Christmas is Saturday. If you’re smart, you’ve got all your shopping done already, but it’s still possible you have a few people who you just can’t figure out what to give. That’s OK. You’re only human.
Sure, you could just raid the “gift” aisles at one of the big box stores, but the stuff in those aisles is often nothing but cheap junk. To help you, here’s my list of good, quality, last-minuteÂ gifts, listed by budget.
My rules for these items are that they must be useful, durable and not take up too much space. I also tried to include as many Made-in-the-USA products as I could, and nearly all of them are in stock at Jamestown stores. Also, these are things that are better gifts for people who live in the Great Plains states, and especially for people who like hunting and fishing. If you’re an urban-dwelling vegetarian on the East coast, they might not be as interesting to you.
You’ll probably notices a lot of flashlights on this list. That is because I am of the belief that you never can have too many good flashlights, and that by giving someone a flashlight, you are saying you care about them enough that you never want them to be trapped in the dark.
- Get a Mini-Maglite and some good batteries. They fit in any purse, any glovebox or most pants pockets. Be sure to get the AA-battery version because the AAA versions just don’t have any power. These little flashlights last for a long time. ToÂ add some pizazz to the gift, there are tons of great accessories made for theÂ Mini-Mags. You can add a headband for turning the flashlight into a headlamp, a magnet that will grip the light and hold to a piece of metal (like my fridge) or some color filters.Â Available at: Any hardware or outdoors store worth its salt, and most big box stores.
- Get them a good, small pocketknife. I recommend Buck knives and Gerber as well. I had one of these MiniBucks when I was a kid and it was fantastic. In fact, I still have it somewhere. Just be sure to take into account the recipient’s age and maturity when considering knives as gifts. Available at: Sporting goods stores, hardware stores.
- Get a full-sized Maglite. Make sure it uses D cells, because it’s often hard to find C cells at some stores. Also, don’t get the two-cell versions, as they just don’t have enough power. Start with a three-cell version, then maybe consider larger versions (four, five or six cells) if you want something more impressive. Also, look at Maglite’s White Star upgraded bulbs, which have xenon gas instead of krypton gas. The xenon gives a brighter light while using less power, meaning longer battery life. Also, the LED Maglites are pretty good and lastÂ a long time on one set of batters. The best LED light they make, though, is the LED Mini-Maglite that uses three AA cells, but you have to look really hard to find them. Available at: Big box stores, hardware stores, outdoor stores.
- Get them a Leatherman Kick or Fuse multitool. These things are danged handy, and Leatherman has earned a good reputation for good gear. You can get the Kick for as little as $20 if you’re lucky, but usually it goes for $30. The Fuse is normally $40 or so, but I’ve seen them go for $30 at times. Also, if it’s a younger person who isn’t mature enough to have a knife but still might really want a Leatherman, they make a knifeless version of the Fuse, but you might have to order it. Available at: Any self-respecting outdoor store, and several hardware stores.
- If the person hasÂ a driver’s license, something useful for their car. Decent emergency kits usually go for $20 to $30. Another option would be a new set of good rubber floormats. Look for the ones with deep sides and ridges to hold on to snow, ice, mud, dirt and anything else. Just be sure to get a set that matches the interior (black often works best) and take into account how many passengers the driver usually takes along. Available at: automotive and big box stores.
- A better knife. My personal favorite is the Buck 110 Hunter. It’s a classic, well-sized lockback design and retails for about $35 to $40. I have one and it performs very well at cleaning game. It practically unzipped the grouse and geese I shot this fall. There are other good knives out there. Just be sure to consider age and maturity. Available at: See above entry for Buck knives.
- A really special flashlight. Surefire flashlights, or “illumination tools” as they call them,Â are downright hardcore. They use special lithium batteries and high-performance bulbs in their tactical flashlights, and their workmanship shows. Their G2 Nitrolon is an excellent flashlight and retails for about $40 in various places, sometimes less. These are also stocked by good outdoors stores.
- Or, you could combine the two: A knife with a built-in flashlight, as Michael Wensman so rightly suggested. Victorinox makes several of its Swiss Army Knives with flashlights, and you can see them all here. Available at: Outdoors stores, big box stores and that link I just showed you.
Budget: $50 to $150
So, you want to knock someone’s socks off? Here are some more expensive items that are rather expensive but make freaking wonderful gifts.
- The Leatherman Wave. It costs $70-$100 at different places, and is Leatherman’s best-selling tool ever. It’s a multitool with four blades that can be opened, locked, unlocked and closedÂ with a single hand and 17 tools total. Available at: Outdoors stores. I know there is one in Jamestown that has them in stock. If you want to impress someone even more, there’s the Charge TTi, which has 19 tools and is made out of titanium. Available at: Outdoors stores, but you’ll probably have to order it.
- The Surefire 6P LED Defender, or any other very pricey Surefire flashlight. This one will set you back more than $110, but damn does it look awesome. It’s made out of hard-anodized aluminum and will likely outlive most people, assuming it doesn’t get lost. Available at: Outdoors stores, but you might have to have it ordered for you.
- A good hiking GPS. You’ve probably seen the ones for cars, but I don’t need one of those. I know how to read a blasted map. Instead, I have one of these fromÂ Garmin’s eTrex line . It’s all I need, and waterproof. Available at: Any good outdoors store.