10+ Outdoorsy Gifts for Hikers, Campers and Other Outdoor Adventurers
For the adventurous folks that eat, sleep and live in the outdoors, there's no better gift than a new gadget or gizmo designed to make life outside a little more fun and functional. But what to buy? Here's a number of fun products that will appeal to a variety of outdoor enthusiasts. Make their 2015 more exhilarating than ever.
What's more comfortable than a hammock? A hammock that protects you from the elements. The EaglesNest Hammock sets up between two trees with two web straps and gives users the comfort of avoiding the hard ground. Users can get up off the ground, away from the rocks, roots and slimy creatures of the night, and enjoy a comfortable night of sleep inside of a hammock. The tent includes plenty of room for gear storage and mesh windows for warm, clear nights and even a sleeping companion. You can even get additional gear to make for a more pleasant sleep with bug screens and rain tarps. Or get the whole complete hammock set of everything you need.
2. Camelbak ShredBak/RaceBak/VeloBak
Just as the hydration pack made drinking water more convenient than ever before, Camelbak's line of hydration clothing takes convenience to the next level. Designed as sport-specific, functional clothing for snow sports and biking, these tops integrate 72 ounces of hydration inside, so there's no need for an extra water bottle or pack. The ShredBak is a vest designed for use in skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports, and the RaceBak and VeloBak are designed for cycling/biking. Hydration is universal, though, and there's no reason that these wouldn't work for other sports like hiking. Get more information at Camelbak's Wearable Hydration page or check them out at Amazon.
This simple, inexpensive GPS is designed for one primary purpose: to get you back to where you started. The perfect gift for the hapless hiker that has a tendency to get all turned around once the pavement gives way to the trees, the Backtrack Personal GPS Tracking device will get him back to the car without any overly technical operation. Best of all, you can find it for less than 80 bucks at Amazon. The Backtrack's utility isn't limited to the outdoors, and it can help anyone who tends to get lost--in a large parking lot while Christmas shopping, for instance.
Tubbs latest release in the snowshoe market may prove to be one of its best ever. The Flex Series of Snowshoes, which come in three levels (Alp, NRG, Trek), are composite snowshoes that provide more natural performance in the snow. The flexible design allows the snowshoe to flex as you walk, making for a more natural heel to toe transfer. These snowshoes are an excellent gift for experienced snowshoers and hikers/backpackers who are looking for an excuse to get outside in the winter. Here's Tubbs on Amazon for around $100.
Even the prepared adventurer who recites the 10 essentials in his sleep may end up in a situation where self-rescue isn't an option. Unfortunately, cell phones don't usually get service in the wilderness. Satellites, however, have a much better shot. The SPOT beacon uses satellites to convey GPS location information in case of emergency. It can also be used to send trip updates and communicate with friends and family in non-emergency situations. You can find SPOT for around $1500 at Amazon (subscription required for service).
This innovative product is a backpack cooler. Unlike that cheap cooler bag that you got as a giveaway at your last work conference, the Zuma features a combination backpack with cooler at the bottom of the pack that keeps your cans organized. It stores up to 20 cans, and ice packs fit in between the stacks of cans to keep everything cold. This one is great for campers, hikers, event goers and tailgaters. The BackPack Cooler is available in a variety of colors for $30. Use them with these flexible ice-packs which work great.
Anyone who's ever spent the night in a sleeping bag knows it's a far cry from the comforts of a bed. One of the main issues beleaguering the sleeping bag is that it's difficult and uncomfortable to roll around in--and who spends the night in one position? The Selk Bag is like a sleeping bag body suit that moves with your body instead of against it. The bag provides a more comfortable night of sleep and can be worn around the campsite in the evening (or for that late-night nature call). The Selk Bag is available at Amazon starting at $99.
For those who've never seen it in action, the sport of paddle-boarding is a sort of cross between canoeing and surfing: participants stand on a big board and paddle across a body of water. Kahuna Creations Big Stick is designed to bring the relaxing sport onto dry land. When used in conjunction with a long board, the Big Stick allows users to "paddle' across the road or concrete. Buy a Big Stick for your favorite long boarder, or pair it with a board for the big kid on your list.
In the outdoors, it's all about getting as much function as you can while taking up as little room as possible. The Eton NFR160WXB delivers by packing a weather radio, AM/FM radio, clock, flashlight, SOS alert, solar power and cell phone charger into one compact device. This one is a great safety device for anyone that strays well past the ranger's station. It operates via solar or hand crank.
For extended camping trips or the serious car camper, the traditional cooler can be a lot of trouble, with ice melting and the need to replenish it all the time. Engle Fridge Coolers bag the ice in favor of 12 V power from your vehicle. Keep your meat fresh, your beers cold and your ice frozen with one of these handy portable refrigerators. This one makes the perfect gift for campers, boaters, hunters and fisherman. A less expensive version is also available from Wytner with many of the same features.
There is a lot of innovation in terms of handy gadgets for outdoor fans. Two that I think are really great small gift items is the Zippo Hand Warmers and the Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern.
The Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern is a hyper lightweight light source you can take anywhere. Weighing almost nothing and chargeable with just sunlight, the Luci is a wonderful, waterproof lantern and portable light source. It is easy to shape to place almost on any surface and can be hung up on almost anything. Wonderfully versatile and wonderfully easy to use, it is one of my favorite outdoor innovations in the last decade.
Another great gadget for sports and outdoors fans is the Zippo Hand Warmer. For people who need to be outside a lot, these hand warmers are a life saver. They are basically zippo lighters designed specially to warm the lighter rather than produce an open flame. They can last up to 12 hours and can be reused by simply refilling the hand warmer with lighter fluid. They are small and convenient to carry around. Unfortunately, you can't easily turn it on and off for short bursts of time but if you know you are going to be outdoors and need a reliable and tiny source of warmth, these are terrific.
Originally posted December 19, 2009 and updated December 2015.