Saturday, December 22, 2012

Holiday Gifts for Happy Campers

Need holiday gift ideas for the camper in your life?  Everything here can be found locally at stores like REI, Target, and even your food co-op.  And if you need any ideas for how to spend any Christmas money... Snow Peak makes some of the most visually appealing camping gear out there, and it's functional too.  Their colored Titanium Mugs would make an excellent gift.  They're a little pricey, so it's something the camper might not get for themselves, but would love to have.  Titanium is super light weight, so it's ideal for backpackers, but it's also nice for car camping or traveling.

There are two different kinds, the heavier double walled titanium mug is perfect for keeping your drink warm for a long time.  It works, it will keep something hot for a while--but--you cannot cook in it.  The lighter weight single walled mug won't keep your stuff warm for as long, but you can cook stuff in it.  Either one is a fine piece of gear and they do come in plain silver, but why would you ever want that when you can have this gorgeous purple, blue, or green?

For those who need the basics, the Trek 700 is a versatile and ideal container for cooking in the outdoors.  It serves as a cup, a bowl, and a pot all in one and it's designed to integrate well with other gear.  you can put your spork through the little hole, then the top of the spork will hold your fuel in place, while your stove nests inside the cup.  That same hole is also a draining spout for when you're making pasta, rice noodles, etc. Very smart design and feather light.  I've cooked with this myself and it works like a dream.

Known as one of the best backpacks for women, Gregory's Deva Backpack is great for female hikers and backpackers.  A women specific suspension system is designed to make heavy loads feel much lighter.  It also has a hip belt that swivels, this is great for maintaining balance and extra padding for comfort.  Lots of pockets for storage and organization hold all your gear.  A hydration pouch houses your water supply as well as easy access pocket on the sides for an additional water bottle.  It has a detachable lid which can be used as a day pack.  Pockets on the hip belt are handy for snacks and small items.

Beefy zipper pulls make it fast and easy to get in and out of compartments.  Fabric is durable and water resistant, everything--every pocket, every loop is well thought out. This pack comes in extra small, small and medium for a custom fit.

Camp Booties are basically slippers for the campsite.  After a day of hiking and other outdoor activities, it's nice to have something soft and cozy to slip tired feet into.  These EarthKeepers, from Timberland, are made with recycled materials and zip together making them small and packable.

The rugged outer sole is made from Green Rubber and has some hefty tread for a camp bootie.  They're water and dirt repellant with great insulation to keep your feet warm.  They're a bit like down booties on steroids, and are available for men, women, and kids.

This cool little Micro Table from GSI Outdoors comes in a black bag with a strap that makes it easy to carry.  People take these backpacking--not the ultra lighters but if you're not going too far, it would be reasonable.  It's awesome for car camping and makes a great nightstand for in the tent.

You can adjust the height and it's super easy to set up and take down. This thing has so many other uses--it makes a great laptop table, a tray for breakfast in bed, and a way to create layers on your dining table for festivities (I used it for my Day of the Dead ofrenda).  This kind of multi use versatility makes it a must have and it would probably fit in a Christmas stocking, wouldn't that be fun? 

Speaking of stockings, I love Sea To Summit's Kitchen Sink for this purpose.  A kitchen sink in a stocking still amuses me (I recommended one last Christmas), but this year, Sea To Summit has an ultra light sink made specifically for backpacking.  The Ultra-Sil Kitchen Sink works as well as the heftier model but it's much lighter and I think even cooler looking.   Keep it eco friendly and leave no trace with this sink.

Smartwool makes a ton of things that would be perfect for under the tree and certain to be well received, you really can't go wrong with them.

I'm in love with their Next To Skin Zip Tees.  They come in luscious colors, are super soft against your skin, and are ideal for cold weather.  While outside, you can keep it zipped up for warmth around your neck, and when you go inside, you can unzip for perfect comfort.  Wool naturally regulates your body temperature, but this is a great feature.  It also changes the look.  They're high tech and built for action.  For instance the seams are constructed in such a way to prevent chafing and panels are built specifically to not irritate when you're wearing a backpack.  They're great for any season but they are heaven in really cold weather. 

I bought several of these during the summer when they were on sale on Amazon (hint: if you ever see these on clearance, snatch them up fast).   This year's model are even better, they're more streamlined and the neck is improved, it's a little looser, doesn't come up quite so high, and I think it looks nicer zipped up.  They seem to run a little larger than last year's model, I'd say they are more true to size while before I needed to size up.  I wear an 8-10 and a medium is perfect. These tops are awesome for camping, travel, and any time you're not able to do laundry as they don't retain odor and hold up great.

For stockings--Socks.  Good quality wool socks, like these from Darn Tough are perfect for stockings.  They make wonderful socks for men, women, and children, in fun colors, super comfort and extremely high quality.  I recommend the kind with the extra cush on the bottoms which are luxurious and make your feet feel so cozy.

Wool is perfect for socks, keeping you warm when it's cold and wicking away moisture when your feet get hot. To top it all off, Darn Tough has a lifetime guarantee--you just can't beat that.
Another great thing for stockings are these cool BOTTLE BRIGHT water bottle cleaning pellets from Clean Ethics.  You know how some water bottles are hard to clean and you never feel like you quite get them as clean as you'd like because the opening is do your best with a bottle brush, but you're not sure?  Problem solved.  These non-toxic, chlorine free biodegradable tablets make bottle cleaning easy, just drop one in your bottle, let it sit a few minutes, shake, rinse, and that's it.  Great for campers, students, travelers, pretty much everyone carries a bottle these days.                             

Speaking of bottles, this Classic Stanley Thermos is so great looking it's almost functional art.   Fantastic for car camping and road trips, there is something so comforting about a Stanley thermos. 

Include some organic hot chocolate mix or chai and you have a fabulous gift.  Full of liquid, it takes on some heft and that handle is great for carrying.  It's BPA free and will keep hot drinks hot for a good 24 hours, and cold drinks cold even longer than that.   A Stanley anything is an excellent man gift by the way, for those lucky men on your list, but they're good for women too, especially this gorgeous stainless steel version.

The Crucial Multi-tool knife, by Gerber, is a beautiful knife that has necessities like pliers, screwdriver, bottle opener and blades, and has a handy clip to attach to your backpack.  I love that it's just what you need, not a ton of bells and whistles.
ENO Twilights are possibly the most festive, fun stocking stuffer for the camper or outdoors person.  They are tiny, light weight, battery powered string lights that you can use at your campsite, your hammock, on your bicycle handlebars--pretty much anywhere.  You could take them traveling with you to brighten up hotel rooms.

They come in plain white, but the multicolored lights are so much more fun.  The 23 lights come in a little pouch which make a nice presentation and keep them protected.  They take three AA batteries, so be sure to include those too.

GoToobs by Humangear are handy containers to have for camping and all you need to use your favorite (eco friendly) brand from home, just refill and use over and over.  They're silicone, feel great in your hand, are easy to use, and some have a little suction cup that sticks to the walls at the camp ground, hotels, etc.  The little dial around the top are actually labels (lotion, shampoo, conditioner) for extra help remembering what's in there.

Seasonal flavored Clif Bars make great stocking stuffers for outdoorsy types who like to have a stash in their backpack, bike bag, or carry on for quick energy.  Iced Gingerbread, Peppermint Stick, and Spiced Pumpkin Pie are all festive and GMO free.  These are easy to find right at your local grocery store for stuffing stockings or to slip in a box with a gift of gear, or in the pocket of a backpack like the one we talked about earlier.