So you left your shopping to the last minute. Again. Here are our top ten gift choices from the travel gear we’ve tested this year.
For more gifting ideas, don’t miss our 16-page Ultimate Gear Guide in the December issue.
With this little number you’ll never have to worry about batteries. It provides 30 hours of light from one full charge, which you can get from 10 hours of solar charging or just one and a half hours via USB. It also turns itself off if you accidentally leave it on. The light is not too bright, just 75 lumens, but I found it perfect for a campsite or braai (it won’t blind everyone else). The adjustable strap is comfortable and the angle of the light can be changed. If there’s light rain, no problem, it’s water resistant. And if you’re only an occasional outdoorsman, no problem either – the manufacturer’s claim that it keeps its charge for a year.
2. Camp Master 16-can hardbody cooler
This cooler bag can carry a total of 16 cans. The expandable insulated front pocket has space for four cans while the inside accommodates two six packs (eight upright in the hardbody and four lying down on top of it). If you don’t pack the latter, use the space between the hardcover lid and the main soft cover to store anything from ice to fruit and cutlery. The internal hardbody is well insulated – I left frozen milk in it for the day and it was still 70% frozen at the end, despite the bag being in the sun. The hardbody can also be removed so it’s easy to clean. The cooler bag comes with an adjustable shoulder strap and a shoulder pad. I found it ideal to carry on the short walk for our team picnic.
3. Cape Storm Scout Mattress
Simple yet effective, this no-fuss, entry-level hiking mattress provides the cushioning your tired body needs after a long day hiking, but don’t expect much else. It’s slim and narrow (183cm x 51cm), so it’s light to carry, but that also means larger people will sleep with their elbows and heels on the floor – these are the sacrifices we sometimes need to make when packing efficiently (and affordably). The mattress rolls up easily into a light and small package roughly the size of a small sleeping bag. If you’re just starting out or will only use it seldom then I think this is a decent option.
Both the design-conscious and the rugged outdoors fanatic will fall for the Luminoodle, a 1,5m strip of LED light that provides 180 lumens of bright, well-dispersed light for your campsite. You can stick, hang or hook this light anywhere. Stash it in the cubby hole and use the magnets to attach it to the hood of your car in the event of a break-down. It’ll give you dispersed light over your engine.
Read the full review: The best new light for outside
5. Outset Verde locking braai tongs
Made from sustainable bamboo and recycled stainless steel, these eco-friendly and durable Outset Verde locking tongs will make your braai a little greener – they’re plastic-free and also come in environmentally friendly packaging. The tongs are long enough to keep your hands away from the heat, and the locking mechanism is handy when storing them.
6. Lush goodies
R130 and R125, lush.co.za
Made from organic ingredients and sold without packaging, these innovative Solid Shampoo bars are preservative-free and work a treat. I love the variety of fragrances available, plus the bars lather well for easy washing. Long-lasting tins are also available for easy travel. The Toothy Tabs solid toothpaste is another nifty travel toiletry: nibble one mini tablet between your teeth and start brushing with a wet toothbrush. They come in a variety of flavours. The bottle is made from recycled material and the store encourages you to return it once the tablets are finished. Lush is a great eco-education shopping experience as staff know what goes into all the products.
7. Sexy socks
If you’re looking for funky socks, Sexy Socks has a wide range of designs manufactured in Cape Town. They’re made from bamboo fibres, which are eco-friendly, anti-odour and anti-chafe. Also, for every pair you buy, a pair of school socks goes to a child in need.
8. Enamel Roaster Pot
This classic white 2L enamel pot is handy for marinating your food or using as a serving container to keep the steaks warm while the potatoes finish off in the coals. It may chip with rough use, but I reckon this only adds character – use wooden utensils when scraping or stirring to prevent this, and give it a light coating of oil before use for easier cleaning. It comes in a bigger size but this 20cm one (small) is perfect for keeping four chops and a roll of wors warm.
Also read: One braai kit to rule them all
9. Gelert Self-Inflating Pillow
Never underestimate the value of a pillow. This super-comfy and compact option has grip dots on the underside so it doesn’t slide around on the mattress, and it contains extra padding for insulation to keep your head warm too. I also like how durable and thick the fabric feels (punctures really shouldn’t be a factor here) plus it’s water-repellent.
Also read: How to sleep outside in total comfort
10. Ecoffee cup
Made from organic bamboo fibre (the world’s fastest growing, most sustainable crop) and non-GMO corn starch, the Ecoffee Cup is reusable and can even go into the dishwasher. It comes with a lid that’s easy to sip from and also seals well to prevent any liquid from sloshing out while you’re on the move, and being so lightweight, it’s perfect for hiking. It’s good to know that when you’re done with it, the cup itself is biodegradable and the silicone lid and sleeve can be recycled. Available in various sizes, designs and colours.