10 Things I’m Bringing to the Party in a Post-Pandemic Summer

10 Things I’m Bringing to the Party in a Post-Pandemic Summer

Assistant editor Duncan Nielsen makes his top picks for a season that will hopefully look a little more like the old normal.

If you told me one year ago that my introverted tendencies would be cured by a global pandemic, I would have scoffed, or eye-rolled, or both. But here we are a year later, and mindfully avoiding people has grown very, very old. I’m craving hang outs. I’m craving spontaneous gatherings. I know it’s too soon to tell, but with some luck, summer 2021 will be the new new normal. It will be the season for getting back to group hikes, poolside hangs, and backyard barbecues with close friends, friends of friends, and maybe even a few strangers. Whoever we run into this summer, here are at least a few things that’ll help make sharing cool again.

You’ve had an entire year to stockpile algo-curated playlists. Now, it’s time to share them IRL with this beefy bluetooth speaker from JBL. It’s not so heavy that you wouldn’t want to carry it to the top of a mountain, but when you do get to the top, it’s got enough oomph to carry the jams from peak to peak. It can also charge your phone if you’re out and about, and a waterproof design makes it perfect for the pool.

JBL FLIP 5 Portable Waterproof Speaker
JBL’s waterproof smart speakers have many capabilities you’d expect of a top outdoor speaker—including powerful sound, long battery life, and a waterproof design.

Made of recycled bamboo, Ekobo’s stacking picnic set is a way better option than flimsy paper plates. The lipped design holds in the barbecue sauce, and the color scheme makes it easy to remember whose is whose. Take them camping, or just to the backyard.

I won’t lie to you—I drink a lot of this stuff. It’s got a savoriness that lets you sip it neat like bourbon, but it isn’t quite as heavy, so you can keep refilling that copita. Or, for a cold take, put it over ice with an equal amount of the aged rum of your choice for a drink I call "The Merman." Give it to your friends around a campfire and soon they won’t shut up about it.

Madre Ensamble Mezcal
Madre Ensamble is crafted to redefine the perception that all mezcal is overly smoky by balancing the flavors of Espadin and Cuishe agaves. It’s the perfect first taste for a new mezcal drinker, or a great everyday sipper for the mezcal aficionado. 45% abv.

I’m a veritable vessel snob. There, I said it. Wine is only wine if it’s in the right wine glass. Anything served in a mason jar should be poured out and back into the correct container. These acrylic glasses aren’t the right cup for anything, which means they’re the right cup for everything. Put Madre’s mezcal in it with some sparkling and a lime for a ranch water, whip up a round of Negronis for the pool, or sip on some spa water in the shade. 

West Elm Fluted Acrylic Glassware (Set of 4)
From his London studio, designer Aaron Probyn creates pieces that focus on materiality, proportion and a modern approach to minimalism.

This thing lives up to its name—it boils water fast. If I’m being honest, I use it more for making really good French press coffee in the great outdoors than for cooking food. Remember when you used to grab instant coffee packets for camping trips? Don’t do that anymore. Pre-grind your favorite beans, and take them car camping, backpacking, or wherever you like to drink really good coffee. Get the French press accessory here. Get the Sumo canister so everyone can get their fix at once.

Jetboil Flash Stove
Click on the Jetboil Flash Stove's easy-to-use ignition and hum a show tune—by the time you hit the second chorus (a hundred seconds), you'll have steaming hot delight.

At this point, YETIs are pretty much status symbols. When you own one, you are telling the world, "I like things to stay really cold and I will never need to purchase another cooler ever again." Bite the bullet on this heirloom-worthy ice chest, and the pain will subside alarmingly fast after that first sip of an ice-cold refreshment that feels like it was harvested from the arctic. YETI also sells a ton of great accessories, like this ice pack. Just don’t buy their dog bowl, because then you will be telling the world, "I like to waste money."

YETI Tundra 45 Hard Cooler
The YETI Tundra® 45 combines versatility with durability. This premium cooler is infused with that legendary YETI toughness — a durable rotomolded construction and up to two inches of PermaFrost™ Insulation.

I haven’t counted recently, but I might own 20 of these. They’re so lightweight, can be collapsed and shoved into the front pocket of your jeans, and come in a bunch of sizes, patterns, and colors. With a few of these you can pack an entire picnic for the gang. My favorites are the ones that look like plastic bags, because irony. Finally, you can leave your toxic relationship with plastic (or at least set better boundaries).

Baggu Standard Baggu
Our best selling reusable bag isn't just for the grocery store, it goes everywhere and hauls almost anything.  ...

This is the only soap you need to buy ever again. Put it in the shower, put it by the kitchen sink, or take a bottle backpacking in a TSA-friendly refillable container. The company’s "love vibes" might feel a little granola, but if you’ve ever gone to Burning Man (for the record, I haven’t), and thought to yourself, "I’ll never be clean again," their Mind and Body Wash is your ultimate solution. Unlike Dr. Bronner’s, however, which feels a little like it takes a layer of skin off, Bathing Culture’s soap is super easy on your body. And, it’s organic. Buy it by the gallon. Bathe with a friend.

Bathing Culture Mind and Body Wash
Respect yourself with our naturally radical, certified-organic, biodegradable soap that feels like jumping into a cold river on a hot day.

San Francisco isn’t always the warmest in summer. Though Mark Twain was perhaps being a bit dramatic with his well-known "The coldest winter I ever spent..." bit, it isn’t bad practice to keep a Pendleton blanket in the car for those cold and foggy days. If I’m off to the beach in a moment’s notice, there it is, ready to be unfurled. Pendleton’s reputation precedes them, but their wool blankets are warm, rugged, and timeless. 

Pendleton Glacier National Park Throw
Our top-rated National Park blanket, now perfectly sized for the sofa, chair or foot of the bed. This American-made wool throw blanket pays homage to Glacier National Park, in iconic stripes we've been weaving continuously since the early 1900s.

If you still haven’t figured out sunscreen, this is the answer. Supergoop’s solution rubs in easily, and comes with a 50 SPF rating (that means it’ll take 50 times longer for your skin to redden than if you weren’t wearing any sun protection). Purchase it in a large pump-top container, and set it by the door and forget it. Or, snag the very packable size for hikes, the beach, or the pool.

Supergoop! Play Everyday Lotion SPF 50 Sunscreen
What it is: A fast-absorbing, non-greasy, water- and sweat-resistant, reef-safe, broad-spectrum SPF 50 lotion for your face and body.

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