Christmas shopping for an outdoors junkie? This year, leave the ties and cologne at the mall and get them something they actually can use.
Gear & gadgets
Bruton Atmospheric Data Center. What doesn't this gizmo do? It measures temperature and barometric pressure, wind speed and wind chill, plus a clock with date and alarm. Dunk it in a river, and it'll even give you flow rates. Perfect for any adventurer. Seen for $79.
Pro-Tech Mercenary. No more worrying about bulky headphones and tiny ear buds when carving the slopes. This snow helmet not only protects your noggin, but also has wiring for your iPod or any MP3 player built right into the ear flap. Seen for $89.99.
Princeton Tec Aurora. Thanks to LED technology, head lamps are lighter and brighter than ever. And the bulbs themselves last 20,000 hours. Just snap in three AAA batteries and strap it on. You'll soon forget it's even there. Has three brightness settings and two flashing patterns. Seen for $29.99.
Black Diamond Terra CF Poles. Trekking poles aren't just for the weak-kneed anymore. In fact, studies show they reduce wear and tear on your legs by as much as 10 percent every step. This top-of-the-line model has unique grips for better downhill control and redesigned locks that open and close with the flick of a finger and won't slip open. Seen for $124.95.
Innova Disc Golf Set. Disc golf is becoming more and more popular around Fresno. Visit Woodward Park any weekend and see for yourself. This set starts you off right with a fairway driver, multipurpose driver and putter. Seen for $29.99.
Montrail Torre. Plain and simple, the best-fitting and most-comfortable pair of leather hiking boots I've ever owned. Tipping the scales at 1-pound, 11-ounces each, they won't weigh you down on the trail. Also available in wide sizes (yippee!) and GorTex models. Seen for $124.99.
ACR Terra Fix 406. Ensure you'll never get lost in the woods again by taking the "search" out of "search and rescue." This personal locator beacon contains an onboard GPS to fix your position, then transmits a distress signal encoded with your unique identification number and coordinates. That way, rescuers know who they're looking for and exactly where the signal is coming from. Small and light enough (12ounces) to fit in a pocket. Seen for $749.
"Return to Wild America: A Yearlong Search for the Continent's Natural Soul" by Scott Weidensaul. In retracing the original "Wild America" trek of 1953, Weidensaul details the current ecological state of North America without the usual political grandstanding and makes a substantial case for preserving wildlands for future generations. Seen at Amazon.com for $17.16.
"California Hiking" and "California Camping" by Tom Stienstra and Ann Marie Brown. If you could own only two books on all the hiking and camping opportunities in the Golden State, these are the two. More than 1,000 hikes and 1,500 campgrounds are included. My 1994 edition is stained and dog-eared but still gets use. Seen at Amazon.com for $14.93 apiece.
"Sowbelly: The Obsessive Quest for the World Record Largemouth Bass" by Monte Burke. Every big fish has a story, and this journey through a world of colorful characters, elusive legends and tall tales is the biggest fish story of them all. Seen at Amazon.com for $16.29 (hardcover) and $10.20 (paperback).
"Complete Birds of North America" edited by Jonathan Alderfer. National Geographic has done it again, cataloging 962 species of birds with vivid color photos and illustrations. Just don't plan on lugging this 664-page monster into the field. Seen at Amazon.com for $23.10.
"The Final Frontiersman" by James Campbell. Want to know what it's really like to eke out an existence deep in the Arctic wilderness? Join Heimo Korth, his wife and two daughters as they brave 40-below-zero temperatures, cross icy rivers and even skin a dead moose all in the name of survival. Seen at Amazon.com for $11.20 (paperback).
"Between a Rock and a Hard Place" by Aron Ralston. Survival stories are a tenet of outdoors literature, and Ralston's is one of the best. The Colorado climber spent six days trapped underneath an 800-pound boulder before resorting to the unthinkable. Seen at Amazon.com for $11.20 (paperback).
Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.