The items in this gift guide come with a personal recommendation from me because they embody attributes that I find desirable, and often times necessary, for someone who commutes primarily by bus. Whether you’re on the hunt for that perfect gift, or just window shopping, the items listed here are worth perusing. So what are your “must-have” items for being out in the elements, or on a journey by bus? If I’ve missed something important, leave your suggestions or tips in the comments below. Enjoy!
Their words: “Don’t just check the weather – see it. Prepare for your day with the most accurate hourly, 5-day, and 10-day forecasts. Stunning Flickr photos match your location, time of day, and current conditions. Get all the details: wind, pressure, and chance of precipitation. Experience weather conditions for rain, snow, fog and extreme heat with animated weather effects. See animated sunrise, sunset, wind, and pressure modules. Browse interactive maps: radar, satellite, heat, and snow. Track all your favorite cities and destinations! Twice daily notifications help you be prepared, whatever the weather.”
My thoughts: If there’s one thing that I use daily as a public transit commuter, it’s my weather app on my smartphone. The only problem is, I’m not really sure how you give someone an app that’s free. Email them the link? In any case, this app is just too cool not to share with fellow commuters. It’s by far the prettiest weather app I’ve found. It’s fun to look at, and just about as accurate as predicting the weather can be. Click here to download the app.
Their words: “Take me down to Knit Knit City, where the buildings are green and the yarns are pretty, oooh ohhh take me home! By Leslie Clerc. Double Duty Handles, this style also has a convenient shoulder length strap. Made with 95% post consumer recycled material. 15″h x 16″w x 6″d”
My thoughts: I’m pretty sure I’m a reusable bag hoarder. Not only because I forget them and have to buy new ones all the time, but because when I see something as cute as this, it’s too hard to resist. Being a knitter, I love that the image looks knitted and like the city has been yarn-bombed, and that there’s a lady on the bag actually knitting. The Blue Q website has a huge variety of other designs as well. Click here to buy the Knit City Shopper.
Their words: “Our Travel Wet/Dry Bag is the perfect size for on the go! PVC Free and Lead Free Zippers. Reusable to avoid using plastic bags, helping to protect our planet. Anti-microbial. Made in the USA. Perfect size for travel. Add to your purse or luggage to keep wet or breakable items separate from other items. Made with high quality designer fabrics with coordinating waterproof inner material and locking zipper. Each bag is innovatively sewn with hidden seams and sealed for no wicking or leaking. First and ONLY in the industry! Resists most stains odors – keeping smells in. Dimensions: 9.5 in. x 4.5 in.”
My thoughts: Okay, so yes, this is marketed toward parents with babies, and most of their other products are wet bags for diapers and wipes. However, it works great as a wet umbrella holder! It’s so great to be able to conceal your wet umbrella in a waterproof bag once you get onto the bus so it doesn’t get you, other people, or the bus seats wet. It’s sturdy, reusable, and better for the environment than using plastic bags that get thrown away. And it comes in so many awesome colors and patterns. Most compact sized umbrellas will fit, but make sure you measure your umbrella first, or buy one to fit. Click here for a great umbrella that fits nicely in this bag. And for parents of young children, their website is filled with other sizes and designs of waterproof bags that look amazingly useful. Click here to buy the Planet Wise wet bag.
Their words: “Whether you’re heading out for a short hike or giving a big presentation at work, the 18oz Kanteen® Classic holds enough to keep you hydrated, but also fits easily into your bag, pack or briefcase. Klean Kanteens are made from high quality, 18/8, food-grade stainless steel; totally free of BPA and other toxins. Because stainless steel itself is safe, we don’t need to coat the inside of the bottle with a plastic or epoxy lining, one of the main differences from aluminum bottles. Stainless caps are also available and all of our caps are BPA-free.”
My thoughts: It’s so important to me to always carry water for myself, and especially for my kids if they’re traveling with me. I’ve been using Klean Kanteen bottles for about 10 years. I’ve tried other brands and types of bottles, but Klean Kanteen remains my favorite. I even still have and use my original red water bottle from 10 years ago! My family owns many sizes of Klean Kanteen bottles, and even I have a couple of the insulated ones for hot and cold beverages. Click here to buy a Klean Kanteen bottle.
Their words: “The original Yaktrax design, Yaktrax Walk is a lightweight and easy to use ice-traction device. Perfect for pedestrians, professionals and the elderly, the Walk provides greater stability while walking on snow or ice. The Yaktrax Walk reduces the risk of falls and injuries while walking to school, work, or just to the mailbox! Easy on/easy off, spikeless winter traction.”
My thoughts: These could not have arrived at a more opportune time. Two days after my order arrived, Portland had our first cold snap of the season, with freezing rain and lots of icy sidewalks to navigate while walking to and from the bus stops. The YakTrax are easy to put on, and have a nice, snug fit. They made me feel so secure and stable walking on the ice. They are super lightweight so it’s a no-brainer to carry them around whenever there’s the possibility of snow or ice. Everyone that lives where it gets cold enough to freeze should have a pair of these! (Even if it is only a handful of day throughout the winter like here in Portland!) Click here to buy YakTrax.
Their words: “Wonder Woman is the most popular female comic-book superhero of all time. Aside from Superman and Batman, no other comic-book character has lasted as long. Like every other superhero, Wonder Woman has a secret identity. Unlike every other superhero, she also has a secret history.”
My thoughts: Everyone needs a good book to read on the bus. I’ve actually just started this one, and so far it’s great. Click here to read a review in the New York Times might help you decide if this is the right gift for someone on your list. Click here to buy The Secret History of Wonder Woman, by Jill Lepore.
Their words: “Black repurposed cotton with heathered gray cotton cuff and thumb. Single white flower appliqué and black stitching detail. We are a family business; from our heart we offer only the highest quality garments and accessories that we are proud of. We believe in giving back and donate a portion of our income to local schools and organizations. Flipside Hats are made from up-cycled and sustainably sourced materials. Each hat is hand-built with close attention to detail, design and quality. Our small team takes time with each hat, knowing it will become someone’s favorite.”
My thoughts: Flipside Hats is a local company here in Portland. I have not met the owners, but I have heard wonderful things about them, and that they are really great people. Their hats and accessories are so darling. I love, love, love these fingerless gloves. They come in a large variety of colors with different appliques. Everyone’s got at least a few people on their holiday gift list that would be thrilled to receive one of the Flipside creations. Click here to buy these handwarmers.
Flipside Hats is local to Portland! (4432 SE Belmont Street, Portland, OR 97215) Click here for the nearest bus stops.
Their words: “The Stainless Mug keeps beverages hot or cold for hours with its high quality vacuum insulation and a tight fitted flip-open lid. Durable and sanitary 18/8 stainless steel interior with SlickSteel® finish is corrosion resistant and repels stains. Safety lock to prevent the lid from opening accidentally. Compact design takes minimal space while maximizing capacity.”
My thoughts: I’m pretty sure this is the perfect travel mug. It doesn’t leak. It keeps beverages at whatever temperature they were when you put them in there, and for hours (like all day long!). It’s functional and easy to clean. If you leave something in it for a few days before washing it out it doesn’t leave a lingering funky smell. I think I’m in love. You can’t purchase directly from the company, but click here to visit them for more info on their products. Click here to buy the Zojirushi travel mug from REI.
Their words: “The GreenHEAT™ Hand Warmer/Charger 2 in 1 is an eco-friendly, rechargeable electronic solution to cold hands. Complete with convenient temperature selection and ability to charge your cell phone or other digital devices, there is no more need for disposable hand warmers littering the earth! Two temperature settings: 111°F (Low) & 120°F (High). High capacity battery holds a charge for 4-5 hours of use. Can be recharged more than 500 times. Multifunctional design also works as portable mobile phone charger. Will give approximately two full charges to most smart phones. Thermal conductive aluminum shield.”
My thoughts: This has saved me so many times when it was colder outside than I thought, or I had to wait longer for a bus than expected. This little device puts out some serious heat. I usually either slip it into my glove (and hold it close to my face!) or keep it and my hands my pockets. It’s also saved me a couple times while in commute when my cell phone was running low on battery power. This is probably the most useful two-in-one device I’ve ever owned. Click here to buy the DryGuy Hand Warmer.
Their words: “GustBuster’s Metro umbrella is the choice for people on-the-go. The Metro’s sheath doubles as a backpack or sling it over your shoulder. It’s strong too. It’s a GustBuster® only if it has the exclusive Raindrop-Shaped Wind Release Vents™. No other shape works as well. Award winning double canopy design. Wind tunnel certified to 55+ mph by the College of Aeronautics. Finest available 190 thread count nylon canopy — water, bleed and fade proof. Available in multiple colors.
My thoughts: This umbrella is a powerhouse. It’s everything they claim it to be. I no longer have to worry about my umbrellas flipping in high wind. It’s a bit larger than the super compact umbrellas, but its so worth the extra size when its blustery outside. This is by far the sturdiest umbrella I have ever owned. You can’t purchase directly from the company, but click here to visit them for more info on their products. Click here to buy the GustBuster Metro.
Their words: “The SE112 delivers great sound with deep bass and impressive sound isolation. The first step in an audio upgrade for portable digital devices, the SE112 features Sound Isolating sleeves in multiple sizes block outside noise up to 37 dB and provide a secure, comfortable fit. Evolved from personal monitor technology that’s been road-tested by pro musicians, the SE112 delivers detailed sound for personal listening or monitoring.”
My thoughts: It might take a minute to get used to these, as they don’t fit like most ear buds do (most notably how the wire drapes up and over your ear). But if you’re wearing them correctly, they fit better, and are way more comfortable than most stock earphones – and of course a huge upgrade over any stock earphones. You get what you pay for. The $49 pair are outstanding, and if you can believe it, they just keep getting better the more cash you are willing to spend. Click here to buy a pair of Shure Earphones.
Their words: “The Foundation LED glove is the best touch screen glove available and is designed with integrated LED lights on the knuckles. Light paired with reflectivity increases visibility in low-light conditions. Replaceable CR2016 batteries supply hours of clear, bright light. ALLTouch™ technology allows you to control your touch screen device with every finger without having to remove your gloves. QuantumHeat™ fabric provides warmth without the bulk and wicks moisture away from your skin to keep your hands dry and toasty. The soft fleece nose wipe on the index finger is also a convenient feature on cold winter days.”
My thoughts: I love products that are functional and provide a real service to me. This is easily one of the greatest items a public transit commuter can have in cold weather, and especially when it’s dark outside. It is so nice not to have to take off your gloves when you want to use your touchscreen phone. Additionally, the LED light on the gloves is perfect for turning on as your bus is approaching to make sure they see you at night if you’re at a poorly lit bus stop. Click here to buy the women’s gloves, and click here to buy the men’s gloves.
Their words: “The Bogs® Urban Walker is perfect for casual treks outdoors. Constructed with four way stretch Neo-Tech™ with a durable rubber overlay. Contoured fit with wider toe box and narrower heel for added comfort. Comfort rated from temperate to -20˚F with an enhanced non-slip outsole. All of this in a shoe that is as rugged as it is handsome. 100% Waterproof. Durable, hand-lasted rubber and a four way stretch inner bootie. Contoured EVA sockliner with Durafresh antimicrobial odor protection. Available in sizes 7-18.”
My thoughts: My family and I have been wearing Bogs for years. Never have I ever owned a pair Bogs that leaked. Granted with a low top show like this, if you submerge the entire shoe into water, you’re most likely going to get wet. But for casual urban streetwear, this is your jam. Click here to buy a pair of Urban Walker shoes.
Their words: “The Siren Sweetheart from our Premium Underwear range is made from our lightest, finest 150gm merino and can be worn solo or as a luxuriously soft under layer all year round. 96% merino wool, 4% Lycra. Slim fit. Ultra lightweight, a touch of LYCRA® for a great fit, naturally odor-resistant, breathable. Flattering sweetheart neckline. Nature-inspired prints.”
My thoughts: I love this top! I use it as a base layer in cold weather. I often wear natural fibers, and if wool is going to be against my skin, it’s got to be a soft wool like the merino that’s used in this Icebreaker. It’s warm but breathable. Soft and stretchy, and just feels good. Click here to buy an Icebreaker Siren base layer.
Their words: “This Oasis Crewe is designed for hiking or travelling in cool conditions, with an anti-chafe design and a distinctive, horn-meets-DNA strand graphic—part of our artists series featuring snow artist Simon Beck. 100% merino wool. Slim fit. Lightweight, naturally odor resistant, breathable. Set-in sleeves for wide range of motion. Anti-chafe flatlock seams. Offset shoulder seams prevent pack rub. Drop tail hem for added coverage.”
My thoughts: My manfriend that tested this out for me described it as “ridiculously comfortable.” Also, it’s soft and warm. Make sure to note the care instructions. It is wool, so hang drying is advised. Click here to buy the Men’s Oasis Crewe base layer.
Their words: “A slim and stylish companion bag that offers one-of-a-kind patterns and graceful lines for a more understated, urban look. Its waterproof design, adjustable strap, variety of interior pockets, and velcro flap are perfect for taking you from the office to date night as easy as water off a ducks back. This bag is a great everyday bag. It’s a bit smaller than the messenger bag but just big enough to store all your cargo. Optional design elements allow you to make it your own. Black Star Bags are handmade in Portland and fully customizable.”
My thoughts: Something that makes an awesome bag like this one even more awesome is when it’s created and manufactured locally, not only here in the US, but in my own city. And the folks at Black Star Bags are just darn good people – the kind you just really want to support. I’ve checked out a lot of their products, but on of the things I love most about this Black Star sidebag is that it’s smaller than a lot of the other messenger bags out there. I will often times bring my laptop with me on my commute, in addition to a separate purse, and the sleek design of this bag feels so natural and easy to carry, whether I’m wearing it across my body or on one shoulder. And they’re very accommodating, so take advantage of their customization. Click here to buy a Black Star Sidebag.
Black Star Bags is local to Portland! (2033 SE Hawthorne, Portland, OR 97214) Click here for the nearest bus stops.
Their words: “Duck Inspired, Mid Height, Waterproof Boot. Offered with Quilted Cire Detailing. Rawhide Lacing with Rust Proof Eyelets for Secure Fit. Micro-Fleeced Lining Provides Warmth Under Foot. Non-Marking Rubber Lugged Outsole with Wave-Siping for Ultimate Wet/Dry Traction.”
My thoughts: Sometimes rain boots can feel sloppy and uncomfortable. But not Sperry boots. Every Sperry I’ve ever tried has been one of the most comfortable rain boots I’ve worn, and these are no exception. And I love that these are offered in such a variety of colors to fit many styles. Red for a pop of color. Slick black for a “matches everything” go-to boot. They’re very comfortable and not too stiff. Easy to put on and take off. My feet stay warm and dry. And super stylish to boot! Click here to buy the Sperry Saltwater Duck Boots.
Article by Stephanie Paris