It’s a little over a month until Father’s Day, so if Dad has been extra good this year and you feel like digging deep, these are some great upscale gifts to consider. I’ll do a less pricy gift guide shortly.
If Dad loves whiskey, I also just did another gift guide, 5 Exceptional Whiskies For Father’s Day 2017.
Giant Anthem Advanced 1 27.5 Mountain Bike: If dad rides and his wheels are more than 3-4 years old, he is probably ready for an upgrade, as a lot has changed in the world of mountain bike technology. When I decided to return to mountain biking this season after several years of purely road and gravel riding, I did research, and this is the model I chose. It’s a brand-new 2017 version of the already very popular Anthem that features many of the latest and greatest innovations in off-road riding. After a few years of shifting wheel size (from 26-29 inches), the dust seems to have settled leaving 27.5 inches as the ideal combination of big but not too big for maximum performance for most riders in most conditions. As the largest manufacturer of quality bikes in the world, vertically integrated Giant controls costs and is known for offering a lot of bang for the buck, and this is no exception: This full suspension bike has a high-end carbon fiber composite frame and a first-rate component group, Shimano DEORE XT 11-speed, just one small step in quality and one big step in price below the top XTR. It has Fox shocks front (120mm travel) and rear (110mm) and hydraulic (better than mechanical) disc brakes. The new Anthem Advanced 1 is lighter than its predecessor and features a redesigned rear suspension with all-new shock and forged composite rocker arm for added strength and stiffness, and the wheels have wider hub spacing for increased stiffness. I’ve been loving it – this is a fast, cross country ride that is equally well suited for racing or just enjoying the trails ($4,950).
2013 Rubicon, Napa Valley: Rubicon is a wine that’s easy to love, and if Dad is a wine guy, chances are he will crack a big smile when he sees this. It is the flagship of the many high quality labels under the umbrella of famed filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, who purchased the historic Inglenook estate in 1975 and ever since has been hellbent on returning it to its former glory – this has long been one of America’s most acclaimed wines. I’ve always been a fan, but recent vintages are the best in decades, and garnering high acclaim: in a recent New York Times piece, the paper’s wine writer Eric Asimov commented on the recent quality spike and said “The ’13 is dense but fresh and vibrant, pure Napa in the sense that red fruit flavors dominate, but with complex, earthy, spicy accents, great finesse and lovely balance.” 2013 was an exceptional year for Napa’s Rutherford, and this is a rare 100% cabernet sauvignon (most “cabs” are not, despite the label), the “big” cab people think of when they think of the best examples of Napa style. It’s dark, dense ad great now, but will get even better for years to come. The 2013 Inglenook Rubicon is $210 a bottle, but its Father’s Day, so you could go big and fire up a case, or a dramatic large format version like a Magnum (1.5L, $500), Double Magnum, (3L, $1,090), Methuselah (6L, $2,350) or Salmanazar (9L, $3,780).
Allen Brothers Prime Steak: Less than 4% of all steak graded in this country gets the highest rating, USDA Prime – and a lot of steak is not graded at all. Traditionally Prime has been reserved for the highest-end steak houses and specialty butchers, and one of the most famous of the latter is Allen Brothers, a decorated Chicago retailer of the finest prime beef, as well as veal, lamb, pork and seafood since 1893. Allen Brothers provides beef for several notable restaurant and steakhouse brands including Gallagher’s, Nick & Sam’s and Hall’s Chophouse. Not only does the company source excellent grain fed Prime beef, but they carry both wet and the even more desirable and harder to find dry aged version, as well as grass fed beef. They also retail otherwise hard to find cuts like long bone rib eye steaks – aka Tomahawk steaks. A pair of dry aged monsters weighing around two pounds each runs $250. But Father’s Day is nearly the start of summer, which means outdoor cooking season, and what Dad really wants is the Dry Aged Prime Griller’s Choice package, eight stellar steaks, with two each of 14-ounce bone in strips, 14-ounce boneless strips, 20-ounce porterhouses, and my fave, 20-ounce bone-in rib steaks ($440).
Traeger Timberline Pellet Grill: He needs something to cook those Prime steaks on. I just covered this in my recent 5 Great Grills for 2017 article, but once is not enough, as I love pellet grills, and this new one delivers tremendous bang for the buck. Pellet grills are do-it-all devices that led Dad smoke real honest to goodness low and slow Southern barbecue – we’re talking 16-hour brisket, perfect ribs, tender pulled pork, all that stuff. But it can also cook steaks or burgers at up to 500°, and it does both very precisely at the touch of a button using a computer controlled thermostat, all with real wood. Dad can put dry rubs on his ribs, pop them in, go play golf, come home, and chow down, without sacrificing an iota of quality – it’s really that simple. He can even change the temp from his smartphone while out on the course with the grill’s app. Traeger literally invented the pellet grill nearly 30 years, and until now, most models this good have cost roughly twice as much. The Timberline comes in two sizes and was the most anticipated new grill of 2017 – released 5 weeks ago it quickly sold out from the company’s site, but retailers still have some. Splurge $300 more ($2,000) for the bigger 1300 model. One of the cool new design features is an oval, higher body that holds three cooking racks with a stunning 1,300 square inches of cooking space. That’s a lot for any grill, and easily the most in this class.
Yeti Cooler: When it comes to icy things, there are coolers, and then there are Yeti coolers, famously insulated, and so tough they are certified bear resistant for camping. They are so renowned in the outdoor gear community that it is hard to believe the company is only 11 years old – founded by a family of hunters, fishermen and adventurers who tired of flimsy things and wanted a cooler that was not just super-efficient in insulation, but could be used as a seat, a stool and dragged behind a pickup truck. The abuse these can take is legendary, but so is the cooler part – I’ve met fishermen, hunters, raft guides and even a famous BBQ restaurant chef/owner who swears by them – they keep brisket hot just as well as they keep frozen things cold. There’s no real rating system for coolers but river guides talk of trips with ice frozen around food for more than a week, and the models use up to 3 inches of polyurethane foam insulation and a freezer-style sealing gasket with T-hook latches for tight seal. The main cooler line is the Tundra, which comes in 13 sizes from a little portable model for $200 to a giant with a whopping 19,000 cubic inches for $1,300. If dad is a collegiate sports fan, they also have more than five dozen top school logos available to make it even more personalized and special. I recommend the mid-size Tundra 105 ($480, shown) which has a different shape than its peers, taller and with a smaller footprint, so it packs more stuff in less square footage than smaller models holding less, and keeps ice even longer. It’s the sweet spot of maximum cooling and capacity, perfect for most normal uses, and using the recommended 2:1 ice ratio, it can hold about 60 cans of beer, making Dad happy. You can always load it up to get bonus points.
Bushnell Pro X2 Laser Rangefinder: Does Dad play golf? Every year I seem to recommend a great laser rangefinder, and then every year Bushnell, the industry leader, goes and makes a better one. That’s really saying something considering that their stuff has been excellent for the many years I’ve been using it, and the #1 choice on the PGA Tour for over a decade. Here’s the skinny: while the golf market increasingly moves to GPS-based devices, I still mainly use a handheld laser rangefinder for many reasons, including accuracy and simplicity. Lasers work on any golf course on earth, even if it has not been mapped; you do not have to download course maps; they work regardless of weather, while cloud cover and storms can interfere with GPS; instead of front, center or back of the green you get ultra-precise distance to the actual cup; and the laser can also be aimed at objects like bunkers, trees or rocks to determine precise lay-up or carry distances. You don’t have to recharge it, sync it or upload it, just change the battery about once a year. The new Pro X2 has a rubber armored metal housing that makes the device fully IPX7 waterproof (drop in edge of pond okay, scuba diving not okay). It has 300 more yards of range than its predecessor (1,300 yards or 450+ to a flag), PinSeeker with JOLT Technology (vibration feedback when the laser locks onto the flag), and 2nd Generation E.S.P. (Extreme Speed Precision). This provides yardage five times faster than before with 1-2 yards accuracy from five to 125 yards, and the distance is displayed to 1/10th of a yard. More accurate distances mean more confidence, something dad – and every other golfer – could use ($499).
Peloton Exercise Bike: I’ve written here at length about why I think this is the single best piece of home exercise equipment (aerobic) you can get, and the company’s cult like following includes me – I’ve been using one regularly for over a year and it’s way better than the gym based indoor cycling classes I had done for years before that, or the trainer I used indoors with my road bike. You can get all the detail on what makes the Peloton so great here in my in-depth review, but it basically is a commercial quality machine (top gyms are rapidly deploying them) and unlike many competitors, resistance is digital and precisely adjusted (1-100) while the computer tracks cadence and output in real time. But the big thing, the feature that sets Peloton apart from everything else in the field, is a large HD monitor with live and on-demand classes from expert instructors in the company’s brick and mortar NYC studio. You can participate virtually in more than a dozen live classes every day, or choose from an unbelievable selection of around 5,000 archived choices, which can be sorted by favorite instructor, difficulty, length, musical genre and much more. There are seven different categories, from rhythm to beginner to theme – for avid riders they even have “Pro” classes led by world famous professional cyclists like Christian Van de Velde and George Hincapie, who finished more Tour de France races than anyone in history. I have loved my Peloton since the moment I got it, but the company keeps making the bikes and offerings better, and recently added several new features: Beyond the Ride Yoga classes with famed instructor Colleen Saidman Yee; “Encores,” which are essentially live participation repeats of popular live classes at pre-determined time slots to give more opportunities to ride in a group setting with a live leaderboard; and heart rate monitoring with compatible monitors like Fitbit and the Peloton iOS app. The bike and classes have gotten rave reviews from many major publications, and deservedly so ($1,995 plus $39 monthly class subscription).
Heritage Handmade Cowboy Boots: This is what I’d want for Father’s Day. Then again, I’ve already bought several: I have three pairs, plus a couple for my wife and more for friends. Every pair of boots on the shelves at Heritage Boots in Austin, Texas is lovingly handcrafted from the world’s finest leathers using old school, artisan techniques and lots of detail, and the specialty is vintage styles from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, re-imagined by shop owner Jerry Ryan. I recently wrote a piece on why Heritage Boots make a great Mother’s or Father’s Day gift (they do about 50-50 men’s and women’s), but now that June is around the corner, it’s time to help Dad free his inner cowboy. I cannot say enough good things about these boots, comfy, great looking and very well made, and you can get all the specifics in my last story, but the vast majority range from $420 to $1,300, about the same as better mass produced brands, and a fraction of what custom made boots made with the same quality leathers and process cost. You can see these stunners and the prices online, but you must call to order – with several toe styles that fit differently, Ryan wants to make sure that you get perfect fit whatever model you choose.
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