Lust List: Heartache is in the (stolen) bag, plus audio gear and more

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Lust List: July 2015

Each month, Lust List rounds up the products that made us ride like the wind at double speed. This time we've got all kinds of stuff to make a grown man cry: earphones, wallets and even a (stolen) backpack.

Nyne TT Bluetooth speaker

Designed for the music lover on the go, Nyne's TT Bluetooth Speaker ($150) comes with a neoprene carrying case that lets you sling this music box over your shoulder and take your music on the run.

With a charging station for your phone and a built-in microphone, the TT is designed to be your ultimate musical travel companion. I found it to have excellent battery life, and it paired nicely with my iPhone to give my hotel rooms in Portugal the little slice of audio hominess I like while on the road.— Jim Merithew

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Bison Rogue Wallet by Rogue Industries

I've heard the questions so many times that I brace myself when I take out my wallet: "What is that?" people ask. Or, "Is that a woman's wallet?"

The aptly named Bison Rogue Wallet has that effect on the beholder. It's a leather wallet made in Maine by some guys who went into the billfold business after they gave up trying to find the perfect front-pocket wallet.

Such things are especially smart for guys living in crowded cities, and this one is designed to follow the shape and cut of the inner pocket. Rogue even protects your debit and credit cards from digital pickpockets with a special liner to prevent RFID skimming.

Mine is made of bison leather, but Rogue also sells front-pocket wallets made from other leathers, ballistic nylon and canvas. — David Pierini

Buy from: Rogue Industries, Amazon

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

RHA T10i earphones

Handmade in the U.K. from injection-molded stainless steel, the RHA T10i earphones not only sound terrific, but they look great, too. Their fully adjustable over-ear hooks make them comfortable to wear and secure enough to work out with, and their built-in mic and remote lets you take calls and control your music when you use them with your iPhone.

The T10i comes with three sets of tuning filters that allow you to customize the frequency response for more powerful bass or greater treble. But no matter which one you use, the T10i’s dynamic drivers deliver supreme sound, particularly if you like bassy audio.

Vocals sound clear and crisp, and the balance is fantastic. The T10i provide a warm, rich sound that, coupled with their impressive noise-blocking abilities, immerses you in your music.

The T10i also come with a whole bunch of tips in different sizes that are organized neatly in a stainless steel holder, plus a nice carrying case. They take a little bit of getting used to because they’re pretty weighty, and they’re not cheap at $200 — but their outstanding sound and build quality make them well worth every penny. — Killian Bell

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Booq Cobra squeeze backpack

Against my better nature, I've become a backpack snob. I want a simple bag to carry my MacBook, a change of clothes (for the gym) and some chargers and accessories.

Not too much to ask, right? And yet I've found it hard to hunt down a bag that has less, not more. All too often, today's backpacks are loaded with too much Velcro, too many pockets, and too many annoying straps and buckles.

Enter Booq’s latest urban-oriented commuter backpack, the Cobra squeeze. With its distinctive teardrop shape, the Cobra squeeze is simple — and it's just the right size for my daily carry. The shoulder straps are comfortable. I really like the leather carry handle. It has 13 compartments, including a pair of roomy side pockets that are good for easy access.

It is well-made and stylish. You'd never guess it's half cotton/half recycled plastic. Priced at $195, it ain't cheap, which is why I was so upset when it recently got stolen (with my MacBook, iPad, etc. still inside).

If it had been lost, I might have got it back. The bag has a unique serial number, tracked by Booq's Terralinq service; once registered, it might have helped me get the bag back. Alas, some scumbag's got it. — Leander Kahney

Buy from: Booq, Amazon

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset by Sony

A friend got me these awesome headphones, and they've completely changed how I run my TV. I live in an apartment, and sometimes the upstairs neighbors get really loud. Instead of just sitting there and letting the hatred build up inside me, I put on the PlayStation Gold Wireless Stereo Headset and watch a movie. It's great for gaming, too, because Sony built a dedicated app for the PS4 and PS3 that lets you load up preset equalizers for the second channel (the first channel is an all-purpose default mode).

Presets include general things like "Action" and "Horror" settings for movies, but sometimes you can get one specifically made for a particular game. When I'm playing Bloodborne, for example, all of the game world's creepy noises and atmosphere go directly into my head, blocking out everything from the outside thanks to the headset's noise-canceling capabilities.

The PlayStation Gold ($100 list) runs from a USB dongle that you plug into the console, but it also has a standard jack and a cord so you can use it with other devices. It's easily the best set of headphones I've ever owned because you can do pretty much anything with them.

So if I use these and my Flippi at the same time, everyone is safe. — Evan Killham

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

UBi-IND premium jeans

Jeans designer Ulrich Simpson likes to say he makes jeans for everybody. And when he says "everybody," he really means "every body."

The biggest problem with premium jeans is finding a pair that fits. They tend to come in a very narrow range of cuts and sizes. Not so Simpson's UBi-IND jeans, which are available in five styles and sizes from 29- to 48-inch waist.

They'll fit any body type, from skinny skateboarders to Olympic speed skaters with grotesquely overdeveloped quads (see the Athletic cut). In fact, Simpson's customers range from NBA stars to surfers and cowboys. Simpson's jeans are 100 percent made in the USA from premium Cone Mills denim. — Leander Kahney

Buy from: UBi-IND (online and in San Francisco), Union LA (Los Angeles), AB Fits (San Francisco) Standard & Strange (Oakland), Canvas (Malibu)

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Epson Expression XP-420 all-in-one wireless inkjet printer

This “small-in-one” inkjet printer keeps your money in your wallet (thanks to a retail price of $99.99) and also works surprisingly well for a such a tiny unit. It may not have higher-end business features like an automatic document feeder, but you can still use this baby in your home office or dorm room thanks to its tiny footprint and low weight.

You can print in full color wirelessly from your Mac, iPhone or Android device, or via a USB cable you’ll need to supply. There’s even an SD card slot to print directly from your camera’s SD media.

This baby prints super-fast, especially for text pages (up to eight pages a minute), and delivers quality prints on all kinds of paper, from glossy photo to the plain copy stuff. If you need a small, useful printer with great print quality, easy setup and a low price, you can’t go wrong with this one. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Gear Pouch by WaterField Designs

I travel a lot to gaming and tech conventions, and I’ve always got to have my various chargers, devices, backup drives and tons of wires along with me. I’ve used minimalist backpacks, voluminous messenger bags and even shaving kits to keep track of all this digital ephemera, all to less-than-satisfying results.

WaterField Designs, however, has found the perfect solution: a travel gadget bag that’s not only rugged and useful, but incredibly good-looking. The Gear Pouch comes in four colors — black, brown, burgundy and navy — and three sizes to match your gadget carrying needs (priced between $40 and $50, depending on size). The medium one I tried out was perfect to fit my Lightning cables, Apple Watch charger, spare battery pack, backup hard drive and even my PlayStation Vita cords, plus a bunch of business cards for giggles.

The Gear Pouch zips right up into a beautiful little zippered pouch (with another zip pocket on the front) and stows quite nicely into my backpack or carry-on luggage. No more digging around the bottom of my bag to find the cable I need. — Rob LeFebvre

Buy from: WaterField Designs

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Flippi v6 Personal Air Circulator by Vornado

My Cult of Mac co-workers knew when the first hot day was this year — it was the day I was even more hostile than usual. Once I finished apologizing, I ventured out into the sun-scorched world to find something that would make things a little more tolerable for me (and everyone else).

After wandering up and down the aisle with all the fans, trying to figure out my needs (How large should it be? How many speeds should it have? Holy shit, should it oscillate???), I saw the Flippi v6 by Vornado just sitting up on a shelf all unassuming. It's a smaller fan, but it has a pretty great vertical range of motion. The entire center section with the fan part in it rotates 180 degrees so it can point straight up, straight down or anywhere in between. Plus, it was like $18, and I get a nice kind of R2-D2 vibe off of it, so that was a quick sale.

It's sitting on my printer right now, blowing much-needed cool air on me. And I'm sure everyone around me is feeling the difference. — Evan Killham

Buy from: Amazon

Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

ILE Equipment bags are made in America but big in Japan

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"Inspiration comes in weird places," says Eric Fischer, owner of ILE Equipment. Photos: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

BERKELEY, Calif. — ILE is big in Japan. The California bag company has found a market with the Japanese bike website Blue Lug, and the collaboration keeps pushing ILE into new bags, materials, hardware and color choices.

Eric Fischer, 26, launched ILE (short for “Inside Line Equipment”) out of his apartment four short years ago. He was racing bikes, buying fabric and making bags one at a time for himself, his friends and friends of friends.

“I always liked making things, but building buildings didn’t seem scalable,” Fischer told Cult of Mac. “Making bags seemed more like a painting rather than building a house.”

Lust List: Killer gear for iPhone lovers, bike riders and ax wielders

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Lust List: March 2015

Each month, Cult of Mac's Lust List has a date with the hottest gear in the world. This time around we're talking impressive audio experiences, fantastic bicycling equipment and awesome accessories for iPhone users (which basically means everybody, right?).

Soho Wireless headphones by Harman Kardon

“Hey Jim, what are those?”

“Hey Jim, let me check those out.”

“Hey Jim, are those any good?”

“Hey Jim, I bet those are expensive.”

Never has a pair of headphones brought me such attention. To a person, everyone wanted to know what was up with the wireless Sohos. There is no denying the fact these cans look good. The design is very much in line with Harman Kardon's aesthetic, but in a petite package.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, "Do they sound as good at they look?" And the answer is, "Almost."

The $250 Soho Wireless headphones are comfortable to wear, as long as you aren't overly active. The sound quality is good in the mids and treble, but lacking slightly in bass response. And the Bluetooth is great, when it works. But using numerous devices is mildly frustrating at best and downright annoying at worst. The touch sensors on the side of the cans is a great added feature, but can’t be relied on to work consistently, as I found myself trying to pause my music with a tap over and over and over again.

Oddly, I still find myself recommending these to friends as a pleasant alternative to traveling with earbuds, but with the caveat being you have to be prepared for the limitations of the Bluetooth connection. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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BookBook case for iPhone 6/6 Plus by Twelve South

Looking for a wallet case for your iPhone that will get everyone talking? Take a look at the new BookBook for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus from Twelve South. I've been asked by waiters, bartenders and casual passersby whether I’m carrying a Bible, a dictionary or a tiny leather notebook.

When I flip it open to show the capacious five-card interior and my connected iPhone 6 Plus, the oohs and ahhs increase exponentially. When I show them how the iPhone separates from the BookBook for easy access and sharing, most people are ready to go buy one.

This is one fantastic iPhone case, and I can’t sing its praises loudly enough. The iPhone 6 Plus version has six pockets, including one with clear plastic for my ID. Snapping my iPhone out of the delicious leather portfolio wallet case is a breeze when I want to take the device on a run without carrying my wallet. You can even snap half of the iPhone off the wallet and prop it up for easy movie watching on an airplane. You can’t go wrong with this for any price, but the affordable $60 makes the BookBook, available in black or brown leather, an iPhone case you’ll take everywhere. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Giro Synthe bike helmet

Giro designed the Synthe to be a high-end aero helmet, but it's really a great everyday, all-day road helmet. Sure they claim the Synthe is some percentage more slippery, while going some mph and at varying yaw angles, but what’s really impressive is how all this aero blabbity blah doesn’t stop the helmet from being comfortable, cool and stylish.

And by cool I don’t mean hip: I mean the airflow through this helmet keeps my head temperature regulated nicely. Also, you can thank the Roc Loc Air retention system for keeping the helmet comfortable and secure against your noggin, while eliminating hot spots.

Although the $250 Synthe's looks may not be for everyone, it is clear that only aesthetics should keep you from sporting this helmet, as the fit and finish are impeccable. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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iRig PRO by IK Multimedia

I love me some saturated tube crunch more than just about anything in the world, but sometimes it is just not possible. That's when I turn to my iRig PRO and my laptop or iPad for jam time.

You can use IK Multimedia's multitude of apps, including the popular AmpliTube, but I still prefer to dick around in GarageBand on my iPhone 6 Plus, iPad and Macbook Pro. The iRig and your Apple device let you lay down a recording pretty easily, including using the microphone input with phantom power, but I mostly find myself plugging in my guitar and jamming through a bunch of preset amplifiers in GarageBand.

Whatever your software choices, the iRig works exactly as advertised, letting you plug in and jam on. And, for those looking for even more sonic possibilities, the little black box even has MIDI in capabilities. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Spool Dock by Quell & Company

iPhone docks have never really been my thing, but the Spool Dock just begs to be appreciated. Quell & Company dock is “crafted in the U.S.A. from sustainable North American white oak, merino wool felt and a weighty metal base,” and it's quite the looker. From a design perspective, it’s also pretty smart.

The biggest issue I have with docks I’ve tried in the past is cord management. They usually make it difficult to plug the iPhone into the Lightning port, resulting in a bunched-up cable that looks messy.

Not the $65 Spool Dock, which comes in white and black metal. Its base swivels, letting you roll out the cable as much as you desire. It also lets you turn your docked device 360 degrees. Setting it up is super-simple, with removable support bars for the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 5, 5s, 5c, iPad mini and 5th-gen iPod touch. Most normal cases will work just fine too, as long as they’re not bulky like an Otterbox. — Alex Heath

Photo: Alex Heath/Cult of Mac

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bolstr bag by Koyono

I want extra pockets without having to wear goofy cargo pants. So while perusing one of my favorite guy websites, Everyday Carry, I came across a little bag made by Koyono called the bolstr bag.

It's perfect for tooling around Chicago, allowing me to discreetly store a phone, iPad mini, notebook and point-and-shoot camera. Plus, its slim design and asymmetrical shape look way cooler than knee-level flapped pockets on either leg.

The bolstr small carry bag comes in a variety of colors and left- or right-side orientations (as a lefty, I appreciate this design consideration). — David Pierini

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

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SRM PowerControl 8

With the PowerControl 8, SRM will finally add GPS to its line of outstanding cyclocomputer head units.

This is truly a computer designed by bike nerds for bike nerds. It lets you use from one to four screens, with two to eight fields per screen. You can configure your data in so many ways it will make your head spin as fast as your wheels. The new $850 model, available for preorder now and shipping before summer, also comes with Wi-Fi and is compatible with ANT+ and Bluetooth. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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UE Megaboom 2 by Ultimate Ears

If you think the UE Boom is fantastic, you’ll double over with delight at the newer, bigger version of the best portable Bluetooth speaker we’ve ever used. This thing is seriously loud with deep bass, sparkling highs and clear mids that will faithfully reproduce pretty much any music you throw at it.

It’s also seriously rugged, with a strong, rubberized top and bottom and a tough outer mesh cloth shell. Just toss it in a bag and go. Hell, this bad boy is waterproof to the point of still working after a full-on shower or dip in the pool.

The UE Megaboom's battery life is amazing, too, taking just a couple hours for a full charge that seems to last all day long (rated at 20 hours of play). Download the iOS app and you can remotely EQ your sound, set up a booming alarm and turn the speaker on and off. You can even connect two Megabooms for a massive stereo blast in any room. At $300, this thing is worth every penny. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Flite 747 by KHS Bicycles

Freakishly tall bicyclists no longer need resort to modifying a smaller bike or paying the tab for a custom frame. They can just take flight on an off-the-shelf Flite 747 from KHS Bicycles.

The company partnered with the Tower of Power, Leonard Zinn, to create this huge road bike. Zinn, who has been building bicycles for big fellas for somewhere around 30 years, helped design the Flite 747. It comes in 64 cm and 67 cm frames made of Reynolds 520 chromoly, and delivers standard road bike geometry at those massive sizes. (It's so huge i couldn't even get my leg over it.)

All Zinn's trials and tribulations came to bear on this bicycle, which sports impressive 200 mm crankarms. It's allegedly plenty stiff going up and a blast coming down. Priced at $1,899 list, this is the second year the model has been offered (last year they sold like hotcakes). Big fun for big guys like Zinn. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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MiniSuit Selfie Stick

There we were, walking down the street, when suddenly I decided to snap a quick selfie of the six of us. We all hunched together, trying to jam ourselves into the frame of the iPhone that I was holding out as far as possible with my arms to make sure we all got in the picture. It was that moment when I realized that I wanted one of the more ridiculous gadgets out there, a selfie stick.

With the MiniSuit Selfie Stick's telescoping pole and Bluetooth shutter button on the handle, I could have taken a much more well-composed shot of all the people in my party, with much less effort and grunting. The included adjustable mount holds smartphones small and large, and the selfie stick has a standard tripod mount so you can even use it with a regular point-and-shoot camera.

My iPhone 6 Plus nestles nicely in the holder and lets me take photos of myself and many other folks from farther away than my own arm can handle. And, at $20, it’s hard to not grab one for a friend, too. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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VX Adventure Race mountain bike pedals by VP Components

Taking a play from their strong platform mountain bike pedal lineup, the team at VP Components has released the Shimano SPD-compatible VX Adventure Race pedals. The clipless pedal adds a giant platform for additional stability. At a reasonable 460 grams and spinning on a roller and double-sealed cartridge bearings, these trail-worthy pedals are rider serviceable and run about $130. — Jim Merithew

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight

If you want to know if your smoke or CO alarm is going off while you’re away from home, the Leeo Smart Alert Nightlight could be your best option. It’s an attractive little $99 night-light that lets you customize its color, but its real trick is letting you monitor your home’s safety alarms remotely.

You use an iPhone app to connect the Leeo to your home Wi-Fi network for set up and monitoring, and if your alarms go off while you’re out and about, the Leeo will notify you right on your iPhone. If you don’t respond, it will even notify other folks that you specify in the settings. If that isn’t enough, the Leeo will monitor your home temperature and humidity and notify you if they change much. — Rob LeFebvre

Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

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Timbuk2: 25 years of sewin’ bags in San Francisco

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Timbuk2 bags its 25th anniversary

In 25 years, Timbuk2's product line has moved far beyond the messenger bags that made the company a leader in the industry. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The factory floor

Timbuk2 cranks out bags to order from this San Francisco factory. "This is where the magic happens for all the custom bags," says Noel Kopp, the company's social media manager. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Small touches

A worker sews the Timbuk2 label into a custom bag during the assembly process. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Threading the needles

Custom bag buyers can specify the color of the Timbuk2 "swirl" icon that will be stitched on their bags. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Cutting up a Blue Streak

Michael Chan, who has worked at Timbuk2 since 2000, listens to Chinese radio as he precuts the fabric for custom bags using an Eastman Blue Streak II machine that works like a saw. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Spooled up

You've got to bust out some thread if you're going to make some bags. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Timbuk2's home in San Francisco

Timbuk2 CEO Patti Cazzato points out that manufacturing in a city like San Francisco is expensive due to higher real estate and labor costs, but it's part of the company's DNA. "We own our factory," she says. "We operate our factory. It's part of our corporate headquarters." Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

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Always thinking

In addition to custom bags, the San Francisco office also houses Timbuk2's product development and marketing departments. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Bang a gong

A large gong hangs in the front section of the Timbuk2 complex in San Francisco. It's used to signal the start of all-hands meetings, birthday parties and mealtimes catered by the company (every Tuesday is "make your own sandwich day." Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

SAN FRANCISCO — Twenty-five years ago, a bike messenger sat in his garage and used an old-school Singer sewing machine to stitch his mark on the world.

That bike messenger was Rob Honeycutt, and the bags he made in 1989 were called Scumbags. They were designed for use by the city’s notorious two-wheeled delivery riders, whose fashion sense tended toward crude cutoffs, T-shirts and hoodies.

A year later, Honeycutt changed his operation’s name to Timbuk2, and the company’s been crafting an increasingly ambitious line of bags ever since, expanding far beyond the world of tattooed dudes on fixies.

“Timbuk2 wasn’t going to the office 25 years ago,” CEO Patti Cazzato told Cult of Mac during a recent tour of the company’s Mission district factory, where all of Timbuk2’s custom bags are made.

MixBag has all the pockets you’ll need (but you pay for every one)

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The MixBag is versatile, but it won't necessarily make you look super-cool. Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac
The MixBag is versatile, but it won't necessarily make you look super-cool. Photo: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

I was pretty sure I would never need to look any further than my trusty Chrome bag when it came time to be out and about with my electronics. It was a simple system, really: Just chuck everything into the bag’s cavernous pocket, buckle it in and go. It was quick, and it worked — until I needed to actually get anything out of there.

See, for all its style and the novelty of its seat-belt strap, Chromes are really only meant to transport one or two larger packages. Because they’re messenger bags. You know, for messengers.

The MixBag takes a different approach: It’s smaller, but it has a pocket for everything you might possibly need to carry around.