Shopping for an outdoor adventurer is like shopping for 50 half-crazed and fanatical monkeys. Adventurers like shiny things, but they also like camouflage. They like any useful item — unless it’s heavy. No adventurer wants to go backpacking and lug around a 12-pound tent. Warm clothing is great as long as it has the appropriate wicking properties, is light, possibly camo, fits, and travels well. Plus, each adventurer has a specialized diet. In my case it usually consists of possibly poisonous berries, fruit I can grab off trees while running from wild angry cows, and my old standby: soggy sandwiches. The good news is that many tools an adventurer wants — ahem, needs — fit inside socks.
The Man Makes Fire Guide to 10 Can’t-Go-Wrong Stocking Stuffers for Men:
1. Fire Starter
Personally, I really enjoy the many soul-crushing and fruitless attempts required to start a fire from soaking wet tinder while rubbing two sticks together. I attribute most of my extraordinary character traits to this task. After all, only the true professional outdoors man has had their eyebrows singed off from the desperate flames created from the last drink of 151. However, if you are looking for a good tool for the forgetful — or youthful explorer — slip a fire starter tool into his stocking. They are compact and easy to snap onto go bags for quick adventures. There are many types, and most work well, but we particularly like the dirt-simple and effective eGear Survival Essentials Magnesium Fire Starter. And magnesium? It burns hot. Really hot.
2. Can Opener
The most difficult issue with bringing normal can openers along on expeditions isn’t the size or weight of the can opener, it’s the generator needed to plug it in. They just don’t make generators that are easy to pack around. A great lightweight alternative is the 2 Pack Survival Kit Can Opener, Military, P-51 Model. The old-school P-51 can openers are small, easy to use, interestingly mechanical, and again, attach to bags or shoelaces. Meanwhile, everyone knows that a can of baked beans tastes way better when it’s cooked and eaten anywhere outside.
When you are an expert at falling, tripping, crashing, and free falling — like myself — paracord is an excellent tool for sewing up clothing, lassoing trees when stuck in mud up to your knees, and dragging up to 550 lbs of kids or animals out of the wilderness. Paracord is eternally handy: Multi Cam Parachute Cord Nylon 7 Strand 550lb Tested U.S MADE 100′.
Micro-adventuring is a great way to practice for epic adventures and to hone skills; however, often you don’t really need as much equipment for a micro as you do with an epic. Having a go-to micro shirt like the VOODOO BLACK ARMY COMBAT SHIRT allows you to stow small amounts of gear in a solid, almost tear-proof shirt (and it doesn’t rip that easily either). I like mine for extra shotgun shells on quick duck hunts and for holding a small fishing box when hitting the creek on the way home.
The best multi-tool out there by far is a rock. I have used a rock as a hammer, tent peg, shovel, weapon, knife, weight, and as a shelter; however, finding the perfect rock to fit all those scenarios at once is tough. The Folding Camping Survival Shovel with Pick is an excellent alternative to a rock and looks much better poking out the top of a stocking.
I have a well-documented ability to sleep sitting up, on the ground, through thunder storms, and once during an apparent Sasquatch attack, which I can’t personally verify because I was sleeping. My fellow hunters often complain about some incredibly loud and annoying person snoring. I explain to them that it can’t possibly be me because I never hear what they are describing and sleep soundly. If I were anywhere near someone snoring, it stands to reason I would hear it. If you have a hard time sleeping, I suggest the Fitbit Wireless Activity/Sleep Tracker, which measures daily exercise and sleep patterns. I’m betting that it will tell you that you need to increase your exercise if you want to sleep more soundly — but, I’m not a scientist or an insomniac.
7. First Aid
My first aid generally amounts to me tying a leaf to the wound with a piece of paracord or slapping some duct tap over a gash; however, all the experts (anyone who goes outside) keep telling me that some sort of first aid equipment should be brought along on adventures and the Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge seems like a useful kind of first aid tool that most adventurers probably don’t already have, and remember this: If your buddy passes out from seeing too much blood, he’ll be a lot harder to carry to the truck.
8. H20 Bottles and/or Filters
You can’t live without water, and yet, I’m pretty sure that drinking directly from streams, rivers, ponds, and mud puddles without filtering the water is an automatic three-day sentence to carrying around toilet paper while you continuously fight a painful ab workout. I’ve heard that sometimes you can drink from clear-flowing mountain streams and get lucky, but if they had produced the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter when I was a kid, I might not have missed so much school.
Usually, the only place my video is suited for is that funniest home video show. If you have a budding adventurer in the home, I’ll wager they want to record all the amazing adventures they go on and post them to YouTube to share with their social networks. Or, if your adventurer is a narcissist, then the GoPro HD Hero Naked should be in their stocking. Oh, one more thing: If you think your knees are going to give out on you before you can have them replaced with Wolverine-capable titanium, you might want to document your adventures so you have something to wistfully watch from the comfort of your couch. All of us adventurers should be directing a part of 401K to funds for bionic body parts.
I have more scars from crashing while attempting to bike down mountains than any other sport I partake in. Some consider me an expert crasher. I have mastered the over the handle bars jump, land, and roll technique, which so few can imagine, much less do it themselves. Unfortunately, this has a fairly dramatic impact on my bike. I wish it wouldn’t break so easily. The Topeak Alien II 26-Function Bicycle Tool is a valuable tool for changing the flat tire and repairing the chain. Now if it could only weld aluminum, I would be set.