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December 17, 2009 Comments (0) News

Christmas Gift Roundup

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It’s that time of year again and we all know that folks will be looking for some last minute presents and stocking stuffers.  We asked our staff to pick out one item that they’re either giving or would recommend and to give us a run down as to why they think it’d make a good gift.  We’re running the gamut from stocking stuffers to some righteous field gear, but there should be something there to tickle the fancy of the outdoors person in your life!

Stocking Stuffer from CRKT: The Pazoda

by Ian Fielder

SANY0251aIf you’re looking for a super affordable pocketknife for around $25 dollars, then look no further than CRKT’s Pazoda. Earlier this year I had the chance to review this knife and as the year comes to an end it still holds up as a great gift idea for the holiday. In that article I detailed the razor edged version but managed to get a hold one with a serrated blade. I definitely like the partially serrated blade better and while this knife looks very classy it would be quite functional whether you use it on the trail, camp kitchen or everyday carry.

The Pazoda uses quality steel and materials to produce an affordable knife. Its blade measures less than 3 inches and is extremely lightweight around 3 oz. The blade is coated in gray titanium nitride and the handle is made of stainless steel. Overall this a classy looking knife that makes a great gift.  CRKT also makes the Pazoda2, which is a bit smaller and costs around $20 dollars.  No matter what version of the Pazoda you purchase for the holidays the recipient will be very impressed.

www.crkt.com

Guyot Utensils and Microbites

By Tim Stetzer

IMG_6893aOne of the items on my Christmas shopping list this year are Guyot Utensils. I picked up a couple of sets of Microbites for my kids and I added another full sized set for me, this time in Celery green. I know have all three colors, Tomato, Mustard, and Celery. This makes 3 full sized sets, and one set of Microbites for my own use and now I’m indoctrinating the kids as well. I’ve taken to stashing them in my gear so I always have one handy. If you read my previous full-length review of the Guyot Utensils, then you know I’m a big fan. I think they’re one of, if not the best, sporks out there and the fact that you can get them in two sizes and a variety of colors rocks. I got red for my daughter and tangerine for my boy. They had to match the set of Guyot Squishy Bowls I got them for Christmas after all! The colors and the coolness of the spork and spatula set make them fun, but the design and construction of them actual make them practical to boot. With MSRP’s of only $7.95 for the Utensil set and $4.95 for the Microbites set these make perfect stocking stuffers and they’re items that will get a lot of use in the field or in the lunch box.

http://www.guyotdesigns.com/

TP A3 EOS Upgraded

By David Simerly

iTPA3EOSUpgradedaIn my experience, there’s something about a keychain flashlight that has always been an excellent and favored Christmas gift. My recommendation this year for an inexpensive yet versatile gift is the iTP A3 EOS Upgraded. At a street price of about $20, it is an affordable gift for friends or relatives, as a stocking stuffer, and even as a Secret Santa gift at work. The light comes packaged with one AAA battery, a small clip, and a keychain attachment. It even comes in multiple colors! Mine has lived on my keys for the six months that I have owned it. Having such a small, light, and powerful flashlight attached to my keys has come in handy countless times. There are three output modes, which activate in the same order every time the light is turned on. The first setting is medium, which is rated for eighteen lumens with a four hour run time. Next comes low, with a fifty hour run time at one and one half lumens. Finally comes the high setting which will put out eighty lumens for fifty five minutes. I still have the original battery in mine. The light has a mil spec hard anodized finish, which looks nearly new even after months of being on my keychain and bounced around in my pocket. It is also watertight, with an o ring seal built into the flashlight’s head. With shorter daylight hours and longer nighttime hours a flashlight should be a welcome addition to anyone’s pockets, especially as a holiday gift.

www.knivesshipfree.com

Kelly Kettle

By Scott Wickham Jr.

T100_1820ahe volcano kettle in one form or another has been around since before WWII.  It’s basic design has been the same, whether it was manufactured by Kelly Kettle, Eydon Kettle, Ghillie Kettle, or Thermette.  Basically it has a conical shape with the water being boiled held all around the outside and the fire is built underneath with the heat rising up the center chimney.  On the Kelly Kettle, which is what I have here, the center chimney is smaller at the top to form a venturi so the updraft is strong, making the fire run hotter and boil water faster with less fuel.  With this design, you have much more surface area putting heat to the water instead of just a fire on the bottom of a pot.  It will boil water in about 3-5 minutes.  The typically kettles come in a variety of sizes anywhere from 1 to 3 pints with the small one only 10.5″ by 5.5″.  The fuel is what ever you have on hand.  Old rags, magazine in the car, sticks, twigs, etc.  There is no running costs and it’s very fuel efficient.  Lightweight, relatively compact and quite durable.  For the speed of the boiling, it will give my Jet Boil a run for it’s money and zero fuel canisters to purchase.  It is a little bigger than the Jet Boil setup but the offset of the no fuel purchases is worth it.  In an extended survival situation where you might not have access to those fuel cans, this kettle is a real winner.  Another plus with this 2.5 pint Kelly Kettle is the addition of kit to allow you to put a pot on top of the chimney so you can be boiling water AND cooking a meal.  It will still allow you to add sticks and twigs down the chimney while your cooking food and water.

If you can fit it in your pack, the Volcano Kettle will not let you down.  Survival items are best I think if they are multi purpose and this fits the bill.  A water carrier, boiler, meal cooker, it keeps you warm, and will never run out of fuel.  The Kelly Kettle company also makes a nice selection of accessories to go along with the Kettle such as a  cook set, extra fire bases, extra pot supporters and a new stainless mug.  Add a nice Scandi ground knife, some wool clothes, a canvas tarp for shelter, and a copy of “Woodcraft and Camping” the Nessmuk book, and you’ll be enjoying some traditional, old world camping.  This would make a great Christmas gift for the woodsman or woman on your list.  I’ve had mine for years and it is getting a nice patina from it’s time in the woods.

www.kellykettle.com

Leatherman Expanse E33L

By Will Stewart

Expanse05aI think we can all appreciate that Christmas is a stressful time of year!  Trying to find the perfect present for the outdoorsman can certainly add to it.  It gets doubly complicated when that person has good taste to begin with; the Wally World special just doesn’t cut it anymore!  So for those not ready to empty the bank account for a stocking stuffer, I’ve got a suggestion that just about anyone will love: the Leatherman Expanse E33L.  This compact and lightweight folding knife has a 2.6” blade made from 154CM stainless steel, which comes shaving sharp out of the box.  The blade, locked open by a stainless liner, can be opened instantly by use of a thumb stud or a small “Blade Launcher” tab on the back of the blade.  The most interesting and unique feature, though, is a fold-out carabiner attachment at the base of the handle.  The carabiner will lock open (closed by pushing it inward and folding back along the spine) and can then be secured on a belt loop, key ring, backpack shoulder strap, etc.  Even more interesting is the fact that the carabiner doubles as a bottle opener!   A perfect EDC knife, and a hit at any Christmas party to boot.

www.leatherman.com

 

Spyderco Waved Endura

By Joe Flowers

DSC08323aI never was into the quick tactical deployment aspect of a knife. I guess I thought of it as being something that just wouldn’t happen normally. I dismissed the new configurations that help make a knife open quicker as just one more piece of machinery to go wrong. Then I saw the new waves on the Emerson knives and was interested. Spyderco picked up that patent from them, and things then became really neat.  Everybody has a normal Endura it seems, but Spyderco, knowing that the Endura was one of their most popular knives, came out with a waved version. If you take a look at the waved Endura, you may notice that the blade shape shares some characteristics of a bushscraft knife with a point down the center line and a high grind.

All that aside, I soon found myself attached to the wave feature on this knife. The knife grabs the pocket when deploying to assist in the opening, faster than a switch blade would. I became very use to it, and found myself wanting waves on all of my knives. Unconsciously pulling back on my normal Benchmades and SOGS yielded a non opened knife. The wave feature really sold itself when I discovered the ability to open bottle caps with it. With an attractive price and Spyderco’s normal stellar quality, the waved Endura has made a space for itself in my pocket.

www.spyderco.com

Steripen Voyager LCD

By Andrew Blanchard

IMG_7098aThere are many things an outward bound voyager may like to receive as a gift.  When we go out to the wilds we are looking to relax, enjoy nature, and make a safe trip home.  In addition to that we love gadgets.  To that end, I have absolutely fallen for the self contained water purification giant – the Steripen Voyager LCD.  For the uninitiated, Steripen products purify water by means of UV light.  The light sterilizes any microbes including protozoa, cysts, and viruses that may be present in a water source.  It is pretty darn quick too, boasting a capacity of 1 liter of water in 90 seconds.  The Voyager LCD model has some truly dummy proof features, sure to keep your digestive tract parasite free.  The built in LCD counts down for you.  All you have to do is gently stir or agitate the water.  When the cycle is complete you get a smiley face on the display, assuring you that your water is now safe for consumption.  An additional safety feature on the Voyager LCD model is a set of contacts which must stay submerged.  This ensures a full cycle and dose of UV light.  The Steripen Journey runs on 2 CR123 batteries and has settings for 1 liter or .5 liter.  Carrying water on a woodland trek can be laborious and just plain taxing.  The Steripen Voyager LCD weighs in at just 4.5 ounces with batteries; water is 8 pounds a gallon.  I think you will agree this is a great way to save some pack weight as well as providing an extra measure of safety while in the backcountry.  If you want to cross water off your list of worries in the backwoods check out the Steripen Voyager LCD.

www.steripen.com

previous article (is this the same model)

10cm Zebra Pot

By Jeff Hamilton

ZEBRA01aI harness as many brain cells as possible about the deliberate gift (I give a lot of stuff away spontaneously too though) and I try to present something that imposes no obligation for one to bend to my ways and preferences, yet dangles the opportunity to try something new or different.  This years unpretentious gift award goes to the 10 cm Zebra Pot.  It is a compact item, being about 4” in diameter by 5” tall but will comfortably hold three cups of liquid.  With the pot comes a nested pan, a nicely fit lid and proper bail for hanging above one’s campfire.  It is made of 304 stainless and finished off beautifully so it is as attractive an item as it is useful.  Who couldn’t use a Billy to warm soup or boil water for tea, and who wouldn’t want one that is made like the manufacturer actually cared about what they were doing?  Besides being rugged, durable and eminently useful, it’s a hoot to stick some stocking stuffers into, like a hank of 550 cord, hard to find tinder or even Christmas cookies to make the gift just that much more an appealing surprise.  At under twenty bucks, it’s one a lot of us can afford to give this year.

www.bensbackwoods.com

 

Icom F14/F24 Radios

By Garrett Lucas

GarrettXmas001aIf you’re more of a Tech person or the person you’re shopping for likes the gadgets to use in the outdoors, then Icom’s newest model radios just might be the ticket for a great holiday gift.  Two models in this line are available with the difference being the number of channels.  I acquired a pair with the 15 channel option.  Upon ordering the radios, you can either have the dealer program the frequencies or you can also order the software and hardware to do it yourself.  I chose to have the dealer do the programming and had the standard GMRS channels set up on the radios.  I’ve been looking for a robust pair of GMRS radios that are a step above the normal blister-pack radios you see in the big box stores.  Icom definitely has the right tool for whatever radio needs you have.  We’ll be doing a full review on these radios at a later date, but we’ve already used them quite a bit and they are well constructed and the sound quality is excellent.  Additionally, with some of the preliminary testing we’ve done, we’ve gotten 4.5 real miles out of them and that’s in mountainous terrain without the advantage of line of sight.  These are real-world numbers on not the exaggerated claims you see a lot these days about reaching tens of miles on the GMRS band.  These models perform superbly and meet the standard of quality that icom is so well known for in the radio market.  Each radio runs between $175-$200 depending on which model you choose, but they are well worth it when you consider the quality construction and the performance.  As mentioned, this is one of Icom’s newest models, so you’ll be picking up a cutting edge product for the lucky person who gets a set of thesegreat radios for Christmas.

www.icomamerica.com

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