The gift-giving holidays are fast approaching, and if you haven’t picked something up for the traveler in your life just yet, you’re close to being in trouble. Fortunately, I’ve found some great gifts you (er, I mean…the traveler in your life) will love to receive, all for under $25.
L.L. Bean Trailblazer Headlamp
I just bought one of these little guys after more than six years with my old school Petzl headlamp. The Petzl looked like a miner’s headlamp, with a huge light/lens assembly on front with a twist bezel to power the lamp on, and a battery compartment in the back that held 4 AA batteries. The thing was bulky and heavy, especially in comparison to the Trailblazer. This little guy illuminates a huge area with three bright white LEDs powered by three standard AAA batteries. It’s lightweight, compact, burns for up to 160 hours (on its lowest brightness setting, of which it has 3, plus a blink setting). Another plus: it comes in 4 fashionable colors. $19.95, llbean.com.
These socks are the bad boys of the wool sock industry. Ok, I’m making that up, but Smartwool is one of those companies who just really know their market: people who love wool. But don’t think that this is grandma’s-old-itchy-wool-sweater type wool. No sir, this is soft, warm, comfortable Merino wool, made from the wool of the prized Merino sheep. Put these socks on, and you won’t even know you’re wearing wool, as they wick away moisture from your feet, keep your toes warm, and make sure your shoes don’t end up smelling like…well, like wet sheep. $17.95-$24.95 at most outdoor retailers. www.smartwool.com
L.L. Bean Personal Organizer
The Personal Organizer from L.L.Bean is one of those items that you never knew you really needed or wanted until you saw one in action. That happened to me when my brother visited and I saw his organizer hanging in the bathroom. The Personal Organizer is great for toiletries, tools, or just random stuff you need a place for. All sizes have a hang strap for easy access to the roomy and functional interior, and it all folds and zips up into a compact and easily packable package. $19.95-$39.95, llbean.com.
Press-Bot French Press Coffee Filter
I don’t drink coffee. I’m more of a tea man myself, but the Press-Bot Coffee Filter is great for both beverages. The contraption is a french-press style filter that fits inside any wide-mouth Nalgene style water bottle. From reviews I’ve read, the filter splits in the middle to fit inside the bottle, then springs back into place and forms a nice, tight seal witht the sides of the bottle. With is compact design and the fact that most of us have a Nalgene bottle lying around somewhere, this is a gift that anyone an appreciate. Especially on those cold, early mornings. $20, www.venturedesignworks.com/pressbot.html.
ChicoBag reusable bags
Ok, so aside from being economical and environmentally sound, ChicoBags are pretty damn cool. They’re lightweight and sturdy, come in a variety of colors and designs, and they pack up into tiny little balls that you can stick in a cargo pocket or purse. The originals are traditional shopping bags, but ChicoBags also offers sling, messenger, and daypack versions. If you hurry, their limited edition holiday bags are 30% off. $5-$25, www.chicobag.com.
Moleskine City Guide
Moleskine (pronounced “mole-uh-skeen-uh”) notebooks get a bad rap as trendy, expensive, hipster geek books that one shouldn’t be caught dead with. On the contrary, I find these books incredibly useful and durable, and I carry one with me wherever I go. I’ve only found two downfalls: 1) When I keep one in my back pocket & repeatedly sit on it, the binding tends to loosen and the oilcloth on the spine splits and comes off; this probably won’t happen with the soft cover books; and 2) I can never find the hardcover, unlined plain notebook!) When Moleskine came out with the City Guides a few years back, I was excited. The books contain maps of the main areas within cities like Madrid, New York, and Dublin; blank pages for scribbles and notes; a 96-page archive for organizing; and translucent sticky sheets that you can stick on the maps to write & reposition. The City Guide book is basically a do it yourself exploration guide. $17.95 at most book retailers, www.moleskine.com.
Klean Kanteen Water Bottle
The great BPA scare of the past several years has left plastic water bottle makers trying to recover from a PR nightmare. In the meantime, Klean Kanteen snuck up and took center stage as a leader in BPA-Free water bottles. The food-grade stainless steel containers are sturdy and lightweight, and avoid any nasty metal aftertaste in the water. All the bottles are recyclable, and the fact that they’re reusable means fewer plastic bottles in landfills. Sure, they’ve become somewhat of a status symbol, but it’s a status you should be proud of. $19.95, rei.com
I saw this little bad boy at work one day and was intrigued. It’s curved, compact design flows nicely while packing a bunch of useful tools inside its body. I’ve always loved the design of Gerber knives, so it’s no surprise that the Curve caught my eye. It has a blade, two screwdrivers, a file, and bottle opener, all of which lock into place. It all clips on to a belt loop or keychain. The first one I saw was metallic pink, and I noticed on the packaging that part of the proceeds from the pink tool would be donated to the Susan G. Komen for The Cure Foundation. At $11.95, you can get one for all the ladies on your shopping list, and know that you’re helping to make a difference. Not bad. Also available in blue and grey. $11.95, rei.com.
*DISCLOSURE: I am a seasonal employee at the L.L. Bean Flagship store in Freeport, ME. My opinions on all products are my own, and do not reflect the official positions of L.L. Bean in any way. I do not recieve any compensation from the company to talk about products. No, L.L. Bean didn’t make me say that. The FTC did.