I asked my coworkers—the ruthless product interrogators at PopSci—what items they need to have with them at all times when they leave the house. Here is what they said:
“I carry a lot in my bag—aspirin, ibuprofen, bobby pins, bandaids—but none of them has been as widely appreciated as this blister tape. I’ve whipped it out for many a friend in pain and every single one of them has texted me later to ask where to buy it. This stuff stretches and squishes to fit any shape you need, adheres to itself to stay in place, yet doesn’t hurt when you pull it off later. It’s saved me from countless bloody heels and toes and I literally do not leave the house without it.” —Sara Chodosh
Nexcare™ Absolute Waterproof Tape. $15.
“Headphones are my first line of defense against the rest of the world, and I care about audio quality—but I also lose and burn through earbuds like crazy. Apple’s headphones don’t last two months in my purse. And ever since I busted a $150 pair in less than a year, I’ve stuck to headphones under the $20 mark. I found this pair through an online recommendation, and they’re exactly as good as I need my headphones to be: Not too delicate, easy to shove in a purse or a pocket, and really decent sound. Plus they stay put in my ears even when I’m working out, and they only cost 15 bucks” —Rachel Feltman
KZ ATE Sports Headphones. $15.
“This backpack is a game changer. The fold-over flap provides extra space for groceries. Works for long trips. Practically water proof. It’s got a spot for a laptop, loops for tying shit to or strapping your bike light onto. I pack it with: a Figure 9 carabiner with rope, a bungie cord, a Leatherman multi-tool, and an allen wrench.” —Tom McNamara
Patagonia Black Hole Backpack. $150.
“I am cursed (blessed?) with tiny lips, but what they lack in surface area, they make up for in being prone to getting chapped in all seasons. Lucky me! To combat their natural state of dry-ness, I always have a mini-tube of Aquaphor somewhere on my person. They come in convenient two-packs, so I have one for inside every purse and corner of my apartment and cubicle. I don’t know why it works so much better than other similar products, but it does. Another bonus is that it’s kryptonite for dry knuckles and cuticles.” —Molly Battles
Aquaphor Healing Ointment. $7 for 2.
“I’ve been loving my Jack Spade Nylon Site Messenger. My favorite feature? A small pocket on the front, closed with a zipper, that’s perfect for stashing an iPhone or AirPods.” —Rob Verger
Jack Spade Commuter Nylon Messenger Bag. $198.
“I’ve written about some things that I carry everyday in previous posts—my watch and my notebook—but since it’s summer, I’m about to break out my sunglasses. I am a klutz, so these sunglasses have helped prevent me from tripping all over the place when it’s super sunny out.” —Billy Cadden
Schwood Sunglasses. $129.
“I’m a HUGE audio nerd so I have very high standards when it comes to headphones. I got this pair last year and I’ve never looked back. In my opinion, the noise cancellation is impeccable, the audio quality is as high fidelity as it gets, and I’d argue this pair truly allows you to go wireless—you can skip and playback tracks by turning the wheel on the cans; play/pause on the left and accept phone calls on the right. Also, fun fact: the wireless expert at Plantronics created the Bluetooth 1.0 protocol, so they know a thing or two about wireless gear.” —Mallory Johns
Plantronics BackBeat PRO Wireless Headphones. $140.
“Floors in NYC are terrifying, so I never (ever) put my bag on them. Instead, I hang my bag off the back of a chair, or discreetly under the table.” —Corinne Iozzio.
ROFLYER Purse HookSet. $12 set of 3.
“I organize my whole life is in a paper planner. I buy a new one each year, and fill it up with daily to-do lists, appointments, reminders, important contact information, and more.” —Sophie Bushwick
“Here’s my Konica A4 that I always keep in my pocket. It’s broken on several occasions, but I’ve been able to fix it each time. These old fixed-lens compact cameras have incredible sharp lenses. The secondary market on compact film cameras has actually exploded in the past couple years, so the high-end ones like the Contax T3 and the Yashica T4 are really expensive again. This one tends to fly under the radar, but it has some nice features like a very solid flash, sharp lens, and close-focusing built-in.
I usually keep a roll of Kodak Ektar 100 film in it (which you can buy from Amazon!) because I like the way it handles color and I tend to use the flash most of the time anyway, so the slow 100 speed doesn’t really hinder me. I’m sure it’ll break one day but I have literally dozens of other little pocket film cameras I’ve picked up over the years that I can go to once it finally bites the dust.” —Stan Horaczek
“Listen I love (love) the Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker chapstick, but it’s not my go-to anymore. This stick by John Masters Organics is made with hearty, natural ingredients like sunflower seed oil, beeswax, jojoba seed oil, and peppermint oil. It smells amazing (but not too strong or sugary), soothes my cracked lips and knuckles, and sits nicely under lipstick.” —Amy Schellenbaum
John Master Organics Lip Calm. $12.
“I’m constantly on my phone and I don’t usually carry a bag or a wall charger. This charger is smaller than my iPhone so it’s nice to carry, and charges my phone pretty quickly. Oh and it works with iOS and Android.” —Jason Lederman
Mophie Powerstation Plus Mini External Battery. $47.
“My brother-in-law got me a CardNinja for Christmas, and it’s helped me consolidate the essentials in one place. Now, as long as I have my phone, I also have my credit card, ID, and subway card, no matter where I’m going. I probably carry way more cards in it than I need to, but it is a great alternative to a separate wallet.” —Mary Beth Griggs
CardNinja wallet. $7.
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