Need some gift ideas for the outdoorsy off-grid enthusiast? Survival expert and outdoorsman, L. Woodrow Ross, shares his top gift ideas for the adventurous at heart.
Now is the time to start purchasing gifts for friends and family members who love to recreate by going off-grid. There are items in an endless array of price points sure to appeal to their sense of adventure and self-sufficiency.
A few of our favorites are listed for your consideration.
Tools for Primitive Fire Starting
I know Bic® lighters are cheap and fairly dependable, but the more adventurous may appreciate some of these neat tools and methods for starting fires.
These are nifty little tools every outdoor adventurer should consider having. I usually keep a few in my backpack and close at hand around the house.
The neat thing is they will even work when wet. Just wipe them off, scrape with the spine of a knife made of carbon steel or use a special striker of carbon steel.
Carbon Steel Strikers
The advantage of these is that they also have a divot that can be used as a hold-down if you are a fan of using a bow drill to start fires. I enjoy the bow drill technique, but it is more physically demanding and rain or heavy humidity increases the difficulty.
Books On Fire starting
For those interested in fire starting and other primitive crafts or survival skills, I have 13 books on Amazon Kindle on these topics. They range from $.99 to $1.99 each and are available in electronic versions.
Another good source of general information about Bushcraft is Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury. It is available at Cabela’s for $16.99 and contains a wealth of information.
Crafting stone points for arrows and spears, stone knives and stone axes is an interesting skill that requires special tools.
I delve into the topic in one of my best-selling Amazon Kindle books entitled Introduction to Flintknapping.
There are many flint knapping enthusiasts, and there are locations around the United States and abroad that hold special Knap-In’s on a regular basis. There they share their skills and teach others about the craft.
The Schiele Museum in Gastonia, NC, holds such an event each year on the first weekend of August.
Tools for flint knapping are available from 3 Rivers Archery and various other resources online. 3 Rivers offers a starter kit for $50.99 that includes two pounds of spalls (flakes for knapping), a copper tipped bopper (billet), a stone abrader, a leather knee pad and an instruction sheet explaining the basics of flint knapping.
Basic tools include a heavy billet to break spalls from the larger stones. Smaller billets can be used to further reduce and shape the piece.
Once the basic shape of the knife blade is accomplished, pressure flaking can be performed with an antler tine or with copper flakers made from copper wire or copper nails inserted into wooden handles. Traditionalists use only natural tools as the aboriginal did. This is called ABO flintknapping.
I must warn you that this is a compelling sport.
The major expense is securing proper stone for knapping. Flintknapping Supplies, LLC, is a good resource. The cost depends on the quality of stone. They ship in One-Price boxes of 10 to 20 pounds, depending on the stone. I have found Georgetown Flint to be an excellent stone, but it is fairly difficult to knap. Twenty pounds is a little over $100 with tax and shipping.
My wife indulges my strange hobbies and will, occasionally, even contribute. She has purchased stone and knapping materials for me several times.
I have buckets of bottle bottoms and glass that is suitable for knapping, but it is dangerous, and I think she is protecting me by providing stone.
As a safety measure, always wear eye protection when flint knapping. You may find gloves to be needed as well, but most die-hard flint knappers do not use gloves.
Any off-road enthusiast can tell you horror stories of being stranded, miles away from civilization. To avoid, or at least reduce, this possibility, preparedness is the key.
A good gift idea along these lines is a ‘Come Along” winch and a good length of chain with clevis hooks.
Harbor Freight has Haul-Master® winches from $19.99 to $44.99 with weight classes from 1,200 pounds to 8,000 pounds.
Heavy chain by Haul-Master® is available at $39.99 for 3/8”X 15 feet.
Outdoor cooking is an art that many outdoorsmen and women enjoy.
J. Wayne Fears is a prominent writer and outdoorsman who has written extensively about outdoor cooking with cast iron cookware. He has represented Lodge Cast Iron cookware for a number of years and presides at events, teaching people how to cook with multiple Dutch ovens.
There are numerous good suppliers of cast iron cookware. A summary of cooking-related gifts is shown below:
- Lodge Camp Dutch ovens are available in many sizes. Cabela’s is a good location to shop, as they stock Lodge products as well as some of their own brands of cast iron.
- They offer Lodge Camp Dutch ovens in 2-quart size for $59.95, 6-quart size for $64.99 and 10-quart for $99.99. Intermediate sizes are available as well.
- They also offer other items such as lid lifters, trivets and a neat steel tripod for cooking over a campfire.
- Of course, cast iron is not light, so for the backpacker, they offer nested, light-weight cook-sets from $49.99 to $158.99.
- Last but not least is the Scotch Eye Auger or Auger Kit, a useful little tool for campers that allows them to fashion stools and various other devices from wood. It packs light and is only $26.96 to $71.96.
Gifts For Fly Fishing Enthusiasts
Lest we forget the anglers, there are some neat items that would satisfy any piscatorial adventurer.
Assuming that they have the basic gear, there are some neat fly-tying vises available.
- Cabela’s has a budget item called the Super AA vise and tool kit for only $29.99. The vise alone is only $14.99.
- If you want to bring tears of joy to a dear old angler's eyes, the Renzetti Traveler® rotary vise is my favorite, and retails for $178.99.
- There are several rotary vises that have lower price points, such as: Terra Rotary® at $49.99 and Byron Rotary travel vise at $149.99.
Alas, buying a vise is the tip of the iceberg, as the search for superior materials will become a lifelong endeavor, filling boxes, pegboards and tying benches with piles of feathers, dubbing, tying thread, etc.
Get more gift ideas from another seasoned angler in: Best Gifts for Anglers.
Knives, Knife Making, Leatherworking and Multi-tools
If your outdoor enthusiast is a fan of knives, knifemaking may be within their expertise or field of interest. Amazon offers steel in configurations conducive to producing knives.
- They offer 1095 steel in lengths of 12” long, 1 ½” wide and either 1/8” or 3/16” thick. A five pack of the 1/8” thickness is $26.99 and a 3 pack of the 3/16” thickness is $25.50. These are high carbon steel that has been annealed to increase the workability and make a very serviceable knife. Additional heat treating will be needed after the initial shaping and drilling for handle pins.
- Superior steels such as 1084 or Damascus are available at higher price points.
- Exotic woods in small sizes for grips are available from Bell Forest Products in size 6” long x 1 ½ x 1 ½”. The prices vary widely, based on the availability of the species of wood.
- A good knife deserves a good sheath, and leather products are available at Tandy and Hobby Lobby.
- Tools for leather working such as punches, Speedy Stitchers®, needles, artificial sinew or waxed cotton thread are available.
Finished knives are always a good gift
Depending on the end use, a good folder or a sheath knife might be the proper choice.
Knife prices vary widely, but there are several things to bear in mind when choosing the right knife:
- High carbon steel will be easier to sharpen and will take a better edge, but will rust. It must be kept lightly oiled and cleaned after use.
- Sheath knives should have full tang. The tang is the steel that is inside the handle. A full tang runs the complete length of the grip. The steel is sandwiched inside the grips and usually brass pins and epoxy keep the grips adhered to the steel. Some knives are not full tang and a thin tang of steel is inserted into a hole in the grip and adhesive like epoxy is used to bond it together.
- Handle materials of exotic wood, horn, bone or other special materials may be used on better grades of knives and will affect the cost of the product.
- If the user plans to use the spine (back of the blade) as a striker for your ferrocerium rod, the spine should be square and not rounded.
Don’t forget multi-tools!
Multitools include a knife blade. True, it is not as user friendly as a dedicated knife, but it has all kinds of other uses. These are available from dealers such as Cabela’s or online and range from under $10 to $100+.
A good brand such as Leatherman® or Gerber® is the best choice.
As a final thought about gift-giving...
Remember, it is not the cost of a gift that makes it special, it is the effort and thoughtfulness of the selection that matters.
We hope this list has given you some creative and original gift ideas for the outdoors off-grid enthusiast in your life.