Holiday Gift Ideas for the Outdoor Adventurer

December 2, 2013

With the holiday season right around the corner, I decided to share a few pieces of my favorite adventure gear that would make a good gift to a fellow adventurer.  All these items can be used on most any adventure, whether it’s a river trip, backpacking, skiing or anything in between. Patagonia is obviously a very popular clothing brand.  Living in Salmon, we have a Patagonia outlet store just two hours away in Dillon, Montana.  I have accumulated a large amount of Patagonia gear over the years.  They have also treated me well if any other their products wear out over the years.  There are a few items that are especially key pieces of gear in my collection.  The Patagonia Micro Puff jacket is a hard to beat versatile piece of gear.  I have worn two of these jackets almost to shreds over the years, and it is not because they are cheaply made.  I just wear them a lot!  These jackets are perfect on almost any chilly outdoor adventure.  I wear mine on chilly mornings on the river, self-support kayaking missions, yurt ski trips, cold days at the ski resort and it is pretty much a go-to jacket on any cold winter day.  I would almost guarantee if you dig through any adventure guides bag, you will find some version of Patagonia Micro Puff gear.  Also, it packs down so small when not in use!  Besides the jacket, I also have the vest and puff pants.  The nano puff also makes a great layer, and being a lighter weight than the jacket makes it even more versatile.  Any of these would make a great gift for an outdoor adventurer! Patagonia Micro Puff The Black Diamond Mega Light Tent is another very popular piece of gear among river guides!  This tent packs up to the size of a football.  It includes one pole for the center and lightweight stakes that hold the shelter up.  This shelter is great for sleeping two people (Black Diamond says four but two comfortably).  Weighing under 3 lbs, this is a great shelter option for backpacking, self-support kayaking or just trying to keep your weight down.  This shelter sets up quickly and will keep you dry in a rainstorm.  Also makes a good winter backcountry ski shelter.  Small, lightweight, functional, and a solid investment!  It’s probably not the best use for keeping your mega light in prime condition, but it can also make a great river sauna!
Black Diamond Mega Light Shelter

Black Diamond Mega Light Shelter

A bivy is a breathable waterproof cover for your sleeping bag.  If you often sleep out under the stars, this can be a nice item to have.  A good bivy sack will keep any morning dew off your sleeping bag.  Being breathable, it should also let any moisture from sweat escape as well.  Growing up, my mom would sew us all up a bivy sac to use on our camping adventures. A few years ago I upgraded to an Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy. The alpine bivy also includes bug netting and one small pole to give you somewhere to hide under in a light rainstorm.  You can sleep out in the rain for an hour or two, but probably not going to stay dry in an all-night downpour.  I roll up my Thermarest pad inside my bivy every morning on the river.  It helps protect your pad and also keeps you on your pad while you are sleeping.  Some people don’t like the constricted feeling of sleeping in a bivy, but personally, I don’t mind it and it adds a little extra warmth to your sleeping bag if needed.  Two rules of sleeping in a bivy:  don’t hunker down breathing into your bivy and don’t get the bivy twisted up, keep the Gore-Tex up and nylon down.  Not following those two rules will result in a damp sleeping bag!  I sleep out under the stars almost every night of summer, and my bivy sac always makes it into my drybag.

ORAlpineBivy When looking for a dry bag, all bag bags are not created equal.  There is also a huge range of prices you can spend on dry bags as well.  If you spend a lot of time on the water and are looking for the best, Watershed is the answer.  They are one of the few companies that have a “zip lock” like closure method.  With a standard dry dag, you squeeze the air out and roll down the excess bag to form the watertight seal.  The method is simple and works well for most recreational uses.  With the “zip lock” closure on Watershed bags, they are one of the few drybags that will stay dry even when submerged for more than a few minutes.  They also make most of their bags in a duffle shape, making it easier to find what you are looking for without digging down to the bottom of your bag.  One downside to the “zip lock”, if you don’t keep the zipper part lubricated with 303 protectants it becomes very hard to close.  Unfortunately, over the past few years they have changed their design to include a different material on the ends of the duffle bags.  This new black material they are using does not stay waterproof if you are in several days of consecutive rain.  The moisture seems to start wicking through to the inside of the bag.  Even with this one design flaw, they still make a very good dry bag and hopefully they will fix this issue soon.  I own four different sizes of watershed bags for different uses.  I would certainly recommend the smaller bags both the Ocoee and Chattooga for a great camera bag or small day bag.  The Big Creek is also a nice size for a day bag and has backpack straps as well which makes it convenient for taking on side hikes.  The Colorado is the ideal size for a multi-day overnight bag. WaterShedDryBags

If you are just looking for something small.  A good headlamp is always a nice thing to have two of in your adventure kit.  Petzl makes many different options for headlamp, the Tikka2 Headlamp is a nice basic and very affordable light.  Another great affordable gift is a small first aid kit.  Something you hope you don’t need and a must have in the kit.  I would recommend starting with a basic stock kit, from there you should customize it to your specific needs.  Be familiar with what you have and how to use it.  A survival kit is also a great small item too that could come in huge if you happen to need it on a real adventure.  Adventure Medical Kits is selling a kit named the Origin.  I have made my own survival kit, but this seems like a nice small compact kit with some very useful tool.  Often one kit, combination first aid and survival gear is a good option.  Customize it to your adventure and what you may need.

HeadlampFirstAidSOL I hope if you are looking for a gift idea for a fellow adventurer or maybe a little something for yourself, this has given you some ideas. Happy Holidays, Seth Tonsmeire