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On looks alone, Shinola knocks it out of the park. And I can only comment on the looks as I haven't heard the sound quality in person but I'm sure it doesn't disappoint. This would be a welcome addition to any home office for sure.

Bellroy All-Conditions Essentials Pocket

Already a believer in the "pouch" system, this is a perfect way to protect my true EDC essentials from the elements. And since it comes in orange, I'm hooked.

Wilderness Collective Alaska Backcountry Motorcycle Tour

I've been on a couple Wilderness Collective trips and as an introduction, the Sequoia to Yosemite trip is highly recommended. But I'm ready to step it up a notch. This Alaska Backcountry Tour is going to be a true adventure in every sense of the word.

Mountain Standard Glyphs Camp Mug

Aside from being practical, I think this mug is just plain old cool. I have a miiR water bottle and I'm continually impressed with the fit and finish and I have full confidence that this mug will be of the same quality.

The Great Outdoors Book: A User's Guide

If you're unfamiliar with Brendan Leonard, check him out. Then get this book.

Photo by The Field

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I can't think of a better gift to give to someone who has everything or is hard to please. While small, these specimens aren't just bits of random fossils or rock samples, they're truly a part of history. My personal favorites from this collection are the pieces of an SR-71 Blackbird, first transatlantic cable, and a “slice” of Charles and Diana’s Royal Wedding Cake. How crazy is that? 

J.L. Lawson Tempus Spin Coin

While not a true fidgeter, I always carry a few things in my pockets to mess around with when I get bored. J.L. Lawson makes some cool and useful stuff (for fidgeting or otherwise) and this is the latest to come out of their shop. I'm especially a fan of the art and style. Reminds me of something a member of a secret order would carry as a key or something. And yeah, as crazy as it sounds, I actually liked the National Treasure movies.

$2 Currency Sheets

I want this sheet framed and hanging on my wall. Why? I think it just would look awesome. And maybe add a "break glass in case of emergency" plaque or something.

Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration

I'm new to Simon Sinek but I really like the way he thinks. Here's an interview with him about millennials in the workplace and here's a quote I recently stumbled across: "The single best machine to measure trust is a human being. We haven't figured out a metric that works better than our own sort of, like, 'There's something fishy about you.'" His book on leadership is supposedly scented in the scent of "optimism." I need to check this out.

Photo by I Lead, Therefore I Am

Stay Wild Magazine - Adventure Seeker Subscription

A fancy magazine focusing on adventure bundled with some extra goodies? It’s like they made this package just for me. I like that they understood a flask doesn’t just have to hold alcohol. “Fill your Stanley flask with booze, spring water, hot tea, or tears of joy. Whatever you like to have 8 ounces of, it's your call.” I just recently discovered these guys but we’re off to a great start.

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Recommended Christmas Gifts - 2016 Edition

Below is a list of various items I bought over the past 12 months that I feel I can recommend to others. I don't like wasting money and neither should you.

Arcade Belt Co. Adventure Belts

I've had a couple of flights out of the country in 2016 and paired with Global Entry, this belt is a lifesaver. Its simple design has no metal parts and weighs next to nothing, making it perfect for traveling through airport security as well as being comfortable while on the flight. I went with the Midnight (all black) belt but the Green/Navy Blackwood belt also caught my eye.

You can also buy these at a small discount through and if you’re a new customer to Huckberry, sign up through my link and get $10 in free credit.

Cost: $23+

Apple Watch or County Comm Maratac Pilots Watch

If you're technically inclined and in the Apple ecosystem, go for the Apple Watch. There's also some deals on Craigslist to be had if you look. I got my Apple Watch (1st Generation) for $180 in the summer, well before they announced the new models. I talked the guy down from $250.

New Cost: $269+

Used Cost: ~$175+

But if you're a horological fan, go with the Maratac Pilot Watch from County Comm. It's a solid design with a true automatic movement, and you can easily swap the straps out for any number of nylon or leather styles. I prefer the Large size but they make a Medium if that's more your fit.

Cost: $419

Note: I initially paid under $200 for the Maratac Pilot Watch but after checking the price for this article I realized it’s now listed a bit higher. If I were in the market again, I’d be more interested in going for the Lum-Tec Huckberry Combat B33 GMT ($498). Or go on the budget side and consider the Standard Issue Instruments Pilot Mission Timer ($134). Yes those are both quartz but they seems pretty solid to me.

America The Beautiful Park Pass

This is a great gift for that outdoorsy person in your life. If they don't live near a National Park and they don't have plans to visit one, it may not be an awesome idea but it might also jumpstart search for adventure. I've been on a few trips this year where I just brought it with me and it's saved a ton of money. 

Cost: $80 (annual pass)

As a bonus, or even an alternative, pick up an REI membership. It's only $20, good for life, and you get 10% back on most things in the form of an annual dividend. And that's in addition to fairly frequent member only events and discounts throughout the year. 

Draplin Design Co.: Pretty Much Everything

You don't have to be a designer to appreciate good design and I'm speaking from experience. It's no surprise that I'm a fan of Field Notes and I certainly appreciate a lot of how Mr. Draplin thinks. I can't pinpoint it but for some reason, I enjoy poring over this book. Even though I don't plan to "design" anything, I'm inspired by the graphics and stories throughout. And if it's still available, I recommend getting the DDC “Everything Else” Enhancement Kit to go along with it.

Cost: $27+

"Fancy" Magazine Subscriptions

I've always had a thing for magazines and I've been stoked recently since they've made a huge comeback. But these aren't the ones you're used to with ads on every other page, these are much better. Well, to be honest, a couple of the ones I like are almost completely made up of ads but it's a much more tasteful presentation. Here's a few that I recommend:

You can buy them individually (around $15-20 per issue) or through a subscription. From the photography to the stories, you won't be disappointed. Oh and they’re more like coffee table books than anything else. The physical material is top quality.

"A Walk in the Woods" Audibook

I saw the movie first and instantly loved it so I scheduled some time to read the official book version next. You know how movies based on books can be, often never stacking up to the book version. But surprisingly enough, this audiobook pared quite well with the film. I think seeing Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in action helped me visualize the characters in the book form. I highly recommend reading or listening to this book. And watch the movie too.

Cost: $15.75

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Field Notes does it again. Orange and black are my favorite combination of colors and this edition looks incredible. They also use a new binding technique for this notebook. For those unfamiliar, they usually just have 3 staples holding things together but the process in use here is more like a traditional book. The only thing is that since I always carry my Field Notes in my back pocket (in a DDC Stuff Sheath), I wonder what it would feel like when sitting.

[Acquired] Sanborn Canoe Company Red Enamel Camp Mug

I have an interesting fascination with mugs as I strongly prefer them to elicit some sort of feeling in me and can't just grab one willy-nilly. I can't even pinpoint what exactly it is but I'm quite choosy when it comes to picking out the perfect mug for a cup of coffee. And I don't always like it when people use my mugs so I have a few that are for sharing but a select couple are all my own.

Tom Bihn The Hero's Journey

I currently have a 40L GORUCK GR2 that can handle just about anything I throw at/in it. On a recent trip to Thailand, it held everything I needed (including a mini backpack) for 10 days. That said, I'm always on the lookout for better solutions. I really appreciate the variety of carry methods available in this Tom Bihn bag. It’s of course a backpack foremost but you can also carry it like a duffel and even unzip the top to be used as a smaller personal bag (which itself can convert to a mini backpack; too cool). The only thing I’d change would be to cut off the zippers and make some silent zipper pulls

The NASA Graphics Standards Manual

I grew up in love with all things "space" and even would write letters to my nearest NASA office (Goddard Space Flight Center) explaining my interest. They were kind enough to send me printouts and photos of various space related projects which I kept in a special folder and carried everywhere. And even though I'm not a designer, I appreciate good design when I see it and NASA has some of the coolest stuff around, in my opinion. This reproduction of the 1974 re-branding standards manual may be the ultimate coffee table book for any “space geek,” myself included. The static shielding pouch is a really nice touch too.

World Stamp Show-NY 2016 Folio

Over this past year, I’ve been getting into sending brief letters to people typed on my typewriter and it seems that a normal everyday stamp just isn’t good enough for something like that. I’ve been using some vintage Barnum & Bailey stamps but I’m running low so while on the hunt for a new design, these stamps from the World Stamp Show caught my eye. 

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Alternatives to the Instagram "Link in bio" Problem

I'm sure you've seen it. A brand posts a photo on Instagram that relates to either a blog post or a product and tacked right onto the end of their caption are those three little words, "link in bio." Ugh. 

Unless there's something I'm missing, I don't see how this is a viable option at all. Really though, is there something I don't understand? If you use this method, I'd love to hear your reasoning behind it.

Why's it bad? Well, if you do it for one photo, you're probably doing it for others. So what happens when someone is scrolling through your feed and sees an older photo and wants to learn more about that photo. Your caption says "link in bio" but that link has probably changed 20 times already. You just lost that reader or customer. I don't think that's far fetched because that's exactly how I operate. When I click the link and it's not the page I was expecting, I don't often hunt it down, I just move on. 

Instead of simply griping about it, I thought I'd offer some solutions. Skip the constantly broken/dead links (and possibly even lost customers) and consider my options.

Custom Short Links 

Since Instagram doesn't allow hyperlinks in captions, you need to keep your URL as short and as memorable as possible. Sure this isn't ideal but it's a workaround that I've implemented for brands in the past and it seems to work fairly well. 

You can use either a plain old Bitly link or go full custom with something that matches your domain. Click here for steps on how to make your own custom short URL.

The key is to make the part after the "/" unique to what you're sharing. No one is going to remember "" let alone be able to tell you if that's a 1 or a lower case "L" or a zero. You get the idea.

An real-world example would be "" (which can be seen in use here). The "" is a shortened version of "" which isn't too difficult to remember. And your URL may be even easier to work with. A Bitly example of this link would be: "" and this is cool because if you follow that link, it goes to the correct page because the ITS Tactical short URL is tied in with Bitly. 

A Dedicated Page on your Site

This was an idea I had recently so I don't know if it's a good one yet or not. The gist is this, you make a page on your site, something like "" and that's the URL that lives in your Instagram bio.

The page itself will be a single page with thumbnails of your Instagram photos (and maybe captions) with links to whatever specific thing you wanted to link to.

My thinking is that if someone wants to read more about X product on your Instagram page, they'll be able to quickly scan that page on your site for the matching photo and subsequently get directed to the correct product.

The Last Resort

Even though I have no idea why you'd do it, if you insist on using the "link in bio" method, at least do one thing for me. Once you post a new photo and change the link in your bio, go back to any previous photos and edit the caption. It's only fair that you delete the call to action lest you have people ending up at dead ends.


Do you have any other ideas? I'd love to hear 'em.