Chantal Stainless Steel Travel Mug

I have been using the Chantal travel mug for 6 months. The attribute that set it apart is that you can drink the liquid anywhere around the rim. Most, if not all, travel mugs have a single exit for the liquid. It is dishwasher safe, easy to disassemble and keeps the liquid at a consistent temperature for a long time.

-- Wayne Biermann  

Chantal Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Available from Amazon

OXO Angled Measuring Jigger

About a year ago I bought the OXO Angled Measuring Jigger to use for mixing up cocktails. The jigger is made of stainless steel, so it’s virtually indestructible and easy to clean. Inside it has an angled surface with all the measurements — in both tablespoons and ounces (and half ounces) — so it’s easy to get an accurate measurement. The spout also makes it easy to pour into you shaker or glass of choice. And I have to mention the best part — it’s around $7.

-- Julie Anderson  

OXO Steel Angled Measuring Jigger

Available from Amazon

Electric Boot Dryer

I’m an avid year-round hiker, and New England weather often leaves my boots wet at the end of the day from a combination of perspiration and the elements. Drying boots in the winter-time is less of an issue if you have heat source such as a stove, but it’s important to use only low heat. Recently a friend told me he had used an electric boot dryer for many years that worked over night. I looked on Amazon and settled on this one and have been very pleased with the results. The dryer is rated for 36 Watts and circulates warm air by convection, so there no noise and little to wear out – this unit came with a 30-year guarantee. It does not come with an On/Off switch, but a switchable power strip solves that problem.

-- Kevin Rooney  

MaxxDry SD Boot, Shoe and Glove Dryer

Available from Amazon

NuGuard GripStand 3

[UPDATE – ITEM IS CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK ON AMAZON.] I have tried many cases for my iPad but the NuGuard GripStand 3 is by far my favorite. It is composed of a protective case and a handle that acts as the base. The outside shell consists of a hard plastic with several parts sculpted out to permit access to all the ports and buttons on your iPad as well as a spot to connect your Apple Smart Cover, if you have one. I appreciate the large slots and spaces on the sides of the case to insert any plugs. (Some cases have too tight a fit and plugs like the Apple iPad Camera Connection kit can’t attach properly. This results in the iPad having to be removed from the case before the plug can be used.)

The inside of the shell is a rubberized material that creates a good suction fit to hold the iPad in place. Don’t attach the stand until you have the iPad secured in the case. I found that the insertion process worked better when the large space at the back was open. It probably helped to create the proper suction, allowing the air to be squeezed out from behind the iPad. This also explains the purpose of all those holes on the rubberized interior of the case.

It is advisable to check that the iPad is securely attached. This is my only concern with this case. Most cases wrap around not only the back and sides but also a bit on the front so that the iPad can’t slip out of the case. There is no overlapping front face grip. I can understand why it was built this way. This construction allows the Smart Cover to lie flat over the face. To remove any doubts I had about the suction hold of the case, I have held the iPad upside down over a couch and tried to shake it free. The suction has held every time I tried to get it to fall free. I guess if you are worried about how secure it is, you can periodically test the grip.

The GripStand’s handle can be swiveled 360° and positioned at virtually any angle for viewing and typing needs. It kind of locks in the four main positions (landscape or portrait), which is convenient when using it as a stand. The GripStand is quite stiff when you attempt to change the viewing angle. This means that whatever angle you decide on, the iPad stays right there. So many other cases I have tried were either limited in the angles or tended to slip and change their angle as you touched and tapped away at them. This is why the GripStand is a great aid for using and typing on the iPad.

It is also a highly effective one hand grip so you can use your iPad 2 while standing or walking. I was surprised at how handy this was. It was a lot easier carrying the iPad while holding on to the base and it kept my oily hands away from the screen. The handle can be rotated to use as a hook to hang your iPad 2 on a wall. The handle allows you to carry the iPad 2 like a briefcase.

-- Marcel Dufresne  

NuGuard GripStand 3 & GripBase Bundle

Available from Amazon

Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) Screwdrivers

I read the recent post on Wiha drivers (they are excellent) and noticed readers are using them for laptop maintenance, but this is what you really want. Japanese Industrial Standard (JIS) drivers which have a sharper cross on them than normal Phillips. Most electronics and lenses will use this head and the correct drivers make a huge difference.

-- Sean Charlesworth  

JIS Type S Driver Set, Pollicis 4Pc

Available from Amazon

Skrapr Surface Scraper

I found this tool at the register of a local hardware store a few years ago. I clean the kitchen after my wife cooks and had never found a good tool to scrape food from the bottom of the pan without causing damage.

The Skrapr is made of a hard plastic resin with a sharp, durable edge. It is also great for removing debris from glass cooktops. Some of the Amazon reviews complain that it does not work well on cast iron. I can’t comment on that, but for aluminum and steel pots that do not have a non-stick coating, it works great.

-- Tom Karches  

Skrapr 2-piece surface scraper

Available from Amazon


VIDEO: Milwaukee Inkzall and Sharpie Pro Markers Review and Comparison

What’s the best permanent marker to use on wet, oily, rough, or dusty surfaces? This Tool Craze video tests a regular Sharpie, a Sharpie Pro, and a Milwaukee Inkzall pen on different kinds of surfaces. No single pen is a clear winner (though when it comes to price the Sharpies are about 1/3 the cost of the Inkzall). You should choose a pen based on where you’ll be using it.

Results summary:


1st place: Regular Sharpie (darkest, most solid ink)

2nd place: Milwaukee Inkzall (ink is a little purplish, but adequately dark)

3rd place: Sharpie Pro (a little faded, compared to the Inkzall, but still ok)


1st place: Milwaukee Inkzall

2nd place: Sharpie Pro

3rd place: Regular Sharpie (a close 3rd)


3-way tie (all three smeared)


1st place: Sharpie Pro (did not smear, the other two pens smeared)


3-way tie (all 3 smeared when first applied)


3-way tie (ink dried on contact)


3-way tie (all three aced the test)


1st place: Milwaukee Inkzall

2nd place: Sharpie Pro

3rd place: Regular Sharpie (easily wiped off)


1st place: Regular Sharpie

2nd place: Milwaukee Inkzall

3rd place: Sharpie Pro (easy to wipe off completely)


1st place: Sharpie Pro

2nd place: Milwaukee Inkzall (left a faint mark)

3rd place: Regular Sharpie (left no mark)


1st place: Sharpie Pro (tip very durable)

2nd place tie: Milwaukee Inkzall and Regular Sharpie (worn down to nub)

-- Mark Frauenfelder  

Sharpie Fine Point Permanent Markers
$6 / Dozen

Sharpie Pro Fine Point Permanent Markers
$8 / Dozen

Milwaukee Inkzall Jobsite Fine Point Black Permanent Marker
$28 / Dozen

Spyderco Bug Knife

I have carried this tiny knife for a few years, connected to a Photon Freedom micro light (another cool tool I heartily recommend over the oft recommended Microlight II) for the world’s smallest EDC (Every Day Carry) set. A knife and light combo will cover 95% of any odd daily task I encounter while working in an office and lab environment. This knife is the perfect size for professional office dress. It disappears in my pocket until I need it.

It is the smallest knife I have ever found and is just big enough for general scraping, tiny hole poking, and little thing slicing you need to do on a daily basis. It does not have a lock mechanism, but as long as you know that, you can use it in a way that will not cause it to close. It is stainless steel, so it is tough and corrosion resistant.

I recently lost my Bug knife and confirmed what I already knew: that I could not do without it for even a week. It costs only $6 (plus $4 shipping) at ($12 on Amazon) so it is a bargain.


-- Mark Nordhaus  

Spyderco Bug knife

Available from Amazon

Johnson & Johnson First Aid To Go

I’ve used these mini first aid kits for almost a decade now, and keep coming back to them because of their availability and practicality. They’re small (the plastic case is about 4″ square by 1″ thick) and contain a starter amount of bandages, gauze pads, and alcohol wipes. I add a 0.5 oz tube of antiseptic ointment and a few more bandages as needed. They stay in my toiletry kit, in my day pack, and in both vehicles, and I’m always glad to have them at hand.

They’re easy to find at most grocery, discount retail, and pharmacy chains in the U.S. for a buck or two.

-- Patrick Leffas  

Johnson & Johnson First Aid To Go!

Available from Amazon

Tabletote Plus

I’m an independent musician who does a lot of touring, and in order to turn a profit I have to travel light. I use a small table on stage for my equipment, but I often travel by plane so every pound and inch counts. Many times I’ve been foraging through a club before the show trying to find some kind of table because it’s often not feasible for me to bring my own.

For this purpose I recently purchased the Tabletote Plus, a table I can travel with that’s extremely light and entirely collapsible.

– The telescoping legs and attachments store underneath the table surface and can easily be stored in my backpack with plenty of space left over. I’ve never seen a table this tall fit into such a tight package. (Sharpie for size reference)


– The maximum height is 30″ which almost reaches my waist. They also have a taller version but this works for what I need it for.

– It even comes with little attachments for my beer and smartphone, as well as clips for holding up notes if I wanted.

– The cost won’t break the bank.

– The table is made entirely from plastic, the website says it can hold up to 18lbs, but I’d stay under 15lbs to be safe. On the plus side it makes it extremely light for traveling.

Tabletote Plus

Available from Amazon