 10 mile MTB ride. The bottle is a rigid plastic and thick. I’m never afraid of dropping or cracking this bottle. Also there is a small carry handle on the side that makes for comfortable sipping. The best feature is how you fill the bottle. The entire top of the bottle screws off where the insulation-wrap meets the molding of the top portion. This allows for easy pouring and cleaning. Fortunately, Stanley also provided us with a small drinking spout at the very top which makes this large volume bottle easy to drink from. I can’t remember a day in the last year that I didn’t use this bottle. I’ve washed it only a hand full of times, it still clean and shows no sign of grimy build up. Thumbs up.
10. Surly Krampus
The Krampus is our new mountain bike. I like it for lots of reasons. First, because it puts us back on the radar of mountain bikers looking for something other than the run of the mill 5-inch travel full sus. bike. The way it handles accounts for the other 562 reasons I love this rig. Oh and it’s easy on the eyes too! The frame is butted CroMoly and the geometry feels more aggressive when compared to other popular 29’ers. The 50mm wide Rabbit Hole rims and Knard 3.0 tires make a happy 29+ pair in most heavy cornering conditions as well as providing the rider with a sense of skull-crushing-confidence. Mine is built with an SLX/XT drivetrain and heavenly Ice Tech XT brakes. I like the brakes so much that I wish I was sharing 11 of my favorite things with you. I run a Thompson Elite Post and Stem in black. A Chromag Fubar, ODI lock-on grips, and a cane creek headset round out the cock pit. Normally I run a Brooks B-17 saddle, right now I’m using a WTB Pure V. For the record I personally prefer the B-17. I use Crank Bros. Candy pedals. Not sure which model, they’re a few years old. Salsa flip lock skewers firmly hold the wheels in place. Currently, I’m running a Surly MWOD crank, which is nice fix when using a front der. on the Krampus. The Krampus is my favorite mountain bike. Ever.
And I’m spent. Happy New Year.