10-Year Challenge: Stuff to Last You at Least 10 Years
The intent of Facebook's 10-Year Challenge might be to compare the you of 2009 with the you of 2019 - or, more insidiously, to help the company train their facial recognition technology - but the intent of my 10-Year Challenge for products is a little different.
The following list consists of gear, household items, and clothing you can pose with now, and then again for 2029's 10-Year Challenge. And that's both in the sense that these items will still be intact and able to serve their intended purposed just as well as they do today, and that they're things I think are able to withstand the tests of trends in time. In other words, you won't be horrified to take a selfie with them a decade from now.
If selfies even still exist a decade from now.
Some of the products I believe will meet the 10-Year Challenge have lifetime warranties, so a good indication that their companies stand behind their quality and workmanship, and that even if the item goes kaput at year 8, they'll replace it with a new one at no charge. Other products are just those I have personally had a terrific run with, or that have the reputation for being with you for the long haul.
Check out my 10-Year Challenge: Stuff to Last You at Least 10 Years.
Note: 10-Year-Challenge product prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.
Saddleback Leather Co. Bags
Saddleback Leather Co. founder Dave Munson designed his first briefcase while teaching English to kids in Southern Mexico. Today the company's designs stay true to Dave's original concept of "made so well that my grandkids would fight over it while I was still warm in the grave," but continue to evolve with the times to streamline aesthetics, and modernize functionality.
Saddleback Leather Co. backs its quality with a 100-year warranty against defects in materials and workmanship. Dave says, "If, for any reason, your piece doesn't live up to what we said it would, then contact us or have one of your descendants get ahold of one of my descendants and we'll take care of you."
Saddleback Leather Co. collections include pretty much any kind of rugged, rich, chic, or enviable bag you could imagine throwing over your shoulder. Plus belts, wallets, moleskines, and a full-grain leather coffin.
Lodge Cast Iron Skillets
Unlike many of the lasting investments in this list, Lodge skillets don't require a huge upfront investment. At least not a financial one. You will be making a physical investment if you stock up on a set of them, or any other Lodge cookware, though. Especially if you plan to haul a fat 10" skillet in and out of a cabinet, and the oven when it's full of delicious lamb shakshuka. In Lodge's case, longevity and heft go hand-in-(gripping-for-life-)hand.
You've probably heard of Lodge cast iron, but if not, the company has over 120 years of forging under its belt, with Joseph Lodge founding his foundry in 1896. Then, like today, Lodge specialized in items ranging from stoves to skillets to kitchen sinks.
OK, maybe their kitchen sinks aren't so popular anymore.
But Lodge skillets and Dutch ovens have always earned high marks for their quality, consistency, and, unlike Le Creuset, reasonable prices.
Vitamix Professional-Grade Blender
The constant blade shredding of everything from leafy things to nutty things to frozen things to straight up ice takes its toll on the average blending mechanism in a few months' time. But not the Vitamix. The Vitamix blends without blemish for years. Decades even. And it doesn't just chop, chop, chop with its whirring blade, it pulverizes. This is because it is powered by a 650 bhp motor manufactured by the descendants of John DeLorean.
However, in the kitchen appliance world, the Vitamix is the all-time Formula 1 winner. Its motor is so powerful, in fact, that it not only makes frozen margaritas as smooth and chilled as you feel after drinking a couple, but when run for several minutes, it also turns cold liquids hot. As in pureed soups, hot chocolate, even nacho cheese sauce.
Hardmill Rugged Apron
Hardmill's handmade rugged aprons are made of dudely things like army duck waxed canvas, selvage denim, hand-dyed leather, and copper rivets, plus snakes and snails and puppy dog tails. This is so that when wearing them no one will confuse you for a sissy man or Ina Garten.
Wear a Hardmill apron when you're working in the shop or working at the grill. Wear it long, and wear it hard.
You can pretty much take your pick from the Leatherman line and feel confident you're getting a quality multi-tool that's going to last as long as you need to do multi-tooling. The differences in type and number of tools, attachments, and aesthetics are just there to appease different lines of work and play, and probably to help convince you not to stop at just one Leatherman.
Here I've pulled out Leatherman's Mut. The multi been crafted to military specs and comes with a MOLLE sheath. The stainless steel device's "Papa" tool is a pair of stainless steel pliers whose mid-section unfolds to reveal 17 additional implements, including multiple sizes of Phillips screwdrivers, Torx #15 and Hex 7/64" screwdrivers, needlnose pliers, 154CM replaceable wire cutters and hard-wire cutters, an electrical crimper, a 420HC combo knife, a saw, and a hammer. The multi-tool is operable one-handed.
Flint & Tinder 10-Year Hoodie
Well, 10 years is the benchmark, so the Flint & Tinder 10-Year Hoodie just made it through. And really, a hoodie that lasts for 10 years is a pretty good accomplishment. If it indeed lasts for 10 years. Flint & Tinder (now a subsidiary of Huckberry) hasn't been selling their 10-Year Hoodies for a full decade yet, so we've still got a few more years before the name proves itself.
Fisher Bullet Space Pen
Awww, look at the olden days still stuffed all compact and neat into the barrel of a pen. Fisher's original Bullet Space Pen got its start in 1948 when Paul Fisher machined the #400 Bullet Pen from a piece of solid aluminum. Today the pen swaps out the aluminum for solid brass with a chrome finish, and each is still precision assembled, hand tested, and sold with a lifetime guarantee against all manufacturing defects. And that's not even the coolest part, the "Space" part, about Fisher Bullet Space Pens.
You know it, right? Fisher Bullet Space Pens write in any temperature (well, -30 to 250 degrees F) and at any angle. Including upside down. Including at Zero Gravity, as one might find in outer space, or the field surrounding LL Cool J. (Dude's 51 years old! Instead of a Space Pen Fisher should make him a Fountain Pen of Youth.)
Pottery Barn Sectional Couch
This is another item on the 10-Year Challenge list that I've personally owned for over 10 years. Not this exact design, but one similar, and it's going to be a lifelong companion of mine.
This couch is a champ on several counts. First, it is comfortable and inviting. People want to sit on it. And maybe you think that's a ridiculous point in favor of a couch since that's their whole purpose, but I've seen plenty of them seemingly designed and constructed to keep butts away. Couches for eyes only that are either rigid and uncomfortable to sit on, or that look like you'll soil their aesthetics with the presence of your awkward human anatomy if you do.
Point #2: Unlike my SharkNinja vacuum, I use my Pottern Barn couch every day. For hours. There was even a 2-year period when I slept on it nightly, and it's still the best place on earth for an afternoon nap. And it hasn't squashed or sagged or become misshapen under my mass. Truly, the couch still pretty much looks the same as the day I bought it.
Which is also a testament to point #3, the couch's Magic Shell - Pottery Barn Everydaysuede slipcovers. They're some sort of microsuede fabric that I'd crown the Mac Daddy of dirt and stain (and drool!) resistance. If I spill something on the couch, I can usually just wipe it off with a damp cloth. If it's a bigger, badder spill, the slipcovers zip off and wash / dry in home machines. I've done it many times, from pillows to seat cushions to the full-body bottom cover, and they always come out looking shiny and new.
Wood Clothes Hangers
Don't tell anyone, but I learned about wood clothes hangers years ago during an episode of the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The fashion dude was effusive in his praise for them, and apparently convincing his demand that I get some, because I did. I still have them. And, yeah, they are a thousand times better for hanging clothes reliably, and without poking or making weird impressions on them, than metal or plastic.
Eagle Creek Load Warrior Carry-On Luggage
I'd recommend most Eagle Creek bags and packs if your priority is extended use. The company has a "No Matter What Warranty," basically their way of saying lifetime warranty. If any part of their bags fail due to a manufacturer's defect, they'll replace or repair it.
This 22" carry-on is a sweet wheeled weekender that drags easily over all terrains, including the unpaved, muddy, or bumpy surfaces of your life.
SharkNinja Vacuum Cleaner
The SharkNinja is another item of the Lodge cookware ilk - it's a vacuum cleaner that will suck up dirt and dust and hair (yours and your pet's) for years to come, but won't make your life suck setting you back a ton of cash in year #1.
I have an earlier model of the SharkNinja shown here, and I have had been using it for over 10 years now. Granted, I'm not a vacuuming fiend so it doesn't come out of the closet every single week, but when it does, it is maaaagnificent.
The company's claims that the vacuum cleaner will never lose suction: true. That it's lightweight and easy to maneuver: true. That emptying the canister and tidying up the SharkNinja itself after you've tidied your house is intuitive and not a giant P in the A: true. Now I'm no Mr. Belvedere, but I think I know a fine vacuum when I see one, and the SharkNinja is a Damn. Fine. Vacuum.