Gift Guide For Campers

It’s not too late to stock up on gifts that are perfect for campers. Herewith a list of some of my favorite pieces of gear–and a few items I’m putting on my own list for Santa.

Hammocks make us happy in camp.

Hammocks make for happy campers.

Trek-Light Hammock ($70-$80)

A lightweight hammock is probably the single most loved nonessential gear item in our camp gear box. It’s totally unnecessary, but has brought us hours of entertainment and comfy relaxation. Admittedly, it’s also brought us a fair amount of angst, too, as the kids are always fighting over whose turn it is in the hammock.

We’ve strung our Trek-Light single hammock ($70)  between trees on a beach on Isle au Haut, Maine, and near a campsite overlooking Dillon Reservoir near Frisco, Colo. Now I’ve got my sights on the company’s double hammock ($80), which seems the way to go for families.

Headlamps are the perfect stocking stuffer for campers.

Headlamps are the perfect stocking stuffer for campers.

Princeton Tech SYNC ($30)

We have an assorted collection of headlamps from bulky versions with wires and battery packs to Lego figurines. But the one that every camper in the family grabs for is the Princeton Tec Bot.  It’s a kid’s headlamp, but it still throws a surprising amount of light. So on my list this year is Princton Tec’s new Sync headlamp for grownups.

It’s compact, offers 90 lumens of LED light, and features an easy to use dial control for toggling through the settings. You can switch it up from a spot beam to a floodlight to a red LED, or you can activate a Dualbeam mode that offers the firepower of both spot and floodlight at once. Left on the low floodlight setting, the headlamp has a burn time of 150 hours.

Jetboil-SumoJetboil Sumo ($140)

This quick boiling stove is perfect for family backpacking, but we like it even for getting water boiled in a hurry at when we’re car-camping.

Previously, I’d been boiling water in a crummy old aluminum pot over my Coleman camp stove, and the kids would have to wait upwards of 10 minutes—an eternity—for their hot cocoa.

With this Jetboil, the water is ready in two minutes. It’s compact and light, and has a 1.8 liter capacity and a handy push-button ignition. A set of bowls and the fuel canister store inside.

Wine glasses designed for rugged outdoor use.

Wine glasses designed for rugged outdoor use.

Avex Claret Insulated Wine Glass ($20)

I have a soft spot for drinking red wine out of a blue ceramic coffee cup. Feels like camping. But lately, I’ve been going upscale with a stainless steel wine glass designed specifically for quaffing your vino al fresco. The Avex Claret is insulated to keep your grape juice at the right temperature.

The padded base means it’s less likely to slip or tip when you set it down on an uneven rock. The company also has a 20-oz beer tumbler called the Brew ($25). I’m more of a beer-in-a-can, wrapped-in-a-coozie kind of gal, but it’s worth considering.

Selk'bags are wearable sleeping bags for adults and for kids, in solids and superheroes.

Selk’bags are wearable sleeping bags for adults and for kids, in solids and superheroes.


Imagine if you could be cuddled in your sleeping bag–and at the same time, perambulating the campfire. Well, you can. Footie pajamas are evidently the “in” thing right now, so perhaps there’s little surprise that a sleeping bag can, indeed, have legs.  Simply put, the Selk’bag is a wearable sleeping bag.

The company says Selk’bags are for people (kids and adults) who are uncomfortable in traditional mummy sleeping bags. I would contend its number-one purpose would be staying supremely warm and comfy when the sun dips at the campsite and you want to be warm and mobile.

Newly launched is the 5G Original model ($169), updated with removable booties; a redesigned, adjustable fitted hood; and improved shell and lining materials. Selk’bags also come in Marvel characters ($99 for kids ; $149 for adults ), which adds a Halloween superhero twist to the camping experience.

The Down & Dirty Guide to Camping with kids

Required reading for outdoor families.

The Down & Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids

($14, with coupon code)

Brought to you by the shameless plug department, The Down & Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids by Helen Olsson would make a fine Christmas gift for friends and family new to camping with kids. It covers everything from gear to packing to recipes to health and safety.

It’s terribly well written and filled with humorous anecdotes you’ll be repeating with the kids over molten marshmallows. The checklist is supremely complete.

You can buy it here. (Use the DOWN30 code for 30% off)


The North Face ThermoBall Full Zip: a cozy alternative to down.

The North Face ThermoBall Full Zip: a cozy alternative to down.

The North Face ThermoBall Full Zip Jacket ($199)

A lightweight, low-profile down jacket is the perfect cozy layer for making s’mores and storytelling under the stars. But true duck down is expensive. TNF has a solution in its line of ThermoBall jackets. ThermoBall is an innovative construction that employs a PrimaLoft synthetic alternative to down.

Round clusters of the material create tiny air pockets that trap heat, mimicking the functionality of natural down. The upside: it’s a more reasonably priced insulation that keeps you warm when wet.

The basic full-zip jacket comes in 22 different colors, more than you get in a standard-size Crayola crayon box.


honey_packet_1Honey Stinger Waffles

My kids get burnt out on energy bars, but they can’t get enough of these waffles. Based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, Honey Stinger uses its own organic honey to sweeten these energy-packed snacks.

To be sure, they taste an awful lot like a cookie but are heralded as nutritious. Honey, the makers say, is rich in carbohydrates and, because it’s comprised of simple sugars, is an easier source of energy for your body to process than complex carbs.

They’ve got to be better for you than anything loaded with high-fructose corn syrup. That much I know. And they’ll make a great stocking stuffer.

These are a cut above my old Timberland work boots.

These are a cut above my old Timberland work boots.

TNF Women’s Ultra Fastpack Mid ($130)

Good hiking boots can make the difference between a walk in the woods and a trail of tears. I updated my hiking boots last summer with the TNF Ultra Fastpack Mid. With kids in tow, I’m more of a Slowpack, but I still love this hiker. It has a super grippy sole for traction on slippery trails and is so lightweight it feels like hiking near barefoot.

It’s designed to be really breathable and quick drying, which is critical for feet. The soles of your feet have more sweat glands than any other place on your body (250,000!), capable of producing a half a pint of sweat a day. The cut is high enough to keep pebbles out, but not so high that it’s restrictive.

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  1. Sarah Johnson says:

    Any cd’s by the Okee Dokee Brothers!!

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