November 22, 2022 4 min read
Picking the right gift for your loved ones can be a challenge, especially when that person has a hobby you know nothing about. You want to get something they can use and enjoy, but not stuff they already have or won’t use. While a gift card is always an option, watching them open a physical gift is much more satisfying. If someone on your list spends time in the outdoors and you don’t know the first thing about hiking, camping or hunting, this article is for you!
Before we get started, try to get a peek at their gear and snap a few photos. If you live with them, this is easy enough, but you can always ask their spouse/ partner/ parent if you don’t. Even if you don’t know what some of the gear is, you’ll likely be able to tell whether they have it or not as you work your way through this list. Here are the essential tools for outdoorsy folks that you can get this Christmas:
One of the oldest, most useful & reliable tools is the humble knife. In the outdoors, they can be used for simple tasks like cutting cord and preparing food to extreme jobs like skinning game and constructing emergency shelters. I don’t leave the house without a knife, and I certainly never head out into the woods without one.
When selecting a knife as a gift, I always pick one that’s both beautiful and reliable. Something they’ll treasure for a lifetime, like the Helle Utvear or Temagami. These blades are handcrafted in Norway with exceptional steel and heirloom-quality good looks. Their full-tang construction makes them exceptionally tough, something you want in a knife that might save your life one day.
If you’re a fan of Canadian-made goods, check out Grohmann. They make excellent survival blades once favoured by the Canadian military in Pictou, NS. Origin Handcrafted is another Canadian maker, a husband & wife operation that makes stunning outdoor knives with salvaged and recycled materials. If you’re shopping on a budget this year, Mora makes some shockingly reliable blades for their price point, while the Kershaw Camp 5 balances quality and affordability with a larger blade.
For a truly unique bespoke blade, check out Calgary blacksmith Chris Green. Each knife he makes is truly one of a kind, from the shape and overall form down to the woods and steel used in its construction. What’s more, each blade comes with a sturdy custom-fit leather sheath! I have a 12” bowie knife from him that puts a smile on my face every time I use it.
Second, only to the knife in usefulness, and easily more iconic is the mighty axe! The second you get an axe in your hand, you feel fantastic and ready to get to work. No axe does this more than my Hultafors.
The folks over at Hultafors have been forging for nearly 300 years, and boy, are they ever good at it! Their axes keep an edge longer than any others I’ve used, and the American hickory handles last decades when used and cared for correctly. Not too long ago, I discovered my grandfather’s Hultafors axes; while in need of sharpening, they had been cared for and still had a century more of life in them. Even the handles were in excellent shape!
If that sounds up your alley, let’s help you pick the right size and shape for that person on your list. The Aby forest axe is their most versatile and lightweight full-sized axe, designed to be packed out into the woods and used for any job from felling to carpentry. A simpler, more traditional choice for camping is the Qvarfot, a classic felling axe that easily splits smaller logs. For the hardcore trekker or hunter, an Ekelund hunting axe or Hultan hatchet is perfect for cutting kindling and processing game. If you’re shopping for a weekend warrior, the Hult splitting axe is excellent for backyard chopping and car camping. Its thicker handle can also take more of a beating from an inexperienced user.
A good saw is indispensable for the experienced hunter or camper but likely much less useful for the beginner. If they’re just getting started, I would snag one of the tools above, but if they already have several knives and axes, read on!
For bucking up small trees and prepping wood for bushcraft or whittling, I have yet to find a tool better than my Esker folding bucksaw (except my chainsaw, but I’m not taking that on a backpacking trip). This Canadian-made saw breaks down to a small, lightweight size but folds out into a substantial tool! The teeth cut on both the push and pull stroke, making quick work of any wood that needs breaking down.
For the hunter or anyone counting grams, a Silky saw is the way to go. While the smaller teeth are suited to smaller jobs, they’re super compact and lightweight and CRAZY sharp. The medium saws are excellent for saplings and clearing trails, while the fine-tooth saws are beloved for hunters and a packable bone saw.
Once you’ve picked the perfect gift, it’s time to load up their stocking! No need to check their backpack for these; you simply cannot have too many of any of these items.
Axe & Knife Sharpening Stone. This two-sided sharpening puck is designed for axes, but it’s perfect for tuning up any blade in the field!
Handle Wax. Keep your knife and axe handles hydrated and looking their best!
Stormproof Matches. These bad boys light in a typhoon and burn underwater. If you plan to camp in May or June, you need these.
Woolpower Socks. You can never have too many socks, especially not high-end merino wool socks that can be worn for days without getting stinky.
Mora Companion Knife. Even if you get them a fancier knife, this is a must-have. Their durable and inexpensive, so it doesn’t matter if you lose it, lend it, or give it away!
There you have it. If you’re still unsure, you can always email those gear photos to us or bring them into the shop and we can help find the perfect gift!