Four fun finds.
Road-tested by grownups.
By Hope S. Philbrick
This Cyber Monday, we’ve rounded up four of this year’s best road-tested gear and products.
We think you’ll want to add these to your list, whether you’re shopping for gifts for loved ones or yourself.
The Claim: FixnZip instantly repairs broken zippers on a wide range of products (from luggage to clothing, handbags to sleeping bags). This product slides over any broken zipper and instantly replaces it as a new zipper—no needles, threads or tools required.
First Impression: The seven-step instructions inside the package are illustrated for simple understanding. Though it’s available in three sizes (small, medium and large), each FixnZip fits a range of teeth.
Road Test: It works! If the broken zipper is missing some teeth, the FixnZip glides over these and realigns the remaining teeth thus restoring the functionality of the zipper. FixnZip is reusable: Take it off one item to use on another.
Final Analysis: To be prepared to deal with on-the-road mishaps, every traveler needs a set of these (small, medium and large) in his or her travel kit.
Get It: www.fixnzip.com; prices start at $9.99. Available in nickel or black finishes. Made in the U.S.A.
Matador Pocket Blanket
The Claim: Leave behind the wet, damp and uncomfortable when getting out and enjoying the outdoors. Next time you go to a concert or festival, picnic, hike or camping trip, take the compact Matador Pocket Blanket with you. It’s the perfect solution for sitting comfortably at your next outdoor activity without having to carry a heavy, burdensome blanket or using your jacket!
First Impression: Small enough to fit into a pocket, purse or glove box, this cute little package is emblazoned with an adorable tagline “Put Yourself Out There.” But once I unfurl this thing, will I ever get it folded back up right again?
Road Test: The nylon material (reminiscent of a windbreaker) is lightweight and puncture resistant to keep sticks, stones, sand and bugs from getting through. It’s also waterproof, so you stay dry. And there’s a handy-dandy stitch design that serves as a map for folding, so you can get it back into its built-in pouch again with ease.
Final Analysis: To keep dry and clean when sitting wherever the road takes you—walking around with a wet rear end is never attractive—every traveler needs to add one of these to his or her travel kit.
Get It: matadorup.com; the Matador fits two people comfortably and retails for $29.99; the Matador mini with room for one is $19.99.
The Claim: RawSpiceBar is a subscription service that delivers three freshly ground, exotic flavors from around the world each month along with three kitchen-tested recipes and details about the origin and history of spices from the featured region. RawSpiceBar collaborates with chefs who have an expertise in one specific region or geography to ensure authenticity. Each spice blend is perfectly portioned to create a dish serving 8-12; recipes almost always include an option for omnivores, vegetarians and vegans.
First Impression: Spices arrive with a colorful recipe card that details instructions plus shares a web address for additional cooking tips, photos and videos. Spice boxes have showcased Istanbul, Navajo, Japan, and Ethiopia among other destinations/cuisines.
Road Test: The spices arrive in brown envelopes with sufficient quantity for the suggested recipes plus extra for experimenting. The spice packet labels offer a few suggested uses beyond the featured recipes to jump-start recipe brainstorming.
Final Analysis: Perfect gift for any foodie and cooking enthusiast.
Get It: rawspicebar.com; subscriptions are $6 per month.
Read Between The Wines
The Claim: The party game of wine, wit and wordplay. Theme cards inspire players to write hilarious wine descriptions that will have your party abuzz with laughter! No formal wine knowledge needed—it’s all about trying new wines and having fun. There is no right or wrong answer: Write from the eyes, nose, tongue, throat or funny bone. Channel your inner wine snob, or just get drunk on adjectives.
First Impression: Wine, wit and wordplay! What’s not to love?
Road Test: How to play: Sample a wine, pick a theme, write a description, and guess who wrote what—players earn points for correctly “pairing” a description with its author. Wine is not supplied, but everything else you need to play is packed into this little game box, including “Zin-onyms” and “Vocab-ernet” cheat sheets, notepads, pencils, a deck of 54 theme cards (which are tiny, so keep your wine-glass-holding hand from getting too slippery) and Rules Remix for different ways to play. Wine consumption encouraged = 21 Plus Salute!
Final Analysis: Fun for wine lovers and clever folks.
Get It: www.readbetweenwines.com; retails for $34.99.
– Photos courtesy of the featured products
Product samples afford the research opportunity but do not sway opinion.