Whether you’re a thrill seeker shopping for yourself, a worried parent trying to protect your baby, a best friend looking to help a buddy shred it up, or a tagalong seeking some extra comfort, the best thing about the gift of outdoor gear is that it serves all those purposes simultaneously. Wilderness products and accessories, from tents to jackets to pots and pans, all further our ability to challenge ourselves, brave the elements, and return home safe — perhaps the three most important components of any adventure outing. But with so many good options available that serve so many different types of explorers, deciding which products to buy for yourself, let alone someone else, is no easy task. Take it from fellow adventurers: the gear below represents the best values heading into 2015. Regardless of why you bought it, or for whom, it’ll make a certain adventurer very happy.
Montane Minimus Jacket
Packable Protection: Weather conditions can change quickly in the wilderness, and heading into the outdoors without a rain jacket in your pack is a big no-no. The Montane Minimus, which weighs about half a pound and packs down to the size of an apple, is an item you throw into the bottom of your pack and forget about — until it starts to shower. It can also be used as a shell for walking or trail running in showery conditions.
Cobra Solar Pack
Stay Charged: The solar-powered Cobra can charge up to three devices at once via USB outputs. An illuminated LCD display indicates its current capacity, eliminating the guesswork that often comes along with portable batteries. It’s about the size of an iPhone, and with built-in cords, you can leave yours at home. Since the device takes approximately 10 to 12 hours to get a full charge on a clear sunny day under direct sunlight, it’s most useful on day and weekend trips to recharge cameras and iPhones.
Sea to Summit Aeros
Sweeter Dreams: A pillow is usually foregone in a crowded backcountry pack, but the Aeros might make you reconsider. Cheap and deflatable, it won’t burden you, and it will certainly give you a better place to lay your head than that ball of clothes you typically use. There’s no shame in treating yourself — especially when it doesn’t weigh you down and results in better rest.
GoPro Hero4 Silver
Capture Everything: If an adventurer conquers his quest and no one is around to see it, did he really accomplish anything? For those who like to come home with visual proof, GoPro’s HERO4 is the best outdoor camera on the market, with 1080p60 and 720p120 video recording, 12MP photos up to 30 frames per second, built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth, and waterproofing up to 131 feet. The standard, surf, and music editions carry the same features but offer different mounting devices.
Morakniv Bushcraft Survival Knife
Always Be Prepared: This knife is thick and hardy with a rubber handle and 3.2mm carbon steel blade, but what makes it a bargain is that it doubles as a match. An all-weather Morakniv Fire Starter is attached to the top of the case, and the back of the knife is designed to be used along with it to create a 3000-degree (Celsius) spark in any weather conditions.
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent
Spacious Shelter: Besides being lightweight (3 pounds, 7 ounces) and easy to set up, the two-person Hubba Hubba deserves respect for its livability. Featuring two entrances and two gear-storing vestibules, time in the tent won’t feel as cramped — an immeasurable benefit to camping couples. Traveling compact is a must in the backcountry — but it’s also nice to know that you won’t drive each other crazy in the process.
Coleman Hyperflame Gladiator Stove
Cook Faster: This is about as close to a briefcase as you get in the outdoors. Meant for car camping and tailgating, the Gladiator Stove is great for preparing meals for multiple people. Its two sunken burners protect are naturally protected from wind, and 12,000 BTUs of power means you won’t wait around long for your water to boil. Cleaning won’t feel like a chore with its removable grates, ultimately extending the life (and appetizing appeal) of the stove.
Gobe 500 Flashlight System
The Light to Rule Them All: Lightweight at just over a quarter pound and waterproof up to 393 feet (if you go this deep, be sure to shoot us an email), the Gobe Flashlight line’s most unique feature is its versatility: you can buy additional, interchangeable heads if your adventures call for bright, wide, or narrow light, each providing a different beam pattern, reach, and focus. For the guy who does everything, the Gobe 500 is the all-purpose offering and has multiple mounting options that allow it to be used as a camp, bike, or dive light.
Blizzard Brahma Skis
Conquer the Mountain: The Blizzard Brahma is built for the skier who rips groomers, but is dabbling off trail. It’s hard and sturdy, so you’ll still feel that quick response underfoot, but the early-rise tip and tail features will keep you light and allow you to float through deep powder in less maintained areas of the mountain.
Grayl Filtration Cup
The Holy…: The Grayl Filtration Cup is too bulky for its capacity to be a useful when backpacking, but it definitely hits the spot when it comes to international leisure travel. Built like a to-go coffee cup and advertised as a French press for water, the Grayl filters out impurities, metals, and bacteria to keep your drinking water safe as you jetset through airports and foreign hotels.
GSI Halulite Pots
Meals to Go: It’s constantly overlooked that outdoor stoves are only as good as the pots placed upon them. They must absorb heat quickly and distribute it evenly, or else the promised cooking times will never be met, fuel will be wasted, and you’ll end up with a lot of burnt meals. GSI’s Halulite alloy line of pots and pans is designed for thermal efficiency while remaining lightweight and scratch proof. The lids also feature built-in straining holes, so cooking dishes like backcountry mac and cheese require one less dish.
CamelBak Pursuit 24LR
Haul & Hydrate: CamelBak has long been the leader in making hydration convenient and encouraging us to carry more volume, and now it’s focusing on making that extra water weight less of a burden. The Pursuit 24LR uses a lumbar reservoir that sits near your hips, ultimately pushing the pack off your pack and allowing for greater airflow on your upper back. With 3 liters of water storage and 21 liters of pack space, this is a solid daypack option heading into 2015.