Xmas backpacking goodies

I thought I’d share with you all some of the very cool backpacking and hiking related gear goodies that I received this year as Christmas presents from my family. Most of these were on my list of ideas as very specific items, but a few were well considered surprises.  My family rocks!

Black Diamond Orbit Lantern
LogoSuper light weight lantern that kicks out a lot of light but doesn’t weigh you downdown. It uses a 1-watt LED with frosted globe to create a bright, non-glaring light.  You can even adjust the brightness with the built in dimming switch by holding down the on/off button to activate the dimmer.

It uses a collapsible design to save space in your pack and it also protects the on/off button from accidental activation. There’s a clever double-hook hanging system on top that provides a simple and secure thread-through or clip-in attachment point for string, fabric loops or even branches. Small rubber feet stabilize the lantern when set on table or ground.

The part I like best is that it runs on 4 AAA batteries and is also compatible with the Black Diamond NRG2 rechargeable battery kit, sold separately.  It weighs in at only 4.4 ounces and costs under $30.

Gerber Tempo LED Flashlight
PhotoI love this compact, lightweight LED flashlight by Gerber. It’s small enough to carry anytime, anywhere. The compact size allows it to stow easily in a jacket pocket, backpack or on a key ring so that you have a light when you need it most.

It runs on a single AAA battery (that is included!) and provides up to 3.5 hrs of run time.  The single LED throws a bright, white beam up to 30 ft. The body is made from hard anodized aluminum and is built pretty tough. I really like the operation and simplicity of the rear on/off button.  Weighing in at 1oz with battery and costing just $10, this is a great alternative to those expensive LED flashlights.

REI Chefware Long Spoon
PhotoI’ve been looking for a longer spoon to be able to reach deep into those dehydrated food bags or my freezer bags for a while. The REI Chefware long spoon fitted the bill perfectly so I put it on my wish list.

It measures 8.5 inches and is made from durable Acetal plastic that’s BPA free and dishwasher safe.  A great deal for $2.00 and weighing just 0.5 ounce

Coghland’s Water-Proof Matches
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Approximately 45 wooden matches to each pocket size box. Ideal for all those damp and bad weather conditions. These are still safety matches that cannot light accidentally. They need to be struck on waterproof striker surface on the edge of each box.

These are great little matches but I still prefer my home-made waterproof matches because they’re made using Strike Anywhere matches so I don’t have to carry around a piece of specific striker material.

Several places have stopped stocking these matches so you may have a little trouble finding them. My local REI store no longer sells them (not sure why), but if you search online you can probably find then for sale at a reasonable price.  if you have time, I’d recommend trying to make your own :)

Adventure Medical Kits Heatsheets Blanket
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This may be an emergency survival blanket, but I can see all kinds of other uses for it. How about an ultralight ground cloth, tent footprint or tarp? I’ve had several of the common Mylar space blankets over the years and have tried to get some use out of them, but they are just too fragile and tear too easily and usually ends up just sitting there doing nothing in my pack – extra weight/bulk.

As I said, I usually carry a standard Mylar space blanket (now replaced by this version) in most of my packs for emergency purposes, but I like to carry gear that can perform double duty wherever possible. The fact that this blanket is more robust than a standard space blanket and can be used as a folded sheet to provide a dry place to sit down or cook on greatly appeals to me. My blanket weighs a mere 2.5 ounces, measures 86 x 54 inches and costs about $4.50.

Sea-To-Summit X-Mug
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This was something that wasn’t on my wish list, but I’m really glad I got one.  The X-Mug is a flexible food-grade silicone container that has very clever collapsible side walls allowing it to be squashed down to a slender 0.5 inch thick package that takes up very little space in your pack.

The silicone walls and base can withstand both hot and cold liquids. It has a very handy harder plastic rim that provides good stability of the top edge so that it maintains its form when filled.

At first I didn’t notice, but the inside of the mug has measurement markings for fluid ounces and cups, with the full mug holding exactly 2 cups of liquid – BTW 2 cups of liquid is commonly the amount needed to rehydrate those freeze dried food packs.  Very handy.  Dishwasher safe, weights just 2.4 ounces and costs about $10.

North Carolina Trees and Wildflowers: An Introduction to Familiar Species
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I’ve been looking for a simple guide to the trees and flowers of North Carolina for quite some time, but have typically run into larger more comprehensive books that I definitely wouldn’t want to carry around in my pack – especially for multi-day hikes.  This pocket-sized folding guide is small, lightweight and laminated to make it extremely durable.

It’s written by James Kavanagh and beautifully illustrated by Raymond Leung in full color.  It measures 8.25″ x 22″ and folds to approximately 8.25″ x 4″. I have the North Carolina specific version but it’s available for most states and comes in three variations; Trees & Wildflowers, Birds, and Wildlife Species.

I also like that the guide provides measurements given for the average height of each of the trees and plants and only costs $6.

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  • Steve

    I’ve seen various methods for making your own strike anywhere waterproof matches and wondered which you use.