Welcome back to Backed Hard, the monthly cornucopia of the best stuff your trusted Rec Room staff purchased, loved, and now wish to evangelize. March, known for its Ides, has been predictably unpredictable this year, but we’ve found solace in our linen duvet covers, platform Crocs, and books about the history of garden gnomes. We’re poking our heads outside (and getting rained on), filling our pantries with tinned fish, and counting down the days until we can safely wear socks with sandals again without having to worry about wiping out in a murky puddle full of cigarette butts.
We try out a lot of products here at Rec Room, from cult-fave finds on Amazon to best-selling sex toys, and so you know that when we wax poetic about something, we mean it. Read on to find out why this month, we’re super sprung (it is spring, after all) on classic sweats, 70s-inspired bar stools, mesh turtlenecks, and a “sponge-wand thing.” Here are our luscious, crushalicious editors’ picks for March 2022.
The new Cloudmonsters from On
I’ve been a fan of the Swiss running brand On since I first tried out the Cloudstratus last year. On’s shoes are cushioned, which really helps with my knee pain and shin splints, and the Cloudmonster is the brand’s most padded release to date. A self-described “maximalist shoe,” it has a massive sole with a bouncy, proprietary Speedboard that springs you into your next stride when you’re running. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to put in some road work before beach season arrives, look no further. —Ian Burke
A Quince linen duvet cover + pillows
I’m a fuh-reeeeaaak for bedding, and need different weaves and weights for every season because I run very hot in the summer and perma-freezing-my-ass-off in the winter. With warmer months approaching, it felt like time for a new linen set since there have been Sleep Week deals poppin’ this month. I opted for this super highly rated Quince set in a cozy terracotta shade, and from the second I put it on my bed, I’ve been in love with both the aesthetic and the naturally temperature-regulating fabric. It’s still on sale if you, too, wanna hop aboard the linen train. —Hilary Pollack
The internet’s favorite earrings
These perfect PAVOI hoops were served to me in an ad after whispering “affordable gold” into my iPhone 666 times. The algorithm really delivered, because these 14-karat gold-colored huggies are one of Amazon’s best cult-fave items in the jewelry department with over 35,000 reviews and 4.6-star rating. All of my friends think they’re by Mejuri (and have no idea that they cost less than their fancy sammie from Mekelburg’s). —Mary Frances Knapp
My new favorite snack
Blame COVID quarantine, when I largely lived off of shelf-stable pantry items, but I’ve turned into a tinned fish enthusiast, and now I see it totally differently—as more of a chic, gourmet treat than a pseudo-doomsday prepper snack. I love trout in lemon oil, mussels in garlic marinade, and most of all, this collab that just dropped between Fishwife and delicious Chinese condiment and dumpling purveyors Fly by Jing. It is soo good—tremendously umami, flavorful, and perfect for noshing on by itself for adding to rice bowls, eggs, or schmear-topped crackers. Run, don’t walk, to grab some before it sells out. —Angel Kilmister
1970s-inspired bar stools
I have been looking for the right bar stools for such a long time, and it’s surprisingly difficult to find a pair under $500 that doesn’t look like it belongs in a cheapo model home. After many moons of online sleuthing, I found some of the best, affordable and stylish bar stools, such as this super easy to assemble teddy fabric set that makes me feel like I’m hanging out at Pierre Cardin’s villa in the 1970s. The seats are a milky ivory color that actually looks like real bouclé vintage fabric, and they’re extra wide and height-adjustable. —Mary Frances Knapp
A goes-with-everything Champion crewneck
You can’t go wrong with Champion—it’s a cool legacy brand, it’s got history, and its products are sturdy and functional. (In fact, I’m wearing Champion sweatpants as I write this.) What I love about Champion the most, though, are the brand’s crewnecks and sweatshirts, specifically, this low-profile, pared-down gray boy with elastic cuffs and waist. It’s a great seasonal transition piece, and it’ll look great on you, champ. —Ian Burke
The bonkers history of IRL garden gnomes
Did you know that back in the day—like, the 1800s—rich British peeps with sprawling estates used to hire randos to live on their land as 24/7 cosplaying druids, wise men, and erudite gnomes? They were known as “ornamental hermits,” and as time went on, the occupation dwindled and was replaced by the (much more) cost-effective garden gnome sculptures in your Midwestern aunt’s yard—but the story about what it was like to have one of the world’s weirdest occupations is both a relaxing, and wild read. —Mary Frances Knapp
Bury me in these platform Crocs
The higher the Crocs, the closer to god. Fashion’s most divisive shoe turned 20 this year, and I celebrated by buying this pair of hot pink, stacked-AF bubblegum clompers, to which my mother said, “Don’t break your teeth, they were expensive.” But guess what, Ma? These platform Crocs are so lightweight and ergonomic, I think I actually find myself gliding across the streets of Bushwick. —Mary Frances Knapp
A couple of spring turts
My esteemed colleague Mary Frances Knapp wrote an awesome piece recently about how turtlenecks are the underrated sartorial heroes of the winter-to-spring ‘fit arsenal, and I couldn’t agree more, but the chunky-knit ones, while cozy AF, look awful on me, unfortunately. So instead, I picked up two lightweight jawns, this tie-dye mesh number (which looks very cyberpunk/hacker rad IRL) and a lightweight cotton one from none other than J.Crew, which has a surprisingly high volume of cute stuff right now. Both are perfect for being breathable and comfortable while also providing the versatile layering that only a turtleneck can. I’ve already gotten compliments on both. —Angel Kilmister
This sponge-wand thing
OK, so perhaps not the sexiest of purchases, but as someone who doesn’t have a dishwasher in their apartment, this little guy has been a lifesaver. It makes washing dishes such a breeze, I’m not sure how I ever lived without it. Got long glasses that are hard to scrub with a regular sponge? No problem. Hate having to get your hands dirty with food muck and murky sink water? This is what you need. —Ian Burke
Work out like Arnie
Like all versions of the Bible, The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and Revised has gone through many iterations. But its core components are still there, helping newbies, professionals, or fitness connoisseurs reach their fitness goals. I had both Kindle and physical versions of this book for years; however, I recently realized I needed a new copy of the paperback version, since I apparently had mistakenly, in a feverish fit of generosity, donated my old copy to a friend. This book isn’t just for bodybuilders—it offers a wide variety of workouts that focus on the fundamentals of weight lifting and fitness. It offers sound advice for everything from nutrition to workout tips. What I like about this book is how well it’s organized; you can easily leaf through it and prioritize the sections that work for you. If you’re on a fitness kick and want to learn workouts from Arnold Schwarzenegger (who wouldn’t?), I can’t recommend this book more highly. —Jamie Steidle
A bitchin’ Tekla bathrobe for my dad
For reasons I won’t get into, I was very late in acquiring the right Christmas gift for my dad this year, and so I ended up giving it to him in March. (Better late than never, you know?) I’ve always had my eye on Tekla’s gorgeous and lush-feeling bathrobes, and I finally pulled the trigger when this dad-tastic brown robe with light pink stripes went on sale. My dad is obsessed, but my mom is already plotting on how to steal it. I want one for myself, too; it’s so thick and cozy and feels like it will last forever. —Hilary Pollack
See you in April, fam. Watch out for those showers.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.