Grough has found more than 40 goodies that will make ideal gifts for outdoor fans. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Grough has found more than 40 goodies that will make ideal gifts for outdoor fans. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

In a fix wondering what to buy your favourite outdoor enthusiast for Christmas?

Help is at hand. We’ve taken a trip to Santa’s special cave to sample some useful little items to add to a kit list.

There’s still time to head to the shops or hit the online stores to find the ideal gift for your dearest friend with a love of the great outdoors. You might even want to treat yourself for that little gadget or innovative bit of gear that will make life on the hill or in the countryside that bit more pleasant.

From traditional socks to unusual innovative pieces of kit, we’ve spent the past few weeks putting more than 40 stocking fillers to the test.

So save Father Christmas the trouble of scouring the shops and peruse our 2019 Christmas gifts guide.

Luci Solar String Lights. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Luci Solar String Lights

Country of manufacture: China

Add a little sparkle to your campsite with this innovative light-string from Luci.

The 18ft cord incorporates 10 light housings, each containing two warm white LEDs to supply a soft glow to any outdoor or indoor gathering.

The lights wrap away into a circular housing that also contains a solar panel for charging. It opens simply by twisting to reveal the lights. Once you’ve unfurled the cord and lights, the housing can be closed again to keep things neat.

Pressing the on switch first turns on a single LED torchlight on the housing; repeated pressing then cycles the cord lights through three increasing levels of brightness.

As well as solar charging, the lights can be charged via a USB plug. You can also charge your electronic gear from a standard USB plug on the housing, adding to the Lucid Solar String Lights’ versatility.

The lights provide up to 100 lumen and the housing comes with a hanging cord and a battery indicator. It’s water resistant to IPX4 and its rechargeable lithium-ion battery is rated at 2,000mAh. It will recharge fully in good daylight in 16 hours or via the USB port in six to eight hours.

We found them ideal for providing a nice, soft, even light in the tent and the ability to recharge using the solar panel was a boon, as well as being useful for topping up our smartphone battery.

Smith Shoutout Sunglasses. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Smith Shoutout Sunglasses

Price: £115
Weight: 26g
Country of manufacture: not stated

Be bang on trend with these latest sunglasses from Smith. The Shoutout glasses are lightweight and have megol nosepads which we found very comfortable and prevented slipping of the glasses when looking down or indeed surveying crags above. These worked very well and, even when perspiration levels rose, the glasses stayed in place.

The lenses are semi-mirrored and have Smith’s ChromaPop polarising lenses. The ChromaPop treatment helps give visual clarity by filtering the crossover areas between red, green and blue light.

The lenses are anti-reflective and also treated to be oil repellent. The frames are made from eco-friendly Evolve material. The arms are nicely spring-loaded and stay in place well, either in the open or closed position.

The lenses on this model are brown, medium tint, with a visible light transmission of 30 per cent, suitable for use in medium sunny situations. We found this a good compromise in general conditions, and meant that shadow areas weren’t too dark in situations where part of the terrain was in sunlight and part in shadow.

On a bright winter’s day on the Lake District mountains, the Shoutout glasses provided good comfort in sunny, clear conditions, while not necessitating removing them to see crag detail in the shadows.

The Smith glasses come with a soft pouch as well as a semi-rigid protective case with zipped closure.

The lenses were very good, with no optical distortion or loss of clarity. Their polarising feature also makes them a good choice on the beach for watersports fans or anglers. The big lenses also provided good all-round UV protection for the eyes as well as being up-to-date on the year’s trends.

Extremities Antares Beanie. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Extremities Antares Beanie

Country of manufacture: China

Enjoy a warm glow when the temperature drops with this stylish bobble hat from Extremities.

The acrylic beanie has X Glo reflective yarn incorporated, which shows up in car headlights or a headtorch beam.

The Extremities hat has a broad inner fleece headband that kept us nice and warm on cold winter nights on the hill. The added safety of the increased visibility to road users will be appreciated by dog walkers, anyone who has to use a road section on their walk or even just those popping for an evening drink at the pub on a winter’s evening.

Mountain Hardwear High Exposure Glove. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Mountain Hardwear High Exposure Glove

230g a pair
Country of manufacture: Vietnam

These technical gloves will keep your hands warm and dry in the worst winter weather.

The High Exposure Glove features Gore-Tex breathable waterproofing, combined with PrimaLoft Gold insulation, with Cross Core fused with aerogel technology.

The shell of the Mountain Hardwear gloves is a combination of nylon and leather, and they’re packed with features to keep you comfortable on the mountains during winter.

The palm faces are leather, giving a good grip on an ice-axe or walking or ski poles and there’s a strip of leather reinforcement on the back of the glove. Despite being full-on winter gloves, the index fingers and thumbs have Stimulus technology built in which means they still work with a touch screen device.

The built-in curve of the gloves also aids grip on ice-tools and poles, as well as holds on climbing or scrambling routes. The knuckles have extra padding for protection and the lining of the High Exposure Glove is a comfortable tricot fabric.

The gauntlet section has an adjustable webbing closure to help keep the warmth in, coupled with a part-elasticated band, plus a shockcord adjuster at the wrist hem that’s easy to cinch in to keep the snow and rain out. Release of the cord is easy thanks to the large loop that opens up the spring-toggle retainer. There’s a webbing loop to help pull the gloves on and each glove has an elasticated wrist leash to stop them getting lost on the mountain when you have to take them off briefly. The lining stays in place well when putting on or taking off the gloves with damp or clammy hands.

The thumbs have soft fabric on their outer surface for nose wiping, and the gloves also have small carabiner loops on the back of the third finger for hanging up to dry. There is also a small plastic connector clip on each glove to keep them together when not being used.

Mountain Hardwear have thought about pretty much everything you need to keep your hands warm and dry on winter mountain trips, whether it’s ice-climbing, hillwalking, scrambling or ski-touring.

We put them to use on a cold winter day on the Lakeland fells and the PrimaLoft insulation and Gore-Tex membrane kept our hands toasty all day.

LifeStraw Flex. Photo: Bob Smith/grough


LifeStraw Flex

Country of manufacture: not stated

The LifeStraw Flex is a great way to make sure you get clean water on your outdoor trips.

Drinking from mountain streams in the UK is usually OK, as long as you don’t discover a deceased ovine a few metres above where you filled your bottle. But to make sure you don’t succumb to bacteria, including E.coli, or parasites such as cryptosporidium, a system such as the Flex is a boon. It has a hollow fibre filter that removes virtually all of these nasties, as well as any microplastics that might be lurking in the water.

It also has an activated charcoal capsule that will remove heavy metals, chlorine and organic chemical matter.

The Flex comes with a soft, collapsible bottle which means it doesn’t take up as much space in the rucksack as a rigid bottle. The filter membrane assembly screws into the top of the bottle and has a closure with tethered cap that clicks positively into place.

Once you’ve done the necessary backwashing before first using it, with the supplied syringe, it’s simple to use. Dip the bottle into your water source, put the filter back into the bottle and sip away.

The Flex filter can be used on its own as a straw, if preferred. It can also be incorporated into a hydration reservoir system by cutting the drink tube and attaching one end to the bottom of the filter and the other to the top, creating an ‘inline’ filter. The Flex will also screw into some standard drinks bottle necks.

Carrying water significantly adds weight to your pack: a kilo for every litre, so if you know you’re going to be passing water sources such as streams and tarns or lochans on your outing, refilling on the hoof is a boon. We particularly liked the flexible soft bottle of the LifeStraw Flex, which meant when not filled or even partially filled it took up very little pack space.

It was simple to use and the 650ml capacity is a sensible amount to keep you hydrated until the next refill. You can also squeeze the bottle to force water out of the bottle rather than relying on gravity. We found this useful when using the Flex for adding water to food when cooking, for instance.

The main membrane will stop working after it has become clogged, so you know it’s time to replace it. LifeStraw says the main filter should be good for 2,000 litres and the carbon capsule for 100 litres.

Lifeventure RFiD Charger Wallet. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lifeventure RFiD Charger Wallet

Country of manufacture: China

Few of us leave home without a battery-powered gadget or two these days, and it’s infuriating when you find the power has depleted to a level that makes it unusable.

In fact, we try never to head for the hills without a power bank now, just in case we need to use our phone in an emergency and need to extend its battery life.

This tri-fold wallet from Lifeventure incorporates a slim powerbank that means you should always have some charge in reserve.

The wallet has two main banknote compartments plus a slot to house the 2500mAh powerbank.

There are also six card slots, one of which has a mesh window for an ID card and two stash pockets, all of which are RFiD shielded to protect your contactless payment cards. On the outside there’s a non-shielded, zipped coin pocket and the whole wallet has a hook and loop closure flap.

The powerbank is charged by a USB cable and there is an LED indicator for charge level. The output from the powerbank is via a short flexible micro-USB lead that slots into the corner of the bank when not in use. There’s also a concealed Lightning adapter, accessed by slotting the USB plug into it and retracting it.

The RFiD Charger Wallet is a great little help for modern life, protecting your cards and providing peace of mind knowing you always have a little power in your back pocket.

The Lifeventure wallet is also lightweight, so shouldn’t slow down your pace when you’re heading up the hills.

Tilley Harris Tweed Winter Hat. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Tilley Harris Tweed Winter Hat

Country of manufacture: Canada

This Tilley hat is made from wool yarn produced in the Outer Hebrides and is designed for warmth in the cooler months.

The headwear displays Tilley’s customary quality and will shed a rain or snow shower. The brim also helps keep out the elements, protecting the head from precipitation and wind. We also found it useful on cold bright winter days in shading our eyes from the low sun.

The Tilley hat has a tricot lining in the headband and also pull-down earwarmers. These were very useful on cold, windy days. The stretch fabric covers the ears and back of the neck, but isn’t so thick that it impairs hearing. When not in use, the earwarmers tuck neatly into the hat.

There’s also a ‘hidden pocket under the top of the hat for small items.

The Tilley Harris Tweed Winter Hat comes with a lifetime guarantee against poor workmanship, faulty material and normal wear and tear.

Petzl Swift RL. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Petzl Swift RL

Country of manufacture: Hungary

Petzl’s latest headtorch packs a lot of power in a unit weighing only about 100g.

The Swift RL uses the brand’s Reactive Lighting technology to adjust the brightness of the torch depending on the level of ambient and reflected light.

The Petzl headtorch provides up to 900 lumen brightness, and has a micro-USB port to charge up its 2350mAh lithium-ion battery with the supplied lead.

The unit is simple to use, with one switch controlling all its functions. The button on top of the main housing also functions as a lock. Sliding the switch to the locked position disables all functions, so the torch doesn’t turn on accidentally when in your pack or pocket, draining power.

The Swift RL has two main white LEDs: one provides a flood beam and the other a narrow beam.

Pressing the button briefly turns on the torch in reactive mode. A second press increases the brightness to medium level and a third press witches the Petzl headtorch to maximum reactive light, giving a beam that is rate up to 900 lumen and pierces the dark up to 150m. Standard level lighting gives 300 lumen and is good for up to 55m, while the low level will illuminate up to 35m with its 100 lumen beam.

For fast travellers such as cyclists, mountain bikers and skiers, Petzl recommends using the standard lighting mode so there’s no risk of the torch dimming unexpectedly at a crucial moment. Maximum power provides 500 lumen, with standard 200 lumen and minimum 10 lumen.

Using reactive mode should give the best battery life: between two and 30 hours at full power, depending on conditions the torch is used in. When power gets very low, the Swift RL will switch to its reserve mode, providing 10 lumen for two hours, enough to light the way for a walker.

The unit has five small charge-indicator lights on the top of its housing to let you know how much battery power remains. The headstrap has a split rear section to enable comfortable positioning on the head, and the strap also has reflective filaments in its fabric. The housing has five downward click-positions and the same number of upward positions, useful if examining crag detail or wearing the headtorch round the neck.

Out on the hill, the Petzl Swift RL worked well. During map reading, the torch dimmed to just the right level; on dark sections of the route, the beam penetrated the darkness well, picking out detail a good distance ahead. The headband was comfortable, and there’s a nice padded section at the back of the housing. The torch has IPX4 water-resistance for those nasty wet nights on the hill. The headtorch stayed in position well too, whatever activity we were undertaking.

Osprey Ultralight Drysack 6 litres. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Osprey Ultralight Drysack 6 litres

Country of manufacture: Vietnam

We use drysacks a lot on our mountain outings to keep kit together in our pack and also protect it from rain and snow.

This Osprey model comes from the brand’s Ultralight series and will add only 32g to your pack weight. The drysack is made from siliconised nylon with taped seams and is a rectangular shape, which makes them easier to stand upright.

The roll-top closure is easy to use and incorporates a plastic hanging loop so you could, if you wanted, suspend it from your pack harness with a carabiner. There’s also a fabric grab loop at the base of the sack which you can also use to hang it up to dry.

The Ultralight Drysack range comes in a variety of sizes and colours to help you differentiate items in your pack. We found this 6 litre version ideal for packing our down jacket into while on the mountain, to make sure it kept nice and dry for when the temperature dropped further.

Hydro Flask Coffee Mug. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Hydro Flask Coffee Mug

Country of manufacture: China

There’s nothing like a nice hot drink to lift the spirits when you get to camp after a hard day on the hills, or a boost to help get you started on a cold morning.

Hydro Flask’s Coffee Mug will ensure your beverage keeps its heat while you relax and enjoy the great outdoors.

The mug displays the brand’s top quality, with a stainless steel inner and soft-touch outer, with TempShield double-wall insulation to keep your drink warm while ensuring the mug is not too hot to handle. The mug also has a press-on lid with Honeycomb Insulation so your tea or coffee doesn’t splosh out.

The lid has a sipping aperture so you can enjoy your warming cup of cheer without it getting cool. The 354ml mug is big enough for a good big drink and is free from BPA and phthalate.

And on summer days when the temperature rises, the mug will keep your cooling drink cold too.

Quality is excellent, and the Hydro Flask Coffee Mug comes with the brand’s lifetime warranty against defective manufacture.

The Hydro Flask Mug has become a favourite of ours not just on the campsite, but at home too.

Helinox Chair One. Photo: Bob Smith/grough


Helinox Chair One

954g including case
Country of manufacture: Korea/Vietnam

This Helinox chair is one of our favourite little luxuries at the campsite.

The stylish little seat weighs less than a kilo in its neat case, yet feels very solid when assembled and is designed to take a weight of more than 22 stones.

Putting up the Chair One is straightforward: take it out of its case and slot the aluminium legs and supports into the two hubs. These are all retained by internal shockcords, so there’s no puzzling as to which goes into which slot. The tough polyester seat is then pushed on to the two top supports via its reinforced housings, and finally a similar process for the lower sleeves to complete the chair.

The Helinox chair has lots of nice little design features. There are mesh sections at the back and sides of the seat section. The four support areas have foam padding so you don’t feel the aluminium struts intruding, and the feet have sturdy plastic feet to help stop the chair sliding about.

The 600 denier fabric is weather and UV resistant.

Quality is very good too, with DAC aluminium poles used throughout. The Chair One packs into a strong zipped case and measures just 36cm x 10cm x 10cm.

The Helinox chair comes with a five-year warranty.

We used the chair at camp, but it’s also ideal for events such as festivals, trips to the park or even as an ‘emergency chair’ at home when unexpected visitors turn up for your gathering.

Fjallraven Vardag Tote Bag. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Fjallraven Vardag Tote Bag

Country of manufacture: Vietnam

The Vardag bag combines Scandinavian design with tough everyday versatility.

The tote bag can be used either with its top handles or with the two rucksack-style straps, which fold away neatly when not needed.

The retro styling includes Fjallraven’s arctic fox logo and the Vardag is made from the brand’s G1000 Heavy Duty Eco S material, a mix of recycled polyester and organic cotton, with fluorocarbon-free water resistant treatment. The lining is recycled nylon.

The 20 litre tote is big enough for all your gym gear or a trip to the shops, and has a reinforced base that allows the bag to be stood up on its own.

The Vardag’s main compartment has a zip closure. Inside there’s a lightly padded laptop computer sleeve with two pen slots. A separate zip gives access to a smaller pouch for essentials such as keys, wallet, purse or mobile phone.

We used the Vardag rucksack-style to carry our shopping back to base, and the narrow but firm harness straps and the lightly padded back made for a comfortable carry with a full load of essential – you know: wine, bread, chocolate, mince pies.

Quality is good, as you would expect from the Fjallraven brand, and the bag has a very sturdy feel. When you don’t need the shoulder straps, these can be shortened fully and the excess webbing fastened back in place using press-studs, making the Vardag a neat, conventional bag.

The Fjallraven tote bag ticks all the environmental essentials for your shopping trips or strolls for that picnic in the countryside, while offering Swedish design style and rugged durability.

Snugpak Dri-Sak with Air Valve. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Snugpak Dri-Sak with Air Valve

Country of manufacture: Taiwan

This drysack is big enough to use as a rucksack liner for most pack, or alternatively as waterproof storage for gear at the campsite.

It’s made from tough-feeling nylon with a TPU inner lining to keep out the wet, and will add only 170g to your pack, despite its 40 litre capacity.

We know from experience how it can be difficult to squeeze all the air out of drysacks before rolling down the closure – we almost always manage to trap some in as we close the bags. This Snugpak Dri-Sak is fitted with a valve so, once you’ve closed the top, you can then open the valve, situated low down on the pack, and fully deflate the bag, minimising its volume.

The Dri-Sak with Air Valve was a boon on wet winter days on the hill, where it kept our rucksack contents dry. We were also able to stuff wet gear into the pack outside the Snugpak drysack without risking soaking our dry clothing and gear. This was particularly useful when using a big rucksack, where the 40 litre Dri-Sak was used to keep essential dry gear separated from the rest of the pack’s contents.

If you’re on a multi-day trek, you can also use the Dri-Sak to keep dirty clothing separated from clean kit.

Snugpak has a few other innovative uses for the Dri-Sak. Take the contents out at camp and you can roll it up and use it as a pillow. You can get just the right amount of inflation using the valve. Also, in an emergency it could be used as a water carrier.

The rolltop fastening is sturdy and has a plastic d-ring at each end for securing it to items or linking with a carabiner.

GP PowerBank 10000 mAh. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

GP PowerBank 10000 mAh

256g including lead
Country of manufacture: China

We now count a power bank as an essential piece of kit when heading for the hill.

Running out of juice for you mobile phone, GPS device or rechargeable headtorch could have serious consequences, so we try to make sure we’ve always got a source of recharging in our pack.

The GP PowerBank 10000 mAh is a sleek-looking little unit that’s about the size of many smartphones and weighs in at just over 250g.

The unit comes with a charging lead with a standard USB plug at one end and a convertible micro-USB/USB-C plug at the other. The power bank itself has two input ports USB-A, USB-C plus two USB output ports.

The lithium polymer battery can be fully charged via the USB-C socket in 4½ hours and the power bank will deliver 2.4A, 5V via the USB-A port and 3A, 5V via the USB-C socket.

This should provide enough power to recharge a smartphone four times.

We found the ability to charge two items at once really useful, plugging in both our phone, using its own lead, and our headtorch at camp to ensure they were ready to use the next day.

The GP Batteries is also useful for everyday use, slipped into our jacket pocket ready to boost our phone when things start to run down.

Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Daypack with (inset) pack size. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Daypack

Country of manufacture: China

This remarkable little rucksack packs down into about the size of a chicken egg or golf ball and weighs about the same as a standard packet of crisps.

Yet the Sea To Summit daypack is big enough to carry all your beach gear or even the contents of your trip to the convenience store with its 18 litre capacity.

The 15 denier nylon pack will take up to 20kg and has bar tacked stitching at important areas such as the zip endings and harness strap attachments. The two straps are made from the same siliconised nylon as the body of the pack, offering some weather resistance.

The opening is asymmetrical, with a zip running along the top of the pack and halfway down one side. Once you’ve done carrying your load, you simply pack the rucksack back into its stuffsack, with a drawcord and spring toggle closure and it’s ready to go back in your pocket or handbag.

We’ve used this little pack in a variety of situations, from urban outings to country walks and found it really good at carrying our loads. Slip the Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Nano Daypack in your pocket and you’ll never be caught out without a backpack to carry your shopping or gear. The stuffsack has a fabric loop so you can attach it to a belt or keyring.

Berghaus Touch Screen Glove. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Berghaus Touch Screen Glove

44g a pair
Country of manufacture: China

These lightweight gloves have become one of our firm favourites over the recent cool period.

The stretchy polyester-nylon-spandex softshell fabric has a fleecy lining and we found them very good at blocking wind on cold winter days. They’re not too bulky either, so you retain good dexterity, for instance, when using a compass.

The Polartec material provides good warmth for a lightweight glove, and the conductive tips on the index fingers and thumbs mean you can still use touch screens on your smartphone or GPS unit while wearing the gloves.

When not in use, the gloves can be attached together using the plastic clips on the cuffs.

We’ve used them extensively on hill walks and also round town, where you still need to be able to use gadgets on a chilly day.

Friction Labs Bam Bam Super Chunky Chalk. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Friction Labs Bam Bam Super Chunky Chalk

Country of manufacture: USA

For the climber reaching for the top quality, Friction Labs guarantees a high magnesium carbonate content in its chalks.

Bam Bam is the chunkiest of the three grades the US brand produces, and is refined to give the best moisture absorption without building up on the hand with subsequent decrease in grip. The pure chalk is also better for skin health.

The Bam Bam grade contains chunks for those climbers who prefer the feel of a lumpier texture to their chalk rather than pure powder. Friction Labs also produce fine and chunky versions – Unicorn Dust and Gorilla Grip.

If you want to fill your bag with long-lasting, high quality chalk, Friction Labs is hard to top.

The Bam Bam super chunky chalk comes in a 283g pack.

Climbskin Hand Cream, Silicium Gel and File. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Climbskin Hand Cream


Climbskin File


Climbskin Organic Silicium Gel

Country of manufacture: EU

Climbskin products are ideal for the climber looking to take care of two of his or her most valuable assets: the hands.

The Hand Cream, which comes in a 30ml pot, is a rapidly absorbed healing and rehydrating solution. Apply a thin layer an hour before starting your route to improve skin elasticity and control sweat. After climbing, apply the cream again to aid recovery and help cracks and wounds heal.

The File set comes with a wooden, slightly curved file with a coarse paper on one side and a smoother one on the other, along with two replacement papers of each grade.

The file can be used to remove callouses and lifted skin to level it to ensure healthy climbing.

Finally, the Organic Silicium Gel contains ingredients with anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory properties to help treat muscles, joints and tendons.

Rub a small amount of the gel on to affected areas and massage in after climbing to aid recovery and mitigate painful aches. The gel contains 10 natural ingredients and is vegan and dermatologically tested against skin irritation.

Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho

Country of manufacture: China

When the temperature at camp drops but it’s too early to hit the sack, this lightweight poncho will keep you warm and sheltered.

The Honcho Poncho is a one-size insulated garment that uses synthetic eraLoft compressible filling to provide warmth. The breathable shell is also water-resistant so you don’t need to worry about an odd shower.

When not in use, the Therm-a-Rest poncho packs neatly into its own pocket, with a zipped closure and hanging loop.

An insulated hood and warming kangaroo pocket ensure you’ll keep warm when the mercury drops and the wind rises. We’ve used it on a winter camp and it’s also useful on those barbecue nights when it gets nippy.

The loose fitting poncho and sleeves mean movement isn’t restricted, so you could even use it on an evening stroll on cooler days. Open the Honcho Poncho out and you’ve got a nice insulated blanket.

The Therm-a-Rest poncho is great for all those occasions when you need to keep warm, whether it’s spectating at sport, watching the sun set over the campsite or a trip to the beach on a cool day. The Honcho Poncho also compresses well and packaged neatly into its own kangaroo pouch when it’s time to move on.

Ultimate Performance Eddystone Clip-on Light. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Ultimate Performance Eddystone Clip-on Light

Country of manufacture: China

This dinky little light will make you more visible if you’re walking on road routes or heading out for a ride or a run in the dark.

The Eddystone Clip-on Light will fix on to belts, packs, clothing or even a dog collar and has two modes: constant or flashing.

The three LEDs will provide a blue warning light for up to half a mile and the supplied button batteries will keep it lit for up to 72 hours in constant mode; double that if used in flashing mode.

A simple single button turns the light on, then repeated pressing cycles it through flashing and then off. The plastic clip is spring loaded for assured attachment and the whole thing weighs only 20g and will fit easily in the pocket when not in use.

Snow Peak Titanium 300 Mug. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Snow Peak Titanium Single Wall 300 Mug

Country of manufacture: Japan

For the camper for whom every ounce counts, this little mug from Japanese brand Snow Peak will fit the bill. Holding a full morning cupful of 300ml, the single-wall mug’s construction means it tips the scales at just two ounces in old money.

The simple construction has a double fold-out handle which makes for a very compact mug when not in use. It stands just 8cm tall, with a diameter of 7.8cm including the stashed handle.

The mug is made from the material commonly used in aerospace and can be heated directly over a flame. It’s also resistant to corrosion.

We packed ours on a wild camping trip when we really didn’t want to add too much to our pack weight. The mug is an ideal size for your morning cuppa at camp and didn’t taint our coffee.

Keela Pola-cap. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Keela Pola-cap

Country of manufacture: not stated

This hat from Keela will keep your head warm when the weather turns wintry.

It’s fleece lined and the shell is made from Rainlife 5000 fabric to keep you dry in wet weather.

The Pola-cap has ear flaps which we found very useful on cold windy days, and there’s a wired peak which is great for angling the hat’s neb to block the wind or shade the eyes from low sunlight.

The Keela cap has a buckle adjuster at the rear and is also elasticated at the back to keep it in place.

The advantage of using the Pola-cap over a hood is that it turns freely with the head and there’s no obstruction of the view sideways.

We liked how the Pola-cap kept our head nice and warm and dry on our winter forays on to the hill and into the great outdoors.

Storm Apparel Care Kit. Photo: Bob Smith/grough


Storm Apparel Care Kit

Country of manufacture: England

Even the best waterproofs need regular washing and reproofing to maintain their performance.

This kit from Storm contains two aluminium bottles of eco-friendly solutions to restore the proofing of your waterproof jacket and trousers.

There’s enough in the two 225ml bottles for an average three treatments and both the wash and proofing solutions are free from perfluorinated compounds, the chemicals that have led to environmental and health concerns.

Treatment is simple: you pour 75ml of wash solution in the detergent compartment of your washer and a similar amount of proofer in the conditioner compartment. The kit comes with a little measuring cup to aid this.

After allowing the machine to run through its wash cycle, the waterproofs should be air dried before finally giving them 20 minutes in a tumble dryer to fully activate the proofing.

We’ve been very happy with our outdoor waterproofs after treatment with Storm solutions, with the rain beading off nicely and good breathability maintained. And it’s a small price to pay to keep yourself dry on the hills.

Cocoon Eye Shades. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Cocoon Deluxe Eye Shades

Country of manufacture: China

We love camping, but the chances are, if you’d like a little sleep-in during the summer months, your dreams will be interrupted as daylight starts to illuminate the tent.

These dark eye shades are made from soft microfibre in a sunglasses shape and the 3d construction has recesses for the eyes so there’s no discomfort from the shades pressing on them.

The elastic headband is adjustable for length and has a plastic buckle for unfastening the band. The Cocoon Deluxe Eye Shades also come with a pair of foam ear plugs, so the birds’ dawn chorus or noisy snoring campsite neighbours needn’t shorten your sleep either.

The shades are good for a snooze while plane or train travelling too. The black ripstop nylon certainly blocks the light, even with the sun streaming in through the window.

The shades and ear plugs pack into a small mesh case and weigh less than an ounce.

Sea To Summit Delta Insulmug. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Sea To Summit Delta Insulmug

Country of manufacture: China

This tough mug will hold 400ml of your favourite drink and keep it warm thanks to its moulded polyurethane sleeve, which can be removed for washing.

The Insulmug is made from tough but lightweight material and has a leak-proof sipping lid with a hanging cord.

The insulating sleeve also means you can comfortably hold the mug, and the lid is designed to stop dribbles. Inside the mug are markings in millilitres and fluid ounces, useful for measuring when camp cooking.

As well as keeping our coffee warm at camp, we’ve also used the Sea To Summit mug for our takeaway drinks in the city, avoiding single-use cups.

The Insulmug comes with the Australian brand’s lifetime warranty against defective materials or workmanship. It’s free from BPA and resistant to staining and odours. The mug can be safely cleaned in a dishwasher.

LED Lenser MH5. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

LED Lenser MH5

Country of manufacture: China

The MH5 is a versatile little headtorch that runs on either the single rechargeable lithium-ion battery or a AA alkaline battery, which is useful if you want to carry a spare on the hill in case it runs low on power.

The LED Lenser MH5 can be used conventionally as a headtorch, with a comfortable elasticated headband with a plastic buckle to adjust length. The back of the torch housing has a soft foam strip around its edge to increase comfort.

The torch unit can also be removed from its housing, which has spring plastic retainers that it clips into. This then enables the torch unit to be rotated downwards in a stepless motion.

Out of the headband housing, the torch can be used as a hand-held flashlight or clipped on to clothing or a belt, using the built-in metal clip.

The clip is also used, once the torch has been removed from the housing, to rotate the cap of the battery compartment to unlock it. The single lithium battery can then be charged using the recharging base, which has a standard USB plug and a charge indicator, which changes from red to green when fully powered.

The headtorch is simple to use. Pressing the button on top of the torch turns it on to low power. A second press turns on full power and pressing it again turns the unit off.

At full power, the MH5 delivers 400 lumen of power, with a beam penetrating the darkness for up to 180m. The beam can be changed from wide to narrow focus by rotating the lens on the front of the torch. On low power, the LED Lenser headtorch has 20 lumen of illumination, useful for map reading or close work. On the latter setting, the MH5 should provide light for 35 hours; at full power, it will last for four hours. The torch will blink four times when the charge is getting low.

The headtorch is rated at IP54 to resist rain.

We found the torch comfortable to wear out on the hill, and the beam picked out distant detail well, especially when focused to its narrow setting. On the wide setting, the beam was good and even, illuminating the terrain well when walking. The versatility of its different methods of use makes the torch handy in a range of situations too.

Lorpen T2 Light Hiker Socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lorpen T2 Light Hiker Socks

Country of manufacture: Portugal

No Christmas list would be complete without socks, and no walker who values his or her comfort should step out in anything other than socks designed for the purpose.

These Lorpen socks are made for general outdoor activities and mountaineering and use a combination of merino wool, polyester and nylon, with Lycra to keep them snug around the foot.

There’s generous padding under the heel and forefoot to toe areas, while the instep has a mesh section to aid ventilation.

The T2 Light Hiker are good for longer walks and length is right for most boots. We found them comfortable in a range of conditions, from cold winter days to warmer autumnal outings.

Moisture control was good, and the merino wool content also helps keep unwanted odours in check. The Lorpen T2 Light Hiker socks come in five different sizes for men and three sizes in the women’s version.

Eagle Creek Silicone Bottle Set. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Eagle Creek Silicone Bottle Set

188g including pouch
Country of manufacture: China

This set of four silicone bottles comes in a clear, zipped 1 litre pouch.

Two bottles are clear, and the other two powder-blue colour. They’re all under the limit for taking liquids and gels through security on to aeroplanes: the larger bottles have 88ml capacity and the smaller ones 59ml.

They’re ideal for repacking your toiletries into for camping trips or overseas travel. The bottles are squeezy so you can more viscous liquids out easily. The caps unscrew for filling and the silicone body continues through the threaded section to form a gasket and a good seal against the cap. The cap has a flip top with a firm click closure to stop leakage.

We’ve used the Eagle Creek bottles on our recent excursions and found them just right for items such as shampoo, liquid soap and shower gel. They’ll also be in our pack when we next go camping and at the airport, where the zipped bag will also conform to security rules.

The bottles are BPA- and PVC-free.

Vango Hard Anodised Cook Kit. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Vango Hard Anodised 1 Person Cook Kit

Country of manufacture: China

This little cook set is ideal for solo camping trips.

The larger pan has a 13cm diameter and stands 10cm tall. The smaller one is 12cm diameter and 6cm deep. The former holds about 700ml and the latter 400ml.

Both have hard anodised coating and plastic-coated fold-out handles. The small pot also doubles as a lid for the larger pan and the set comes in a storage pouch with drawstring closure.

The two pots are non-stick, which is a boon at camp where the last thing you want to be doing is spending ages scraping food off your cookware. The light weight of the kit means it’s ideal for wild camping and the bigger pot conveniently will accommodate a standard 220g gas canister, with a small stove then able to be stored in the smaller pan on top.

The Vango cook kit is good value too, which Santa always appreciates.

Craghoppers Packing Cube. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Craghoppers Packing Cube

Country of manufacture: China

Whether you’re keeping your rucksack neat or packing clothes for a weekend away, this item from Craghoppers is great for keeping together a set of clothes.

We’ve also used it to place clothes in once they’ve been worn, to separate washing from the rest of our bag contents.

The Packing Cube is lightweight and has a ripstop polyester body with one face in stretchy mesh, which allows you to see what’s in the cube and also permits some overfilling if needed. A zip opens the case on three sides and the cube has a webbing carry handle at the top.

The Craghoppers Packing Cube is a versatile piece of kit. It measures 39cm x 28cm, so it’s big enough to take quite a bit of clothing or other items.

Coleman Battery Guard Mini Lantern. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Coleman BatteryGuard 200L LED Lantern

268g with batteries
Country of manufacture: China

This little battery lantern provides gentle illumination in the tent or at camp.

It stands 12.5cm tall and contains a vertical LED element in a translucent housing, with a clear case giving 360-degree lighting.

The mini lantern also has a metal hanging loop and runs off four AA batteries, which aren’t supplied with the lantern.

It’s simple to use: just press the button on top of the lantern to turn it on and press again to turn it off.

The lantern also features Coleman’s Battery Guard technology, which is built into the switch and physically disengages the batteries to prevent draining and also protect against corrosion.

The light output is rated at 200 lumen and the Coleman lantern is rated IPX4 for water resistance, so can be used in the rain too. The LEDs in the lantern are good for 40,000 hours, Coleman says. One set of fully charged batteries will run the light for seven hours.

We’ve put the little lantern to use a good few times and it even doubles as a source of emergency lighting at home in case of a power cut.

Sherpa Adventure Gear Vishnu Hat. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Sherpa Adventure Gear Vishnu Hat

Country of manufacture: Nepal

This cosy hat will keep your head warm when the temperature drops.

Produced by women’s co-operatives in Nepal, the Vishnu uses a blend of merino wool, nylon and alpaca wool

The simple design has a broad turn-up at its base and hugs the head nicely. It stayed in place well in high winds and was ideal on the wintry Lake District mountains where we put it to use in temperatures hovering around freezing.

The speckled design is enhanced by a subtle Sherpa label on the hat, which is available in three colours.

The Sherpa Adventure Gear Vishnu Hat is an essential piece of kit for your winter mountain excursions or even on that shopping trip to the Christmas sales.

Snugpak Essential Wash Bag. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Snugpak Essential Wash Bag

Country of manufacture: China

The Snugpak wash bag is a sturdy, well designed piece of kit ideal for keeping your wash kit together during trips away or at the campsite.

The body of the wash bag is heavy-heavy duty ripstop polyester. A double puller zip opens the bag out to reveal lots of compartments.

There is a lined open pocket at the top, plus a smaller zipped one; a zipped mesh pocket and a large mesh main compartment with inner mesh bottle pockets, plus an elasticated accessory strap.

The wash bag also has a small detachable mirror, held in place by a hook-and-loop pad. There’s also a stainless steel hanging hook at the top of the pack and the Essential Wash Bag has a carry handle.

The Snugpak wash bag is a neat design at a good price and we’ve found it useful keeping our wash kit and toiletries together both on camp and during hotel stays.

Jack Wolfskin Skyland Glove. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Jack Wolfskin Skyland Glove

56g a pair
Country of manufacture: Vietnam

These stylish fleece gloves will keep your hands toasty on cold winter days.

The Skyland is a lightweight design with a stretchiness in its polyester fabric. The piqué structure of the weave allows good moisture management while maintaining warmth.

The gloves also have grip patches on the palm and lower thumb, while the index finger and thumb tips have touch-sensitive fabric that allows you to use touchscreens on phones or other electronic devices while keeping the Skyland gloves on.

There are partial elasticated sections at the cuffs to help keep the breeze out, and the gloves can be clipped together with a plastic hook when not in use.

We found the Skyland gloves ideal in cold winter conditions, especially when working hard on hill ascents, when the good breathability stopped our hands getting too clammy within the gloves.

The unisex Jack Wolfskin glove comes in five sizes and three colours.

Nalgene 32oz Wide Mouth. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Nalgene 32oz Wide Mouth

Country of manufacture: USA

This bottle is a simple but effective water carrier we’ve found useful in a variety of situations.

The Nalgene 32oz Wide Mouth holds a litre of your favourite drink and its 5cm opening means it’s quick and easy to fill from a stream, and you can even put ice cubes in it to help keep you cool on those hot days.

It’s made from tough Tritan material, which is free from BPA, BPS and phthalate. The cap has a good, deep thread to stop leaks and is tethered by a plastic strap so it won’t get lost.

As well as slotting the Nalgene bottle into our pack’s drink pocket, we’ve found the 32oz Wide Mouth useful at camp for measuring water for cooking. There are exterior scales for both millilitres and US fluid ounces on the bottle.

This tough bottle comes in 23 different colour combinations.

Keela Neck Fleece Gaiter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Keela Neck Fleece Gaiter

Country of origin: not stated

When the cold winter wind is driving at you, this warm fleece gaiter will protect your face and neck.

The lightweight Keela gaiter is made from soft 100 fleece and is long enough to pull up to keep your mouth, nose and ears covered when the temperature drops.

The stretchy Neck Fleece Gaiter is simple to use: just pull on over your head and tuck it into your jacket. It will keep the draught out and, when things get nippier, just pull it up to cover your face.

We’ve found it ideal on those cold, clear winter days when the wind stings your face and ears. The Keela gaiter is quick drying and wicks moisture well.

MSR Pika 1.0 L Teapot. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

MSR Pika 1.0 L Teapot

Country of manufacture: China

The Pika is new for this year and is a lightweight kettle that is a great addition to your camp cooking kit.

The aluminium teapot holds a litre of water and sits neatly on a lightweight stove. It has two concentric circular indents on its base to help keep it in place. The spout is near the top of the vessel to lessen the chance of water spurting out as it nears boiling.

The fold-down coated metal handle stays upright and allows easy pouring of your hot water or tea. The spout has a good pouring action, and there was no dribbling.

The Pika has a tinted transparent plastic lid so you can keep an eye on progress while heating your water. The lid has three small lugs that keep it in place and stop if falling off when pouring.

This little MSR kettle has found a permanent place in our camping kit and we’ve used it to heat water for our revitalising morning coffee. It’s also great for providing hot water for rehydrating food sachets at camp and the steady stream means filling narrow-necked vessels is no trouble.

The wide opening also makes it easy to clean and dry the inside of the MSR Pika 1L Teapot. It’s also big enough to store a lightweight canister-top stove inside if needed.

GP Xplor PH14. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

GP Xplor PH14

Country of manufacture: China

A headtorch is a vital piece of outdoor kit, especially in winter when the early onset of darkness can easily catch you out if you’re delayed on the hill.

If you have a headtorch, chances are you’ll be able to carry on and complete your route.

The PH14 is GP’s basic model, but still delivers 200 lumen of illumination at its top setting.

The PH14 uses three AAA alkaline batteries, which are supplied with the headtorch, but it will also run on nickel metal hydride cells if you want to use rechargeables.

Pressing the button on top of the housing turns the white LED on to full power. A second press drops it to mid power, with 100 lumen beam, and a third click turns the GP Xplor headtorch to low power, a 5 lumen setting that’s good for map reading and close work.

The headtorch also has two smaller red LEDs, activated by pressing the switch and holding it down. Pressing the button again puts the red lights into flashing mode, with a third click turning them off.

Turning the unit back on again will put it into full white LED mode, but you can turn on the red LEDs from off by holding down the button for two seconds.

The torch can be locked by holding down the button for five seconds. The main LED flashes twice to indicate it’s locked. The unit can be unlocked by holding down the switch for five seconds.

At full power the beam will illuminate for up to 120m.

The elasticated headband has four click positions, from level down to 60 degrees. The band has a reflective strip.

At full power setting, the PH14 will provide illumination for up to seven hours. It’s also water resistant to IPX6 level and designed to withstand a drop of 1m.

The GP Xplor PH14 is an ideal basic headtorch for general use. It provides good light in a concentrated beam while also giving out some peripheral lighting. If you don’t plan to do a huge amount of night walking but want the assurance of carrying a headtorch at all times, the modest price of the PH14 means you won’t be breaking the bank either.

Go Travel Hybrid Universal Pillow. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Go Travel Hybrid Universal Pillow

Country of manufacture: China

The one camp luxury we insist on is a pillow to lay our head on in the tent, to avoid waking up to a cricked neck and not having slept well because of the lack of comfort of a decent head support.

The Hybrid Universal Pillow combines a memory foam upper section with an inflatable base, so you can make it just the right height for your comfort.

The pillow also comes with a little stuffsack for travel. Just roll the pillow up and slide it into the drawcord-closure bag, which measures 15cm x 7.5cm when packed away.

When fully inflated the pillow has a thickness of 7cm, which we found about right for use in the sleeping bag. The Go Travel pillow can also be used while travelling on the train or plane and can also be used as a lumbar support for the back.

The top fabric, a 96 per cent polyester, 4 per cent elastane mix, is wipe clean.

The memory foam pillow was really comfortable in use, and the inflatable rear section gives the Go Travel Hybrid Universal Pillow great versatility.

Craghoppers 3 in 1 Packaway. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Craghoppers 3 in 1 Packaway

Country of manufacture: China

This clever little backpack is a great addition to your travel kit.

When stashed away in its pouch, it measures only 18cm x 12cm, so won’t take up much space in your luggage – especially important if you’re cramming as much as possible into cabin baggage.

Start to unpack the Packaway and it first turns into a shoulder bag or waist bag. One face of the bag has mesh covering, the other contains a second zipped compartment for smaller items, which is actually the storage pouch for the whole Packaway. The webbing shoulder-cum-waist strap is adjustable for length and has a buckle to fasten if using it as a waist pack or bum bag.

Unzip the main compartment and you can take out the little Craghoppers daysack, complete with adjustable shoulder straps. The shoulder bag pouch becomes an external mesh pocket with a zip, and the main compartment is big enough for the clothing for your day’s walk in the hills or through the city and has a double-puller zip opening for three-quarters of the pack’s length, to give easy access.

The Packaway is made from ripstop polyester which will stand up to those strolls on the hill, to the beach or round the city.

Wigwam Aldan Crew socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Wigwam Aldan Crew socks


Country of manufacture: USA

These Wigwam socks have a high wool content, with just over half the yarn used coming from merino sheep, with stretch nylon, polyester, Spandex and Tencel adding durability and fit.

The merino wool helps cut down odour and is also good for keeping your feet nice and warm on cold winter walks.

The crew-length Aldan is a good choice for most boots and the socks have lots of padding and insulation for the foot, along with a mesh section at the back of the instep to aid ventilation.

The midweight construction has just the right amount of underfoot cushioning at the heel and forefoot and the ribbed crew section makes for a comfortable fit with the boot top. The Wigwam socks stayed up well too.

The Aldan Crew will keep your feet warm on winter walks while maintaining underfoot comfort. The socks are available in four sizes and five colours.

  • All the samples tested by grough for this feature were supplied by the brands.

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