18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer

iStock
iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

Microwave Your Food Safely With This Soft Silicone Lunch Box

ParentDiary
ParentDiary

Even if the contents of your lunch are healthy, the container you pack it in may pose a threat to your health. Heating up some plastic food storage containers can release harmful chemicals, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics warns families to avoid putting such products in the microwave or dishwasher. (And there's still some debate as to what constitutes a microwave-safe plastic.) But the All-Silicone Lunch Box, a storage product currently raising money on Kickstarter, is strong enough to stand up to a range of temperatures, allowing you to safely put it in the freezer, the microwave, and the dishwasher.

This lunch container is made from silicone instead of plastic, making it a safer choice for kids and adults. The flexible box is easy to seal, open, and wash (either by hand or in the dishwasher). And whether you're using it to store leftovers in the freezer or heat up your lunch in the office kitchen, the All-Silicone Lunch Box is designed to maintain its shape and not leech anything unsavory into your food.

After originally releasing a single-compartment box, ParentDiary has now developed a lunch box with dividers, too. The container is now available with three compartments (perfect for snacks or bento boxes), or two compartments (with each side just big enough to fit half a sandwich).

The All-Silicone Lunch Box has over a month left to reach its $4000 funding goal and has raised $1000 so far.

Pledge $12 or more on Kickstarter by May 19 to reserve your own lunch box, with shipping set for June. For more packed lunch inspiration (including some other great silicone options), check out these products.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

13 Products to Keep You Dry on Rainy Days

Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Alexander Mueller, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

April showers bring May flowers … plus soggy shoes, wet hair, and dripping, broken umbrellas. If you’re looking to stay dry this rainy season, consider picking up some of this gear.

1. Bogs Auburn Boot

These are a rare find: Rain boots that are both functional and cute. Bogs gave us a pair to test out, and we’ve been tempted to wear them even when it isn’t raining. The Chelsea-style ankle-high boots have a slight heel and a zipper so you don’t have to awkwardly try to stuff your feet into them. They’re 100 percent waterproof, equipped with moisture wicking technology to keep feet dry (and stink-free!), and have a slip-resistant outsole. And thanks to gel cushioning in the footbed, they’re super comfortable. (The men’s version, available for $70, is also waterproof and is available in three colors.)

Buy it on Bogs for $120 or from one of the retailers below:

2. Levi’s Women’s Faux Leather Anorak Jacket

A woman in a maroon rain jacket

Levi's, Amazon

This hooded, rubber faux leather anorak jacket comes in 11 colors; it has zipper and button closure, plus adjustable cuffs, to keep the rain out. One reviewer described the coat as “practical yet stylish.” The best part? It’s machine washable.

Buy it on Amazon from $39 or at one of the retailers below:

3. Levi’s Men’s Rubberized Parka

A man in a black faux-rubber jacket

Levi's, Amazon

Levi’s also makes a rubberized parka for men that comes in three colors.

Buy it on Amazon from $72.

4. Sharpty Inverted Umbrella

An open green Sharpty umbrella next to the same umbrella as it looks folded up

Sharpty, Amazon

This highly rated umbrella opens in reverse—so when you close it, water stays firmly inside and doesn’t get all over you or the floor—and it's designed to withstand bursts of wind up to 60 mph. Made with carbon fiber and equipped with a C-shaped handle that makes holding and storage easy, it’s available in a staggering 26 patterns/colors, ranging from plain old black to the New York City skyline. And it’s big enough to fit two people underneath.

Buy it on Amazon starting at $16.

5. Drybrella

Two Drybrella bags next to a backpack and a purse with umbrellas wrapped in Drybrellas inside

Drybrella, Amazon

These polyester pouches—which accommodate umbrellas up to 12 inches long—are lined with microfiber so you can stash wet umbrellas in your bag or backpack without getting everything else wet.

Buy it on Amazon for $10 for two or at Walmart for $9.

6. Waterproof Elastic Gardening Headwear

A woman wears a hands-free umbrella on her head

MAGIFIRE, Amazon

Perhaps you hate when the wind blows your hood off, or maybe you want a moisture-free perimeter to keep the stuff in your hands dry. We’re not here to judge, merely to provide you with a product that could help solve your problems. This 36-inch-diameter hat has an adjustable headband and folds down to 10 inches for easy stowing. Its top layer is also reflective, which means you can wear it when you’re working in the sun, too.

Buy it on Amazon for $13.

7. Columbia Men’s Watertight Cap

A waterproof black cap

Columbia, Amazon

If elaborate headwear isn’t your thing, this nylon hat—which comes in three colors—will also work.

Buy it on Amazon or at Columbia Sportswear for $25.

8. Lightspeed Outdoors Sport Shelter

A blue and gray pop-up shelter

Lightspeed Outdoors, Amazon

If you find yourself at many of rain-or-shine events, considering picking up this pop-up shelter. At nearly 9 feet wide and almost 5 feet tall, it has enough space to fit four friends, and it’s equipped with sun protection and a PU coating, so it’s appropriate for both sun and rain. And it packs down small (49 inches by 5 inches) for easy storage.

Buy it on Amazon for $80.

9. Harry Potter Crests Color Changing Umbrella

A black-and-white and a colored version of the Harry Potter umbrella

Bioworld, Amazon

This officially licensed Harry Potter umbrella features Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff house crests and changes color when wet. The company also sells a Marauder’s Map-themed umbrella as well as a Hogwarts-themed one and one decorated with magical creatures from the world of Harry Potter.

Buy it on Amazon or Walmart for $17.

10. CloudTen Helmet-Shaped Umbrella

A woman peeks out from under a CloudTen umbrella

CloudTen, Amazon

In addition to looking a bit like Darth Vader’s helmet, this umbrella’s design makes it virtually impossible to blow inside out, even in the windiest weather. It’s also a good option for city dwellers—you’re less likely to take another pedestrian’s eyes out!

Buy it at Amazon for $23.

11. Mini Umbrella

A diagram of the size of the pocket umbrella open and folded up

Fidus, Amazon

There’s nothing worse than being caught in the rain without an umbrella—so pick up one of these ultra-small (just 6.6 inches) umbrellas and carry it with you at all times.

Buy it on Amazon for $15.

12. Alex Carseon Multi-Purpose Tray

Four images of the Alex Carseon multi-purpose tray being used to store boots, gardening tools, a bucket, and cat food

Alex Carseon, Amazon

Keep muddy boots and shoes contained with this polypropylene tray, which measures 30 inches long and 15 inches wide.

Buy it on Amazon for $17.

13. Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover

An Osprey rain cover folded up

Osprey, Amazon

Available in three sizes, this cover wraps around packs and equipment to keep them dry. It's equipped with reflective elements (which is especially helpful if you're biking), a cinch attachment, a hipbelt, and harness attachments—plus, it packs down small, so you can easily fold it back into your bag when the rain clears up.

Buy it on Amazon from $30 or at one of the retailers below:

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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