VICE may receive a commission if you buy products through the links on our site. Read more here.

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

Some recent snags we stand by include scented sunscreen, a wine vacuum, a cult-fave ashtray, and a handheld fan.
The Best Stuff We (Actually) Bought in July
Composite by Vice Staff

Greetings, starseeds! And welcome to the July edition of Backed Hard, the monthly roundup in which Rec Room’s discerning editors, writers, and gelflings give you all the fingerlicking, tail-wagging specs on the best stuff we’ve brought home this past month, from Casper dog beds to Kris Jenner’s (actually… amazing?) new line of cleaning products. It’s been a wet, hot, American summer so far, and we’ve got the receipts to prove it.

Advertisement

Last month, we returned to our roots with cold-pressed shampoo, and opened wide for Momofuku’s insanely delicious black-truffle-infused chile crunch. This month, we’re slathering on sunscreen worthy of a 1980s Miami penthouse, sipping craft hard seltzer, and finding some clever new gadgets for keeping our carry-ons organized. We don’t not have a Tinder Swindler-esque Raya date in Ibiza lined up, but if we did, we’d want to be prepared to jet off at the drop of a Pauly D beat. 

We know you’ve got places to be, and cuties to smooch—so, let us guide you through the best the internet has to offer during one of the hottest months of the year, including dreamy bedding, birthday gifts for boomer dads, the perfect hand-held fans, and more. 

These Dickies pants gave me a whole new personality

I’m not sure why it took me this long to purchase a pair of Dickies, but now that I have, they’ve become a part of my personality. Having owned these pants for a few weeks, I can vouch for their style diversity and reliability. I’ve worn these babies to the beach, out to bars, through airports, and they’ve never failed me. —Erica Sullivan


$65$48.75 at Urban Outfitters

$65$48.75 at Urban Outfitters
Advertisement

Dr. Scholl’s exercise sandals

So, I guess no one calls them “exer-sandals” anymore, because toned calves aren’t “having a moment?” (Cue existential crisis about how different body parts are in-style at different times while the movie adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel, Crash, flashes to mind.) Anyway, I like these sandals because they’re super cute, remind me of middle school (the last time they were popular), and they’re made of high-quality materials. I went with red this time around, which is the perfect Aperol spritz, Essie Clambake, lobster-shell red that feels fresh, but has the timeless quality you want in a neutral. Conveniently, they also come in every color you could possibly imagine. If you’re feeling splurge-y, a recent collab with Ganni gave the classic style some updated prints. —Becca Blasdel


$120 at Amazon

$120 at Amazon

$215 at Ganni

$215 at Ganni

Cookie dough that makes Pillsbury feel insecure

Sugar and I are best friends. Nothing makes me more delighted than a dank, Jersey Shore candy shop on the boardwalk, especially when it has chocolate-covered cookie dough balls. As I age, I’m trying to be better about what I put in my body, and this “enhanced” cookie dough by Deux—which you can eat raw or baked—makes it easy. It’s infused with vitamins B12 and C, along with other nutritious additions, such as aloe vera. It’s also vegan, gluten-free and made with oat flour. The brownie batter flavor is a true banger, and I ate the cinnamon roll flavor by the spoonful last night for dinner. (Sue me, I like me some dough.) They’re both flooded with chocolate chips and give me a sugar high that also feels weirdly wholesome. 

—Nicolette Accardi

Advertisement

$15 at Deux

$15 at Deux

$15 at Deux

$15 at Deux

The puffer tote of my on-the-go dreams 

IDK why, but even though there are some really great travel backpacks out there, I don’t like having to swing my bag off my back, squat down, and rifle around to pull out my passport, lip balm, or AirPods. I’m really a tote bag gal, but my standard pocketless, crud-covered, canvas VICE tote bags that have been filled with baguette crumbs for over five years are not good for longer excursions that require organization, cleanliness, efficient packing, and easy access. I fell in love with this puffer tote from Dagne Dover, and even though it’s on the pricier side, when it arrived, I immediately saw that it was worth every penny. It has TONS of compartments and pockets for both easy access and protecting your valuables (love the drawstrings); it fits my MacBook Air (along with everything else), and it feels like carrying around a tiny sleeping bag. As an added bonus, it slides right over your roller bag handle so you can give your shoulders a break if you so desire. Also, gotta love that it’s made out of recycled water bottles. Truly the perfect travel bag for people who don’t love the feel of wearing a big ol’ backpack. —Hilary Pollack


$175 at Dagne Dover

$175 at Dagne Dover

This “best-smelling sunscreen” really does smell the best

When I was given the chance to check out Vacation sunscreen and its accompanying, finally back-in-stock fragrance, I was like, I am the target audience. I’m pale AF (and wear SPF every day), a sucker for retro branding (Vacation’s vibe is very 80s), and love the beachy smells of coconut, banana, and chlorine. I’ve been slathering on the sunscreen before pool and hike time, and it’s, frankly, intoxicating—I feel like a human tiki drink, which is not a bad thing. Better yet, I’m not scalded by the sun’s rays. The scent is also an awesome summer fragrance, surprisingly sexy for its similarity to sunblock (minus any sticky skin). —Angel Kilmister


$18 at Vacation Inc.

$18 at Vacation Inc.
Advertisement

$60 at Vacation Inc.

$60 at Vacation Inc.

‘My wife doesn't have to chug wine anymore to avoid waste’

Ah, the power of the Vacu Vin. This hand-powered, suctionable wine stopper gives my wine an extra week of freshness, and was a staple of my house growing up. It was always a treat to pump the air out of Mommy’s half-empty vino like a railroad handcar conductor. Plus, no more trying to stick the cork back in (booo) when you don’t finish a bottle. “My wife doesn't have to chug wine anymore to avoid waste,” one Amazon reviewer writes. “My wife loves red wine. I don't. We're also poor. This means that when we open a bottle, she's had to do one of two things. 1) Drink it all at once. This leaves my 90lb wife in a pile on the bathroom floor. No fun. 2) Leave it open. The cheap stuff we buy goes bad pretty darn fast. She either drinks the stale wine, or makes sangria [...] I won't say that it's saved my marriage or anything like that, but…”

—Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp


$16.99 at Amazon

$16.99 at Amazon

A ‘Saturday Night Fever’-themed planter

I decided to become a plant mom as a consolation for not being at a point in my life where I can take care of a pet. (And if you think I’m not going to spoil my plant just like I would my dog, think again.) Maurice, my baby philodendron, is sitting pretty in this disco ball planter, shining like the star he is. I’ve got west-facing windows, so when the sun starts going down and its final rays hit the disco ball, it looks like magic every time. —Zoe Pelikan


$35 at Etsy

$35 at Etsy
Advertisement

This bedding has 300,000 (rad) Amazon reviews

I’m a ride-or-die fan of all-white linen bedding, but I’ve had this summer fantasy about bringing deep blue sheets into the fold. I’m talking Côte d’Azur-blue by way of a sheet set that makes me feel like I’m inside an Yves Klein or Matisse painting. Mellanni is one of Amazon’s best-selling bedding brands, and its 4.5-star average rated sheet set is in my dream colorway. Not only do they make me feel like I’m diving into the Aegean every night, but they’re very forgiving when it comes to random stains. 

—Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp


$27.87 at Amazon

$27.87 at Amazon

The best-tasting protein powder

I’ve been a huge fan of Spiru-Tein protein powder ever since my vegetarian days (which were 2004-2014, so to be clear, I’m a longtime fan)—and here’s why: It’s loaded with all the bomb nutrients and minerals, but more importantly, it tastes so good, specifically the chocolate-peanut-butter and vanilla flavors. (There are a bunch of others that I haven’t tried; very curious about the banana flavor.) I despise the chemical-y taste of stevia, and Spiru-Tein is one of the few plant-based protein powders on the market that is not chock full of the stuff—and speaking of chock/chalk, it blends up super creamy, without a hint of chalkiness. I’ve been making a ton of smoothies lately and I re-upped my supply; I love mixing the chocolate-peanut butter flavor with frozen cherries, greens, and hemp milk, and the vanilla powder with frozen pineapple, peaches, maca, and coconut milk. Seriously, amaze. —Hilary Pollack


$26.15 at Amazon

$26.15 at Amazon
Advertisement

$26.15 at Amazon

$26.15 at Amazon

Craft hard seltzer

On a trip to Vermont a few weekends ago, we found these on our way to a waterfall and natural swimming hole, and they were so crisp and refreshing after our hike. If you’re a fan of seltzer, or honestly just bubbles, I highly suggest Citizen Cider’s hard seltzer. We tried and loved the hibiscus-lime flavor, which was only a touch sweet because it is brewed differently from other spiked seltzers that are malt-based. Citizen starts by breaking down its craft hard cider and reformulating it, which is what makes it naturally sweet. It’s made with apples, apple wine, hibiscus flower, lemon juice, lemon oil and carbonated water, and it’s naturally gluten-free. So if those things matter to you, great, if not—it’s refreshing, only a tad sweet, and gives you the same feeling of sipping a frosty shandy, or the Champagne of beers on ice, through a straw, on a scorching day. Next, I’m picking up the variety pack so I can try all of the flavors. —Becca Blasdel


$12.74 at Drizly

$12.74 at Drizly

$11.99 at Total Wine

$11.99 at Total Wine

If Dyson had a baby

City livin’ is no picnic. Crowds of people, pollution, overpriced everything, and the unbeatable heat. In an effort not to expire from heat stroke or constant sweating, I took matters into my own hands and copped a handheld fan. I use it while I’m working, I take it on the subway, and I bring it on all my general street-stomping ventures. —Nicolette Accardi


$19.99$12.99 at Amazon

$19.99$12.99 at Amazon
Advertisement

The perfect gift for the dad who ‘doesn’t want anything’

My dad’s birthday was a couple days ago, and shopping for him is next to impossible as he can only own so many golf shirts, grilling gadgets, and mugs. While trying to find something unique, I came across this heaven-sent cigar ashtray with a whiskey glass holder that definitely fell into the category of “would never buy this for himself but Dad’s gonna love it.” It ended up being the perfect gift. —Erica Sullivan


$108.99$76.99 at Wayfair

$108.99$76.99 at Wayfair

A face mask perfected by the ancients

This long-popular clay face mask isn’t anything new, but it was time to re-up my supply because I really can’t live without it. The Aztec Secret clay mask is a holy grail product for a reason—nothing has had such a drastic or immediate visible impact on my breakouts. (Plus, it’s super affordable.) It works on zits of all persuasions—from hormonal period pimples to summertime sweat-induced blackheads. —Zoe Pelikan


$10 at IHerb

$10 at IHerb

A garden gnome lives here

I don’t know how my bathroom decor devolved into such a stoner’s delight, but it brings me and my roommate a lot of joy. In one corner sits our Furby mask; in another, a lava lamp gently bubbles; and now, this little shroom rug keeps our toes toasty during a trip to the john. —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp


$19.99 at Amazon

$19.99 at Amazon
Advertisement

My life-changing dog park hack

My rescue puppy has experienced a lot of trauma in his little life, and at one time was quite reactive. But, with a lot of patience and training, he has made progress (woohoo!) and the one thing that makes the biggest difference is this regular old squirt bottle. If he steps out of line, a quick spritz and a little “HA” will get him to drop whatever he’s doing and focus on me. Even if your dog is a perfect angel, if you frequent the dog park, you know fights are bound to ensue—the vibe is often very “Black Friday energy.” Just last week, I had my trusty bottle holstered when a scuffle broke out (not even involving my dog, Irving) and I sprang, nay, sprayed into action. It was incredible—the fight broke up, dog owners were amazed, and absolutely no one was pissed off, which was shocking, because I’ve seen people go insane over much less. The moral of the story? People really don’t seem to mind if you spray their dog with water, especially if it diffuses an unnecessary tussle. —Becca Blasdel


$8.60 at Amazon

$8.60 at Amazon

This point and shoot film camera 

For the past few years, I’ve used disposable cameras as a quick way to capture my life when I didn’t feel like carrying around a film camera that required manual focus. I hated how many cameras I was throwing away, and as I started looking into a reusable point and shoot camera I was serendipitously gifted this Olympus Stylus Epic Zoom 170. I tested it out over 4th of July weekend at a pool party, capturing candids and portraits of my friends in full sunlight with 400 film and the photos turned out *chefs kiss*. —Erica Sullivan


$358.90 at Amazon

$358.90 at Amazon

This lifesaving luggage organizer

In my humble opinion, checking bags is the worst thing ever and carry-on-only is the only way to travel, regardless of the duration of your trip. Anyway, I’m super late to the luggage cubes thing, but holy hell, they make packing and keeping your luggage organized so much easier. I’m also one of those freaks who likes to unpack any time I’m staying somewhere for more than two nights, so I love that this organizer allows you to just pull it out of your suitcase, hang it up, and have access to all of your neatly folded rompers, band tees, and button-ups in seconds. Never gonna travel without it again. —Hilary Pollack


$39.99$34.99 at Amazon

$39.99$34.99 at Amazon

See you next month!


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.