Stuff I Like The Best, Based on Use in 2021

Looking over my log of items I used, let’s see what is what.

At the end of January last year, I started tracking the gear I used the most. Flashlights, knives, bags, and watches. And shortly thereafter I added in tracking my wears of different clothing. And throughout the year I’ve done a good job of logging all this stuff everyday.

I did this all in Numbers, as it presented an easy way to record the data, as well as to chart/analyze the data. There’s other tools for this, but this is what I went with. The downside of this is that I am recording raw counts, and nothing with dates associated with things. There’s also the issue that I don’t record the things I wear to work out in, or my clothes I wear when I head to bed at the end of the day.

My litmus for what is recorded really is something like “I consider this something I am wearing/using for today”. Sometimes that meant multiple things for the day, and sometimes it meant recording just the thing I wore for the longest that day.

The end result of all this was to try to help inform a few decisions for me, those being:

  • What should I not buy?
  • What do I actually use the most compared to what I like the most?
  • Is there something I use a lot which needs an upgrade?
  • What should I sell because I never use it?

The last question on that list was the first thing I thought of trying to answer, but the three above it are more interesting to me. What should I not buy is more than just about having something already, it could be that I never wear sweaters, or that all my stuff is blue so maybe don’t buy non-blue clothing items or buy fewer blue items? As the year progressed there was also a clear indication that there are some items I wear/use often, but have never tried to find something better which would be worthy of an upgrade given how much I use that item.

The only issue I had this year, was struggling to keep everything up to date on what I had, because logging it all turned out to be decently easy. It was getting the data into the spreadsheet and maintaining that which has proven annoying and hard.

Ok, here’s the end results…

Tops

This category is basically any shirts I wear, which I also don’t consider a layer in themselves. This is one category where I had so many items I didn’t log them all, instead I logged them as I wore them. So anything not logged was simply not worn.

  • Top Worn Item: Wool&Prince 100% Merino Polo Shirt, which isn’t a surprise as it goes with everything, is comfortable inside and outside, and looks good enough that I don’t worry about what I might be doing that day.
  • Top Worn Brand: Wool&Prince (Outlier was in second), not a surprise here either as I wore their button downs non-stop for work.
  • Top Worn Color: Gray, but blue was not far behind.

Graph (on % worn of the total recorded):

Insights: I need more polos, but I love Wool&Prince button downs and once lock downs lifted that’s mostly what I wore. And if it is not grey or blue, I don’t wear it a ton — or maybe that’s all I really buy? Anyways, I for sure need more polos, and I need ones I love like the WP one.

Bottoms

Encapsulating both shorts and pants and anything else of that nature. I did a pretty good job in this category selling off items that I stopped wearing for one reason or another. Data is slightly skewed because I had to buy the same pants in another size, but different color which dropped them down (Slim Dungarees).

  • Top Worn Item: Outlier Futureworks in Phantom Gray, and I would prefer these being Charcoal but it’s decently hard to get the color you want when you want it. These are a solid color though and one reason they are so often worn is because the color works well to be dressed up, or dressed down.
  • Top Worn Brand: Outlier (it wasn’t even close, total blow out), which is in line with my stance that Outlier makes the best pants money can buy.
  • Top Worn Color: Charcoal, and if you include gray and charcoal together, then it’s not even close.

Graph (sorted on % worn of total):

Insights: there’s essentially no surprises here for me. If I had to make this list from memory the only thing I would undercount would be how often I wore Slim Dungarees. Everything else is pretty expected. I feel really dialed in with my pants, I would like another pair of the Agent XC shorts though, they are great and what I wear the most on weekends when it is warmer. The Beyond Joggers are also excellent, and something I find myself wearing more now in the cooler months.

Shoes

I didn’t record anything I wore working out, those were whatever didn’t have the worn out sole that I bought for rucking — seriously I destroy soles of shoes from rucking here. Anyways, here we are, shoes:

  • Top Worn Item: GORUCK Ballistic Trainers by one wear over the Red Wing Iron Rangers. The Ballistic Trainers are what I wear when I wear shorts, and I live in Houston so I am not surprised they are at the top, but I am surprised they barely beat out the Iron Rangers. That said, I find those Trainers immensely more comfortable than any Nikes I have tried to have fill this role, and if you are someone that finds yourself on ladders, the arch density on the GORUCK shoes are top notch — no issues.
  • Top Worn Brand: GORUCK, not much surprise there, and that’s not even including my rucking with MACV-1s. GORUCK just makes supremely comfortable shoes, except the I/Os, I don’t like those much.
  • Top Worn Category: Boots, by a massive margin. Had we not gone back into the office, probably wouldn’t have been the case. But if I am wearing pants and not shorts, I am wearing boots. All there is to it. I was reluctant to move to boots, now I don’t like not wearing boots.

Graph (% wear of total):

Insights: I should probably get rid of most of my other dress/office shoes. I only need a pair for wearing with suits, none of the rest saw any meaningful wear time. I could use another pair of sneakers, but I can’t see why I actually need them — maybe something a little more stylish? The GORUCK ones work perfectly for me though. At the end of the day, this year marked a big transition away from shoes, to boots. I’m very happy with that change and overall this category is in line with what I would expect to see.

Layers

Sweaters, fleeces, vests, jackets — if I use it as a layer to be warmer, then it falls in this category. If I use it as my top, it’s not here. Ok, also, I live in Houston so there’s really not a lot of need for most of these so this is a very small sample size.

  • Top Worn Item: GORUCK Everyday Half-zip in Ranger Green (no longer sold). This is/was my go to when I felt cool, and I wear it a ton on the weekends. Not surprising to me. But it was only one wear ahead of my Alex Mill Blazer, and that also makes sense because even during work from home I tossed that blazer on when I was feeling chilly — great jacket.
  • Top Worn Brand: GORUCK. I have two of those half zips and a grid fleece from them, so yeah, no shock here. I am not advocating you go out and get these items, they are just what I have and I like them well enough not to worry about replacing them.
  • Top Worn Category: Half-zips, which, yeah. I like a good half zip, but I expect that not to hold up as I spend more time in the office. I don’t like half zips for the office, because it’s hard to take that layer on and off throughout the day.
  • Top Worn Color: TIE, between Green and Black.

Graphs (% of wear for total):

Insights: Of all the categories this one does not at all represent what I like the best, just what is easiest. The Mill Blazer is easy to toss on over anything and is never too formal without being super casual “why are you wearing a jacket indoors”. Half-zips are great over a merino t-shirt for lounging around the house for months at a time. But none of those are my favorite things to wear, so that’s partly life in lock down, and partly that I live in a really hot climate.

Hats

I own a lot of hats, but I don’t actually wear them that much. I wear them everyday when I work out, but these counts are based on my ‘outfit’ for the day — and that rarely includes a hat. That said, here’s what I recorded — again the sample size is comically small.

  • Top Worn Item: TIE, between the Filson Summer Packer Hat and the Outlier F.Cloth experiment hat. That latter being my favorite hat ever, and the Summer Packer being a necessary item here in the sun.
  • Top Worn Brand: Same as above: Outlier and Filson.
  • Top Worn Color Category: Baseball cap!

Graphs:

Insights: That sun hat is great, but I view it as more a necessary evil than something I actively want to wear. I love a good baseball hat and that Outlier one is my “wear in public” baseball hat. It’s plain black with no logos and breathes really well. It’s great all around. The Filson Lightweight Angler hat is also solid, I wear it rucking all the time. I don’t need more hats, I don’t need more hats. I have two on order…

Knives

If you asked me at the start of the year, I would have not predicted any of this. I feel like where I am at now is: I have a core of knives I really love, call it three of them, and then I like to rotate through some others to try them out. So I am 95% happy with what I have here, but open to finding something better should it exist.

  • Top Used Item: Benchmade Mini Bugout, I am not joking when I talk about how much I love this. But if you really look at it, the Chris Reeve Small Sebenza beats it out, it’s just that I have two of the Sebenza. So I really consider the Sebenza the winner.
  • Top Used Brand: Benchmade, no surprise. I bought and tested a lot of them this year and use the Mini Bugout a ton.

Graph:

Insights: I held out hope the entire year that Benchmade would allow for custom Mini Bugouts and ended the year disappointed. I would have instantly bought one if I could have — I want some better steel Benchmade. But the truth is, the Sebenza is the perfect knife, as much as people just don’t want to admit it, that’s what the reality is. That’s all there is to it. I’ll be purging some more knives and rotating a few through here and there, but I wouldn’t expect this year to be a heavy knife review year unless companies start actually doing some interesting work again.

Flashlights

This year was an insane flashlight year. Insane. Let’s get to the data, but because I have so many lights that are the same light, with different LEDs, I did an actual pivot table so that I could group things correctly.

  • Top Used Item: HDS Rotary EDC, and really this should surprise no one. But the FWAA came in one use below. The data here is a little skewed because I trailed off my FWAA usage a lot lately.. If you took a snapshot now, the FWAA would be much further down the list — still a good light, but the Rotary is better.
  • Top Used Brand: Lumintop, by one. HDS right behind it.

Graphs:

Insights: most of my most favored lights are the ones I got later in the year, which is skewing this data. I would say the Rotary is for sure my most used, followed by the Barrel and the Reylight Mini Pineapple. After that the MDC and RRTO1 Raptor would be right there with it — I’ll be interested to see where that Zebralight lands later in 2022. My clear take away: good UI with a great LED and a CR123 size is where my sweet spot is. And, also, I need to sell some lights.

Bags

This should surprise no one.

  • Top Used Item: Mystery Ranch ASAP, because I am obsessed with this bag and it is the best.
  • Top Used Brand: Mystery Ranch, which is mostly because of the ASAP coupled with how many of their bags I tried/tested this year.
  • Top Used Color: Green, the ASAP and the Filson gear are all green and that pushes this color right to the top.

Graphs:

Insights: Aer would have been higher, but most of my testing with that gear was before I started tracking. Regardless, while my bag setup is pretty well set, I do think I have learned from this data that I don’t like using black bags that much. I like how they look, but I don’t like using them. I don’t know why. Give me Coyote or Green and I love using it. I still have yet to get camo in a primary bag, but I hope to soon. Gray is a good compromise too — just not black for me.

Watches

Should be obvious on this one too.

  • Top Used Item: Tudor Black Bay GMT, and it would have been an even higher discrepancy if I hadn’t needed to send it in for a warranty repair issue just before Thanksgiving.
  • Top Used Brand: Tudor, silly.

Graph:

Insights: I like steel bracelets, I don’t love wearing digitals unless I am working out. And I am perfectly happy with my Datejust now that the Tudor is still being serviced, but vastly prefer the GMT when I do have it. Something about the size, and clarity of that watch makes it perfect for me. That said, GSHOCK is winning over the weekends lately and is among those I am most wanting these days.


For tracking moving into 2022, I am still using Numbers but using the form function and a lot of pivot tables and graphs to chart the data. We shall see how this shakes out next year.

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