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Outdoor Gift Guide- Stocking Stuffers

Every year we struggle to buy presents for those outdoors-y people in our lives. You either have no idea what they actually do out in the wilderness, or they already have everything! What should you give?

This series will give you some ideas for those weekend warriors, scouts and backcountry guides in your life. Stocking stuffers should be unique, fun, small and less than $30.

For the boy scout, guide, gear head who has everything, or anyone who loves outdoor adventure:

  1. Keep their feet warm, dry and funk free with some Smartwool performance socks. $13-21
  2. A soft Smartwool neck gaiter is a hat, headband or of course, neck gaiter. $25
  3. If they like playing outside, chances are they eat Clif Bars. And one can never have too many in reserve.
  4. Freeze dried meals from Backpacker's Pantry make trip planning easier, hunger pains shorter and clean-up a breeze. $2-9
  5. Coghlan's Telescoping Fork The smartest, coolest marshmallow roaster ever. This fork extends to get to the sweet spot without burned fingers. Plus, it has a built in rotator knob for even roasting! $12.97
  6. Protect their lips from sun, snow and wind with Burt’s Bees Outdoor SPF 15 lip balm $4
  7. Setting up tarps, tents and even hammocks is fast and knot free with the Nite Ize Figure 9 carabiner. $6
  8. For the DIY outdoorsman or woman, a pro-membership to Instructables is perfection. Learn to do or make just about anything from user-uploaded DIY projects, show others what you made and how to make it, enter contests to win prizes. $23.40
  9. Get them out of a sticky situation with the SOL Core Lite survival knife. This little knife boasts a built-in whistle and LED light. $25
  10. Badger Balm Sore Muscle Rub for those days when they've pushed themselves a little too hard.
  11. Help them ease into Monday morning with some soothing hand and toe warmers from Grabber. $2

For the rock climber in your life:

  1. Arno Ilgner, the author of the classic “The Rock Warriors Way,” brings us “Espresso Lessons;” practical lessons for on and off the rock. $19.95
  2. Misty Mountain brings back the Bouldering Scratch Mat for the boulderer in your life. $9.95
  3. Some climbers go through climbing tape like you wouldn’t believe. Plus it doubles as medical tape. $3.95
  4. Keep them pumped out even in the off season with a Dynaflex Pro Gyro Hand Exerciser
  5. Make their favorite pair of shoes last longer with Five Ten’s Stealth Paint Repair Kit $16.99
  6. If all else fails, buy them some Super Chalk. Chalk is like Clif Bars, it’s always good to have a reserve.
  7. Does your climber play well with others? Chances are they climb well with them too. Black Diamond’s Gorilla Chalk Bag is big and flat bottomed, a communal chalk pot perfect for group bouldering sessions.

Endurance Athletes

Stocking Stuffers for Endurance Athletes

  1. Keep their noggin and ears warm on a run, ride, or paddle with a windproof Gore Bike wear helmet cap $25.95
  2. Chilly mornings often make for warmer afternoons. Help them transition without slowing down with Smartwool arm warmers $25
  3. If they run in Vibram Five Fingers, their toes may be a little chilly in colder temps. Keep their toes and legs warm with Injinji's new outdoor calf length merino wool toe socks $16
  4. Earbuds that fall out are annoying. Koss' Sport Clip Headphones won't fall out.
  5. Keep them amped, even while on the couch with Christopher McDougall's Born to Run $15
  6. Hard work on cold days often makes for sore muscles. Ease their pain with a Body Wrap from Carex.
  7. Keep their hands warm during 3 seasons with these Manzella Silkweight Windstopper Glove When it's just chilly, they block the wind without overheating. Add a liner glove for toasty hands on colder days.
  8. Fuel them to the finish line with Cliff Energy Shots. Compact enough for a back pocket, fast and easy to down on the go.
  9. L-Glutamine helps with protein synthesis, immune system support, cell hydration and has no known negative side effects. Get it from GNC for just $5.99
  10. There's nothing less refreshing than warm water after a workout. Polar Insulated Bottles keep drinks colder longer. $11.99
  11. Help them stay hydrated, without all the sugar. Elete electrolyte additive can be added to water to boost electrolyte levels without the performance zapping effects of sugar. $4.99
  12. It's hard to find a good skin protection that stays on when you sweat profusely. Sol Sunguard's MultiSport formula keeps skin protected from sun and wind even while sweating. This formula "breates" to let sweat out while retaining its protecting qualities.
  13. Bodyglide is a must-have for all types of endurance athletes from expedition kayakers to marathoners and cyclists. Sweat and friction combine to make for one uncomfortable experience in really awful places. Prevent it with Bodyglide.
  14. Cliff Shot Bloks provide simple and complex carb fuel in a pre-portioned package. Just need a little boost? Eat one or two from the pack. Need a kick in the rear? Eat the whole pack.

Carolina Currents Article

I recently had the opportunity to publish an article about kayaking around coastal North Carolina for Carolina Currents magazine. I'm re-publishing it here because it may be helpful to you if you are planning a kayaking trip to the coast of North Carolina. If you want more details about places I'm familiar with, feel free to comment or contact.
Click the article below to read at full size.

My article appears in the Fall 2010 issue of Carolina Currents.

Check out the Carolina Currents website for free downloads of every issue.

Pimp your PFD - Personalize your PFD for Sea Kayaking

Your PFD is your personal flotation device, so you should make it just that; personal!

What the Law Requires
All kayakers are required to have a PFD by law. There are a few other items the Coast Guard requires us to carry to be legal. These include:

  • a sound producing device
  • a signaling device
  • a visual distress signal
  • a navigational light

  • Meeting Those Requirements 
    The law doesn't provide definitions for these items and doesn't direct the paddler on where they should be stored. There is definitely room for creativity. Here are a few options to fulfill those Coast Guard requirements:

  • sound producing devices: whistles, air horns, conch shells
  • signaling device: SPOT GPS device, cell phone, VHF radio, lights, flags, paddles, mirrors, flares
  • visual distress signal: flags, paddles, mirrors, flares
  • navigational light: deck light, headlamp, flashlight

  • What I Carry, Where I Carry It and Why
    So where should you store all that stuff? In a dry bag in a hatch? In a deck bag? On your PFD? Here is where I keep it all... I have all of these things, either in my kayak or on my body. Here is what I carry:

    In my PFD

  • Fox 40 Sharx Whistle
  • Floating Signaling Mirror
  • Black Diamond Storm headlamp
  • NRS Co-Pilot Rescue Knife
  • lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Cliff Bar
  • On the Deck

  • Baja Deck Bag
  • VHF Radio
  • Deck Compass
  • Big sunscreen
  • iPhone in a Lifeproof case
  • Rehydration salts
  • Spare paddle
  • Bilge Pump
  • Paddle float
  • In my Pelican Box

  • 1 glowstick per kayak
  • Air horn
  • Flares
  • Spare batteries
  • Emergency phone numbers
  • GPS
  • Map
  • Compass

  • In emergency situations, having these easily accessible can mean the difference between life and death. They should never be stored in a hatch, where they are very hard to get to. In a worst case scenario, the paddler is a swimmer without a kayak. In this scenario, it is important that the paddler (now swimmer) has the essential equipment to survive. I don't keep my VHF radio on my PFD because I know that the conditions I paddle in are unlikely to separate me from my boat. If you are paddling alone or in rough water, you absolutely should have your VHF attached to you. You should equip your PFD with essentials based on where, when and what you will be paddling. Keeping a marine radio on your life jacket while paddling a quiet cypress swamp is overkill. Keeping it on your PFD while paddling in open ocean is definitely not. When in doubt, over-prepare. Many guides in colder environments keep emergency blankets in their PFDs. Some guides even tether a dry bag with fire making materials and extra clothes to themselves!

    Attaching things to your PFD
    This is where things get tricky.  It can be hard to get all of this stuff to fit, especially if your PFD has only a pocket or two, like mine. There are ways around this. One of them is the carabiner trick seen below. Don't be afraid to add knife attachment points or clips to your PFD, just make sure you mess with the flotation and make sure your modifications won't get you tangled or caught on anything. It is also very important not to overload your jacket with too much stuff. Your PFD is meant to keep you afloat. Do not sacrifice crucial buoyancy for unnecessary equipment.

    A carabiner on the shoulder strap can be a great way to hang  your whistle and lip balm. I know many male guides who do this. This trick works great for people with broad chests, but I found that the carabiner rubbed against my arm when I paddled.  I wear my whistle on a bungee cord around my neck.

     I keep my mirror on a lanyard. If it's so bad that I'm using a mirror, it's bad enough for me to loose it if it isn't tied to me.
    I often keep a cliff bar or cliff shot in there too, for fast fuel. I have to take any snacks out every night so mice don't chew into my PFD. Raccoons will steal life jackets out of kayaks if we leave granola bars in them.

    My knife is the NRS Co-Pilot Rescue Knife. I use it to cut birds and turtles free from nets, cut anyone who gets tangled in anything free, and to spread Nutella on my bagel at breakfast. Having a rescue knife with a blunt tip is crucial. Never attempt to free anyone with a pointed blade. It often ends in tragedy. Consider using bungee to connect your knife to your PFD to avoid dropping it during rescues.

    Trick it out for Comfort and Safety
    Be Seen
    If your PFD doesn't have any reflective strips on it, adding reflective strips to the shoulders is a must for better visibility. Reflective strips for PFDs are available from:

    Stay Hydrated
    With a hydration bladder, you won't have to sacrifice your pace and rhythm to stay hydrated. The NRS PFD Hydration Pack straps to most PFDs and can be worn as a backpack when off the water. Kokatat also makes the Tributary Hydration Bladder but it will not fit many of the PFDs on the market.

    Storage Solutions
    If you just can't fit everything onto your favorite PFD, there are several solutions. Kokatat has a variety of options that strap to Kokatak brand PFDs, that may also work with other brands.

    The Tactic Pack straps to the back of a PFD, has room for a hydration bladder and a VHF radio, and cleverly unclips to allow the wearer to access those items while paddling.

    The Belly Pocket attaches to many PFDs with front adjustment straps and keeps important items handy.

    Comfortable Beach Camping; The Magic of Baby Powder

    If you have never camped on a beach before, it seems like a novel idea. It sounds romantic, relaxing, peaceful, playful and fun.

    If you have ever camped on the beach, you may use less glamorous adjectives like gritty, dirty, sweaty, crunchy and others. Sand and salt are what make the beach beautiful and miserable, unless you come armed with baby powder.

    Baby Powder?! What's so magical about baby powder?