Now that the holiday season is here, many of you are trying to find the perfect gift for that special outdoor enthusiast in your life. And you know as well as I that they wouldn’t be satisfied with a Target gift card or a package of Jockey boxer briefs. No, it takes some special planning to stuff the stockings of the outdoor enthusiast. Let’s take a look at some of the classic options you can give campers, survivors and hikers.
The Gift of a Cold Drink
Your outdoorsy loved ones are going to need to stay well hydrated when they’re out in the woods. What non-outdoor enthusiasts (let’s call them indoor enthusiasts) tend to forget is that there are some immediate issues with getting H20 in the wild. First they have to worry about locating water in nearby rivers or streams. Stagnant puddles are a no-go in the backcountry and water fountains aren’t as common in the woods as you might think. Once they’ve found the water, they then have to worry about it being contaminated, which could potentially kill them (isn’t Mother Nature the coolest?). According to the experts at REI, “Humans, pack animals, domestic pets and wildlife all have the potential to contaminate backcountry water sources … Even if the risk of infection is small, it is still a risk – one not worth taking.” Trust me, your outdoor enthusiast shouldn’t be messing around with contaminated water. Nothing says happy camping like diarrhea from giardia or cryptosporidium.
Here’s an option to help your loved ones deal with water contamination:
LifeStraw Go Water Filter with Bottle – This option is great for safe drinking water in the wild. It can filter up to 264 gallons of water, removing 99.9% of waterborne bacteria that’s trying to kill your loved one. They could still pick up chemicals and viruses, but as long as they’re getting water from a river, it shouldn’t be a huge worry. A big perk for this one is that it leaves no aftertaste. If anyone has ever used bleach to clean their water in the wild, they’ll know that tasting nothing is way better than tasting chemicals.
The Gift of Sight
A reliable headlamp is a necessity in the woods. Being able to see not only gives your outdoorsman/woman a more aesthetically pleasing experience, it also keeps them safe when they’re out at night or exploring a cave. A good hiking trip can be ruined if a flashlight begins to flicker. Darkness is a dangerous game if you’re out on the trail.
Reliability is the most important quality of a light source, but it should also be practical and keep their hands free. They’ll likely need all ten digits to journey through the night or prepare their hammocks before bed. I’ve met indoor enthusiasts who think it’s appropriate to give me old-timey lanterns for gifts, as if I’m a miner from the 1800s. Yes, this option might sound novel in a hipster-kind-of way, but we’re trying to survive out here. Get something that straps to their head. No hands, no problem.
Give the gift of light with this headlamp option:
TIKKA RXP – This is a higher-end option (you could get a cheap headlamp from $10–$40 at Walmart), but it has some impressive bells and whistles. Most notably it has reactive lighting, meaning that a sensor adjusts the light to what is needed by the user. This saves the life of the battery, giving this puppy about 12 hours of life per battery. For most of us, that’s plenty of light to have in the woods. If your outdoor enthusiast is interested in lumens (the level of brightness), just tell them that it has 215, and then watch them be impressed.
The Gift of Warmth
There’s something wonderfully primeval about building a fire in the wild. Not only can a fire be a source of warmth and a way to cook food, but it’s gratifying seeing that first spark and then slowly bringing it to life. Careful planning and matches usually do the trick when building a fire, but rain and wind can make it nearly impossible to create a lasting flame. Therefore, proper fire-starting tools are a great gift for the pyro in your life.
Take a look at these two options to heat up the outdoor experience:
New Windproof Stainless Steel Metal Match Light – This is a very cheap fire-starter option that’s perfect for achieving an easy flame. It may not be as whimsical as striking flint with a hatchet, but it’s certainly more reliable. As its name suggests, this lighter is windproof, as well as light and compact. It’s by no means the fanciest lighter on the market, but it would make an excellent stocking stuffer for the outdoor enthusiast in your life.
Optimus Crux Stove – This little number is great for the more sophisticated camper – the one who says, “Yeah, I’d rather not have to forage for dry tinder in a thunderstorm.” This incredibly versatile stove is the second-smallest cook system available, and it’s very efficient for cooking smaller meals, like a few eggs or oatmeal in the morning. Its lid even doubles as a little frying pan, which I feel should be a quality of all lids.
The Gift of a Clean Campsite
If you’ve noticed that your outdoor enthusiast comes home smelling like a compost pile after a spring rain, you may consider putting together a sanitation pack for their next trip. Cleanliness is a surprisingly important part of the outdoor experience, as it helps diminish a variety of bacteria. Putting together a care package for overall outdoor cleanliness won’t cost you an arm and a leg, and it will show that you’re interested in your loved one’s hobbies. Disclaimer: Even if you send your outdoor enthusiast into the woods with a bucket of hand sanitizer, they may still come home looking like a mud monster. Above all else, a sanitation and hygiene pack is for protecting them from illness.
Here are some starter items that can go into a sanitation and hygiene care package:
Cotton Buds Tissue to Go Toilet Paper – This two-ply toilet paper comes in a small, waterproof dispenser. Waterproof is big deal in the backcountry. One of the product’s reviewers on REI’s website, however, warns that while Cotton Buds is “soft, durable, perforated for judicious use, and effective … it is not chipmunk-proof. Use caution and stow at night.” That’s sound advice.
Superlight 2 Oz Backpacking Shovel Trowel – Disposing of feces is a rite of passage for the outdoor enthusiast, and having a trowel to dig a hole is much easier than doing it with a stick or your hands. As its name suggests, the Superlight’s greatest quality is its super-lightness. At 2 oz, you won’t even know it’s strapped to your backpack.
Deluxe Hygiene Kit – Never let your outdoor enthusiast leave home without the basics. It’s easy to forget soap and bandages when you’re busy thinking about cooking a can of beans beneath the stars. This 12-piece kit will cover all the basics they need.
The Gift of a Charged Mobile
A phone that works is an important part of any outdoor enthusiast’s gear. And phones require a charge. If your outdoor enthusiast spends multiple days in the wild, their little iPhone battery won’t make the cut. Solar portable chargers are a great option to give them that extra boost.
If you want to give your outdoor enthusiast a ring in the woods, here’s a good option for a solar-powered charger:
RAVPower – In the last few years there have been some great improvements in the world of solar chargers. The RAVPower 15W Solar Charger is an affordable solar charger that is perfect for giving your phone some juice on the trail. Lightweight (about as heavy as an iPad) and foldable, this water-resistant bad boy can be strapped onto a backpack or tent. You may also consider giving them a USB travel battery back, thereby allowing them to store enough juice to keep devices running through the night.
The Gift of a Wild Reading Experience
If your outdoor enthusiast can’t get enough of the wilderness, you might consider giving them a good book for the holiday season. Survival guides make excellent gifts, and they help prepare your loved one for the curveballs that Mother Nature throws their way.
Here’s a great book about surviving in the woods:
Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival – Written by expert survivalist Dave Canterbury, this book offers great advice for living off the land and making the most of your surroundings. Not only will readers learn how to build tools and make rope, they’ll also gain basic knowledge of orienting a map, trapping and processing wild game and building basic shelters. This would be the perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiast who dreams of going off the grid.
What does you outdoor enthusiast want for the holidays this year? Let us know in the comments below.
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