Saturday, December 29, 2007

Highly individualistic hikers gift guide

Yes, it is after Christmas but the glut of gift guides for hikers and everyone else caused me to think about gifts given and received related to hiking and how many of the gift guides I see are either too expensive or rather useless for backcounry users. So here is a short and highly individualistic set of suggestions.

Emergency items:
- a foil "space" emergency blanket. I think every backpack and daypack should have one when temperatures may fall below 50 F. I've not used one but I have seen these used by emergency personnel. They are lightweight and small. Some are designed for 2 persons or shaped as a sleeping bag but I think the single blanket is more versatile. I carry a similar item in my car as a part of the first aid supplies. Sturdier and thicker space blankets are also available but are heavier and more bulky.
- a magnesium/steel fire starter kit. I've not used one so this may be less useful than I think but I've tried lighters, waterproof match holders, and waterproof/windproof matches and all have had problems in difficult conditions. There are a number of variants, some small, light, and relatively inexpensive that would be a useful backup.

- Led keyring "pinch" lights. I have several of these of various brands and use them for zipper pulls, on my keyring, and as a map light in my car. I prefer the white leds; other colors are good for specialized uses or signaling but if used to see something the white works best for me. I also like those with a constant light switch. I do wish the switches were designed a bit better, few people over 50 can see the switch without reading glasses.
- Led headlamps. These are great and every hiker could use one especially if they ever camp. They substitute for flashlights, reading lights, etc. and allow heads-free use for hiking after dark, preparing food, and many other tasks. I prefer headlamps with only leds with variable output, batteries in the unit, not in a separate box, and a single strap around the head, no over the head strap. The last makes it easier to wear over a cap. Hikers with special needs, like cavers, may have different needs, they probably have already picked out their own headlamp. Most hikers will prefer a smaller and lighter headlamp that uses AA or AAA batteries.

- silk glove liners. I don't know why more people don't use these, I think they are wonderful. They add some warmth when wearing gloves or mittens but are really nice when you need to take the outer glove off for tasks needing dexterity. Most such tasks can be accomplished with the silk liners on and the liners retain heat well for short periods. Silk glove liners are very thin and light weight and do not add bulk, I find that they make it easier for me to put gloves on if my hands are cold or damp.
- buff wraps ( These are multi functional tubes of microfiber material that can be used as hats, bandannas, etc., see the website for ways to use them. I don't have much hair and find they are very useful to keep mosquitoes from biting my head, sop up sweat, prevent sunburn, and add a bit of warmth. I have the original buff and usually wear mine in a head-covering "pirate" style. If it is cool or there are mosquitoes, I often wear it to bed. I also like the variety of colors and patterns.



At 9/7/08 17:05, Blogger mossymom said...

You can never have too many headlamps flashlights and pocket knives in your home collection.

I can't stop buying these items even though I go ultralight when I do hike so they mostly stay at home.


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