Some girls expect chocolate, flowers and a fancy dinner on Valentine’s Day. Others, yours truly included, hope for new gear. New gear can serve as the catalyst to inspire us to plan an adventure to some place that we have wanted to explore. The gift need not be a big ticket item to instill inspiration. I’ll admit that something as simple as a new map given to me by a friend, encouraged me to plan a backpacking trip to a nearby wilderness area. It does not take much, to encourage a new adventure. Most important, long after the excitement of the gift has waned, what remains are the unforgettable memories created. This review is focused on a few of our favorite gift ideas, no matter what category your mate falls into, to help you and your valentine create your own unforgettable experiences.
For the weekend warrior and day hiker consider the Eureka! Panther Peak 30L day pack—Eureka! may have designed the penultimate day pack. I have been hiking with the Panther Peak 30L pack for the last seven months. The Panther Peak 30L pack is the perfect size for day hikes in the mountains when you need to carry water, snacks and an extra layer. It also functions well as an overnight bag for a quick trip out of town. I even used it as my carry on for my travels out West this past summer and then relied on it to supply me during day hikes in the Rocky Mountains. It would also make a great extra pack to bring along on longer backpacking trips where you plan to take day long excursions out of a base camp area. The pack sports plenty of pockets and storage areas, including a hydration pocket as wells as a blaze orange rain cover. The comfort and fit of the Panther Peak 30L pack is exceptional. MSRP $79.99
For the nature lover and camper, how about a Latitude Sleeping Bag from High Peak—High Peak, known for their outstanding line of backpacks, is proving to be a serious contender in the sleeping bag market. I have recently discovered the High Peak Alpinizmo Latitude 0ºF sleeping bag and put it through the paces. It is perfect for camping on chilly and cold nights. The mummy style of the Alpinizmo Latitude bag reduces the risk of cold toes, and the length of the bag was plenty sufficient for my 5’11” frame. The sleeping bag outer features a rip stop nylon for durability. The liner, made of a unique, lightweight, breathable fabric radiates body heat to aid in regulating body temperature by allowing excess moisture to wick away while retaining body heat. The bag is insulated with a synthetic blend of solid and hollow fibers, not down, for added warmth and comfort. If you have ever shopped for a reliable sleeping bag rated to 0ºF, you know they can be quite pricey. High Peak tends to be a value leader in back packs and sleeping bags. Of all of their products that I have owned, I have been quite satisfied with the functionality, durability and most importantly they tend to be offered at a much more reasonable price point. The Latitude Sleeping bag comes in three temperature options: (20ºF/-6ºC, 0ºF/-17ºC and -5ºF/-20ºC). MSRP: $142.00 (20°), $155.00 (0°), and $158.00 (-5°)
For the adventure traveler, you will score big points with the Eagle Creek World Traveler Pack-It System Set and the Eagle Creek Pack-It Specter Cube Set. Long known for their reliable and quality luggage and packs, Eagle Creek has introduced a new line of packing solutions. These two items provide travelers a means of getting and staying organized. How will these products make travelling better, you ask, one word—organization. The World Traveler System Set comes with three items (1) the folder—which allows your traveler to pack up to 12 shirts or pairs of pants with fewer wrinkles; (2) the cube—which accommodates items that are capable of being rolled up- think t-shirts, socks and undergarments; and (3) the pouch—perfect for cosmetics and toiletries. This packing system works well with a rolling suitcase, duffle bag or larger backpack and allows you to separate the clothes for separate parts of your trip, which can be a big help, especially when a trip involves business and leisure travel. The Specter Cube Set provides a second lightweight organizational option. The cubes are translucent which allows you to see what you have packed in each one without emptying the contents. The Specter Cube Set is perfect for keeping a backpack organized. These packing aids add compartments and organization where it otherwise does not exist. The Eagle Creek products also feature a lifetime warranty. Seeing is believing with the Eagle Creek Pack-It System. MSRP: World Traveler Set $40.00; Specter Cube Set: $35.00.
If she is a hiker or skier, pick up a few pairs of Lorpen socks to put a smile on her face. Lorpen has been keeping my feet happy for the last couple of years. The Lorpen Tri-layer Light Hikers are equally adept at keeping feet feeling good while on the trail or an urban adventure. The Tri-Layer Light Hikers are not just any sock, these socks sport three layers of technology which all aid in keeping feet comfortable, dry and at the proper temperature. The Ski Tri-Layer socks are excellent in both ski boots and city boots. From the slopes to the après ski, the Ski Tri-Layer socks keeps toes warm and arches feeling supported with the blend of merino wool prima loft yarn. If you or your gift recipient’s feet are big, make sure you order up a size large. MSRP: Tri-Layer Light Hikers $17.99; Ski Tri-Layer socks $21.99.
Finally, if your valentine is a runner, the Merrell Mix Master Glide shoes will help you spread cheer. These Merrell shoes literally feel like bedroom slippers. They are a little too thin on padding for me to use as trail shoes, but perfect for road runners and those who prefer trails covered in crushed surfaces. The Mix Master Glide shoes with their 4 mm toe to heel rise provide the closest thing to the barefoot running movement that I have been able to handle while still offering adequate support, padding and protection. The shoes are super breathable and quick draining on runs that lead you through streams or on rainy days. I find myself wanting to slip these on even on rest days when I am out and about running errands. They make my feet feel so good. As an added bonus, the Mix Master Glides are vegan friendly—really. No animals were harmed in the production of these kicks. My recommendation is to order up ½ size to ensure adequate toe space. MSRP $100.00