Backed Hard: The Best Stuff We (Actually) Bought in January

From fleece jackets and sunny socks to "healthy" soda and weighted blankets, here are our editors' best buys for feeling fine this month.

Well hello there! [Wipes hot buttered rum off mustache.] If you haven’t mused to your coworkers about how “you can’t believe January is almost over,” here’s your cue. In case you didn’t hear, it’s pretty cold up here in NYC, but we’re a resilient bunch. We might be freezing, but we’ve got our puffers, sweatsuits, and big ol’ clompers, and we’re ready to trudge to the bodega for a few more six-packs of stout and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. But just because it’s snowing doesn’t mean we’re slacking off, readers. No, in between screaming and tweeting expletives at the automated Twitter account for NYC Alternate Side Parking, (which we know is 100% a bot, but it’s a good outlet for our rage), we’ve taken a step back and assessed our busy month—more specifically, the best stuff our editors bought in January.


Needless to say, this month, our editors bought some real “surviving the winter” stuff, from fleece jackets and weighted blankets to incense, sweatpants, and dope socks. Take a couple big gulps off that steaming mug of hot cocoa, pop a fireplace video on your poorly mounted television, and check out all the stuff we bought (and won’t stop telling our friends about) this January. 

A chunky-knit weighted blanket

Weighted blankets are typically made with five to 30 pounds of added weight from clay, glass, or plastic filling, and are designed to help reduce anxiety with an all-over, deep tissue pressure when draped over your body like the medieval laird/the grandpa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory you are. I’ve tried fleecy, weighted quilts and blankets before, but when California Design Den sent me one of their knitted blankets for testing, I was intrigued. It seemed like it would be a little more breathable, and the chunky knit was more visually appealing to me. They sent along the ​​12-pound throw (which comes with its own canvas carrying/storage tote), and I wear it every night during HBO-and-unwind hour. The biggest surprise was seeing how the weight was better-distributed amongst all of my ~crevices~ and curves thanks to the knitted nature of the blanket. —Mary Frances Knapp

California Design Den
Handmade Chunky Knit Cotton Weighted Blanket

$149 at Amazon

A retro-cool fleece jacket

So warm, so sick. This funky fleece is warm enough to wear with just a T-shirt underneath during a NYC winter, if you’re an insane person. It also has a collar tab for keeping your neck cozy as well as a quilted interior, which helps with wind resistance and insulation. I love wearing it open on top of a flannel, or with a thick Carhartt T-shirt. It’s called functional comfort—Google it. —Ian Burke 

Dawn Patrol Quilted Fleece Jacket

$188.00$159.98 at Huckberry

These expensive-looking (but only $16) sunglasses from Amazon

One of the most well-known rules of popular physics is that the more expensive a pair of sunglasses is, the faster you'll lose or break them. That's why I now try to only buy cheapies—and besides, they're all made by the same damn company, anyway. I threw these in the cart with a semi-recent Amazon haul and the compliments have not stopped rolling in since, and whenever I disclose that they cost less than a fancy sandwich, the response I get over and over is that they "look expensive." Mission accomplished. —Hilary Pollack

Orange Lens Sunglasses

$15.95 at Amazon

Incense that smells how Sigur Rós sounds.

Fischer, or “Fischersund,” is the Reykjavík perfumery and apothecary of Jónsi Birgisson, singer of the ethereal Icelandic band, Sigur Rós. Turns out, the dude has been moonlighting as an olfactorist for over a decade, often mixing over 30 essential oils while on the road post-show. Over the past few years, his family-led operation has become one of the most interesting perfumeries on earth. Lofty praise, I know—but every once in a while you find a scent portfolio that makes you feel like a poet. Fischer’s signature incense cones are handmade with Icelandic essential oils you simply won’t find anywhere else, and are packaged in a hand-stamped, tin box made by Birgisson’s father. I’m always looking for incense for people who hate incense (I’ve never met a person who didn’t fall for Shoyeido's River Path), and Fischer’s incense has swept me off my feet with its uniqueness. Like Birgisson’s music, it’s almost indescribable; it smells like falling asleep by a bonfire when you’re a kid, moss after the rain, and a tar-filled beach. It’s crystalline, smoky, and emotive in a way you can’t put your finger on. I’ve never been to Iceland, but I imagine it will feel how this smells. —Mary Frances Knapp

Icelandic Incense Cones

$30 at Joanna Czech

The best ultra-basic, super affordable sweats for men

Now, you already know we love our sweatsuits, but it’s one of our 2022 resolutions to work out, and we sure don’t want to sully any of our luxe sweatpants and matching tops with blood, sweat, and tears. I got off to a great start for my 2022 fitness grind, but it screeched to a halt when I realized you have to like, do your own workout laundry? Instead of trekking to the laundromat every other night to wash my two pairs of workout sweats, I decided to grab a bunch of these basic, affordable Fruit of the Loom jawns. Buy a bunch, do laundry less, and enjoy your life as an aspiring Instagram gym-fluencer. —Ian Burke 

Fruit of the Loom
Eversoft Fleece Sweatpants & Joggers

$9.97 at Amazon

Finally, a big water bottle for the metal/plastic haters

I know I need to drink more water, but I simply cannot form an emotional attachment to a Klean Kanteen or Nalgene because I don't like drinking clear liquids out of opaque containers (it's creepy!), and because of my personal belief that metal and plastic vessels make water taste weird. I got my hands on this Purifyou glass bottle this month, since January is all about self-improvement, and I definitely need to improve my hydration levels, and it's been absolutely ideal for my needs. It's got a nice, tight top with a loop that you can easily grab and hold onto; a silicone sleeve so you don't have to worry about dropping it; and it even has markers on said sleeve to remind you to drink water every couple of hours. It also fits perfectly in my New Balance x Staud water bottle bag for hands-free hiking. Glass, glass, or glass—no other water bottles ride for free! —Hilary Pollack

Purifyou Premium 32-oz. Reusable Glass Water Bottle

$33.97$30 at Amazon

Keep your pants on

If there’s one thing I know to be true, it’s that you don’t mess with the classics. My grandma used to work at a Timberland store in New Hampshire, so it would be sacrilege to buy from anywhere else when it comes to boots and belts. I recently bought this 35-millimeter belt by Timberland; it's sturdy, goes with just about everything, and is made from one long strip of ultra-durable leather, so it will last forever. —Ian Burke 

Timberland Men's 35mm Classic Jean Belt

$18.95 at Amazon

The best makeup remover for lazy people

Bioderma is another cult French pharmacy item, right up there in excellence with Nuxe’s Rêve de Miel hydrating lip balm. Lately, I’ve been wearing zero makeup and feeling too tired to even wash my face, but a quick wipe with their sensitive skin makeup remover gets my pores in shape for the next day. It’s almost gratifying to see the gunk it takes off your skin even if you weren’t wearing makeup, and it works like a champ against even the chonkiest of mascara clumps. —Mary Frances Knapp

Sensibio Makeup Remover for Sensitive Skin
$14.99 at Amazon

$14.99 at Dermstore

An amazingly unproblematic soda

In a world with no health or dental concerns, if it were up to me, I'd drink Coca-Cola every single day. I love Coke. But I also love keeping my teeth and not drinking hundreds of calories of carbonated sugar in one sitting, and so finding beverages that are sweet and "interesting" without creating new problems in my life and body has been a struggle. Seltzer tastes like noxious gas to me, so since college, I've turned to kombucha, but it's also not great for your teeth and can have as many as 100 calories per bottle. Now, I think I've found the real GOAT: this prebiotic soda called Poppi, which tastes amazing (the raspberry rose, orange, and cola flavors are fantastic, and do not have that overpowering stevia taste at all) and is made with apple cider vinegar. No wonder it has crazy-good reviews. Each can is just 15 to 25 calories, but is just as satisfying as a "real" soda, and it's become a staple of my fridge. —Hilary Pollack

Poppi Sparkling Prebiotic Soda Starter 4-Pack

$11.99 at Amazon

These star patches magically erase my zits

I legit get excited when I get a zit now, because I know that these patches will kick its ass overnight, if not in a matter of hours. Hydro-Stars use a tiny amount of hydrocolloid to absorb, heal, and protect your skin when it has little breakouts, and based on the friends and family I’ve pawned them off on during their own breakouts, they are designed to work well on all skin types. They also look fun when on, prevent me from picking at my face, and come in a serotonin-boosting, starry-eyed pocket mirror. I’m not one to get subscriptions or auto-refills for skincare products, but I might have to start with these, because I’ve been ordering them every month for a while now. They collaborated with Sesame Street, for god's sake, so you know they can be trusted. —Mary Frances Knapp

Hydro-Stars With Case

$14.99 at Starface

The best, cutest socks

When I got a pair of Los Angeles Apparel's SMRSOCKS, they quickly stole the top spot on my Perfect Socks Power Rankings. While they're marketed as "summer socks," their cozy softness and not-too-thin, not-too-thick knit are versatile year-round, and they don't pill, don't fade, and come in a rainbow of colors. I love them as much scrunched atop my chunky sneakers as peeking out between my pant leg and a pair of patent leather loafers. I've now got them in six colors, and they're my beautiful, 100% cotton babies. —Hilary Pollack

Los Angeles Apparel
SMRSOCK Summer Socks

$8 at Los Angeles Apparel

This see-through iPhone case

Sure, you can charge your iPhone with the plug-in jack like a regular person, oooor, you could live the high life and use a MagSafe charger. To do that, you’ll need this dope, see-through MagSafe case. I previously had a silicone situation, which worked well, but would always cause my phone to stick to the insides of my pockets, which made it a hassle to pull out a million times a day. Plus, the clear shell lets everyone know I have a red iPhone, which makes me #unique, brah. — Ian Burke

Apple Clear Case (for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro)

$49 at Amazon

My eternal savior

I was recently smote by the long hand of Omicron (thankfully with a mild case), but I just need to give a shoutout to my close friend and lover, Theraflu Nighttime. No other cold or flu medicine compares. It's truly the best fever reducer/cough suppressant/non-scary sleep inducer, and I love that you drink it like a magic, acetaminophen-infused hot toddy potion instead of popping pills or having to coat your mouth in some ungodly cherry-flavored syrup. Theraflu always saves my ass, and I'm here to say that I just really love it and hope they never stop making it. —Hilary Pollack

Theraflu Nighttime Severe Cold & Cough, Honey Lemon, 6 Packets

$6.89 at Amazon

See you next month. [Throws another log on the virtual fire.]

The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.


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