- Yutong Yuan/Business Insider
- As product reviewers who often carry a lot of stuff to and from work every day, the members of the Insider Picks team have become experts at commuting.
- Most of us can agree that our commute is one of the less enjoyable parts of our day, but we’ve gotten pretty good at making it less miserable.
- Here are the 13 products we rely on every day to make our commutes a little more bearable.
- Read more: 21 products we were hesitant about at first but ended up really liking
Here on the Insider Picks team, we’re no amateurs when it comes to commuting. We’ve spent mornings pushing through crowds on the subway platform, sweating through long rides without any air conditioning in the summer, and have dealt with more delays, service changes, and unexpected stops than we can count. Most of these days, we have heavy bags full of products we’re testing for articles.
No matter where you live, how you get to work, or how long it takes you, most of us can agree that commuting can be a pretty dismal experience. Unfortunately, we’re not the MTA or magicians, so we can’t just make your commute disappear. But what we can do is help you out with some product recommendations we swear by that have the power to make your commute a little less miserable, and maybe even a little more enjoyable.
Here are 13 products we rely on to make our commutes better:
Connie Chen, reporter: “I could probably sit (and yes, even stand) on the train all day as long as I have my Kindle and a few books loaded up. I used to carry physical books on my commute, but they just got too heavy and cumbersome to hold. I have the older Paperwhite version, but many of these statements still stand: it’s light and comfortable to hold, glare-free, and has a good battery life. What’s great about the newest one is that it’s now waterproof and has double the storage.”
Sally Kaplan, Insider Picks Editor: “I absolutely hate commuting, but a Kindle makes it about 50% better. It’s easy to read from while sitting or standing on the subway, particularly because it doesn’t require two hands to turn pages. Even if I’m squished between 100 people and grasping for balance from a nearby pole, I can keep my place in the book and not worry about accidentally closing it without a bookmark.”
RHA Wireless Earbuds
Sally Kaplan, editor: “I truly love these headphones. They sound amazing, and they create a seal that blocks out the noise of my commute, which includes dreadfully loud screeching trains and honking trucks. The back of each earbud is magnetic, so when I’m done listening, I just pop them out of my ears and the magnets meet to create a necklace of sorts so they never fall off. Plus, they pair easily and seamlessly. You can read my full review of them here, but suffice it to say, I’d rather be hit by a train than commute without them.”
Jaybird Tarah Pro Earbuds
- Best Buy
Connie Chen, reporter: “No matter how much you’re jamming out, no one likes to hear what you’re listening to on your commute. These wireless sports earbuds have great sound quality and immerse you fully in your music, without subjecting your fellow passengers to it. What’s cool about these earphones is that you can customize the bass and treble through the Jaybird app, and they have a really impressive 14-hour battery life.”
Patagonia Micro Puff Hoody
Amir Ismael, reporter: “Staying at a comfortable body temperature is usually my biggest concern while commuting, and the Patagonia Micro Puff has been my savior for staying warm. As Patagonia’s best warmth-for-weight jacket, it’s a lot warmer than it actually looks. Although it can’t compete with a real deal winter parka, it’s a great bottom layer for days when it’s below freezing. It’s even saved me from super cold air conditioning on long bus rides or in the office during the summer when the air conditioning makes it feel like winter. When stowed into its own pocket, the Patagonia Micro Puff is so compact and light that it’s almost never worth leaving behind – regardless of the season.”
Everlane Form Bag
Ellen Hoffman, director of editorial strategy for Insider Picks: “In an effort to reduce back strain while riding the ever-more-crowded New York City subways, I’ve stopped hauling big purses to work that are packed with a lot of extra junk I don’t need. (I mean, really, how often do I need access to five slightly differently colored lipsticks?). Helping me in this effort the last few months has been Everlane’s Form Bag, which is the perfect medium size for all the essentials, including my 13-inch MacBook Pro that fits best when stored horizontally.
I like that I can wear the Form Bag across my body for better weight distribution. It houses only one small interior pocket, though; so if you’re looking for a great work bag with pockets for everything, including one for your coffee thermos, I highly recommend Dagne Dover tote bags that comes in tons of colors and different sizes for every need.”
Cotopaxi Kusa Jacket
Mara Leighton, reporter: “This is one of the best examples of incredibly thin jackets that pack a ton of warmth. It’s insulation is a blend of polyester and llama fiber, which is super lightweight but naturally insulating thanks to its hollow makeup. Before temperatures plummet to single digits, this is my cheat code to staying warm without taking up the space of four people in a marshmallow puffer coat. It folds down to the space of a T-shirt in my bag, but keeps me toasty even when I can see my breath. This also means I can take it off and put it away while on swamped trains to avoid overheating. It also has water-resistant finish, so I don’t worry about a drizzle.”
A Scribd Membership
Mara Leighton, reporter: “For $8.99 per month, I get unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, magazines, sheet music, and more. I’ve been an avid subscriber for years to make learning/reading more affordable. There’s an offline download option for the subways or plane rides, and it’s a relief not having to wiggle a book out of my bag or keep it open at the expense of everyone else’s free space.”
CleanWell Hand Sanitizer Spray
Grace High, analyst: “I try not to touch anything or sit on the subway, but sometimes I forget and touch something in a moment of carelessness. Knowing my hands are clean and the calming smell of this sanitizer instantly puts my anxiety to rest.”
Dagne Dover Weston Laptop Bag
- Dagne Dover/Instagram
Mara Leighton, reporter: “This bag somehow always fits what I need it to without taking on bulk. It holds my laptop, planner, and miscellaneous essentials like gloves – but it’s sleek enough to go unnoticed in a packed train. The outer pocket is flush with the bag but perfectly deep for house keys, lip balms, and headphones at easy access. It can be worn on your arm, shoulder, or as a crossbody.”
Remi Rosmarin, Insider Picks Reporter: “I’ve already written about the merits of this commuter-friendly bag, but I’m going to sing its praises again. When you’re shoved into a crowded subway car, it can be hard to know what to do with a bulky bag. That’s why I love this one – it has a sleek and slim look, plus you can hold it in your hands or wear it as a crossbody bag, which is a nice break for your back if you spend most of your commute standing up.”
Grace High, analyst: “This bag is lightweight and cute, and definitely better for my back than lugging my life around in a large tote. Plus the inside of the bag is colorful and fun!”
Sally Kaplan, editor: “I have one of these grips on my phone and another one on my Kindle. They make it a lot easier to hold my devices on crowded trains, so I never feel like I’m at risk of dropping something and ending up with a cracked screen.”
Silk Wallet Phone Case
Sally Kaplan, editor: “I swear by these wallet cases for making my commute more seamless. Instead of digging around for my MetroCard every time I need to swipe quickly to catch a train, I just pull my card out from the back of my phone, which is pretty much always in my hand.”
Remi Rosmarin, reporter: “I don’t care if these look funny, I love them. These aren’t technically noise-cancelling headphones, but they’re loud enough to drown out the many loud and unusual noises you may encounter on a subway ride. Plus, the fact that they’re wireless is so convenient – I can keep my phone tucked away in my bag or pocket without accidentally pulling out my headphone wires.”