I have a minor obsession with minimalism and owning nice things, so I decided to throw together a list of the items I’ve felt compelled enough to buy, use on a regular basis, and would recommend to other people.
I will add short reviews or blurbs for some items. If you have any questions about unexplained or under-explained items, feel free to contact me for further elaboration.
Most links are affiliate links which means I get a small kickback if you click them then decide to make a purchase shortly thereafter. Thanks if you do!
Table of Contents
Shoes: Arrow Canoe Mocs, Double Soled, Size 9.0 + Worn-out Asics
I used to care about dressing well during my early twenties and the Arrow Canoe Mocs are holdovers from that era of my life. They are a solid shoe for wearing barefoot during the warmer months and will last a long time if you take proper care of them.
These are the only socks I own (along with some thinner SmartWool socks that I use only for layering to increase the snugness of my tennis shoes). I find the Medium Crew preferable on the daily, but the thicker Heavy Crew is better when I want my shoes to fit tighter for certain athletic situations where I don’t want my feet slipping.
They’re comfortable, durable, and the navy color looks good. Highly recommended.
During the summer of 2012, frustrated by self-inflicted wedgies and chronic swamp ass, I was determined to discover the perfect pair of underwear and experimented with about 10 different brands, all of which were highly touted around the internet.
At the conclusion of my
testeing testing I found the Under Armour Boxerjock Mesh 9″ to be the clear winner. Its comfort is unrivaled mostly because it was the only pair of undies to not bunch up. The extra length helps them stay in place and the material breathes adequately.
I still have a couple pairs of ExOfficio left over from the trials,
butt but the rest of my drawer is filled with UA Mesh 9″.
Gotta have the pocket. J.Crew shirts might be better, but I haven’t bought any yet. It’s mainly about finding the right fit. Different colors of the AA shirts size varyingly which is an annoyance though. (If only they all draped as well as coral…)
Jump Rope: Championship Long Handle Freestyle Jump Rope
For years I jumped with a weighted leather rope. After reading warnings against the use of weighted handles (the weight should be evenly dispersed throughout the rope – not handles – if weight is to be added, otherwise one risks injury), I removed the metal rod inserts from the handles and also toyed around with a jumper called “The Beast” that uses PVC tubing for the rope, which is heavier and harder to swing.
“The Beast” broke on me not once, but twice. (I asked the manufacturer for a replacement after the first failed in two weeks. The second one didn’t last much longer.) My trusty leather rope then finally wore through, and thus I was on the hunt for a new rope.
I bought a few varieties of jump ropes sold on BuyJumpRopes.net and I like the Championship Long Handle Freestyle the best. If I was aiming for speed, one of their cable ropes would be better, but I’m jumping just to stay in shape, and the advantage of the cord rope is that it doesn’t sting your arm or leg when you miss a skip. (I’ve taken all too many lashings from my leather rope.)
Their Boxer’s Training Rope is probably also good, and I will likely pick it up at some point soon.
Water Bottle: Camelbak Podium Big Chill 25 oz
I try to avoid plastic containers when possible due to the little understanding we as humans seem to have as far as their negative ramifications (BPA is only one of many hazardous chemicals leached from plastics, I’m sure), but as far as convenience goes, I don’t know if it gets much better than Camelbak Podium bottles for athletics, especially biking.
What’s nice about them is that you don’t have to twist or pull anything open, which is great when you’re on your bike and don’t have a second free hand. Even in other sweaty situations, it’s nice not having to spend those extra few seconds opening the container. Squeeze and you’re good.
Klean Kanteen bottles are probably safer though (the inside of my Camelbak Podium bottles reek) and I would like to try one with their sports cap when I have some disposable income. I consider glass to be the most inert material for a container, but it is less convenient as it is heavier and more prone to breaking. Metal seems to be a good compromise between plastic and glass.
Running Shoes: Asics Men’s GT-2170, Size 10.0
I’m a huge fan of Asics, but honestly you should go to your local mom-and-pop running store to get a stride analysis and proper shoe. Valley Forge Running Co. fitted me for the Asics GT-2160 in 2012 and the newer Asics GT-2170 in 2013. That shoe line works for me but might not for you.
Athletic Shorts: Champion Mesh with Pockets, Size Small
These are a decent value. It’s tough to find athletic shorts with pockets, but these have them. They’re comfortable and have a drawstring, so when the elastic fails (which it will after a couple years), they are still wearable.
I like their fit too (they aren’t super baggy or long), but I sized down to achieve the aesthetic I wanted.
Timer/Stopwatch: Old Timex Ironman Sports Watch
Keeping track of time isn’t real crucial to my fitness regimen, so an old digital sports watch I’ve had since middle school serves me well enough when I want to time my bike rides or distance runs.
I don’t know how accurate this scale is, but it’s simple and a decent price compared to the alternatives. At the very least it gives me a gauge on whether I’m gaining, losing, or maintaining weight.
Racquets: 3x Wilson Pro Staff Original 6.0 95 + 1x Prince Spectrum Comp 90
A newer set of racquets would give me more spin and power, but I enjoy playing with the PS95. I think it’s probably one of the better racquets for your elbow as well, since it’s fairly heavy and soaks up some of the vibration from the ball hitting the strings.
The SC90 is kind of a junk stick I let friends borrow or I hit with when I want to work on my precision.
Vibration Dampeners: Rubber Bands
No need to spend big bucks on goo-infused shock absorbers; rubber bands will do the trick. Watch this video for instructions on how to tie one onto your strings.
I’m a fan of leather grips over synthetic grips because they hug the handle such that you get a better feel of the bevels. This helps with adjusting for different shots.
Asics are the only tennis shoes I’ve ever owned that feel good. Every Nike I’ve tried was too narrow (even though I don’t have fat feet) and Adidas have been boxy. A number of pros are now wearing Asics too, even when their clothing sponsor is another company, which I think says something.
Shorts: Nike Men’s Basic NET 9″ Woven Short
Nike has since discontinued this model for their new “Power” series, but the woven NET is the best basic functional tennis short if you can still find it.
Balls: Dunlop GrandPrix XD
Hopper: Unique Pete Sampras Ballport
Athletic Tape: Johnson & Johnson Coach Sports Tape
Taillight: NiteFlux Red Zone 4
I think it’s of the utmost important to be visible when you’re biking on the road because of distracted drivers, so I bought the most annoyingly bright light I could find. NiteFlux has changed their design of the Red Zone since I bought it, but if anything I’m sure it’s improved.
Yes, it’s expensive, but getting hit by a vehicle is way more costly. It might be a good idea to combo this with the something like the Cygolite Hotshot which can be better seen straight on from further distances.
Also make sure to wear a brightly colored top.
If you aren’t using clip pedals, I recommend at least upgrading from the default plastic pedals most bikes come with to metal pedals. They have better traction and metal is less apt to compress than plastic, so you’ll lose less energy with each stroke.
Note: I use these supplements on an “as feel” basis. Some are taken more regularly than others. Check out Ray Peat’s work for rationale behind these picks.
Vitamin A: Carlson, Palmitate, 15,000 IU
Vitamin D: Carlson, D3, 4,000 IU
Vitamin E: A.C. Grace, Unique E Liquid
Vitamin K: Carlson, K2, 5 mg
I will be switching to Life Extension, Super K, 1 mg once I run out of my Carlson K. It has less questionable ingredients (magnesium stearate) and I think the dosage is more sensible.
Aspirin: CVS, Uncoated, 325 mg
I started off using enteric coated aspirin, but switched to the uncoated variety because it’s way cheaper, has purer ingredients (aspirin, starch), and I don’t necessarily think coated aspirin is safer.
For a relaxing late night drink, mix 4 tablespoons of gelatin and 1 tablespoon of clover honey with 1 cup of hot water.
Niacinamide: Solaray, 500 mg
Pregnenolone: Swanson, 50 mg
Coffee Mug: Midnite Glaze
Food Storage Jars: Le Parfait
This device was essential during my stint with fruitarianism (smoothies galore). These days it doesn’t see nearly as much use – during the summer I blend watermelon to strain for juice and that’s about it.
But it is a very good blender and I’d recommend it over something like a Blendtec because it’s simple to use and gives more manual control.
I would ideally like to own a 13″ MacBook Air because they are so lightweight and portable. My current MacBook Pro was purchased in 2010 and works fine though. I tend to upgrade every 4-5 years, so maybe next summer I’ll get the Air.
I know little to nothing about cameras. Caveat emptor.
The 7th Generation Nano might be better and is definitely cheaper at this point. I did look into non-Apple options, but it seemed I would save frustration by purchasing a device that would most definitely communicate with iTunes.
Scanner: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300
It’s expensive, but this device allowed me to mindlessly eschew piles of paper I’d collected over the years. I don’t use it as often at this point, but I’m still glad to own it.
Cell Phone: Samsung SGH A117
An iPhone would be cool, I guess, but I’ve managed without one.
Printer: HP LaserJet 1020
The St. Joseph’s University library was stingy with doling out free printing, so I bought this to print essays and lab reports. It worked great, but at this point I hardly use it.
External Hard Drive: Western Digital 1 TB – Silver
This is what I use, though I can’t recommend it. The first one I bought broke and I lost data. WD sent me a replacement, but I’m not very optimistic about its longevity.
If you have multiple devices that need backing up, Crashplan might be more economical, but Backblaze is simple and gives me peace of mind. It does only keep files for 30 days (whereas Crashplan stores deleted files forever), but it’s not intended to be long-term storage; it’s a fail-safe incase your computer breaks or goes missing.
That being said, if I had known about Crashplan before Backblaze, and I wasn’t already vested in the latter, I might be a Crashplan user instead.
I use Dropbox for especially important files I don’t want to lose (and Flickr to store photos). Between these three online services and my Time Machine backups, I feel pretty good about the safety of my files.
Other: Sega Genesis, controllers, NHL ’94, some other games