My new favourite word, which I discover just in time for this chilly spell, is ‘friluftsliv’, which describes the Nordic fondness for getting outdoors, no matter the season. And if you love Christmas but you’re not so keen on the extra half stone or three-day hangover that can sneakily accompany it, read on! Here’s my list of gifts designed to help get your tribe outdoors and your winter wellbeing topped up until spring and beyond.
1. Aquapac waterproof multi-purpose case
Think ‘waterproof map case’ and then some. When it comes to the Aquapac range, you could substitute ‘map’ for phone, keys, bank card, passport and even binoculars – and you still wouldn’t cover it. Aquapac’s supremely watertight cases protect essentials from water, sand, dirt and dust, making them ideal for the beach, swimming, surfing, climbing, kayaking, hiking, paddleboarding or any other high-adrenalin activity you can think of. They come in nine different sizes and in a variety of colours, from clear (handy for those maps) to Wave Blue and Contour Green.
2. Outdoors magazine subscription
Last year, I bought my mum a year’s subscription to Country Walking magazine, and let’s just say I don’t dare cancel the direct debit just because the 12 – well, 13, actually – months are now up. Deliveries of each new edition have become a firm highlight in the walking calendar of Mrs Lees, who has not only clocked up the miles but also honed her ability to spot a dog called Kes at 100 pages (regular readers will know). I could go on to mention the fantastically-recced walking routes (*coughs politely*), but other magazine titles are available too. Trail, anyone?
Here’s a neat bit of kit that could save the adventurer in your life a lot of grief if they run into a spot of open-air bother. FrogBand is a new wearable device created by professional diver Oliver Preston after he saved a seven-year-old boy from a jellyfish sting. He devised a wristband that could contain travel liquids for many eventualities, including hand sanitiser, sun spray or vinegar for stings, all dispensed via a mini pump spray. FrogBands are made in the UK and are durable, refillable and reusable, meaning fewer single-use and disposable plastic bottles travelling along on those adventures!
4. Winter footwear
Is there anything better than setting your alarm for silly o’clock on Christmas / Boxing / New Year’s Day (delete as appropriate) and setting off in search of a sunrise? Not really, but there are many things better than doing so in a pair of slippery daps. Treat the hiker in your life to some decent boots or trail shoes to keep them safe and their tootsies dry. Two brands I thoroughly love and which won’t break the Christmas budget are Haix and AKU. After two years of serious trail testing, my Haix Scout Gore-Tax boots are still going strong, while AKU’s Trekker Lite Gore-tex boots have the right blend of strength and breathability for winter days in the hills.
5. Adventure inspiration
Getting kids outdoors can be hard – but not with a copy of 100 Great Walks With Kids by Jen and Sim Benson! This lovely book features wonderful walks across Britain suitable for families with babies and children, including carrier and buggy-friendly routes. It’s beautifully designed with little walkers in mind and is packed with useful info on making walks with kids successful and enjoyable. Also, if you’re Wales based, take a look at my books packed with children’s walks in south Wales!
6. Outdoor gadgets
For gifts that will make your outdoor adventures that much easier (and safer), pop over to the Ordnance Survey shop and check out their gifts under £50. From the original den kit to traditional garden games, beach mats and picnic accessories, plus all the maps, compasses and headtorches you could possibly shake a Leki hiking pole at, there’s enough to keep your loved ones adventuring until, well, this time next year, when you can stock up some more! Anyone for lawn croquet?
7. Home from home
The lovely slump between Christmas and new year is a time when many of us start looking ahead and planning summer breaks. But with the pandemic being, sadly, far from over, I’m ultra cautious about booking a ‘big’ holiday just yet, and instead 2022 is promising to be all about the low-key camping and van trips reasonably close to home. In 2021, many top tent brands sold out due to demand, so the canvas fan in your life will be delighted if you get ahead of the curve at Christmas. Climate-conscious German tentmaker Vaude is a brand to look into, while camping club membership is a great gift for fully kitted-up campers – and many sites stay open all year round, too!