What to buy my rafting/hiking boyfriend.
March 15, 2012 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose some outdoorsy birthday presents for my boyfriend! He likes to hike and he just bought an inflatable rubber raft.

My boyfriend is awesome to the nth degree. During the year we've been together, he has supported me through some intensely horrible times. His birthday is coming up, and I want to give him some really good stuff.

He just bought an inflatable rubber raft after wanting one for several years, and he's a hiker as well, but he has no gear to go along with either of those hobbies, and little disposable income to buy any. I'd like to buy him some basics (water bottle, etc.), but I'm sure there are nifty extras I'm not thinking of.

Outdoorsy people, what would you want to receive in such a situation? Small and easily packable things get bonus points, since we're going hiking in northern California this summer.
posted by missrachael to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Headlamp for derping around the campsite at night.
posted by carmicha at 8:50 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

For this new boat, a self-inflating PFD, something like this, from Mustang. These things are soooo much better than the old foam jackets, that most people will actually wear them. Plus, it's small enough to be practical in a hiking pack.
posted by bonehead at 9:02 AM on March 15, 2012

Get a backpack and fill it with a waterbottle, bug spray, first-aid kit, pocket knife, waterproof matches, flashlight, sunscreen, map of area trails, compass, etc. Find a hiking supplies checklist that you like and check everything off! It can probably be done on the cheap and looks good pulled together. If he has all of those things, maybe a gift certificate to a(n outdoors-y) place that sells good hiking boots?
posted by troika at 9:04 AM on March 15, 2012

When you say "no" gear, do you mean none at all? Can we assume he owns boots and a good rain/wind parka? Because those would be the first things to get.

These are all off the top of my head things that a newish hiker might not necessarily own already and might not think to buy for himself:

A good multi-tool is nice to have. I've owned several and so far the Leatherman Juice CS4 is the best all around camping/backpacking one I've found. Yes, I require a corkscrew on most of my backpacking trips. Make sure he puts it in checked luggage or it'll belong to the TSA.

Hiking/Trekking poles are great. Three-piece telescoping are the best but two piece are still nice to have.

Some decent socks. Thorlo or Smart Wool. Designed for hiking. Polypro liner socks to go with them.

Does he have a PFD (life vest) for the raft? If not, that's what he needs first.

Waterproof camera/phone/etc bag or case for the raft.

A nice fleece top. Wind block.

A bunch of maps for area's he'll be hiking, a compass and a book that teaches basic map and compass skills. Not really needed (the compass anyway) in most areas with decent trails but one of the "ten essentials" and absolutely needed if you're going off-trail, above treeline, or wandering in the desert. GPS is certainly nice to have, and mostly reliable, but never count trust your life to a battery. That goes for cell phones too.

A good, lightweight first aid kit.

One of the best pieces of outdoor gear my wife and I ever received (for a wedding gift; we registered at REI) was a pair of sleeping bags that zip together. They're too bulky for backpacking but nice to have on car camping or canoe trips.
posted by bondcliff at 9:05 AM on March 15, 2012

Headlamps are great.

Bandanas are useful for all kinds of things (wiping sweat, drenching with water and wearing around your neck or under your hat when it's hot, etc.). A good folding lockback pocket knife can be had quite inexpensively and used for so many things. If you're going to be backcountry hiking or camping, get a water treatment kit. A length of paracord weighs almost nothing and again has many uses.
posted by rtha at 9:06 AM on March 15, 2012

Ooh, headlamp is a really excellent suggestion, especially a nicer one.

For hiking, I'd add:
- a good knife if he doesn't have one already
- a camelbak is not strictly necessary, but is really convenient for long hikes and backpacking
- gaiters for hiking in wet/snowy conditions

For rafting, a drybag is essential.

Making him a little emergency kit would be sweet too.

Also, REI memberships are a really nice perk for outdoorsy people, and just $20 for life.
posted by susanvance at 9:06 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Headlamp is a good one. You don't mention budget, or whether "hiking" includes backpacking, but these might be good:
*Strike anywhere waterproof matches.
*Good backpacking water filter.
*Boots (can get pricey).
*Good hiking socks (can run $20/pair).
*Nice hiking pole or staff (but these can be a matter of preference).
*Solar phone charger.
*Hat with brim (this style works well).
*Nalgene bottles.
*Trail maps.
posted by coolguymichael at 9:07 AM on March 15, 2012

Everything in rafts get wet fast so a few dry bags are really helpful. I suggest a smaller one for a wallet, cell phone, etc., and another big one for a towel and extra clothes.

like bondcliff notes, if he doesn't have a good rain shell and boots, those are kind of important.

I second the double sleeping bags, so awesome!
posted by JayNolan at 9:08 AM on March 15, 2012

A GPS, and a membership to Geocaching.com

Seriously, this is the best gift you can get for someone who is even remotely outdoorsy/hiking-inclined. He will love it forever and ever, and he will take you on caching trips with him and you will love it, too.
I don't know what your price range is, but you can get a basic GPS for around $100 that should do him fine (until he gets really addicted and wants to splurge on one of the fancier ones).

Geocaching is awesome.

(On preview, of course boots, a good day pack, and GOOD SOCKS are absolute essentials if he doesn't have those. MEC is your friend)
posted by Dorinda at 9:08 AM on March 15, 2012

For headlamps, I really like the Petzl Zipka. It's surprisingly comfortable---I've work one for hours at a time---yet is small enough to slip into a pocket, something the straps on normal headlamps don't allow.
posted by bonehead at 9:10 AM on March 15, 2012

If he/you like wine, a Platypus Wine Preserver is an AWESOME addition to a hiking trip.
posted by urbanlenny at 9:11 AM on March 15, 2012

Does he have paddles and PFDs (life jackets) to go with the raft already? If he does not have PFDs, they should be a top priority. Get ones to fit him, you, and anyone else you might go boating with.

A dry bag or waterproof case would be a good accessory for the boat if he already has paddles and PFDs. For small items that really can't get wet, such as cell phones, non-waterproof digital cameras, etc., rigid waterproof cases (Pelican and Otterbox are well-respected brands) are better than soft dry bags because dry bags can leak if dragged through the water or subjected to strong current. But a medium-sized dry bag will be more versatile.

Some small, cheap items that are generally good to have: bits of rope, a couple carabiners (I'm thinking of the non-weight-bearing variety for clipping your water bottle to your pack and that sort of thing), bandanna, brimmed hat, sunscreen, insect repellant, water bottle, strap for keeping sunglasses on your head, electrolyte drink tablets or powder, loud emergency whistle, water purification tablets, waterproof case of matches. A small first aid kit would be good, too; assembling it yourself from drugstore bits and pieces may be more economical than buying a prepared kit.
posted by Orinda at 9:16 AM on March 15, 2012

day pack, or smaller multi-day pack and a reservoir?

Water bottles are a thing you either like or you don't.

Personally I have a Platy Bottle that I keep inside my pack and another reservoir like this that I can drink from directly while hiking. Be careful about what you buy if you happen to put at mixes into it since you will need to clean that thing out.

maybe a JetBoil, unless of course he's crazy about UL stuff and wants to go with some DIY alcohol stove. I LOVE my jetboil.
posted by zombieApoc at 9:25 AM on March 15, 2012

-Fuel bottle
-Water purifying pump
-Lightweight folding chair
-Compression stuff sacks!
posted by clorox at 10:05 AM on March 15, 2012

Thanks, guys! These are exactly what I'm looking for.

I don't think he even has good boots/hiking sandals at the moment, but he's expecting some birthday money from his family, and should probably choose those himself.

A day pack filled with goodies will be perfect. I wouldn't have thought of dry bags, and I hadn't heard of a Platy Bottle, so those are excellent. Maybe a hat too, if I can swing it.
posted by missrachael at 10:29 AM on March 15, 2012

missrachael, since you're shopping on a budget you might want to look at discounters like Campmor and Sierra Trading Post (but beware of STP's marketing hijinks—they may try to convince you that they have a massive sale going on RIGHT NOW ENDING SOON and if you don't act fast you will miss it, but the truth is that they have sales on all the time). That said, it pays to comparison shop using Google or Bing; the big discounters don't always have the best price on gear. Don't forget to factor in shipping costs.
posted by Orinda at 10:40 AM on March 15, 2012

If he plans to go camping too, one of my coveted survivalist products is a Katadyn Pocket Microfilter, a ceramic water filter. Clean drinking water wherever you go! It's expensive--the price fluctuates between $250 to $300 on Amazon--but as far as striking out in the country, you can't go wrong with a take-anywhere water purifier. Seriously useful for traveling too. Here's a review.
posted by therewolf at 10:39 PM on March 15, 2012

GearTrade and GearBuyer are also great places to buy from. One or both of them are actually run by Backcountry.

For reviews I always first look at Backpack Gear Test since it's average people writing ridiculously great reviews (they have a very specific system you have to follow for your reviews).

good luck
posted by zombieApoc at 10:05 AM on March 21, 2012

« Older Follow through   |   Credit card fraud - how to act? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.