Making a List...

By Karen Berger
Photographs By John R. Fulton, Jr.

Stocking stuffers, a point-and-click planetarium, and outlandish shoes sporting Swiss-cheese holes all rate a spot on our annual holiday season gift guide for the outdoor enthusiast.


Don't you just hate it when you take a big swig from your water bottle and it dribbles down both sides of your mouth? That's a thing of the past with this ingenious little silicone device, which slips into the water bottle opening and helps prevent leakage and accidental spills. These stocking stuffers come in three sizes to fit all wide-mouth bottles, standard Nalgene-style bottles, and narrow-mouth bottles. $3.25.

Firefly Bottle Lamp

From the same company that markets the SplashGuard comes the Firefly, a screw-on top for your wide-mouth water bottle that turns it into a handy lantern. Firefly's design allows it to be used right side up, upside down, or hanging from the nearest tree branch. Sealed into the lid are three AAA batteries (replaceable) and an LED bulb that spreads a warm glow throughout the bottle. Vary the light level with the touch of a finger so you can have a light inside your tent for stormy nights or just enough light for studying a map and trail guide. $21.95.

Holey Soles Explorer Clogs

These brightly colored closed-cell polymer foam clogs are the oddest-looking footwear to hit the market in years. Comfortable, versatile, and so lightweight that they float, they were originally designed for water sports, but backpackers soon caught on to their convenience and versatility. The clog shape protects the toe, and the shoe can be hosed off at the end of a hike. Use them to ford streams, walk around in camp, hike a trail—or wear them on city streets. Available in 15 colors. $30.

Blisters: The Authentic Trail Game

What do you do when you're on a 2,000-mile hike, the nights are long, and the weather bad? Invent a trail game! Created by long-distance hikers on the Appalachian Trail, Blisters combines roll-of-the-dice chance with math skills. $9.

Sub Kilo 20-degree Sleeping Bag

REI's recently updated Sub Kilo 20-degree bag offers a good balance of price, weight, and quality. Weighing in at 1 pound 13 ounces, this compressible 750-fill goose-down bag features a contoured hood, roomy foot box, draft tube, full-length zipper, interior pockets, and a strap system for keeping the sleeping bag on top of a sleeping pad (straps sold separately). Available in regular, long, and also women's sizes. $229.

Packtowl Ultralight

These lightweight microfiber towels absorb an astonishing amount of water for their size and dry in a few minutes. Available in four sizes, from .7 ounce (9 by 20 inches) to 3.6 ounces (27 by 50 inches); $9.95 to $29.95.

Trail-Sling Chair

Can you sit in something that folds up as small as a water bottle? Yes, if it's a Trail-Sling, an ingenious outdoor chair that folds as efficiently as an origami paper sculpture. The open chair sits comfortably off the ground with a firm back support. It weighs in at a very portable 30 ounces and holds up to 275 pounds. $34.99.

Campfire Companion Set

Add the soothing sounds of a harmonica to your group's repertoire of campfire songs with the Campfire Companion Set. The package includes a harmonica and an instructional DVD with easy, follow-along lessons. $16.95.

SkyScout Personal Planetarium

The SkyScout is a handheld device that uses global-positioning system (GPS) technology to help you identify more than 6,000 celestial objects, including stars, planets, and constellations. The user points the device at any object in the sky and then clicks the target button. The SkyScout identifies what you are looking at and gives astronomical information, from historical data to trivia to myths and legends. Audio narration and earphones are included, and you can download updates from the Internet. $399.

Karen Berger is the author of Backpacking and Hiking (DK Publishing Inc., 2005). Visit her at

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