Looking for a holiday gift for the adventure traveler in your life, or need some ideas for your own wish list to share with Santa? Start with these – innovative gadgets and gear that will enhance any explorer’s experience without breaking your bank.
Ultra Lightweight Day Pack
With weight limits and high fees for checked baggage these days, it’s essential to travel light. And a super-light daypack can economize on critical ounces, not to mention making for a lighter load on your back. REI’s Flash 18 is a small lighweight daypack that conveniently converts to stuff sack by turning it inside out. Stick your fleece clothes inside and you’ve got a pillow. The hydration-compatible design is made of 40-denier ripstop nylon that provides durability without added weight. A storage sleeve inside features organizer slots, and the polyurethane coating offers weather resistance. Best of all, it’s only $29.50
I used to think hiking poles were really nerdy until I tried them on a long, steep descent in the Annapurnas. My knees were really yelling at me partway into the relentless downhill, and a fellow trekker told me to try his poles. At first I thought they felt awkward, but I was quickly sold once I became accustomed to the rhythm and saw just how much impact the poles could absorb, rather than my knees. While there are a huge number of pole types and styles out there, generally ranging from $60-130, an especially versatile option for the mountain adventurer at a good price point is the Leki Khumbu Aergon model. This mountain trekking pole features a positive-angle Aergon soft grip that positions the hand for load-bearing comfort and optimal swing efficiency, while the carbide flextip offers superior grip on both rock and ice surfaces. The interchangeable basket system allows you to switch out baskets for seasonal use. Strong aluminum shafts extend to 57” for trail use and collapse to 25-1/2” for storage and travel. Typically priced around $99, Amazon currently has these poles available for $76.
The SteriPEN Traveler water purifier is compact, efficient and effective. Avoid having to buy bottled water and add plastic to landfills by using this simple device, whether you’re drinking from mountain streams or pouring water from the tap in a less-developed country. Retailing for about $60, the unit is basically a mini UV flashlight that you submerge into the water you want to filter. Stir for 45 to 60 seconds, and you’ve got pure, potable water. The UV rays don’t heat up or change the water in any way, but they do destroy more than 99.9% of bacteria and viruses that may be present, including giardia and cryptosporidium. With just one set of AA lithium batteries, you can purify 100 liters of water. And for extended adventures, you can purchase the SteriPEN solar recharger, perfect for remote places where new batteries or electrical outlets are in short supply.
Sometimes the handiest travel accessories are the simplest. Re-sealable dry bags are among them. Perfect for backpacking, kayaking and expedition-style adventure travel, dry bags with watertight seals protect your gear from moisture and dirt while doubling as an organizing system for separating your stuff, including wet or dirty clothes. Outdoor Products Ultimate Dry Sacks are extremely durable, come in a variety of sizes and colors, and weigh just ounces each. Another option, great for keeping portable electronics like cameras and iPods safe from water, sand, dust and humidity, are hermetically sealed LOKSAK bags and SPLASHSAK carrying cases. Tested and used by the US Navy, these small, sturdy storage containers weigh less than an ounce each and also work great for protecting your passport, cash, extra batteries, etc. They are sold in multi-packs of 2 to 4 and retail from $5 – $16. Find them at REI and Amazon, among others.
Waterproof camera case
A dry bag (above) may keep your camera safe from moisture, but what if you want to take underwater shots while snorkeling over the Belize barrier reef or snap friendly sea lions swimming right up to your mask in the Galapagos? If you haven’t got an expensive waterproof camera, you can still take pictures beneath the sea at a reasonable price with the Aquapac Compact Camera Case from Orvis. Designed for small digital cameras, this $29 accessory is waterproof to a depth of 15 feet. Its ultra-clear lens affords great photos right through the case. The case will also protect cameras up to 8 inches in diameter from getting splashed on river trips in Kamchatka, or sand-sprayed while camel-trekking through the Gobi.
GPS Smart Phone App
I’m not one of those travelers that feels compelled to know where I am at all times, but a GPS device can be very valuable for the serious overland adventurer who likes to head off on long backpacking trips across the trailless tundra or vast expanses of Arctic ice. While handheld GPS units may be out of your gift-giving price range (or not – they tend to run between $125 – $500, depending on features), consider buying your traveler an iTunes gift card so they can purchase a GPS app for their iPhone or iPod Touch. GPS apps are also available for the Droid and other smart phones.
The Inka Pen is a nifty writing instrument specifically designed for use in extreme environments. Engineered to write in all conditions, its patented, multi-function design allows it to work underwater, at any altitude, in temperature extremes and at any angle. The stainless steel split ring allows you to attach it securely wherever you need it. Available in both a stainless steel and ultra-lightweight titanium version, the Inka Pen offers exceptional strength, durability and corrosion resistance. It features a replaceable pressurized ink cartridge that gives the Inka Pen its amazing ability to write in extreme conditions, as well as a built-in touch screen stylus. Various models retail between $13-$50. Available at REI, Amazon and elsewhere, but cheapest prices I’ve seen so far are at ThinkGeek.com.
Plug portable electronic devices into this small, handy nightlight for fast charging. The iPod/iPhone dock lets you charge without cables, and a separate USB port provides easy access for other digital devices. Dual voltage allows you to use it most anywhere in the world. Nightlight has a convenient on/off switch. This double-duty device is available through Magellan’s Travel Supplies for $29.85.
Enjoy the Season,
P.S. Want to give the adventure traveler in your life the ultimate gift? Maybe one you could share together, for memories to last a lifetime? Consider an trip with Natural Habitat Expeditions — paddling, hiking, snorkeling and more in some of the world’s most amazing adventure destinations!