Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace.
We get it — gift giving can be a stressful. However, it doesn’t have to be if you know what you’re doing and who you’re buying for. The outdoor industry is currently bursting with fantastic apparel and equipment, spanning everything from breathable jackets and crushable hats to intuitive lighting systems and versatile axe heads, all of which are perfectly poised to become your go-to pieces on the dusted slopes or back country trails.
And given the holidays often provide some much needed time off, there’s rarely a better time to bestow your friend or family member with something they’ll actually use. Doing so will make your next family gathering more enjoyable because, after all, a fruit cake and pair of striped socks only get you so far in today’s world of gadgets and gizmos.
Outdoor clothing that looks good on — and off — the trail can be hard to come by. Cotopaxi, a Salt Lake City-based apparel company with a growing penchant for llama fiber, knows how to craft a functional pullover, though. The ultra-soft Libre Sweater is designed to keep you warm and toasty, while the double-reinforced seams and anti-stink wool mean you’ll still be smelling fresh when the snow begins to melt. The mesh backing and tailored cut are merely a plus. Read more here.
We love freeze-dried beef stew as much as the next guy, but, honestly, sometimes we want a warm meal without the stove. That’s where Hydro Flask’s apt-titled Food Flask comes in. Each stainless-steel container is vacuum-insulated and comes in one of two sizes, 12- and 18-ounce, allowing you enjoy a fruit-wedge salad or several cups of soup at the appropriate temperature after two or three hours on trail. There are few better ways to keep your food hot, or cold, when away.
Cooler weather may call for a warmer bag, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to opt for the mummy variety when you’re sleeping just outside your car. The Nemo Concerto Down Sleeping Bag is, as the name implies, a quilted bag filled with DownTek’s hydrophobic treated down. The duvet-style bag features dual zippers and is more spacious than most, though, meaning you can stretch your legs and fine-tune the temperature when it hits 20 degrees outside. Read more here.
Headlamps are our go-to source of light when in nature — assuming you don’t count the sun — and none of them are more versatile than the Petzl Reactik+. The programmable, multi-beam headlamp relies on Petzl’s proprietary technology, which works to analyze ambient light and adjust the headlamp’s brightness to better accommodate your situation and remaining battery life. You can even create your own personal profile if the default ones aren’t to your liking. We’re picky, too.
Whereas Danner is a company known for its heritage, Topo Designs is better known for bringing some much-needed spice to the outdoor industry. Perhaps that’s why the Topo-touched Ridge Boots represent the perfect blend of form and function. The bottoms are outfitted with Vibram soles and the outside with waterproof Gore-Tex, not to mention colorful 100-denier Cordura. The latter imbues Danner’s classic boots with some added style, without sacrificing their durability.
Spiral notebooks aren’t particularly sexy, sure, yet there’s something exceedingly appealing about being able to unleash your inner creativity whenever the occasion calls for it. And with Rite in the Rain’s wares, you can tackle field notes or long-form poetry in both wet and humid conditions. There are 50 lined sheets in all, each of which features a special coating that’s designed to repel water and other liquids that might otherwise damage the physical iterations of the thoughts you’ve worked so tirelessly on.
These days, smartwatches are a dime a dozen. Garmin’s fenix 3 HR separates itself from the pack with a top-notch set of features, however, including 24/7 heart rate monitoring, customizable vibrating alarms, and a throng of smart notifications that will keep you up to date regarding your latest emails, texts, calendar alerts, and the breaking headlines, among other things. The rugged, waterproof encasing just gives you another reason to tote it with you on your next adventure.
Opinel isn’t your run-of-the-mill knife maker — it’s a seasoned manufacturer with more than a century’s worth of experience under its belt. And while the stainless-steel No 12 Explore Knife isn’t the most extravagant, it’s conveniently lined with a slew of outdoor-centric amenities, including a built-in survival whistle, a fiberglass-reinforced handle, and a ferrocerium rod that’s capable of producing 5,000-degree sparks when there’s no match to be found. Read more here.
True outdoor enthusiasts know not to balk at REI’s proprietary gear and apparel, namely because much of it outperforms for the price. Take the Stormrealm Jacket, for instance. It’s made of an ultra-breathable waterproof shell and features a two-point adjustable hood, zippered hand pockets, and armpit ventilation aimed at keeping you from overheating while hitting switchbacks. It’s windproof up to 50 miles per hour, too, rendering the occasional draft as welcome as your next pint.
High-quality outdoor gear doesn’t have to look technical, whether you’re talking down or artisan canoe paddles sourced from the deep forests of northern Ontario. Norquay’s line of handmade paddles look as fantastic on the wall as they do on the water, and revel in a swath of symmetrical patterns and attributes that draw inspiration the region and native heritage. Read more here.