Skip to main content

SPY Year in Review: The Best Things Our Editors Tested, Bought And Wrote in 2022

2022 was quite a year for SPY. Our team grew, our library of content expanded and we rapidly revved up our reviews content to bring you, our beloved readers, the most informed product recommendations possible.

We reviewed hundreds of products this year, distilling each list down to just the ones worth spending your hard-earned money on.

We tackled the latest tech news and announcements from CES and industry-leading brands like Apple and Samsung. We spoke with experts across the health, grooming, gear and home verticals to help you clean out your dryer vent, live off the grid and combat seasonal depression.

We tested security cameras, smartphones, men’s t-shirts, adjustable dumbbells, fitness mirrors, spin bikes, stain removers, lip balm and much, much more.

Our editors also spent a lot of time online shopping, vetting products, reading reviews and purchasing (or being gifted) items to try. We also spent time crafting longer form, investigative pieces on the latest in the commerce and men’s worlds.

After a whole year of work, it can be easy to want to simply unplug and not think about work until the next one starts. Instead, I asked each of our editors about the things that tickled them the most this year — be they products, pieces or both.

Consider this our team’s victory lap complete with products we’re going to continue using every day into 2023, and pieces you should pause to read if you missed them this year.

We present: SPY’s 2022 Year in Review.

Tim Werth, Site Director

Our fearless leader does more editing than writing, and shared a few of his favorite articles from the site at large this year.

“How to Achieve the ‘Yeehaw Fashion’ Look of Jordan Peele’s ‘Nope’” by Caroline Reily

Daniel Kaluuya in Nope, written and directed by Jordan Peele. Courtesy of Universal Pictures

His first pick is this fashion exposé of Jordan Peele’s latest horror comedy/psychological thriller Nope, which premiered this year. We were able to get an inside scoop from the talented designer who worked with Peele on the project and create a guide for readers looking to recreate some of the looks.

“One of our writers talked to the fashion designer behind Jordan Peele’s Nope. Yeehaw fashion has been so influential in the past couple of years, and I loved everything about this feature,” said Werth.

“After I Reviewed This DTC Rug Brand, Everyone in My Family Bought One” by Timothy Werth

Courtesy of Boutique Rugs

Werth also picked out this first-person account about the DTC rug brand, Boutique Rugs, which he quickly became a top spokesperson for after our site reviewed the brand in 2022.

Werth noted “We love bringing under-the-radar brands to our audience, and this is one DTC brand that deserves more attention. The headline is no joke – everyone in my family has one of these rugs now.”

“Over-The-Counter Hearing Aids Are Now Legal in the US, Here’s What That Means For You” by Taylor Galla

Licensed From Adobe

Hearing aids became legal to sell over-the-counter in 2022 and our site was one of the first to go in-depth with audiologists and hearing specialists about what that means for the hearing impaired.

“Hearing aids going over-the-counter is big, big news, but I didn’t see it covered as much as I expected. Our Senior Commerce Editor Taylor Galla spoke to some audiologists and policy experts for this excellent explainer,” said Werth.

If you know someone who uses hearing aids or blasts their music into their AirPods a little too loudly, and therefore may need to in the future, this piece is worth reading.

“Meet Lono Brazil, the Handsome Older Man Who Proves Modeling Should Have No Age Limit” by Caroline Reily

Courtesy of Bonobos

After years of shopping for menswear, our editors kept encountering this same face over and over again. We decided to pursue this older, suave male model and hopefully tell the story behind the increasingly recognizable figure.

“This is a story I’ve been wanting to tell for years. How did this handsome older man become so ubiquitous in the fashion industry? You might not know his name, but if you shop for menswear, you’ve seen his face,” said Werth.

One of our contributing writers spoke with this real-life renaissance man about his modeling career, family and compelling backstory. Whether or not you recognize him, this story is worth diving into.

“How the Playboy Brand Got a Second Chance at Life with Gen Z Thanks To Buzzy Apparel Collabs” by Isiah Magsino

Courtesy of Playboy

Seemingly against all the odds, Playboy is cool again. How, exactly, did that happen? Seemingly through a carefully-curated slate of Gen Z collaborations and a digital pivot that instead of marking their ultimate demise has propelled Playboy into a second life.

“The Playboy brand has been all over the place in the past decade, but they’ve finally found their niche in the modern era — as a clothing company? Playboy insiders tell SPY the majority of their revenue now comes from merchandise and apparel, and we’ve got the full story,” said Werth.

Here’s What I Wish Men Understood About Being a Woman With Big Boobs by Caroline Reily

Licensed from Adobe

After including this one, Werth succinctly summarized: “Here’s what women with big boobs wish men understood. Enough said.”

Sheilah Villari, Managing Editor

Sheilah Villari, SPY’s Managing Editor also rarely writes herself but is rather the editing machine that keeps our content calendar running. When polled about her favorite piece of the year, a critical outdoor guide put together by a longtime SPY team member came to mind.

“How To Poop in the Woods: We Asked So You Don’t Have To” by Jonathan Zavaleta

Courtesy of Aslia Africa

While for some, completing this simple act outdoors might feel like second nature, for others it’s a daunting prospect and a potential deterrent for adventure. Our editor is trying to prevent that by making it as easy as possible through tips, products and general guidance.

Villari noted “While I have never had to #2 in the woods I’m glad I now know how to handle nature calling in the great outdoors. I certainly never would have thought how important simple things for this situation are like a portable bidet. But If I’m camping in the future I can tell you biodegradable toilet paper will be packed.”

Taylor Galla, Senior E-Commerce Editor

I was blessed with a ton of special work for SPY this year that included interviewing experts in the fitness, health and wellness worlds, testing high-end fitness equipment, covering timely news releases and giving first-person accounts of some of my favorite products. Here are a few highlights from my year as a senior editor on the team.

“We Asked Privacy Experts About Amazon and Ring’s Controversial Relationship With Law Enforcement” by Taylor Galla

Licensed From Adobe

Amazon’s Ring cameras came under fire over the summer when Politico reported that they were handing over user footage to law enforcement without giving users notice in select situations where imminent physical threat or danger is present.

This, understandably, rattled the privacy and tech worlds as some believed it set a dangerous precedent for the tech giant’s potential overreach, as they’re the ones who decide when this standard for danger has been reached. Others were skeptical of law enforcement’s justification for obtaining the footage involuntarily from Ring users given their current public perception.

We decided to contact interested parties from all sides and create a must-know guide for Ring users nervous about their surveillance systems given the report. What we found was both reassuring in regards to Ring’s practices and worth noting for future developments.

“We Talked To TikTok’s Favorite Viral Couple Maya and Hunter About the Househusband Trend” by Taylor Galla

Courtesy of Maya + Hunter

Tik Tok’s househusband trend came out in full force this year with videos circulating of men, married to financially successful women, staying home and relishing at a chance to care for domestic responsibilities. One couple attempting to break standard home gender norms in favor of something more equitable and mutually beneficial is Hunter and Maya of Los Angeles.

They went viral this year for Hunter’s “Day in the Life of a Stay-at-Home Husband” videos, and I got a chance to speak with them about their inspiring and entertaining media presence, as well as the larger message they hope to send.

“We Asked the Costume Designers of FX’s ‘The Bear’ Where To Buy Carmy’s Sexy AF White T-Shirt” by Taylor Galla

Courtesy of FX

I, like every other sentient American with access to Hulu, watched “The Bear” this year and fell in love with its rugged portrayal of Chicago heartwarming homage to the culinary industry. I also lusted after Jeremy Allen White’s portrayal of the protagonist Carmy and went searching for his perfectly-tailored white t-shirt.

Thankfully, I got a chance to speak with the costume designers for the show and find out once and for all which shirt you can buy to recreate the chef’s iconic look.

John Velasco | SPY
2022 favorite product

Starting at $299.00

Buy Now

My favorite product I tested this year, that I will be continuing to use long after my review is done, is definitely the Oura ring. It’s a near-perfect health tech gadget that has benefitted my daily wellness routines immensely.

John Velasco, Tech Editor

Between the latest releases from Apple, daily deals from Amazon and and endless deluge of requests for hands-on reviews from the top brands in the space — our tech editor had a busy year.

He still had time to pick a few favorite stories to include in this wrap-up as well as two gadgets that stuck after testing that have officially received his seal of approval.

“Reviews: The 10 Best Bluetooth Sunglasses Prove We’re Living in the Future” by John Velasco

John Velasco | SPY

Out of the many tech reviews Velasco completed this year, this product category may be the most futuristic. If you haven’t worn a pair of Bluetooth sunglasses yet, check out this full overview of the top options available out there compared against one another that answers the question: are any of them worth your money?

“Samsung Galaxy Fold 4 Review: I Didn’t Think I’d Love Foldable Phones This Much” by John Velasco

John Velasco | SPY

The release of this foldable phone challenged the notion of what a smartphone can look like this year, and definitely wowed our tech editor’s high standards for noteworthy releases. Plus, the photos in it are just stunning.

“Shattering My Google Pixel 6 Pro Made Me a Firm Believer in Camera Cover Phone Cases” by John Velasco

John Velasco | SPY

It’s a tough moment for anyone, especially a lover of smartphones like Velasco. After frustratingly underwhelming collision between his phone and the kitchen counter rendered the camera unusable, he decided to explore camera cover phone cases. What he found changed the way he protects his phone forever.

Favorite Product of the Year: Lenovo ThinkPad X13s

Read More: John’s Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Review

Courtesy of Amazon

“I didn’t want to believe it, but the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s actually followed through with its promise of all-day battery life. Whereas most other laptops I’ve used tend to top out at five hours, there wasn’t a single one that could get me through a solid working day,” said Velasco.

“That’s until I finally started to use the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s. Armed with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 Compute Platform, it’s the first laptop that got me through a full 8-hours of work. I’m talking about real everyday work stuff, such as using Photoshop, sending emails, and writing up breaking stories. Best of all, it’s also incredibly thin and lightweight.”

Favorite Product of the Year: fluid Mosquito Scooter

Joseph Cheatham, E-Commerce Editor

Joseph joined the SPY team in 2022 and has since become a pivotal part of the team with a keen fashion sense and finesse in the grooming and lifestyle spaces. His favorite piece and product definitely reflect his strengths as a writer and curatorial contributor to SPY’s brand.

SPY Editors Reviewed the 14 Best Face Masks for Men — Here’s What We Learned by Joseph Cheatham, Jake Cappuccino and SPY Editors

Courtesy of SPY

The men of SPY collaborated on this piece reviewing grooming face masks designed to improve skin health and texture, not the kind mandated to be worn in public in 2020.

“I love this post because as a collective, the guys of SPY came together and showed themselves in a different light wearing their face masks, showing another side outside of work,” said Cheatham.

“It was refreshing and a bit comical to see everyone share a piece of themselves in a personal way that typically wouldn’t be shared online—in public. Be sure to check out the collage to see for yourselves.”

Favorite Product: Before Toothpaste

Read More: SPY Before Toothpaste Review

Courtesy of Before

“My oral routine has revolved around Crest toothpaste for forever that I never imagined a new toothpaste brand even emerging, but I’m happy Before is on the scene now,” said Cheatham.

“The brand is really introducing a new purifying experience, from omitting the bad ingredients and being sustainable to having an incredible clean finish with a long-lasting super-mint flavor. I’ve never spent more than $5 on toothpaste, but with Before, an extra $5 is more than worth it.”

Tyler Schoeber, E-Commerce & Special Projects Editor

Our E-Commerce and Special Projects Editor Tyler Schoeber reviewed a ton of products this year in the men’s style, grooming and photography spaces. He became the spartan of bald head shavers on the team and worked tirelessly to find the perfect men’s t-shirt. Both efforts paid off.

“The Top 8 Bald Head Shavers, Tested and Reviewed by a Bald Man” by Tyler Schoeber

George Chinsee / Tyler Schoeber | SPY

Shaving a bald head takes more than just your average razor and a careful hand. If you want to really do it well, it takes a shaver built specifically for the job.

“The 5 Best Instant Cameras of 2022, Tested and Reviewed by a Photographer” by Tyler Schoeber

Tyler Schoeber & George Chinsee |

Even as photographic technology has expanded bounds beyond the years of classic Polaroid models, the nostalgic touch of instantly getting a print copy of the captured moment has propelled these cameras into a second life. Schoeber tested five different models to see which ones produced the best quality pictures at a moment’s notice.

“How to Repot a Plant, According To a Professional Plant Repotter” by Tyler Schoeber

Schoeber also got a chance to speak with a professional re-potter from fan-favorite DTC plant site The Sill all about rehoming plants the proper way. Repotting plants is a critical part of taking care of them, and if you’ve been scared to somehow damage them up until this point consider this your much-needed guide.

Favorite Product: Pitbull Gold PRO Skull Shaver

Courtesy of Amazon

This product was a top-seller on SPY consistently all year and also a favorite of Tyler’s after testing tens of bald head shavers over the years. When asked for his favorite product this year he immediately named this shaver.

“It literally changed my life and how I shave,” said Schoeber.

Nina Bradley, E-Commerce Editor

Nina Bradley, one of SPY’s E-Commerce Editors picked out two stories as her favorite creations this year. As a gifted generalist editor Bradley covers a wide range of topics for SPY, including this year’s baby formula shortage as well as how to travel most efficiently.

“Yes, You Can Still Buy Baby Formula Online — Here’s Where To Find it in Stock” by Nina Bradley

Licensed from Adobe

During one of this year’s many precarious moments for parents, Bradley created a guide for parents in desperate need of formula for where and how to buy it online. The historic shortage lasted weeks, and online ordering was able to supplement some supplies for parents who couldn’t find their regular brand in person at local grocery stores.

“I’m a Travel Pro Thanks to My Flight Attendant Husband — Here’s How You Can Become One Too” by Nina Bradley

Licensed from Adobe

If there’s a segment of the population that knows how to travel with the utmost efficiency, it’s flight attendants. They’re constantly getting on and off of planes, and since being married to one Bradley has picked up some key pointers anyone can implement into their travel strategy.

Favorite Product: Bissell Little Green Machine

Read More: SPY Bissell Little Green Machine Review

Courtesy of Amazon

Bradley raves in her review about this little green miracle worker.

“The Bissell Little Green Machine is basically a miracle worker — no exaggeration. It lifted a stain that I thought would never come out of my carpet,” said Bradley.

“I love that it’s compact and easy to store in smaller living spaces. The lightweight design makes it easy to use in any area, including the stairs. I just wish I came across it sooner.”

Jonathan Zavaleta, Commerce Editor

Jonathan Zavaleta joined the SPY team full time in 2022 and worked on notable content in the gear, outdoors and grooming spaces. His two favorite pieces focus on attempted recycling in the fashion industry and an influential entrepreneur in the coffee space.

“The Resale Revolution: Why Your Favorite Brand Wants Its Clothes Back” by Jonathan Zavaleta

Courtesy of Levis

“Greenwashing is a big issue in fashion, and I wanted to find out if the trend toward recommerce and resale was actually helping close the circle. The answer, unsurprisingly: it’s complicated,” said Zavaleta.

“Entrepreneur Sahra Nguyen Is Changing the Way Coffee Lovers Think About Vietnamese Coffee” by Jonathan Zavaleta

After interviewing an emerging player in the competitive, and sometimes pretentious, coffee world, Zavaleta noted “Sahra Nguyen is challenging coffee drinkers’ preconceptions (myself included!) about robusta and Vietnamese coffee, and our interview touched on sustainability, cultural appropriation, and what it takes to build a successful coffee business.”

Favorite Product: Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Read More: SPY Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Review

Harper Thomson | SPY

“Bose’s QC2 Earbuds were favorite product I tested this the year, in part because they’re great headphones, and in part because they impressively improved upon an already great product,” said Zavaleta.

Anthony Mastracci, Reviews Editor

Anthony Mastracci joined the SPY team in 2022 to help ramp up our product testing and review efforts, who has since become an expert in a plethora of categories from comfortable dress shoes to body washes for men. Here are a few of his favorite reviews from this year.

“SPY Best of 2022 Awards: See the Men’s Products We Loved Most This Year” by Anthony Mastracci

“Review: These Vuori Joggers Blew Our Freaking Minds After Wearing Them for Two Weeks Straight” by Anthony Mastracci

Anthony Mastracci | SPY

“Review: We Broke Ground on Our Metal Detecting Hobby With the Bounty Hunter Quick Draw Pro” by Anthony Mastracci

Anthony Mastracci | SPY