December 01, 2021 5 min read
When someone asks me what I want for Christmas, I always respond, “something I will use!”. I especially love getting gifts that inspire me to spend time outdoors, camping, hiking, or practicing my bushcraft skills. Knowing what to buy for them can be a challenge if you know someone outdoorsy or someone who aspires to be. I know my family struggles with it at times. To help folks like them buy gifts for folks like me, I’ve compiled a handy list of items that I would be delighted to receive for Christmas, my birthday, or any other occasion!
Few things help you enjoy the great outdoors better than a well-made axe. Whether you’re the backyard fire type or the backwoods survivalist type, a reliable axe is an essential tool to have in your possession. Plus, nothing beats the feeling of splitting some firewood.
One of my favourite axes to keep around the fire is the Aby from Hultafors. Forged from Swedish carbon steel, it keeps an astonishingly sharp edge. It’s great for some basic firewood chopping, but it also excels as a survival tool due to its lightweight, packable nature. If your loved one already has an axe that needs a small companion, the Hultafors Hultan Hatchet and Adler Yankee Hatchet make great secondary axes, like a paring knife to your chef’s knife.
An axe is only as good as its edge, so be sure to add on one of our axe sharpening stones so that the gift recipient can keep their axe in tip-top shape! It also works great out in the bush to tune up the knives I’ll be talking about a little later. To add a little extra stuff to their stocking, snag yourself some axe wax and blade oil too. The wax keeps the handle hydrated and robust, while the oil keeps the head from rusting quickly.
It never hurts to have some reading material during the winter, and I happen to have a couple of fantastic books that’ll get you raring to start using your brand new axe. The Buchanan Smith Axe Book extensively covers the history, anatomy, and maintenance of axes, while Norwegian Wood is the bible of wood splitting and stacking. It covers the science, tradition, and folklore of properly drying your firewood.
Idle hands make the devil’s work, so I like to keep my hands busy with a bit of whittling once the fire’s started. Whether I’m making featherstick to start my next fire or carving a spoon, I find the process of whittling very therapeutic.
Few knives are more enjoyable to use than Helle. Equal parts are gorgeous, rugged, and reliable; they’re phenomenal for any outdoor task from carving to bushcraft to hunting. The Eggen was my first and still a favourite, although the slimmer Sigmund is undoubtedly a contender and tends to be better for precise carving jobs. The Speider is an excellent smaller knife with a guard to start kids off, while the Lapland is a monster that excels at anything from stripping bark off trees to sabering champagne.
Boker is also well known for their sturdy knives, and for good reason. If you know a hunter or camper who wants a beefy full-tang knife, look no further. The Spark is a personal favourite; from kindling to skinning, you'll always be well equipped with it by your side. The Boker Trail is as beefy and rugged as it is sexy. The thick blade can tackle hunting, fishing, or daily carry tasks while keeping a razor-sharp edge.
If there’s someone very special on your list who deserves the absolute best, we have some fancier custom-made blades from a couple of local knife makers. Chris Green is a highly talented blacksmith and close friend who makes some gorgeous, super durable knives. The blade I have from him comes with me every time I go out to the woods, and it never disappoints. Hestermann Customs also makes gorgeous, reliable blades inspired by the classic Grohmann #1 Russel knife but crafted from modern, high-tech materials.
If you’re giving to someone who’s serious about their survival skills, we have some extra special items that are a must-have in any long-haul pack. I know I take all of these with me when I camp, even just to get some practice in!
If Norwegian wood is the bible of wood-stacking, then Bushcraft is the Grey’s Anatomy of survival skills. Author Mors Kochanski was a legendary Albertan who ran a survival school for decades and possessed an immense amount of survival knowledge relevant to those of us living in Canada. Unlike the other two books, this one can’t be swallowed in a weekend; it has to be slowly digested over years of practical application.
The #1 knife brand among bushcrafters is, without a doubt, Morakniv from Sweden. They have a long history, they use high-quality materials and give insane bang for your buck. From the basic and super affordable Mora companion, which many bushcrafters buy as their first knife, to the sturdier Garberg designed specifically for bushcraft tasks, they all rock. The tiny Eldris is a great stocking stuffer and packs away in a survival kit super well.
Speaking of essential tools, serious bushcrafters all have a rock-solid saw, if not a couple. My two saws of choice are my folding Esker bucksaw which packs away well but can handle a wide range of lumber, and my smaller Silky saw for precise cuts and pruning branches on trails. Maple Made also makes some gorgeous bucksaws and bushpikes in Alberta, and Opinel has a pretty spiffy wooden folding saw that we love.
Is it really Christmas without the stocking stuffers? No. The answer is no. If there are no stockings, I don’t want it. But what to put in said stocking for your beloved backwoods buddy? Well, the axe stone, blade oil, wax, and books are a great start, but here are a few other winners.
Camping is obviously more fun with fire. If you want to challenge yourself and learn a new skill, the Kupilka fire steel is a super cool way to start a fire, and you get immense satisfaction from successfully using one. If you want the opposite of a challenge, snag some UCO stormproof matches. Seriously, these things will burn underwater.
The UCO flatpack grill is an incredibly compact device you can use as a fire pit and a cooking surface; I love taking mine out and using it to grill up dinner! And while you’re sitting around that fire, you’ll undoubtedly need some spoon carving knives to keep your hands busy.
You wouldn’t leave the house without a good pair of socks, would you? Woolpower makes the absolute best merino wool socks. I have several pairs for my winter bike rides, and I can guarantee they’ll keep you warm on your outdoor excursions.
If you need any other ideas, check out the rest of our gift guide or say hi in-store, and we’ll be happy to help! Alternatively, you can shoot us a message here, and we’ll get right back to you. Happy gift shopping!