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Ten Outdoor Gift Ideas For Under $50

Leatherman Squirt PS4

The Leatherman Squirt PS4: Hands down one of my favorite mini-tool options for backpacking and every day use. It has just the right combination of features, it’s extremely well made, and light enough to carry without ever knowing your have it with you. If you’re not sure about getting one – just get one!

REI Flash 18 Day Pack: The Flash 18 is a very popular lightweight day pack for good reason. Simple design, great construction, lightweight and reliable. I started using the REI Flash packs as quality small packs for my kids and have loved using them over the years myself for day hikes or as summit packs. Another affordable must have.

ESEE Candiru - 1.7oz

ESEE Candiru Knife: The debate on how much knife you need for backpacking rages on. I personally carry more than I probably need, but that’s me and even I go back and forth. If you want to by ultralight without sacrificing the strength of a (larger) fixed blade knife then there is no better knife on the market right now than the ESEE Candiru. This is a seriously badass little knife that can handle more than you can throw at it. At a mere 1.7oz its another lightweight no brainer.

Flatcat Snow Leopard Stove

Flat Cat Gear Snow Leopard UL Cook Set (original): If you saw my review of this set a while ago you’ll remember that it all the right points and turned out to become my “go to” UL stove. Well made, convertible, compact, and efficient – what more could you ask for? Oh and if you’re reading up about dry baking on the trail, this setup will handle that too!

Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp: Still one of the most reliable and affordable little headlamps out there. Sure there are lighter weight (and more expensive) options available, but for the price this has proven to be one of the best investments I’ve ever made. Battery life is great, light beams and options are good, and the little bugger can take a lot of abuse and still shine happily. Fully kid proof too if you’re wondering – you can’t say that about much UL gear these days :)

REI Stormproof Matches: Practically unstoppable once lit. These are the best matches I have ever used and I know from personal use that these will not let you down even under the harshest conditions. If you haven’t seen the numerous videos showing people trying to extinguish these matches then you should check them out on YouTube. Carry some in your pack or on your person.

EMS Power Dry 1/4 Zip Fleece

EMS Power Dry Fleece: The best fleece I’ve ever owned or used. You can read my full review here, but the bottom line is this is one hell of a base or mid layer. Light weight, wicking, warm, comfortable, you name it. Normally retails for $60 but on sale right now for $30! Buy one, or two, you won’t regret it.

Snow Peak 600 Titanium Mug: This used to be the standard titanium mug for backpackers, but it seems that most people have moved on to the SP700 because it comes with a lid and most rigid water bottles will fit inside the bigger version. I’m still a huge fan of this perfectly sized UL cup. One of my top picks if you are looking to upgrade to titanium.

Suunto M-3D Leader Compass: Everyone needs a reliable compass. I’ll say that again – everyone needs a reliable compass and you also must know how to use it. Sure you can buy a cheaper model in Target or Walmart, but trust me and others when we say it’s worth every penny to buy something of a higher quality. This is one piece of gear that you may well end up relying upon to save your life or those of others.

Mechanix Wear Gloves: Not the lightest utility gloves on the market, check out the Gorilla Grips for a lighter options, but definitely one of the toughest pairs of gloves I’ve used on the trail. I don’t mid getting my hands dirty, but there are times when a good pair of utility gloves will save your hands from abuse. Once you carry and use a pair you’ll wonder why you didn’t always have some with you.

Those are just a few little things that you might want to consider for your backpacking or hiking loved one this Christmas. I own or have used each and every one of these, so I know from personal experience that all of these will last a long time if they are used properly and cared for.

And don’t forget some of the even the smaller stocking stuffers like:

  • IronWire: High-viz orange 2mm single braid cord suitable for bear bagging, tent guy lines, tarp ridge lines, and anything else you can can think of. It has a break strength of 1,000 lbs and is vinyl coated to ensure great knot holding
  • Rite in the Rain Notebook: 50 sheets of waterproof all-weather paper that sheds water and preserves the written image, even when wet. Comes with various color covers but I always recommend the hi-viz yellow so that you’ll never drop it and lose it
  • Mini Dropper Bottles: For repackaging AquaMira water purification drops. Come with custom printed labels with mixing instructions. Dual A+B bottle color coded pack and separate tiny opaque ‘mix’ bottle
  • NyloBarrier Odor-proof Bags: I used these recently to carry several days worth of WAG bags down from Mount Whitney in blazing Californian heat. Needless to say if they can keep that stink locked in they get my vote for odor-proof bags!
  • Tyvek Ground Sheet: Tyvek ground sheets are lightweight and very strong. They provide excellent protection between your sleep system or your tent floor and the ground
  • Reflective Guyline: Never trip over your tent/tarp guyline again when you use reflective Glowire. Suitable for all sorts of backcountry applications including tent/tarp guy lines, tarp ridge lines, bear bagging and anything else you can can think of
  • REI Membership: The gift that keeps on giving back. Great discounts and membership benefits plus superb customer service. This pays for itself in one shopping trip

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  • Great list, I think I have about half of them and agree with you! Thanks for sharing.

    • It was a team effort :) I pull from your lists too.

  • a new gobspark armageddon is welcome as well … hint wife if you see this in the browser history

    • Jordan, the list was short and I was going to include another firestarting option but decided to keep it short. I have to say that after using several of the gobspark fire steels I am less than impressed. I eventually went back to a true LMF fire steel and get better results based on my experience. Have you tried a gobspark steel in person?

      • yea its alot harder than the lmf ones but if you use an awl from a leatherman its really nice

        • Josh camp

          Great list. I agree they seem a lot “sturdier” BUT also heavier. I think the amount of sparks is more related to the striker and your technique than the actual fire steel material, at least in my experience. I have been experimenting with lighter options than the’s and I think they are all about the same.

  • Brian ; I love your gear lists and I hate them too , because always end up researching those items for hours on end and finally buying quite a few as I slide into Ultralight Backpacking slowly but surely , clearly against my will ….

    • Sorry Adan, I don’t do it to make you buy more gear, I do it to help you buy better gear that will last longer and save you from buying things twice. At least that’s the hope :)

      • You are absolutely right , getting the best gear possible from the start will avoid having to “upgrade” later and I do appreciate you sharing your opinions with all of us , I’ve been enjoying the outdoors as a ” Heavy Hauler ” and just recently started drifting towards lighter better gear following your blog’s advise ( and a few others as well ) , you wont see me as an SUL Backpacker any time soon but a good level of improvement has been achieved !!

  • Thanks for the heads-up on the EMS being on sale I just ordered one and got free shipping to!

    • Joe, you’re welcome! Hope you like it after me raving about it :)

  • lee

    Great list! Be careful around fire with the Mechanix gloves. Depending on which ones you get, they will melt. I’ve been using them for years at work and on the trail.

    • Lee, sound advice! Unfortunately these days there are a lot of flammable material used in outdoor gear, especially clothing. I’ve burned holes through many fleeces from the tinniest embers. Always be careful with gear around a fire or heat source. Love my Mechanix gloves too!

  • Hendrik Van Roon

    Great idea’s Brian, just treated myself to Squirt PS4, thanks for the great info you give on all your reviews, ever think of coming over to Europe and doing some walking over here, i’m going back to Spain to do some more of the Camino de Santiago trial, its worth checking out my friend.

    • Thanks Hendrik. The Squirt is such an amazing little tool, it’s very capable for its size too. I’m originally from England. I moved to the US when I was 27 and spent a lot of time outdoors over there. I would love to get over to some European destinations – there’s someone on Finland I’d like to meet up with :)