GTFO Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers and Adventurers
Here's a list of my recommendations based on personal experience, personal desire to own, or personal judgment that it would be good gear. I'll try to organize it roughly by price. Items added continuously!
Brands so fun you can't go wrong:
Sea to Summit
Darn Tough Socks
Around $30 or less:
Starbuck's instant coffee individual servings. You could get a JetBoil french press or do cowboy coffee...or you could skip the mess and grit and just have this instant coffee that's actually quite delicious. It's now the only coffee I take on backpacking and camping trips. (other flavors available under related items)
Backpacker's Pantry meals. Tons of variety, I prefer the Pad Thai, which is so good that I crave it on random nights at home.
LumenAID solar powered inflatable lantern. This was the only item from a Cairn box that I actually love. It takes up barely any space, due to being solar I don't have to worry about batteries, emits a nice soft light, and it's lightweight!
Titanium backpacking spoon. It's $11.50 and is the only utensil you'll need on a backpacking trip.
Titamium cup. You need a cup for coffee and whiskey...lighter the better...so titanium. Also, being metal you can use it in a survival situation to boil water for purification!
Wine bladder. Yea, odd right? Backpackers spend tons of time and money cutting weight from their gear, apparently to replace that weight with booze. Pairs well with stemless, plastic wine glasses. See also, flexible flask.
Crazy Creek camp chair. Packable camp chair.
Critter sack. Vital for trips like Havasupai where birds and squirrels will chew through your dry bags, backpacks, and tents to get at your food. Uses a lightweight metal mesh to protect your food while hanging from a tree. (NonAmazon link to support local businesses)
Buff UV Headband. Most people don't realize that wearing a Buff in the summer can actually keep you cooler by blocking the sun from your skin, not to mention by soaking with water to aide in evaporative cooling. Tons of styles available, the National Parks series is one of my favorite.
Lightweight, foldable chair for backpacking, fishing, hunting, etc. I just purchased this and used it on a two night backpacking trip in SE Arizona, it was fantastic and a steal at $33. Despite being an unrecognizable brand (to me) it seems like a quality product.
Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow. This is my go-to for a backpacking pillow, also works great for plane rides, car trips, and stingy hotels.
Sea to Summit eVent waterproof compression sack. A near must-have for backpacking to compress your sleeping bag for easy packing while protecting it from unexpected downpours..yes, they happen in Arizona. Size needed will vary by sleeping bag owned, but medium can be a safe buy.
Around $50 or less:
Ruffwear insulated dog jacket. Don't forget your furry pal! Despite being furry, those guys get chilly too, so this is a great way to keep them warm around camp.
Sea to Summit Reactor sleeping bag liner. Advertised to add 25 degrees of warmth to a sleeping bag. Great as a bag liner on cold spring and fall nights around Flagstaff; excellent by itself on warm summer nights on the Rim.
Ruffwear Dog Shoes. Whether it's cholla sheds, broiling asphalt, or rough rocks, there are a number of dangers to an adventurous dog's paws in Arizona. Ruffwear dog shoes are a great solution.
BioLite Camp Stove. This brilliant little device is a self-contained wood-burning stove that uses the excess heat to charge its own USB power bank. I don't know what I'd actually use it for, but man do I want one just because of how unique and clever it is!
ENO DoubleNest Hammock. Nothing makes a car camping trip like relaxing in a hammock all afternoon!
MSR AutoFlow Gravity Microfilter. 1.75l/minute gravity powered water filter. I prefer the gravity filters because you don't have to spend time pumping and can fill it up for water in the morning.
RTIC 20 Soft Pack Cooler. $82 for the 20. Yeti may have the name recognition, but RTIC has equivalent quality for much much lower prices. I have the 45qt rotomolded cooler and love it. The soft pack is great for six packs of bee...uh..soda, and ice cream...Fingers crossed I'll be using one in a couple weeks to haul home some fresh venison.
Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System. Where most Jetboil systems are for boiling water and little else, the MiniMo also includes simmer control for use as a cookstove allowing you to leave behind the fluxring frying pan you might have packed otherwise. (Pro tip--use the MSR Alpine Dish Brush/Scraper to keep your pot clean)
Sea to Summit Sleeping Pad. Available in multiple options from ultralight and not insulated, to ultra-comfort and insulated (click through this link then search for 'sea to summit pad' if you want one of the other options). I've been using the ultralight insulated pad in long and wide for the past two years...it's so comfortable that I prefer it to some hotel beds. I'm a side sleeper and have no pressure points through the night. I find the insulation perfect for year-round use.
Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer ultralight down jacket. (Womens) Unless something new has hit the market under my radar, this is jacket has the best weight to warmth ratio around. There were about 4 of them on my recent backpacking trip, I only looked on in envy.
MSR Hubba Hubba lightweight 2 person tent. Reinvented as the most livable tent available for its ultralight weight, the bestselling MSR Hubba Hubba 2-person backpacking tent now weighs in at a trim 1.54 kg/3 lb. 7 oz. Ultra-compact and precision-engineered, the tent feels as light and efficient to use as it does to carry. From its optimized, symmetrical geometry and non-tapered floor that maximize space, down to its integrated, adjustable stake-out loops that speed setup, this tent redefines livability. Whether you're setting out to climb the Swatch Range or circumnavigate Mount Rainer along the Wonderland Trail, the freestanding, 3-season Hubba Hubba tent lets you enjoy the full backcountry experience - including time spent in the tent.
Canyon Cooler Outfitter Series. Rotomolded cooler in the vein of RTIC and Yeti, but with style points that took an Arizona river guide to come up with. Where RTIC and Yeti have rubber toggles protruding from the body that seem to jump out and snag like a cholly, Canyon Coolers has its latches recessed so there's nothing to snag on your outdoor adventure.
RTIC RotoMold Cooler. 45qt--$244. This was a Christmas present last year and I LOVE it. It's great for summer camping trips...we used it in May for our rim-to-rim hike to keep our food cold from departure Friday morning until post-hike Saturday. It's excellent, and $100 less than the same size Yeti.
Isle Inflatable Standup Paddle Board. The ISLE Airtech® 11’ Explorer Fusion-Lite Inflatable Paddle Boards is designed for those who seek adventure on the water. Equipped with 14 individual D-Rings, Durable Nose and Tail Carry Handles and Bungee Systems, giving you plenty of room to stash all your gear for those long-haul paddles and the capability to attach a cooler.
Tacx Vortex Smart Training Base indoor bike trainer. Have a biker in your life who feels cooped up in the July heat? This training base is compatible with Garmin devices so they can exercise and keep track of their stats!
Garmin Fenix 5 Sapphire. This GPS watch with altitude, barometer, compass, and more does almost anything. As an update to the spectacular Fenix 3, this model can be loaded with maps now! Use it to track your fitness in a number of preloaded activities and download additional apps and data fields to expand its uses. I've had my Fenix 3 for over two years and almost never take it off. It's boosted my fitness and I love having data from my adventures.
Garmin Inreach Explorer+ GPS tracker and satellite communication device (subscription required for communication services). Ever go out of cell phone range and want to stay safe? This is a good start! For as low as $14.99/month--which can be cancelled and restarted by month if you enroll in the the Freedom Plan--you have access to satellite SMS communication and emergency beacon. No matter what, you can use it as a GPS tracker and download routes to navigate along. Great for your peace of mind, and your mom's.