By David Link
Once again Christmas is around the corner, and we all start scratching our heads in the search for the right gifts for our family and friends. Gifts for those who love the outdoors can be especially tricky, and choosing the wrong gear could mean it ends up gathering dust instead of being put to use in the field. We’ve run a lot of outdoor gift guides on our sister site 1800GunsAndAmmo.com for hunters and shooters, but we don’t want to forget about the hikers and campers either here on 1800Gear.com. In response I’ve put together a camping and hiking specific gift list, and many of these gifts will fit the all around outdoorsman and woman as well. Here are my eight gift suggestions for the season.
1. Yeti Coolers
This item is the “big” item on my wishlist, and it’s one that will last countless camping adventures. Yeti Coolers are a cut above ordinary coolers, and they stand up to abuse and hold ice much longer than the cheap variety you find at your local big box store. Why is a heavy duty cooler like Yeti a must-have? Well anyone who camps several days in a row like I do without resupply needs a cooler that holds ice effectively. My rafting friends love Yeti Coolers for just that reason. Coolers that spend a lot of time in the back of a truck like mine need to be tough as well, and the Yeti Coolers will take a deep scratch or drop like it’s nothing. Models like the Tundra are great for outdoor adventures, but if you want a smaller gift with the Yeti name, their Rambler series of mugs hold ice longer than any plastic mug you’ve ever used.
2. Coleman 10-Cup Instastart Portable Coffee Maker
I’ve made a lot of coffee around the campsite over the years, and some brews go better than others. A French press is usually the go-to method, and it can make some great coffee, but you need a way to heat water before you use the press, which can complicate the process some. I’ve also used instant coffee, which I’ll admit is getting better these days, but it’s not quite the same, and again you need to heat water beforehand. A good alternative is a portable maker like the 10-Cup Instastart Portable Coffee Maker from Coleman. The set it and forget nature of this coffee maker is certainly appealing, especially since I’m usually the guy scrambling to get the fire started and breakfast prepped in the morning. It works just like a household coffee maker, and you can hook it up to a small propane tank just like a camping stove. This coffee maker will keep the coffee warm as the rest of your party crawls out of their tents, and the stainless steel carafe is a nice touch since glass and campsites are never a good mix.
3. Frogg-Toggs Chilly Dana
The Frogg-Toggs Chilly Dana is a handy thing to have around on a warm summer day, and this affordable cooling bandana makes a good stocking stuffer for anyone who spends an extended time in the sun. I’ve used normal bandanas in the past to protect my neck from the sun while throwing bags or playing kuub around the campsite, and it’s nice to be able to dunk them in cold water every so often for a nice cool down. The Chilly Dana makes cooling down easier than ever because it is made from a hyper-evaporative material that cools the wearer as they sweat. The effect can be intensified by dipping the bandana into water, and the fabric cools for 1-4 hours depending on its exposure to sun and heat. Check out the Chilly Dana or the Chilly Pad for a unexpected yet inexpensive gift that is perfect for the outdoors.
4. Vortex Crossfire 8×42 Binoculars
I recently reviewed the updated Vortex Crossfire 8×42 Binoculars for 1800Gear, and in case you’re interested in reading more about what they offer, you can check out the full article here. Above all else, I was impressed with the value offered in these compact binoculars, and I know that purchasing a pair of entry-level binoculars can come with a bit of hesitation. But if you have someone in mind who wants a worthwhile binocular without a substantial investment, these are definitely the pair to go with. A good bet for birders and wildlife enthusiasts along with hunters, these binoculars are light and easy to handle while providing crisp viewing. The risk of going to a lower price point than these binoculars is that you’ll get a blurry, cut-rate optic that won’t be worthwhile for the long term. That is not the case with the Vortex Crossfire, and your search for an outdoor binocular as a gift should start with these optics.
5. ThermaCell Mosquito Repellent Lantern
I’ve pretty much exclusively switched to LED lanterns because of some obvious benefits. The newer models are nearly as bright as a propane lantern, and there’s no risk of breaking the surrounding glass of the traditional lantern or worse starting a fire by accident. In fact if you look around, LED lanterns pretty much dominate any web search for a camping lantern now. But what’s great about the LED design is that it can be combined with other functions. I use an LED lantern with an optional USB port for emergency phone charging, but those who camp in heavy mosquito areas should consider combining a lantern with a repellent appliance. ThermaCell is well-known for this design, and their Mosquito Repellent Lantern is a sleek integration of both lantern and repellent device. The mosquito repellent is also flame-free so there’s no fear of accidental fire, and it uses a synthesized repellent found in certain flowers so it’s less offensive than sprays. The lantern gives a 15×15 dome of protection, and it’s bright enough for those evening card games or cooking tasks as well. Don’t forget to stock up on ThermaCell Repellent Cartridges for the summer too.
6. Streamlight Stinger Flashlight
Lanterns are a great addition, but there’s no substitute for a good handheld flashlight. I also use headlamps when I camp, but should a dog or key gear get lost in the evening, sometimes it’s nice to have some real illumination power at your side. Streamlight makes some of the best flashlights around, and they are tough as anything else on the market. While you can spend over $200 on some Streamlight handheld lights, the Streamlight Stinger LED Rechargeable Flashlight is a good mid-range flashlight built to last a lifetime. The Stinger has a unbreakable polycarbonate lens and an aircraft aluminum body for a long performance life, and it’s bright for a rechargeable flashlight with an 18,000 candela output. You’ll be saving the recipient plenty of money on batteries as well with the rechargeable batteries of the Stinger.
7. Stormr Stryker Gloves
More than a few times in early or late camping trips or especially in winter, I’ve found I have the wrong gloves for the job when the conditions are cold and wet. A good, easy to wrap gift are these Stormr Stryker Gloves that are specially designed for working in wet environments. It seems like I always have plenty of thick, warm gloves lying around, but wet-specific gloves aren’t always thought of, and Stormr gloves could be a good surprise gift.
8. Helly Hansen Duffle Bag
Helly Hansen is my personal favorite outerwear company, and this Norwegian company has been making jackets since the late 1800s. Since apparel doesn’t always make a good gift due to sizing concerns, Helly Hansen makes some awesome duffle bags that can be carried either by the handle or as a backpack. Available in stylish colors and large enough to hold a lot of gear, the HH Duffle Bags come in 30 liter and 50 liter sizes. When not in use, the HH Duffle packs down very tight for storage. A cool idea for someone wanting an outdoor bag a bit different from the norm.