hiking gear

Christmas and the start of Kwanzaa are still a week away, and while that seems like it's a long ways off in terms of gift buying, it will actually fly by. You may have lollygagged around or just realized you have forgotten someone on your gift-giving list, or you have someone on your list who is just impossible to buy for and now time is running out.  It's already too late for most online retailers to accept and ship orders in time for Christmas delivery, so of course you should be shopping local, and the local stores likely will have everything you could want. 

But, what to get? Here are a few items that every outdoor recreation enthusiast on your gift list can use:

Maps. Yeah, they've got a GPS, or they've got a pile of maps, but here's the thing: old maps might not have the most current trail alignments, or might not have the newest trails. It's always good to have the newest version of any map. Locally, Pocket Pals Trail Maps, are small, easy to read, locally produced, and available either directly from them or at many local shops. 

Socks.  A good pair of socks will insulate in cold weather, wick away sweat in hot weather and give a little extra cushioning on long hikes. I don't know too many hikers who wouldn't appreciate a good pair of socks in their, well, stocking. My personal favorites are Smartwool or Darn Tough brands, but there are many brands to choose from.

First Aid Kit. It's the ultimate necessity, yet many hikers don't have one. They don't need an EMT level trauma kit, but a small packable kit with some bandages, gauze, tape, moleskin for blisters and some over-the-counter pain relievers can keep a mild injury from turning into a major inconvenience. Do they already have a kit, but don't know what to do with it? Pay for a wilderness first-aid class for them.

Flashlight. Like socks, you can't have too many flashlights. I've got a collection that would make Thomas Edison proud. The most useful are headlamps, since — when properly worn — always point where the hiker or cyclist is looking. Rechargeable headlights are great, especially those that can swap out the rechargeable battery pack with regular batteries, just in case.

Whistle. You read that right. A whistle. A lost or injured hiker can use a whistle when they're too tired, too injured or too dehydrated to yell for help, and it can be heard from further away than the human voice. I know this from personal experience. 

Portable Battery. I don't recommend using a cell phone as a GPS, but I'll admit they're useful and ubiquitous, so there's no getting away from the fact they are what most people use. The problem? Battery life, especially when using the GPS, can be really limited. A portable battery, along with the appropriate charging cable, will charge a cell phone a couple of times when in the wild.

Hats. Like socks and flashlights, there's no such thing as "too many" hats. On the other hand "if you bring another hat home..." is something I hear often, so maybe I'm wrong. In any case, hats keep heat in, rain out, and shield the eyes. Baseball caps, wide brim hats (I favor the Tilley brand), wool beanies, or what-have-you, are always in demand. Except maybe at my house. But, I digress.

Parks Passes. Does the person on your list like to visit Colorado State Parks or National Parks often? A state or federal parks pass (don't be cheap. Get both.) will get them unlimited visits for a year from the month of purchase. The more they are used, the more money is saved over buying daily passes. You can purchase a year pass at any state or national park, and also many outdoor retailers.

If all else fails, a gift card to their favorite store is always a good fall back position. Who better to buy for the person on your list, than themselves? 

Obviously, there are many more ideas,  but I only have so much space here, so hopefully if none of these work, this will get your mental wheels turning and you can come up with your own awesome gift ideas.

Be Good. Do Good Things. Happy Holidays.

Follow Hiking Bob on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.