Published on December 22nd, 2014 | by Greg0
TrulyOutdoors Gift Guide: Sharper, Fitter, Healthier
With only four days left before the big holiday, Santa’s elves are busy working overtime to finish up our gift lists. Sure, the more prepared among you already have purchased everything- but we’re certain you’ve missed someone, even if it’s just that guy at work, who happens to be in charge of HR and could really use something small. Last minute purchases don’t have to be rushed, and thanks to the miracles of Amazon, Fedex, and UPS, you can order this week and still have a very merry Christmas. As in years past, we’ve tested out hundreds of items this year, and narrowed our favorites down in a few categories, trying to find something for most every budget. Yesterday, we began our task with Gadgets, and today we turn to the great outdoors.
On the open road- and in the mean streets- biking requires some protection. We suggest picking up a solid helmet, like the Kali Protectives Maraka, one of the best we tried this year. It’s solid, stable, fits nicely and offers plenty of ventilation- and it looks pretty intimidating. Just because you’re not a professional doesn’t mean you can’t have the same quality equipment. $189 or so.
And safety isn’t just for yourself- you need to take care of your ride. The most interesting bike lock we’ve seen requires some getting used to, and won’t work on every tree you find. It’s not as versatile as a bulky chain- but it’s not heavy, and can practically disappear when not in use. Plus, it’s strong enough to make it here in the big city, and the design is lovely. How often can you say that about a lock? The TiGr tough 125 Standard bike lock runs about $200.
If wheels are your speed, but you’d prefer your feet to be closer to the ground, then we’ve got the crazy creation of the year- the Cardiff S1 Strap-On Skates, a pair of roller skates that attach to your shoes. In our initial tests, we kept having small issues, but after finding the right pair of socks, shoes, some elbow and knee pads, and getting the strap just right… well, we continue to have a whole lot of fun hopping on the subway, then hopping off and skating without carrying a huge pair of them around. Convenient, unique, they take a bit of practice but convinced us. $160.
We found our second skin- the Outdoor Research Helium HD, an ultralight jacket that does one thing and does it very well. Rain never penetrated, but we never felt overly humid, and the entire thing packs up into a whisper of fabric. Durable, with nice color options and some good details that set it apart from the many other similar competitors. Pricey at $200, but well worth it- it’s proven itself time and again in storms over the past months.
Perhaps your heart has settled at higher altitudes, where the snow is white and the slopes fast. Every skiier needs googles, and everyone is looking for a way to avoid losing their smartphones while taking them out- but it’s hard to avoid since you have to constantly check your GPS mapping, current activity data, and of course those urgent text messages. Let the Recon Instruments Snow 2 show you a better way, with their very cool heads up display that embeds itself in your vision (compatible with many goggles). Worth the small technical hurdles and $400.
Finally, we did quite a bit of camping this year- from “glamping’ in cabins to traditional campsites and rough hikes through wilderness. There were several tents we liked- the Ticla Tortuga 3 and the Big Agnes Wyoming Trail 4 were stellar in different situations. But there was a single sleeping bag that we agreed on, fought over, and that was comfortable enough to use when at home. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 is super-warm, cozy, and lightweight at about two pounds. It’s not cheap, at $350, but it’s our favorite sleeping bag of the year, and we’re thinking of curling up inside it now.