If you have one or more outdoors people on your list this holiday season, you’ll find something in this collection of camping gear gift ideas and products that will satisfy them, be they backpackers, mountain bikers, rock climbers, car campers or anything in between.
In fact, they don’t even have to be campers. There’s a cutting-edge Powertraveler solar charger that was designed specifically for outdoor use, but will appeal to high tech junkies who have never ventured beyond their local shopping mall.
There’s an inexpensive Morakniv knife that’s the perfect gift for any youngster just getting into bushcraft. There’s a Black Diamond headlamp that will provide 250 lumens of light on a remote hiking trail but is also the perfect gift for the person who needs a hands-free headlamp for close-up work on the job.
Have a look at the nine items on the list and let me know if you can recommend other camping gear gift ideas and products for use camping, around the house or on the job.
Top Camping Gear Gift Ideas of 2017
Black Diamond Storm Headlamp
Dimensions: 2.5” x 1.5” x 1.5”
Weight: 3.9 ounces (with batteries)
Brightness: 250 Lumens (high); 4 Lumens (low)
Distance: 77 meters or 250 feet (high); 2 meters or 6.5 feet (low)
Battery Life: 60 hours (high); 250 hours (low)
Best Use: Hands-free adjustable light for outdoors or working
Description: The Black Diamond Storm Headlamp is a high-intensity headlamp that will give you 30-to-40 hours of 250-lumen light on 4 AAA batteries. The Storm uses 2 white LED bulbs, 1 green and 1 red.
The white light is for overall use; the green light is good for hunting (it doesn’t disturb game), and red light is good for map reading (it doesn’t interfere with night vision).
All three colors have dimming and strobe capability. The green and red lights can be turned on and off without having to cycle through the white mode.
A welcome feature called “Power Tap” enables you to adjust brightness by tapping your finger on the right side of the light. An improved feature on the 2017 model of the Storm ensures that the headlamp produces a consistent brightness over the life of the batteries rather than a very bright light at the beginning of new batteries, then dimming as the batteries drain.
The Storm is dustproof and waterproof to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. You can lock the headlamp to prevent it from accidently turning on in your pack or pocket. A power meter gives you a 3-second reading of how much battery life is remaining when you turn on the light.
Customer comments are almost universally positive. One owner who uses a headlamp every day in his work says that he owns 20 of them and the Storm “is definitely the best.” An owner who used the light on a San Francisco to Hawaii sailboat race had trouble with the on-off switch because “you have to press it just right” but was otherwise happy with the light.
Related: One reputable gear review website rates the Black Diamond Storm as one of the five top headlamps available. Four out of the five were Black Diamond lights: the Storm, the Black Diamond ReVolt, the Black Diamond Icon and the Black Diamond Spot.
MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent
Weight: 3 lbs. 7 oz.; “Fast and Light” set-up options reduce weight to 2 lbs. 2 oz.
Floor Dimensions: 84” x 50”
Design Features: Interconnected poles and color coding make for easy assembly. The tent can be assembled in three different configurations.
Best Use: Lightweight backpacking
Description: The MSR Hubba Hubba NX Tent is a 2-person, 3-season backpacking tent. It is light and free-standing and can be pitched on a sandy beach, a wooden platform or a rocky cliff. This is the 7th incarnation of this Mountain Safety Research classic and the lightest to date.
Some users find that at 3 lbs., 7 oz., it is light enough to be pressed into service as a 1-person tent. There are “fast and light” pitching options that allow you to reduce the weight even further.
The “Hub” in Hubba Hubba refers to an arching “hub” that forms the top of the tent and the color-coded pole system that connect to it.
This easy-to-assemble design results in near vertical end walls and side walls that maximize headroom and overall spaciousness. The tent has two doors and two vestibules so you can enter and exit the tent on your own side.
You don’t have to crawl over your tent companion if you have to get up in the middle of the night. The two vestibules have side zippers that allow you to tuck the door out of the way. The doors have “rain gutters” that channel water away from the zipper and help keep the vestibule dry. Inside, the tent is light and airy.
Ventilation is good. “Kickstand” vents that prop themselves open help eliminate moisture and keep the tent cool in warm weather. You can increase ventilation by rolling up the vestibule part way, even when it’s raining.
The tent has two mesh pockets and hang loops at either end that provide adequate off-the-floor storage space. The most consistent concern expressed by users is the relatively small floor space – 84” x 50”.
This may present some problems for people over six feet, particularly if there are two of them in the tent, but the combination of two-door design, near vertical walls, good ventilation and the bright color, make the 2-person Hubba Hubba NX Tent one of the most livable tents in its weight class.
Related: In addition to the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent, the MSR Hubba NX family of tents includes a Hubba NX Solo 1-person tent; a 3-person Mutha Hubba and a 4-person Pappa Hubba. The Hubba “Gear Shed” adds 26 feet of storage space and is compatible with all the Hubba series of tents.
Arc’teryx Atom Lt Hoody
Weight: 13.4 oz.
Design Features: Breathable fleece side and underarm panels ventilate the main body of the jacket
Insulation: Arc’teryx’s signature synthetic Coreloft™ retains warmth even when wet.
Best Use: High-energy activities in cold weather
Description: The Arc’teryx Atom LT Hooded Insulated Jacket is a hybrid jacket that can work as an insulating mid-layer or as a breathable outer layer thanks to the ventilation provided by the signature fleece underarm and side panels.
In addition to providing breathability, these panels reduce bulk under the arms and contribute to the wearer’s mobility making this a good choice for active sports like cold weather bouldering or backcountry skiing.
The outer shell is made with Tinthan, a 100% nylon fabric that’s lightweight and tough. It’s treated with a durable water repellent so a light rain will bead up on the surface or light snow can be brushed off.
Arc’teryx uses its own Coreloft™ insulation in this jacket. It’s lightweight and highly compressible. It dries quickly. It traps air and retains warmth even when wet.
If you use the Arc’teryx Atom LT as an outer layer, you’ll need a lightweight waterproof breathable shell to layer over it when a cold wind blows. Two hand pockets with zippers are lined with a soft micro fleece.
A Zippered interior chest pocket on the left side provides storage. The cuff design draws universal praise from gear reviewers and actual users. One satisfied user said, “The best cuffs I’ve ever seen. This may seem trivial, but it was a major point of contention for me.
Most cuffs are either the bulky Velcro style, or an elastic band that doesn’t really fit my arm. The cuffs on this jacket are kind of an elastic neoprene material and tailored perfectly.” The cuffs seal in warmth and let you slide the cuffs of your gloves over the top.
Another feature that everyone likes is the insulated ScubaHood that fits over a helmet and is adjustable with a drawstring in the back. The elastic hem cinch can be tightened and secured at either hip with a cord lock.
The jacket can compress quite small but does not stow away in one of its pockets. It’s available in over two dozen color options.
All in all, he combination of insulation and breathability, plus low bulk and features like low profile cuffs and the adjustable hood make the Arc’teryx Atom LT Hooded Insulated Jacket a good choice for cold weather backpacking climbing and skiing. It does a good job of regulating temperature and moisture during high energy activities.
Related: The jacket is available in both men’s and women’s versions.
Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife
Blade: 4.1” Stainless steel
Handle: Patterned high-friction grip
Overall Length: 8.75”
Weight: 4.1 oz.
Sheath Type: Plastic sheath with belt clip
Best Use: Skinning, filleting, fine woodcraft carving
Description: If you’re going to introduce a youngster to fly fishing, you wouldn’t take him to an Orvis store and outfit him with a top-of-the-line rod and reel for $1,500, plus expensive waders and a net.
You’d take him to a Bass Pro Shop and buy good beginner’s equipment for a hundred dollars or less. If he likes the sport and begins to develop some skills, you’d move up on the quality and price of equipment. It’s the same with knives.
If you’re introducing a young person to the world of knives and bushcraft skills involving knives, you’re not going to start with a Fallkniven F1z for $126. (And the same thing applies if you’re buying your first fixed blade knife).This is where the Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Outdoor Knife for around $15 comes in.
Morakniv has been making knives in Sweden since 1891. It developed the Companion series as an entry level knife for young or new knife owners and it’s one of the company’s most popular models.
The 3/4 tang blade is made of Swedish stainless steel, which makes it easy to maintain and stays sharper longer. You can put a razor sharp edge on the Companion and it will stay there. It has a patterned, soft, friction grip handle made of a combination of plastic and rubber which makes the knife feel safe and steady to work with.
The polymer knife sheath has a belt clip for attaching the knife to a backpack or belt. The knife snaps into the sheath with a little click.
Bushcraft expert Ray Mears recommends the Morakniv Companion and other survivalist / bushcraft writers agree that you will not find better value for money knife anywhere.
The Companion’s best and most popular uses are skinning, filleting and fine bushcraft carving.
Related: Other Morakniv knives in the Companion series include the Morakniv Companion Heavy Duty Knife with Carbon Steel Blade, and the Morakniv Companion Fixed Blade Tactical Knife & Heavy Duty Molle Compatible Nylon Sheath.
Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
Weight: 1.7 lb. (pack only)
Pack Size: 549 cu in / 9 L
Dimensions: 18” x 8” x 8”
Bladder Capacity: 100 oz. / 3 L
Best Use: Trail and mountain biking
Description: A Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack is a backpack or waist pack that combines space and pockets for the storage of enough gear for a day hike or bike ride with a rubber or flexible plastic reservoir for liquid.
The reservoir has a capped mouth for filling and a hose that allows the wearer to drink hands free. The success and popularity of any hydration pack depends on how successfully it combines those two basic functions – storage and the easy accessibility of liquids.
Since its inception in 1988, CamelBak has been one of the most popular hydration packs for all types of uses – biking, hiking, climbing, snowshoeing and other similar outdoor activities – and has continued to add new features and design improvements to its basic product.
One of M.U.L.E.’s characteristics that users and gear reviewers comment on frequently is its amount of storage space relative to its weight.
Three zippered compartments, one with a gear organizer, allow you to pack everything you need for a day trip. An additional zippered pocket at the top of the pack with a weather resistant zipper and microfleece lining holds a cell phone or media player.
There is an exterior sleeve large enough to stuff a jacket. Two sets of compression straps allow you to pack an extra layer like a rain shell or a down jacket. Helmet hooks provide a way for bikers to carry their head protection when they’re not riding. Straps pivot on a narrow point of contact with the pack for a light comfortable fit.
A strap management system keeps loose ends to a minimum. Lightweight back panels keep air moving over your back even when the pack is fully loaded.
The reservoir compartment has a perimeter zipper that is easy to access. The reservoir itself has a large opening making it quick and easy to fill and clean. It opens and closes with a 1/4 turn.
The “Big Bite” valve is easy to use. Just bite and sip. A clip keeps the hydration hose handy when not in use. The flow of water is good with minimal effort. The valve shuts securely so there’s no leakage. The drinking tube is easily removed and replaced.
Related: The latest iteration of the CamelBak M.U.L.E. is the M.U.L.E. NV a model of the classic hydration pack which includes: four breathable back panels that move independently to improve air flow and load stability; a rain cover stashed out of site in a bottom zippered compartment until needed, more adjustability in the shoulder straps and other features.
Jetboil Sol Advanced Cooking System
Weight: 10.5 oz.; 300g;
Dimensions: 4” x 6.5”; 101mm x 165mm;
Volume: 0.85 quarts; 0.8L
Boil Time: 16 oz. (1/2 liter) = 2 minutes
Best Use: Lightweight backpacking and alpine climbing
Description: You can assemble the lightweight JetBoil Sol Advanced Cooking system, including the pot, stove, gas canister and stove base in less than a minute. Turn on the gas and click the handy Piezo igniter and you’re boiling water in around 2 minutes for gourmet freeze dried meals, instant soup, oatmeal, coffee, or cocoa.
The Sol and other JetBoils can be set up anywhere and operate efficiently in temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It will go down to the teens and single digits if you warm the fuel canister in your jacket pocket before using. The stove performs well in strong winds and you will generally not need wind protection.
The JetBoil Sol will work anywhere on any type of trip, but where if really shines is lightweight backpacking and alpine climbing where you are cooking for just one person. In any situation, its strong points are heat rating and fuel efficiency.
The pot sleeve, what JetBoil calls the “cozy,” has a heat monitor that changes from grey to yellow when the water has reached the ideal temperature. This allows you to adjust the burner flame and conserve fuel.
Under normal cooking conditions, a 100-gram Jetpower fuel canister will provide enough energy to boil about 50 cups (12 liters) of water each. JetBoil recommends planning for 10 liters per canister for extended trips.
A note of caution: don’t fill the pot absolutely full. It can easily boil over. Among the joys of the JetBoil are its packability. All of its component parts: stove base, gas canister, canister stand, and pot support system are designed to fit comfortably inside the pot.
The total weight of the whole package tops out at around 1 lb. 3 ounces, including a full canister of gas.
Related Larger volume pots are available to fit this stove that will cook for three people. The pot support allows the burner to be used with conventional cook pots to cook for even larger groups.
Eton Scorpion Portable Multi-purpose Digital Radio
Weight: 10 ounces
Dimensions: 5.25 x 2.3 x 1.75
Power Sources: Hand Crank, Solar, Battery
Best Use: Camping, Weather Emergency, Bug Out Bag
Description: Whether as a component of a bug out bag, backup communication for weather emergencies or as a companion on a hiking / camping adventure where the weight of a pack is not the overriding concern, the Eton Scorpion emergency crank radio gets high marks from users and gear reviewers alike for most of its features, but particularly its efficient hand crank and its reception.
In tests the Eton Scorpion generated nine minutes of battery life with two minutes of cranking.
One woman user compared the cranking to winding a fishing reel, “simple and effortless.” She lives in Tampa, Florida, where she gets plenty of thunder storms that knock out power and says that, “with this radio we are always connected and know what’s going on.”
Another user, a backpacker, said, “It’s a little heavy if you’re counting ounces, but well worth it for my level of backpacking.” Backcountry reception is good, as is audio quality. The radio connects you to seven National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stations that provide weather alerts and warnings. Using a USB cord you can hand crank the radio to charge your mobile devices.
You can also charge the Scorpion using a wall outlet as well as solar power. Wall outlet charging takes about 12.5 hours to go from a dead battery to a full charge. Solar charging takes about 10 hours of direct sunlight. One more charging option is to connect the radio to a computer via a USB Cord.
The Eton Scorpion is designed tough. A thick rubber outer casing is splash proof and can take heavy outdoor use. Other features include a LED flashlight that provides up to 20 feet of visibility. A handy bottle opener is a part of the design as is the carabineer-style handle which allows you to attach the Scorpion to your backpack or bug out bag.
Powertraveler Powermonkey 5v And 12v Solar Portable Charger
Weight 1 lb. (Battery unit and solar panel combined)
Dimensions: 7” x 4” x 2.2” ( Battery unit and solar panel combined in travel case)
Battery: 9000Ah capacity Lithium Polymer battery
Recharging: Universal AC mains charger, solar, USB
Average Battery Life: 6 hours
Best Use: Charging devices in the outdoors or in an emergency situation
Description: The Powertraveller Powermonkey Extreme 5V and 12V Solar Portable Charger is designed specifically for outdoors people who want to recharge 5V and 12V devices in an outdoor environment.
Using a monster 9000mAh capacity Lithium Polymer battery the charger can recharge an iPhone up to 4 times, a Garmin Edge 800 up to 6 times, standard mobiles up to 8 times and an iPad up to 2 times; it can recharge SLR camera batteries, portable DVD players, headlamps and handheld action cameras. It can charge one 5V device and one 12V device at the simultaneously.
The Powermonkey is itself rechargeable in three ways: universal AC mains charger, solar, and USB. Fully charging the Powermonkey via solar takes 18-to-22 hours in full light conditions. In an outdoors environment a Velcro strap attaches the solar panel to a tent or a backpack exposed to the sun.
As an example of a digital age, always connected, outdoor experience, a user could attach the solar panel to his backpack and solar recharge his Powermonkey Extreme while at the same time the Powermonkey is charging his iPhone while he is hiking the Pacific Coast Trail.
The solar panel is designed tough to take the knocks and spills that are part of the outdoor environment. It has an IP67 reading, meaning that it is waterproof for up to 30 minutes in 1 meter of water.
Users are borderline ecstatic with 60% of them giving the Powermonkey 5 stars. One user said, “I was able to put it in the sun from about 1 pm until 6 pm and it brought the charge up two bars. Yesterday I also charged my husband’s IPod Touch, my Kindle and my daughter’s IPod and even with all those charges, I still had 4 of 7 bars power left.
Now after 4 hours in the sun, I’m back up to 6 bars. This charger rocks!” The Powermonkey comes with a durable zipped travel case.
Related: The aqua strap is a Powermonkey accessory that keeps it watertight while it is charging devices.
Exped Mega Mat 10
Weight 5.8 lbs.
Dimensions 77.6” x 30” x 3.9”
Design Features: Vertical side walls; horizontal air flow channels; self-inflating; individual adjustment of firmness
Best Use: Base camping / car camping for 1 person
Description: What seems like it would be an obvious idea to anyone designing air mattresses is nevertheless a feature of the Exped Mega Mat 10 that is not shared by other air mattresses.
That is, the air channels circulating air through the mattress are cut horizontally – side-to-side – rather than vertically or on an angle like most other mattresses.
This keeps warm air inside the mattress rather than allowing it to escape top and bottom and results in the very high R rating of 9.5. The R rating measures the efficient retention of warm air – the higher the R rating the better.
By way of comparison, the R rating of Big Agnes Double Z 4” mattress is 1.5; and the R rating of Therm-A-Rest 4” NeoAir Dream is 6. Both the warmth and comfort of the Mega Mat 10 is celebrated by users and outdoor gear reviewers alike.
Gear testers at Outdoor Gear Lab call it “The best car camping mattress you can buy,” and gave it a 10 out of 10 points for comfort. The walls of the mattress are 3.9 inches high and vertical – also different from most other mattresses – making for a roomy, firm, smooth sleeping surface.
The top of the mattress is a non-slip laminated polyester, smooth and comfortable to the touch.
Thanks to the 3.9-inch vertical walls, two mattresses fit neatly next to each other and can be joined by what Exped calls the “marriage gap” to minimize movement.
To inflate the mattress, open the one-way inflation valve and let it self-inflate. If you require a little more air, snap on the included hand pump and keep inflating until the firmness meets your personal comfort level.
To deflate, close the inflation valve and open the deflation valve and press the air out. Both valves have one-way back flow valves so you don’t have to worry about the mattress reinflating if you take a break during the process.
In addition to the pump, each Mega Mat comes with its own stuff sack that includes a field repair kit.
User Tip: Before you use the Mega Mat 10 for the first time, let it sit unrolled for 24 hours.
So there you have it: nine fun, useful, and, sometimes, cutting edge gift items for the outdoor people and gear lovers on your list this year. What ideas do you have for these people on your list? Are you looking for something special?