Peak Mountaineering Christmas Gift Guide
If you are having a Christmas dilemma about what to buy your significant adventurous other or adrenaline loving relative then we are ready to help - the 2017 Peak Mountaineering Christmas Gift Guide is here and this year’s theme is the most important of all. This year is all about safety.
There are a stack of products on the market with safety in mind and we’ve used many of them over the years. Some are designed to help with decision making, others are designed to prevent problems occurring and then just as many others are designed to deal with accidents and injury. Then, if all else fails, some are designed to call for help.
We’ve pulled together a batch of our favourite safety products from a broad range of categories and banded them together in price groups so there should easily be something for every budget. We’ve also got some items listed to give away over the next month, so please do look for the links to our latest giveaways.
We’re adding a big caveat though. Having the equipment for the job is only half the picture because having the skills is at least equally important - the ability to be self reliant in the mountains should be a priority for every adventurer. So, we’ve also made mention of our gift vouchers as a final option. We aren’t pushing the hard sell….but maybe buying that special person a training course may, in the end, be the best gift of all?
We’ve included these partly because everybody loves a freebie and partly because they are great safety additions. They are maybe more things to advise people about than things to fill a stocking with - but still worth sharing.
We’ve mentioned this superb free app before and we make no apology for shouting about it again. This stroke of genius from Ordnance Survey can be downloaded on to Apple or Android smart phones and allows users to get a grid reference on a smartphone even if a phone signal isn't available. It also gives an altitude reading, has an electronic compass and allows users to share their location via text message (if they have a phone signal). Of course, a grid reference will only help the self reliant adventurer if they are able to navigate themselves off the hill, but it is a gem of an app and should be on everyone mountain goers phone.
Emergency Texting Service
This is another free gem and, while your loved one may not think you the most generous of present givers if everything you give them costs nothing, you’ll still be doing them a big favour if you tell them about this! There are places where, although not able to get a signal strong enough to make a mobile phone call, there may be enough signal to bounce out a text message. In that circumstance, providing the text message sender has registered for the service, the emergency services will respond. All the details for registering are on the Emergency SMS website.
Pacing and Timing Card
There is no point in anyone carrying a pacing and timing card unless they have the skills to use it to aid their navigation (it is something taught on our navigation courses), but if they know what to do then this is another freebie they will find very useful. You can download a Pacing and Timing Card from the Peak Mountaineering website here (it is best to laminate it after printing).
Free to £30
Our first batch of goodies where you’ll have to splash some cash come in at the up to £30 bracket. Perfect for stocking fillers or as a Secret Santa gift for that adventurer at work.
Fox 40 Whistle
We’ve tried quite a few whistles and we reckon these are the best. Loud, robust, available in a stack of colours and great value. Teach them the international SOS messaging signal and at least they have a chance of calling for help in an emergency. They cost about £3.00.
Tough Cut Shears
We shout about these on every first aid course and reckon they should be in every adventure first aid kit. Tough cuts are surprisingly strong (they will even cut through leather and webbing), they are shaped to avoid stabbing into a casualty as you cut at skin level and they are, at about £4.00, a great value stocking filler.
Israeli Dressing (The Emergency Bandage)
We aren't saying this is the only first aid equipment a mountain goer should carry, but these beauties are a great step up from the standard wound dressing and they are also at a price point to be another great stocking filler. The Israeli Dressing is a first aid item we discuss on our ITC Outdoor First Aid courses. A 6” width dressing costs about £6.00 and they are easy to find online.
Chlorine Dioxide Water Purification Tablets
We wild camp a lot and love it. There is so much freedom that comes from being self sufficient in the mountains. Trips like this will usually involve taking water from streams and we prefer to purify this in some way rather than risk drinking contaminated water. Purification can either be done by a filter (please see our filter recommendation further down) or by chemical purification. Chlorine Dioxide tablets are very effective, simple to use (most just involve adding a tablet to a litre bottle) and don’t overly taint the water with strange taste. A very handy accessory for outdoor adventurers and a packet costs about £6.00.
SOL Bivvy Shelter
In an emergency we’d suggest that getting off a hill rather than trying to last a night out is always preferable, but even with the best intentions there may be times where a mountain goer has to sit tight or has to look after a casualty. The one or two person SOL bivvies are great. They are light and strong enough to throw in the bottom of a pack and yet they perform efficiently. A great rucksack addition and the 1 person model costs about £15.00.
Slope Angel Avalanche Assessment Aid
We have to be clear that we haven't tested this new to market electronic gizmo in snow yet, but we already have no doubt it will be a great tool for those venturing into avalanceable terrain. The Slope Angel is a mini gadget only weighing 19 grams, and yet it can accurately measure two key factors in avalanche avoidance assessment - slope angle and temperature. It’s a perfect tool for the winter hill goer and costs £19.00. We even have some available to give away so please check our Latest News page over the next couple of weeks.
Silva Expedition Type 4 Compass
A compass is an essential piece of outdoor equipment (but only if users know what to do with them) and you don't need to spend a fortune to get a reliable and faithful companion. Our recommendation for all general purpose navigation is the legendary Silva Expedition Type 4. A ruler, roamer scale, decent sized baseplate and magnifying glass along with a reliable compass. The perfect choice at £25.00.
Wilderness Pocket Medicine Guide
This little treasure has accompanied us on many adventures and we rate it so highly it was the subject of one of our Top Gear choices some time ago. It is detailed but understandable and the perfect size for travel. But, of course, things do change in the world of first aid and medicine and Cicerone recently sent us the updated version which has tweaked the information according to new guidance. This is a great wilderness travel companion at £15.00.
We love this. For about £25.00 (or less than £20.00 if you choose a rolling annual subscription) you could buy your adventurous other a year’s subscription to Ordnance Surveys online mapping service. OSMaps gives the facility to print and view maps for anywhere in the U.K. at 1:50000 and 1:25000 scale and also works in conjunction with the excellent OSMaps app for use on portable devices. We rarely buy paper maps nowadays as we print what we need onto waterproof paper (easy to purchase from Amazon or similar). The ideal mapping system.
£20 to £50
Next up, a jump to the £20 to £50 pound bracket. There are several items in here that will make a real safety difference and yet hopefully still be affordable.
For winter hillgoers a reliable snow shovel is essential. It is a vital for digging out avalanche victims (although again the priority should be avalanche avoidance and be aware that efficient avalanche victim retrieval needs training), shovels are useful for digging emergency and planned shelters and they will even help you build that ramp in the snow park. There are lots of shovel models on the market and we’d always recommend buying one with a decent sized metal blade and one that is robust enough to cope with digging in hard snow. One of our current favourites is the Ortovox Beast which ticks all the boxes for most users and, at around £40, is very good value.
Katadyn Be Free Water Filter
We shared an idea for chemical purification earlier, but here’s a filtration option that works really well and represents great value for money. The Katadyn Be Free is a water bag that incorporates a filtration unit into the lid. It is incredibly simple to use and one filter will last for many hundreds outdoor adventures. It is also has an excellent flow rate and is very compact and light to carry. We now take one on all our hillwalking adventures. The BeFree is available for a bargain £35.00.
Grivel 240 Avalanche Probe
Another essential in some winter conditions and another item that needs training for efficient avalanche victim searching. They do have other uses such as assessing snow depth when choosing a shelter site or marking a location. Again we’d suggest choosing one that is robust, quick to put together and of a decent useable length. The Grivel 240 ticks all these boxes and has served us well for years. It costs £38.00.
Petzl Actik Headtorch
A reliable headtorch is a year round essential and we never venture off the beaten track without one. Our current favourite is the Petzl Actik Core. This is a beaut with every feature we think you’ll need. The unit is compact and light and yet, amazingly, packs a 350 lumen punch via it’s rechargeable Core battery. The Actik can also also be used with 3 AAA batteries. Headtorches don’t get better and you can get one for £50.00.
There are lots of mountain activities where decent goggles are essential. Sometimes that is to offer protection against bright sunshine and sometimes, as is often the case in Scotland, it is to protect against wind blown snow. If that is where your adventurous other is heading then it may make sense to choose a clear lens goggle for these conditions as the coloured lenses can play tricks with interpreting the lay of the land. We use Bolle clear lens goggles for this and they are a reliable and well priced option. We included a version of these as one of our Top Gear choices some time ago. They retail for around £30.
£50 to £100
A good pair of crampons or some protective and reliable shades - we know this is splashing out at a much higher level but these are items that are worth investment.
Smith Highwire Sunglasses
For many activities a good pair of sunglasses is another essential safety item. The sun can at worst cause problems with vision and at the least affect enjoyment and performance. One of our summer essentials recommendations was the Smith Highwire and we’ve continued to use these extensively since then. They offer great performance via the Chroma Pop technology (which helps create vivid life life colour in bright conditions) and we think, at £90, they also offer great value for such a high quality and stylish pair of shades.
Petzl Summit Evo Ice Axe
The best choice of ice axe depends very much on the chosen activity and no one tool suits every use. However, we thought it worth including one general purpose mountaineering model that we've been loving in the last few seasons. The Petzl Summit Evo is a beautiful tool with hydroformed alloy shaft, rubber shaft grip and, crucially, a forged steel head. We really think this is a great premium quality product that, although at the expensive end of the market, will last for many winter adventures. The Summit Evo costs about £95.
Grivel Airtech Crampons
Crampons are another equipment item where there is not one type to rule them all. We’ve again picked a model that suits general winter hillwalking and easier grade mountaineering although at the higher price end of the market. The Grivel Airtech is an extremely well made product from a manufacturer that has been making crampons for many decades. The Airtech’s cost about £90.
£150 to £200
Finally, the biggest cost but here are a couple of true lifesavers to end our Gift Guide…..
McMurdo Fastfind 210 Personal Locator Beacon
This may be worth considering if your significant adventurer gets well off the beaten track or likes to venture into the hills alone. We have been carrying these for years. A personal locator beacon (PLB) will send a one way signal, via satellite, to a receiving station. In an emergency the user simply pops off the end cap and extends the antenna for the signal to be activated. Once the signal is picked up the emergency services can respond and, as each device transmits a unique code and there is the facility to register the device with the Beacon Registry, it may also be possible to chase up the activation with a home contact. The Fastfind also transmits GPS coordinates so rescuers have a narrow search area. There is no ongoing subscription fee and the Fastfind 210 costs £160.00.
Ortovox 3+ Avalanche Transceiver
Again, the decision to carry a transceiver will depend on the objective, conditions and group make up. There is probably no point (except to aid rescue team retrieval) in carrying one unless other members of the party also have one and all members need to be trained in their efficient use. We are simply highlighting a model choice we’ve used a lot and really like. The Ortovox 3+ is one of the newer breed of transceivers that, although packed with features, is designed to be as simple as possible to use. We have found this model to be effective, reliable and, although still expensive at £180, offers good value in comparison to others out there.
We said at the start that giving equipment to keep loved ones safe is only of benefit if they have the skills to match. If not, maybe one of our skills courses would be money better spent. We offer gift vouchers that can be purchased for any value or as payment for a full course, We can also send one of our very cool personalised vouchers so you have something to give them on Christmas Day. You can purchase them online here or let us know your requirements via our Contact Form here and we’ll sort it out for you.
So, we hope there’s something there to inspire your Christmas shopping. If you need any help or guidance do get in touch. We are only at the end of a phone line or email. Please also remember that we have some great discount deals available via some leading suppliers. All of these can be checked out here.
Posted by Cal
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