We'll level with you: We get inundated with a lot of stuff to test out. Our goal is to thoroughly investigate this stuff so we can let our readers know what’s worth the money and what doesn't quite make the cut. Sometimes products that seem like a home run online end up failing miserably. Sometimes we come across hidden gems.
And that’s what this special gift guide is all about—those awesome, life-changing, or just plain fun products that we all loved the most this year. They may not always be glamorous (although a few of them are), but they often fill a need we've never seen before, or solve a fit-guy problem particularly well.
We think you'll dig them just as much, so take a look and see what fits your fancy. We promise: Whomever you reward with these gifts (even if that person is you) will be blown away and will remind you all year long about the idea.
If you've got a buddy struggling to get out the door and keep up with his winter running, suggest Reebok's brand-new Floatride 6000 trainer as a way to reinvigorate his cold-weather routine. A next-generation combination of style and function, these kicks feature a Floatride Foam technology for lightweight cushioning, a layered midsole for shock absorption, and a low-cut, heritage-style design. Available in three colors. — Erin Alexander, assistant editor ($130, reebok.com)
You won’t always be able to carry enough clean water with you for every backcountry endeavor. Sometimes, like on a trail run, you have to pack too light; other times, the trek is too long to bring all your water with you. MSR’s TrailShot water filter solves both problems: It’s light enough (5oz) and small enough to stuff in your pocket on a long trail run, so you can take a long pull from a stream at the top of a mountain. It’s also robust enough to filter a liter of water in 60 seconds. — Michael Rodio, senior editor ($49.95, msrgear.com)
Most printers freaking suck. They either crap out after a few years, or the god-awfully expensive ink runs out right before you need to print out the concert tickets, and you get a bunch of pink lines and an unreadable proof that you did, in fact, nab two seats to see Springsteen. Enter the new EcoTank printers from Epson: There are no cartridges, just tanks you can refill at 80% of the cost. Plus, they come with ink for an estimated two years of usage, or 5,200 pages. You can also print from your smartphone or Wi-Fi network, and you can do two-side prints or photos up to 5760x1440 dpi. — Adam Bible, gear editor ($299.99, epson.com)
Made with the modern traveler in mind, Away's medium-size checked hard case luggage is the quintessential globe-trotting companion. It's minimalist by design, but high-tech when it comes to special features like an unbreakable polycarbonate shell, interior compression system, and TSA-approved lock. You can order this stylish suitcase as late as December 20 (you'll have to select the "fastest" shipping option) and still receive it by Christmas Day. It's available in eight colors, but if you're buying for the special lady in your life, we'd recommend ordering it in Blush. — E.A. ($275, awaytravel.com)
If you’re about to get hitched, or just like sporting rings, these reasonably priced rings from Manly Bands should be on your list. They start at around $100 (and can go up to $1,400) and are made with a variety of exotic materials—tungsten, titanium, gold, mahogany, antler, abalone—in a wide range of creative styles. The rings also come in a cool presentation box (perfect if wedding bells are in the future). — A.B. (From $100, manlybands.com)
For the extremely discerning tequila enthusiast, a bottle of Don Julio 1942 is the ultimate gift option. This ultra-premium añejo tequila rests in a beautifully crafted bottle (the elongated design was inspired by the agave leaves, from which this golden, bright amber nectar is made) that will make a statement on any bar cart or liquor cabinet. But even more impressive than the bottle is what's inside: aged for at least two-and-a-half years in American white oak barrels, this silky tequila presents aromas of almonds, cinnamon, and caramelized cherries on the nose, with notes of vanilla and sun-ripened tropical fruits on the palate. — E.A. (SRP $125, available at specialty liquor stores)
Before there was Gal Gadot, Linda Carter was the Wonder Woman who held us in her Lasso of Truth. Iconic and undeniably stylish, this limited-edition print (only 250 made) by artist M. Tony Peralta is the perfect gift for the wonder woman in your life. This piece, from Peralta's series of notable Latina women wearing hair curlers (elevating an everyday act into high art), features Carter as the original comic book superhero. And if this piece of art isn't her taste, there are thousands of different exclusive artworks, each with a certificate of authenticity, available on Twyla. — E.A. (starting at $270, twyla.com)
Your tree is probably up by now, but do yourself (and your family) a favor and pick up some of these amazing lights by Twinkly. The 105 LEDs are customizable, so you can adjust them with an app to match whatever color you desire. You can also choose what kind of blinking or chasing pattern you want from a bunch of different options, or use your finger to draw on your smartphone screen what you’d like to see on tree. — A.B. ($99, twinkly.com)
Montblanc's beautifully crafted notebook is a foolproof gift for the Beatles fanatic in your life. (We all have at least one.) The vibrant cover is inspired by the group's iconic Sgt. Pepper album, and made of refined silk fabric for a luxurious touch that makes this anything but an ordinary notebook. — E.A. ($80, montblanc.com)
If studying classical piano for 15 years taught me anything, it’s that learning an instrument is supremely difficult, time-consuming, and (as long as you’re going to a worthwhile teacher) expensive. But very few electronic keyboards (and exactly zero analog pianos) feature self-teaching technology worth a damn. That’s why I like the new Piano Hi-Lite: Essentially a light overlay you can set over any 88-key piano or keyboard, the Piano Hi-Lite incorporates cues that pair with a guided sheet music app (available on iPhone or Android) to teach you the basics. It won’t make you Rachmaninoff overnight, but if you’re trying to teach yourself piano, it’s about as good as it gets. — M.R. ($299, smartpiano.com)
There’s nothing worse than sitting down at your desk with a piping-hot cup of coffee ready, only to gulp cold coffee because you got sucked into TPS reports for a few hours. Save your coffee habit from yourself with Ember's ceramic mug, which comes with a heating element that'll keep your beverage at whatever temp you want, from 120-145°—all controllable from an app. A charging coaster lets you keep it topped off all day. Press the button on the bottom activate the mug, and just pour in the liquid to start heating. — A.B. ($79.95, ember.com)
Step in to 2018 in style with these effortlessly cool Nubuck Wallabee Boots, an exclusive collaboration between Clark's Originals and Barney's New York. Crafted in Italy from soft Kudu antelope leather, these limited-edition shoes come in three neutral colors—light tan, brown, and black—and are coated in a special blend of oils and waxes to accentuate the natural imperfections in the leather. Each pair is unique and luxurious, making it the ultimate gift for a fashion-forward friend. — E.A. ($250, barneys.com)
You might hate to admit it, but let's face it: You love brunch just as much as your girlfriend. So give your best buddy (or heck, yourself) the gift of an easy, at-home brunch with this bundle from Brandless, a fast-growing food and home company that offers high-quality products without the sticker shock. This curated combo includes all the tools (from a whisk and spatula to oven mitts) and pantry staples (maple syrup, blueberry muffin mix, and pancake mix) anyone might need to make a bangin' brunch from the comfort of their very own kitchen. — E.A. ($42, brandless.com)
Admit it, you used to play with remote control cars when you were young, and you had a lot of fun doing it. Whether you're buying for a kid or a kid at heart, check out Dromida's 1/18 scale monster truck, which is faster, more durable, and longer-lasting than your old RC truck. (It costs a lot less, too.) It comes with four-wheel drive, a brushless motor, oil shocks, tough bumpers, 2.4GHz 2-channel radio, and 1,300mAh NiMH battery all in the box, ready to run. — A.B. ($149.99, dromida.com)
OK, so a crate probably isn’t on your wish list, nor is it something you expect to be blown away by, but these creations from CleverMade are great gifts for the hobbyist with a little too much stuff and not quite enough storage. Keep the CleverCrate in your car, in your pantry, or out in the shop, and you’ll find plenty of uses for these fold-up storage boxes. Made from tough plastic, they can haul up to 75lbs of whatever and feature solid sides so you can store and carry small stuff too. They fold flat when you don’t need them, but lock into position when opened. Plus, you can stack them with others to maximize usability. — A.B. ($49.99 for three, clevermade.com)
Have a superhero-obsessed movie fan in your life? Give the perfect gift with this ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming Limited Edition’ Gift Box set. The gift box comes with a copy of Spider-Man: Homecoming on Blu-Ray and DVD, along with Spider-Man socks, a special comic collectible, s Spider-Man enamel pin, as well as a Funko Pop Vinyl Figure. Swing in at the last minute and get this awesome gift for the holiday season. — Matthew Jussim, Associate Editor. ($39.99, walmart.com)