Gift Guides

Dad. Dad! DAD!

. 9 min read . Written by Russell Smith
Dad. Dad! DAD!

Your ultimate 2023 Father’s Day gift guide!

Well, well, well, another trip around the sun for the dear ole dad in our life. On Sunday, June 18, 2023, we’ll celebrate these amazing men. By tradition, we give our dads gifts, but really that is usually only a small outward expression of our love for Dad. Still, a little sumptin’ sumptin’ for the effort is nice.

Here are some gift ideas sure to wow the Dad in your life!

Chester Mox #199 Waprolux & French Chèvre Bifold Wallet

I found Chester Mox in 2022 looking for a new wallet. I got tired of the ‘mass luxury’ brands and sought something distinguished and made with a craftsman’s hands and eyes.

I loved the look and feel, and ability to customize the leather, stitching and personalization. I ordered this wallet and have used it ever since. I will probably use it for the rest of my life.

The look is unique and striking. But when you touch it, hold it in your hand, slip it into your pocket – then you fall in love.

The Chester Mox team provided kind and helpful guidance when I customized my order. Every touchpoint told me my order mattered to them – and more importantly, so did I.

LAMY Safari USA Independence Fountain Pen

Sixteen days after Father’s Day, the US celebrates its Independence Day. What better way for Dad to celebrate these superb holidays than by signing his John Hancock with a writing instrument from a German pen manufacturer?

I’ve used LAMY rollerballs, ballpoints and fountain pens for years. In fact, my father gave me my first LAMY fountain pen when I was in college. They write well and smoothly. They have no frills. Their sleek, modern design stands out in almost any setting. And they sell for much less than many, many fountain pens.

I really enjoy this USA Independence edition. It offers a different look than their other pens. The top of the pen cap features a red loop clip and red top with a hole in it, rather than the usual gunmetal color with an etched X. Simple and elegant.

LEUCHTTURM1917 Softcover Composition Notebook

A Nashville-based writer friend turned me onto this company earlier this year. I’ve found the softcover version light and thin for everyday carry and for travel. And the B5 Composition size expands possibilities for my writing, without being cumbersome to carry or open in my lap. It quickly became my favorite notebook-journal in a decade or more.

It contains some cool features – an elastic closure band, two bookmarks, a pocket on the inside back cover, numbered pages, and a table of contents area. After years of using notebooks without those features, I thought I’d find them irrelevant. Instead, I use them all every day.

For Mother’s Day, LEUCHTTURM1917 offered free personalization. They're offering the same deal for Father's Day, using code FPFDAY. You must order by Wednesday, June 7th.

Filson Journeyman Backpack

As my wife and kids know, I have a backpack …. um…. problem. Rucksacks, fishing bags, everyday carry bags – I’ve had dozens and used ‘em all. Maybe I enjoy the different styles, materials and designs, and exploring how different makers envision usage.

Most backpacks leave me feeling, in the immortal word of The Emoji Movie, “meh.” Poor design – meaning, hard to use the features of the backpack – abound. I continually find it surprising that so many makers create uncomfortable products. When I buy a new backpack, I expect to carry it for hours on end, with few breaks. Comfort and function combine to make a terrific, often-used, well-loved backpack.

I own several products from the venerable, Seattle-based Filson. I use them all, I wear them all, I love them all. Even when they make me appear uncomfortably like Elmer Fudd…

This backpack looks cool. You can easily access the front pocket and unzip the main compartment. The straps have enough padding to make a long walk comfortable. That Otter Green – man, that color from Filson melts my heart.

If my write-up doesn’t convince you, Nick English of Stridewise did a long written and video review. That should tip the scale.

Duke & Duke Banker Bag

Yes! Rowing Blazers has this banker bag back in stock! Yes! For fans of the Eddie Murphy and Dan Aykroyd movie, Trading Places – and, really, who isn’t? – this is your must-have item of the year!

Russell’s Awesome Everyday Emergency Kit

This lil kit makes a perfect companion in your car or EDC/school backpack. You’ll utilize every single item in it at least once per year, guaranteed. Here’s the story of why and how I created this gem. You will love it!

Field Notes, Young Jerks, and Misc. Goods Father’s Day Permit Pack

Tyler Deeb, the Louisville-based owner of Misc. Goods Co.,  has partnered with Field Notes and Young Jerks to bring this awesome pack to market. It includes a special edition 3-pack of Field Notes, a badass leather carrying pouch, and various other goodies. I am drooling.

Shun Classic Western Chef’s Knife

Years ago, when we lived in Washington, DC, my wife and I took a bunch of cooking classes. One night, the chef used a Shun Chef Knife. I instantly fell in love. Made in Japan, Shun makes exquisite kitchen tools of superlative quality. I’ve now had my Chef Knife for more than 12 years; I still use it every time I cook. Note the handle is slightly offset from the blade, so you need to select the knife made for whichever hand you hold it in.

Stanley Classic Easy Fill Wide-Mouth Flask in Blaze Orange

I’m not drinking alcohol these days, but this flask looked too kick-ass to pass up. I mean, look at it! Mesmerizing. It’s a thing of beauty. I will take it on my next fishing trip, even if it only contains water. Just to look that cool.

A Watch from Wind Vintage

My friend Eric Wind is the country’s – maybe the world’s – premier expert on and source of rare and unique timepieces. Eric has carefully and lovingly restored each watch to make it ready for its new owner. These are exceedingly rare, often one-of-a-kind, and ooze coolness and sophistication. You won’t regret working with Eric to purchase your new family heirloom.

The Power of Unwavering Focus, by Dandapani

Do you find your Dad on his phone a lot? Looking down at its glowing, incandescent screen at meals, ballgames, family functions and in front of the TV? Does his, or your, attention flit from this to that to zygotes to axolotls to tomorrow’s big business meeting to the Washington Nationals’s surprisingly subpar but not disastrous season to what’s for dinner?

If he’s anything like me, the onslaught of the modern attention-grabbing world needs some pushback. This book helps fend off this modern-day attention assault. Dandapani’s lessons have helped me concentrate better, becoming much more aware and in control of the attention in my mind. Not perfect – oh no, no, no, not perfect by any stretch. But much much better, and the book gave me a platform for improving my focus and attention over time. This is the book that has most positively impacted my life in the past two years.  

Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Love’s Labor’s Lost

Your Dad probably needs more Shakespeare in his life. I know I do. These four plays offer an excellent re-introduction to the Bard. If you happen to live in the Louisville area, the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival will put on these four plays this summer.

Or, if your Dad wants to dig deep – deeeeep – into Shakespeare, like King John, Cymbeline, Titus Andronicus deep, give Dad the works – the Complete Works of Shakespeare!  

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A Subscription to Lyle McKeany’s Newsletter, “Just Enough to Get Me Into Trouble”

I met Lyle through the Foster writing community and had the great pleasure to meet him at Foster’s Winter Retreat in February. He’s a writer and creative coach based in the Bay Area.  

His newsletter, delivered every Saturday to your inbox, exudes kindness, exuberance, humanity and wisdom. Lyle writes about writing, golf, travel and his family. His daughter, Em, has severe cerebral palsy which is a muscle movement disorder. She cannot walk or talk. She also has a feeding tube. Lyle often explores his experiences as a Dad to a daughter with a severe disability. (Check out this, this and this, among many others.) Like I said, he writes with supreme humanity and grace and love.

I’ve learned a lot about being a Dad from Lyle. I suspect most of us can.

Plant or Cactus

Every office and workspace can benefit from a touch of greenery. Here you see my little desktop plant and pen jungle – my air plant, Christmas cactus and other small cactus.

Simply glancing over at my small green jungle brings a smile to my face and peace to my heart throughout the day. The Dad in your life would love one too.

A Handwritten Note to Dad

Yes, you love your Dad. You tell him that all the time. But a written letter has a certain power, the life of a lasting energy, a stone to remain for eons.

Write your Dad or husband or grandfather or uncle a letter, telling him in emotive detail what he means to you. Try to refrain from simplistic terms such as “great,” “amazing” and “awesome.” Convey what swells in your heart and feelings when you bring him to your awareness. Write less from the head and mostly from the soul.  

It may take you an hour to write a short letter, even less than a page long. You may take 50 of those minutes simply sitting still to let images and memories and feelings wash over you. That’s okay. Dig deep here. Allow those feelings to trickle, then spread and finally gush. That’s the memorable, the cherishable. Write that to Dad.

If you’d like even more gift ideas, check out my previous gift guides!

Holiday Gift Guide 2022

Father’s Day Gift Guide 2022

Holiday Gift Guide 2021

25 Books for the Rest of My Life

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, of every stripe, out there! May this day bring you closer to your father, and your father closer to you.

Top image created by Midjourney.