Christmas Gift Guide 2018

5th Dec 2018

Is it really that time of year again? Time for mince pies and mistletoe. Time for chestnuts roasting by an open fire (surely that is a good line for a song?!).  Time again to ponder on what to buy that adventurous other in your life.  Well, Peak Mountaineering comes to the rescue again with our annual Christmas Gift Guide.  For this year we are wrapping the gift guide into a festive parcel labelled ‘Equipping New Adventures’, but it could also be argued to mainly be a selection of great kit that we have used and abused this year.  We also love equipment that crosses between different activities and so, while we have roughly separated them into particular sports, there are quite a few items on the list that tick the box for multiple activities.  We really hope the items included might spark a new passion for the coming year but there are also plenty that will suit those already well into their particular sport - this is stuff sure to bring an equally broad smile to the face of either the newb or the seasoned campaigner.  Happy shopping........

CYCLING

Every biker loves a gadget and, although our favourite form of two wheeled fun is mountain biking, we couldn’t forget our poor skinny tyre friends.  Here’s a few of our favourites for any two wheel enthusiast.

Tubo Lito Innertube

Tubo lito inner tube

Whether a roadie or an off roadie and whether running tubeless or tubed, carrying a spare inner tube always makes a lot of sense.  The only problem is they can be a bit bulky and weighty.  We came across Tubo Lito earlier in the year and love these as a great emergency tube alternative.  These little gems weigh significantly less than a normal tube as well as packing to a fraction of the size.  They are also claimed to be stronger and far more puncture resistant.  At £23 they are certainly very pricey for an inner tube, but a very cool and light alternative to boring black butyl. These also featured in our recent blog post about lightening your MTB load here

Helmetor Helmet Storage Device

Helmetor mount

We were sent one of these to test recently and absolutely love them.  This little plastic helmet holder securely holds vented biking lids and they are ideal if you want to carry your helmet in your vehicle or securely attached in your gear cupboard.  They look too simple to be effective, but rest assured they really work a treat and, at £9.99, they make great stocking fillers.  They have several colours available too.

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Patagonia Houdini Jacket

We have stuck this in the biking section because we have mainly used ours for this, but this little gem actually suits a broad range of activities.  The Houdini is a superlight and extremely compact windproof layer that just works so well.  Often cutting out the wind will massively reduce the chill factor and the Houdini does that so well.  For cycling it works a treat, but this is also the perfect running top or layer to pull on at a windy belay.  It is a Patagonia classic for good reason.  The Houdini costs around £90.  

Smith Max Attack Sunglasses

Smiths Max Attack sunglasses

Like every Smith product we’ve used, the Max Attack’s are a work of design genius.  The first thing you’ll open is a sculpted zipped hard case housing the arms and a couple of lenses (coloured and clear).  You choose the appropriate lens and the arms snap securely and speedily into place using little magnets.  It’s a brilliant system.  The glasses themselves are sculpted in a stylish shape that works brilliantly with a helmet and, without having the space here to go into too much technical detail, they offer both top quality optical quality and sunlight protection.  Again, although we have stuck this into the cycling section, this is another cross over item that would work for running, trekking and just about any fast moving sport.  They are also smart enough that you could wear them for about town use.  The Smith Max Attack’s cost about £190.  

RUNNING 

The beauty of running is, in many ways, its simplicity.  You don't need a stack of technical equipment to enjoy the trails or pound the tarmac.  Having said that, there are certain things that will really make a difference to your enjoyment and, for longer runs,  you may need to carry more. Here's a couple of things that we've really enjoyed using this year.   

Osprey Talon 6

Osprey Talon 6 Waistpack

For longer distance running you might want to carry some essentials with you - water, spare layers, sunglasses etc.  Sometimes this might require a rucksack but at other times a waist pack can be a better option.  If that’s the case then we wholeheartedly recommend the Osprey Talon 6 which has absolutely everything a runner could need - a well padded back and ventilated waist belt, double water bottles (included), 6 litres of storage via various zipped pockets and typical superb Osprey attention to detail and construction quality.  It is a great product that also works superbly for mountain biking and could be used as a minimalist hillwalking option.  The Talon 6 costs around £60.

Injinji Ultra Run Crew Socks

Injinji Socks 2

We had some doubts how we'd get on with these but needn't have worried - Injinji Ultra Run Crew Socks have proved to be a brilliant product.  These innovative socks feature midweight terry fabric to separate the toes.  This prevents skin-on-skin friction and maximises moisture wicking while mesh fabric over the top of the foot adds breathability.  They are very cool looking, extremely comfortable and long lasting.  A perfect runners sock.  The Ultra Run Crew costs £20 per pair.

STAND UP PADDLEBOARDING

With good reason the sport of SUPing has, we understand, the biggest growth rate of any water activity and, when we aren’t in the mountains, it is one of our favourite pursuits.  It is incredibly easy to pick up the required skills and such great fun (we will be running SUP sessions in 2019 if you are new to it and want to give it a go).  Besides the board, paddle and maybe a buoyancy aid, it doesn’t require a huge amount of equipment.  But, that said, there are some things we’ve used this year that will really increase the fun factor.

Aquapac Expedition SUP Backpack

Aquapac Sup expedition bag

This is great.  In essence it is a simple dry bag with straps and yet in our experience it ticks a lot of boxes.  The capacity of litres which means it can fit under the cargo straps on a SUP and yet is a great size to store any items you’ll need for the trip itself.  It is comfortable to carry fully loaded if you end up portaging a section and, in common with all Aquapac products we’ve tried, the lid really seals.  This is another cross over item though as it would also be great for gorge scrambling and also, just as it keeps water out, would make great storage for holding wet items.......like when you’ve finished that SUP session or are heading back to your hotel from the beach.

Dryrobe Car Seat Cover

Dryrobe Seat Cover-2

Of course there is a practical reason for protecting your car seat if you are driving home in wet clothes after a paddling session, but we love these mostly because of their sheer decadent luxury.  Dryrobe have combined a plush fleece with a waterproof fabric to provide the ultimate combination of function and comfort.  Plus, with Dryrobe's reputation for quality, they look set to last for years.   

CLIMBING

The climbing hardware manufacturers certainly are busy bees.  It seems like a new ‘must have’ gadget comes along every five minutes and it is good to sort the wheat from the chaff.  Sometimes there are things you really need, things you want to upgrade which will improve your activities and things that are just so bling you really can’t I’ve without them.  Over the year we’ve tried several items that will be well very received by your vertical questor.

Mammut Smart 2.0 Belay Device

Mammut Smart 2.0

I reviewed one of these thoroughly earlier this year and thought it was great.  An assisted belay device that is easy to use, simple enough to have no moving parts and very good value.  It is also lightweight, robust and made with Mammut's typical design flair and attention to detail.   Please check out my review here.  

Mammut Serenity Rope

Mammut Serenity Rope

Every rope suits a different purpose but we massively rate these.  They are triple rated, handle beautifully, are super light, durable (although there will always be compromises in durability for ultra thin ropes) and double dry treated.  They are the rope we always end up reaching for first and we think they are truly great for just about any vertical activities.

Beal Escaper

Beal escaper

We are still working on a review of this and it is taking a little while as we can’t deny this is a very specialist item that attracts easily as many gasps as thumbs up.  Basically, the Escaper is a device that allows climbers to abseil the full length of a single rope....and retrieve their rope afterwards.  It enables this by gripping tightly around the rope at the anchor and then, once the climbers weight is released, it allows the rope to be pulled through the device and everything tumbles down to the ground.  Do think carefully to decide if it would make a suitable present for your other, but if it would then we think this is a very useful product.

WALKING AND CAMPING

Every camper loves a gadget and we’ve been lucky enough to try some great things this year. Some of our camping trips involve several nights out, sometimes we use bothies and at other times (particularly on our overseas trips) we are on fully serviced tea house treks or staying in mountain huts.  Here's a few choices that have been indispensable over the year.

Firepot Dehydrated Meals

Firepot dehydrated food

​Firepot is a dehydrated food brand that we really like for so many reasons.  The food is delicious, the company are always striving to develop and improve their products and their range is broad and caters for all tastes.  They cook all their food by hand and then dehydrate each meal without adding anything else (many other companies buy in freeze-dried ingredients and mix them together in the packet) and all their meals come in compostable packaging - surely any adventurer would love to receive some yummy sustenance in their stocking?!  

Hydroflask 20oz Coffee Flask

Hydroflask 20oz Flask-2

We've been using Hydroflask products for years and love everything about them.  They are beautifully designed, perform superbly and offer a brilliant sustainable option.  We've tried a stack of different items but must admit these coffee flasks are our favourite of all the products we've used so far.  They are the perfect travel companion, are perfect for everyday use and look so darned cool.  Any outdoor person will undoubtedly love one of these in their stocking.  The 20oz flasks cost around £25.  

TRAVELLING

It isn’t always hardcore adventure that is on the agenda.  Sometimes it is simply a city break or a multi activity trip that would better suit less activity specific items.   Here’s a few favourites from our travels this year.

Osprey Farpoint 40

Osprey Farpoint 40 litre

Our favourite travel pack of this type is the Osprey Farpoint 40.  The 40 litre size seems to suit so many travel options.  It can easily be used for a day hike (it has a very comfortable and supportive  shoulder harness) from your destination, but will still pass muster as a carry on piece or for touring the boulevards.  The bag opens suitcase style for easy access and there are plenty of organiser pockets thoughtfully placed for every situation.  The pack also features Osprey’s industry leading 'All Mighty' guarantee.

Patagonia Black Hole Cube

Blackhole cube

We have used these A LOT - and love them.  They did feature as one of our Top Gear pieces some time ago but, as they are the perfect pressie option for any outdoor person and any activity, we felt them worth another mention.  They are basically an indestructible organiser for all those essential travel knick knacks that inevitably get lost in the depths of your duffle bag. Patagonia make them in various sizes but for our money the optimum choice is the 6 litre.  This opens clamshell style to reveal 2 zipped mesh side pockets that swallow up a heap of bits and bobs.  They are built to take all the knocks a travelling life can through at them and still come back for more.

DEALING WITH EMERGENCIES

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Hopefully every adventure will go smoothly, but it is always worth considering how you will manage if it doesn't.  Here are a few tried and tested items to help in any emergency.  These items have been firm favourites in our rucksacks this year. 

Adventure Medical Kits (AMK) Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy.   

AMK Heatsheets Bivvy

Simple, effective, super light and very small.  The Heatsheets Emergency Bivvy is a great option that can live comfortably in the bottom of anyone's rucksack.  Big enough to wrap up a casualty to survive a benightment - we really can't recommend this insurance policy enough.  They weigh around 100grams,  come with a neat little stuff sack and cost about £14.

Mammut Mountain Pro First Aid Kit

Mammut Mountain Pro First Aid Kit

Although there is no substitute for appropriate training, we would certainly recommend carrying a first aid for all outdoor adventures.  There are lots of models on the market and the Mammut Mountain Pro is a great option for so many activities.  It is weatherproof enough to cope with water activities and, although it has the essentials, we love that there is also space to add some additional items if needed.  The design also, due to its fold out panels, makes finding that emergency essential a breeze.  The Mammut Mountain Pro costs about £40 including contents.   

Posted by Cal