The Rare Few Favorite Things We'd Immediately Buy Again

One Simple Criterion

What items would you immediately replace with the exact same model if you lost them?

No shopping around to see what else is out there. No hesitation. Just go out (or, more likely, go online) and buy an exact replacement.

For Kim and me, these precious few things meet that criterion.

Check them out, then drop a comment with your favorites things.

Chris' Favorite Things

For women's stuff, jump straight down to Kim's favorite things.

Outlier New Way shorts are the best shorts for fancy occasions

My Shorts Trifecta

I wrote a whole post about my three best men's shorts, so I'll keep this short.

  • For sports: Luluemon Pace Breakers. Comfortable, durable, handy phone pocket in the lining, simply the best. I have three pairs.
  • For at-home comfort: The Icebreaker Cool-Lite Momentum shorts. The first thing I do when I get home is change into them. I'm wearing them as I write this.
  • For everything else: . Durable, stain-resistant, odor-free, chafe-less, and nice-looking. I wear these every day and don't get tired of it.
Chris reading his kindle at a cafe in Marrakech.
Two of my favorite things: my Kindle and my Outlier shorts.

Kindle Paperwhite

Thanks to my Kindle Paperwhite I don't disturb Kim's slumber with any lights when reading in bed, can immediately get any book I want wherever we go, and keep my bag light wherever I go.

As for what I read on it, it's a mix between books about places I'm traveling to (for example, Trevor Noah's Born a Crime was an awesome intro to South Africa), fun stories (currently, Ballad of the Whiskey Robber), and non-fiction books on whatever topic I'm currently interested in or researching for my life exciting blog, The Zag.

Probably my favorite book in the past 10 years was Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman.

Books that change your thinking cover image of Chris reading upside down

Sledgehammer Books

Fellow bookworms might find a "sledghammer" amongst my 15 favorite books that change your thinking on various different topics

Chris walking in his Icebreaker tank top in the Namibian desert at Sossusvlei
My Icebreaker tank's keeping me cool in Namibia's 40-degree desert heat.

Icebreaker Anatomica Merino Wool Tank Top

My Icebreaker tank top was the gateway drug into my merino wool addiction.

I found it on the sale rack at an Icebreaker outlet store (hence the weird color). Or maybe it found me because it seems like destiny.

Since we've been united, we've been inseparable. I rarely wear other tank tops because, like everything that's merino, it's so comfortably weather-regulating and it never gets stinky no matter how hard I try.

Check it out on Amazon or

Outlier t-shirt
My favorite t-shirt is as outstanding as it is unassuming.

If You're More of a T-Shirt Kinda Guy

If you prefer to keep your guns under wraps, give the Outlier Ultrafine Merino t-shirt a go. It's replaced my Icebreaker Sphere t-shirts as my favorite because it's silkier, sturdier, and looks nicer.

Outlier gear's crazy expensive, but it's also crazy good, so it's a worthy investment even if you're not crazy rich.

An extension cord is one of my favorites that I would replace if I lost.

GE Extension Cord

On my popular minimalist packing list post, I can see which items readers are most interested in based on the links they click. The most popular items are my shoes, pants, and bag.

Makes sense.

What I don't understand is why they overlook my secret weapon: my extension cord. I use the thing every day and take it with me wherever I go because it's just so darn useful for reaching distant plugs and for turning one socket into three.

Why hasn't this caught on? And why don't more people travel with extension cords? I don't get it.

Whatever. It's your loss if you don't get one too.

Get one here on Amazon or at your neighborhood hardware store.

Could There Be Better?

Do you know if it'd be possible to get a lightweight retractable extension cord? I feel like I don't need such a heavy-duty cord if I'm only using it for my computer and small electronic devices.

Chris drinking out of his Camelback waterbottle
Observe how the cap of my CamelBak water bottle doesn't fall on my face because of the magnet.

CamelBak Chute Mag 750ml/25oz Water Bottle

My CamelBak water bottle is the newest inductee into this exclusive favorite things list.

The spout is the ideal size for chugging from when I'm super thirsty, the handy magnet keeps the cap from hitting my face when I'm drinking, and the size is perfect for backpack side pockets and car cup holders.

Screenshot of Roam Research app
Screenshot of Roam for today, as I add Roam to this list of my favorite things.

Roam Research

To keep myself accountable, avoid wasting time, expand my second brain, preserve priceless memories, and more, I write down everything I do. I call it lifelogging.

Back when I started lifelogging in 2015, I used a basic notes app. In 2016, I graduated to Evernote to better organize my evolving note-taking process. Then, in 2020 I discovered Roam.

With its daily notes and bi-directional links, it has exactly what I need for spinning the web of my second brain.

Well, not exactly. The lack of CMD+F to search is annoying and the mobile app isn't as smooth to use as it should be.

Even so, for meeting the needs of my most beneficial habit, Roam is head and shoulders, knees and toes above any other note-taking app I've come across.

See my post on the benefits of lifelogging, an example of my time log for a regular day, and my video on lifelogging:

Kim's Favorite Things

My turn! Here are my favorite things with a common theme of health, food, and fitness.

Kim's engagement ring from Dear Rae
The result of rethinking how to come up with the perfect engagement ring.

My Engagement Ring

I sure as hell hope I never have to replace this one.

After Chris romantically proposed to me with a dollar store ring in June 2019, we spent months deliberating, researching, and figuring out how to come up with the perfect engagement ring. And we nailed it. I couldn't be happier with the delicate and simple design.

Kim's favorite Lululemon backpack
On another "City Adventure" with my Lululemon backpack in Essaouira, Morocco.

Lululemon City Adventurer Backpack

The name "City Adventurer" couldn't be more appropriate for my Lululemon backpack because it's the perfect combination of sporty and city. I use it almost every day.

Why I love it:

  • Pockets. Lululemon has thought of all the details including a small side pocket to keys separate, and a bottom compartment for shoes.
  • Laptop Friendly. The built-in laptop pocket perfectly fits my Macbook Air, so I don't have to carry the extra bulk of my laptop case.
  • Style. I can wear it around the city or on a hike. The black goes with everything. Chris' sister has the same backpack and is just as in love.

Check it out at Lululemon.

Kim stretching wearing her fast and free lululemon tights
Stretching in one of my three pairs of my favorite workout pants.

Lululemon Fast and Free Tights

I love my Lululemon Fast & Free Tights so much that even though they aren't cheap, (~$120) I own three pairs. They are my go-to workout pants and the ones I recommend to everyone.


  • Material. The thin, quick-drying, sweat-wicking "Nulux" material. It also never pills, so my pants look good as new even after six months or a year.
  • Pockets. I don't worry about my stuff falling out and jangling around thanks to the pocket sewn into the upper thigh for my phone and the small waistband pocket for my keys.
  • Fit. They stay where they're told and keep everything in without feeling too constrained.
  • They aren't see-through.

Check them out at Lululemon.

Clinique Sheer Press Powder

Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Face Powder

I don't wear much makeup but when I'm feeling shiny, I use my Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed powder.

I've been using Clinique products since high-school (thanks Mom) and this specific product for over six years. It doesn't clog my pores, has a small and compact container (with mirror), and isn't tested on animals.

Check it out on Amazon.

UE Boom speaker at sunset
I'm always taking the party with me with my UE Boom speaker.

UE Boom Wireless Speaker

No road trip, group workout, or dinner party is complete without tunes, so I pretty much don't go anywhere without my UE Boom portable speaker.

Since I got it nearly two years ago, I haven't had a single issue with its durability, sound quality, and size. The only issue is it's a bit heavier than some other travel speakers, (~550g) but I'm happy to take on a little bit of extra weight for the reliably strong sound it pumps out.

Check it out on Amazon and read the reviews for yourself.

Chopping lemongrass with a Wustof chef's knife
My knife is an important part of my life.

Wusthof 16cm Chef's Knife

I hate having to finely chop onions and garlic with a dull, crappy knife as much as I love cooking, so I bring my Wusthof chef's knife with me wherever I go (unless I'm traveling carry-on only).

And if some airline were to ever lose it, I'd buy a replacement ASAP. I like how light it is and it feels pretty much like an extension of my hands by now.

Check it out on Amazon.

Using my Zojirushi travel mug on a day out
Heading out with my Zojirushi travel mug plus a couple other of my favorite things (backpack and ring).

Zojirushi 16oz Travel Mug

My Zojirushi travel mug is proof that our guide to how to pick gifts even better than Santa really works. Chris bought it for me a couple of years ago and I've been using it religiously ever since. It holds in heat (or cold) for hours, doesn't spill, and has a lightweight and sleek shape. What's not to love?

Check it out and it's nearly perfect reviews on Amazon.

Both of Our Favorite Things

These items are so fantastic that we both consider them to be must-replaceable.

Chris and Kim wearing matching patagonia jackets
We take crap for wearing matching Patagonia Nano Puff jackets but wear them anyway.

Patagonia Nano Puff Packable Jackets

Kim and my identical Patagonia Nano Puff jackets make for a prisoner's dilemma type of situation.

I'd prefer Kim not wear hers when I wear mine. Kim would prefer I not wear mine when she wears hers. But neither of us will give in to the other, so end up both wearing them at the same time, looking like some nerdy couple from the Amazing Race.

They're just so practical—light, warm, packable, and versatile.

Their only downside (other than looking the same) is they do get stinky. But they dry so fast that we can pretty much wear them straight out of the washing machine.

Check out the men's and women's jackets.

Why We Love Patagonia: Patagonia prioritizes sustainability by using recycled materials as much as possible, making top-notch products that last forever, and offering free repairs even if the damage was completely your fault (like when Kim tore hers when she fell into barbed wire while dodging a mud puddle on the Paramo del Sol hike).

Chris using one of our workout bands for extra difficulty on his pull-ups.

Workout Bands

Kim and I mostly do outdoor bodyweight training for exercise and use our elastic bands extensively to make exercises both easier and harder.

Take pull-ups:

  • To make pull-ups easier, I strap a band to a chin-up bar so the elasticity helps me up. This helps me work towards one-armed pull-ups or do strict muscle-ups.
  • To make pull-ups harder, I strap the band to something near the ground or have Kim stand on it, then loop it over my neck. That way the band's resistance pulls me down.

That's just one example. Kim and I are constantly inventing and finding new ways to spice up our workouts with our bands.

Check 'em out on Amazon.

Beeswax Wraps

Instead of using wasteful plastic wrap to cover onions, avocados, or half-eaten bowls of salad, we've been using beeswax wraps.

These wraps are pieces of cotton that have been treated with a thin layer of beeswax. They're pliable when slightly warmed (from the heat of your hands) and form to whatever you're trying to wrap. They last for over a year, clean easily with a bit of soap and water, and come in handy especially when you have a variety of sizes.

They also make great gifts!

You can make them on your own or buy them online.

Check out the ones we use on


For household items, here's another good gauge for what belongs on this list of our favorite things:

What do we find so important that we own two of them—one for both of the places we call home, Cape Town and Vancouver?

For us, only one product meets that criteria:

The SodaStream.

Our SodaStreams meet one of four criteria from my research into what makes a guaranteed good gift: They solve a problem.

Actually, they solve two problems:

  1. Eliminating the bad feelings we used to get from buying plastic bottles of sparkling water at the store.
  2. Reducing the number of times we need to go to the store and haul back heavy bottles of bubbly H20.
Kim sleeping as I pack up my tatami bed
A view of my tatami mat as I pack it up to sleep in the living room.

Tatami Mats

Tatami mats would join our SodaStreams in the exclusive club of things we own in both Vancouver and Cape Town if we had to furnish our places in both cities. But since we rent furnished apartments in Cape Town, we sleep on the beds provided rather than our favorite Japanese-style floor mats.

So our tatamis are like our family and childhood friends: things we most look forward to reuniting with when we relocate from Cape Town to Vancouver every year.

They provide flexibility.

I can easily move my bed to another room if I’m in Kim's doghouse or want to set my alarm to wake up early without disturbing Kim. Plus they are way easier than beds to move from storage into our new Vancouver apartment every year.

They give us sleeping space.

Kim and I have our own beds, but can put them side-by-side to converse and canoodle. It’s the best of both worlds.

They give us living space.

For low-income bloggers like us, the ability to fold up our beds opens up a huge swath of floors otherwise occupied by a big bulky bed.

Most importantly, they give us great sleeps.

If you're still not sold on tatamis, see my story of how I fell into sleeping on the floor (and eventually dragged Kim down with me.) Or watch the video:

What Are Your Favorite Things You'd Immediately Buy Again?

Other readers would love to hear what your favorite things are and Kim and I could always use some gift ideas for each other, so please share your favorite things in the comments.

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4 thoughts on “The Rare Few Favorite Things We'd Immediately Buy Again”

  1. My kitchen knives (Veg, Chef, Cleaver) are Kin, 32 layer Damascene and I've already replaced one for the one that broke, within 24 hours. I have a Wusthof – it's tiny and great for stripping meat off raw chicken legs.

    Shoes – oh I WISH. I should buy three pairs once I know I like them.

    RAB sleeping bags. The business.

    Falk Copper Pans. Not that you'd ever need to replace them.

    • Thanks Helen A) For breaking the comment seal on this post so hopefully others will be encouraged to share their favorites, too and B) For your own faves. I've added them all to a list I maintain of brands/products to go with if and when I happen to be shopping for those specific items. Kim will be especially interested in the copper pans.
      All the best finding that perfect pair of shoes!

  2. My favorite shoes and sandals are from Xero Shoes. I've had 7 or so pairs so far, for many years. They're minimalist shoes so you need to work up to running in them or otherwise using them full time to give your feet time to adjust, but they're light and comfy and overall great. They aren't the most durable shoes ever but that's probably to be expected given how much less material they have than average shoes.

    I also love Pretty Frank deodorant (used to be called Primal Pit Paste). Been using that for at least as long as Xeros. Completely non-toxic, I like the scents too. Doesn't help with sweating, but you shouldn't be using an antiperspirant anyway. I also like their chapstick. They have periodic sales and when they do I stock up on enough to last me a year or 2.

    For stainless steel bottles, I love RTIC products. They're like Yeti but less $$. They're kinda heavy so not the best for lightweight travel, but keep liquids hot or cold for a long time, and come in all sizes and types. I use a mug, liter bottle, can coozy, and also ocassionally a half gallon and gallon container (for having a supply of cold water on long car trips, at the beach, etc).

    Recently discovered thing I love: Overcoming Isometrics. Read Overcoming Isometrics by Matt Schifferle and buy the WorldFit Iso Trainer strap for $30. You can also use the wall and other things for many exercises. Wish I had discovered this earlier.

    • Coincidentally, I was just looking at Xero sandals this week! Maybe it's a sign. Which sandals do you wear?
      Thanks for your other recommendations, too. I'm going to check them all out. I'm especially interested in the isometrics book. A few months ago during lockdown, I did some cursory research on it and came away thinking it's not particularly useful and healthier to stick to movement. Maybe Overcoming Isometrics can change my mind.
      Thanks, Will, for the super comment!


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