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Five top-notch gifts for hikers and other adventurers

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Shopping for a hiker, backpacker, or other outdoor enthusiast can be challenging—especially if the intended recipient is one who has very specific ideas about new gear or clothing. He or she may have looked at reviews of the most comfortable boots or trail runners, the warmest sleeping bag, the lightest backpack, or the most fuel-efficient camp stove and might not be as thrilled with any substitute. Let’s look at some gifts that might solve your dilemma:

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To read: Climbing Fitz Roy 1968: Reflections on the Lost Photos of the Third Ascent. Hardcover by Yvon Chouinard, Dick Dorworth, Chris Jones, Lito Tejada-Flores, and Doug Tompkins. Includes dozens of color photos that were recently rediscovered.

The authors are superstars in the world of adventure. This book is about their climb of Patagonia's challenging Fitz Roy. All five men are climbers/mountaineers and have written other books about the outdoors. Chouinard is the founder and owner of Patagonia, Inc. Tompkins was the founder of The North Face, co-owner of the ESPRIT clothing company, and has been heavily involved in conservation efforts in Patagonia. Follow the links above for more info about each author. I was thrilled to receive a review copy of this fascinating new book by these renowned climbers.

To snack: GoBites: whole snacks delivered. GoBites is a delivery service of nutrient-rich snacks. The organic GoBites packs of nuts and fruits can be delivered to your home or office on a weekly, bi-monthly or monthly basis (in packages of 14). Most packs are under 200 calories, and there are more than 25 varieties (diabetic, gluten-free and so forth with such intriguing goodies as monukka raisins, organic mulberries, and Balinese cacao nibs. Our complimentary packs were: Antioxidant Mix, Eastern Promise, Path to Tibet, and What a Pear. My favorite was "Path to Tibet"—wonderfully tasty, crunchy, and energizing. Eastern Promise was a surprise—it should carry a warning sign because the wasabi and horseradish pack quite a punch. Too bulky to carry backpacking, but any outdoor enthusiast would enjoy them.

To transport: The name Lowepro® has been around a long time and their products are known for their quality construction and their fine protection of camera gear. I recently received a complimentary Lowepro® backpack, Photo Sport Pro 30L AW, which I was eager to try with my camera and attachments. It is described as a “a lightweight technical photo backpack for the active adventure photographer.” The 30-liter capacity model is too small for wilderness backpacking, but pro- and semi-professional photographers would appreciate this well-made bag with its well-padded separate compartment that pulls out of the main pack for quick use. Many different models are available.

To wear: Synthetic tee-shirts have their place, but Merino wool has (at least) one big advantage—it doesn't stink! Wearing the same synthetic long underwear top for several days in a row while backpacking will drive you out of your tent. Merino wool can stay sweet- (not sweat!) smelling for days. The Patagonia company has several to offer as do REI and most sporting goods stores.

To navigate: While it's a splurge (generally in the $150-$250 price range), an altimeter watch can be both practical and perhaps life-saving. Most will have compass, thermometer, and barometer as well as altimeter and time-keeping features. Some are easier than others to read and use, or lighter, have a longer battery life or are solar-powered. Available widely including Amazon and REI. An independent review here (we happen to have, and like, the Casio Pathfinder.).

Happy holidays!

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