Gear Geek: Outdoor Gift Guide

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Gear Geek: Outdoor Gift Guide

Black Friday and the ticking time bomb of the holidays always brings with ‘em an avalanche of BUY NOW!! deals and an onslaught of gift-buying guides with prices that typically skyrocket into triple digits. This is not that kind of round-up. Instead, we focus in on a handful of products that most people—including the travel- and outdoor-loving people on your list—might have never heard of, and at prices that make it easy to add them to your virtual shopping cart.

1.Espro Travel Press, $40; 2. Peak Designs Slide Lite Camera Strap, $50; 3. eNZees Foot Soother, $12; 4. The Orange Screw, $7; 5. Leatherman Skeletool RX, $90; 6. Tentlab Deuce of Spades, $20; 7. Stanley Adventure Happy Hour 2X System, $35.

Photo: John Keane, CC-BY-SA

Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).

Espro Travel Press

Travel-friendly coffee products have flooded the market of late, with everything from camp-side pour-over brewing kits to caffeine-infused energy bars. But the Travel Press from Espro might beat them all. Made by coffee fanatics for like-minded obsessives, the French-style press employs two filters, each one nine times finer than your traditional mesh French press filter, delivering blissful, pure coffee. Prefer the ltraclean pour-over? Drop a paper filter between the two filters and all the oils will also be absorbed. More into tea that coffee? Their patent-pending loose leaf tea press system allows you to stop the steeping process by pressing down, which also double-filters the liquid. The double-walled, vacuum-insulated stainless-steel vessel houses 10 ounces of coffee or 12 ounces of tea, and comes in a rainbow of color options. Or go big and get their 18- or 32-ounce presses (starting at $100), a gorgeous all-metal pitcher for coffee- and tea-lovers who want to up their game at home or base camp.

Peak Designs Slide Lite Camera Strap

Yeah, almost every camera comes with a factory strap. And yeah, they're all pretty much crap. In response, Peak Designs engineered what is arguably the best camera strap on the market: the Slide and the thinner, lower-priced Slide Lite. The latter is only 1.25 inches wide and is made for mirrorless cameras, which are lighter than your typical DSLR. The "anchor link" connectors attach to various points on the camera (typical strap points, or on the tripod mount), and allow for easy, one-handed attach-and-detach so your camera isn't always threaded to the strap. The quick-adjust aluminum handles operate with buttery-smooth efficiency, making it easy to shift from a sling configuration to over the head or on the shoulder, with a silicone grip to prevent sliding. It's never been easier to slide your camera into position, snap the shot, and then sling it back, secure against your body.
Peak Design

eNZees Foot Soother

Skiers, hikers, and…pretty much anyone who endures painful blisters while out on the open road, welcome to all-natural salvation. Unlike Band-Aids or Moleskin, which often migrates off the blister as you move, these organic wool foot soothers actually weave into the fabric of your socks so that they always cover your hot spots. Just tear off a generous portion of the all-natural New Zealand lamb's wool, place it over the problem area, pull on your sock, and keep going. eNZees will cushion the area, wick away any moisture—typically the cause of blisters, and sooth your skin with lanolin. Opt for the five pack, which gives you a handful of individually packaged eNZees to stash 'em and go without having to carry more than you'll need.

The Orange Screw

Constructed of 100% recycled plastic, the Orange Screw is the most versatile ground anchor out there—and its applications are pretty limitless. Or at least "limitless" in terms of securing stuff to the earth, which can include your tent in all conditions (from snow to sand), a tarp over your boat, your boat to the shore, a sun shade to the sandy earth, or as an anchor for your dog's leash while you picnic. It comes in 12.25- and 9.5-inch models with a plastic sheath that doubles as a turning handle when you thread it through the top of the screw.
Orange Screw

Leatherman Skeletool RX

An upgrade from their award-winning Skeletool model, the RX adds a handful first responder features, including a deeply serrated knife blade, a carbine glass breaking bit, and a bold orange corrosion-proof finish to make it easy to locate. Think of this as the perfect gift for the those convinced the apocalypse is looming in this post-election nightmare scenario. The tool also comes with wire cutters, regular and needle-nose pliers, a carabiner that doubles as a bottle opener, wire cutters, a large Philips and regular bit drivers, and a 25-year warranty.

Tentlab Deuce of Spades

This won't appeal to everyone, but to any backpacker, pack-rafter, or touring cyclist, using the heel of your shoe to dig a latrine hole just got trumped. This ultra-thin, crazy-strong spade weighs a measly 0.6 ounces, with an angled design that'll cut through small roots and displace rocks. And you can use the handle to dig as well, should you be in truly tough terrain. Beyond helping you do your business in the woods, it also doubles as a sand stake, and can be used to help dig anchor holes for tent stakes or to uncover earth worms for fishing.
The Tent Lab

Stanley Adventure Happy Hour 2X System

Bring the party to the backwoods—or your next car-camping or hotel rager—with this all-in-one cocktail kit. You get a 20-ounce shaker, two rocks glasses, a citrus reamer, and jigger, all made of rust-proof 18/8 stainless steel that's dishwater-safe. The entire kit nests into itself for easy packing. Up your game even more by pairing the system with a hipster mixologist book like Death and Co and you might even get invited to the inaugural use of the gift.