Christmas Gifts for Walkers

Christmas is approaching quickly. Here are seven gift ideas for that pedestrian explorer on your list.

1. Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack

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This is the perfect aprés-walk accessory. You’ve done your 20 kilometers on the Camino de Santiago and checked in for the night. You’re ready to hit the town, find a nice retaurant, walk the streets as the sun sets. You need a small, light bag for your camera and a light jacket. The Ultra-Sil Day Pack by Sea to Summit is that essential bag. At 70 grams, it folds into its own tiny case. It won’t be a burden during your daily trek. When you’re ready to relax, it magically unfolds into a roomy catchall backpack for your evening ramble about town. It costs about CAD $40.00 and is available at many outdoor sports shops, such as Atmosphere.

2. Outdoor Research Versaliner Gloves


There is nothing worse than getting caught walking in a spring or winter rainstorm. Hands get icy cold. Mitts get wet, adding to the misery. I’ve been there (Calgary and Vancouver) and I don’t like it. The Outdoor Research Versaliner gloves handle the problem by using a lightweight fleece liner, complete with zippered pouch for hand warmers, and a separate waterproof shell. They can be used separately or together, depending on the condition. The pair weigh in at a light 84 grams and are sufficiently compact to fit in the pocket of your Gore-tex jacket. They cost CAD 49.00 at MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-operative).

3. Flip-Ups by Cocoons


Prepare for an “Are you kidding!” response to this gift. To which you will respond with the following defense of your fine choice:

Sunglasses are the bane of all eyeglass wearers. Either you buy a second pair of frames with prescription, tinted lenses – very expensive and bulky – or you buy matching clip-ons custom-fitted to your glasses – not inexpensive and quite fragile. I have gone both routes and found them wanting.

Enter the Cocoons Flip-Ups. Yes, they are truly dorky. But, on a long walk, they solve a bunch of problems. They can be thrown in a pocket without a case. They are durable and scratch resistant, even with rough handling. They weigh a mere 7 grams! Most importantly, they flip up and out of the way when taking a photo (note to photographers: polarizing lenses reek havoc on digital displays). And, for CAD $30.00 at Cabela’s, they are a steal. Why not buy two?

4. Men’s Guide Long-Sleeve Shirt by Eddie Bauer


I have very specific requirement for a good walking shirt and Eddie Bauer’s Guide Shirt (Style 0206) fits the bill perfectly. It has a light man-made fabric that stays cool and dries quickly. I don’t feel like I’m sweating up a big wet storm inside a plastic bag. It has roll-up long sleeves for both hot or cool conditions. It has breast pockets for my flip-up sunglasses or camera filters. It can be washed and quickly dried in a bathroom sink. After a long day’s walk, I can still feel stylish going to a reasonably splashy restaurant or to the theatre in the evening. It is light weight (235 grams).

It’s a pricey gift at CAD $90.00 but Eddie Bauer has more sales than the Bluenose. So watch out for those 30-50% off days.

5. Liteproof Nuud cases for phones and tablets.


My last iPad had a hard life. First a drop from a bathroom counter to a ceramic tile floor put a dint in the corner and rendered the Home button erratic. Then, an unexpected encounter with a massive downpour soaked my beleaguered tablet. Water got under the screen and eventually affected the electronics. For my replacement (current) iPad Mini, I decided to go with the Lifeproof Nuud case (CAD $99.00 at MEC). It protects against fairly major drops and can even be submerged. It does all this without putting some plasticky protective layer between me and the iPad’s beautiful Retina display.

For the same reasons, I also protect my iPhone 5 with a Lifeproof Nuud case (CAD $79.00 at MEC). But there is an additional benefit. I think the iPhone camera is a pretty wonderful thing and, if you have seen my little book, Walking Styxx (mentioned below), you can see how I use it for creative projects. With the Nuud case, my iPhone also becomes a weatherproof, foul weather, underwater camera for those times when I want to photograph in the rain but I don’t want to jeopardize my DSLR. At no additional cost or weight. Yeah!

6. Cicerone Books


This UK publisher specializes in hiking guides for trails around the world. It’s great fun to peruse their website and look for possible long walks in Britain, Ireland, Europe…so many countries. I’ve purchased guide books for the Via Frangicena, a two-volume set describing the 1900 kilometre pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome, and the GR7 trail in Andalucia. These are books for dreaming and planning.

You can buy them on Amazon or on Cicerone’s website. Prices vary but are generally in the CAD $25-35.00 range. Today’s tip: Cicerone is offering 25% off all their printed guidebooks until December 13, 2015, less expensive than Amazon despite being shipped from the UK.

These are weighty books to take on a long walk (about 400 grams each). When your budding walker decides on a trail for his or her next adventure, Cicerone offers weightless ebook versions to take on the route.


7. Night Atlas and other books by yours truly

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I’ve blogged about my latest Night Atlas project, recently shown at the Winnipeg Architecture Foundation. You may have seen the work on my website as well. Well, the entire Night Atlas series has been transformed into a mini-book, part of a small but growing series of art books I have self-published on Blurb books.

The Night Atlas book is available through my Canadian and US Blurb bookstores. The cost is US $29.99 (roughly CAD $32.00 depending on the day and our economy). That might seem expensive for a small softcover book but think of it (as I do) as an entire art project. You are not paying the hundred plus dollars I would charge for one print. Instead you get a comprehensive collection of 28 small prints, all presented in their intended context. What a bargain!

While at my Blurb bookstore, take a look at my other mini art-as-book projects. Like Walking Styxx and A Dérive to the Airport. 

Give the gift of art this year!

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