10 Things on Amazon not to get this Hiker for her Birthday (but YOU SHOULD)
Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Amazon. If I'm not trudging through the mud, carrying a tiny chihuahua, or packing and repacking my camera gear, I'm scouring Amazon for the latest gadget or hiking accessory #MustHave.
And while I'm not persistantly pushing brand names down everyone's throat, I've quietly accumulated a decent amount of gear that inevitably gets duplicated come the Holiday season or my birthday.
But if you're the time that's looking for an upgrade, or just starting out, here's a rad list of essentials that would make any other "Ordinary" Hiker's Birthday List:
1. Osprey Pack -Seriously, I have enough Osprey's that I'm considering opening a falconery. Of course, that doesn't stop me from adding these to my cart and occassionally hitting the BUY NOW button when the price drops.
My current eye-candy? The Osprey Travel series: Urban color scheme and meant for travel, these sleek and durable designs can hold your latest iDevice or an overnight, spontaneous trek to nearby wilderness.
The REASON I love Osprey: Osprey Packs are the first name brand hiking pack that FIT me. You can go on their website and find a nearby fit specialist or go down to REI for a fitting. And guess what? A fitting isn't embarassing or anxiety-ridden. With the right specialist, I found out that even though I'm a PLUS SIZE HIKER at SZ 14/16, my frame is an Osprey Women's Small, and Men's XS (when available). It all comes down to your shoulders, back health, and where the pack sits comfortably for you.
2. Hiking and Trekking Poles. So, unless you're a hardcore 20'something living in the Upper NorthEast or the PNW, entry level poles are a great way to put less stress on your knees, back, etc... Newer poles include tripod mounts for cameras with a clever cap design to prevent damage to hands in case of slips. With lightweight, inexpensive options, these are a great hiking aid for all ages/body types and everyday use.
Okay, so this should be a blog post unto itself, but many of us that WANT to enjoy the outdoors are plagued by various ailments, annoyances, limitations. Personally, one of mine is poor circulation and nerve/joint damage from Lymes' Disease. Since shoes in my size aren't alway rated for cold or wet conditions, even day hikes can be frustrating. 70% of that frustration goes away with REAL Merino socks. Catch name-brands like Darn Tough or IceBreaker on sale, or experiment with any of the indie brands on Amazon.
Merino is still one of the only widely available, natural materials that RETAINS AND MAINTAINS body temperature while still allowing skin to breathe a little bit. What that means is from frozen winter conditions, to sleet, to hot desert temperatures, I will be wearing Merino socks when I can. They also don't break my feet out like some nylon/spandex socks available in the athletic/running world.
Helpful Tip: Be savvy, read the product details for the "no-name" brands. I've been burned in the past if anything has less than 35% Merino and have started to only buy items with details and reviews clearly proving a high Merino wool content.
4. Waterproof storage bags/cases. This goes without saying, if you hike, you're going to get rained on. And for those of us that explore the tucked-away, remote, not-mapped-by-google places, you need a way to keep your navigation stuff DRY. When I first started hiking the Sandia Mountains, I was using commercial grade plastic freezer storage bags. Luckily, there's companies out there that make products to keep your maps, books, and notebooks dry.
5. Bandanas. I never touched Bandanas til I started hiking. Yes, in the past, when I would run or jog, I would just stuff a paper towel in my hoodie or yoga pants and use it when needed. But when you're 8 miles from the trailhead and 20 miles from civilization, you need something lightweight, preferably cotton, and dries quickly (so you can re-use it). For peeps doing multi-day hikes, two bandanas are usually a good idea #Hygiene #Eww.
They also work as an impromptu wind shield, mini chihuahua first aid wrap, bandage, and I've even stuffed one between my underarm and sports bra when the wire broke. I prefer cotton bandanas over the polyester face shields because of the natural materials, and because polyester burns my nose when I'm at higher elevations and my nose is doing that "let's be all runny for the next half hour til she gets used to being this high" thing.
I'm a sucker for Southwest or Map bandanas. If it's got a map on it, it's in my Amazon cart.
6. Multi-purpose Lens cloth. Sometimes Bandanas DON'T work for everything, or maybe I'm just particular. I refuse to wipe my camera gear with a bandana, and, over time, bandanas accumulate all that greasy hiker sweat or dust from high winds. A multi-purpose lens cloth packs tiny, can be stored in a clean dry case, and works for both camera gear and bird-watching gear, as well as scopes, glasses and sunglasses. Helpful FIRST AID tip: MicroFiber Lens cloths can be brushed WITH the grain of your skin and help work out cactus splinters!
7. Noisemakers: Now, I know I may annoy some #hardcore LNT (Leave No Trace) folks here, but I think it's important. Most hikers that frequent well-traveled trails won't need these, but if your only hiking places that never see another soul, or rarely get frequented by group hikes, noisy accessories can HELP prevent certain animal encounter situations. I'm not saying buy a bluetooth speaker and blast it all the time, but a cool hiking keychain that hangs off your pack, or a steel multi-tool that clinks and jingles will scare off smaller wildlife, which means bigger wildlife won't be hunting those smaller creatures in your area.
Plus, they're great little "small gifts" with practical uses. I mean, more of us have needed a bottle opener while hiking and camping than we've really needed to have an emergency fishing hook....
8. Last season's Trail Runners. Hear me out. As soon as Spring hits, last year's trail running shoes will be on sale, but not as "on sale" as they are right now. January to early February are usually big "loss" months for retailers and they're trying to keep the momentum of the Holiday shopping frenzy. You'll usually find last year's shoes at a lower price and they're "new enough" that you can still find relevant reviews and your size in stock!
9. Maps, Trail Guides, Destination Books. This is the season for planning, and Amazon KNOWS IT. Check Amazon's huge selection of books and Kindle books for research material regarding this year's "Destination Trip" -I'm currently looking for any guides regarding BLM lands since most of the people I would call (or websites I would check) are shut down.
10. The Knife. I'm still on the quest for the "right" pocket knife. Since I am a female and most hiking gear for women isn't designed to hold a knife (or anything for that matter), it's a struggle to find a balance between weight, size, durability and price. Being as picky as I am, I've found a lot of great pocket and outdoor knives, but not "MY" knife yet. It should be self-explanatory, but nobody should be without a knife in the great outdoors. Defense, Survival, First Aid, and trail-blazing, and trail work are just some of the reasons you need a pointy object in your gear. It's gonna take a lot longer than a month (my birthday, hint-hint) to find that perfect knife, so here's a couple that I've currently got in my various hiking kits:
I know that was a lot, but it's a bunch of ideas that usually end up gift-wrapped and under the tree or put into a cute little bag and set next to the birthday cake. While I appreciate all of them, I've currently got 99.999% of the stuff I need. Hopefully, if you're reading this, one of these ideas will work for someone you know or make a great gift.
POST Notes: A few of the above items have links you can click on to purchase directly from Amazon. The blog author gets a small bump from SOME of the items on this list, which helps keeps the blog running (paying for domains, storage and space cost $$, even on Google)