A look inside our annual adventure gift guide

Posted on: December 3, 2019 | Bob Frye | Comments

An adventure gift guide idea.

This year’s adventure gift guide is cool or new and old outdoor gear.
Photo: Pixabay

There’s nothing better than getting outdoors.

But, as second choices go, getting to unwrap a new toy that you’ll use outside later isn’t all that bad.

So, here’s a chance to treat yourself or be a hero to someone else. We take a look at some new tools sure to be a hit in our annual adventure gift guide.

Masonboro Adventure Backpack

($99; find it here)

Why didn’t we get these long before? That’s the first thing that went through our minds after a weekend of canoe camping with a Masonboro Adventure Backpack.

An adventure gift guide idea.

The Masonboro is great for on the water.

Anyone who paddles knows it’s a “get wet” sport. That makes dry bags a necessity, especially if you’re doing a multi-day trip and need to protect everything from food and clothing to tents and sleeping bags.

But traditional backpack-style portage packs can be pricey and .roll-top dry bags are a bit awkward to carry if you need to walk far from your boat to a campsite.

The Masonboro is the answer.

It’s made of marine-grade vinyl, like a dry bag, but has backpack shoulder and waist straps like a portage pack. And with a 35-liter capacity, it’s the perfect size for weekend outings.

The two-way purge valve is a neat feature, too, allowing you to squeeze out any extra air and save space in your boat.

Plus it’s got plenty of extras: an integrated bottle opener; removable Velcro wallet; internal zippered pocket; front mesh pocket; bungee straps; water bottle holder and more.

You can use this on dry ground, too. Though its vinyl makes it heavier than a traditional backpack, it’s good for doing an overnighter on the trail if wet weather is a possibility.

Gearlab Deck Pod

($79; find it here)

Forget your fear.

You know, that worry you feel in your kayak or especially on your paddleboard about your gear going overboard and sinking to the bottom. An award-winning solution is at hand.

An adventure gift guide idea.

The all-new Deck Pod is sure to be popular with paddlers.

The new Gearlab Deck Pod is a bag that uses a series of webbing and buckles for lashing to the bungees on your craft’s deck. It measures 17.5 by 10 by 4 inches.

What’s so cool about it is its design.

The Deck Pod has an internal mesh pocket for holding smaller items: car keys, phones, an energy bar. Another pocket holds up to a three liter hydration bladder, with the tube protruding in such a way through a see-through mesh pocket that you can drink from it without taking it off the deck..

Outside, the Deck Pod has two external loops. One is meant for holding a bilge pump, the other for holding a paddle float.

This also has a carry handle. It sits underneath the Pod when on your kayak or board so that it’s out of the way.
When strapped down it sits relatively flat. That makes it wind resistant keeps it out of the way when paddling.


($15.99, find it here)

It’s a matter of economics as much as safety in our house.

An adventure gift guide idea.

Permethrin is an important tool for battling ticks and other insects.

Ticks are a relatively new phenomenon in our region, and so we were perhaps more lax than we should have been in guarding against them initially. The results were predictable.

On the first two occasions I came home with one — once after fishing, once after hunting — my wife was properly sympathetic, but not especially freaked out.

Not the third time. In that case, we didn’t discover the tick that wound up in my neck until the morning after a day’s hiking. That meant it was in our bed overnight.

My wife wanted to chop the house in half and burn everything on the ticky side. We didn’t.

But we’re more careful, as everyone should be. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported nationwide annually. And that’s believed to be just a fraction of the actual total.

So now, we spray all of our clothes – as well as tents, sleeping bags, and other gear — with Permethrin. It repels ticks for up to 30 days or six washings.

Paired with a repellent good for your skin, like picaridin, it’s an effective defense against bugs and disease.

OGT Survival Axe

($79.99, find it here)

Multi-tools are designed to be functional. It the look like something a Viking might carry, well, that’s a bonus.

Consider the OGCT Survival Axe a bonus.

An adventure gift guide idea.

The Survival Axe is a multi-tool on steroids.

It’s all all-steel, full tang axe with an ultra-strong, lightweight, glass-filled nylon handle. So it will chop whatever you need in camp.

But it does a whole lot more.

It incorporates 31 tools in its design. There’s a hammer head and claw, bottle opener, pry bar and hex sockets for when you’re in the field. For when you’re traveling to the outdoors or even at home there is a glass breaker, seat belt cutter, box cutter, nail puller, even gas valve shut off wrench, among other things.

Most interesting is the replaceable 6-inch Sawzall blade. It resides in the handle, and deploys and locks into place with a twist of a knob.

The Survival Axe is available with a black or green handle. In both cases, the blade and exposed steel is covered in black oxide to prevent rust. It’s made in the United States.

CRKT Eat ‘N Tool

($7.99, find it here)

In backpacking certainly, but even in car camping to a degree, versatility matters.

An adventure gift guide idea.

Small but mighty, that’s what this utensil is.

Meaning, the more jobs a particular tool can do, while simultaneously taking up the least amount of space, the better it is.

Enter the Eat ‘N Tool.

Made by CRKT, famous for its knives and such, it’s a spork. Or appears to be at first glance.

But it’s also a bottle opener, a flathead screwdriver, and a 10 mm hex wrench. And while made of steel to be durable, it still weighs just 1.5 ounces.

Four inches long, it comes with an attached carabiner so that you can hook it to a strap or hook in your pack.

It’s even available in four colors, including tangerine and fucshia, so it’s easy to spot if you drop or misplace it.

Hawke Frontier HD X binoculars

($299; find it here)

There are a lot of reasons to have binoculars: for bird watching, sports, spotting game, and more.

But really good ones can be costly. Prices can range into the thousands of dollars.

An adventure gift guide idea.

The Frontier series binoculars offer high-end options for a relatively low price.

The new Frontier HD X series binoculars from Hawke Optics are meant to be an alternative, high quality but also affordable.

For starters, they use high-quality coated glass to maximize clarity and color enhancement. That not only produces better images, but reduces eye strain – the bugaboo of cheap binoculars – in the process.

The Frontier series uses a 1.5-turn focus knob to allow for precise adjustment out to 1,000 yards.

Of course, binoculars are meant to be used outdoors, where they risk getting banged around in a pack, on a boat or on the trail. The Frontier series is meant to withstand abuse, though.

They feature a lightweight magnesium alloy frame coated in rubber to provide grip. Twist-up eye cups and stay-on lens covers add durability.

Meanwhile, a water-repellent coating on the objective lens, together with nitrogen purging that keeps water out of the internal structure, provides clear views.

These come in green or gray in a variety of magnifications.

Sawyer one gallon gravity filtration system

($39.99, find at here)

It’s deceptively simple.

An adventure gift guide idea.

This gravity water filter system is good for use with groups of people.

Any doubts about that were erased the first time some old scouting friends and I took this Sawyer filter on a camping trip. We were staying at a primitive state forest site, accessible only by paddling on the river or hiking several miles in from the nearest road.

A spring supposedly offered potable water. It didn’t. Not on a practical scale, anyway.

Ever seen a movie where someone finds what’s left of a shipwrecked pirate? You know, a skeleton in ragged clothes?

That’s what we’d have looked like waiting on this spring. Water creeped out of an old pipe at a rate of perhaps one drop per second.

I grabbed our Sawyer filter and headed for the river and in minutes we had what we needed.

You fill the gallon bag with water – from a river, lake or stream — and hang it from a tree. Water flows out of the bag, through a tube and then the included Sawyer Mini water filter. It strains out harmful bacteria and cysts from salmonella to giardia.

The filter handles up to 100,000 gallons, so with proper backwashing (using the included syringe) it’s almost impossible to wear out.

Weighing just 8 ounces, including the bag, tube and filter, this is good not only for car and canoe camping, but backpacking, too.

Granite Gear Blaze 60

($269.95; find it here)

Serious backpackers are famous – of fanatical, depending on your viewpoint – for always seeking ways to cut weight. Some go so far as to cut the last two inches off their toothbrush to save an ounce or so.

An adventure gift guide idea.

The Blaze 60 is light on weight but big on capacity.

So this will appeal to them.

The new Blaze 60 backpack from Granite Gear holds up to 50 pounds of gear, plenty for multi-day trips. Yet it weighs no more than 3.1 pounds even in its largest version.

That’s a pretty good tradeoff of weight for space.

Granite gear achieves that by using a custom fabric mix. Ripstop fibers dominate the parts of the pack most likely to endure the effects of impact of abrasion. Lighter fibers predominate elsewhere.

Its internal “air current” frame comes in three fits – short, regular and long – to accommodate different torso sizes.

Another notable feature is the pack’s removable lid. You can carry it on your front as a chest pack to keep items – say a camera – close to hand.

The pack also has a removable sternum strap, whistle buckle, two oversized hip belt pockets for holding smartphones and size and front compression straps. A hidden zipper allows access to the main compartment without having to reach all the way down from the top.


Check this out now: A look inside our annual hunting gift guide

And coming soon: A look at the Henry Longrifle Museum


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Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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