Now that Kickstarter has become the go-to funding platform for everything from potato salad to vanity projects for cheapskate celebrities, it's tough to tell just which campaigns are actually worth your hard-earned contribution. But for all the riffraff, the crowdfunding site ushered in some legitimately compelling and hugely successful projects this past year, which made it especially tough to narrow down our favorites. That said, we weighed a combination of factors including the amount of money raised, originality of the concept, and overall critical reception to declare these 15 projects 2015's best.
Amount raised: $1,403,359 of $200,000 goal
What it is: A Keurig-esque craft beer-brewing machine
For aspiring homebrewers who'd prefer to offload most of the work to a machine, this countertop-sized rig uses convenient ready-to-brew ingredient kits -- from dozens of breweries around the world -- to brew 5-liter mini-kegs of craft beer.
Amount raised: $3,126,114 of $100,000 goal
What it is: A water-conserving shower head
Engineered to atomize water into millions of particles, the Nebia shower head and wand covers 10 times more surface area than traditional household shower heads and uses 70% less water. Hear that, California?
Amount raised: $4,869,472 of $100,000 goal
What it is: A versatile everyday work bag for creatives
This thoughtfully designed bag is the perfect workhorse, with a handsomely rugged shell and collapsible compartments engineered to fit your DSLR, lenses, laptop, and other essentials.
Amount raised: $1,936,825 of $100,000 goal
What it is: Headphones that help you sleep better
These ultra-comfy over-ear wireless 'phones are packed with sensors that not only know how and when to adjust your music as you fall asleep and wake, but also monitor your sleep patterns and quality to help you improve how you rest.
Amount raised: $1,575,976 of $50,000 goal
What is is: A deconstructed audiophile-grade turntable
Part sculpture, part high-performance stereo, this reimagined vintage audio system makes it look as though the record is magically spinning in air.
Amount raised: $3,007,370 of $120,000 goal
What it is: A more convenient smartphone charger
Helping prevent frayed charging cables and smashed phone screens caused by accidental cord-tripping, ZNAPS is a magnetic charging adapter that slips into the Lightning or micro-USB socket and connects with the cord instantly. Plus, it also protects the charging socket from water damage.
Amount raised: $563,285 of $140,000 goal
What it is: A fuel-free outdoor oven
This next-level solar oven is engineered in such a way that you can steam, bake, fry, roast, and even boil food in just 20 minutes by simply setting it in the sun.
Amount raised: $1,101,519 of $100,000 goal
What it is: DIY moldable wireless headphones
Earbuds custom-molded to your ears are nothing new, but they generally require a complex 3D ear scan and a lengthy production process. Revols, however, are fashioned from quick-hardening gel material that you fit to the unique shape of your ears in just 60 seconds with the help of a special smartphone app.
Amount raised: $57,760 of $50,000 goal
What it is: A smart air freshener-cum-night light
A 21st-century take on the Glade PlugIn, these devices can be programmed to dispense a scent of your choosing on a schedule (say, when you get home from work) or controlled on demand from your phone. Plus they double as multicolor night lights.
Amount raised: $1,110,820 of $50,000 goal
What it is: A device that allows you to control your DSLR from your smartphone
Pulse is a Bluetooth-enabled dongle that affixes to the USB port of your DSLR or mirror-less camera, allowing you to shoot photos, video, or time lapse remotely using your smartphone.
Amount raised: $5,764,229 of $2,000,000 goal
What it is: A revival of a cult-classic comedy
Price: $10 and up
Although it's not a product per se, this beloved and strange cult-classic movie parody -- which went off the air in 1997 -- deserves mention here not only for its rabid fanbase, but the fact that it's generated over $4 million in less than a month.
Amount raised: $105,195 of $50,000 goal
What it is: A central hub that mirrors content you're watching on your friends' devices
This powerful little dome allows you to beam whatever TV shows, games, and movies you're currently watching on your TV or tablet to friends anywhere in the world so you can enjoy it together simultaneously, while videochatting. It may sound a little weird now, but trust us when we say this is the future of how we consume content.
Amount raised: $3,307,773 of $125,000 goal
What it is: A feature-packed all-in-one carry-on
Touting itself as the "world's greatest carry-on luggage," G-RO is a TSA-approved bag with a built-in tablet stand, charging station, location tracker, laptop pocket, and "all-terrain" wheels to navigate even the harshest environments, i.e., LaGuardia.
Amount raised: $182,493 of $50,000 goal
What it is: The first lamp to adjust light color and direction to support your body clock
An antidote to the harsh and harmful blue light emanating from the screens we look at all the damn day, this sleek connected lamp mimics the light of the sun to keep your body clock in sync, which promotes things like a healthier sleep/wake cycle and a more stable mood and metabolism. It even tracks local weather patterns to compensate for those particularly dark-and-dreary days.
Amount raised: $1,319,672 of $75,000 goal
What it is: A compact and connected multi-instrument
Resembling the neck of a guitar, the Artiphon features a digital string-like interface that allows it to transform from virtual guitar, to virtual violin, to virtual piano at the tap of a button, making it the perfect tool for any professional or amateur musician to rock out on the go by plugging into any number of compatible music apps.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. He's considering crowdsourcing good ideas for a crowdfunding project.