**Article Originally Posted December 2016**
Christmas is right around the corner and if you’re anything like me, you have left your shopping to the last minute (again!). To ease your burden we try to offer up a few suggestions that might be fitting for the outdoor enthusiast in your life.
Gift Cards: Yes it’s impersonal but a gift card from establishments like MEC, Sail, Bass Pro Shop or any other local outdoor store are usually well received. Most outdoor enthusiasts have specific gear in mind which makes them hard to shop for. A gift certificate allows them to pick out exactly what they want. As a worst case it can go towards food and essentials for their next hiking trip.
Maps: I’m a map guy and so too are most outdoor folks. I may not have any plans to visit a specific location but if I do, I’ll have a map for it. Even in this day of GPS, a nicely produced map is tough to beat. A couple of great options are: Backroads Map Books (http://www.backroadmapbooks.com/), Jeff’s Maps (http://jeffsmap.com/) and The Adventure Map Series (http://chrismar.com/). There is also a new kid on the block when it comes to tripping maps. Jeff, formerly for Jeffsmaps.com has started a new company. Check out his Unlostify seriest of maps https://www.unlostify.com/
Annual Passes: Most Conservations Areas, Provincial Parks and National Parks will offer up an annual access pass. These are generally reasonably priced and will allow for access to the parks for the year. In some instances (as it is with Ontario Parks), one pass gives you access to all Ontario Parks. In 2017 National Parks will be offering free admission for Canada’s 150 birthday (more on that topic next week).
Socks: Yes the dreaded and hated socks for Christmas has made our list. Note that we’re not talking about just any old pair of socks; we’re talking about a quality pair of outdoor / hiking socks. For my money I prefer Merino Wool hiking socks which cost anywhere from $10 to $30 per pair. A nice pair of these socks will be well received by your outdoor enthusiast and their feet will thank you.
Buffs: The idea of a buff originally seemed a little silly to me, but after using one for the first time I immediately saw the value. I bring 1 or 2 with me on all of my trips. They are great for keeping you warm in colder conditions and they keep the sun / bugs off of you in the warmer seasons. Brand name buffs will cost you about $30 with knockoff brands in the price range of $10-$15.
A Kevin Callan Book: Mr. Kevin Callan is best known for his guide books focusing on canoe routes of Ontario. He writes from personal experience and incorporates a lot of great stories into his books. These books are as entertaining as they are informative and they make a great resource for planning future trips. For everything Kevin Callan visit his website: http://www.kevincallan.com/
Magazine Subscription: Speaking of reading, a magazine subscriptions is the gift that keeps on giving all year long (that’s terribly cliché, I know). I’m not really a big magazine reader myself but here are a few that might meet your needs: Outdoor Canada, Explore Magazine, Ontario Out of Doors, Rapid and Canoeroots.
The Latest and Greatest Gizmo: During the holiday season, end ailses and displays feature all of the latest and greatest gizmos that are designed more to make money then to provide functional value (does anyone remember the Big Mouth Billy Bass?). These gizmos often don’t work as advertised, but every once in a while you can be pleasantly surprised. Regardless these items can be fun to give as gifts and we all hold out a little hope that they just may work as advertised. Here are some examples: http://odditymall.com/categories/outdoors
A Leatherman Knife: Knives are essential tools for any outdoor oriented activity. My Leatherman Wave (multi use tool) has been a vital tool of mine for years now. Although this is a bigger ticket item, it is well worth it. There are dozens of different Leatherman options on the market but take a look at their new Tread option: http://www.leatherman.ca/en_CA/tread-425.html#start=8
Camp Pillow: Most people that fancy themselves outdoor enthusiasts would never go out and purchase a pillow for themselves. Using a pillow while camping just doesn’t seem right to some. But if they get one as a gift they may be more inclined, or guilted, to use it. I’m a big fan of camping pillows and I’m certain that after a good night’s sleep on their next camping trip, others will be as well. For more details on camp pillows and the value that they bring read our earlier article: https://quickescapes.ca/trips/pillow-talk