Recipients of the Best Gifts for Outdoor Adventures are the types who'd trade 4 walls for 4,000 feet, smart home devices for the smarts to build a home when left to their own devices, and a weekend Netflix binge for a weekend adrenaline binge. Say, flying over the river and through the woods on a pair of skis. Or a snowmobile. Or a sled with 16 Siberian huskies sprinting out front.
These are my 2017 picks for the Best Gifts for Outdoor Adventures.
(Note: All items' prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.)
Outdoor Adventures on Land
Survival Hacks $12. Professional disaster preparedness consultant Creek Stewart's sack of Survival Hacks runs deep, covering everything from table making out of sticks and ropes to building a one-man shelter out of a trash bag to purifying water with a plastic bottle and the sun. Sodie can tabs, plant leaves, bottle tops, that booger you had to burrow your finger halfway to your brain to dig out - Survival Hacks will teach you how to turn all of them into essential tools for keeping body and soul together in the great outdoors.
Neolite Trek 13-Ounce Hammock $50. I know how that dude got his Neolite Trek hammock to a secluded forest river. The thing weighs only 13 ounces and packs into a stuff sack smaller than my left butt cheek. And I know how he got it strung up between 2 trees across the river. Fox Outfitters includes a pair of solid steel carabiners and 5'6" nautical-grade hang ropes (with tree-friendly rope sleeves!) in the hammock package. I even know why it didn't break when he climbed in. Despite its size and weight, the Neolite Trek's woven nylon sling is strong like ox, and able to support loads of up to 400 pounds.
Sled Legs $50. Sled Legs are made in Canada. And that's your news for the day that contains no shock value, no potential for angering the masses, and nothing that makes you question how the hell we got here. In fact, it might be the most comforting news you hear all year, because of course. Of course Sled Legs are made in Canada. Where else would 100% wholesome, G-rated strap-ons come from?
VFO - Frisbee with Mounted Camera $60. VFO - that's Video Flying Object - is a frisbee with a 720p HD video camera mounted to the top. At 30 frames per second, the camera will record your disc's takeoffs, flights, and catches, giving you an FPV perspective of your ultimate skills and tricks.
Garmin Foretrex Hiking GPS $139. The Foretrex 401 is a low-profile GPS navigator that mounts to the wrist for hands-free gallivanting in the unmarked outdoors. It contains a waterproof GPS receiver, electronic compass, and barometric altimeter to give hikers, skiers, and campers the peace of mind of knowing that they will always make it back to civilization safely. Precluding missteps on cliffs, avalanches, and encounters with hungry bears, of course.
Osprey Anti-Gravity Suspension Backpacks $180. Osprey invites human mules seeking to lighten their loads without actually removing any of the items making their loads heavy to try out the Atmos AG 65. Its 3D Anti-Gravity Suspension system has been designed to contour the body seamlessly and automatically with a continuous panel of mesh extending from the top of the pack's back panel to its hipbelt. The fit should be flawless, and its effect unrestricted movement with reduced fatigue during use. Wearers can also adjust Atmos torso length at any time using easy release cams behind the harness yoke.
Kamp-Rite Double Tent Cot $220. A double Kamp-Rite Tent Cot?! Now that's a fine looking piece of sleeping dry and critter-free amidst the glory of nature and a liter of hooch. But my fiancee hates camping. I only go with my friend Cornelius and, uh...ah, screw it. I'll take it. We'll sleep face-out, head-to-toe. Face-out, head-to-toe, Cornelius!
The Reel-Quik Hitch $300. The Reel-Quik Hitch connects to your vehicle's existing hitch and allows you to extend the hitch ball outward so you can position it precisely beneath your trailer coupler without having to back your vehicle up to precisely the right spot beneath it. Once the trailer is attached, a Reel-Quik cranking handle and leverage mechanism will assist you in pulling the ball and trailer into a locked towing position.
Rebel 350 Compound Levering System Crossbow $380. Targets and prey not included. However, Southern Crossbow's Rebel 350 does come with 4 field tip arrows capable for flying up to 350 FPS behind its 155-pound draw weight and 14.2" power stroke. In an effort to "integrate the features of a tactical weapons platform with the modern compound crossbow", the Rebel 350 also incorporates a compound levering system and quiet cams, plus an adjustable vertical grip to increase shooter stability and accuracy. Furthering the legitimacy of its "tactical" descriptor, this crossbow's composite stock is modeled after its sister weapons' so that the transition from gun to bow is more fluid and without a lengthy adjustment period.
Outdoor Adventures on Water
Folding Anchor System $21. Is this how all those namaste-in' yay-hoos are able to do yoga on their stand up paddle boards? They've got a little foldaway anchor tucked in their dry bags? Pssh. Headstands and flying crows on a paddle board. I can hardly do down dog on dry land. The folding anchor has 4 flukes, and weighs around 3-1/2 pounds. Paired with its 25' marine-grade rope, the system is strong enough to secure boats, sailboats, personal watercraft, inflatable boats, canoes, and float tubes in water floors covered in mud, sand, gravel, or rock.
Waterproof Socks $35. A 3-layer build protects feet from wet weather. And wet other stuff. The exterior is wear-resistant knit so the Crosspoints feel like regular socks. In the middle is the waterproof layer, a breathable Artex membrane, which is followed by a Coolmax FX lining to wick moisture and thwart bacteria. The lining also helps keep feet from falling prey to dampness from an inside job (i.e., sweat).
Inflatable Floating Water Walkway $165. BYOB-squared. That's build your own barge, and then bring your own booze with this inflatable Floating Water Walkway from World of Watersports. The 6' x 10' rafts provide a firm walking(-on-water) surface when firmly inflated, and can connect between 2 boats to extend the party.
Inflatable Fishing Float with Backpack Straps $167. For river, lake, and flats fishermen, this float tube could add needed comfort and convenience to the days they try their luck with the rod. The Cumberland model even has adjustable shoulder straps for schlepping it like a backpack when they're trekking in to super secret fishing holes. In the water, the float's hydrodynamic hull will assist with "superior tracking and steering", while a high-set, thickly padded seat with adjustable backrest keeps the sitter drier and warmer, plus helps them settle in for the slow times. Hours. Days. Weeks....
BigSup 10-Person Paddle Board $3,600. Everyone and their dog can take a paddle 'round the water on Supflex's BigSup. This board is giant at 18' long x 7' wide, and has an equally giant load-bearing capacity of 1,550 pounds, which is 350 pounds more than the elevator in my condo complex. So I trust that when me and 6 of my bros...and one of their dogs...cram onto a BigSup, some nearby busybody won't come running at us as we push off shore yelling that we're in violation of homeowners' association rules and going to bust it.
Tools of the Outdoor Adventure (and Post-Adventure) Trade
Embrava Best Ever Water Bottle $22. Embrava's water bottle is hands down (and bottoms up) the best water bottle I've ever owned. I'll grant, whether you agree with me or not depends on what you're looking for in a water bottle, but if we have similar requirements for our pursuit of hydration, I feel confident you're gonna love using this ram-stamped vessel to take your gulps.
Morakniv Eldris Neck Knife $25. I'll pass on a knifed neck, but a neck knife? That I will take under consideration. The Morakniv Eldris is a 2.2" 12c27 stainless steel fixed blade, won a "2016 Scandinavian outdoor award" for its functionality, quality, and design. I'm not sure about the specifics of this award, or how many fixed blade neck knives there are in Scandinavia that could have competed against it, but the Eldris is compact, slick, and pretty cheap, plus gets a lot of favorable reviews, so I'll give the vagaries of the award mention the benefit of the doubt.
EcoGear FX Tactical LED Flashlight Kit $46. Check out that beam on EcoGear FX's TK120 flashlight. I think they call those CREE XML high-powered LEDs "tactical" because shining the torch in the dark helps you achieve an ultimate goal of not head butting a tree or falling on your face.
The Wonder Cart Table & Beach Cart $46. It's real handy to be able to use this cart as a carrier to schlep all your towels and floats to the perfect spot, and then flip it facedown to hold your drinks, eat your lunch, and play a game of pinocle in the sand. I mean, I myself am good only for the schlepping half of that equation (despite my fiancee, She-Ra: Princess of Power, regularly trying to use me facedown for the other half) so The Wonder Cart is definitely better than I am.
Birdie GoPro Camera Launcher $49. I hope you got good aim because Birdie is about to take your selfies from point-and-shoot to toss-and-see-WTF-happens. Snap your GoPro HERO 3+, 4, or 5 inside its arcing white cage and launch the Birdie into the air to capture photos from unique perspectives, and I guess videos sure to make everyone go cross-eyed and vomit.
GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker Chair $66. Those who would rather sway than snuggle at the tailgate and 'round the campfire this fall can go for GCI Outdoor's Freestyle Rocker over Kelty's Low Loveseat chair. This standard-height seat is fitted with a spring-action rocking mechanism that will sway you to and fro', and rock you softly in its arms. Just like a loveseat companion, but without the space hogging and brat-and-beer breath in your face.
Kelty Low Loveseat Chair $70. Kelty wants to help all the lovers out there get low. This folding chair built for two is you and your S.O.'s key to covert cuddling...and other monkey business...at outdoor sit-downs.
Outdoor Rocking Hammock Lounger $70. I like that this outdoor hammock lounger's design suggests I probably won't flip sideways or spill out onto my belly trying to get in and out of it. But I do have some concerns about ending up ass over teakettle. The rocker's got a big, long forward-back motion. Looks like you're even supposed to tip it forward to get in and out. Wonder what happens when you fall into a pool snooze and start dreaming about a nest of snakes dumping onto your head and it goes the other way.
goTenna Off-Grid Signal Generator $120 to $160. To keep it short, I guess you could say goTennas turn smartphones into really powerful walkie-talkies. Except more like walkie-texties. The self-contained signal generators require no cell towers, WiFi connectivity, or satellites to give their connected phones the power of text and GPS location sharing when off-grid, at crowded events, or during emergencies. Recently, goTenna stepped in to help restore basic levels of communication to residents of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
Campfire Defender $160. Use the Campfire Defender to safely snuff out your pyre of flames without dumping vats of water and piles of dirt onto it, and without steaming up ash and soot, and leaving yourself with a sopping wet fire pit to tend to tomorrow.
Use the Campfire Defender to to safely contain your burning embers overnight or during a hike with coated glass fiber material that doesn't reach its combustion point until 3000 degrees F, and remains cool to the touch on the outside.
Use the Campfire Defender to safely control the burn rate of your coals; the pinwheel vent embedded in its cover manages airflow and can prolong their life for over 8 hours.
Use the Campfire Defender to safely deter kids and animals from poking around the fire pit, and to keep them from getting burned if they brush its edges.
Solo Stove Bonfire $300. Solo Stove believes their Bonfire firepit "pushes the limits of both combustion airflow efficiency and minimalist outdoor design." Use it simply, safely, and beautifully on camping trips, tailgates, or in a backyard not big enough to take on a permanent pit installation.