About us

The Manual is simple — we show men how to live a life that is more engaged. Whether it be fashion, food, drink, travel, grooming, or culture, we’re here to provide insight into it all. As our name The Manual implies, we offer a suite of guides from experts on a wide range of topics — from how to tie a bowtie to how to cook a dirty steak. We don’t boss you around, we’re simply here to bring authenticity and understanding to all that enriches our lives as men on a daily basis.

Founded in 2012 in Portland, Oregon, by our parent site, DigitalTrends, and run by our Editor-in-Chief Cator Sparks, who resides between Charleston, South Carolina and New York City, we pride ourselves on sharing genuinely interesting and informative experiences from a national perspective. 

We have a team of seasoned writers based around the country, from Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, AshevilleNew York City, and Portland, who test the gear, shake the cocktailscook the food, and meet with the brands we cover — all in an effort to bring you everything you  need to be a man in the 21st century. Take a look — and let us know how we’re doing. 

Ian Bell founded The Manual in 2013. He is also the Co-Founder of Digital Trends and advises a number of companies in the media space. The Manual is simple – Showing men how to live a life that is more engaged. Whether it be fashion, food, drink, autos, travel, grooming or culture, we are here to provide insight into it all. We don’t boss you around, we are simply here to bring some authenticity and understanding to all that enriches our lives on a daily basis.
Cator Sparks is Editor in Chief of TheManual.com. Previously Cator was covering menswear, grooming, lifestyle and design for The New York Times, Details, Vanity Fair.com, Style.com and The Huffington Post to name a few. Mr. Sparks splits his time between his apartment in Harlem and his home in downtown Charleston where he escapes with his Scottish Terriers for Southern sojourns and excellent cuisine. Cator was commissioned a Colonel of Kentucky by Governor Steven L. Beshear and has requested all friends and family to call him 'Colonel Cator' from now on.
Clay Abney is a PR guru and freelance writer living in the ‘wild and wonderful’ state of West Virginia where he spends his days trail running, mountain biking, hiking and working when the mood strikes. At 46 (the new 26), he still competes in multi-day adventure races and is always looking for his next great adventure!
Ann Binlot is a New York-based freelance writer who contributes to publications like The Economist, Wallpaper*, Monocle, Marie Claire, T, W, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Beast, Fast Company, The Business of Fashion, Al Jazeera America and more. She is currently working on a screenplay in her spare time. In addition she enjoys a nice cup of cold brew and devouring a good steak.
Christopher is a native New Yorker who lives and works (mostly) in Manhattan. A longtime fashion journalist, he served as North American Bureau Chief of Sportswear International for over a decade. As a freelance writer he has also contributed to Nylon, Surface, MR, West Hollywood Magazine and WeSC Magazine. He continues to lead an often unsuccessful yet ever-optimistic campaign to teach the world that automatically shortening his name to “Chris” is, well, just lazy, rude and presumptuous.
Miles Branman doesn't need sustenance; he needs cars. While the gearhead gene wasn't strong in his own family, Miles discovered a passion for cars from an early age thanks to a friend whose father collected rare and exotic vehicles. His enthusiasm was stoked during his time at Boston University, when he started writing for Fast Lane Daily. After a short career in marketing for Northeast tech startups, Miles returned to California, and his primary passion: automotive. He has built and raced a Spec Miata (because racecar), loves compact hatchbacks and supercars equally, and can recognize a vehicle from 1,000 feet away by its taillights.
When not leading active travel adventures around the world -- believe it or not, it's his job -- Hendrik strives to be involved with his communities, both direct and global. Whether bike touring across Spain or stomping around his home in Portland, OR, Hendrik likes to connect with the people around him. Especially if coffee is involved. In addition to his current work at The Manual, Hendrik enjoys writing short stories and travel pieces that encourage others to be bold in their life choices.
Elizabeth is a southern girl in the heart of Los Angeles who lived far too long before learning what an incredible food the burrito is. As a contributor to The Manual, she covers bars, restaurants, menswear, travel, and the Feel Good Friday column. She has never been able to read enough history books, drink enough champagne, or travel enough. You can follow her Twitter @HisGirlMonday.
Katie Dickens is a Manhattan-based beauty and grooming writer. She has held staff positions at Glamour, In Style, People StyleWatch, and Nylon/Nylon Guys magazines. As a freelancer, she has contributed to Elle.com, CNTraveler.com, Maxim.com, plus Marie Claire, Town & Country Travel, and Self magazines. When she's not pounding away at her keyboard, she globe-trots, runs, and coaxes her husband into being her grooming human guinea pig.
Amanda Gabriele is an Editor at The Manual and Senior Editor at Supercall. She is the former JackThreads Copywriter and Managing Editor of FashionIndie.com where she spent four years covering fashion, beauty and dogmatic red carpet commentary. She can’t live without the three Bs – bourbon, barbecue and beards – and loves to cook in platforms. Amanda resides in Fort Greene, Brooklyn with her collection of vintage furs, but you can find her 24/7 on Twitter @CrystlMeatballs.
Cody Gohl is a Brooklyn-based writer who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, including travel, fashion, literature, LGBT rights, pop culture and anything that has to do with his home state of Texas. You can find him on Twitter @CodyGohl or on Insta @Pico.de.Gayo
Beau Hayhoe is a fashion PR pro and freelance style writer based in Brooklyn. Beau's menswear writing work has appeared on a number of prominent independent men's style sites, including Dappered, Effortless Gent, Genteel Flair and VOUCH Mag. He also contributes to GearMoose and GearHungry. Outside of working hours, Beau enjoys all things craft beer and has a passion for live music. Reach him via beauhayhoe@themanual.com, find him on Instagram @BeauHayhoe and follow him on Twitter via @BoKnowsClothes.
Lee Heidel is the managing editor of Brew / Drink / Run, a website and podcast that promotes brewing your own beer, consuming the best craft beer in the world and then running off the calories. Based in beautiful Savannah, GA, he's documenting his town's growing beer scene at SAVCraftBeer.com. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @brewdrinkrun.
Bryan Holt is a writer, editor, designer and multimedia storyteller based in Portland, Oregon, and is a graduate from the School of Journalism and Communications at the University of Oregon. He enjoys sitting with a cup of cold-brewed coffee and a notepad while watching the world pass by, dabbling in music production from time to time and reading short stories.
Jesse Jernigan is a Durham, NC-based men's fashion writer for The Manual. He's your go-to for the latest and greatest in streetwear, sneakers, and menswear collaborations. Jesse has a passion for experiencing what life has to offer through travel, food, family and friends, and diving into the unknown. He’s always down for grabbing a beer and checking out the local bar and culinary scene. Follow him on Instagram, @jessejernigan.
Steven John is a writer and humorist living just outside NYC, by way of 12 years in LA, by way of growing up in DC. (Also there was that stint in Boston.) He can occasionally be found climbing mountains, is sometimes spotted in a canoe, and can most often be found home with his wife and son. His writing can be found spread across much of the internet, and his novels can be found here: www.StevenJohnBooks.com
Jennifer Ryan Jones is a fashion and grooming expert who contributes regularly to The Manual and AskMen.com. Her past experience includes overseeing all of the men’s style and grooming content for Playboy magazine. Her projects include features that showcased artists such as Iggy Pop, Daft Punk, Flaming Lips, Duran Duran, MGMT, Pharell, Bryan Ferry, Diplo, Michael Buble, and Cee Lo Greene; celebrity fashion shoots with Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Segal and Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother, Dana White and top UFC Fighters, and Mac guy Justin Long from He’s Just Not That Into You; features set in exotic locations such as, Ibiza, St. Barth’s, and Turks and Caicos; adventure-style shoots on location in Sao Paulo at the Grand Prix and lifestyle fashion features in New Orleans. Pro Snowboarders, skaters, and most recently extreme sports legend Travis Pastrana have all been part of the mix. She has worked with a “who’s who” of top photographers, including Harry Benson, David Bailey, Gavin Bond, Timothy White, Danny Clinch, Tony Kelly, Nigel Perry, Fabrizio Ferri, Nino Munoz and Mick Rock. Ryan Jones graduated from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She lives on Long Island where she tests all new grooming products on her husband and two teenage boys. Only the dog is safe.
Chase grew up on the windswept plains of the Midwest, did a brief stint on the East Coast as a young-adult, and then high-tailed it across the country to Portland, Oregon where he now works a very grown-up job as The Manual's Editorial Assistant and resident SEO wrangler. When he's not writing and editing you can find him hitting the trails and rivers of the beautiful Pacific Northwest, lying on a beach, or reading a good piece of non-fiction. Follow his adventures on Instagram @mcpeakaboo0.
Marla Hardee Milling is a full-time freelance writer living in a place often called the Paris of the South, Sante Fe of the East and Beer City U.S.A., but she just calls Asheville, N.C. home. The History Press in Charleston, S.C. published her first book, "Only in Asheville: An Eclectic History," in June 2015. Her second book, "Legends, Secrets and Mysteries of Asheville" will debut in June 2017. She is a former news producer at WLOS-TV in Asheville and former Director of Communications at Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, N.C. More than 800 of her articles and essays have appeared in such publications as Luxury Living, American Style, NICHE, Charleston, Denver, WNC, Blue Ridge Country, Health, Smart Computing, PC Today, New Orleans Gourmet, and many others. Follow her on Twitter @marlamilling
Geoff covers everything from travel to fashion for The Manual. He's always up for a good challenge and a great hike. Whether it's running a cocktail festival in Los Angeles or soaking in the politics of soccer at the Euros, his passion for storytelling has always been a constant. He has appeared in (either as subject or writer): Los Angeles Times, Thrillist, Robb Report, Savoteur and many more.
Austin Parker is a powder skier and sport climber, and is no stranger hauling heavy gear uphill in bad weather. He served in the US Army as an intelligence analyst and electronic warfare specialist. Following his military service, Austin saw the light and moved home to Salt Lake City to chase deep snow and desert cracks. When not enjoying getting rained or snowed on he is probably geeking out about the latest apparel fabric innovation or obsessing over shaving the last few ounces off his backpacking load. An amateur fly fisherman and outdoors photographer, he seems to always have his tenkara rod and Gopro handy. His work has appeared with Gear Patrol, Active Junky, The Manual, MOTUS, and Outdoor Retailer Magazine.
Terence Praet contributes to The Manual’s New Music Monday column. He studied Philosophy and History at Skidmore College, where he was also the music director at the school’s radio station. He has worked in the music industry since graduation. Though he became a Portland, Oregon resident in 2014, Terence is a proud New Jersey native. He can often be found singing along to Bruce Springsteen songs and roaming the streets of Portland in search of Taylor Ham.
Mike Richard is a Rhode Island native, professional web designer, and travel junkie. Since 2006, he has edited, written for, and kept the gears running behind the scenes at Vagabondish.com. His travel advice has appeared on the websites of industry leading publications for Forbes, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, VanityFair.it, CNET, and National Geographic. He enjoys speaking in the third person.
Bill Roberson authors the Throttle Jockey motorcycle column for The Manual. A lifelong motorhead, velocity addict, wirehead, shutterbug and cinephile, he's a Portland, Oregon native and enjoys exploring the region and world by motorcycle. When not on his two-wheelers, he's a dedicated dad, husband, photographer and Oregon Ducks fan. He also writes, shoots product photos and produces video content for both Digital Trends and The Manual.
Born and raised off-the-grid, Jahla Seppanen is currently a Sports, Fitness, and Wellness Editor in Denver, CO who watches WWE, 007, and baseball in her spare time. Her writing has appeared in The Sportster, Strong Fitness Magazine, Modern In Denver, Maxim, SGBonline, and Fitt Denver, along with international literary fiction reviews. Her vices include long runs and tequila with mango juice.
Sam Slaughter is the Spirits Editor and also the author of When You Cross That Line and God in Neon. He has written for a variety of places including Bloomberg, InsideHook, and Thirsty. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in over fifty other publications. He's had everything from 75-year-old Scotch to North Korean brandy and he once drank whiskey out of a muskrat skull.
Rick is a staff writer for The Manual, covering everything from men's fashion and accessories, to the best new brands and products debuting across the country. A Portland native, Rick moved to the "big" city after graduating as a proud Beaver from Oregon State University. When he's not talking shop for The Manual, Rick also writes for its brother site Digital Trends, and is known to enjoy Oregon's beautiful outdoors as well as its tasty craft beer scene. Follow him on Twitter @RickStella
Ryan Waniata is an audio engineer, musician, composer, and all-around lover of all things tech, audio, and cinema. Hailing originally from Montana, Ryan received his bachelor degree from the University of Montana in composition and technology. He later studied audio engineering at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, AZ, then packed up for Nashville, where he spent a couple of years playing and recording music in various studios and local venues. Ryan now makes his home in Portland, OR. Feel free to contact him on twitter, or check in with him at Digital Trends to get the scoop on all the latest in tech, film, and music.
Brandon Widder is a journalist and a staff writer for the Manual and its brother site, Digital Trends, where he covers tech news, how-to guides, and more. In his free time, he moonlights as a freelance music writer for the Portland alt-weekly, Willamette Week, and enjoys venturing around the wilds of the Pacific Northwest when he's not putting together his weekly "Trekking" column for the Manual. Follow him @BrandonWidder.
LeeAnn Whittemore is a writer, artist, and graphic designer who grew up in the Midwest before moving to the gulf coast. As a Creative Writing undergraduate, she was selected to read in the Chicago Citywide Undergraduate Poetry Festival, and she has since earned six Hoosier State Press Association Awards for her work in advertising. When she’s not working, she enjoys reading biographies, questing to listen to every podcast ever recorded, and curling up with a good Netflix binge.
Kris Wouk is a tech writer, gadget reviewer, blogger, and whatever it's called when someone makes videos for the web. In his free time he likes to make music, read, and write short fiction.