Multicam Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL Helmet Review – Lightweight Functional Protection
When you hear the name “Team Wendy” alongside things like “tactical, ballistic helmets, military operators, law enforcement, etc.” you might be wondering how in the world they all go together.
Founded in honor of the founder’s daughter, Wendy Moore, who passed away from TBI following a ski accident, Team Wendy has been constructing the most innovative and purpose-built impact-mitigation helmets since 1997.
Fast forward in time, and Team Wendy has managed to supply over 5 million Zorbium Action Pad helmet pad systems to the US Military. Of course, they’ve also managed to develop the EXFIL, a complete helmet platform for law enforcement and military operators, back in 2012.
While this guide covers my review of their latest and greatest, EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet, you can find the full story behind Team Wendy in my M-216 ski search and rescue helmet review here. Speaking of the M-216 helmet, I was absolutely amazed at the level of construction quality and brilliant functionality.
When I first came across their EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet in person, I immediately got a sense of the same stunning attention to detail. Instantly, I knew I had to own one.
Below, you’ll find my Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet review, alongside more details on how the Cleveland-based Team Wendy, works every day to further their mission of saving lives.
– Available in black, coyote brown, MultiCam and Ranger Green variations
– New lightweight hybrid composite shell offers a 15% weight reduction (Compared to original EXFIl Ballistic)
– Same unique EXFIL shell geometry for optimal fit, balance and strength
– EXFIL Rail 3.0 accessory mounting system compatible. (Works with all EXFIL accessories)
– Low-profile EXFIL 3.0 Rail is 25% lighter than previous EXFIL 2.0 Rail System
– Compatible with all-new EXFIL Ballistic Visor and Wilcox SL Shroud
– Machined aluminum Wilcox SL Shroud provides 35% weight reduction from previous version
– Boltless CAM Fit retention offer one-handed adjustment with individual head shape fit (high-strength hook/loop attachment meets ACH pull strength requirements)
– Exceptional stability and secure, personalized fit with BOA Fit System
– BOA Fit System includes Micro-adjustable dial, coasted stainless steel cable and low fiction guides
– MIL-DTL-32067 leather chin cup
– 5/8” nylon webbing
– Acetal buckles and cams
– 500D Cordura nape pad with Zobriun foam
– Antimicrobial wicking headband sleeves
– Three-piece Zorbium foam liner with 16 customizable individual comfort pads in 2 thicknesses for comfort and blunt impact protection (Berry compliant materials)
– Removable center pad accommodates overhead comms easily
– Available replacement comfort pads offer ease of maintenance.
– (2) Magpul MOE picatinny style rails with mounting hardware included
– Shock cord kit for NVG stabilization included
– NIJ Level III-A (according to NIJ STD 0106.01/0108.01) Ballistic performance
– 17gr V50 ≥ 2400 ft/s (731 m/s) Fragment Performance
– 9mm FMJ RN @ 1195 ft/s (365 m/s); BFD < 25.4 mm all locations Backface Deformation - Exceeds ACH Blunt Impact requirement per AR/PD10-02, 16Dec’13 (below 70G across all locations and conditions, less than half the allowable 150G maximum.)
– Third-Party NIJ accredited labratory ballistics certification
– Size M-L 2.22lbs Complete system weight, 1.41 lbs. shell only
– Size XL 2.31lbs Complete system weight, 1.59 lbs. shell only
– Sizes M-L 20.5-23.5 in (52-50cm) head circumference, 6 5/8-7 ½ hat size
– Size XL 23-24.75 in (58-63cm) head circumference, 7 3/8 – 7 7/8 hat size
– Polyethylene and other fibers in a proprietary composite matrix shell material construction
– Loop 110, military loop VELCRO USA
– Zobium proprietary polyurethane impact and comfort foam also used in standard issue U.S. Army and Marine Corps 7-Pad system
– Proprietary water-resistant film and loop fabric covering for impact liner
– Proprietary water-resistant film and antimicrobial wicking fabric covering for comfort pads
– Available accessories: EXFIL ballistic ear covers, ballistic helmet covers, ballistic visor, Oxygen Mask strap kit, Peltor Quick Release Adapter -Kit, and Quick Release Rail Adapter.
– Left Eye Dominant (LED) option available
Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL Helmet Review
Combine, top-notch functionality, rugged protection, and spectacular scalability into one ultra-lightweight package, and you are left with the Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet.
With a 1.51 lbs. shell weight and a complete weight of just 2.22 lbs., Team Wendy has managed to cut back on the original EXFIL helmet weight significantly. Though, you’ll still find the same custom geometry that yields a higher level of strength and optimal fit, alongside all the customizable bells and whistles.
How did they do it? Well, for starters, the hybrid composite shell has been trimmed down by 15%. Not to mention, the low-profile EXFIL 3.0 rail is 25% lighter than the past 2.0 system. The new machined aluminum Wilcox SL Shroud also features a remarkable 35% weight reduction from the previous version.
After wearing the Multicam EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet for the entire day, I came to really appreciate the weight refinements. Sure, the customizable interior offers the ultimate level of comfort, but the low-weight left me with virtually no strain on the head or neck areas. Even while moving and shooting for hours on end, the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet managed to feel incredibly natural; allowing me to focus on my shot placement and less on the gear I was wearing.
Curious to see what others thought, I shared the helmet around the range, and the responses were near all the same: “Wow, this is way lighter than I thought a ballistic helmet would be!”
Given the exceptional weight specs, you might be surprised to know just how well the EXFIL Ballistic SL performs concerning strength. Each features a rating ballistic rating of NIJ Level III-A (according to NIJ STD 0106.01/0108.01), along with a fragmentation V50 of 2,400 ft/s (731 m/s) against 17-grain FSP, and backface deformation below 25.4mm against 9mm FMJ RN at 1,195 ft/s (365 m/s).
Not to mention, the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet also surpasses ACH blunt impact protection requirements (per AR/PD10-02, 16Dec’13) averaging below 70G across all locations and conditions, less than half the allowable 150G maximum.
For accessories, my Team Wendy EXFIL Ballistic SL Helmet came included with a MAGPUL MOE 5-slot Mounting Kit alongside a Shock Cord Kit and 16 customizable comfort pads in 2 thicknesses.
And while the latest helmet features Team Wendy’s new low-profile EXFIL 3.0 rail system, it still offers backward compatibility with their previous 2.0 EXFIL Rail accessories.
Starting with the three-piece Zorbium foam liner, you’ll find 16 customizable individual comfort pads. (Front, arched, rounded and rear.) For the acquiring a perfect, precise fit, Team Wendy includes them in 2 different pad thicknesses.
Best of all, should your current pads ever need replacing, you’ll be glad to know Team Wendy offers replacements for ease of maintenance.
When it comes to adjusting and moving around each pad, the process is remarkably easy. Each features a Velcro-style, hook and loop backing, which allows you for ultra-fast installation and removal. For overhead comms accommodation, the center pads are also removable.
In regards to comfort, the Zorbium foam liner makes the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet easily one of the best fitting and most enjoyable to wear helmets that I’ve ever tried on. I cannot stress enough just how incredible these helmets are to wear.
When paired with the already lightweight nature and BOA cam fit retention system, it honestly doesn’t get any better than this.
Beyond the above accessories, I decided to go with the new EXFIL Ballistic Visor. Each visor lens comes with ESS technology and is manufactured by Oakley. The design is entirely Team Wendy produced, while the frames themselves are manufactured by Team Wendy as well.
Each features a super lightweight construction and a low-profile setup that mounts to the helmet with absolutely zero tools required. All you have to do is simply snap the visor in place, and you can adjust it in three preset positions for the right amount of protection.
Speaking of protection, if you need more coverage Team Wendy also offers another version (a Face Shield) with a lens that extends further down the face.
For performance, this ballistic visor exceeds impact, fragmentation and optical requirements of Military Combat Eye Protection (MCEP) in accordance with MIL-PRF-32432(GL), alongside MCEP requirements include meeting ANSI Z87.1 2010. Environmental conditions and MIL-STD-810G methods include the following: 501.5P1 High Temperature, 502.5P1 Low Temperature, 507.5 Humidity, 509.5 Salt Fog, 510.5PII Blowing Sand/Dust, 514.6 Loose Cargo Vibration, 500.5PI Low Pressure (Altitude).
When it comes to operation, the three positions included are down, up and stowed for ease of use. Out in the field, I found moving the visor up and down to be virtually an effortless process. For clearing my rifle scope, the ballistic visor went up beautifully, and while shooting the .308 continuously, it remained securely in its upright position. For those who required NVG configurations, the ballistic visor provides ample clearance when put in the stowed position.
Aside from the liquid and projectile lens protection, I really liked the flexible upper flange which goes a long way in keeping debris and liquids out of the helmet’s brim. The well-engineered design prevents the above from seeping down into your eyes.
In addition to the new EXFIL Ballistic Visor, I decided to add on the available EXFIL Ballistic Ear Covers in coyote brown for an additional 21.1 square inches of coverage. When paired with the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet or the previous version, each provides comparable or greater coverage than a full-cut ACH helmet.
For ballistic performance, you’ll find NIJ Level III-A protection (according to NIJ STD 0106.01/0108.01). And like the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet, you’ll also see the same performance when it comes to environmental conditions and MIL-STD-810G methods.
Regarding install and removal, the process couldn’t be any easy thanks to simple snap-in clips. Just align the metal hook on one end, push the ballistic ear covers into the helmet, and finally, push the black clips until you can hear them snap in securely.
While the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet comes pre-attached to the new 3.0 EXFIL Rail, the MAGPUL MOE 5-slot mounting kit requires installation should you wish to use it. Luckily, the process is as simple as removing as removing two bolts and screwing two more back in.
With the Magpul MOE picatinny style rails attached, the customization options are endless. You can attach a compact flashlight, such as a Coast HP5R for an incredible amount of illumination, or things like cameras, and so on.
To make the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet even more customizable, a shock cord kit comes standard. Using the integrated T-slots, the installation process is a breeze.
Just above the shock cord, you’ll also find one of my favorite features about this helmet, the Wilcox SL shroud. It’s compatible with any standard NVG mount.
To further innovate, Team Wendy sourced feedback from the field and developed a counterweight kit to solve the balancing issues of heavier NVG setups. If you’re familiar with NVG’s you’ll know their weight can pose a problem; luckily, Team Wendy came up with a brilliant solution that works.
Beyond NVGs, the Wilcox SL shroud can be used for everything from mounting lights to cameras, etc. And while the new machined aluminum version SL shroud is 35% lighter than the previous version, it remains remarkably rock-solid. Sure, it is technically an attached component to the helmet, but in reality, it feels fused to the helmet itself.
In other words, this durable and dependable piece is made to take a severe beating.
Should you wish to customize your helmet further, Team Wendy also offers everything from their ESS pivot rail mount to Peltor quick release adapter, helmet cover, oxygen mask strap kit and more. You’ll even find a really nice Transit pack made by the great folks over at Mystery Ranch.
Before I dive into my final thoughts below, you should know what it’s like to put the EXFIL Ballistic helmet on in the first place. Aside from the comfortable Zorbium foam liner which I mentioned above, each helmet also comes with field-proven, dial ratcheting BOA technology, and positive-locking, single-handed, adjustable chin strap.
The BOA Fit System is incredible to use; just turn the dial, and the helmet slowly clamps down tighter on your head for the perfect level of retention. To release the secure fit, merely pull the round dial outwards, and it will work its magic. Personally, I find this system to be absolutely incredible and innovative.
Alongside the BOA technology, you’ll also find a chin strap with Cam Lock sliders for super easy one-handed adjustment and secure fit.
Combine it all with the features I previously mentioned, and you’ve got the best ballistic helmet on the market. Period. When only the best will do, Team Wendy is what you chose. From protecting against shrapnel, small caliber arms, (and potentially rifle rounds, though they aren’t rated for it), the EXFIL Ballistic SL helmet is the new gold standard when it comes to protective gear.
When you need to move swiftly and safely while in the field, the EXFIL Ballistic SL offers an astonishing combination of stability and comfort. Factor in the dynamic mission-specific customization possibilities into a lightweight package and it’s clear to see why it doesn’t get any better than Team Wendy.
After having a chance to give the new Exfil Ballistic SL helmet a review, I’m genuinely beyond impressed. I’ve looked over every single inch of this helmet, and yet, I’ve found nothing to complain about. The construction quality is out of this world, and the attention to the finer details is just awe-inspiring. When I’m not wearing it out in the field, this helmet sits on my office desk.
It reminds me of what’s possible when you not only innovate far ahead of your time but also commit yourself to engineering excellence.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
With cellphones so ubiquitous, your watch choice can be less about telling time and more about personal style. However, a watch is not ‘just’ a watch. For example, the vast majority are made for right-handed people, but a select few cater to the lefties among us. There is a wide range in functionality and size.
The wristwatch is also one of the few socially acceptable accessories for men, so why not have a small selection? If you’re not cashing a CEO’s paycheck just yet, here are the top 28 most handsome watches for men that retail for under $500.
Got a bigger budget? Then check out our guide to the best men’s watches under $1000 instead.
Top 29 Best Watches Under $500 For Men
1. Tommy Hilfiger Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
If you like the feel of a pliable, non-metal band but aren’t comfortable with genuine leather, this watch comes equipped with a handsome synthetic band. At 46mm in diameter, this watch is perfect for men of smaller stature, as it will not overpower your hand or make it look like you’re wearing your father’s watch. With bold Arabic numerals, a stainless steel case, and classic styling, this watch is an outstanding choice for an everyday watch and the man on a budget.
2. Nordgreen Pioneer – Black Dial
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Not everyone has an endless amount of cash to drop on a luxury timepiece. If you’re money-conscious but want something high-end, then why not consider the Nordgreen Pioneer.
An inspired take on a classic Chronograph, Nordgreen celebrates the Danish with what they call a timepiece “that captures the sustainable future.” Available in various dial colors from blue, black, and white. There’s even the choice of three case colors – gunmetal, silver, and rose gold. A perfect addition to the collection of any watch enthusiast.
3. Fossil Grant Brown Leather WatchCheck Price
This lovely offering by Fossil features slim Roman numeral hour markers and delicate cut-out hands. The casing is stainless steel and is water-resistant to 165 feet, making it a great dive watch. The band is made of supple, soft calfskin leather and uses a buckle closure.
Of course, this timepiece also comes with the generous 11-year warranty and it’s own fun tin. This watch oozes class and is great for nearly every occasion in your life.
4. Citizen Sport Stainless Steel Men’s Watch With Brown Leather Band
If you don’t want to deal with changing out a battery in a digital watch, this watch is powered by either natural or indoor lighting. The mineral crystal face and stainless steel case make this watch water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for swimmers and snorkelers.
Handsome and utilitarian, this is a great watch for everyday wear. It’s one of the best watches for men who are always on the go.
5. Fossil Men’s Machine Chronograph Silicone Watch
This watch was designed with the active man in mind. The knurled silicone band stands up to sweat and oils without issue, and the timepiece itself is water-resistant to 165 feet.
The patterned bezel and quality craftsmanship of the black dial is excellent, as is to be expected from a Fossil watch. It even comes in the iconic and collectible tin!
6. Citizen Men’s Eco-Drive Watch
This men’s watch features Japanese quartz movement that charges itself indoors or out when exposed to light, making it a great choice for those who don’t want to change out the battery too often. The stitched canvas strap is soft against your skin and will wick away moisture, while the mineral crystal face stands up to the rigors of your everyday life.
Water-resistant to 330 feet, this dive watch is a classic and simple design you’ll be proud of for years to come.
7. Invicta Pro Diver Chronograph Men’s Watch
Another gorgeous offering by Invicta, this watch features a bold design with a slightly nautical feel to it. It will look at home whether you’re wearing a business suit or are going for a dive of less than 660 feet. This piece is also covered by a one-year warranty as a matter of course. The luminosity feature and magnified date window make it a great choice if you work or play in low light.
If you want something that looks like a Tag Heuer but without the luxury watch brand price tag, this is a good option!
8. Casio Edifice Multi-Function Men’s Watch
This watch has three sub-dials for 12 hour, 60 minute and 60-second displays, in addition to the standard time. It also features a fold-over, push-down clasp on the stainless strap, keeping it secure throughout your activities. If you’re looking for a classy timepiece that shrieks sophistication, this is a great choice.
9. Fossil Machine Three Hand Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This quality watch is a chameleon piece. It looks at home as a dress watch riding below the cuff of your best suit, and it also looks great paired with jeans and a t-shirt. Backed by Fossil’s 11-year warranty as a matter of course and beautifully crafted, this smoke-colored piece is guaranteed to become the go-to accessory for nearly every occasion.
10. MVMT Watches Black Face Men’s Watch
If you like the look of a simple watch, this minimalist offering from MVMT is right up your alley. With just a plain black face, tick marks to denote the hours and a single date window, there is nothing overdone or extravagant about this design. The is understated and suited to the simple design. It’s definitely a classy, low-key piece for the budget-conscious.
11. Timex Weekender Watch
If you’re looking for a fun watch to pair with casual outfits, this is a great option. The band is blue and yellow woven nylon, and the face features both civilian and military timekeeping. An Indiglo night light is also included. This watch is water-resistant to 99 feet, meaning it can withstand splashes of water or exposure to rain but you won’t want to submerge it.
12. PUMA Ultrasize Black Sport Men’s Watch
Boasting a 50mm diameter, this piece is perfect for the large-framed man or one who likes to wear his accessories oversized. A true fashion statement, this sports watch comes in eight different colors schemes to match your favorite hues.
Do be aware, however, that the dial knob is configure for left-handed men!
13. Timex Easy Reader Men’s Watch
Another dress watch designed with the older gentleman in mind, this watch features a white dial with generously sized numerals that do not appear comical to the casual observer.
It’s also an excellent choice if you take your contacts out at night and still want to be able to check the time. With classic lines and a simple white face, the watch would not be out of place at any casual gathering. It comes with Timex’s one-year warranty at no additional charge.
14. Fossil Nate Men’s Chronograph Watch
For men who like a more gritty, industrial feel to their accessories, this Fossil watch is right on point. The bezel is gear-edged and the face is utilitarian black and gray. Water-resistant to 165 feet, this watch is a great choice if you like your adornments to be understated yet add visual interest.
It’s definitely a stand-out piece, for those who would take notice!
15. Timex Expedition Field Chronograph Men’s Watch
Featuring an indigo night light, tachymeter, a date window and a buckle closure, this watch is perfect for men who like to work or play outdoors. It is also water-resistant to 330 feet, making it a great choice for snorkeling or swimming.
You won’t want to wear it for diving, however. With classic, black styling and a genuine crystal face, this is a timepiece that will stand the test of time in both form and function.
16. Seiko 5 Automatic Stainless Steel Men’s Watch
This Seiko automatic watch has all the bells and whistles you need, but presents it all in a plain and strikingly attractive manner. It features a date window in either English or Spanish, sword-shaped hands, a sweeping second hand and a mineral dial window. This is a great option for the man on the go. The canvas strap can be removed and hand-washed if sweat or other odors become an issue.
This watch is not water-resistant, so you’ll only want to wear it when you won’t be popping by the pool for a swim!
17. Invicta Pro Diver Collection Silver-Tone Men’s Watch
For those who prefer an all-metal timepiece, the stainless steel Invicta fits the bill nicely. It has a similar aesthetic to a Tag Heuer watch, but at a more affordable price. Equipped with a unilateral bezel and removable links, the band can be customized to fit your wrist perfectly. The face is flame fusion crystal and features a magnifier to highlight the date window.
It’s also water-resistant to 660 feet. If you’re looking for a gorgeous watch that stands up to an active lifestyle, this is an excellent choice.
18. Seiko Men’s Adventure-Solar Classic Casual Watch
This Seiko watch derives its power from either natural or indoor light and can withstand water depths of up to 330 feet. The supple brown leather strap and timeless brushed steel give this piece an attractive look, and the alarm chronograph is easy to set.
If you’re looking for a watch that can serve as a backup for your wake-up call while traveling, stand up to the elements and look awesome, this casual wrist watch is a winner.
19. Nautica Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Blue Resin Band
Featuring a plethora of options and a smart, snappy style, this a great casual watch with a eye-catching blue dial. The hardy resin band is adjustable, and the face is protected by a mineral window. Whether for work or play, this bold blue design is handsome and substantial on the wrist. It comes with Nautica’s five-year warranty at no additional charge.
20. Citizen Sport Men’s Stainless Steel Watch with Black Leather Band
The black, red and white face of this piece eschews the traditional two-tone color scheme so often employed in other watches, and the contrasting stitching on the band adds creative flair. It comes backed by Citizen’s five-year warranty and will compliment any casual outfit.
21. Alessi Tic15 Analog Display Analog Quartz Black Men’s Watch
Another not-quite-round offering on our list, the curved square casing of this piece gives it instant visual appeal. Sleek and clean, this unfussy design will be a compliment to almost any occasion. It has quartz movement and is water-resistant to 99 feet, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
22. Invicta 1517 I Force Collection Watch
Another on our list designed for left-handed men, this watch is something special. Water-resistant to 330 feet and featuring oversize stenciled numbers and a sub dial, this watch is great for any casual outfit. The cloth band is extremely durable and stands up to dirt, sweat and grime.
If you lead an active lifestyle, this watch will be right at home in your collection.
23. TRIWA Blue Steel Nevil Canvas Watch
This watch comes in a whopping 14 color variations, all of them beautiful. You may decide to add more than one to your collection!
Designed in Sweden, this watch features Japanese quartz movement, a stainless steel casing and a strap made from Tärnsjö organic leather. TRIWA, which stands for Transforming the Industry of Watches, believes in the artistry of fine jewelry and it shows in their product.
24. Victorinox Swiss Army Alliance Watch
Another fine dress watch from the makers of the Swiss Army knife, this watch is emblazoned with the internally recognized cross and shield emblem. It has no sub-dials, tachymeter or other add-ons to detract from its simple and appealing style.
This watch will be at home with all but the most formal of outfits and carries a two-year warranty.
25. Ingersoll Automatic Stainless Steel Bull Run Watch
Again, Ingersoll remakes the classics and brings them into the present day. With a highly polished stainless steel casing, two sub-dials, a date aperture and arrow-shaped hands, this quartz watch is beautiful.
The band features contrasting stitching on the fine-grain leather, adding depth and detail to the workmanship. This watch will compliment any casual occasion and can be relied upon for years to come.
26. Tissot Quickster Chronograph Black Leather Men’s Watch
Made with scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and Swiss automatic movement, this watch is a smart and utilitarian choice. If you’re looking for a solid Swiss watch that isn’t flashy, this is an excellent option. It’s also guaranteed for two years.
27. Seiko Sport Solar Men’s Beige Watch
Are you getting tired of squinting down at your watch or holding it closer and closer to your face? Don’t worry, we all get a bit nearsighted with age, especially over the age of 40.
If you’re not quite ready for reading glasses or a comically huge watch, this is a great choice from Seiko. The numerals, indices and luminous hands stand out in stark white against a black background, and the numerals are generous in size. It’s a perfect casual watch for the older gentleman.
28. Seiko Men’s 5 Watch Blue Canvas Band
This simple and affordable watch has a clean, crisp aesthetic to it and doesn’t bog down its design with a ton of bells and whistles. It’s time and date, end of.
If you want a watch for casual wear, this Seiko is a shoo-in. The band is forgiving and comfortable against your wrist, and it’s blue color will likely compliment your existing wardrobe. The price is also extremely affordable.
29. Tommy Hilfiger Men’s Stainless Steel Watch With Brown Leather Band
Featuring the Hilfiger logo at the three o’clock position, this wrist watch is a statement piece. It is a bright, shiny stainless steel work of art that you’ll be proud to wear at all but the most stuffy of workplaces. The calfskin leather band uses a buckle closure and the date window is beside the logo at three o’clock.
If you’re a fan of Tommy clothing, cologne or luggage, you can complete your look with this stunning accessory.
The 10 Best Shower Speakers in 2021
Singing in the bath or shower has long been a hobby enjoyed by many. There are also those who simply love the thought of relaxing in their shower while listening to their favorite music. If that sounds like you, then you need a dedicated shower speaker.
It’s a great way to start your day with an energetic bang or perhaps you want to relax late at night while listening to an audiobook. Whatever your reason for wanting a shower speaker, you’ll want a sound and build quality that matches your needs.
What makes the best shower speaker? Well, the sound quality is always vital but there are other aspects to consider such as its waterproofing, how easy it is to use, and the different types of functions it has.
We’ve taken all that into account to come up with 10 brilliant speakers for you to consider. We thought all of these were great but everyone is different, so pick the best one for you. Let’s get started!
1. JBL Clip 4
We love this portable Bluetooth speaker because of its fresh look and excellent usability. It has a bold design with a large hook that lets you place it anywhere.
It has an upgraded carabiner integrated into the speaker for extra protection, so you can clip it on bags, suitcases, or belts and take it with you wherever you go. Its unique shape fits easily in your pocket, which gives it great versatility.
It delivers JBL original pro sound and bass which is impressive for its size. It is IP67-rated for dust and waterproofing so you won’t have to worry about breaking it. It has 10 hours of battery life which is easily rechargeable, so you can continue enjoying your favorite tunes wherever you go. We love it because it combines fantastic sound with great value for money.
2. BOSE SoundLink Micro
This speaker can tag along with you wherever you go. Simply attach the durable, tear-resistant silicone strap to your backpack or cooler and go for your adventure ride. It has a battery life of up to six hours but that can stretch out for quite a long time if you listen in bursts.
The Bose SoundLink Micro is water-resistant, making it great for the shower, and delivers crystal-clear high-quality sound. If you accidentally drop it in the bath, just dry it off and keep playing your favorite music. It weighs just 10.2 ounces, allowing you to place it anywhere.
You can pair it with your smartphone and tablet using Bluetooth connectivity, and take phone calls through the speaker with clear quality sound. The built-in speaker gives you access to Siri or Google assistant for hand-free voice commands even when you are in your shower.
3. Jam Hang Up
The great thing about this shower speaker is that it has a suction pad that sticks to any wall, shower tile, boat ceiling, or mirror. It attaches to any flat or smooth surface. It has up to eight hours of playtime, so you can have many showers before recharging.
It’s IP67 water and dustproof rated, which offers excellent protection from not just water but also the ingress of dust and dirt. It’s very easy to use when you’re in the shower, even if your hands are wet and soapy.
The call functionality is also very good as when the call comes, it will pause the music before ringing. When you are done with your call, the music will start playing from where you left the track. We were incredibly impressed with the low cost which makes this the best option for those on a budget.
4. Ultimate Ears WonderBoom 2
This wireless Bluetooth speaker has a surprisingly big 360-degree sound with deep bass. What we like about this speaker is that it has an additional feature of an outdoor boost.
The battery can last up to 13 hours, so you can easily enjoy your musical showers for weeks before recharging. It has a rating of IP67 which means you can easily take it with you in the shower, pool, or beach, and it even floats! It weighs only 15 ounces and has an internal Lithium polymer battery.
The WonderBoom 2 has an easy play/pause and skip button so you can control the music through your speaker while you’re in the shower without reaching for your phone. It is compatible with smartphones, tablets, and any other Bluetooth devices.
5. Sony SRS-XB12 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
This Sony Bluetooth speaker has a small and light design. You can pair it with any Bluetooth device like a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, and it will connect wirelessly across the room with any device.
It has a wireless range of 33 feet so you can leave your phone in another room. It has an IP67 design that means you can enjoy it safely in the shower but also allows you to take it anywhere you want. It has a battery life of sixteen hours so you don’t have to worry about recharging your speaker all the time.
It comes with an auxiliary input and a clip-on, so you can easily take it with you and keep enjoying your music. It has effortless power on/off and play/pause and volume buttons, so controlling your speaker will be easy for you. It’s very user-friendly, and you will enjoy your speaker whether you’re taking a relaxing bath or sunbathing on the beach.
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6. Altec Mini Lifejacket Bluetooth Speaker
We love this Bluetooth speaker because it has long-lasting durability. It’s waterproof and shockproof, so it will be a good companion for you in the shower. It floats in water and the rechargeable battery will last for up to sixteen hours.
The Altec Mini Lifejacket has built-in Bluetooth which will allow you to pair it with two devices at a time. This Bluetooth speaker will make a great gift because it delivers excellent quality sound for a great price.
It’s made from a combination of plastic and metal which gives it exceptional strength. It’s one of the loudest speakers on this list so is ideal for those that wish to pump up the volume.
7. Xeneo X21 Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker
This Bluetooth speaker delivers rich bass with outstanding audio quality. Its unique cylinder shape has aluminum passive radiators on both sides to provide all-around ambiance and complete sound projection.
It comes with a built-in FM radio and micro SD card that allows you to stay tuned and connected to your favorite music indoors and outdoors. It has Bluetooth 4.2 and the aux jack provides a high degree of connectivity from many devices.
Its built-in 2400mAH rechargeable Li-ion battery will last up to 10 hours. It’s rugged and waterproof and makes the perfect complement to any shower. This speaker has everything you need to enjoy your music.
8. BOOM Swimmer Jr Bluetooth Waterproof Speaker
We love this speaker because of its unique design. You can wrap the flexible tail around any object cylindrical pipe such as a showerhead or handrail. The end of the tail tucks through a hole to form a secure ring.
The tail is over 6″ long and the diameter of the speaker is 2.7″. This speaker is water and shock-resistant against any drop or spills. It has an IPX7 rating so it can be immersed in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes, making it great for the bath.
Its built-in mic is speakerphone-ready to take hand-free calls and is very simple to use. You will enjoy its unique design and that tail can double up as a base so you can take it with you wherever you go.
9. House of Marley No Bounds Speaker
If you like socially responsible products, you will love this Bluetooth speaker. This speaker is made up of recycled materials which not only make it great for the Earth but also look fantastic.
It delivers 360º sound, and you can adjust the volume to enjoy your whole audio experience. It has a very stylish look with 12 hours of battery life and IP67 certification. You can take it with you to the pool or enjoy your favorite music in the shower or bath.
It comes with a quick charging cable so you can get back to listening to your tunes in no time at all. It also comes with a metal carabiner so you can clip it on your bag or belt and take it with you wherever you go. It can be paired up with another speaker to boost your listening experience and create an element of surround sound.
10. Eboda Shower Speaker
This shower speaker is on our list because it delivers powerful sound with beautiful lights. You can dim the lights in your shower or bath and enjoy the light show it can produce.
This waterproof shower speaker is finely tuned and crafted to deliver a superior sound experience both indoors and outdoors. It has a 5W loud stereo sound, and it comes with a built-in 2000mAH battery and up to 24 hours of playing time.
It has an included carabiner with a compact design and sturdy hook, making it easy to carry around or attach it to your shower head. It has efficient Bluetooth 5.0 and up to 33 feet of range.
See more about - The 10 Best Waterproof Speakers in 2021
Shower Speaker FAQs
The first thing you need to look at is the IP rating which determines its level of waterproofing. Once you know that it can survive your shower, other features become important such as Bluetooth connectivity, sound quality, and usability. Once you know a speaker is suitable for your needs, you can then look at other factors such as the size and style.
Waterproof speakers are more durable and shock-resistant than regular speakers, and you do not have to worry about any water damage. If the speaker has an IPX7 rating, then it can completely go underwater without any damage for a short period. You can take phone calls and listen to your favorite music while you are in the shower without worrying about breaking it.
The ruggedness and sound quality of shower speakers have improved over the years. All speakers are different and there will be normal speakers better than shower speakers and vice versa. We were impressed by the sound quality of all the devices we looked at here.
The 10 Best Waxed Canvas Jackets for Men in 2021
Waxed jackets have been a men’s wardrobe staple for centuries, and for a very good reason. Unlike your typical denim, corduroy, nylon, or flannel jackets, waxed jackets will protect you from all the elements – including water and wind – and will keep you warm, dry, cozy, and stylish during any season of the year. While waxed coats can come in any style, if you’re looking for a rugged, outdoorsy, or utilitarian style jacket that’s suitable for daily wear, is of high quality, and is durable, then you definitely need to make space in your closet for one of these timeless, long-lasting jackets.
If you’re really adventurous (and crafty), you can always try waxing your own jacket or your favorite non-waxed coat, but since we’ve put together this list of the best waxed canvas jackets for men in 2021, you might as well save yourself some time and trouble and leave it to the pros.
1. Patagonia Maple Grove Canvas Jacket
It’s no secret that Patagonia is one of the best choices when it comes to outerwear and environmental activism. The company itself donates 1% of its sales to “the preservation and restoration of the natural environment” and has “awarded over $89 million in cash and in-kind donations to domestic and international grassroots environmental groups” since 1985.
The Patagonia Maple Grove Canvas Jacket is a must-have staple in every guy’s wardrobe. It comes in three colors (Forge Grey, Mojave Khaki, and Sage Khaki) and is available in a multitude of sizes ranging from XS to XXL.
The jacket is weather-resistant, meaning it’s wearable through multiple seasons and climates, has a fleece lining to keep you extra comfortable and warm, and is made of fabrics consisting of 64% recycled materials. If you’re looking for a jacket that’ll stand the test of time and keep you looking sharp year-round, this one’s it.
2. Carhartt Flame Resistant Canvas Active Jacket
Carhartt may be a clothing company known for its iconic beanies, but you shouldn’t look past the rest of their wickedly cool – and not to mention good quality – gear and outerwear. The Carhartt Flame Resistant Canvas Active Jacket is one of the best lightweight options for waxed canvas jackets on the market, as it only weighs 8.5 ounces, making it the perfect piece of outerwear that’ll keep you warm, but won’t weigh you down.
Not only is this piece flame resistant, according to reviews, it’s also wind-resistant, has “better than expected water repellency,” and runs a tad bit big. Per Amazon, it’s available in sizes S-XL and comes in two colors (Carhartt Brown and Dark Navy) that will surely fit seamlessly into any dude’s wardrobe.
3. H&M Cotton Canvas Jacket
If you’re looking for a canvas jacket that’ll look stylish, keep you warm and dry, and won’t break the bank, you need H&M’s Cotton Canvas Jacket in your closet ASAP. The jacket fits true-to-size, boasts diagonal welt front pockets as well as an inner pocket to ensure your belongings don’t randomly fall out, has a shell made from 100% cotton, and is lined with 100% polyester.
Although the jacket only comes in one color (Brown), it’s size-inclusive, making it a go-to piece of outerwear for anyone sizes XS-XXL. It’s also got 5-star reviews across the board, and those who purchased the jacket attest to its durability, warmth, and style – you really can’t go wrong with this one!
4. Barbour Classic Wax Jacket
There’s a reason Barbour has been one of the U.K.’s most respected and sought-after clothing brands for centuries – yes, centuries. Founded in 1894, Barbour is a fifth-generation family-owned business that has expanded to over 40 countries worldwide and has collections for men, women, children, and dogs.
While their coveted collections appeal to a wide audience, the Barbour Classic Wax Jacket is a tried-and-true wardrobe staple that’s not only functional and stylish, but it’s also made by hand in the company’s factory in Simonside, South Shields, so you know you’re getting the best quality jacket money can buy.
5. Buck Mason Dry Waxed Canvas Highland Jacket
If you’re looking for a jacket that features mixed materials, then the Buck Mason Dry Waxed Canvas Highland Jacket is a must-have for every man’s wardrobe. There are corduroy details throughout the jacket, including the collar, cuffs, and pocket lining, and the body of the jacket is “blanket-lined” and guaranteed to keep you warm in even the coldest climates.
Not only is the jacket water-repellent, thanks to the “fabric sourced from the renowned Halley Stevenson mill in Scotland,” it also comes with a tin of Halley Stevenson’s proprietary reproofing wax, so if you do all of a sudden get the itch to wax your own jacket, you can play around with it after a few seasons of wear.
The Buck Mason Dry Waxed Canvas Highland Jacket comes in sizes XS-XXL, so if you typically have trouble finding your size, Back Mason’s got you covered.
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6. Taylor Stitch Lombardi Jacket
Finding an everyday, durable piece of outerwear that plays into your unique style can be a daunting task, to say the least, but the Taylor Stitch Lombardi Jacket will solve all of your canvas jacket woes. The utilitarian design is sleek and stylish, gives you a rugged but refined look, and can be dressed up, down, or worn with any outfit you put together.
With a shell made from 100% organic cotton herringbone dry wax, this baby is truly weatherproof, making it perfect for any type of climate you encounter and will keep you dry, warm, and super-cozy, all while remaining stylish and functional. The Taylor Stitch Lombardi Jacket comes in two colors, Olive Dry Wax and Mustard Dry Wax, and is available in sizes XS-XXL.
7. Belstaff Dunstall Waxed Cotton Jacket
Belstaff has been a well-respected clothing company for over 70 years, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Belstaff Dunstall Waxed-Cotton Jacket tops this list. Another option for those who favor the utilitarian style, this jacket features two large front pockets, gold button and zipper details, a pointed collar, is made of mid-weight waxed cotton, and comes in a classic black color that’ll surely appeal to minimalists everywhere.
The Belstaff Dunstall Waxed-Cotton Jacket also boasts “water and wind-repellent qualities,” so it’s guaranteed to keep you warm and dry no matter the season. You can find this essential wardrobe staple in sizes S-XXL.
8. L.L.Bean Double L Waxed Cotton Upland Coat
While it’s suggested that you spot or dry clean many waxed cotton coats, the L.L. Bean Double L Waxed-Cotton Upload Coat is actually machine washable, which will save you a dreaded trip to the dry cleaners when it comes time to wash it. The Upland Coat appeals to hunters and fans of a more rugged, outdoor aesthetic, and even features a “large, lined front entry game pouch” that “holds 3 or 4 large upland birds like pheasant,” so it really is ideal for those who take hunting seriously.
Its waxed cotton shell is highly water-resistant, too, making it the perfect coat to wear in wetter climates and seasons. It’s available in two colors, Loden and Maple Brown, and comes in sizes S-XXL.
Bonus: this coat is also available in regular and tall, so it’s a fantastic option for those who find normal length jackets just a bit too short.
9. Flint and Tinder Wool-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket
If you’re looking for a waxed cotton coat that’s made in the good ole USA, then look no further than the Flint and Tinder Wool-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket. The best part about this coat, other than its weather-resistant cloth shell and body that’s “fully lined with recycled Japanese wool blanket cloth,” is that the more you wear it, the more unique it becomes.
“Every time you hoist a beer, tie your boots, or ride your bike, your movements will lighten the color of the waxed fabric in the creases and bends to create your own unique wear patterns,” part of the description reads. Can’t disagree with that.
The Flint and Tinder Wool-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket also comes in four colors – Brown, Field Tan, Chocolate, and Charcoal – and is available in sizes XS-XXL. So if you’re on the search for a unique jacket that you can essentially make your own, this guy is a good investment.
10. Mission Workshop Mission Bomber
While many waxed cotton jackets boast a utilitarian style or a rugged, outdoorsy vibe, the Mission Workshop Mission Bomber jacket is a great option for those who love the style of a classic bomber jacket but want more durability and weather-resistance than the average, lightweight bomber typically gives. The exterior of the jacket is made from Silkwax, which has a matte finish and a “high level of water resistance,” and like the Flint and Tinder Wool-Lined Waxed Trucker Jacket mentioned above, the more you wear it, the better it looks and more unique it becomes.
This coat comes in four colors – Desert Olive, Deep Navy, Charcoal Gray, and Black – is available in sizes S-XL, and is recommended for wear in weather ranging from 45 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
See more about - The 10 Best Lightweight Jackets For Men In 2021
Waxed Jacket FAQs
A waxed jacket is a coat that’s typically made from cotton and treated with wax, like beeswax or paraffin. Treating the fabric with wax will ensure that it’s weather-resistant and will help keep you warm and dry, no matter what the climate is.
Historically, sailors coated their sails in wax so they’d be able to withstand the harsh – and very wet – weather of the sea, and also to increase the durability of the sails. Essentially, coating fabric with wax is a tried-and-true method that has protected garments from the elements for centuries and is obviously still a method that is used to this day.
A waxed jacket is a wardrobe staple for a plethora of reasons. Waxed jackets are typically more durable than your average, everyday jacket. While denim jackets, peacoats, and other types of outerwear are stylish, they don’t protect you from the rain, snow, water, or in some cases, flames.
Waxed jackets are weather-resistant and can usually withstand even the harshest elements. They’re long-lasting, practical, and can be worn throughout multiple seasons. Waxed jackets are easy to layer under anything from a t-shirt to a thick sweater and can be worn comfortably as a base layer, can be styled up or down, and are good for everyday wear.
Waxed jackets don’t come cheap. While you can find some affordable styles, as the H&M Cotton Canvas Jacket mentioned in our list above, most long-lasting, high-quality waxed jackets will cost you upwards of $200, with some even coming with a $500+ price tag. And although that might seem like a lot of dough to drop on an item of clothing, it’s important to remember these jackets are designed to last, so purchasing a waxed cotton jacket from a reputable brand should be thought of as a long-term investment for your wardrobe.
The 40 Essential Albums To Own on Vinyl
Putting together a list of the essential albums to own on vinyl is not only impossible, it’s hugely stressful. I’ve done at least 30 variations; adding albums, taking off others, rearranging bits and pieces, or changing my mind altogether and taking it from the top.
There are sure to be some controversial takes, and there’s a swath of genres, records, and artists who didn’t make the cut, but I’ve only got one set of ears, a personalized palate, and a tight deadline.
Before you take a look at the list, here are some rules: these are in no particular order, there are no live performances or compilations, no more than one appearance by an artist, and the album has to physically sound good on vinyl. I’ve made it this far, but now I need a drink and a lie down.
1. Paul Simon - Graceland (1986)
This is my favorite album. I remember dancing around the lounge room with a literal boom box, and a massive set of headphones listening to The Boy in the Bubble, Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, and You Can Call Me Al, picturing the film clip with Chevy Chase.
Out of all of my father’s albums, Graceland is my favorite, both for its scope and its sheer enjoyment. Whether it’s the Ladysmith Black Mambazo Orchestra singing together perfectly, or the amazing South African session musicians involved in its creation, Graceland is a fantastic album and a must-own for any music lover.
2. Led Zeppelin - IV (1972)
Sprawling, decadent, and powerful, Led Zep’s untitled fourth studio album is their best. It features a short little ditty called Stairway to Heaven, the sexually charged Black Dog, Mordor LOTR–style The Battle of Never More, and epic Misty Mountain Hop.
Most superstar bands don’t have four songs as good as this in an entire career, let alone on one album. Now, please excuse me, I’ve got 7.5 minutes to kill listening to Stairway…
3. Nas - Illmatic (1994)
Nas was a 17 year old still in high school when his debut album Illmatic dropped. The record is widely considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time (it’s firmly in my top three) and was announced as one of the 2020 recordings selected for inclusion on the National Recording Registry.
It turned Nas into a star and brought attention back to the East Coast after the dominance of gangster rap in the West.
4. Michael Jackson - Thriller (1982)
You can’t make a list of essential vinyl albums without Michael Jackson, and Thriller is all killer, no filler. It’s disappointing the way things ended for the King of Pop, but Thriller reminds us that we were lucky to hear the brilliance of Michael Jackson.
There’s a reason it’s the greatest selling album of all time.
5. The Black Keys - Thickfreakness (2003)
This living, breathing behemoth from the Ohio two-piece brought hipsters out from their garages in droves. The pumping piston drums of Patrick Carbery – who laid the tracks down on an eight-track in 14 hours – are a yammering foil for singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach’s dirty lashes of the axe and pedals, while his lyrics scrounge around like he’s digging into the couch creases looking for loose change.
I saw the Black Keys live when touring this album – it was all sweat, beards, and beer. I swear I couldn’t hear shit except for Set You Free for a week after.
6. Sade - Diamond Life (1984)
Honestly, you could pick any of Sade’s six albums for this list, but for mine, it has to be their debut Diamond Life. Merging soul with R&B and jazz elements, it’s got a bit of everything that’s great about 80s music.
Smooth Operator and Hang On to Your Love are incredible compositions, with Sade Adu’s vocals completely mesmerizing.
7. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds (1966)
These days, you could release this cerebral Beach Boys album by saying: “There are goats on the cover,” and make a badass meme campaign.
Pet Sounds revolutionized recording music, although nobody in 1966 seemed happy to spend their money on it, given that it was vastly different from the 10 Beach Boys albums that came before.
It wasn’t until the UK got a hold of it that the production and sound engineering side of the Pet Sounds record got its due respect, and everyone realized the music was awesome too.
8. Marvin Gaye - What’s Going On (1971)
1971s What’s Going On is arguably the greatest album of all time from any genre. Rolling Stone has it at the top of their 500 Greatest Albums, and for good reason.
What’s Going On is a narrative concept album that tells the tale of a man’s return from Vietnam. If you’re unfamiliar with the brilliance, pain, and tragedy of Marvin Gaye, take 53 minutes out of your day to watch this documentary. It’s time well spent.
9. NWA - Straight Outta Compton (1988)
I scored this on cassette from my big brother when I was going into high school (on the other side of the 90-minute marvel was 2 Live Crew). A decade older than me, he didn’t say anything much about it except for, “Listen to this and don’t tell mum. Ever!”
Straight Outta Compton ushered in the gangsta rap era. Without NWA, the rap landscape would be very different; less realistic and raw, less creative, edgy, and honest. It certainly wouldn’t have been better.
10. David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972)
Bowie ushered in a new era of rock and pop fusion by creating different characters in his music and an amazing level of theatricality to his work.
Ziggy Stardust helped bridge the gap between the declining hippy culture and stadium rock with a burgeoning live music scene where the show was just as important as the music.
11. Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
She might have gone off the rails, but Lauryn Hill is still one of the greatest female vocalists I’ve had the pleasure of hearing live. While that’s highly unlikely to happen anytime soon, I can always put this album on and remember how talented she is.
A melting pot of hip-hop, soul, R&B, and pop, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a phenomenal record from a once-in-a-generation artist.
12. Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde (1966)
Not being able to incorporate a greatest hits compilation album is hardest here. Folk legend, visual artist, and bourbon bottler Bob Dylan is not only brilliant but also prolific.
Any of 10 studio, live, or compilation albums could take this space, but for pure end-to-end quality, his seventh studio album Blonde on Blonde may be the finest.
13. Outkast - Stankonia (2000)
“They are threateningly talented individuals” – Cee Lo Green
Outkast’s Stankonia took rap music and threw out the rule book. They turned hip-hop into something interplanetary (and the South into a stronghold), where freedom of expression, musical innovation, and pure enjoyment melded with traditional rap bangers and everyday struggles.
14. Daft Punk - Random Access Memories (2012)
I’m not much of a dance music guy, but Daft Punk is cool, whether the helmets are on or not. If you throw this on the Technics (careful, it’s hard to get in non-collectible form), things are going pretty well.
Twan’s cool vlog about the making of Random Access Memories – Daft Punk’s most critically acclaimed album recorded over the course of four years – is well worth a watch for anyone who wants to know more about this chart-topping album that gave us the massive hit Get Lucky.
15. Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)
Great jazz music is made for being enjoyed on vinyl, and Kind of Blue is the greatest of jazz music. Put it on your player, settle in, and let Miles take you somewhere else for a while.
Check out the making of this classic album by watching this fantastic documentary (apologies for Bill Cosby’s appearance).
16. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
I’m going to come clean: I AM NOT a Radiohead guy. I can appreciate their music, its complexity, skill, and vision. But it’s just not my thing. I’m sorry.
This clip explains brilliantly why Kid A is so vital and so vivid for many music fans, something I could not articulate.
17. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
This one might be a little controversial, but this is Kanye at his artistic peak. Coming off the poor reception of 808s & Heartbreak (an underrated album and my second favorite Kanye record) and dealing with problems in his personal life, Kanye hit studios across the world and created a masterpiece.
All of the Lights. POWER. Runaway. Blame Game. Monster. This album is not only chock full of hits but features some of the best rap verses Nicki Minaj and Rick Ross have ever spit.
This is a reminder of a time when Kanye was the center of the world for his musical abilities and not his private life.
18. Bjork - Post (1995)
Another choice some might not agree with, but Post is an exceptional album from Icelandic goddess Bjork.
It’s hard to describe what this album sounds like, but if you imagine every genre of music baked in a cake and topped with Bjork’s fascinating soprano as the icing, then you have Post.
While known for spawning the hit single It’s Oh So Quiet, there is much more to this album.
19. Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers (1993)
The debut studio album from the New York Collective is a stone-cold classic. Wu-Tang Clan announced themselves with gangsta rap’s signature braggadocio, plus a fusion of spare beats from the RZA threaded with Kung Fu samples.
Nine distinctly different voices and perspectives from inner-city New York can be heard, all with amazing lyrical flow and a willingness to experiment with beats, tempo, and personality.
The album gave birth to the highest-grossing hip-hop group of all time and ushered in an era of merchandise, film, and music production that still sees the group active and innovating today.
20. Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)
The Rumours album from Fleetwood Mac showed that copious amounts of drugs, sex, and alcohol, and relationship breakdowns (there were two couples in the group who both split before recording), could be great for creativity.
Rumours sold more than 10 million copies in the first month alone, while singles Go Your Own Way, Dreams, You Make Loving Fun, and Don’t Stop all made the US top 10 charts.
Disfunction has never sounded so good.
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21. Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)
While the film doesn’t quite hold up, the album remains an absolute banger that mixes power-pop, shredding guitars, funk, and psychedelic influences into an almost perfect tracklist. This is Prince at the peak of his powers.
22. The Clash - London Calling (1979)
London Calling is what happens when a punk band develops their music into a force that reflects the uncertainty, angst, and disaffection of an entire generation. London was a mess in 1979, with heroin, unemployment, political, social, and racial tension ripping through the city (and all of Great Britain).
While their classic punk sound was still readily apparent, The Clash’s third album harnessed reggae, roots, rock, ska, and heavy metal elements into a soup of powerful, politically, and socially aware set of tunes.
23. The Roots - Things Fall Apart (1999)
The Roots (yeah, Jimmy Fallon’s Band) proved you could make a killer hip-hop album with a live band. Things Fall Apart is a socially conscious album that still found resonance with the gangsta rap set and old school b-boys, which at that time was difficult to accomplish.
It features Black Thought’s lyrical dexterity and boxer’s delivery, mixed with great production and special guests like Mos Def, Erika Badu, Jill Scott, Eve, and Dice Raw.
24. Pearl Jam - Vs. (1993)
Pearl Jam, along with Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and lesser-known bands such as Mudhoney and Temple of the Dog, brought Seattle’s grunge sound to the rest of the world. After the commercial success of their debut Ten, Pearl Jam opted to mix harder and more aggressive rock with Eddie Vedder’s iconic vocal range on their sophomore album.
They eschewed releasing any singles despite having a handful that would’ve certainly made it into the top 10. It remains their most influential album and one that moved beyond grunge into another realm.
Fun fact: They wrote Daughter on the tour bus!
25. The Beatles - White Album (1968)
Another band where their entire back catalog could have appeared on this list, The Beatles White Album gets the nod. 30 tracks including classics Back In The U.S.S.R., Helter Skelter, Blackbird, and George Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps make up this influential double album.
26. Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (1973)
If I didn’t put this album on here, my sister would kill me. While many contemporaries looked outside, Pink Floyd focused on inside the mind with intense and dystopian fervor.
Dark Side of the Moon, much like Pet Sounds, transformed record arrangement, production, and recording, while the music itself was damn good to listen to as well.
Dark Side took out a lot of the long instrumentals and solos Floyd was known for while still maintaining a cinematic quality. Their audio innovation added the sonic effects that bands ever since have been copying.
27. Kendrick Lamar - Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012)
“It ain’t nothing but a Compton thang.”
I don’t have too many contemporary musicians on this list (let’s face it, music now is made for a digital age, and I’m considered OLLLLLLD), yet Kendrick Lamar is an exception.
Lamar mixes old school gangsta sensibilities with furiously developed production on this coming-of-age concept album. To Pimp A Butterfly may be a stronger album, but I’ll argue forever that Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City is more influential and essential.
28. Nirvana - Nevermind (1991)
I can still remember, nearly 30 years later, exactly where I was when I heard that Kurt Cobain had died.
If I hadn’t heard Nevermind, and especially Smells Like Teen Spirit, I wouldn’t have paid attention to the hype this band created. It’s hard to put into words just how much Nevermind impacted not only music but youth culture.
29. Eric B and Rakim - Paid in Full (1987)
The rap game changed once Rakim took the Mike and Eric B got on the turntables. Other rappers focused on changing things (KRS One), talking tough (Big Daddy Kane), and the drug epidemic in New York (Slick Rick) – Rakim focused on being better than everybody else
They took the socially conscious early hip-hop and added elements of cool that to this day remain unchanged, and gave us Paid in Full, which is still firmly inside the top 10 rap albums of all time.
30. (What's The Story) Morning Glory?
Seriously, if this album came out now – with all that media stoushing with fellow Brit Pop legends Blur – the internet would have broken. While Liam has turned into an epic storyteller and entertaining parent, for most of their career the Gallagher brothers have been considered complete and utter knobs (Noel still is).
The fact remains, though, that with the possible exception of dance music stars such as Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, and the Chemical Brothers, no one had a bigger impact on British music than Oasis did throughout the 1990s, which has carried over into pop-rock music today.
31. Metallica - Metallica (The Black Album, 1991)
While old-school metalheads point to this as the moment Metallica sold out, in reality, it’s the band taking the next step in their evolution and proving heavier music has its place in pop culture.
The album is full of classic tracks. Enter Sandman is a grinding stadium rock offering. The Unforgiven a heartfelt ditty. Through The Never a reminder of Metallica’s thrash past. Then there’s Nothing Else Matters, an emotional power ballad about expressing and opening yourself up to others.
It might have pissed off their core fans, but Metallica topped the charts and has gone on to sell over 25.2 million copies worldwide, turning the band into the face of modern metal and gaining them more fans than they lost.
32. The Highwaymen - Highwayman
Waylon Jennings. Willie Nelson. Johnny Cash. Kris Kristofferson. Four of country music’s greatest stars joined forces as The Highwaymen, a country supergroup.
The result is a fantastic outlaw country album showcasing the distinct qualities of each man’s voice. Opener Highwayman sets the scene for a collection of country covers (including two Cash originals) perfect for a road trip through the great US of A.
33. Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine
Few political bands have managed to sell millions of albums and sell out stadiums without deviating from their beliefs like Rage Against The Machine.
Despite their success, or possibly because of it, the LA foursome has been a driving force in alternate rock for almost three decades. Merging rock with rap before nu-metal was a thing, Rage has a distinct sound thanks to vocalist Zac de la Rocha’s biting lyrics and Tom Morello’s unconventional guitar playing.
Rage Against The Machine is a Molotov cocktail of hard-hitting raps, brain-damaging guitar licks, slick bass lines, and thumping percussion. I can still remember headbanging in my room to Killing in the Name. Good memories.
34. The Prodigy - Music for the Jilted Generation
Before becoming household names with the release of Fat of the Land, The Prodigy lit up clubs and raves with tracks from their sophomore release Music for the Jilted Generation. The record is a big “fuck you” to new laws introduced against rave culture that fuses elements of trance, techno, and jungle.
The album contains a raft of eclectic samples, from films such as Star Wars: A New Hope, Poltergeist III, and Smokey and the Bandit, across 13 tracks fueled by Liam Howlett’s production. Their Law, Poison, and Voodoo People are all huge tunes, but for me, it’s No Good (Start the Dance) that showcases the brilliance of The Prodigy.
35. Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
Both Joy Division albums should be part of any vinyl record collection, but if you had to choose one, I lean towards the Manchester group’s seminal debut Unknown Pleasures.
Four decades on and this album remains one of the greatest releases of all time. It’s responsible for creating the post-punk genre and has influenced almost every modern rock band ever formed.
Every song is a hit, from the droning bass of Peter Hook on opener Disorder to vocalist Ian Cutis’ fractured vocals on She’s Lost Control. This is an album addressing themes of angst, industrialism, epilepsy, and heartbreak brought together by Curtis’ pained baritone.
36. The Rolling Stones - Exile on Main St.
Recorded mainly in a villa in France, the making of Exile on Main St. is the stuff of legend. Keith Richards was in the depths of heroin addiction and Mick Jagger often missed sessions, but somehow when the band did manage to get together they created magic.
The Stones’ 10th album is chock full of incredible songs that merge rock and blues with soul and country, resulting in arguably the Stones greatest ever record.
37. Dr. Dre - The Chronic
After finding success with gangster rap group NWA, Dr. Dre proved he was a master of the art form with the release of The Chronic.
Creating the blueprint for g-funk, Dre blessed hip-hop fans with a classic album all about blunts, 40s, and attractive ladies. He also introduced the world to a then 18-year-old Snoop Dogg on hit Nuthin’ But A “G” Thang.
While the lyrics pose a problem in the current world, the beats still hold up, with Dre cementing his status as a hip-hop legend.
38. Amy Winehouse - Back To Black
Besides Adele, Amy Winehouse is the greatest female vocalist to come out of the past two decades. Possessed with a deep, soulful croon, you can feel Winehouse’s pain and sorrow on tracks such as Rehab, Addicted, and the glorious title track Back To Black.
A troubled figure who couldn’t beat her demons, Back To Black stands as Winehouse’s legacy – an emotional collection of soul, jazz, and pop songs that’s the biggest insight into her life we will ever get. RIP.
39. Bruce Springsteen - Darkness on the Edge of Town
You could put any number of Springsteen albums on this list, but for mine, it has to be Darkness on the Edge of Town. This is an exploration of the working class in America, with Springsteen fully embracing his love of rock and roll.
From the driving opener Badlands to the sax-heavy The Promised Land and the tale of a down on his luck loser on album closer Darkness on the Edge of Town, this 10 track record is a compelling masterpiece.
Springsteen would go on to release records that charted better and produced bigger hits, but this remains a touchstone in his career.
40. Black Sabbath - Paranoid
The godfathers of metal, Black Sabbath have released 19 albums over a 50-year career. Picking their best isn’t easy, but Paranoid stands the test of time. There’s not a bad song on it, from the demonic War Pigs to lo-fi Planet Caravan, this album highlights everything incredible about this band.
If you only own one metal album, make sure it’s Paranoid.
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