ScoutingNovember - December 2002

Outdoor Smarts
Great Gifts for the Great Outdoors

By Karen Berger
Photographs By John R. Fulton Jr.

With the holiday season upon us, chances are you're puzzling about what to buy for the outdoors person on your gift list. Or maybe you've been asked what you want.

We've scoured catalogs, Internet sites, and trusted outdoor retailers to bring you a list of items perfect for holiday gift—giving—and truly useful in the great outdoors.

Therma-a-Rest Lite 20 Camp Chair Conversion Kit.

$35 (fits 20-inch-wide mattresses). Using a combination of cloth sleeves and straps, this one-pound gizmo converts a 3/4 or full-length air mattress into a chair. Whether you're telling tall tales around a campfire, reading a book, or lazing around on a well-earned break, you'll be more comfortable leaning back on one of these.

CamelBak UnBottle.*

$30. If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated. Drinking plenty of water while hiking or biking reduces fatigue and enhances endurance. Slip the leakproof UnBottle into any pack to create an integrated hydration system. Fully insulated, the UnBottle keeps up to three liters of liquid cold for hours.

Petzl Tikka Headlamp.*

$35. There's nothing miniature about the light put out by this pint-sized headlamp, which weighs about 2 1/2 ounces (including the three AAA batteries needed to run it). The bright LED light is enough to read by—and one set of batteries will last for 150 hours.

Leatherman "Wave" Multipurpose Tool.*

$69.95. "Wave" is Leatherman's top-of-the line multipurpose tool. The folding design gives you tools not usually found on an army knife, like two kinds of pliers (useful for fixing broken zippers or tent poles). The eight-ounce package also provides wire cutters, two knives, a file, a wood saw (!), scissors, five screwdrivers, a can-and-bottle opener, a wire stripper, and a lanyard attachment.

Backpacker's Pantry Outback Oven.*

$39.90 to $89.90, depending on model. Ranging from a lightweight unit designed for backpackers and mountaineers to a good-for-groups model appropriate for rafting trips, car camping, and group outings, these backcountry ovens allow you to turn outdoor cuisine into a gourmet experience. Pies, pizzas, breads, casseroles: If you can bake it at home, you can bake it outdoors.

Rayovac 1-Hour Charger and High-Capacity NiMH Batteries.

$34.99. Flashlights, digital cameras, GPS units, two-way radios—a camper's need for a fresh supply of batteries is nearly endless. Rayovac's 1-Hour Charger comes with a car adaptor and is the only product that can charge four AA or AAA high-capacity NiMH batteries in one hour. A package of four AA NiMH batteries, $12, can be charged up to 1,000 times.

Stearns Outdoors Self-Inflating Pillow.

$15.99. Think a pillow is for wimps? Think again. In addition to in-camp comfort, this lightweight self-inflating pillow can be used as a kneepad for boating and canoeing. Or use it as a seat cushion on hiking breaks. Not to mention that at night, sinking into a soft pillow sure beats resting your weary head against a stuff sack full of smelly socks.

The GSI Lexan JavaPress.

$15.95 for a 10-ounce model, $19.95 for a 33-ounce model. This compact pot gives you a lightweight way to make real coffee without the bother and trash of paper filters. The French-press forces grounds to the bottom of the unit with a plunger after they've steeped in hot water.

Nalgene's Lexan Multicolored Water Bottles.*

$9. What do a bunch of laboratory scientists, a troop of Boy Scouts, and the outdoor industry have in common? Nalgene water bottles.

The Nalge Company started in 1949 as a manufacturer of lab equipment, like pipettes, test tubes, and beakers. Somewhere along the line, outdoor-loving scientists started sneaking Nalge's lab equipment into their backpacks. When the company president heard about the new use for the company's products, he had his son's Boy Scout troop field-test the idea.

The Scouts found the lab bottles perfect for carrying everything from drink mixes to shampoos. And Nalgene Outdoor Products was born.

Nalgene's new multicolored one-liter Lexan water bottles are practically indestructible, resist staining and odors, and can withstand a bigger range of temperatures than you can (-211°F to 275°F). The multicolored bottles are not only sharp-looking—they help you identify your bottle when you're in a group.

*Items marked with an asterisk [or items of a similar nature] can be found in the BSA Supply Division catalog or at

Karen Berger is the author of eight books. Her most recent is Hiking the Triple Crown (Mountaineers Books, 2001). Check out her adventures at her new Web site:

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