It’s that time of year again. There are lots of friends and family I am buying gifts for. Sure some people know they are getting flashlights, pocket knives and multi-tools. Most of these people use these items every day and wouldn’t consider buying something useful for themselves. So, expect this list to have some of those types of items. But I love technology as much as I love the outdoors, so this year I’m really digging deep for some creative gifts.
Gifts Under $50
1. Leatherman Wingman or Squirt Multi-Tool
The Wingman is high quality, made in the USA and it’s as inexpensive as its Chinese counterparts which aren’t even half as good. I usually prefer my Wingman over the more expensive models I own, and it’s never far from my side. People see it and get jealous, but at 21 bucks at the time of this writing, there’s no reason not to have your own.
The Squirt PS4 is also high quality, and also made in the USA. But it’s very compact–even small enough to carry on a keychain.
2. Solar USB Charger / Battery Pack
These are great for charging mobile electronics like phones and tablets when you are off the grid, like camping. It’s a battery pack that can either be charged by another USB charger, or charge itself from sunlight. Beware, though, that all solar chargers suffer from people’s expectations. They need to be in direct sunlight to get anywhere near a full charge, but in an emergency you’ll always get enough charge to make a couple important phone calls.
There are also a few cheaper ones you can buy direct from China, such as this one. Just be advised that while you could save a few bucks, you will also wait about 30 days for it and if there’s problems, you’ll have a hard time communicating with the seller.
3. Kershaw Skyline or Cryo Pocket Knife
If you’re a guy, and you’re on my holiday gift list, there’s a good chance you will be asking me for a pocket knife. And you probably won’t want any of the super light, high tech ones I carry. You’ll want to go straight to the Kershaw flippers like the Cryo or more gentlemanly Skyline.
These are both great knives and both are reasonably priced. Any dudes you buy these for are going to be happy dudes. The Skyline is made in the USA and has a slightly better steel, but the Cryo is no slouch either, and features a more aggressive design.
And for those even more budget conscious or for someone who wants a smaller pocket knife, I included a link to the Chill, which is also a great knife, and it’s under 20 bucks!
For the even more budget conscious, there are some great knives you can get straight from China. Some of the Chinese knife factories such as SanRenMu and Enlan are OEMs for American companies, and they make their own comparable products at a deep discount. The LB-763 and the EL01 are good examples of knives which are superb for any price point.
4. WakaWaka Solar Lamp
The WakaWaka was originally a Kickstarter project to make solar lanterns for people in developing countries without reliable electricity from the grid. They are great for camping, and in an emergency you can have unlimited light. The basic model gives you 2 hours of light for every 1 hour you charge it in direct sunlight.
5. Casio Forester Watch
This watch is perfect for the outdoors or general every day carry. It has a durable resin case but a mineral crystal. Resin crystals are durable but they scratch too easily. What good is durability if you can’t see what time it is. This Forester model also has an illuminator function. It’s a bargain at below 20 bucks.
6. Streamlight Microstream
This little 1xAAA flashlight is nearly legendary in the flashlight/EDC community. It’s cheap, compact, has good output and is nearly indestructible. It also has a dual clip so you can attach it to a ball cap and use it as a head lamp. There are lots of stories and reviews of these flashlights surviving trips through the washer/dryer, getting run over, etc. And at around $20 they make great gifts.
Some people find the switch a little stiff on the Microstream, so I’m including a link to the Pelican 1910 which is a very similar light but with a slightly softer switch. Frankly, you couldn’t go wrong with either.
7. Carhartt Medium Hoodie
Carhartt makes some of the best quality and durable hoodies and jackets you can buy. They aren’t fashionable or stylish, but if you care about quality, then Carhartt should be on your radar. I have this same hoodie and I wasn’t sure if the medium weight fabric would be warm enough, but it’s perfect.
8. Schrade Self Defense Pen
This is a good quality pen which doubles for self defense. It’s legal to carry where most weapons aren’t, and most of the time it’s not likely to be even noticed for what it is. Most people will think it’s just a pen at first glance, and probably second glance. It’s non-lethal, low key and hey, it even writes!
9. Maxpedition Wallet
They call it ‘hard use gear’ and they’re not kidding. Wallets tend not to last me very long and this one has been a trooper. It’s got zippered pockets on the inside and outside, and lots of little loops, pockets and cubbies to store small items. I’m a big fan of Maxpedition.
10. Tooto Titanium Keychain Tool
It’s functional, it’s cool looking, and it’s even made out of Titanium! The world may end. Giant cockroaches roam the earth. Your house may be under water. You might even be a Zombie. But this thing will still be on your keychain, ready for business.