You're going to see a ton of gift guides this season and many of them will be quite comprehensive, many will be the same, and many of them will have and endless pit of ideas that it pretty much defeats the purpose of being a "guide." We wanted to take a slightly different approach and cover the "keepers" as we like to call them. We won't be talking about a smartphone that you'll likely replace in two years. This will be more about the essentials, smarter investments, the ones that will last for years and sometimes even a lifetime.
A Great Pair of Speakers
The bluetooth speaker onslaught has no end in sight, but when it comes to audio, a great pair of good ol' analog two-channel speakers will not only do the job, but sound better than most options out there. You've got quite a few options out there, but we tend to like Audio-Engine's fuss-free units ($469) that are sure to please casual listeners and audiophiles alike.
Tip: Get the most out of your hi-fi setup with services like Tidal which give you all the conveniences of your favorite music streaming site, but with high fidelity audio.
The Ultimate Suitcase
As much as we love hard-sided metal suitcases, Pelican's ProGear Luggage (From $395) is a suitcase you won't have to worry about baggage handlers mishandling. There's a reason why Pelican is one of the most trusted names when protecting professional equipment on the road and their suitcases are built with the same protection in mind. You'll have peace of mind from lazy baggage handlers and potential weather damage. The ProGear line is ready to take some serious abuse and get you around the world with all your gear safe and sound no matter where you're going.
The Ink-less Pen
A text or an e-mail will aways be incredibly convenient, but nothing compares to pen and paper. Pininfarina, the same company who's helped Ferrari design many of its most famous cars has teamed up with a studio called Napkin to create a sleek, ink-less writing instrument that uses a special Ethergraf tip that oxidizes the paper rather than using ink or lead, allowing you to write forever without ever refilling.
Alternatively: If you lean more toward the traditional route, take a look at Kaweco, a German pen manufacturer that has been producing some of the country's best writing instruments for over a hundred years.
When it comes to eyewear, Oakley hasn't stopped innovating and one of their latest frames is one of the most impressive yet. Tincan (From $240) is a frame made from rugged stainless steel and features a unique, unconventional hinge at the temple that has a hub-less design with no screws to wear or fall out. You can even get the frame with carbon fiber earstems for an even lighter and stronger frame.
We also like: Native Sons, a collection of hand-crafted Japanese frames feature an incredible amount of detail and a beautiful use of premium materials. With their lightweight titanium construction, tension balanced temples, and unique frame finishes, these glasses are some of the best frames out there.
The Work Boot
There's a reason why Red Wings have undergone a big resurgence in the last few years. Its a style that looks great whether you're on the field or in the city and it's a shoe you can always count on for years and years of wear. Their resoling and restoration department is ready and waiting for when your boots need a refresh. A good pair of boots looks incredible with years and years of use and a pair of Red Wings will certainly deliver on that. You can check a post on the whole process at ACL to see just how it works.
We also like: Jack Erwin. Luxury footwear at a not-so-luxurious price. The company offers beautifully-crafted shoes, Made in Spain, with quality on-par with shoes that are 2-3x the price.
A Full-Frame Camera
You can now get image resolution in a camera that rivals anything you see in a multi-page spread in National Geographic. Sony's A7 (From $1,300) series has become a favorite amongst enthusiasts and pros alike for its price and full-frame sensor (12-36MP) that is packed in a body that is dramatically smaller than the rest of the competition. And with all the megapixels available to you, you won't have to worry every year about the newest models because trust us, you don't need more megapixels. Just ask the incredibly capable iPhone 6's camera and that's just 8 megapixels.
Alternatively: Go old school and try a film camera. You can get a versatile Nikon F3 that is capable of shooting incredible images for a couple hundred bucks...And don't worry about 35mm film going the way of the dinosaurs, it'll be sticking around for some time.
A Great Bottle of Whisky
You can never go wrong with a great bottle of whisky. And Dewar’s has a limited-edition gift for the ages. DEWAR'S 15 Blended Scotch Whisky is a blend of very rare vintage single malt and single grain scotch whiskies. The blend is then married in oak casks for a light, velvety finish. Look for notes of honey and golden toffee, hints of exotic fruits and citrus and subtle, flora aroma. It’s only available for a limited time. Give wisely.