Ten Holiday Gifts for the Walker

December 10, 2014  •  Leave a Comment



Searching for that ideal gift for your bipedal friends and loved ones? Here are ten ideas geared to the pleasure and art of walking. These are my personal choices based on experience. I have no association with any company or website mentioned. Excepting items 10 and 11, of course.


So let's get moving!



1. Wanderlust: A History of Walking  by Rebecca Solnit.


This is a remarkable book, detailing the wide-ranging history, philosophy and art of walking. My well-worn volume stays by my side as a source of inspiration, ideas and motivation. (CAD $13.72 on amazon.ca)






2.  Toiletries for Walkers.


This is a well-tested kit of toiletry essentials for those embarking on a long distance walk, such as a Camino de Santiago route. Total cost is less than CAD $20.00.


First is the Lush 2-in-1 jasmine shampoo bar with conditioning butters, my travel shampoo/conditioner since 2007. One of these solid, compact and light-weight pucks provided about 50 hair washes on our Prague-to-Vienna walk. Just wet your hair, rub the bar in a circle (just once) across the scalp and massage. It smells great and, if it matters to your walker friend, is vegan as well. Carry-on friendly and near weightless at 54 grams. (CAD $11.95)


Second is Colghan's Soap Caddy, available at most outdoor gear stores. It’s a simple caddy for the Lush soap bar with a handy cord so you can hang your shampoo over a shower head. Drain holes in the bottom allow the Lush bar to drain and dry. (CAD $2.49)


Third is a yellow mesh bath sponge. I like using a wash cloth when showering but this is rarely provided in hotels outside North America. So I take a yellow plastic mesh pouf sponge. Holds soap well, dries quickly with a few shakes and doesn’t get moldy. (CAD $3.99 or less)


You will notice that everything is yellow - soap, caddy and scrubber. More than a fashion statement, yellow things are hard not to notice and less likely to get left behind in last night's bathroom.






3. Outdoor Research (OR) Echo Cap or Radar Pocket Cap.


Weighing in at a light 52 grams and folding into a pocketable package, these OR caps are handy shades to have on a long walk. The Radar Pocket Cap also provides UPF 50+ protection. (CAD $30.00)







4. A personalized calendar from Apple.


So you’ve done a long walk and have taken 5,000 pictures. You can tantalize your friends with an 8 hour slide show (guilty) or you can use your superb editing skills to whittle that collection down to 12 images and make a calendar to gift to all of your friends. I like the Apple calendars for their clean designs and high quality. And they are easy to assemble on iPhoto on your Mac. Of course, there are any number of on-line printing services that are computer system-agnostic and can make calendars but the trick, to me, is finding one with a nice clean, unfussy template. (CAD $19.99)


Shown here is our 2015 calendar. Our Prague-to-Vienna walk took second place to a year of Styxx pictures, the rescue greyhound that came into our lives one year ago this week.






5. CamelBak All Clear.


This is, by far, the most expensive gift on this list. But well worth it for that special long distance walker you really like. When traveling in a country where you might be squeamish about the tap water, here is a cost effective, environmentally-friendly substitute to buying bottled water. It will completely sterilize 750 ml of water in 60 seconds using UV light.  The Camelbak All Clear can clean about 80 bottles of water before recharging using the USB charger that comes with your smartphone. It weighs in at 303 grams but part of that weight is the water bottle that you would need to carry regardless. Pop on a standard Camelbak Classic Bottle Cap (CAD $4.99) and you are good-to-go on the trail. And, for that very special friend, consider throwing in a Camelbak All Clear Pre‑Filter (CAD $16.50). It attaches to the top of the All Clear bottle to filter out debris and sediment before sterilization. Makes for a more appetizing bottle of water when the source is brackish. (CAD $110.00)






6. Peak Design’s Leash.


For such a basic piece of camera equipment, the Peak Design Leash makes the most of what a good camera strap should do for the walker-photographer. Compact and lightweight, it can be configured in various ways to suit the photographer’s shooting style. And it can be easily detached from the camera. It is ideal for lighter, mirrorless cameras like the Olympus, Panasonic or Fuji varieties. Well worth the CAD $39.99.






7. A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino de Santiago: St. Jean - Roncesvalles - Santiago  by John Brierley.


If you have a friend toying with the idea of walking the popular Camino Francés route of the Camino de Santiago, a gift of this guide may just be the trigger to make that dream a reality. Every English-speaking pilgrim has one in their pocket, packed as it is with all the maps, directions, accommodations and eateries they will ever need. (CAD $23.51 at amazon.ca)  






8. Mophie Powerstation.


I travel with both a smartphone and a tablet and, if I am on an eight hour walk, chances are very good that at least my smartphone will run out of juice. Like digital cameras, it is always good policy to carry spares batteries. My vintage Mophie Powerstation can recharge my power-hungry tablet if necessary as well as my smartphone. On our Prague-to-Vienna walk, the Mophie was used everyday to charge my depleted phone, usually after 4-5 hours on the trail. The current available version looks a little spiffier and holds a slightly larger charge (4000 mAh, up from 3600), but is essentially the same device. As gift-giver, you don’t need to worry what kind of tablet or phone your friend has. The Powerstation should work with them all. (CAD $79.99)






9. Smartwool PhD Outdoor Crew Socks.


I have worn these comfortable and smell-resistant Smartwool socks on both the Camino (900 km) and Prague-Vienna Greenway (600 km), starting with two new pair for each trip. All of those socks came home without any holes. Either the light or medium cushion socks are good for these kinds of walks but I tend to prefer the light cushion. (CAD $19.75 for the light cushion socks, $25.25 for the medium cushion variety)






10. Walking Styxx, a month of psychogeographic walks with a greyhound  by David Firman.


If you enjoyed my earlier Walking Styxx posts, you can now buy the book on my Blurb bookstore (USA, Canada). Not all walks have to be hundreds of kilometers in length or in exotic locations or require weighty backpacks. Adventures on foot can start right at the front door of your home. Here is a volume devoted to walking local. (US $29.95) 






11. Bonus Gift Idea.


Pass on my wishes for a joyous holiday season and a year of amazing walks in 2015! (CAD $0.00) 


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