gear for the new year

It is the first day of November and we have 54 days before Christmas.  This countdown means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  I once worked at a jewelry store.  And during those years in retail December 25 was just a day off.  After downsizing, re-prioritizing, and realizing that the need to acquire stuff was stressing me out, I can now focus on my basic human needs and also have time to enjoy them.

Granted family members are always asking what do I want for Christmas.  And the answer that frustrates them is “I do not need anything, all I want is to do a little hiking and kayaking in December with my family and friends”.  Well that never works.  So I end up giving them a wish list of things that would take my enjoyment of the outdoors to the next level.  Below is my wish list and maybe this list could help you find the right gift for your outdoor partner, spouse, child, relative, friend.   – Jeff

Two DVDs

All-Mesh Bug Jacket — A mesh hood and a mesh body — all coated with an insect-repellent treatment — make the Bug Shield Jacket from Columbia an apt tool for campers, paddlers, and anyone else who play where bugs call home.   $90.

A light for every problemThe Black Diamond Storm headlamp can do it all!  It has on the spot setting (100 lumens), and it is “powerful enough for night hiking through any terrain, and the spotlight-bright mode illuminates more than 100 feet out; thus making it easer to spot channel markers and the best place to land your kayak.  The red night vision mode makes reading charts a breeze.  Then a paddler can easily switch it on the flood setting, the light diffuses evenly into the periphery, creating 180 degrees of yellowish light (which I think illuminates better-than blue-tinted LEDs).  And the best features are: it is waterproof down to 1 m, and this light has a lock mode to stop accidental battery drain when the lamp is stored in a PFD (BCU) pocket or pack.  $50

Help a WFR – The RoadID’s Wrist ID Sport affixes your name and contact info (you can customize it to include any medical conditions) to a watchband-size strip of nylon.  Should you break up in a rock garden, drown in the surf, fall off a cliff, are nibbled on by an alligator/shark, or struck by a car walking through the boat ramp parking lot, rescuers will know whom they’re helping.  $20

Odor-Solving Bag — Ever wonder wear to stuff your wet and stinky apparel, socks, and gear after a day on the water, or in my case how to prevent your gear from smelling after a few days of forgetfulness left in your trunk?  The Stuffitts Dry Bag solves the stinky problem.  The bag has a patent-pending “moisture and odor containment system” built-in! There is a packet of wood and natural oils in this bag designed to zap odor and draw away moisture from wet apparel and smelly gear.  Available in November for just $20.

Insulate against the Ice-cream Headache – Kokatat makes a few practical, comfortable, and versatile bits of kit to extend a paddler’s time on the water.  I already own their Gore-Tex TecTour Anorak, Tempest Pant with Socks, and other insulating garments for when I paddle during the winter.  I plan to upgrade my pants to the Gore-Tex Whirlpool Bib.  For a stocking stuffer having a Surfskin Balaclava (large $36) and a pair of Medium Weight Hand Jacket (XL $45) would keep me warm even when Jack Frost is nipping at my nose.

Nylon Yurt — This design is advertised to create the “largest usable space possible with a minimum of materials and weight.”  The Hoopla 4, made by Mountain Hardwear, is a four-person tent that weighs just 1 lb. 10 oz. (An optional floor adds a bit more weight.) It sets up with stakes and a single trekking pole in the middle. The secret is in the Hoopla’s namesake “hoop,” which is a suspended ring that pitches the tent walls outward to make for more headroom. The company calls the tent “an emergency shelter for day-trippers or a minimalist backpacking option for thru-hikers.” What I like about this tent is that a paddler can also use it as an emergency hypowrap! $350.

Wearing History – Sean West is a 24 year old Kayaker, Scuba Diver, Lifeguard, Snowboarder, Sailor, and Raft Guide from Asheville, North Carolina and the founder of Wanderer Imports.  His company imports three traditional types of bone carvings from Bali.  The necklaces are based on traditional Maori Taonga designs.  The Hei Matau is most famous as a symbol for safe passage over water.  The Koru spiral is based on an unfurling baby fern, and is both part of the Maori tribal flag and a symbol for new life, growth and peace.  The Twist is typically used to symbolize an eternal bond between two people or two groups of people. $15

A Plane Ticket!

  • To Falmouth Cornwall England, for the Sea Kayaking Cornwall Symposium in Oct 2012, $priceless
  • To Wales, for the Sea Kayaking UK Anglesey Symposium in 2012, $priceless


  1. I ordered a bunch of Hei Matau necklaces from Wanderer Imports and they came in a timely fashion ,unfortunately one was broken and another had a chip . I kept the chipped one for myself and notified Sean at Wanderer Imports that one was broken , Sean notified me would send a replacement, This was to be a Christmas present for my wife,That was the last time I heard from Wanderer Imports.I have sent numerous e-mails and have not gotten any response. I would not do buisiness with this company again.

  2. Hey Guys,
    This is Sean from Wanderer Imports. I just found this comment, but I did follow up with Bob on December 29th and reshipped two necklaces to make up for the broken necklace and just did a refund for $30 as well (I didn’t know he’d kept a chipped necklace for himself). I will definitely admit that this was an example of really crappy customer service and I should have taken care of this much sooner. I’ve got a few excuses (the holidays were pretty hectic, I was doing everything myself while visiting my parents and hotmail kept putting his e-mails in the junk folder), but none of them are very good and I should have been more on the ball.

    Stay safe on the water,

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