Got a wild man or woman in your life, or just someone you want to be able to bring along with you in the future? Here's nine gifts that are tough enough for experts, but versatile enough for beginners.
Fugoo Tough Bluetooth Speaker - $250
Fugoo gives you the ability to take stereo-quality sound with you into the outdoors in an IP67 water/dust/sand proof package that can even be strapped to a bike. Two 28mm tweeters, two 39mm mids and two 43x54mm subs project sound in all directions, filling a campsite or cabin with impressive sound quality up to 95dB. Tested battery life delivered two days of near continuous playback, actually outlasting the phones that were streaming the music.
Duke Cannon Big Ass Bricks Of Soap - $US9-$US49
Fancy soaps for men that don't feel or smell girly. The 10oz bricks are designed to eliminate your human scent before you go big game hunting, an ability that will probably be equally welcome around the house. The Field Box gift set packs 5 bricks into a dented old military ammo can, inexplicably including a large Stanley flat blade screwdriver in the package. Just the right amount of kitsch.
United By Blue Bison Down Socks - $US35
A single adult buffalo produces only 113-170g of its incredibly fine undercoat each year. Softer than cashmere and warmer than merino, United By Blue is the first company to figure out how to turn Bison Down into an affordable, commercially viable product. Yeah, it's a Kickstarter, but the company guarantees us its $US35 gift package — which includes the socks and a tuft of the down along with an explanation of it — will arrive in time for Christmas. On your feet, the socks' interior pile feels like walking on tufts of silk.
Nemo Astro Insulated Lite 20R Sleeping Pad - $US130
Anyone who spends nights outside will appreciate a more comfortable bed. And, in our recent comparison test, this one proved more comfortable than anything else available. It packs down small enough for backpackers and is comfortable enough even for princess-and-pea types, while also adding considerable warmth on cold nights. Having said that, you may want to consider the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite if you're shopping for an ultralight backpacker or the XTherm if your manly man or woman has a cold weather trip coming up. You can read about those distinctions in the test.
Icebreaker Merino Wool Base Layers
This Vertex half-zip ($US150) and the accompanying leggings ($US110) finally cured my girlfriend of her permanent case of the "It's soooo colds!" While looking nice enough to shed down to while sitting by a fire…inside a ski lodge. Icebreaker also makes base layers for anyone else doing any activity, all of which naturally prevent odours and work across a wide variety of temperatures.
Makers And Riders 3-Season Commuter Weatherproof Jean
Dumb name, they should just call these The Best Pants Ever. Cut like your favourite pair of slim, 5-pocket jeans, these are made from Polartec NeoShell, the most breathable water and wind PROOF fabric ever made. That material is also four-way stretch and the jeans are made with a gusseted crotch, so they facilitate total freedom of movement. More durable than denim, these pants will be ideal for hiking, climbing, cycling or any other outdoors activity you can name. Anyone who spends time outside in variable conditions will absolutely love them.
Boreas makes stylish, futuristic packs that are innovatively simple and functional. They're all great, just decide how much money you want to spend and pick up whatever pack looks good for that price. The 55-litre Buttermilks ($US104) is ideal for backpacking while the Hopper ($US70) is just the right size for day trips.
FourSevens 360 Headlamp ($US15) w/Atom ALR2 Flashlight ($US40)
Traditional headlamps pretty much suck. They all use crappy LEDs and even crappier reflectors which create messy light patterns that are full of shadows. Not this re-think of the category from high-end lighting company FourSevens. The fancy Cree XP-G2 LED produces a totally even, totally artifact-free beam that's been optimised for close-up, area illumination. Which is exactly what you want whether you're cooking food over a campfire or working on your car. The rotating "clip" on the headband allows you to wear the light either above your ear or front-and-center (over your ear is way more natural) and added to that is a strong neodymium magnet in the flashlight's base, enabling you to stick it to the inside of your car's hood or anywhere else that might be handy. Any FourSevens Atom or Mini flashlight will be compatible with the headlamp band/clip, but we prefer the Atom ALR2 which delivers the highest number of lumens from the most compact light. Topping off the package is a simple, intuitive operation. You just twist the light on for a 5 lumen low and twist it a bit tighter for the 110 lumen high. Complete with a maximum continuous runtime just two hours shy of four days on a single battery and a bulb that will never burn out or break, this thing is just an all-round winner. This is the present I bought myself.