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The 9 Best Gifts Van-Lifers Will Actually Use

A van parked by the sea during a sunny day.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Choosing the best gifts is never an easy task, but the challenge is compounded when your recipient resides — or at least travels frequently — in a van. Your storage budget is small when you’re living the van life, and every square inch spent must be done so with a good purpose. A useless gift simply won’t make the cut and will end up collecting dust in a closet somewhere rather than being put to use on the road.

To that end, here is a smattering of gift recommendations for van-lifers. They’ve been chosen to select a range of budgets, but also to ensure that it’s something that your overlander will actually bring along.

UCO Rechargeable Arc Lighter and LED Flashlight

A black UCO Rechargeable Arc Lighter and LED Flashlight on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’re looking for something to add to your survival or emergency kit, this arch lighter-flashlight hybrid is a great little tool. One side features a powerful flashlight that can be set on a steady beam or strobe; snap open the other end, and you’ve got an electric-powered, dual-arch plasma lighter. To sweeten the deal, it’s also recharged via USB, eliminating the need for batteries.

Marmot WarmCube Novus Hoody

A black Marmot WarmCube Novus Hoody on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This fancy jacket is a great addition to a van-lifer’s wardrobe for a number of reasons. First, its WarmCube design traps warm air and keeps the down from settling into the bottom, and it looks sleek while it’s at it. It also packs down super tight, making it easy to stow without taking up virtually any space at all. A little more windproof and warming than a typical hoody, yet not as bulky as a heavier coat, it’s a versatile lightweight jacket for a range of weather conditions.

VSSL Flask

A green VSSL Flask on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This is a fun one for any van-lifer who likes to venture from their rig for a hike and enjoy a few shots of booze along the way. VSSL makes tube-shaped flasks for a variety of purposes, with each version containing a number of useful, disc-shaped tools. This particular version comes with two collapsible shot glasses, and the rest of its capacity can be filled with whatever drink one desires. It also has a compass on one end and a flashlight on the other, just for good measure. If you’re looking for personalization, the brand’s website allows you to pick and choose which elements go into your VSSL.

Wacaco Minipresso

A Wacaco Minipresso beside a coffee powder and a cup of coffee.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For van-lifers who wish they could lug around their home espresso maker on the road but can’t justify the space it would eat up, there is a solution. With the Minipresso you simply put coffee grounds and hot water in one end, pump a few times, and voila, coffee is served. It’s small and super-packable and requires zero electricity.

Tarpestry Rugged Boho Blanket

A blanket with a Boho-inspired print.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Soft, beautifully patterned blanket on one side, durable waterproof tarp on the other, this unique, offbeat item is outstanding for life on the road. It’s great for throwing down for a picnic or place to kick back, and resilient enough to endure over the course of roughing it on the road. Tarpestry has… tarpestries available in a range of designs, but we’ve included the Boho option here as an ode to your Vandweller’s bohemian lifestyle.

Morakniv Mora 2000 Anniversary Edition Knife

An unsheathed Morakniv Mora 2000 Anniversary Edition Knife displayed on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Morakniv has been making outstanding knives for well over a century, and to commemorate their recent 130th anniversary, they released the Mora 2000. A versatile knife that is well-balanced, lightweight, made to last, and sharp, it makes a great addition to any van-lifer’s tool kit or kitchen.

NEMO Moonlander Dual Height Table

A green NEMO Moonlander Dual Height Table on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Highly-packable camp tables are hard to come by, and the Moonlander is the best. Not only does its clever design allow it to fold down smaller than the size of a board game box, but its dual height option makes it perfect for either standing up beside a camping chair or providing a flat surface within the confines of a van or on the back of a tailgate. It’s also easy to clean and durable enough to last for many years and even more miles.

Big Agnes Big House 6-Person Tent

A Big Agnes tent for six occupants.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A tent might seem antithetical to the whole van life thing, but sometimes when you’ve been shacked up in your van for weeks on end, it’s nice to take a little “staycation” in the “spare bedroom.” The Big House from Big Agnes is durable, easy to set up, and roomy enough to feel spacious after the confines of the van. It can also be equipped with an optional vestibule that provides plenty of room for gear, or a pleasant place to sit out of the rain.

Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station

A Jackery Explorer 1000 Portable Power Station displayed on white background.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There are few things more useful — or downright essential — on the road than a reliable source of electricity. The Jackery Explorer series operates reliably, and paired with solar panels, it sucks up and stores sun juice rapidly wherever daylight happens to be. There are larger and smaller models in the series, but the 1000 hits the sweet spot in terms of capacity, space efficiency, and cost. It’s not the cheapest model available, but it’s also not the priciest.

Nick Hilden
Former Digital Trends Contributor

Nick Hilden is a lifestyle and culture writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Afar, the Daily Beast, Popular Science, Men's Health, Thrillist, Scientific American, Salon, Fodor's, Vice, Popular Mechanics, Runner's World, and more. He's usually on some random adventure in some random corner of the world.

Send all editorial inquiries HERE.

ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 is the first real off-grid AC and it’s discounted right now
Zero Breeze Mark 2 real off-grid AC being carried

Last summer, and most of last year, really, was one of the hottest on record. This year looks to be just as hot, so you'll need a reliable way to cool down. The problem with that is that air conditioners are expensive. They're expensive to install and run, and if you're living off-grid, you can pretty much forget about AC at all — until now, anyway. ZERO BREEZE has introduced the first truly off-grid air conditioner that's ultra-portable — at only 16.5 pounds — and battery-powered. The 24-volt battery can last up to eight hours in sleep mode, perfect for extended off-grid use or van-living. You can even connect solar panels or plug it into DC or AC outlets to boost battery life, if and when available. The handheld and lightweight design works exceptionally well for easy transportation and travel, so you can bring the Mark 2 wherever your adventures take you. Use code SPRING15 at checkout through ZERO BREEZE for a limited time to get 15% off your purchase — good from March 15 to March 21.
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What can the ZERO BREEZE Mark 2 do for you?

Summer can be hot and clammy, and it can even get miserably wet if you live in a humid climate.  One of the trade-offs of staying off-grid is that you're living more efficiently, which also means you're interested in cutting down on power usage and comparable utilities. Even if that's not your goal, and you're just out for an adventure, you'll have to make the same concessions. The wilderness is, well, the wilderness. But with the Mark 2, a portable, battery-powered AC unit, you can cool off anytime, anywhere.

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The 7 best mountain bike brands in 2024
A man riding a Specialized mountain bike down a difficult trail.

If you want to choose the best mountain bike of any given day or month, one of the better ways to do so is to look to great brands and see what their newest bikes are. But what brands are consistently trusted year over year? There are certainly famous bike brands like Schwinn, but nowadays we're featuring them more for things like their recumbent stationary bikes for seniors and less so for their mountain bike prowess. Instead, check out the following brands that have stand out mountain bikes on a recurring basis.

With prices that range from the hundred to the thousands and names ranging from 'Rockhopper' to 'Stumpjumper', the Specialized line is built to endure a tough mountain or trail. While each of their mountain bikes are specialized in some way or another to take a beating on the trail, there are some features you should know about that appear time and time again. The first is their SWAT technology, which appears on their biking apparel and mountain bikes. This puts a storage pouch inside the metal frame of your bike without sacrificing frame integrity. It's perfect for your energizing snacks. The other is their 'Body Geometry' system, which designs bicycles to fit the specifics of the human body. Check out their mountain bikes by tapping the button below and you'll see a ton of information about each mountain bike's specific measurements and parameters. They really care about this stuff.

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The 4 best snow blowers for wet and heavy snow in 2024
A man uses the Cub Cadet 3X 30-inch IntelliPOWER Snow Blower to clear his wet, heavy snow.

Techniques like shoveling a small driveway and blasting off a top layer of powdered snow with a one stage snow thrower don't compare at all to using a powerful snow blower on wet and heavy snow. It's an intense and satisfying labor that can feel like crushing your lawn's ice, the hard-packed snow behaving nothing like its fluffy cousins. As such, the snow blowers for wet heavy snow are going to overlap only slightly with the best snow blowers period, and you certainly won't see a snow thrower in the mix. Instead, the snow blowers that follow have high-performance engines, a strong drive train, and powerful throw.
The best snow blowers in 2024

Buy the  for the most powerful snow blower.
Buy the if you have difficult terrain.
Buy the for a cheaper, but still three stage, alternative.
Buy the 22-inch if you want something electric that is less expensive, and can handle a two stage snow blower.

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