7 Inexpensive Finds That Will Outlive You
If there's a major disadvantage that cheaper manufacturing has wrought upon us, it's that we've become a throwaway culture that's used to having things wear out within months of purchase. Now call us old-fashioned, but we believe in spending some extra money—it doesn't have to be a lot—for things that will last.
One of our current obsessions is a subreddit called Buy It For Life, where we found like-minded people who exchange tips on items that have been proven to last for decades at least; some have been passed down for generations. We're grateful to have been tipped off to these items, and, as a bonus, they have pretty cool origin stories, too.
Levi Strauss must be laughing in heaven at the way ripped jeans have become trendy. The patent he filed in 1873 for the original blue jean was for “riveted-for-strength workwear” that was made to withstand years of hard labor without fraying. One of their first ads featured the iconic illustration of two horses trying to rip a pair of Levi’s apart (and failing). As proof the jeans’ longevity, the oldest surviving pair was found in a mine, 136 years after they were made. Also interesting: the guy who found them has made a living digging for denim, selling these antique finds to collectors for up to six figures.
SWISS ARMY CANVAS RUCKSACK
These are actually army-issue rucksacks, so they’re made to be durable enough for snow, rain, and—well, whatever wars a neutral country can have. You don’t have to go into military service for these: you can occasionally find them on eBay, for around $100. Just don’t fall for the “vintage-style” reproductions.
FJALLRAVEN G1000 JACKETS
Now everybody knows Fjallraven as the Swedish brand behind those trendy backpacks beloved by children and Japanese tourists, but they're really an outdoor gear company known for making clothes and bags that can withstand Nordic winters. After founder Åke Nordin completed his mandatory military service at the FJS Parachute Ranger School, he set out to make outdoor gear that was even better than what they had. Nordin registered his company in 1960, naming it "Fjallraven," the Swedish name for the Arctic fox. Their signature fabric, the G1000, is a blend of polyester and cotton that's been impregnated with wax to withstand wind and rain. Kept properly with regular waxing, Fjallraven jackets have been known to survive in good-as-new condition after decades of hard wear.
PEUGEOT PEPPER MILL
Yes, it's the same Peugeot that's also an automotive company. But they didn't start out making cars: In 1810, brothers Jean-Pierre and Jean-Frederic Peugeot started a steel foundry, making top-of-the-line saw blades. They eventually used the same technology to make coffee grinders—some of which you can still find in antique shops—and then pepper mills in 1842 (in the meantime, their first car didn't come out until 1891). To this day, the Peugeot pepper mill is considered among the very best you can have in your kitchen.
Buck carries a lifetime guarantee, not that a lot of people have ever needed to replace theirs. The 110 folding hunter knife is one of the most useful in their line—portable and durable, for those camping trips and for everyday urban emergencies.
LODGE CAST IRON PAN
Not only has the company remained in the Lodge family since it was founded 1896, but most of its cast iron is still produced in the same foundry. Cast iron pans only perform as well as you maintain it, and there are newer versions that have been sanded down for a better non-stick finish, but Lodge loyalists insist that, given proper seasoning, the relatively rough finish of these pans perform just as well, and the heavier gauge allows them to last two lifetimes.
L.L. BEAN DUCK BOOTS
These were never known for being fashionable, until the whole lumbersexual aesthetic became a thing. Then retailer L.L. Bean couldn’t keep their shelves stocked with duck boots fast enough to keep up with demand, because the company insists on making the boots almost entirely by hand. Except for the signature rubber bottoms, the shoes are sewn and assembled by hand in their workshop in Maine; all sourcing is also done from the US. At one point, there was a waiting list of over 60,000 people for the Bean boots. Now, L.L. Bean has embraced the shortage, even coming out with a line of “small batch boots” in limited quantities.