It’s that time of year again. The air is cold, snow (maybe) is on the ground and you’re scrambling to buy gifts for the outdoorsy folks in your life.
Therein lies the problem: The thing about outdoorswomen and outdoorsmen is that, by and large, they have what they want/need. And if they don’t have it already, they probably know exactly what they want/need.
Down to the quarter inch.
Your bumbling attempts at buying them gifts only stands in the way. Send money and call it Christmas.
While that may be prudent, it’s the cowardly path. Don’t fear. We’ve compiled 10 gifts, as recommended by local outdoor enthusiasts. From hand saws to tiny, ultralight flashlight flasks, these gifts are off the beaten path and sure to please on Christmas Day (to be safe, keep the receipt).
Maps and guides
Assuming you buy gifts for friends, and not enemies, you want them to return home safely. Knowing where you’re going is the first step in that endeavor. Consider buying your outdoorsy loved one a year membership to one of the two premier GPS trail and mapping apps: GAIA GPS and onX Hunt. Both are great and do similar things, although onX is geared toward hunters and GAIA is more for hikers.
Jeff Lambert, the executive director of the Dishman Hills Conservancy, uses onX and loves the fact that it shows property boundaries.
“Trespassing is the No. 1 reason that property owners prohibit access,” he said in an email. “With this app, one avoids trespassing and can contact owners for permission if desired. Works without cell coverage if you download your map ahead of time.”
Gaia costs between $20-40 per year (depending on the features you want). onX cost $29.99 for one state for an entire year and $99.99 for all 50 states for an entire year. Cabelas offers an onX gift card.
Both give topographic information, in addition to trail and property information, among much more.
Not into apps?
Check out Frugal Navigator for high-quality United States Geological Survey maps. The company, owned by Spokane’s Scott Franz, can make custom maps based off USGS and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. More popular maps are sold at REI.
“His maps are NICE,” said Holly Weiler, a hiking leader for the Spokane Mountaineers and the Washington Trails Association’s Eastern Washington coordinator in a message.
The maps are printed on tear and water resistant paper and come with a mini-ruler. Prices vary.
“I’m a total map junkie, which is probably weird in this digital age. But I love them,” she said.
Check out frugalnavigator.com.
Gear can be a tricky thing to buy for someone else. Sizing. Usage needs. It gets complicated. So we’re going to keep it light (literally).
First up: a folding saw.
Todd Dunfield, the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy’s community conservation manager and a prolific trail builder, has a favorite option: a folding hand saw made by Silky.
“They are Japanese steel and super sharp and useful,” he said in a message. “Hunters can clear brush for better sight lines and game camera mounting, great around the house, and I personally love them for trail work. I usually keep one in all my day packs and mountain biking hydration systems because they are so useful for clearing downed trees from the trail.”
REI sells a variety, he said, as does Amazon. His favorite? The Silky Professional Ultra Accel 240 with a 24 cm curved blade, which costs $51.56.
Check out silkysaws.com for more.
But what to do, late in the day, once you’ve finished clearing all that trail? Drink, of course. The VSSL Flask is a “compact adventure flask” that includes a flashlight and compass.
They cost $95. Check out www.vsslgear.com/ or REI.
It’s nighttime, you’ve had a few swigs from your flashlight-flask and now you’re back at camp. Well, take a load off in your extra warm camp chair. Why is it warm? (No, not because of whatever spirits you imbibed.) It’s because someone bought you a chair quilt.
The REI Co-op Flexlite Chair Underquilt is exactly what it sounds like. It costs $29.95 (chair sold separately). Check out www.rei.com.
Classes, passes and membership
Worried about what happens when you combine Japanese steel with alcohol at night? In the woods?
Consider a wilderness first aid course. These multiple-day courses are the go-to primers on backcountry medicine and a must-do for anyone who spends a serious amount of time off the grid.
REI and NOLS are offering a two-day course May 30 and 31 at Mount Spokane State Park. The course costs $275 for non-REI members and $245 for members. Check out rei.com/events/46374/ wilderness-first-aid-with-rei-nols/252364.
There are other courses offered in the area. Check out Cascadia Wilderness Medicine for more regional options at cascadiawildmed.com.
So you’re trained up. The trail is cut, you’ve had a nice evening sipping liquor in your uberwarm camp chair marinating on all the first aid knowledge you have. You hike out to the trailhead and find, horrors of horrors, a parking ticket on your rig.
Fool, you didn’t have the right parking pass. If only someone had gifted you one for Christmas.
An annual Washington State Discover Pass only costs $30. Check out discoverpass.wa.gov or Mountain Gear in Spokane.
Also consider buying a state Sno-Park permit. A daily Sno-Park pass costs $20. Seasonal passes are $40. In certain high-use areas, including Mount Spokane’s Selkirk Lodge/Cross-Country Skiing Park parking areas, a special groomed sticker is required. That pass is $40. All other trailheads require the normal Sno-Park pass.
Going farther afield? Consider an annual National Parks pass for $80. Check out nps.gov/index.htm.
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