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? I’d love to hear your suggestions or tips in the comments below. Enjoy! (And if you missed it, check out my Holiday Gift Guide for Public Transit Commuters Part I: $0 – $100)
Their words: “The Anchorage Boot offers the warmth and all-season traction of a winter pack boot. It boasts a handsome leather upper and an aggressive dual climate rubber outsole – enabling this hiking boot to stand up to harsh conditions with a clean look. 200g KEEN.Warm™ insulation. 4mm multi directional lugs. Dual climate non-marking rubber outsole. Gore stretch panel for easy on and off and added comfort. Injection molded EVA midsole. KEEN.DRY ™ waterproof breathable membrane. Removable thermal heat shield footbed. TPU stability shank. Waterproof nubuck leather upper.”
My thoughts: I chose to feature these because a friend of mine has them, and not only did he mention to me how comfortable they are, but they also look really great. Check out the link to Keen’s website to see a really cool feature where you can preview what the boots will look like when worn with a variety of pants. The Anchorage Boots are very sturdy, waterproof, and warm. Perfect for the upcoming cold, rainy winter. Click here to buy the Keen Anchorage Boots.
Keen is local to Portland! (505 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209) Click here for the nearest bus stops.
Their words: “A cozy and extra large scarf from our exclusive reflective knitwear collection, crafted using locally sourced wools and designed in a closed loop to ensure your scarf stays in place at all times. Large enough to be wrapped three times for a cozy snood style or twice for a loose gentleman look all year around. Its technology reflects light, ensuring you are visible when a car approaches. A trendy unisex design for all ages and particularly trendy to ensure grandpa is visible on the streets when walking the dog in the evening.”
My thoughts: Reflective knitwear is one of the best inventions ever. In normal light, there’s nothing unusual about the scarf. But when it’s dark and a bright light is shined on it (like the bus’s headlights as it approaches your dark bus stop!) the reflective bits in the scarf become super bright and ensure that you are seen. This is not only great for ensuring your visibility to bus drivers while waiting at a dark bus stop, but also to other cars if you have much walking to do on your route. In addition to the reflective knitwear, this British website has a ton of other really cool reflective products. At the time of publication, they offer free worldwide shipping on orders over $78. Click here to buy something from the LFLECT Reflective Knitwear collection.
Their words: “WiFi shouldn’t be something you have to hunt for. It should just follow you wherever you go. Karma puts reliable WiFi in your pocket and keeps all your devices connected to the internet. Your data never expires, you never pay for anything you don’t use. It’s $14/GB. Like a gas tank, top it off when you run low. Pluse it’s contract-free. But the best part is the monthly plan: there isn’t one. One power button, no wires. Karma Go turns a cellular connection into your own personal WiFi signal. Your laptop, tablet, and phone wirelessly connect to crazy-fast internet.”
My thoughts: I’m super excited about this product. At this time, you can pre-order the Karma Go, and it will ship early 2015. This little device (about 2 1/2 inches square) will be my new best friend on the bus in the new year. It’s super fast, and the coverage maps look great. Sometimes my commute is an hour or so depending on traffic, so that gives me a good chunk of work time. I usually use my iPhone during my commute, but for some things I would really prefer to use a laptop or tablet. Having portable WiFi is a game changer. Click here to pre-order your Karma Go and take advantage of the $50 off Cyber Week savings.
Their words: “Brrr! Cold weather-ready with luxurious winter touches, the Wapato Tall WP women’s winter boot is the snowbunny essential. A combination suede and full-grain leather upper on this warm winter boot for women highlights the rustic-luxe styling. Whether you’re in an ice-castle or strolling the city streets, you’ll stay dry and comfortable thanks to the waterproof seam-sealing, faux fur lining and our 200g KEEN.WARM insulation. KEEN.Cush footbed. Non-marking rubber outsole. Waterproof suede and nubuck leather upper.”
My thoughts: I think I’m in love. I was in need of a really great, warm, waterproof boot for winter, and these Keen Wapato boots are exactly what I was looking for. I’m all about functionality when it comes to choosing a winter boot, and that trumps all else. However, one reason why I love Keen so much is that in addition to their superior quality of products, somehow they are able to create just about the cutest winter boots on the market. I wear skirts a lot, and these Wapato tall boots look great without looking too utilitarian. It’s been hard for me to want to wear anything else since they arrived. Click here to buy a pair of the Keen Wapato Tall Boots.
Keen is local to Portland! (505 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209) Click here for the nearest bus stops.
Their words: “Pacific Standard Purse by Bridge & Burn, part of our new series of domestically manufactured goods. Waxed cotton hobo style purse lined with navy tick fabric. Features brass full zip main compartment with two side compartments with snaps and interior key clip. Adjustable 1” shoulder strap. 13″ x 11″ x 4″ Founded in 2009 and based in Portland, Oregon, Bridge & Burn creates apparel for people who appreciate the clean, well crafted, and functional. Taking inspiration from everyday life, our aesthetic is anchored in quiet confidence and make-it-your-own versatility. Great fits combine with remarkable, distinctly utilitarian details, culminating in clothing that’s made to be worn and a pleasure to wear.”
My thoughts: Waxed cotton is a high-performance fabric and a brilliant alternative to other synthetic materials. Living in the northwest and commuting by bus, things can get pretty wet. Keeping the items in your purse dry is essential, and this purse performs well in wet weather. I love the understated, confident style that Bridge & Burn exudes. This piece in particular is very comfortable to carry. The strap is nice and wide, and it’s adjustable. Although I don’t know that it’s meant to be, I sometimes wear it across the body, however it sits a little higher than some crossbody bags. Bridge & Burn also makes a fantastic line of jackets and coats. Click here to buy the Pacific Standard Waxed Cotton Purse.
Bridge & Burn is local to Portland! (1122 SW Morrison St., Portland, OR 97205) Click here for the nearest bus stops.
Their words: “A chic, versatile tote bag. Use as a working tote or fold over for a more casual messenger bag look. In our signature Washed Nylon Twill with full-grain leather accents and silver-tone hardware. Cotton top handles. Detachable, adjustable cotton crossbody strap. Exterior zip pocket and two slip pockets with magnetic closures. Main compartment has zipper closure. Interior includes three slip pockets, a zipper pocket and a key clip. Fits a standard 13” laptop computer. Bottom is padded for protection.”
My thoughts: I have a rotating collection of handbags that I change up often (sometimes weekly), but ever since the Ellington Mia Folding Tote came into my life, I haven’t been able to let it out of my sight. It is simply gorgeous, without being too flashy. I love its versatility and its sleek and sophisticated personality. I often times carry it tote-style, but it’s great to have the option to sling it across my body for hands-free action. It’s a great size, and if your laptop or tablet is 13 inches or less, there’s no need to carry a purse and a laptop bag. The Mia tote has all your bases covered. If the pop of red color is too dramatic for you, the more subdued olive green or black versions are available on their website as well. Click here to buy the Ellington Mia Folding Tote.
Ellington is local to Portland! (1211 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210). Click here for the nearest bus stops.
Their words: “Warmer. Lighter. Stronger. Our new RealFLEECE™ has merino fiber wrapped around a nylon core, then brushed to maximize warmth and softness. With a hint of LYCRA®, the Sierra fits like a charm and is built for performance—and keeps out the cold when you’re hiking, skiing or sightseeing. 86% merino wool, 10% nylon, 4% LYCRA®. Lightweight, naturally odor resistant, breathable. Secure zippered chest pocket with media port. Internal storm flap keeps out the cold. Secure zippered hand pockets.”
My thoughts: This is not your grandfather’s wool jacket. This jacket is so lightweight, soft, and warm, I’m just not sure how Icebreaker does it. The fabric is thin, so it’s great for layering in colder weather when you know you’re going to be outside. The Sierra Zip Jacket has such a classic look, it’s a piece that can be worn for many years and never go out of style. It looks casual when it needs to, but doesn’t ever look sloppy. It’s the kind of go-to jacket every guy should have. Click here to buy the Icebreaker Men’s Sierra Zip Jacket.
Their words: “Lighter. Warmer. Stronger. Our Cascade Zip is made with Icebreaker RealFLEECE™, which features a nylon core, making it warmer and lighter than ever—plus a touch of LYCRA® for superior stretch and recovery. The result? It’s one of our best-fitting midlayers ever. 86% merino wool, 10% nylon, 4% Lycra. Secure zippered hand pockets. Zippered stash chest pocket with media cord port. Raglan sleeves for freedom of movement. Drop tail hem for extra coverage.”
My thoughts: After seeing the men’s Icebreaker Sierra Zip Jacket, I’m so happy there is a female counterpart. The Women’s Cascade Zip Jacket fits like a glove and is so soft and warm. I love the colors, and the gentle stretch of the fabric is like a soft embrace. On days that I wear this jacket, I often stay in it all day. I can get hot easily, but somehow the breathability of this jacket has a way of regulating my temperature. Instead of getting too hot, I just feel cozy. Highly recommended. Click here to buy the Icebreaker Women’s Cascade Zip Jacket.
Their words: “iPhone 6 isn’t simply bigger — it’s better in every way. Larger, yet dramatically thinner. More powerful, but remarkably power efficient. With a smooth metal surface that seamlessly meets the new Retina HD display. It’s one continuous form where hardware and software function in perfect unison, creating a new generation of iPhone that’s better by any measure. iPhone 6 features an A8 chip built on second-generation 64-bit desktop-class architecture. Its incredible power is enhanced by an M8 motion coprocessor that efficiently measures your activity from advanced sensors, including a new barometer. So you can do more, for longer periods of time, with better performance and battery life. iPhone 6 has faster LTE download speeds. It has more LTE bands than any other smartphone. iPhone 6 supports more advanced wireless technologies to boost performance and help you connect to the things — and people — that matter most.”
My thoughts: I’ve tried a lot of phones over the years, but I am definitely an iPhone girl. Each time I think I’m not going to give in when a new version comes out, I always do. And I’m always glad I did. The specs above pretty much say it all. It’s a good lookin’ phone, and even though it’s a little bigger, you get used to it, just like anything. My iPhone has kept me busy on the bus for many years, and even when I have the option of using a tablet or laptop, sometimes I just like the intimacy of something handheld instead. Click here to buy the iPhone 6.
Their words: “Built for the city, the Walker Laptop Backpack easily transitions from public transit, to the office, to drinks while carrying and protecting your MacBook. Rugged waxed canvas, heavy duty zippers, and leather trims are tough as nails and get better with age, so you can wear the Walker with abandon. Comfortable shoulder straps, a refined liner, and an easy access front pocket make it a practical but luxe choice for everyday use. Internal organizer for pens, phones, and other small stuff. Side pocket fits umbrella or expands to fit most water bottles. Contoured shoulder straps and padded back panel designed for comfort. Genuine leather binding and trim. Premium liner fabric with a soft surface finish. Waxed 14oz canvas body is water resistant and looks better with age. Laptop compartment fits up to 15″ MacBook Pro as well as an iPad in a separate pocket.”
My thoughts: Aside from how fantastically practical this backpack is, I love that it looks amazing on a man or a woman. There seems to be a pocket for everything, including an internal laptop compartment. The waxed canvas is water-resistant, and the leather accents add a sophisticated charm. Here is another example of the concept, “you get what you pay for.” This backpack may cost a bit more than some others on the market, but you’ll be receiving is a high quality, attractive, functional bag that looks better with age, yet always looks timeless. Click here to buy the Timbuk2 Walker Laptop Backpack.
Their words: “Express yourself with an HD 14-inch diagonal screen in a slim package, styled in a vibrant range of color options. The latest-generation NVIDIA fanless processor and a solid state drive give you speed, power, and performance, with battery life that lasts. Conveniently store up to 100GB of your files and content with the included 2-years of Google Drive access. Access popular Google Cloud apps and work on documents independently or collaboratively. Search, stream, chat, and more for hours without recharging. The smooth contours are blended into a thin form – less than an inch closed (.7 inch), while weighing an appreciable 3.75 lbs. Chromebooks run Chrome OS for a fast, simple, secure Internet experience. Enjoy the nuances of face-to-face conversations, thanks to the HP TrueVision HD Webcam. Full High Definition capacitive touch display. Clear audio is delivered through digitally-tuned speakers, while an audio jack is available for either a microphone or headset.”
My thoughts: For me, this is the best personal computer for public transit commuting. It’s relatively small, super lightweight, slim, very quiet, and the battery life is exceptional. This computer is best for those that do a lot of internet based work, and if you’re fine storing large files of information either in a cloud or on an external hard drive that you can access when necessary. For me, that’s perfect, especially the $300 price tag. Click here to buy the HP Chromebook 14.
Article by Stephanie Paris