The Best Outdoors Christmas Gifts 2016 | Inspiration
Looking for a bloody cracking, out of the ordinary gift for the walker or climber in your life, here are our top picks for this Christmas
Christmas comes but once a year, like, obviously. But when it comes, it triggers a deluge of cliched shopping articles encouraging you to buy all manner of absolute tat.
But we're not like that, we hate commercial Christmas with a cold and steely passion. However we also understand that you might just want to pick up a gift for the walker or climber in your life.
'From the mighty, indestructible, MSR Stake Hammer - a tent mallet for men who want their tent pegs to remain properly anchored in the ground - to the best outdoors book of the year. We've got it all'
There are dozens of woolly socks, festive warm hats and gorgeous down jackets out there. Take your pick.
But if want something a little more interesting to stuff into Santa's seamless, high-wicking, hydrophobic outdoor stockings, we've picked out ten slightly more unusual Christmas gift ideas for you.
From the mighty, indestructible, MSR Stake Hammer - a tent mallet for men who want their tent pegs to remain properly anchored in the ground - via the best outdoors book of the year and a pack dripping with nostalgic retro charm through to the world's most technical wilderness umbrella, we've got the lot.
Anyway, the clock is ticking, the Advent Calendar's supply of sickly sweet, cheap and nasty chocolate is running down, so don't delay and risk damaging consumerism forever.
Scroll on down and we'll help you bring a beaming smile to your outdoorsy loved one's face... maybe.
The Bond by Simon McCartney - £24 (hardback)
The best mountaineering literature is invariably the literature of disaster or near disaster and this year's winner of both the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature and the Banff Mountain Festival Literature Award is right on trend.
We won't spoil it by giving away the story - don't you just hate that - but it's the retrospective story of two epic climbs in Alaska that changed the lives of everyone involved. Engagingly written, human, gripping and just a bloody good read. It helps if you're a climber though.
MSR Stake Hammer - £25
Yes, it's basically a glorified tent mallet, but what a tent mallet it is. Made from the same high-tec aerospace alloy used in the Apollo space programme and with head made from the world's hardest weapons' grade stainless steel, the Stake Hammer is to peg mallets what a Chieftain tank is to an estate car.
We made most of that up, but honestly, this thing is brilliant and looks and feels more like a technical climbing tool than a mallet. The dimpled head is incredibly well balanced and ideal for driving pegs into the hardest ground.
You can even - coincidentally says MSR, we say, like, what was the chance of that eh, really? - use it to prise the lids of beer bottles. Hang it from your belt and the result will be respect from all who cross your path. Awesomeness in a hammer.
Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini Lantern - €59.99
Looking like something the alien dragged in, the Goal Zero Mini Lantern is the ultimate in handy base-camp lighting. It's a small, ingenious light source that's USB rechargeable for convenience using a high spec internal lithium ion battery.
You can stand it on its legs like above, hang it from a loop or even use the internal magnet to stick it to the side of a car or van. You can light the whole lantern or just half of it, your call. And as a bonus, if your phone runs low, plug it into the Lighthouse's USB outlet and boost its charge.
Neat, ingenious, Christmassy - what more could you want?
Alpkit Quark Headtorch - £36
Now that it's dark in the evenings, a decent headtorch is your passport to the hills. Or maybe just a run along the local rail trail. At any rate, Alpkit's latest headtorch is the rather good Quark.
It churns out a retina-burning 300 lumens on high, more than enough to see where you're going on foot and, just about, on a bike. Turn it down to 100 lumens for walking. Or go low power LEDs for camping. O top of that there's an interesting hand's free mode where you can switch the light on and off by moving your hand in front of it. And it has a light sensor that will increase or decrease output according to the ambient light levels.
Finally it's USB rechargeable so there's no messing about with batteries, rechargeable or otherwise. Just plug it in and go for a shower. An awful lot of very clever light for your money.
Rab Hot Socks - £40
Socks are traditional Christmas gifts right? But not socks like this... Rab's Hot Socks are properly warm thanks to a filling of top spec synthetic PrimaLoft insulation that retains its heat even if you're stupid enough to wear them in the bath.
Really they're designed for extreme situations like sleeping on alpine ledges or at Everest Base Camp and they have an abrasion resistant Cordura sole so you can sneak to the kitchen for more beer during the commercials without wearing them out... Ubersocks for the outdoors or the indoors we reckon.
Black Diamond Iota Headtorch - £35
Black Diamond's mini headtorch is brilliant. It weighs just 54 grammes and is about the size of a chunk of Yorkie Bar, but still manages to chuck out enough light to properly run or walk with. The claimed 150 lumens for two hours makes it ideal to chuck in a pocket on a late afternoon run just in case you get caught out in the dark.
All that and it's USB rechargeable and even has a power meter to tell you how much burn you have left from the little ray of light. How did we ever manage without it?
Osprey doesn't just make really nice packs, it also has a range of neat accessories including travel wallets and four or so wash-bags. This is the Washbag Cassette complete with protective padding to save your shampoo from disaster.
Inside there are numerous organisational pockets to keep your cotton buds in check - nowt worse than a feral cotton bud on the loose - and it hangs up and hinges open for ease of use. Lovely and not just for camping either.
Helinox Umbrella - €70-€90
Umbrellas are just about the most breathable waterproofing you can get your hands on, but this isn't just any umbrella, this is a Helinox umbrella made using the same DSC technology as top-spec tent poles - TH72M aluminium shaft no less - and offering 96% protection from UV-rays (UPF 25).
Not only that, it was designed in conjunction with Eberhart Göbel, the Einstein of umbrellas. All in all, it's a near indestructible sun or rain shelter available in two sizes and weighing just 210g or 326g. A little slice of umbrella engineering genius for your Christmas stocking....
Millican Fraser The Rucksack - £130
The truth is that very few walkers are going to buy Fraser for themselves, which is a shame because the thing is not only a beautifully made, traditionally-styled slice of retro awesomeness, it's also a very functional pack.
Millican are based in the Lakes and make their packs and duffles - also lovely - from 57% recycled Bionic Canvas, which looks and feels reassuringly tough. The detailing's lovely with metal forged buckles, multiple pockets and paraffin wax proofing.
It makes us smile every time we use it. Just a really lovely thing.
Suunto Traverse GPS Watch - £315
All the navigational advantages of a top-end GPS on your wrist. The Traverse lets you upload and follow a route, track your own progress and download it all once you get home. It'll tell you how high you are using a barometric sensor and, as a bonus, there's a handy storm alarm that bleeps like a banshee if it's going to rain like hell in the next hour or so - it really works too.
All that and it looks butch and chunky and tells the time too while leaving your hands free to manipulate ice axes and stuff. Did we mention that it actually has very basic mapping too? It does. Neat.
Timber Mountain Bike Bell - £22.99
Got a mate who's a mountain biker? The brilliant Timber Mountain Bike Bell is the ultimate in reindeer sound-alike warning chimes. Essentially it's like a miniature cow, bear or reindeer bell and makes a lively tinkling noise as you ride along. It's brilliantly non-aggressive and undemanding.
And here's the good bit. You can switch it on or off using the lever on the front to stop yourself going nuts when you don't need it. It fits on all sizes of bars and underneath the stealth black coating, it's made of solid brass.
Guaranteed to make you smile. A gentle but effective way of letting other trail-users know that you're around.