With Christmas less than two months away most of us will have been wracking our brains thinking of the perfect gift to buy our nearest and dearest. I know I have. Most years I get it right, largely thanks to brick-like hints that my wife drops for me. But there’s still that pressure, that nagging thought at the back of your mind…will they like it?
So, if the man or woman in your life revels in everything outdoors, this is the gift guide for you. Ok, I’ll make this clear right now: parts of this resemble a money-no-object dream list. But without dreams, where would we be, hey? And yes, you’ve guessed it, this is my own brick-like hint compilation soon to be posted off to Father Christmas/my wife. Enjoy.
GoPro Hero 5 Black
First up we have the GoPro Hero 5 Black. Billed as ‘the best GoPro ever’ this will feature highly on many an outdoor lovers wish list this Christmas. Coming in with 4K video and 12mp photo capabilities, this tiny camera is packed with outdoor functionality. Image stabilisation ensures it captures all of your adventures and explorations fluidly. Even without a housing it’s waterproof to a depth of 10m, so it’s perfect for everything from kayaking to surfing. And it’s rugged and tough enough to be worn on your off-piste freestyle powder days, where tumbles may be frequent. Finally, as well as a handy touch screen, its voice activated meaning you’ll barely have to pause from enjoying the view.
MSR Elixr 3 Backpacking Tent
Next up we have the MSR Elixr 3 backpacking tent. Although I love our big plush family tent I crave a new backpacking tent too. It’d be perfect for hiking and wild camping with the kids or Nat. This freestanding option from esteemed brand MSR features twin doors and vestibules, which are great for storing gear. Large enough for three adults the Elixr 3 has good amounts of headroom and utilises a highly breathable fabric to keep you comfortable. Rated as a solid three season tent it’ll more than adequately protect you from the elements, while its easy setup means you’ll be resting in it in no time. Finally, as it weighs in at only 3.1kg, it makes small group and family backpacking adventures and wild camps a real possibility.
Suunto Ambit 3 Vertical
The Suunto Ambit 3 Vertical is a powerful multisport GPS watch designed specifically for outdoor adventures. The rugged case hides a plethora of talents including the ability to route plan and track. It’ll also measure your altitude and has a built in compass to support navigation. You can even discover new routes to run, hike or climb via the accompanying Suunto Movescount app. It can be purchased with or without the optional heart rate monitor, which may be a good option for trail runners looking to eke out every last bit of data from their off-road training sessions. Furthermore, the inbuilt Firstbeat sensor will monitor and record your recovery status to indicate just how fatigued or recovered you are. And, on top of all of this usable technology, it’s a sexy looking thing too!
Santa Cruz Nomad
Price: £3699 – £5499
If anyone is feeling particularly flush this Christmas then the Santa Cruz Nomad will deliver grin after grin of outdoor fun. Having previously owned a Nomad (even now I’m devastated about our conscious uncoupling) I can testify to their off-road ability. They have it in bags! This enduro-style mountain bike is the perfect blend of downhill aggression and nimble, weight conscious pedalability. It’ll give you 165mm of Santa Cruz’s patented and celebrated VPP travel, meaning it can take some serios hits, drops and jumps. The high level Sram kit and drivetrain can be largely customised to suit your riding style (and pockets) as can your choice of front Rock Shox suspension. This is a ‘go big or go home’ bike that deserves to be ridden hard and loved with all of your soul.
Ocean Kayak Malibu 2
Thought by many to be the most popular lightweight tandem kayak in the world, the Ocean Malibu 2 has made countless families happy. Able to carry two adults and a small child or pet, this model is perfect for exploring rivers, estuaries and the sea. It’s also highly stable and easy to paddle so is a great option to families new to kayaking. The sit on top design makes it really accessible and by placing yourself in the centre of the Malibu 2, it can easily be paddled solo. Importantly, it can be transported on the top of most vehicles (via a dedicated roof rack obviously) meaning you can literally take this on any family adventure.
Osprey Kamber 22
We’re huge fans of Osprey packs and this new snow sport variety is no exception. The Kamber 22 is designed for use in the toughest mountain environments with an abundance of safety and comfort features. With a quick access avalanche safety kit pocket and an emergency whistle on the sternum strap this pack is made for glorious backcountry adventures. An adjustable strap will carry your skies or snowboard when you’re covering ground on foot, while the compression moulded back panel will ensure you do it in comfort. Furthermore, there’s an insulated hydration sleeve so you can keep yourself topped up with water without the worry of it freezing over. To make life even easier they’ve included dedicated helmet and goggle storage and made the buckles glove friendly. That way your fingers won’t have to freeze just to get in and out of it.
Poc Fornix Backcountry MIPS Helmet
With ski season just around the corner I can’t wait to get back on the slopes. Arguably the most important bit of kit to deliberate over is helmet choice. The Fornix Backcountry MIPS by Poc is one of the best out there. Its lightweight design hides a multitude of protective talents that will keep your bonce safe all day long. The multi-directional impact protection system (MIPS) is a hugely clever bit of technology that reduces the impact of rotational forces. What this means in reality is you’re far less likely to suffer a serious brain injury. As well as top of the line protection this badboy will also keep you ultra comfortable. The adjustable ventilation means that you can tailor your airflow as the temperature begins to drop. And, with the addition of goggle vents, it’ll keep you from steaming up at the wrong moment.
Peztl Tikka RXP Headtorch
With evenings drawing in those of us that enjoy the outdoors will inevitably spend more time in the dark during winter. One way to prolong your adventures is to get yourself a decent head torch. The Petzl Tikka RXP features reactive lighting which automatically adjusts the brightness according to the environment. Not only is it cool but it’s practical too, as it’ll maximise the life of your battery. More battery time = more time to explore and have fun. However, as well as being economical, the Tikka RXP is powerful too. With 215 lumens available on its maximum setting you’ll be able to see over 100m into the distance. This makes it a viable option for night racing and other fast paced activities.
Rab Electron Jacket
Available in both men’s and women’s versions this awesome winter jacket will keep you warm even on the coldest of adventures. With 800 fill of European goose down you’ll have no excuse to stay indoors as the mercury drops. Furthermore, as Rab use a hydrophobic treatment on their down, the insulation will resist water and moisture for longer and take less time to dry when it does become wet. With a sharp winter wind bearing down on you anything that helps you stay dry is a huge plus. In addition the Pertex Endurance outer shell is highly weather resistant, further adding to your ability to stay warm and comfortable. Finally, at just 500g, this relative feather weight (get it?) can stuff down even into the smallest of day packs.
Marmot Sawtooth Sleeping Bag
A lot of people tend to postpone backpacking and camping trips until the warmer months of summer. However, with a decent sleeping bag you can really extend your outdoor season. This 3 season offering from Marmot will have you snug from early spring all the way through to late autumn. With a comfort temperature rating of -2 and a limit rating of -9 this is a great bag for UK conditions. Using 650 fill duck down insulation treated with Marmot’s Down Defender, this bag will resist much of the moisture that we experience here on UK camping trips.
So there you have it, our ultimate guide to buying the outdoor adventurer in your life the perfect Christmas present. Now, empty that giant bottle of whiskey that houses your coin collection, and go and make them VERY happy. You know they deserve it! And, if my wife is reading this…I love you dearly sweetheart!