Seth Barham Design
Minimal and effective design, inspired by culture.

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A Review: Grooming Stuff for Nomads

Long term travel doesn't necessarily mean you have to fall into the smelly backpacker stereotype. Traveling outside of your country doesn’t release you from the internationally-accepted societal norms of looking like you give a shit about your appearance. And you’re representing your country abroad, by the way - you should look good while doing it. Like everything in my pack, I’m very choosy about these tools that I use to create a veneer of presentability over the years of exposure to baijiu, secondhand smoke/pollution and environmental stress from the chaos that is China. I want well-designed products that function well, stand up to the challenges of being knocked around on the road and just look good. That said, these are the four main grooming products I use both in transit and at home. 

Tom Bihn Spiff Kit

There are some companies out there that are just head and shoulders above everyone else in terms of product design, quality, supply chain and support. Tom Bihn is one of them. If you travel a lot, chances are you’re already familiar with them. Their Spiff Kit bag for your grooming supplies was the first thing I bought from them, and it inspired me to eventually pick up their Daylight Briefcase as well. The Spiff Kit is made from 200 denier Halcyon/nylon ripstop fabric that is woven in a grid pattern to be virtually indestructible unless you’re actually trying, at which point you should probably pour yourself a drink because it’s going to take some time and effort. The fabric is also water resistant - a necessity since it will most likely be hanging out by the shower. 

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The inside is simple and utilitarian, but you don’t need anything else. Their are two main compartments. The top is a large zippered pouch and the bottom one is the same, excepted the mess is stitched to the body down the middle, essentially dividing it into two smaller compartments. There’s a mirror in the middle and a hook at the top for hanging up your bag in your hotel bathroom. There’s not much else to say about it other than it is perfect for travel, made in the USA and comes with a lifetime guarantee. 

Oral-B Pro 7000 SmartSeries Electric Toothbrush

I'm sure anyone that flies frequently will agree - the first thing you want to do after a long-haul flight is brush your teeth for about five minutes, even if you manage to brush on the plane (I prefer to take as little into plane lavatories as possible). Nothing beats that feeling of freshly showered, sparkly clean teeth and sinking into a hotel bed for a solid block of comatose, dreamless sleep. To achieve at least one of those, I recommend the Oral-B Pro 7000. I'm a late convert to electric toothbrushes, and this is actually my first. I will never use a manual toothbrush again. Not only is it easier to brush, it does a much better job at cleaning as well. Don't take my word for it; dentists and representatives from the American Dental Association agree that powered toothbrushes are better for several reasons. 

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Before I go on, let me be the first to admit that the 7000 is probably overkill for most people. It is the most expensive and offers the most features out of the SmartSeries, but I managed to get it super cheap last year during Cyber Monday. I am not going to use the Bluetooth connectivity feature and accompanying app, ever. There's such a thing as overcomplicating things. The six cleaning modes are very helpful, however - I use at least three of them daily. Others, like the sensitivity setting, might be good for you if you have sensitive teeth or a toothache. Something that really sold me on it was their partnership with Braun, who really know how to design a solid product that looks good and needs little maintenance. There's actually a sale on Amazon right now if you want to pick up the 7000 and see what clean teeth really feel like. 

Braun Series 7-720S Electric Shaver

I'm pretty erratic when it comes to my facial hair decisions. Sometimes I'll grow a beard out for a month only to shave all that hard work off on a whim. I guess it's fair to say I'm not attached to what's attached to my face. To take such a devil-may-care position on my beard or lack there of, I need a powerful shaver. My skin is also very sensitive, so I don't like using blades. This Series 7-720S from Braun pretty much fulfills all of my requirements. It can hack off a month of beard growth on its own and also give a clean shave very close to the face. This eliminates the need to carry both a beard trimmer and razors when I'm traveling. 

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There are several things I really dig about this shaver. First off, the battery life is excellent. I don't have to worry about it dying after I decide to see what I look like rocking an Abradolf Lincler. Also, you can lock the head so that it's easier to get into that impossible area where my jaw meets my neck. For precision touch-up and all out weed-wackin' when you need it, there's a little flap with a precision trimmer attached. Finally, it's waterproof. I can shower and shave at the same time, which saves me time in the morning. This is one of those products that does its job so well, I would buy it again if it was lost or broken. 

Seki Edge Fingernail Clippers

I realize how absolutely persnickety (not often I get to use that word) and somewhat douchey it seems to be so choosey about something as mundane as fingernail clippers, and I thought the same of redditors on r/BuyItForLife who wouldn’t shut up about these things. But at a certain point, my kit was looking the way I wanted and any improvements that could be made would be very minor. These Seki Edge clippers were on sale, so I thought I’d see what the difference was between them and some stainless steel clippers I could get at the dollar store. Is there a difference? Well, yeah. It depends on how much you value that difference. 

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These clippers are made in Japan from stainless steel and twice tempered for extra durability. The cutting area is actually honed by hand, which I think is the biggest difference. There is absolutely no effort in cutting through nails, even the thick ass nails on my big toes. There's a better chance of making a clean cut the first time around and less chance of accidentally injuring yourself. The same results could probably be achieved with normal clippers, but it will definitely take more time and care. 

Full Disclosure

All of the links in this post - except for the Tom Bihn Spiff Kit - are Amazon affiliate links. When you're doing your holiday shopping this year, consider using any of the links above - or this one - if you do your shopping on Amazon. If you enjoy my posts, using my link on Amazon is an easy way to support Spartan Wanderer with no extra cost added to you. You pay the same price and Amazon gives me a small kickback because I referred you to them. Do it if want; don't if you don't. I appreciate it!