Holiday Gear Guide
Welcome to our 2nd annual Holiday Gear Guide. There are tons of great items for your favorite outdoors person.
Coffee is good. Coffee outdoors is great. Great coffee outdoors is best. And really, after trying out Kuju coffee while backpacking, I don’t think I’ve had better coffee on the trail. I’d even venture to say that it’s close to as good as any drip coffee I’ve ever had. Kuju’s Pocket PourOver pouch fits on to most any cup/mug. Just pour over hot water, and enjoy! Perfect for backpacking, but really perfect for anywhere. There have been many times where I wished I had Kuju coffee with me: at the office, home, etc. It’s good coffee. Plain and simple.
MSRP $20 for 10 pouches
GSI Outdoors Boulder Flask
The GSI Outdoors Boulder Flask is a plastic flask that holds 10 oz of your favorite beverage and the hinged cap means that it doesn’t get lost. I used this flask throughout the fall both while hiking and camping. I found that the flask could last me a weekend solo or an evening when shared. I really like the indestructible plastic construction and I have not noticed any funky tastes in my favorite adult beverage. Another benefit of the plastic construction is that it doesn’t set off metal detectors…
Outside Inside Games Backpack Cribbage Board
My 12 year old daughter and I love to play games while backpacking. It helps pass the long dark fall nights especially when we lived in Alaska. I have been playing cribbage forever and as a former sailor spent many hours on the Barque Eagle crossing the Atlantic Ocean playing cribbage.
The Outside Inside Games Backpack Cribbage Board is ideal because the board has everything you need – cards, pegs and a full track. What makes it even better is that the board folds in half and takes up minimal space in my pack and the plastic construction means I don’t have to worry about damaging the board by shoving it my pack.
The HEROCLIP is an innovative hook and clip design where the outer hook rotates 360 and folds at two joints allowing it to be hung anywhere. The clip holds whatever item you want securely in place. I found all sorts of uses for the HEROCLIP while backpacking. I used it to hold my small lantern from trees, my gravity water filtration system, even for drying clothes.
GSI Outdoors Santoku Knife Set
This knife set from GSI Outdoors features three amazingly crafted and balanced knives that I would use in my kitchen, not just in the outdoors. The set includes a 4″ paring knife, 6″ santoku and 6″ serrated knife, a cutting board, bottle for soap and a two sided dish cloth to keep everything tidy.
I used the set during a 4 day backpacking trip in the Kisatchie National Forest in Louisiana. The 6” Santoku knife was used to slice up cheese for gourmet venison breakfast burritos on the first morning. The knife glided smoothly through the frozen cheese and the included cutting board meant that everything was kept dirt free. The zippered case kept everything organized and the thin case easily fit in my pack.
SAXX has revolutionized men’s underwear with their breathable boxers that feature their patented BallPark Pouch and 3-D fit and non-chaffing seams. These boxers received rave reviews from all of our testers and made believers out of the staunchest tighty whitey wearing writer. They come in 5” and 7” inseams, and they have several styles to choose from. You can read about the Quest 2.0 here and the Kinetic Boxers here.
MSRP $26.95 to $29.95
The Princeton Tec Axis is a revolutionary 250 lumen headlamp. The light features 3 modes – red, flood, and spot, and in each mode can be adjusted by the dimmer on the side of the light. I used the light for two nights while running a 126 mile route from Baton Rouge to New Orleans on the Mississippi River Levee and I was amazed at the how well the light worked. The high beam flood lit up the gravel topped levee and assured that I had plenty of light to see where I was going. The spot light worked perfect for me to banish my hallucinations during the 37 hour run and helped me see the horses running along side me on the first night.
The Ultimate Direction Access 600 running belt is a simple yet elegant belt for every runner. The large zipper pocket fits an iPhone 6 and still has room for extra nutrition like gels. The outer stretchy pocket will hold Tailwind serving sticks and Honey Stinger Waffles and more. The 600 milliliter bottle is supported with a plastic cage that keeps it from bouncing or shifting too much while running. 500 plus miles on the one we reviewed and it is still going strong.
Oboz Selway Flip
Most flip flops are just spongy pieces of foam, not the Selway Flip. It features the same foot bed featured in Oboz boots meaning it has a solid arch support, cushy footbed and an 8mm or so drop that mirrors their boots. These have been our favorite flips since the summer and the durable sole has survived everything from beach on the Gulf Coast to hanging out in camp in the backwoods of Mississippi.
This packable, portable, and lightweight game is a unique take on two popular tailgating games combined into one: cornhole and ladderball. Utilizing a dome style construction, similar to a tent, the game packs down to about the size of packed tent poles, meaning that it can be taken almost anywhere. Great for tailgates, the park, camping, and maybe even backpacking, the Freestyle Dome lets you play wherever you go.
The Ultimate Direction Marathon Vest is the latest edition to their runner’s collection. It is a minimalist vest that has everything a runner needs for longer runs with regular access to aid stations. The zippered pocket easily holds an iPhone, while the stretchy pocket on the opposite side holds soft sided or hard sided bottles up to 20oz. There is also a shove it pocket on the back and room for a hydration bladder as well. We have 340 plus miles on our sample and it is still in perfect condition.
My biggest challenge is to find a comfortable pillow when backpacking. Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Deluxe Pillow has finally solved this dilemma. The Aeros is an inflatable pillow that only takes a few puffs to inflate. The outer cover is soft and quiet. The best part is that deflated it fits into the included stuff pouch and is the size of a large wallet.
The High Sierra Pathway 70L backpack is a great entry level pack. It has all the features of more expensive packs but at a lower price point. The Pathway is a top loading internal frame pack with a separate sleeping bag compartment zippered side pockets and stretchy water bottle pockets on each side. The shoulder straps and hipbelt are nicely padded and stayed comfortable even during a 12 hour day backpacking on the Black Creek Trail in southern Mississippi.
The LOWA Aerox Mid Boot is the latest in the LOWA line to feature Gore Tex’s new SURROUND technology with a 360 degrees of breathability built into the boots. This new liner keeps the wearer’s foot dry while facilitating even better breathability. The Aerox also features their proprietary Surround Trac outsole and MONOWRAP stability frame. Our writer has put over 100 miles on these boots everywhere from the swamps of Louisiana to the mountains of New Hampshire and they have kept his feet dry, comfortable and protected from the elements. In our opinion these lightweight boots are perfect for fastpacking.
New from Kelty, the Revol 65 is a large capacity pack suitable for multiday trips (3-5 nights). The pack has everything basic that I have come to expect these days: hipbelt pockets, top pocket, trap door sleeping bag compartment as a few examples. The pack also has a few extras that I haven’t seen before on other packs; most notably Kelty’s new PerfectFIT adjustable suspension. This new suspension system allows adjustments at multiple points on the pack in order fine tune the perfect fit. The pack’s Kenesis hipbelt pivots as you move to allow a more comfortable, fluid fit. I’ve taken the pack on multiple backpacking trips and found it to perform well in a variety of conditions.
The Gregory Paragon 68, is the largest pack available in Gregory’s new “lightweight” series. Gregory describes this series thusly “Nine times out of ten, a pack this light with this kind of capacity would be stripped of anything close to comfort or convenience. The Paragon 68 is the exception, tearing up the trail with lightweight, ventilated ease thanks to Aerolon suspension, and offering deluxe features you’d be hard-pressed to find inside its weight class.” The Paragon is also available in 38L, 48L, and 58L sizes. The 68L pack retails for $249.95.
I have used this backpack on multiple backpacking trips and it has performed admirably. The Gripton Lumbar pad kept the pack in place even on steep climbs on the sandstone hills of the Kisatchie National Forest. The pack swallows gear in the main compartment, and the shove it pocket and the integrated day pack is perfect for outings that don’t require more than the 10 essentials.
Thanks for reading our 2017 Holiday Gear Guide. We encourage you to check out the gear we posted here and to support your local outdoor retailer.