It’s happening. It’s getting darker, colder, and the falling leaves are signaling that is time to start thinking about what to give that avid adventurer for Christmas. Now, giving a gift is one thing. Giving a gift that benefits the user and the planet? That’s another. So for this years guide I decided to focus a little bit more on items that are not only super useful, but durable, reusable, or just emphasize being kind to the planet. Let’s take a look, and check back later as I add some more recommendations.
Quick notes about my list here. All of these are products I own, currently use, and have tested personally. So, I can vouch for their quality. This doesn’t make them perfect, but keep an eye out for a future or past review to cover those details. These products have either sent to me for review or are items that I’ve purchased myself. Some of the links below are Amazon links, and these can help us out. So maybe consider clicking on those.
EcoVessel Stainless Steel Utensil Set
Be it traveling, commuting, or just camping in the backyard, reusable utensils are something I am always going to be using. I get fairly tired of heading into restaurants and having singe use items thrown my way. So, having something I can use, essentially infinitely, is a huge win. Keep the plastic behind the counter, thanks. This stainless steel can practically live inside a backpack, purse, or even car, and will absolutely find routine use. They’re easy to clean, fun to use, and can have a huge impact over their lifetime if being used to circumvent “disposable” cutlery. I keep mine close and never regret it. About $25 bucks and come in a trippy rainbow colored one too.
What I said above, but a straw. Includes a wire brush cleaner (I did bend mine instantly so take care closing it), case, and a telescoping straw with three different colors available. Big bonus? It’s jingle free when packed up. $20.
Similar product link. Looks sold out at time of publishing.
Klean Kanteen TKCanisters
Packing lunch on or off the trail can’t get much more convenient than this. The TKCanisters are insulated stainless steel containers that are easy to clean and provide a good amount of insulation. Generally, food will stay hot between 4 and 6 hours, and warm for much longer. They’re tough enough to use for years, have a replaceable/removable seal, and have a convenient carry handle. Just don’t close the lid up immediately after adding piping hot food or they’ll be rather hard to open (it will pressure seal, so give it a minute). 8, 16 and 32 ounce options area available for $25, $30 and $35 respectively.
Goose Feet Down Socks
I don’t know anyone who enjoys cold feet, and backpacking tends to invite that sensation more than I appreciate. Luckily, there is a feather light solution to this, Goose Feet’s Down Socks. Weighing between 2 and 3 ounces depending on the configuration selected, and packing down to the size of a soda can, these always make it into my pack on winter and cold weather trips. They’re not really built for walking around in, but once you’re in the tent, it is go time. They do offer Waterpoof Over-Booties, which makes them viable for wearing outside of the tent as an additional purchase though. The Down Socks go for about $70 and come in a huge selection of colors, deniers, and even fill weight so you can customize them to suit your needs.
Fenix HP25R V2.0 Headlamp
As much a work lamp as a backpacking lamp, the HP25R is a high performance machine that provides more than 11 times the power output of some headlamps I’ve reviewed, and it it can provide up to 400 hours of light in eco mode. Sure, this time shrinks down to 2 hours in “turbo” mode, but that’s at a ludicrous 1600 lumens, available if you ever need it. It’s a little on the heavy side at 8.4 ounces including the rechargeable battery, but it is built to last, is extremely comfortable despite the weight, and can be used at home, on the trail, on the job/project site, or simply can be stashed away for emergencies. In my eyes, this makes it an excellent all around option. It’s pricey at around $160, but I’ve seen it as low as $120.
Lawson ‘Blue Ridge’ Hammock
Hammocks have become synonymous with the outdoors, and for good reason. They provide accessible comfort for areas that may otherwise be difficult to pitch a tent. The Blue Ridge Hammock by Lawson is no different, but it actually is different. Constructed with two spreader bars and large hoops, it provides a flat sleeping surface with a generous overhead space. It’s simple to set up, and includes a very effective rain cover too. It is a bit bulkier than some options (those poles add volume and weight to the kit), and I found it to be a little less stable than other options I’ve tested, but it is priced great, has an impressive weight capacity, and has the largest interior that I’ve ever tested for a “hanging tent”. It retails for $229 and weighs about 4 lbs. 15 oz. with the straps included (a separate purchase).
Bose Sound Flex Bluetooth Speaker
Don’t let me see you blasting this in the backcountry, but if you’re kicking it in the backyard or in a social setting, good sound music goes a long way. Durable and powerful, with a long 12 hour battery life, the Sound Flex can easily make it through an extended weekend. It’s impact resistant, water resistant, and it floats, meaning using it around water isn’t a problem. It lacks a 3.5mm jack, but otherwise is a solid offering. Just be considerate when you use it.
Deuter Futura Air Backpack
It’s quite obvious that backpacking requires a backpack, so may as well have one that is going to last, yeah? The Deuter Futura Air 50+10 is a pack that is designed to go the distance, and is backed with a lifetime warranty with free repairs to prove it. It’s a little on the heavier side at around 4.5 lbs, but it provides much better comfort and weight distrubution than ultra-light packs, and is equipped to carry just about any load, from lightweight summer trips to gear intensive winter outings. It has too many features to list here, but keep an eye out as I’m finishing up my review on it soon. The best part? Only $250 bucks for a backpack that you’ll likely never need to replace, which sounds like an excellent gift to me.
NomadiQ Portable Propane Gas Grill
Be it in the backyard, in the campground, or on the road, the NomadiQ Grill is exceptionally convenient. It is the smallest, most packable grill I’ve ever used, yet still manages to provide solid, fairly even cooking thanks to the unique triangular burner structure. It doesn’t get super hot, but does a great job with burgers, boneless chicken, and basically anything cooked within a cast iron skillet on top. It folds down to about 16″ x 15″ x 5″, weighs just 12 pounds, and retails for $299.
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV2 Solution Dye
Officially my new favorite shelter, the Solution Dye series from Big Agnes combines improved UV resistance, a more eco-friendly construction, and the tried and tested design that I’ve been rocking for the better part of a decade now. The Copper Spur has two doors, two vestibules, and weighs barely over two pounds, while providing plenty of room for two campers and their gear. Retail is around $379, with other sizes being available too.
The Tiger Wall HV2, pictured below, is a similar but cut back option for those who seek a slightly lighter shelter too. I carry the two person version as my solo shelter or as a two person when I really need to cut weight.
So, these are some some of my recommendations for this year. Feel free to ask me any questions referring to them or other ideas you might have for gifts. I’m happy to provide my thoughts! And do check back as I’ll be adding some more items as we get a little further into the season. Anything on your Christmas list? Let me know!