7 Early Gift Ideas for the Outdoor Enthusiast

I’ve always questioned why gifts have to be opened on Christmas morning, given that the holiday is halfway into the winter (and thus, ski season). For winter sports lovers, it would only make sense that some presents be opened and enjoyed earlier.

Some gifts were just meant to be given early – like a camera. Why wait until after the presents are all opened to start taking pictures? Or a swiss army knife – why wait until after you’ve fought all that impossibly difficult packaging to then, open a sharp new knife? If you’re playing Santa for any outdoorsy folks, here’s a list of some of the must have “early gifts” to ensure maximum product usage during a season that some argue is too short.

Contour+2 + Helmet Mount
How much: $199.99 + $59.99 = $259.98
Why they’re great: Still images are great and all, but some outdoor activities – from skiing and snowboarding to mountain biking and longboarding – are best shared via video format. Contour supplies an easy-to-use-and-adjust helmet mount that is perfectly compatible with its best-selling, notably inexpensive camera (because you SHOULD be wearing a helmet during all of the activities listed above). In addition, the Contour+2 boasts a 270-degree rotating lens and laser sightline for optimal shots, and is waterproof outside of its case up to an underwater depth of one meter. And if we haven’t sold you on the video format, the camera can also capture high-definition still images.

What the experts say: “The Contour+2 may well be the best digital action camcorder on the market.” [EndGadget]

Wenger Ueli Steck Special Edition Knife
How much: $200
Why it’s great: First off, this is the Wenger Blog. Secondly: saw, file, and screwdriver with ¼-bit adjuster? Check. Can opener, bottle opener, and a partially serrated 65-milimeter blade? Check. In addition, this stylish titanium model weighs in at a light four ounces and measures slightly more than three inches in length, making it a top choice as far as ‘pocket comfort’ is concerned. The knife is named after mountaineer Ueli Stueck, who famously summitted the North Face of Switzerland’s Eiger in less than three hours.
What the experts say: “If your gear closet is full of skis, crampons, ice axes, and snowshoes, Ueli’s multi-tool can deliver the tuning, adjusting, and tightening you need.” [Backpacker.com] 

Salewa Snow Trainer Insulated Goretex Shoes
How much: $278.99
Why they’re great: If snowbound hikes are on your gift recipient’s winter agenda, this goretex footwear will keep their feet warm and dry no matter how deep the powder gets, thanks to built-in waterproof gaiters and a rubber sole that wraps around the entire shoe. These stylish kickers also come with a two-year warranty, which almost feels like a challenge. The Snow Trainers are available for both men and women.
What the experts say: “Salewa’s Snow Trainer Insulated GTX boot is prefect for trekking in cold winter conditions and snowshoeing.” [Campsaver] 

How much: $250
Why it’s great: Some folks prefer to cycle in the daytime, while others would rather ride under the moonlight. To each his/her own, but engaging in the latter carries a much greater risk of deadly collision with passing vehicles. This new bicycle-lighting system from the United Kingdom is comprised of two thin LED lights that are fastened to the front end of each wheel using clips and ring spacers. Lithium batteries (which can be recharged with a USB cable) add little extra weight, while integrated an magnet and accelerometer ensure the rider will be able to reach top speed once the Revolights have been installed.
What the experts say: “There’s no doubt that it makes you more visible, and even more likely as a result it reduces your risk of getting hit by a car. But, like any other light system, you still have to ride safe and pay attention.” [DCRainmaker]

L.L. Bean Summit Trekker Snowshoes
How much: $199
Why they’re great: Sometimes, the best Christmas gifts are the ones that encourage the recipient to try out a new hobby. If you want your buddy to take up snowshoeing, chances are he/she will immediately fall in love with the centuries-old pastime if a pair of Summit Trekkers is strapped to their feet. Carbon-steel crampons ensure the wearer will remain on top of the snow, while the FitStep frame allows for a natural stride that limits bone and joint stress. These snowshoes are heavy-duty – even though they only weigh 4.4 pounds.
What the experts say: “The Summit Trekker doesn’t have any bowl-you-over technology. Rather, its simplicity and dependability set it apart.” [Outside]

Under Armour Heatgear Tactical Hood
How much: $19.99
Why it’s great: Look, the truth is simple: everybody likes to pretend they’re a ninja from time to time. But badass aesthetics aside, balaclavas are ideal for chilly environs – especially when wind chill is a significant factor. This UA hood effectively repels cold from the top of the noggin to well below the neckline, while the light fabrics dry quickly to ensure long-lasting warmth. And thanks to its compact size and low pricetag, this balaclava makes an ideal stocking stuffer.
What the experts say: “The material felt great. It was thick but not so thick that it felt like I was wearing Grandma’s hand knit hoodie.” [Mil-Spec Minded]

Duct Tape
How much Between $4 and $12 per roll (give or take)
Why it’s great: Why isn’t it great would be an easier question. Sci lists the top 10 uses of duct tape, while The Zac names more than 250 different functions of this simple-yet-universal material. This knight in bright silver (or black) armor will also come in handy during one of the most time-honored post-holiday rituals: re-wrapping unwanted gifts. It should be noted, however, that duct tape makes a great supplemental gift – but you might get labeled as a cheapskate if this is your recipient’s only gift.
What the experts say: “Duct tape is awesome.” [Everyone]

By Brad Nehring