It’s the most frustrating time of the year, especially if you’ve got an adventurer – traveller, trekker, backpacker, climber – on your secret santa list. How are you supposed to relate let alone shop for someone who takes great pride in their ability to wear the same clothes for days, eat “gourmet” meals from bags, and delights in sleeping in a tent while claiming ‘it was the best time of my life’?
What adventurers really want
True, adventure-types are hard to buy gifts for but if you follow three simple fundamentals you can put the ‘fun’ back into the fundamentals and the ‘merry’ back into your Christmas festivities. For the adventurer on your list gifts must be:
As well intended as your gift is, if it doesn’t serve a purpose it will not get used. If the item serves more than one purpose the higher the likelihood of your gift being well received.
Ideally your gift should be lightweight and small. The lighter and smaller the better as these items are often carried over great distances.
These people are nomadic souls often finding themselves in the middle of nowhere so your gift needs to be reliable as their safety and well-being may depend on it.
So with Kris Kringle’s arrival imminent Cameo and I have put together a list of gift ideas that match the criteria above – and fit a variety of budgets – that every adventurer would love to find in their stocking or under the tree:
Gone are the days of a multi-tool being a heavy chunk of stainless steel with a blade and pliers. Current models are scalable (ie add-on attachments) with sleek skeleton frames inlaid with carbon fibre to improve handling and reduce weight leaving nothing but MacGyver’n goodness.
Leatherman, SOG, and Gerber are leaders in this field. We’ve been using Leatherman products for years and the Skeletool CX is our current favourite.
Nalgene water bottle
There are a number of hydration systems on the market but nothing beats the simplicity of a Nalgene bottle. Cheap, reliable, and unlike hydration bladders, bottles are capable of multitasking – measuring cup, drink mixer, dry storage, PUD (wait for it… you’ll find out), and hot water bottle.
Look for hard plastic BPA free models with ‘widemouth’ MSR compatible tops (allows the bottle to be connected to an approved filtration device).
Every traveller should have this item as a Buff checks all three ‘adventure criteria’ off in spades.
It’s a scarf, a beanie, a bandana, a face mask, a sweatband, a wash cloth, a sling… you get the picture. It’s also lightweight and packs down to almost nothing when not in use.
A number of colours, styles, and options – merino wool, fleece, dry-tech – are available.
Outdoor Research Stuff Sack
All this loot has to go somewhere! Compression sacks are great for ensuring every ounce of gear will fit into a backpack.
We find them handy for our down sleep bags. The sack compresses the bag into a smaller packing size while offering improved water repellency keeping our gear dry.
Depending on type sack, they can also be used to haul water, used as a lightweight summit bag, a snow stake to secure a tent, and even a pillow.
Let there be light… From alpine starts to mid-night pee breaks every adventurer appreciates a headlamp.
The most recent additions to these lamps feature USB rechargeable batteries.
We couldn’t find an Amazon Associate with a reasonable offering so we’d recommend visiting your local outdoor retailer. We’ve used a number of Petzl and Black Diamond brands and would recommend either company.
How you bean man? Adventure is fuelled by coffee… Sometimes chocolate… And most definitely beer… But mostly coffee!
If your adventurer also happens to be a caffeine addict – high probability – an MSR Mugmate is a no brainer; a simple reliable guaranteed cup of coffee in the morning.
Maps and Guidebooks
There are two ways to get lost – Not knowing where you are, and not knowing where you are going. Having a map and/or a guidebook makes being lost look prettier!
National Geographic and Gem Trek (Canada) make excellent maps for most National Parks. Check with your local retailers or online for the best selection(s).
In our opinion National Geographic and Lonely Planet are publishing the best guidebooks currently. Lonely Planet books are also available electronically for various readers (ie Kindle, iPad, etc.).
Optimus Long Spoon
My what a long spoon you have… All the better NOT to get food on my hands!
If you’re giftee is the backcountry type they’ve probably eaten a “gourmet meal” from a just-add-water pouch. Stirring the meal with a normal sized utensil results in a serious trail condition called gooeyknucklitis, the inflammation of the hands resulting in them getting covering in macarroni cheese powder. Solution: Longer spoon!
Julbo Sherpa Galcier Glasses
If the adventurer on your list is heading into alpine environs for extented periods of time, particularly glaciated terrain they need glacier glasses to protect their peepers. Julbo is the gold standard and I love my Sherpa’s classic mountaineering look. Purpose built for the mountains they bring out everyone’s inner Edmund Hillary.
Go Girl Personal Urinary Device
Ladies, you too can stand for number one – Do you know someone who’s being singled out because they have to sit down to pee? Are they tired of watching ‘the boys’ write their names’ in the snow? If so this one’s for all the lady adventurers.
You Go Girls!
If you were wondering what a PUD is; now you know.
Really… All those GREAT gift ideas listed above and you’re still at a loss? Good thing there’s always the heart warming gift of a cold hard gift certificate.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The fine print
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