Chris Weiss's Blog

Cream of the Crop: Top-Rated Gift Ideas For 2011

We see a ton of new gear, technology and innovation come and go here at Uncooped. We try to bring you news of the latest and coolest new outdoor gear, but don't always get to try it out in the field. Many times an item can look super-innovative and useful only to fail miserably in the field.

The last thing you really want to do is buy that special someone on your holiday shopping list a flashy piece of gear that fails them when they're fatigued, soaking wet and starving deep in the middle of nowhere. Instead, get one of these popular items and give the gift of function. Each item was either chosen by a journalist /magazine or rated a four (out of five) or higher on a gear retail site by at least 15 different people.

Patagonia Women's Down Sweater

created at: 2011/11/30

Even without knowing that it got a 4.5-star rating on REI by 24 reviewers, a "down sweater" just sands like a can't-miss gift. The Patagonia piece wraps 800-fill European goose down in a rip-stop polyester shell and coats it with a water-repellant finish. $200

Goal Zero Rock Out Speakers

created at: 2011/11/30

Our resident gear guru here at Uncooped tested out the Rock Out speakers recently, concluding that they "provides a ton of sound in a package that weighs less than a pound." They also cost under $40.

Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp

created at: 2011/11/30

Nearly 30 reviewers have scored the Petzl Tikka Plus 2 a full five stars on  The headlamp weighs just under 3 ounces and uses a bright white LED and red LED to deliver up to 50 lumens. It has five light settings altogether, including red strobe and white flash. $40

SOL Escape Bivvy

created at: 2011/11/30

The SOL Escape Bivvy takes the emergency blanket to the next level. Unlike those cheaper reflective blankets of years past, the Escape uses a breathable reflective fabric that lets moisture escape, keeping you dry, warm and comfortable. Both the Gear Junkie and National Geographic Adventure ranked this among their 2011 best gear picks. This'll have to be a late gift--it'll hit the market next year for $50.

Eno DoubleNest Hammock

created at: 2011/11/30

Who doesn't like a hammock? The 126 reviewers that gave it a 4.8-star REI rating sure do. The DoubleHammock packs down to the size of a grapefruit, weighs 1 lb. 6 oz. and wraps up to two people (400 lbs.) in lazy-afternoon comfort. $65

LL Bean's Camp Recliner

created at: 2011/11/30

If you happen to know one of the few folks that don't enjoy a hammock, the Camp Recliner is the next best thing. I've never used this specific chair, but I have used similar zero-gravity recliners and they're some of the most comfortable things your backside will ever have the pleasure of touching. LL Bean's version gets 4.8 stars from 42 reviewers, so I assume it's every bit as comfortable. $129

Yurbuds Ironman Inspire Earbuds

created at: 2011/11/30

Earbuds have a way of popping out of your ears when you get shifty and sweaty, but Yurbuds were designed specifically for sports. The medical-grade silicone tips are designed to "twist lock" in your ears and stay in place. According to Gear Junkie, they work pretty well. $50

Black Diamond Spire Trekking Poles

created at: 2011/11/30

One-time Outside Gear of the Year winners and a current 5-star honoree among 29 Backcountry reviewers, the Spire Trekking Poles are a rugged, lightweight set of hiking poles with Black Diamond's FlickLock design. They weigh as little as 1 lb. 3 oz. $135


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