Putting a case on your Apple Watch might be overkill

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Do you really need that much protection for your Apple Watch?
Do you really need that much protection for your Apple Watch?
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Let’s be honest — the Apple Watch is already kind of bulky, and most of us aren’t climbing mountains with them on anyway. The craziest I get is maybe leaving it on while I shower at the gym.

For those of you who actually engage in rugged outdoor activity, a case might be warranted. You’ll certainly want to have some drop protection so you don’t get stuck with a shattered watch face.

Seriously, though, a case for your Apple Watch just might be overkill.

Lust List: Electric wheels, trick packs and a selfie stick even Apple could love

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Lust List: June 2015

Each month, Lust List rounds up the products that made us break out the hats and hooters. This time we're throwing down the jam with perfect packs, an electric mountain bike, a super-sick selfie stick and other essentials.

Steelcase Gesture office chair

This chair saved my ass. After months of sitting on a cheapo spinner made of molded plywood from IKEA, I was getting a little sick of the numbness in my hams: Every time I got up after a long session of hacking away at the keyboard, my legs felt almost useless.

Plopping down on the Gesture chair by Steelcase (starts at $974, with options) changed all that. I feel much more comfortable after a long day of at the desk, but the Gesture goes beyond that: It's designed to accommodate a variety of sitting positions, from straight-up typing to kicked-back tapping on an iPad or smartphone. A four-position selector lets you dial in your level of lean; an easy-turn knob lets you adjust the seat depth while a simple lever allows height adjustments.

The truly novel part is the "limb interface" adjustments: The chair's grippy rubberized arms adjust effortlessly up, down, in and out so you can position them right where your arms want to be at any given moment. And unlike some overly complicated office chairs, tweaking this beast to your heart's (and your back's) content is very intuitive.

When it comes to looks, it's stylish enough for any modern office. The comfy gray fabric covering the seat and back reminds me of a subtle flannel suit, but Steelcase offers the Gesture in a wide variety of less-staid colors (and leather, too). — Lewis Wallace

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Rite in the Rain all-weather notebooks

I discovered Rite in the Rain notebooks like a lot of people: struggling to write in a downpour while standing next to someone effortlessly jotting notes as if there wasn't a cloud in the sky.

My days of covering football games in all sorts of weather are behind me, but these notebooks have stayed with me. The company has been around since 1915 and produces all sorts of products, from index cards and loose-leaf paper to notebooks of all sizes. The specially coated paper allows you to write through a wet surface using a pencil or ballpoint pen (though not gel or fountain pens). I prefer the 3-inch-by-5-inch spiral-top notebooks ($3.95) and the small Field Flex books ($4.95). Don't wait to get caught in bad weather to learn about these rugged notebooks. — David Pierini

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Poco Premium child carrier by Osprey Packs

The most important feature when looking for an infant carrier pack is the fit. Not just for you but also the baby. Osprey Packs' Poco Premium is the Cadillac of carrier packs, with enough adjustments to fit both newborns and young toddlers, while also fitting perfectly for both parents.

Our 2-year-old was more than happy to come along for hikes around the lake, and he was even comfortable enough to doze off during nap time. We've got baby No. 2 on the way, and once he is old enough for adventures, fitting the carrier for him will be a breeze. The saddle raises and lowers, the baby’s shoulder straps adjust, and the entire harness has straps on the sides for a secure fit.

The sun shade is perfect for hot summer hikes and sets up much more easily than expected, providing ample protection to prevent your kid from getting burned. It also comes with a ton of storage. There's a hydration sleeve that can fit a 3-liter bladder; large, zippered compartments that are easy to access on the go; and a removable pack for when you're tired of carrying Junior around.

Osprey even threw in a changing pad that's all too handy for swapping out diapers in the middle of the desert. Initially, I thought carrying around my son on my back would be a pain, but Osprey makes the experience ridiculously comfortable. My son is always asking to go hiking and now I am happy to oblige. — Blake Abel

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

iZip E3 Peak electric mountain bike by Currie Technologies

Mountain biking has never been my thing. I’m a hiker and I love to take my sweet precious time on trails instead of hurtling down them at breakneck speeds. But Currie Technologies' iZip E3 Peak electric mountain bike may have converted me into a cyclist.

Powered by a 350-watt center-drive motor, the E3 Peak ramps up the torque while still making it feel like you’re riding a regular bike. It can reach top speeds of 28 mph if you’re pedaling with all your might, or you can cruise around at 20 mph for a more leisurely pace.

Riding this thing is incredibly fun. I took the E3 Peak on a few spins through Papago Park and it felt like I was riding a rollercoaster through the desert. Just select between four levels of pedal assistance, rev the motor for a quick start, and you’ll be blowing past crews of cyclists as they struggle to climb a hill while you barely break a sweat. It feels like cheating, but who cares?

Not only is it wicked fast, but iZip made the E3 Peak super-easy to set up and maintain so you can spend less time fiddling with the mechanics and more time on the trail. Using the drive-assist control pad was more intuitive than I expected, and with a range of 25 to 35 miles, I get in more sights in one hour than I would in 10 hours of hiking. And my legs don’t even complain. — Buster Hein

Buy from: Currie Technologies

Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac

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Lepow Poki external battery

Lepow's Poki external battery is thin, powerful, fast and fashionable. With a touch of pleasing aesthetics, thanks to pastel colors and a crafty carrying satchel, it stands out from the boring array of generic power bricks.

Just in time, too. Moments ago, we packed away our external battery cases and power bricks because the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus battery life is so amazing that the need for extra juice was basically eliminated. But along comes the Apple Watch, with battery life being short of a full digital day of activity, all of a sudden we want an extra charge cable and an external battery to toss in our backpacks alongside the watch's magnetic charger. — Jim Merithew

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

iKlip Grip selfie stick

Carrying a selfie stick can be pretty embarrassing (they're banned from this year's WWDC), but these trendy devices can be truly useful. Getting a shot of yourself and all your pals at a sporting event, on top of a mountain or even just goofing around the backyard is much easier when you can extend your iPhone away from you a bit to get a wider shot.

The iKlip Grip is a great selfie stick, for sure, but it packs loads of extra functionality into a seriously useful package, letting it serve as a tripod and remote shutter button as well. The mount is based on IK Multimedia’s iPhone holder for musicians, the iKlip Xpand Mini, so the Grip is a solid, safe way to hold your iPhone when it's not in your hand.

In addition, the iKlip Grip features a three-legged tripod that folds up into the selfie stick's handle; it’s a brilliant bit of engineering, letting you use the Grip either in hand or on a flat surface. And if you need to get away from the tripod-mounted iPhone for a big group picture, the iKlip Grip comes with a remote key fob that will let you click the shutter from a distance.

At just $59.99, the iKlip Grip is a great deal for anyone who needs to capture selfies and group shots as part of their adventurous lifestyle. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: IK Multimedia

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Buttpack bag by Able Archer

I'm a wine drinker but when the price on the bottle reaches the $10 mark, I keep my wallet in my pocket. I'm the same way with camera and computer bags. I love them, even collect them so I can switch them out, but anything more than $100 seems outrageous to me.

But I discovered a vintage that is worth the extra money. The Buttpack by Able Archer costs $250, but its style and construction suggest you'll enjoy it forever.

Weatherproof, military-grade canvas (in leaf, sand, cement or ash colors), pockets of various sizes, and grids of webbing inside and out provide added protection for your gear and extra places to attach pouches. Get this bag in your hands, explore the main pouch and sling it on your shoulder. — David Pierini

Buy from: Able Archer

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

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INNOFlask Bluetooth speaker by InnoDevice

This is perhaps the most innovatively designed Bluetooth speaker I’ve ever seen: It's like a travel alarm clock for your tunes. InnoDevice's INNOFlask Bluetooth speaker comes in attractive black, blue, orange and white colors, and closes into a clever holder — about the size of a glasses case — that also serves as a stand.

The $129.95 speaker, which resembles a flask for your favorite hard alcohol thanks to its rounded back and basic rectangular shape, is perfect for slipping in your back pocket as you head out the door. It’s an easy pairing situation, as well: Just hit the Bluetooth button, find the INNOFlask in your Bluetooth preferences on your iPhone, and you’re rocking the latest Mumford & Sons in style.

The sound quality is good, and only improved by the resonating chamber created by standing the speaker up within the case. This is a solid, useful little speaker that will definitely turn heads when you set it up on the picnic table to listen to your favorite podcasts while you write in your journal this summer. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

GoSun Sport solar grill

In direct sunlight, the GoSun Sport solar grill ($249) can cook a hot dog in 10 minutes and a steak in about 40. That’s a pretty impressive use of the sun’s rays. Designed to be used as a smokeless food cooker and water sanitizer, the GoSun Sport heats your vittles in a vacuum tube that’s been placed in the center of two parabolic metal reflector “wings” that direct sunlight onto the tube.

Just slide a tray of cut-up food down the center of the vacuum tube to be cooked at temperatures up to 550 degrees Fahrenheit. You can even boil and sanitize water with the GoBrew, an optional insert for heating liquids. A larger model, the GoSun Grill, is coming soon.

The company donates one out of every six stoves it makes to a family in need through an empowerment program, helping those in endangered by cooking with dirty fuel. For those of us in the first world, it’s a great way to get off the grid and cook foods without a lot of impact on the environment. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Boostcase battery case

Sometimes you just need a little extra power to get you through a busy iPhone day. While the Boostcase's rechargeable 2,700-mAh battery only provides 60 percent of a full iPhone 6 Plus charge, the design of this thing lets it transcend that limitation.

With the Boostcase ($99.95), you slide your iPhone into a clear, thin plastic sleeve that will protect it from most drops and bumps. The power case attaches to the rear of this case and the Lightning port on your iPhone, bulking it up only when you need the battery. It’s like having two cases in one, really, with the clear plastic showing off both the beauty of your iPhone (when the battery isn’t attached) as well as the inner battery and circuitry of the Boostcase through the back and sides of the attached battery case.

I’m loving leaving the battery case to charge at home until I know I need some extra boost, then simply clipping it onto the back of my iPhone 6 Plus when I head out the door. You can even charge your iPhone and the case at the same time via the micro USB port on the bottom of the Boostcase. Five LED lights let you know how much boost you’ve got left, and an on/off switch lets you save your battery bump until you really need it. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: Boostcase

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Meet Ingress, your new augmented reality obsession

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Hack alien portals in your own neighborhood.
Hack alien portals in your own neighborhood.
Screengrab: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

I went outside for the first time today. Working at home is an easy way to get a bad case of couchlock, so I like to try and get out for little 15 minute breaks when I can.

Today was a bit different. I downloaded and installed a game some buddies of mine are raving about on Facebook: Ingress.

I launched the app, followed the instructions, and was hooked. What started as a 15 minute walk to try out a new mobile game became a 45-minute obsession as I roamed my neighborhood, looking for portals to hack, collecting XMP particles to power my technological takeover, and finding a little feature of my ‘hood I’d never known about before.

Want to get obsessed about a new game? Want to maybe get in a little better shape? Be sure to download Ingress and see what everyone’s talking about.

Toss a Lifeline to stranded astronaut in new Apple Watch game

Taylor is uneasy about your directions. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac
Taylor is uneasy with your decisions. Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

How do you keep a jaded gamer engaged on the small-screened Apple Watch? Strand a young astronaut on an alien moon and ask that gamer to keep the doomed traveler alive.

That’s exactly what happens in Lifeline, which is simply the best game I’ve played on the Apple Watch so far.

Meet the Stromer ST2, the best electric bike on the road

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The ST2 electric bike from Stromer will put a big smile on your face. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
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Oh. My. Gosh. The Stromer ST2 electric bike is so much fun, it should not be street legal.

Two weeks ago I had zero interest in electric bikes. I’ve ridden traditional bicycles my entire life and I love them. The very idea of an electric bike was repellent — even in a hilly city like San Francisco. Hills and exercise are the entire point.

Then I test-rode the Stromer ST2.

Three seconds in, I’m laughing like a madman as the ST2 takes off like a rocket. I spend the next 30 minutes flying up and over the hill where I live, laughing like a loon and having the time of my life.

Now I’m a convert. The ST2 is the best electric bike on the market. It performs like a champ, has a ton of high-tech features (including an iOS app), and actually looks cool and not ridiculous.

Best of all, it’s a screaming blast to ride.