Popular Mechanics November 2019

Discover the latest in technology, engineering, and tools with Popular Mechanics. Plus, get essential advice on your home and car, useful DIY ideas, in-depth explanations on how things work, and more!

United States
10 Issues

in this issue

2 min
pursue possibility

Inspired by mountain goats and a desire to help people, NY-based industrial designer Kai Lin formed an unlikely alliance with an adaptive climber—Arc’teryx athlete Craig DeMartino. With empathy, efficiency, and a willingness to adapt, the pair serves up a holy grail for adaptive rock climbers: a badass prosthetic foot that won’t just level the playing field but will dish up, if not superpowers, then a real sense of empowerment. Which is almost the same thing. After surviving the 110-foot fall that probably should have killed him, DeMartino’s new reality looked like a fused neck and spine, a junky ankle, and a missing right leg. He redesigned his life and his mindset, but DeMartino is not an engineer. He relies on other technical people to invent things - and no one is…

2 min
my pop life

Outdoors Editor My ideal day starts on a trail and ends with a drink in hand. Favorite App AllTrails. It’s usually the first place I check when I’m searching for a hiking trail in unfamiliar territory. CURRENT PASSION PROJECT Since January, I’ve been making a new cocktail every week to teach myself to become a better bartender. This might be the only New Year’s resolution I can actually stick with. The Coolest Thing I Have on My Desk I’m keeping things pretty minimal these days, but I use my Grand Canyon National Park coffee mug daily. I also have a pocket multitool from Gerber to help me open gear that’s sent for testing. The Best Money I Ever Spent $100 for my REI Co-op Camp Dome 2 when my original tent failed mid-camping trip. PRODUCTS I’M USING RIGHT NOW FOR BETTER…

1 min
my pop life

Photographer Give me a bike or pair of skis and leave me in the woods, and I’ll be just fine. The Best Money I Ever Spent L.L. Bean boots. Lifetime warranty, durable, versatile. SALOMON SHIFT BINDINGS The most innovative bindings I’ve used to date. They provide confident Alpine performance and are ready for some touring when needed. PRODUCTS I’M USING RIGHT NOW CURRENT PASSION PROJECT Finding old Cannondale CAAD bike frames to rebuild and modernize. I’m currently on the hunt for a Caad7 Saeco Tour de France edition. Favorite App and Why Right now, Ride with GPS. Very helpful for mapping out next weekend’s adventures. The Coolest Thing I Have on My Desk There is always something cool hanging out on my desk. Currently a Wahoo Roam cycling GPS for mapping and tracking bike rides, chocolate, and a simple click counter to…

3 min
how to make your car more like your phone

THE NEWEST BMWS HAVE this function that makes my geek heart sing. Foot on the brake, you hit the start/stop button, and the infotainment system—that big screen in the center of the dashboard—fills up with a tiny version of your phone, condensed down to the half-dozen or so apps you need while driving. You don’t even have to take your phone out of your pocket or purse. Unlike most other cars with Apple CarPlay, BMW’s system connects over Wi-Fi, so you don’t need to plug in a Lightning cable. Brilliant, borderline dystopian convenience. I’m probably alone in loving CarPlay so much. The tech is five years old, so you don’t really hear about it outside of car dealerships or Apple developer conferences. Consider that flattery, because the best-designed tools are intuitive…

3 min
milwaukee cordless band saw

PRODUCED: CHINA TIME TO DISASSEMBLE: 1 HOUR, 59 MINUTES NOTES: If you’re a plumber, electrician, or militant DIY-er with a bunch of pipe to cut, Milwaukee’s cordless band saw is a gift from the tool gods. It’s a favorite of contractors and tool renters because this saw is as burly as they come. Power comes from a high-speed brushless motor (1) that rotates the toothy metal band (2) at 380 surface feet per minute. The 5x5-inch cut capacity is the biggest you’ll find on a cordless band saw, allowing you to blast through wide pipes, thick fence posts, and steel bollards. It’s also less prone to breakdowns, thanks to a direct-drive system that removes the need for a chain, a component destined to stretch and require servicing. At 13.1 pounds, without the lithium-ion battery…

1 min
rock wool

Volcanic rock, forged in the bowels of the earth, should be the material of choice for your next insulation project. Mineral wool, or rock wool, insulation is made from melted basalt and recycled steel slag by spinning the molten material into threads, like cotton candy. The threads are collected in sheets and combined to make batts of insulation. While rock wool is typically 20 to 25 percent more expensive than traditional fiberglass insulation, it is pretty amazing stuff, and there are numerous advantages to using it—especially in garages and workshops. PERFORMANCE Rock wool insulation shares an important property with the rock it’s made of: fire resistance. That, combined with a higher R-value than fiberglass, means that it can slow the spread of fire in the event of a catastrophe. Rock wool is…