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

We cooked delicious Detroit-style pizza, discovered the perfect travel lotion, and copped comfy new beds for ourselves (and our dogs).
The Best Stuff Our Editors Bought in August 2023
Composite by VICE Staff
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Our editors' picks for the best stuff your hard-earned clams can buy.

We love(d) August. Sure, it was hot as hell, but it was also a sexy, bountiful time full of globe-trotting vacays, mind-blowing restaurant visits, and bangin’ beach weekends. We stepped out in our perfect new running shoes, lost (and found) our luggage, and got our nips sucked. We (temporarily) shelved our Elden Ring obsessions to make room for Armored Core 6 (IYKYK); we enjoyed watched the close of this season of The Bachelorette. Oh, and here at VICE, we straight up interviewed Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray. Indeed, your friendly VICE shopping team is sad to see August go, but we’re also simply very stoked about what’s to come. Sure, peak tomato and corn season might be drawing to a close, but we’re armed with a ton of amazing new cookbooks to ensure a tasty autumn. Maybe our two-week Euro trip is in the rear view, but at least one of us is going to Minneapolis this month for the Death Cab for Cutie/The Postal Service tour, which is basically just as cool (if you’re over 30 years old).

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Why are we feeling so optimistic, especially when the world is melting? Well, because we’re just out here doing what we do best: buying shit and chilling out. This August, we found ~*ideal*~ neck pillows and side-sleeper beds—so you know we’re feeling blissed out and rested—and we upgraded our late-summer wardrobe with a beautiful New York Yankees bucket hat (they may be 18 games behind, but at least we’re lookin’ hot while crying about it). We also upped our breakfast game with a brand new waffle maker, bedazzled our WFH sitch with a blinged-out new mouse, and copped a top-of-the-line pan for making crunchy AF Detroit-style pizza. We are dripping and vibing, people! On that note, here are some of the best things we literally, actually bought this month.

A truly portable fan

I’m an absolute baby when it comes to the heat. I wouldn’t say I “run warm,” but I’d be lying if I said high temperatures didn’t have an unfortunate ability to put me in a plain ol’ bad mood). Generally, once we get into the hottest parts of the summer season, I usually just resign myself to sweating it out (literally and metaphorically) for a month or two while I wait for autumn to arrive. However, after having a few friends come in from out of town to visit during a string of 100-plus degree days, I was convinced to scoop up a portable fan to keep things a little bit breezier while we hit the town. For something compact and lightweight, this Aluan mini fan ticked all the boxes. Smaller than my iPhone 14 Pro, it fits comfortably in a pair of shorts without weighing them down, has two speed settings, and boasts a charge that lasts for at least a few hours. If you’re thinking about buying a portable fan while summer is still in full swing, I can’t recommend this one enough. —Gregory Babcock


$19.99$13.59 at Amazon

$19.99$13.59 at Amazon
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Finally, a neck pillow with sex appeal

I have been a JIU JIE stan for a few years now. The NYC-based pillow-as-sculpture brand caught my eye years ago with its signature knot pillows, which come in Beetlejuice-worthy stripes, Chinese brocade fabric, and more sick designs, and the brand’s honey knot cushion is the newest addition to my bedscape. Not only does it add more visual interest than a basic, square pillow (boo), but the flexibility of the pillow means I can perfectly bend it to support my neck during nap time. —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp


$110 at Jiu Jie

$110 at Jiu Jie

The perfect hiking bag 

As you may have heard, out here in LA, we’re just cRaAaZy for hiking. No, but for real—it’s a great way to clear your head, take in scenery, and get some exercise, and if you have an anti-hiking stance you’re just a hater because you live in an area where hiking sucks; move to LA, peel yourself off the couch, and get with the program. Anyway, when I hike, I like to pack light—keys, phone, Tagry earbuds, and not much else—but sometimes that’s still just a little too much to toss in the pockets of my oversized Obituary basketball shorts. That’s where a sling bag (some might say a fanny pack) comes in handy, and this one from Janji is just the right combo of gorpcore tactical features and minimalist design. You can wear it around your waist or sling it around your back or shoulder, it has a concealed back phone pocket and a flexible bungee compartment, and the brand donates 2% of proceeds from every purchase to support clean water projects. Sling bag crew, rise up. —Hilary Pollack


$58 at Janji

$58 at Janji
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A mouse that screams Y2K

Is it tacky? Yes. Do I care? Absolutely not. I love anything blinged out, so this rhinestone mouse was made for me. It can be used wirelessly or with a USB cable, and is compatible with both Microsoft and Apple computers. Bling, bling baby. —Nicolette Accardi


$22.98 at Amazon

$22.98 at Amazon

This all-in-one lotion saved me during my Eurotrip

I recently went on a Euro trip with nothing but a small carry-on, and took the risk of simplifying my regular skincare routine (toner, lotion, serum) by swapping it with this single face and body lotion from Weleda. I used the smallest amount of the lotion, which is enriched with calming agents such as chamomile, calendula, and pansy on my face, neck, and body, with excellent results. I guess they call it “Skin Food” because, yes, it really does nourish your skin when you’re hiking around the arid Alps. —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp

$17.40 at Amazon
$19.99 at Weleda
$17.40 at Amazon
$19.99 at Weleda

Take a Recess

Life’s hard, and it's not always easy to let the stress of a long and hectic workday go – sometimes you need a little help from an outside party. One of the things that I do to de-stress, in addition to crossword puzzles or long walks in the park with my dog, is to drink a can(s) of Recess, infused with magnesium, L-theanine, and lemon balm to chill you out without booze, CBD, or anything else that’ll make you woozy. I don’t drink sodas, so these adaptogenic drinks feel like a treat to help me let go of the day’s hustle and bustle and get ready for bed. —Becca Sax


$29.99 at Recess

$29.99 at Recess
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Pizza game: upgraded

Have you heard the good news? That’s right, fam: I’ve been testing a bunch of home pizza ovens. And while you want Neapolitan ‘za for din-din, your friend asked for a New York slice, and your other (correct) homie says that New Haven-style is the best, I’m deep in Detroit pizza land at the moment. Detroit-style pizza isn’t just something you can make with regular ol’ tools from around the house; no, you need a heavy pan with walls as high as Helm’s Deep. This bad boy also has hard-anodized, double thick aluminum, which just zaps up all of that ambient heat and molds your pizza into a crispy, cheesy, perfect-edged masterpiece. Luckily for you, you don’t need an expensive pizza oven—just whatever you’ve got at home, a nice recipe, and some good inspiration. —Adam Rothbarth


$56.84 at Amazon

$56.84 at Amazon

Finally, the ideal mattress for side sleepers

TMI: I inherited my last mattress, the one I slept on until this summer, in 2013 when I moved into a friend’s apartment in New York; it had been left behind by a previous roommate who joined the Peace Corps. It joined me in four more apartments in two states over the next decade, and it seemed like a perfectly serviceable memory foam mattress, but whenever I slept more blissfully in other beds, the reality that it was past its prime hit me like a pillow to the face, harder and harder with each swing. Finally, a couple of months ago, I was like, I’ve had this thing since Bloomberg was mayor—time has come to move on. As a hardcore side sleeper, I needed a mattress that could withstand a lot of pressure from my shoulders and hips while also supporting and cradling my body at all the right points, and after some research, it seemed like a Nectar Premier was the move. I’ve now been sleeping on my Nectar for over a month, and the combination of its generous contouring, wrap-you-up sinkage and consistent support has been an absolute winning combo for me. It has minimal motion transfer if you sleep with a partner, and I can attest that it stays cool even in the middle of summer. For real, I’m sleeping better than I have in years, and am so grateful I made the switch. —Hilary Pollack


$1499$999 at Nectar

$1499$999 at Nectar
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Getting fitted

I have my girl Travine at the Nordstrom at the Americana at Brand to thank for my new arsenal of comfortable undergarments. As someone who’s always had a larger bust, I know which bras are best suited for big bazongas, but I admittedly hadn’t been measured in a while until this visit, and had outgrown my favorites. If you are lucky enough to live in the Los Angeles area run to Travine—who took one single look at both my mom and I and correctly guessed our best, most accurate bra sizes. If you’re not, in the area though, I highly suggest this ridiculously comfortable (but still cute) Chantelle lace bra that supports the girlies without being too tight or restrictive.  —Becca Blasdel

$78 at Nordstrom
$78 at Chantelle
$78 at Nordstrom
$78 at Chantelle

Skims is great, but have you heard of Honeylove?

The reason I ventured to Nordstrom in the first place was because of its massive Skims selection, as I hoped to buy my first pair of shapewear, and had heard dozens of glowing reviews from friends. It was just my luck that Skims is changing all of its packaging (so naturally there was nothing in my size), but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise; without striking out on Skims at the store, I wouldn’t have discovered Honeylove’s incredibly comfortable Superpower Thong. With boning like a corset it reminds you to have excellent posture and keep fussy fabrics like silk from clinging to your sweaty, humid body.  —Becca Blasdel 

$79 at Nordstrom
$79$56 at Honeylove
$79 at Nordstrom
$79$56 at Honeylove
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A bucket hat for New Yawkers

This bucket hat (or, as my brother likes to call it “Yankee with brim”) slays on the street or at the sporting event. I recently wore it to a music festival to keep the sun off my face and for a punch of style and was flooded with compliments. I’d like to think Derek Jeter would be proud. —Nicolette Accardi


$39.99 at Amazon

$39.99 at Amazon

OK, I finally bought a YETI bottle

I know I talk a lot about life here in Austin, TX, but when it comes to YETI, mentioning Austin is practically unavoidable. With the YETI HQ here in the Texas capital, it’s almost impossible to avoid engaging with YETI products on a near-daily basis. Going for a hike? You’ll run out of fingers before you stop counting YETI water bottles. Meeting friends for a picnic? Dude, you’re getting a Tundra cooler. While I’ve been a hardcore Hydro Flask fan for years, this incognito marketing campaign finally got to me, and I splurged on one of the brand’s Rambler bottles. While I love things that are compact and lightweight, I almost (counterintuitively) love how rugged and heavy this bottle feels; made out of hearty stainless steel and featuring double-wall vacuum insulation, this is the kind of bottle you (almost) want to drop off the top of a building to see if it’ll stand up to the drop (... almost). —Gregory Babcock


$50 at Amazon

$50 at Amazon

A cooler that isn’t hard to lug around

The beach is one of my favorite places, but carrying around a big chunky cooler (and toting sand everywhere) is not it. Sure, coolers aren’t inherently glamorous or fun, but if you’re going to be laying in the sun for hours, you’ve gotta hydrate (or at least bring a six-pack). Fortunately, that is where this Hydro Flask 20L cooler comes in. I recently took a day trip to the beach and this cooler was the perfect size to keep a few beverages and snacks cold for the four of us. We were able to store 12 Jell-O shots, four sandwiches, three skinny cans, three ice packs, three cups, and utensils for the whole group (and it still had a little extra space). Perfect for a beach day where you don't wanna lug a giant box around, but need to keep the goods frosty. —Becca Sax


$89.95 at Amazon

$89.95 at Amazon
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A book about queer utopia

Are you gay and tired? José Esteban Muñoz’ Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity is a very accessible, inspiring read about what it takes to establish queer utopias through community-building and the arts. Rather than dance around hypotheticals like OG utopia baddie Thomas Moore, Muñoz looks at the historical, concerted (if not inadvertent) contributions of LGBTQ+ elders such as James Baldwin, Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Bishop as a blueprint for queer world building. Buy one copy for yourself, and another for your crush. —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp 

$21.05 at Amazon
$18.95 at AbeBooks
$21.05 at Amazon
$18.95 at AbeBooks

A lockable stash box for anything you want to keep… stashed

Unless you’re a billionaire, Joe Francis, or a celebrity with a very exciting analog sex tape, keeping a big-ass safe in your house feels a little bit… paranoid? That being said, there are circumstances when you have stuff in your house that you don’t want people messing with, whether that’s edibles, your passport, fine jewelry, or just your butt plug collection. Sometimes, you may end up with a cat sitter, untrustworthy acquaintance or Airbnber hanging around your place and want to protect your stash of whatever. That’s the logic behind Snugbox, which makes these aesthetically pleasing mid-size lockboxes. They’re attractive enough that you can display them anywhere, but can’t be opened without your lock combination, so you won’t have to worry about your housesitter stumbling across your suction vibrator or your toddler niece eating your 20-milligram gummies. Pretty smart, really. —Angel Kilmister


$195$156 at Snug Box

$195$156 at Snug Box
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A people-pleasing dog bed 

Look, I’m not willing to give up my studio apartment’s aesthetic (even if it is for the cutest pug I know), so—after much searching—I‘ve found the chicest pup bed that seamlessly works with my interior style. It’s conveniently made by reader-favorite luxury mattress brand Saatva, comes in three neutral toned luxe fabrics (I went for the Taupe Boucle), has a spill- and stain-resistant cover, doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb, and is literally crafted for your dog’s spine health. A win-win all around. —Kate Spencer


$275 at Saatva

$275 at Saatva

A waffle maker that makes it easy

One of the most valuable kitchen lessons I’ve learned from my mother is not to purchase single-use appliances. However, sometimes she’s wrong (sorry Mom, love you!). This handy little waffle maker is perhaps one of the best single-use appliances that I own. Who can resist a fresh, crispy-on-the-outside-but-fluffy-on-the-inside waffle to start their day? Not I, butterfly. I love how this waffle maker is ultra easy to clean; the batter goes in, stays awhile, and the waffle comes out with not a single smear of batter left on the easy-to-use nonstick plates. —Becca Sax


$34.99 at Amazon

$34.99 at Amazon

A hat that actually cools your head

When you go to the gym, feeling like your outfit hits the intersection of functional and cool is paramount. Like, do calories even burn if you aren’t looking fly while burning them? Whether you’re a heavy sweater, a classic overheater, or just can’t seem to find the right style of gym headwear, many of us stay searching for the right hat or headband before we go pump that iron (aka take a leisurely stroll on the elliptical). This hat from Mission uses technology that makes it cool down when it gets wet (from your sweat, duh), and it also offers UPF-50 sun protection, in case you’re trying to sweat outside. Plus, it has an adjustable fit, looks hella cool, and is only $20. I got one recently, and wear it to the gym every time; now, sweat hides from me. —Adam Rothbarth


$19.99 at Amazon

$19.99 at Amazon

See you in spooky season, friends.


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.