We've been out trying Christmas stocking fillers. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

We've been out trying Christmas stocking fillers. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

With Christmas looming on the wintry horizon, we’ve had a sneak preview of goodies in Santa’s cave to help you with suggestions for last-minute festive gifts.

We’ve looked at items that an outdoor enthusiast will be pleased to find in his or her stocking on the morning of 25 December.

They range from camping gadgets to the inevitable socks, though with a definite walking emphasis. We’ve also looked at accessories that will make life in the outdoors a little more comfortable and perhaps even a little more fun.

We’ve also had the Christmas gear out on the hills and moors to give you our impression of each item.

So if you’re in a quandary over what outdoor goodies to buy your keen outdoors enthusiast, don’t panic; we’ve plenty of ideas for you.

Happy shopping!

Mpowerd Luci Solar String

Mpowerd Luci Solar String. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Mpowerd Luci Solar String. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

359g (including lead)
Case size: 13cm diameter x 5cm
Country of manufacture: China

Brighten up your glamping site or campervan with this colourful light string, which also doubles as a torch and charger.

The Luci Solar String can be powered by plugging into a source using a micro-USB lead or via its solar panel. Four LEDs on the outer case show how much charge the unit has.

A twist of the case opens it up to reveal the lights, on a 5.5m nylon braided cord. The 20 LED nodes glow nicely and the cord has a hanging hook on the end. Pressing the power button once turns on the white LED torchlight on the case. A second press turns on the colour string lights into a sequence of blue, purple, turquoise, green, pink and white. Repeat presses cycle the lights through the various colours.

Charging the unit via USB takes about four hours for full power. Using direct sunlight is slower: up to 16 hours. The USB-A socket on the case can be used to charge up devices such as mobile phones or other electronic devices.

The coloured lights will last up to 15 hours from a single full charge. The case also has a sturdy cord loop for hanging. It’s splash resistant and will operate in temperatures from 0C to 45C.

The colourful string is currently illuminating the grough desk to bring a little festive cheer to the workplace.

Kelty Cache Box medium

Kelty Cache Box. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Kelty Cache Box. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Size: 22cm x 11cm x 13cm
Country of manufacture: China

This handy addition to the camp gear is a useful little storage box to protect more delicate items.

The Cache Box has a moulded base and lid, with a zip closure. Inside, there’s foam padding and a movable divider to help keep things in place, plus a small pouch with lid for bits and pieces. Both have hook-and-loop strips to attach in the desired position. There are also two elasticated bands in the lower part of the box, and the lid has a mesh pocket.

We’ve also used the Cache Box to keep a camera lens protected in our rucksack when out on the hill.

The box has small webbing handles on three sides, which are helpful retrieving the box from a pack or duffle bag.

We used the medium sized Cache Box, which is 22cm x 14cm x 13cm. The Kelty Cache Boxes are also available in a small and large size, costing £13 and £22 respectively, and can be used in a variety of situations: at home, on the campsite, in the car boot and in the outdoors.

They come with Kelty’s lifetime warranty.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Size: 22.9cm x 2.5cm
Country of manufacture: South Korea

The LifeStraw is a great addition to the pack of any outdoors enthusiast.

The plastic-bodied water filter weighs only as much as a Mars bar and takes up hardly any room, but enables clean water to be obtained while on the hills.

The Personal version of the filter has a lanyard and tethered lower cap over its base. After opening the cap, you place the bottom of the cylindrical filter in your water source. The mouthpiece also has a tethered cover. Open this and simply draw you water up the LifeStraw.

The filter removers more than 99 per cent of bacteria, including E.coli and salmonella; 99 per cent of parasites such as cryptosporidium and giardia, and 99 per cent of microplastics. It also reduces sand, silt and cloudiness of the water.

The membrane microfilter is good for up to 4,000 litres of water, enough for an individual’s average water needs in the outdoors for more than five years. The LifeStraw has an unlimited shelf life.

We’ve used the LifeStraw Personal Filter extensively while in the hills and it’s especially useful on multi-day trips when you can’t carry enough water in your pack. As well as drinking straight from streams using the LifeStraw, we’ve also used a wide-necked bottle to scoop out water then use the filter to drink it safely.

LifeStraw also supports bringing clean water to developing countries. For every 500 products the company sells sell, it distributes a LifeStraw Community purifier to a school in need which provides safe water to 100 school children for a period of five years. Put another way, one purchase of any LifeStraw product provides a year of safe water to a child in need.

So not only can you quench your thirst with cool mountain water, you can also feel the warm glow of knowing you’ve helped someone less fortunate to vital clean drinking water.

Keela Extreme Gloves

Keela Extreme Gloves. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Keela Extreme Gloves. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Colour: green/black
Country of manufacture: not stated

The early taste of winter gave us chance to give a good try-out for these waterproof gloves, which also have PrimaLoft insulation.

On cold, snowy and rainy days, the Extreme Gloves kept our hands warm and dry. The PrimaLoft insulation worked really well on stormy days when the temperature dropped.

The gloves have an elasticated wrist and the cuff can be cinched in snug around the wrist using a drawcord and spring toggle. The palm has a grip covering and the fingers are pre-curved. The forefinger and thumb also have touch-screen compatible tips and the thumb has a soft nose-wipe

The lining is soft microfibre which adds to the cosy feel of the gloves. The Extreme Gloves also have a plastic clip to keep them together when not in use.

The Keela gloves were ideal on the typical wet, windy and cold days that frequently accompanied our outdoor sorties in late autumn and early winter.

The Extreme Glove comes in S to XL size in black, green and black, or white and black.

Leatherman Bond multitool

Leatherman Bond multitool. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Leatherman Bond multitool. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

194g including case
Country of manufacture: USA

The Bond multitool is based on the original Leatherman, but adapted to be suitable for every day carrying in the UK, where items with locking blades are not allowed to be legally carried without good reason. The main knife blade is 2.9ins (7.36cm) to comply with UK legislation.

In its fully closed position it measures 10.3cm x 3cm x 1.4cm.

Opening up the Bond reveals the main tool, which combines a pair of needle-nose pliers with standard plier section to grip items. It also incorporates a pair of wire cutters.

The handles are slightly rounded on the edges to make gripping the pliers more comfortable. On the outer surface of the handles are scales in centimetres and inches, enabling items up to 19cm or 7½ins to be measured.

Folded within the handles are various tools, which are accessed by pressing down on cams at the end of the handle with the thumb to lever them into position.

These tools are: the main knife blade in high-carbon stainless steel; a can opener; a Phillips screwdriver; a bottle opener; an awl, with a thread loop; a small flat-blade screwdriver; a large flat-blade screwdriver; a wire stripper; and a file for use on wood or metal. There’s also a metal fold-out loop for attaching a lanyard to guard against dropping the multitool.

The Bond comes with a nylon sheath with press-stud closure and belt loop.

We’ve used the Leatherman Bond both at camp and at home. Essentials such as a bottle opener combined with tools such as screwdrivers and pliers make the Bond a useful piece of kit at the campsite when minor adjustments or repairs are needed to gear.

It’s also a boon around the house when a sharp knife is needed or one of the 14 tools can be put to good use.

Quality is everything you expect from Leatherman, and the brand offers a 25-year warranty on the multitool.

Showers Pass National Geographic Waterproof Socks

Showers Pass National Geographic Waterproof Socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Showers Pass National Geographic Waterproof Socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Country of manufacture: Taiwan

These socks from the Oregon-based brand have kept our feet warm and dry on repeated outings onto very boggy moors and hills.

The Showers Pass socks have lining made of a blend of merino wool, acrylic, polyester and nylon, while the outer layer is nylon, polyester, Lycra and Spandex. There’s good underfoot terry loop cushioning and the socks feel instantly cosy. They’re waterproof and breathable thanks to an Artex membrane in the three-layer construction, ideal for the UK’s winters.

The socks are mid-calf height, so can be used in winter boots.

We’ve used them both in conjunction with boots on some foul days and with trail shoes for yomps across the moors, and we’ve come back with warm, dry feet each time.

The design features the National Geographic yellow border on the black fabric.

The outer fabric is wear resistant, so should provide long service.

Saxx Volt Briefs Twin Pack

Saxx Volt Briefs Twin Pack. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Saxx Volt Briefs Twin Pack. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

£47 (two pairs)
Country of manufacture: China

No matter how comfortable your layering system keeps you, if the basics are wrong you’re going to have a less enjoyable outing.

Saxx’s Volt Briefs are touted as the ‘saviour of men’s tackle’, with the anatomically designed Ballpark Pouch enabling chafe-free walking on the longest routes.

This special Christmas is Pants twin pack includes a Bad Santa design along with a pair of plain black briefs.

We’ve been fans of the Saxx briefs for a while. The breathable micromesh construction helps ensure a well ventilated experience for maximum comfort. Combined with flat seams and the hammock-shaped pouch, which keeps things in place, we’ve had many a long day on the hills with no discomfort.

The Bad Santa design brings an off-beam festive feel to the underwear, with various Father Christmases depicted in mug-shot line-ups. For those less Yule-inclined, the plain black version in the pack features the same broad elasticated waistband for a snug fit and comfort.

The briefs come in sized XS-XXL.

John Muir Trust Wild Nature Diary

John Muir Trust Wild Nature Diary. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

John Muir Trust Wild Nature Diary. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

£15 plus £2.95 postage
Country of manufacture: UK

The desk diary features stunning photography and is edited and published by John Beatty in partnership with conservation charity the John Muir Trust.

Pictures from Beatty and numerous other photographers feature in the diary, ranging from mountain scenery to impressive wildlife shots capturing Britain’s flora and fauna.

The diary pages have a week in view, and there is also a year planner at the front of the wire-bound book, along with a 2023 planner at the back. There are biographies of each of the 23 photographers, the selected work of which follows a theme of biodiversity and mountain environments.

An indicator map gives the locations of each of the photographs’ subjects. The diary has pages for notes at the back.

A Wild Nature Calendar from John Beatty and the John Muir Trust is also available at £12 plus postage.

Nalgene Sustain 1 litre Wide Mouth Bottle

Nalgene Sustain 1 litre Wide Mouth Bottle. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Nalgene Sustain 1 litre Wide Mouth Bottle. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Colour: blue
Country of manufacture: USA

We like the Nalgene bottle’s design with its wide opening and tethered cap, making it easy to fill on the campsite or from a stream.

The latest version is also kinder on the planet, with 50 per cent recycled content, containing the equivalent of eight single-use plastic bottles that would otherwise have gone to landfill.

The 89mm (3½ inch) diameter bottle holds 1 litre and is made from tough Tritan Renew material, which is free from potentially harmful BPA and BPS chemicals.

When things warm up, the 63mm-diameter cap is wide enough to allow ice-cubes to be added to your drink. The opening will also accommodate many filtration systems. The bottle stands 21cm high, so will fit in many rucksack side pockets for easy access on the move.

We’ve found the Nalgene bottle really useful on the campsite, with a good capacity for adding water to cooking food for instance, as well as on the hoof when you need to rehydrate.

Our model came in blue, but the Sustain 1 litre bottle is available in 10 other colours. Nalgene says the bottle’s cap semi-buttress thread means it has a leakproof guarantee and, if you’re using it at home, it can be cleaned in a dishwasher.

Berghaus Twentyfourseven 25 rucksack

Berghaus Twentyfourseven 25 rucksack. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Berghaus Twentyfourseven 25 rucksack. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Colour: black
Country of manufacture: Vietnam

The Twentyfourseven 25 is, as its name suggests, an everyday rucksack that’s at home on the hill as well as on the daily commute.

The 25-litre model has a good-sized main compartment, which contains a large pouch for a hydration reservoir or, for urban use, slipping in a tablet computer. There’s a hook-and-loop hanger for your reservoir and a drink tube exit.

Inside the main area is a zipped pocket for odds and ends, which has a key loop.

The rucksack’s back is ventilated air-mesh foam and the harness straps have similar vented padding. The sternum strap has four alternative height adjustments.

On the front of the pack is a large open pocket, useful for slipping wet clothing into and the Twentyfourseven also has twin bottle pockets on its sides. There are compression straps and walking-pole loops at the bottom of the rucksack, along with a small plastic carabiner for attaching an item.

The fabric is tough-feeling ripstop.

We’ve used the Berghaus pack for a variety of purposes, from our daily walks on the moors to urban outings and even a walk to the shops to pick up a few essentials. It’s sturdy yet light and felt comfortable on the back.

Keen Howser II Slipper

Keen Howser II Slipper. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Keen Howser II Slipper. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

714g a pair
Colour: grey
Country of manufacture: Cambodia
Sizes: women’s 2½-8½; men’s 6-14

Keen’s Howser slipper has a pliable water-resistant nylon upper with a patterned rubber sole.

The slippers are lined with microfleece which kept our feet cosy on cold nights. There are twin elasticated panels which allow the Howser to be slipped on easily. There’s a removable insole with generous memory foam padding, making the slippers very comfortable.

The rubber outsole is sturdy enough to stand up to use outdoors, and has extensions at the toe and heel to give protection in these areas.

This, and the water-resistant quilted uppers make the Howser II usable at the campsite or in the garden, without worrying about water seeping up through the sole. There’s enough protection to enable them to be comfortable on gravel tracks, for instance, and the warmth is just right for outdoor use as well as round the house.

We found the Keen slippers great to put on after a long, hard walk. Kicking off our boots and slipping on the Howsers became the norm after a hike on the hills or moors. The cushioned insole and microfleece lining provided a comfortable relief for tired feet.

They’re also great to put on in the morning when camping, so you can meander to the wash block or set up the stove without having to lace up your boots first.

Durability should be good too, with quality materials and construction.

Versatility of the Howser II is good. They’re happy at home traipsing round the house and garden but come into their own during breaks under canvas.

Princeton Tec Amp 1L hand torch

Princeton Tec Amp 1L hand torch. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Princeton Tec Amp 1L hand torch. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

64g with diffuser
Country of manufacture: USA
Size: 10cm x 3cm (without diffuser cone)

This compact little torch provides an impressive 100 lumen spot beam from its single Maxbright LED. It’s small enough to slip in the pocket so you have illumination on hand whenever it’s needed.

Operation is simple. Load the two supplied AAA alkaline batteries by unscrewing the lamp housing, then replace it, ensuring the polarity marked on the LED housing is correct. The torch beam is turned on by further screwing the front section until the LED illuminates. Switching the torch off is done by simply unscrewing the front section a half turn or so.

The Amp 1L also comes with a cone-shaped diffuser to give a softer light.

The torch has a large plastic loop at its end with an insert that enables it to double as a bottle opener.

The Princeton Tec torch is waterproof to IPX8, meaning it will survive submersion down to 100m. The alkaline batteries can also be replaced with rechargeable NiCad or NiMH versions, and the Amp 1L comes with a 10-year warranty.

The beam will reach 64m with fresh batteries, dropping to 36m after half an hour’s use; 10 hours later it should still illuminate for 15m, making it a good emergency torch to carry as a backup in case your main headtorch fails, for instance.

The Amp 1L is a great little addition to campers’ and walkers’ kit. It’s small and light and can be clipped onto a carabiner. And that bottle opener could be very handy for accessing some refreshment after a hard day on the hill.

We’ve used it a lot around the house too, both with and without the diffuser. With the diffuser fitted, the Princeton Tec torch also makes a great tent lamp, suspended by its carabiner loop.

Lorpen T3 All Season Trekker Socks

Lorpen T3 All Season Trekker Socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lorpen T3 All Season Trekker Socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

116g a pair
Country of manufacture: Spain
Sizes: S-XL

The Lorpen socks are optimised for summer walking but, as the name suggests, are suitable for year-round use.

They have a beefy, reinforced construction and use polyester Coolmax, Lyocell Tencel, Nylon and Lycra in their construction.

There’s good loop-knit cushioning under the foot and heel, a venting area on the top surface of the forefoot area, an articulated section at the front of the ankle and the length of the All Season Trekker is crew, extending well above boot-top level.

We’ve worn the Lorpen socks in a variety of conditions, mostly cool to cold, rather than warm, but they still kept our feet snug. The cushioning felt good and comfort was good on long walks in the hills and on the moors.

Durability felt good too, and the T3 All Season Trekker’s Lycra element meant the sock hugged the foot nicely.

Definitely a sock for those long treks into the hills.

Hydro Flask 20oz insulated food jar

Hydro Flask 20oz insulated food jar. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Hydro Flask 20oz insulated food jar. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Size: diameter: 11cm; height 12cm
Country of manufacture: China

The insulated jar is a good size and will hold 590ml of your favourite hot or cold food.

We made our porridge last thing at night at camp and it was still good to eat when we opened the Hydro Flask jar in the morning. It will also keep food cool, so when the temperature rises, your fruit or salad doesn’t go the same way.

Quality is as good as you would expect from Hydro Flask, with the powder-coated surface dishwasher safe, and the pro-grade stainless steel inner ensuring a pure taste with no flavour transfer. The lid has a soft-grip surface which makes it easy to open, and is guaranteed leakproof.

The double-wall vacuum insulation enables the jar to keep things hot or cool for hours. We found the best way with hot food was to fill the jar first with near-boiling water, which we then used for our coffee. The pre-warmed jar kept our breakfast warm for a good time.

The insulated food jar is BPA-free and phthalate-free and comes with Hydro Flask’s lifetime warranty. The lid seal can be removed for cleaning.

As well as on the campsite, we used the Hydro Flask insulated food jar around the house to prepare lunch early in the morning so it was ready to eat later in the day. Ice-cream is another good use for the jar.

We used the 591ml jar, which comes in seven colours; a smaller version is 355ml capacity and a larger one 795ml.

Tentree Kurt Beanie

Tentree Kurt Beanie. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Tentree Kurt Beanie. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Colour: black
Country of manufacture: China

As the temperature drops, you need to keep warm on the hill, and the head is where a lot of heat can be lost.

This simple beanie hat from Tentree uses a blend of 50 per cent merino wool and 50 per cent recycled polyester. The turnup features the brand’s tree logo and we found the hat ideal in the early cold snap.

The merino helps combat odour too.

While wearing the Tentree hat to keep your head protected from the cold, you can also bask in the warm glow of knowing the brand is helping the global environment by planting 10 trees for every item sold. So far, they’ve supported the planting of more than 65 million cross the globe.

The Kurt Beanie is unisex and should fit most head sizes.

Platypus Quickdraw Microfilter

Platypus Quickdraw Microfilter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Platypus Quickdraw Microfilter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Country of manufacture: USA

The Platypus QuckDraw has been our constant companion on long summer walks and multi-day outings this year.

The system allows quick access to clean water drawn from streams and lakes. Its hollowfibre filter removes more than 99 per cent of bacteria and protozoa such as cryptosporidium, E.coli, giardia, salmonella and cholera.

The one-litre tri-layer soft reservoir is used to scoop ‘dirty’ water from the source. The reservoir has a wide neck and a handy plastic loop handle, which makes it easier to hold and run through the water to capture the liquid. The plastic filter neck then screws into the thread with a very secure feel, and clean water can then be squeezed either directly into your mouth or another bottle. The drink spout has a tethered cap to keep it clean.

The filter thread will also fit some other Platypus bottles and reservoirs as well as some common 28mm drink bottles and smartwater bottles.

Flow of up to 3l per minute can be attained.

When not in use, a cap screws onto the ‘dirty’ end of the filter, which can then be rolled up within the flexible reservoir to make it compact. The filter will treat up to 1,000 litres.

The compact nature of the QuickDraw makes it ideal for lightweight backpacking and days out in the mountains.

Darn Tough Animal Haus Crew Lightweight Lifestyle Sock

Darn Tough Animal Haus Crew Lightweight Lifestyle Sock. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Darn Tough Animal Haus Crew Lightweight Lifestyle Sock. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

51g a pair
Country of manufacture: USA

These crew-length lightweight socks from the USA brand are made from 60 per cent merino wool, combined with nylon and Lycra.

They’re part of the Darn Tough’s lifestyle range, so aren’t cushioned, but rather designed for when you’ve kicked off your boots and slipped into your shoes after a long day on the hill. Or maybe for those days when you’re relaxing at the campsite, or even heading into town, so your friends can ask why your socks have an image of a bicycle-riding, beer-drinking dog on them.

The Animal Haus socks provide good comfort thanks to their performance fit and undetectable seams, and are available in men’s and women’s versions. The high merino content keeps feet warm when the temperature drops, yet cool on warmer days. The socks carry Darn Tough’s lifetime guarantee.

Montane Coda Cap

Montane Coda Cap. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Montane Coda Cap. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Country of manufacture: Vietnam

The Coda Cap is very lightweight and designed with runners in mind, but will be appreciated by all fast movers on the hill.

The Aeroflyte QD fabric is 88 per cent polyester with 12 per cent Elastane, to allow a nice stretchiness and snug fit while offering good wicking.

The peak is a good size and has large cut-outs in its stiffener to cut weight and the cap also has laser-cut perforations to help ventilation. The headband liner is made from Coolmax polyester to help stop you overheating while on the move.

There’s a rear hook-and-loop strip to secure the cap in place, and this has reflective detail for safety.

We found the Coda Cap ideal for those day when low sunlight causes problems, with the large peak helping to stop the sun dazzling and obscuring trail details. The cap is so small and light it’s hardly noticeable in the pack.

SubZero Factor 2 Plus Touchscreen Gloves

SubZero Factor 2 Plus Touchscreen Gloves. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

SubZero Factor 2 Plus Touchscreen Gloves. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

42g a pair

SubZero Factor 2 Plus Touchscreen Grip Gloves
43g a pair
Country of manufacture: Great Britain

The Factor 2 Plus come in two versions: one with a silicone grip area on the thumb, forefinger and middle finger areas and one without.

Both are made from warm stretchy fabric with high polyamide content and are designed to be worn as liner gloves on cold winter days or on their own on cool days.

The gloves have conductive material on the thumb and first two fingers, allowing them to be used on touchscreens of smartphones and other electronic gadgets.

The cuffs are double thickness and fit snug around the wrist, keeping out cold draughts. A brushed microfleece lining gives the gloves a warm, comfortable feel and they have good windblocking too.

We used them mainly on their own on cool, blowy days when the SubZero gloves provided just the right combination of warmth and breathability. The Grip version was useful for providing a more assured hold on items such as phones and bottles.

The lightweight gloves don’t add much of a burden to the backpack and are handy to have with your kit even on spring, summer and autumn days on the mountains when a chill breeze whips up.

Tilley Trail Beanie

Tilley Trail Beanie. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Tilley Trail Beanie. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Colour: beige
Country of manufacture: China

Tilley may be best known for their brimmed and bucket hats, but this traditional beanie from the Canadian brand is ideal for cold winter outings.

The waffle-weave hat blends acrylic with merino wool to provide good warmth for outdoor ventures when the temperature drops. The wool in the mix helps wick moisture away from the head, and there’s a wide microfleece inner headband to add to the cosiness.

There’s enough stretch in the fabric to ensure a snug fit from the one-size beanie.

We’ve made extensive use of the Tilley hat during the recent early tastes of winter, when it provided good protection against biting winds, snow and sub-zero temperatures, with the beanie covering the ears too.

Snugpak Pakbox 2

Snugpak Pakbox. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Snugpak Pakbox. Photo: Bob Smith/grough


Snugpak Pakbox 6
Country of manufacture: China

These simple soft cases are great for organising your gear in a rucksack, duffel bag or travel case.

Anyone who’s rooted around in the bottom of their pack to find that piece of equipment or clothing will appreciate how useful it is to be able to lay your hands on the required item quickly.

These simple Pakboxes come in a range of sizes from 1 litre to 6 litres. We tried out the 2- and 6-litre versions. The cases have a partial mesh front to view contents, and a zip around three sides to enable quick access.

The material is robust-feeling ripstop polyester, and the case has a webbing handle on top. They can be stacked vertically if required. You can also use them to compress clothing a little and keep items together.

We found the smaller one very useful for storing all the electronic bits and pieces, such as chargers, powerbanks, leads, spare batteries and such, that inevitably accompany any trip these days. We used the six-litre Pakbox to keep together all the clothing we needed for the following day in one place so they were easy to find and put on in the morning.

Ranging from £6 to £9, the Snugpak Pakboxes are inexpensive and lightweight, yet have a rugged feel.

They are available in black or olive green.

Buff neck gaiter

Buff neck gaiter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Buff neck gaiter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

CoolNet UV

Merino Lightweight
Country of manufacture: Spain

The Buff neck gaiter is a versatile, lightweight piece of kit that has a place in every rucksack.

At its basic, it provides warmth around the neck area, blocking draughts and stopping body heat escaping. Pull up its top edge and it becomes a face and ear covering, keeping them warm when the cold wind hits you.

The Buff can also be used as makeshift beanie hat, a balaclava, headband, hood, or pirate-style scarf.

We tested two versions. The CoolNet UV uses 95 per cent recycled polyester and incorporates UPF50 protection against UV rays. As with all Buff’s neck gaiters, the manufacturing process means there’s no seams to cause discomfort, and the stretch fabric was comfortable and kept the wind out on days when we were moving a little faster.

The Merino Lightweight model is, as the name implies, the lightest of the brand’s merino gaiters, made from 125g/m2 wool. On cold windy days, the Buff kept our face and ears warm without causing clamminess.

Both Buff gaiters take up next to no room in the pack and weigh less than a couple of ounces. We don’t leave home on a winter’s day without one.

LifeStraw Go 1L Water Bottle with Filter

LifeStraw Go 1L Water Bottle with Filter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

LifeStraw Go 1L Water Bottle with Filter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Country of manufacture: South Korea

The LifeStraw Go combines the brand’s filter with a one-litre rigid bottle to enable easy rehydration from sources in the outdoors.

The clear bottle has a wide neck for easy filling from streams and other water sources. Into this is screwed the lid, which incorporates a two-part filter that sits in the water and has a flip-up drinking spout, through which clean water can be drawn.

The top part of the cylindrical filter is an activated charcoal element to reduce chlorine, organic chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides, and improve taste.

The main microfilter element removes more than 99 per cent of bacteria and parasites such as cryptosporidium and giardia.

The first filter is good for 100 litres use and the microfilter for 4,000 litres.

The bottle has a carabiner attached to its neck, so can be hung from a rucksack while on the move. The mouthpiece is silicone and the tough plastic bottle is BPA-free.

We’ve used the LifeStraw Go at camp and also on multi-day walks. Filling was straightforward and you then have the comfort of knowing most of the likely nasties have been taken out of your water. It reduces the need to carry heavy bottles of water if your route passes streams and lakes, and the quality of the kit should ensure good durability.

LifeStraw even suggests using the bottle at home and around town, rather than resorting to expensive single-use drinks bottles which are not eco-friendly.

As with other LifeStraw products, the company will provide clean water for a child in a developing country for a year for every item sold.

Montane Alpine Spirit Gaiter

Montane Alpine Spirit Gaiter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Montane Alpine Spirit Gaiter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

160g a pair
Colour: black
Sizes: S, M, L
Country of manufacture: Myanmar

A pair of gaiters will keep the worst of the boggy environment out of your boots and protect the lower part of your trousers in typical wet UK weather.

Just as importantly, in winter they will prevent snow going down your boots and stop you ending up with wet and cold feet.

The unisex Alpine Spirit Gaiters are made from 70 denier recycled nylon and benefit from a Gore-Tex Performance membrane to keep out the wet and aid breathability.

There’s a sturdy, broad hook-and-loop closure running the full length at the front of the gaiter, with a metal lace hook and elasticated top hem with drawcord and spring toggle to keep them in position. There’s also an elasticated section at the ankle area and at the heel to keep the gaiter cinched in and stop flapping.

A durable Hypalon underfoot strap has buckle adjustment each side.

The Alpine Spirit Gaiters came in to their own during the recent early snow. Walking through drifts without gaiters led to the inevitable uncomfortable cold ingress of snow into the boot, and a wet foot for the rest of the walk.

The following days, with the Montane Gaiters on, the experience was much more pleasant, with the white stuff kept nicely out of the boots and an arrival back with dry, warm feet.

Moral of the story: if you’re going out in snow, pack a pair of gaiters.

Breathability from the Gore-Tex fabric was good too, and the gaiters have a very robust feel.

Kelty Bestie Blanket

Kelty Bestie Blanket. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Kelty Bestie Blanket. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Country of manufacture: China

When the temperature drops, at the campsite, picnic site or even at home, Kelty’s Bestie Blanket will provide instant warmth.

At 192cm x 107cm, it’s big enough to wrap around you to keep you snug, or share it with your close friend to keep you both warm.

The face fabric is soft and the filling is synthetic without being bulky. It comes with a stuffsack with a handy carrying handle.

The Bestie Blanket can also be used at camp to provide extra warmth over or under your sleeping bag. In winter it could be a good addition to your car boot as an emergency blanket.

The Kelty blanket is available in four different designs and colourways.

EDZ Waterproof Socks

EDZ Waterproof Socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

EDZ Waterproof Socks. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

135g a pair
Sizes: 5/6-11/12
Country of manufacture: China

These socks from EDZ will keep your feet warm and dry, thanks to their waterproof construction and 50 per cent merino wool lining.

If you’re not sure how waterproof your boots are, these socks provide a second line of defence against the UK weather and terrain. The boots are mid-calf length, so good to use with higher winter boots.

The outer face is a mixture of 80 per cent nylon and 20 per cent Lycra, giving the socks a durable feel.

We’ve been glad of the EDZ Waterproof Socks on regular outings onto snow-covered and boggy moors and hills, keeping our feet warm and dry all day long.

Overall comfort was good too, with underfoot cushioning extending up the Achilles’ area and around the toes. The EDZ socks are a great addition to a walker’s winter kit.

Helinox Speed Stool M

Helinox Speed Speed Stool M. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Helinox Speed Speed Stool M. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

433g a including case
Country of manufacture: Vietnam/South Korea

The Speed Stool is Helinox’s smallest and lightest seat, compact enough to be considered for backpackers and lightweight campers.

The stool comes in a case that measures just 42cm and has a drawstring closure. It’s easy to assemble: you just pull the stool out of the bag, open up the seat and its sturdy aluminium legs snap into place. To pack it away, just pull the legs out of their sockets and fold them against the seat. Shockcords keep them attached.

Despite its small size, the strong construction means it has a capacity of 100kg. Helinox offers a five-year warranty on the Speed Stool.

The stool stands 28cm high and we’ve found it useful when cooking on a lightweight stove, meaning we’re not having to sit or kneel on the ground, making the process more comfortable.

We’ve used larger Helinox seats at base camps but these are probably a bit too large and heavy to consider for wild camping trips. The Speed Stool, however, provides a little comfort at a remote camp without adding too much weight – it’s less than 500g packed in its bag – and doesn’t take a great deal of space in the pack.

Quality is good too, with the large section legs feeling strong and the seat fabric sturdy. There are plastic feet on each leg, and the hinges run freely.

The Helinox Speed Stool is even worth considering as an alternative to a sit mat to use when you stop for lunch on your walk. Its quick and easy assembly means it can be in use in a jiffy.

Tentree Go Climate Plus

The scheme plants trees to offset carbon. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The scheme plants trees to offset carbon. Photo: Bob Smith/grough


Something different for that outdoors person who probably has everything he or she needs, or perhaps doesn’t approve of rampant consumerism for the sake of it: Tentree’s Go Climate Plus scheme.

Tentree will plant trees on your behalf to more than offset the carbon you produce in your various activities. Jetting off on holiday? That will probably produce more than 2 tonnes of carbon. For £3.95 the company will support the Climate+ movement in planting enough trees to compensate more than the carbon you have caused to be produced.

Tentree works groups such as Eden Reforestation Projects, Trees for the Future, and Plant with Purpose, planting trees in areas such as Madagascar and Indonesia. Mangroves are a particular focus as they have a greater impact on carbon sequestration – the storing of the element most scientists believe are a major contributor to global heating and subsequent climate change.

You can choose the particular activity (or inactivity) you want to offset and pay the appropriate amount to offset the carbon it causes.

  • Except where stated, the samples for our review were supplied to grough by the brands. Some brands have experienced supply problems because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, so check availability before ordering.

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