For Your Special Campers And Hikers
Stuff Their Stockings With These Great Gifts
December 1, 2017
We just got back from a seven-day hunting/camping trip and I discovered quite a few things that make life a lot easier for a camper. We camp rough - no trailer, no cots, no RV. We just throw a couple of self-inflating pads in the back of the truck and roll out our sleeping bags.
That said, one of the most important things is being warm enough. Lightweight sleeping bags are usually fine in Arizona, but when nights get chilly, you need more. Something along the stocking stuffer line that would help a lot with that is a couple of those emergency blankets - the little ones that look like they're made of aluminum and fold up so small they'd fit in your pocket. Those things are incredibly warm.
Another thing that helped a lot was a big PVC poncho. I bought us both one online at Amazon for less than $12 each. They are the Coleman Unisex-adult PVC Poncho Camo Poncho. These things are small but sturdy, 10mm PVC material with hoods and snaps.
They made a huge difference when thrown over the sleeping bags. They also came in handy while we were glassing - I threw mine over my pack and all my stuff so it all blended into the hillside.
I have a JetBoil stove with a cup that holds nearly two bottles of water and boils that water in a matter of a few minutes. It's perfect for making coffee or boiling water for those delicious freeze-dried Backpacker's Pantry meals we bought at Sportsman's Warehouse.
One thing that makes the JetBoil even better is a flameless rechargeable electronic lighter. I got one from UST called the TekFire for just under $25. You charge it up at home, then it lights the stove over and over even if the wind is blowing. Matches can get fussy if they get even the tiniest bit damp or old, but this lighter is super dependable.
You can start your campfire with it as well. Get one at ustbrands.com.
BioLite Stove, Ever Stryke Lighter
Speaking of campfires, my little BioLite stove makes the best little campfire ever. The only fuel it needs is twigs and very small pieces of wood, and I have a grill that attaches to it as well. On this trip we ate the freeze-dried meals every evening, but it was still wonderful to have that little BioLite fire going to keep us warm while we ate dinner.
The way the BioLite is designed though, you really can't reach down into it with the TekFire. For the BioLite, you need a match. Fortunately, I have a SurvivalLife Ever Stryke Waterproof lighter that is just like a permanent match. The best part? It was only 99 cents at survivallife.com.
Once we got the Biolite fire going with that Ever Stryke lighter, the stove actually produced power to charge up a USB device. That was handy because I was using my phone for maps. I didn't have any service out there, but I still used my phone and it was great to be able to charge it up every night.
The JetBoil and the BioLite don't qualify as stocking stuffers, but they are both incredibly compact and sturdy. In fact, either of them could be used for backpacking trips as well.
You can check out the BioLite Stoves at bioliteenergy.com and the JetBoil systems at jetboil.johnsonoutdoors.com.
Stone Mountain Kit
If you're just wanting to start a regular fire, even that can get difficult if the wind is blowing and your hands are cold. A great stocking stuffer for any outdoorsy person is a Stone Mountain Fire Starting Kit from SurvivalLife. It's just under $10 and comes in a little tin can and contains waterproof safety matches, cotton balls, and fire starter. Get one by going to store.survivallife.com, then click on "Fire and Lights".
If you don't have a BioLite stove to charge up your phone, it will almost surely be dead as a doornail before a 7-day trip is over. You can sit in the truck with the motor running and charge it up, or you could charge it by hand with a Sola Charger from SurvivalLife.
This little gadget looks like one of those old hand-cranked pencil sharpeners, but when you plug your phone into the USB port and crank the handle, it charges your phone. Pretty cool deal, and it's only $5.99. Go to store.survivallife.com and click "Shelter and More Power".
For Your Fur Friend
A lot of people love to take their pets hiking and camping, and dogs just love to go. However, they sometimes get so excited they'll nearly pull you off your feet by lunging and tugging at the leash. This is not good for you or for them, especially if the leash is attached to a regular collar. Throats are delicate.
Well, the people at Thundershirt.com have a solution called the ThunderLeash. It works with any collar and wraps around the torso behind the front legs. When the dog pulls, gentle feedback encourages him or her to ease up. The ThunderLeash comes in standard ($29.95) or retractable ($39.95). It works by applying safe pressure around your dog's chest and it's fully adjustable.
I bought a ThunderShirt for my Rosie years ago and it completely cured her of freaking out during the Monsoon thunderstorms, so I have complete confidence that the Thunderleash will work. Then you and your pet can both enjoy the hike. Check them out and see videos at thundershirt.com.
Multifunction Military Compass Kit
This next stocking stuffer is one I don't own yet, but I'm going to order one asap. It's called the 10-in-1 Multifunction Military Compass Kit. This thing is so cool! It's only 2.75x1.5x1 inch, but it has a thermometer, hygrometer, mirror, compass, level, magnifying glass, ruler, LED light, whistle, and fire starter. It's so small you could throw it in your backpack and not even notice the weight, but it would be super handy.
I brushed up against some prickly pear and got a bunch of those tiny little stickers in my arm and a magnifying glass would really have come in handy! At only $9.95, you can afford to put one in everyone's stocking this Christmas. Get them at stealthangelsurvival.com.
Stealth Angel also has some really cool compact EDC (Every Day Carry) survival kits that range in price from $19.95 to $29.95. The least expensive one contains eight items, most of which have more than one function. You get an LED flashlight, a compass with ruler, hi frequency whistle, 11-in-1 pocket tool card, steel striker with ruler and bottle opener, flint rod, tactical flashlight, and tactical pen all packed in compact, durable waterproof case. Really cool. Check this out at stealthangelsurvival.com.
Hybrid Sports Watch
Last but definitely not least is the ZeTime hybrid sports watch with hands over the screen. This smart watch looks like a regular watch, even with mechanical hands, but also has the advanced features of a smartwatch with touchscreen.
It's water resistant to 3 meters and will function for 30 days on a single charge. It does everything - messages, calendar reminders, fitness tracking, mail - you name it. It's also beautiful and comes in two sizes - the regular is 44mm and the petite is 39mm. It even automatically changes time when you enter a different time zone.
Designed in Switzerland, it has Sapphire glass and removable bands so you can be as fancy as you like. You can order one on Indiegogo.com starting at $159. Just go to Indiegogo.com and enter "zetime" in the search bar.
Bottom Line: Merry Christmas!
There is no end to the little gadgets and survival items you can find to put in your camper or hiker's stocking. Hopefully some of these will fit the bill. If not, head to your nearest outdoor store and just wander around.
If you're not really sure what to get or you're afraid they might already have one, freeze-dried food is always good, and so are paracord bracelets and whistles. Most of us hikers and campers have multiple backpacks, and it's great to have the basics in each one all the time, ready to go. Merry Christmas!