Last year, with the retirement of my parents, my family decided to stop exchanging gifts for Christmas. This decision was tough for us because Christmas has always been a big deal for my family, but with everyone getting older and busier, it often felt like we were exchanging gift cards of equal amounts and stressing over holiday shopping. Instead, we pooled some of the money we would have spent on gifts and spent it on the celebration itself. We had a prime rib feast and top shelf craft cocktails and simply enjoyed the time we had together. I have to admit; it was more enjoyable than any other Christmas in recent memory, and it was a lot less stressful.

All that to say, this year I won’t be doing a Gentleman Badass Gift Guide. Instead, I’ve compiled a list of the five best purchases both Mick and I made in 2021. 

In order to make this list, the items needed to meet a few criteria.

1. They had to be thoroughly enjoyable and/or useful.

2. They had to have lasting power. Not something that was used a few times and discarded.

3. They had to exceed their purchase price in perceived value.

As always, I’ve included affiliate links for items that are available on Amazon. If you click the link and purchase a product, the authors receive a small commission. Obviously, if you can find a better price somewhere else, do that, but if you want to help us out, every little commission helps. 

(Josh) Amazon Essentials Slim Fit Stretch Jeans

There’s a trait amongst the men of my family. From my dad and brother to my late grandpa and probably his dad before him, Kidney men don’t have much of a butt. Despite all my work in the gym, my butt is still practically invisible. Combine this trait with the fact that I have somewhat sizable legs (thanks to the gym) and finding a pair of pants that fits me well is next to impossible. If the waist fits, the legs are too tight. If the legs fit, the waist is too big. At first I thought the key would be to find size 35 jeans which aren’t common. The only place I could them was at a high end store. $300 and two pairs of jeans later and I still wasn’t satisfied. Every picture taken of me on stage looked dumpy because my jeans fit so poorly. Eventually I just threw my hands up and typed “size 35 jeans” into the Amazon search bar to see what I could find, and that’s how I found the perfect pair of jeans for my body. Initially, I ordered a size 35, but thanks to the stretchiness of the pants, it was still too big. I returned them and ordered size 34 and I haven’t looked back since. I kid you not when I tell you I’ve worn one pair of jeans over the last year and they still fit perfectly and look brand new. At the time, the jeans were only $25. Thanks to inflation, it looks like they’re up to about $32. I’d pay even more for them if I had to. Combined with the suspenders I bought back in 2020, I’m happier than I’ve ever been with my pants game.  

(Mick) Ox Blood Dr. Martens Boots

I used to be into punk rock in my youth and fell in love then with Doc Martens boots. Last year I needed footwear to go with my Kiltman Kilt and treated myself to a new pair. If you know, then you know all I need to say about Doc Martens.

(Josh) AirPods Pro

I get it. I’m late to the party. I was resistant to AirPods for quite a while. I just didn’t see how they could be worth the money. Besides, I had some $5 bluetooth headphones that had been a workhorse for me for several years. When they finally bit the dust, I tried to find them again on Amazon, but they were no longer available. After some research, I decided it was time to pony up for the real thing, and I’ve been glad almost every day since. I use these things constantly. From Zoom meetings, to working out, to talking on the phone while driving, listening to music and podcasts in the car and even just having them silently in my ears so that the noise cancellation drowns out the outside noise.  

One reason I was resistant was I didn’t think they’d actually stay in my ears. I was partially correct on this one. If I’m jogging, they do like to loosen up, but I’ve yet to have them fall out of my ears. I did spend another $10 for some ear hooks just in case one eventually takes the plunge. Regardless, my AirPods have already been worth the money, and as far as I can tell, they have a long life still ahead of them.

(Mick) Quad Lock Motorcycle Handlebar Mount 

I love riding my motorcycle and there is nothing more relaxing than listening to Audible books while I ride. Most phone mounts for a motorcycle are crap and I would not trust having my I phone sitting on the tank or handlebars of an old rumbling Harley without assurance that I would not have my phone fall off while out on a ride. This thing rocks and I have ridden multiple trips with my phone visible so I can change books etc when I am at a stop.

(Josh) Ogio Gym Bag

I never thought I would love a gym bag. I’ve always had cheap ones. The first few were hand-me-downs, the next few I bought on daily deal sites. Considering I use a gym bag almost every single day and haul heavy things like multiple gis and bulky gym equipment, they always broke down quickly. Even when they were new and in good condition, zippers would get stuck, straps would shred and clips would break. After one of my clients walked in with an Ogio on his back, I immediately asked him for the link and bought it later that day.

This gym bag cost me more than all my other gym bags together, but it’s worth it. Ogio makes a great product. The first I’d ever heard of them was way back in 2009 from a couple of savvy world travelers who said Ogio gear was the best. The bag has super sturdy construction, well thought out pockets and the double straps that allow it to be worn like a backpack are a game changer. If you’re a gym rat like me, this gym bag is an easy decision.

(Mick) A yearly membership to Nebraska Games and Parks  

Eugene T. Mahoney State Park - Nebraska Game and ParksNebraska Game and  Parks |

Wherever you live, I am sure that there are state parks available for you to explore, camp, and relax. This membership allows me to enter all the state parks here in Nebraska where I can hike with our dogs, BBQ, ride horses, swim and enjoy the great outdoors. I have always loved to travel, but a membership like this reminds me that there is beauty in our great state and that you can explore and vacation on a budget.

(Josh) Sig P320XC

SIG P320 XCompact 9mm Pistol | SIG SAUER P320 XCompact

One of my goals at the beginning of 2021 was to get a red dot sight for one of my pistols. At the time, I owned Glocks exclusively and none were milled for an optic. That left me with a few choices. Buy a new slide for one of my Glocks, have one of my current slides milled, or buy a new gun that was already cut for a red dot. After shopping around, I realized I was going to be spending $500 – $600 either way, so I did what any red-blooded American would do. I bought another gun. Throughout the process, I was debating between the Sig P320XC or the Walther PDP. This time frame was also when it was very difficult to find guns in stock (even as an instructor at a gun range and pro shop). In the end, the Sig won out simply because it was the first that came available. While I’m not the type who is a brand die-hard, this gun quickly transitioned me from a Glock lover to a Sig lover. The trigger is butter smooth, and the grip fits my hand like a glove. I will admit, my EDC is still my Glock 43x because of its portability and dependability (though the Sig has been nothing but dependable all year). That said, the gun I currently enjoy shooting the most is this Sig. 5 Stars. Highly recommended.

(Mick) TaylorMade Sim 2 Max Golf Clubs

I have recently gotten into golf and have been using a starter set I purchased from Scheels two years ago. With some shoulder injuries, including 3 surgeries in the last year, and after consulting a golf pro, I broke down and bought “old man golf clubs.” Now, don’t get me wrong, they were not cheap, but they have a graphite shaft with a “senior flex” which vastly reduces the impact on my shoulder. Not only have I been able to continue golfing, but between the new clubs and the shoulder injury forcing me to slow down and not try to crush the ball, I have shaved quite a few strokes off my game.

(Josh) Holosun 507c Red Dot

Since I finally had my hands on a gun that was milled for a red dot, I needed to buy one. After consulting with several other handgun instructors, the consensus was the Holosun 507c. While the Trijicon RMR is an excellent red dot, it’s pricier, and once again, it wasn’t in stock. I will admit, my first week with the Holosun was mildly disappointing. The battery that came with the sight (which was supposed to hold 50,000 hours of use) died on the third trip to the range and made me wonder if the site was defective. Thankfully, the replacement battery has been going strong ever since I changed it out. 

Now let me get one thing straight, if your fundamentals suck, a red dot will not help your shooting. On the other hand, if your fundamentals are solid, a red dot is a whole new level of fun and a whole new set of challenges. Overall, I wish I would have started shooting red dot a lot sooner. It’s been a blast (pun intended) and it’s even helped improve my marksmanship.

A side note, you’d think it would be easy to add a red dot to any old gun. It’s not. Most guns are cut to fit one or two different red dot sights and if you don’t purchase the sight they’re cut for, you have to find a mounting plate which can be difficult. I feel like this process is ripe for refinement. If you’re looking to get into a red dot, be aware it might take some research to get everything you need for mounting.

(Mick) 2004 Harley Davidson Dyna Glide

May be an image of motorcycle

I have been riding motorcycles most of my life and about 6 years ago I sold my Harley Sportster, as it was too small to be seen and heard in the city. Recently, I moved from Omaha to the small town of Ashland, which is about 25 minutes from the city. Out here there are wide open roads and great scenic rides, so I started looking for another bike. After casually looking on the Facebook marketplace for about 3 months, I found one that had only 2000 miles and had been garaged for the last 8 years. I picked it up for $2500 and spent another $1000 to have my stepson, who is a bike mechanic, go through and make it roadworthy again. So for $3500.00, I have a low mileage cruiser again.

So there you have it. Josh and Mick’s best purchases of 2021. Did anything pique your interest?

What about your best purchases of 2021? Let us know in the comments.