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Skip's Trailhead: A gift list for the outdoor enthusiast

It’s that time of year again. It’s time for the Trailhead’s annual gift list for the person who loves the out-of-doors. This would include Nordic skiers, hikers, fishermen and hunters. I will base this gift list on the 10 essentials of outdoor survival.

This year I’m going for the best brands in outdoor equipment.


The biggest problem with emergency blankets is that they don’t vent body perspiration, which leaves you soaking wet all night. SOL has solved that problem with its Escape Bivy. It is water resistant and breathes so you stay dry. On top of all of that it has a hood and a side zip that makes it much easier to get in to it and out of it; plus it is orange colored, making it easier for searchers to locate you.


Rain gear has the same problems that most emergency blankets have. They don’t breathe, so you get just as soaked in your own perspiration as you would be from the rain. Your best bet is to buy high-end rain wear that is not only waterproof but breathable. Also look for jackets that are packable and have pit zips for extra ventilation, hand warming pockets, amd hoods. Plan on spending $130 and up.

The key to staying warm and comfortable is to dress in layers and stay dry. I like synthetic fabrics because they stay warm when they are wet but dry very quickly. For a top the best option is a mock turtleneck with a quarter zip neck and the same fabric for long johns. Cost is $40 and up but may save your loved one’s life.


Why not go the safe and easy route on this vital gear. Go whole hog and buy a survival kit. Be sure it includes first aid supplies, a head lamp, fire starting tools, a rescue whistle, parachute cord and gear repair equipment. $60 and up.


Knives fall into three categories: multitool, Swiss Army knife, and single-blade knife. Multitools can cost up to $170, but you can find very usable ones for $50. My wife, Janet, loves her $50 Swiss Army knife because it not only can slice baloney and cheese but also can tighten a loose screw on her ski binding. My favorite is a single blade Opinel that is light weight and simple to use and can be found for under $40.


These items probably should have been first on my list of essentials for your backpack. Almost all unplanned nights in the woods come from being lost. My motto is and has always been “Stay Found”. GPS devices are nice, but never replace a good topographical map and compass. I can’t count the number of people I have met on the trail whose first question is “Where am I.”

My answer is always the same: “Give me your map and I will show you where you are.”

Their reply is always, “I don’t have a map.”

A good compass has several features: a clear plastic base, an adjustable declination scale, a sighting mirror, and a straight edge. Cost is about $40. The National Geographic Mount Hood Map Pack covers the entire gorge and Mount Hood trails for $19.95. GPS units now come in two distinct styles, the original unit that looks similar to a phone and the new watch style. Price is about $250.


Water bottles range in price from $11 to an insane $50. But when the water in your bottle runs dry, what next? There are all kinds of nastiness in many of our creeks and rivers that will make you very sick. You have two choices to be sure your drinking water is safe. The first choice, and my preference, are water filtration systems, which are quick and easy to use. Plan on $60.

Your other choice is purification tablets, which are cheaper but can take up to 4 hours to work. $13 will buy you 20 tablets, each tablet will purify one gallon of water.


Although you can survive a long time without food, a power bar or good trail mix can give you the energy to climb the next hill and make it through the night. Just because it is Christmas, pamper your loved one with smoked salmon, cost about $15.


Quality polarized sunglasses start at $40 and go up all the way to the sky. At high altitudes the sun can give almost anyone severe sunburn. Get sunscreen priced in the $15 range.


Now you need something to put your 10 Essentials in. Backpacks are great for colder weather and families. For a quick day hike I like my waist pack, which will hold all of my warm weather gear. Cost for a higher quality backpack is around $70 and a waist pack will cost $50.


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