The Best Gifts for the Outdoors Type

By Gary Cutlack on at

The way the internet works at the moment seems to be that we write things based on precognition concepts of what you might be thinking, or are perhaps about to think and look for online. Therefore, here are some ideas for Christmas presents for anyone searching the internet for gifts for people whose personality is "I Go Outside Often Even If The Forecast Isn't Great."

Or perhaps it's January 4 and it really is time to get up and try to sweat out the Poundland chocolate, hence you're looking for fun toys to take outside. Either way, here are some items for use, protection, and entertainment when in the outside.

Thermal Food Bag, £28

You know those special bags the suffering bike riders use to keep the burgers warm when you can't be bothered going out and getting one yourself so command one to be brought to your door from the throne of your mobile phone? They're commercially available. You don't have to have a food delivery licence from the council in order to buy an insulated bag.

You could have your own food-keeper-warmer for personal use, putting a roast dinner in a foil tray then taking it outside to eat like a posh picnic the Queen might have while visiting overseas, only with cheaper cutlery, less complimentary wines, and no natives performing elaborate dance routines to try and impress you.

Kelly Kettle, £99

OK, so it is quite a fuss lighting an entire fire in order to get a cup of tea, and the tea bags aren't included and you don't even want to ask about milk, but... these things are great fun. We've used one and as long as you put in bone dry kindling they heat up in minutes, boiling water and giving people camping something to do. Because the worst thing about committing to being outside all day is there's usually nothing to do for huge chunks of the time, so everyone can go off to find wood to light the fire and that's 40 minutes of any interminable family activity day killed.

LED Head Torch, £13

Yes, OK, you look stupid and feel stupid, and the impact on your self-confidence is the same extreme hit as the one people took when Google Glass was popular for that fortnight a few years ago, but... it works. You have twice as many hands to do things with in the dark when there's a torch on your head instead of in your hand, so everything that one does outside in the dark becomes massively easier. I'd like to say "especially dogging" here, but that's not really in the Christmas spirit.

Army/Navy Surplus Jumper, £11

Look, I'm old, and let me tell you what I have learned about jumpers and staying warm when hiding outside away from family. Don't mess about with £80 lambswool nonsense, it'll have holes in it within a fortnight. Lambs are soft. You don't need a jumper that's soft. What you want to stay warm is hard wearing acrylics and blends that lock the sweat in -- they invented this nasty material for a reason.

The poor old men and women of our armed services are forever being made to go outside and simulate emergencies in the cold, so, naturally, they have all the best jumpers. I wear a Royal Navy jumper from November to March, and have never been warmer, apart from on the odd holiday. Plus you can put stickers on the shoulder tags and if you get lucky you might get one with actual service epaulettes still attached.

Leatherman Skeletool, £76

Let me tell you a secret about people who live in the countryside -- we often pack knives. Brutal things with both knife and saw accessories sometimes. It's totally allowed, as country folk are forever opening sacks of dog food, cutting out sheep from tangles of hay bale string, pruning things, and playing that game where you stab the gaps between your fingers really fast for something to do in the long, dark evenings. Just remember to take it out of your pocket if you get the train to somewhere more densely packed, as they might not believe you only bought it to hack open the silage bags.

PISEN Hand Warmer, £23

Live haptic feedback on the death of the planet. Turn electricity into warmth, just for you, and your precious hands. As your left hand warms, the universe grows infinitesimally colder and the sea level ticks up thanks to a few drips of glacier ice. Suppose it would be a nice thing to have if you can live with the guilt of such a luxury.

Windproof Zippo, £30

One of the most empowering things about being outside is that you can start a fire. It's a great thing to do, children love it, and who doesn't enjoy seeing all the funny coloured flames that come off the things THEY say you shouldn't burn?

A very fancy lighter makes a great gift, as it's a proper lifetime tool that can enable many fun and dangerous activities in years to come. Giving someone a lighter is like saying "I trust you, this is potentially dangerous and was quite expensive, let's go and burn some stuff and make our coats and hair smell of smoke."

Zippo also does hand warmers, but they're nothing like as exciting as setting something on fire. Don't play it safe. Not at Christmas.

Stainless Steel Vacuum Flask, £16

It might not always be advisable or socially acceptable to start a fire to make the tea, so bring some with you. Once you've not paid £2.60 for a cup of tea you'll be hooked and will never want to pay £2.60 for a cup of tea again, even if drinking from a flask does make you feel a bit like an escapee from a local care home. A metal one won't keep drinks hot for that long, but they don't break. And you won't be out that long, will you? It's also quite heavy, but carrying a heavy rucksack is all part of the contract of being outside.

Stutterheim Stockholm Raincoat, £134

An outdoor person needs a very waterproof coat, and ironically, this will not be one that says "Superdry" on it. In order to remain very or indeed even super dry, you want something rubbery that has had the seams done properly by an engaged worker who cares, which means spending quite a lot of money and not bothering Mountain Warehouse or the Regatta place that's always got a sale on. An expensive coat means making excuses to go out to wear it, too, so you get more vitamin D. Just remember to break it in and get the newness worn off at home for a few days, as no one wants to see your smug look-at-my-new-coat face.

Anker LC90 900 Lumen Torch, £26

A proper torch. Not from a garage, as garages mainly do toy ones. Proper torches cost more than £3.99, it is our sad duty to inform you, and proper torches have more features than "wrist strap."

This proper torch, for example, has zero batteries included as it's rechargeable like all the exciting new things, plus it has brightness modes to save power or sneak about in lower light, a zooming light beam focus, and, most importantly of all, costs £25. Imagine how nice and happy and lucky someone will feel when you give them a £25 torch. It will be treasured.