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19 Father’s Day Gifts for the Apocalypse … or just around the house

The author takes a stab at sampling some new gear. Pictured here, from top to bottom: Mediator knife, Motus Jacket, Maloja multi-sport shirt, Waterrock Pants, Danner’s Trail shoes, Swiftwick socks, and Fluidstance Balance Board. (PHOTO: NOAH KATZ)

How will you help Dad pull his family through the End Times? With one of the following gifts, of course. These are all items for the burly, active Dad, even in his new pandemic-enhanced reality. Maybe he’ll hunt and gut a rabbit with that that tactical knife you buy him—or maybe he’ll use it to (savagely) slice open frozen pizzas and Amazon boxes. Either way, he’s covered, plus we’ve given some thought to Dad’s workout and work-from-home gear, as well as new camping gear and a few stylish masks. Enjoy.

Mediator knife from Oregon-based Benchmade Knife Company (and some random book, for scale, PHOTO JOSHUA BERMAN)

Knife: 8551BK Mediator ($295) is a blade from Oregon-based Benchmade Knife Company. The Mediator is a nicely weighted (2.89 oz.), palm-fitting everyday knife with a black blade that pops out with a super-quick push-button opening mechanism. The 3.3-inch blade is suitable for a variety of tasks, and it can clip onto any pocket or boot-top. Sure, the Mediator is designed for badass police and military work, but it’s also perfect for unsealing cardboard boxes. Stand back, everyone! Dad’s about to slice into a box of coffee filters. You can also customize this knife with a laser engraved message, name, or initials. 

Headlamp: BioLite HeadLamp 200 ($44.95) is lightweight (200g), bright (200 lumens), and most important, comfortable. The BioLite has only the settings I need, including red light for late-night, quarantine kitchen operations and ‘lock’ mode to conserve the battery during travel and hiking. I love the simplicity of this lamp and it’s understated design; it slips into any shirt pocket or backpack and fits children’s heads too. Another option is the Radiant 170 Rechargeable Headlamp ($24.99) from Nite-Ize; it puts out a reasonable 170 lumens of flood lighting, and also red-light mode, adjustable tilt, and a detachable body that converts to a hand-held light with a comfortable, flat design.

Maloja stretchy running shorts.

Running: When my gym closed in March, I took up running for the first time in years. I started off in stiff, chafing cotton, but soon upgraded to high-performance, lightweight, quick-drying gear from Maloja (pronounced “mah-low-yah”), a German brand named after a region in the Swiss Alps. Specifically, their LagsM shorts ($139.99) are silky, stretchy, reflective, and have a built-in inner that keeps everything in place. The small elastic mesh pockets are so hidden, it took me two uses to even find them, but they fit everything I needed to carry. On top, Maloja’s multi-sport GuaudM multisport shirt ($99) is made of a light, perforated polyester material treated with Polygiene, an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal agent. So far, I’ve worn this shirt-short combo three mornings in a row and it’s true, they barely smell. I’ll report back after two more weeks.

Pants: Dad keeps getting older and his pants keep getting stretchier. These Mountain Khakis Waterrock Pants ($99.95) are equally appropriate for hiking, traveling, or at the office—especially the home office, where their comfy casual vibe is totally professional if your webcam accidentally pans down. 

This “Americana” sport shirt is made from four recycled plastic bottles. Also pictured: Waterrock pants. (PHOTO: NOAH KATZ)

More affordable, this Men’s Short Sleeve Performance Americana T-Shirt ($24, enter code 4DAD for discount) is made out of four recycled plastic bottles; it’s lightweight for running, has a crew neck collar, and is perfect for that Memorial Day 10k which will be rescheduled for next year. 

Earbuds: SOUL’s ST-XS2  ($79.99) is probably the best fitting, most discreet, low-profile wireless earbud I’ve tried. These things are full-on Secret Service, including a single-tap play-pause button. They have a unique little ergonomic C-shaped ear hook which keeps them in place without any uncomfortable pressure; the IPX7 weatherproof protection keeps them working even when covered with sweat, rain, or snow. They’re small and truly wireless, which can make them easy to lose, the only real drawback, but they do come with a charging case that plugs in and can hook onto a keychain or fit in a pocket.

Shell & Jacket: For drizzly, snowy morning runs, Beyond Clothing’s Motus Jacket ($140) is a lightweight hooded jacket for warmer temperatures that sheds water like it’s not even wet. It’s made from a 4-way stretch, double-faced nylon polyester with an inner face of bamboo charcoal yarn fabric, which is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, moisture wicking, and insulating. For higher elevations and colder temps, Elevenate Motion Down Jacket ($250) is a lightweight but super-warm insulated jacket stuffed with 750-fill, 95/5 white goose down; its shaped sleeves are a nice fit and I like the insulated hand pockets and Lycra finish to cinch up the sleeves and bottom.

The Questar sleeping bag is quite cozy. (PHOTO: NOAH KATZ)

Sleeping bag and pad: Whether Dad is camping out on the back deck, the couch, or the mountains, hook him up with this bag-pad combo from ThermaRest. The Questar Sleeping Bag ($329.95) is a high-performance, three-season bag, rated to -18 degrees C, and 0 degrees Fahrenheit, with 650 fill down, and is designed for all weather. It also has a modified mummy shape and comes in a few different lengths, for different members of your family. Of course, that’s only half the equation for a solid’s night sleep—for the mattress, the Topo Luxe Pad ($144.95) is four inches thick(!), and folds up very small.  

Sock: For running, I’m rocking these low-rider Swiftwick Flite XT socks ($23.99), which are made with all kinds of technical zones and fancy stitch-work, specifically for running or workouts. They have breathable uppers for ventilation, more padding on the sole, and wick-and-dry magic. Swiftwick makes a large range of outdoor/active-oriented socks, including a Colorado-flag mountain-scape. If Dad is a professional healthcare worker or service worker, maybe get him a pair of ASPIRE Twelve compression socks ($29.99); they “reduce fatigue and swelling from long days on their feet, promote increased blood flow, and prevent blisters.”

Shoes: Danner’s Trail 2650 ($149.95) is a lightweight hiking shoe that is breathable, waterproof, and as durable as ever (my first pair of Danner’s was my wildland firefighter boots 17 summers ago). The Trail 2650 is as casual and comfy as a sneaker, but will be at home as soon as it’s time to test it on the trails. 

The Balance Board for stand-up desk working adds much needed movement to those otherwise sedentary computer hours. Also pictured: Swiftwick sock and Danner’s Trail shoe. (PHOTO: NOAH KATZ)

Work from Home: FluidStance Balance Board (from $189) is one of the few items I’ve checked out recently which has been a literal game changer for my home office. First, it incentivizes me to mix standing up with sitting while I’m working on my laptop, and then it makes me move various parts of my body that would otherwise be totally still atrophying away. The “micro movements” necessary to adjust your feet, ankles, legs, and hips as you stay balanced on the board add up in a very healthy way and even burn calories. The balance board has two heights to work from and a few stylish deck options; all boards are made with a die-cast, military-grade aluminum base topped with a half inch of either maple or bamboo. 

Peak Design backpack. (PHOTO: NOAH KATZ)

Pack: Whether Dad is a photographer or not (Peak Design typically targets professional shooters), this Everyday Backpack ($259.95) would be handy for all kinds of other activities, even if that’s just toting your portable office from room to room. This is a slick, low-profile, but high-capacity bag with quick access to cameras, lenses, tripods, or other gear and with stiff, velcro-sticking adjustable dividers and compartments. The newer ones have MagLatch hardware for quick opening, dual side access, dedicated sleeves for laptops, tablets, or documents, plus other internal slip pockets. These weatherproof packs come in 20L and 30L sizes and both the sling and messenger bag versions are handy too, for when you need your kit hanging right in front of you.

The Gray Chambray (PHOTO courtesy of SwaddleDesigns)

Mask: It wouldn’t be fashionable to not include a fashionable mask section in a 2020 Father’s Day piece, so here it is. This 3-layer Gray Chambray (on sale for $7.99, pictured here) from SwaddleDesigns (they now manufacture masks alongside baby blankets) was designed by a nurse, is made of 100% cotton (180 thread count), and has a bendable nose piece and soft ear straps. Or perhaps Dad prefers something in a dark camo or other design? Check out the Independence Mask ($16) selection, from Indie Source; these are tightly woven 100% cotton masks with pockets to insert changeable filters, including N-95s. Plus, for every unit sold, they’re donating one mask to a service industry or health care professional in need.

(Note: The writer received some product samples from the companies above for review and photography purposes; he was not paid by any company for inclusion in this article.)

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