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We all know somebody who seems to spend more time outdoors than inside. Whether camping, hiking, gardening or crafting, they can’t get enough of Mother Nature. The grass is their sofa, the birdsong their morning alarm. They don’t care for Netflix, but a new edition of their favourite wildflower almanac is bound to raise a smile.
If you’ve got an outdoorsy type in your life, you might be wondering what to gift them at the next birthday or Christmas. The good news is there are plenty of great products for people who love being out in the wild. Perhaps your family is planning a big camping trip and you need some new outdoor gear. Or perhaps you just fancy treating yourself.
Whatever your reasons for browsing outdoor gadgets, we’re going to show you some of the coolest. We’ve listed our favourite outdoor products and equipment to give you some inspiration. Here are our top picks:
1. Bio-Lite Wood-Burning Stove
Bio-lite wood-burning stoves have become very popular with camping fans because they provide a ‘clean’ way to cook outdoors. To create a fully functional electric oven, the user simply needs to build a fire (as many people already do when they go camping). Then, they position the bio-lite stove on top of the fire.
The heat from the fire powers a thermoelectric generator inside the stove. This generator charges a fan which injects air into the burn chamber to create a more efficient, more eco-friendly cooking process. It even stores excess energy as electric to be used for charging devices via an integrated USB port. Pretty cool, huh?
The only downside to these cool outdoor ovens is their size. They can cook almost anything – including pizzas – but they tend to be on the bulky side. For this reason, we think they’re best suited to campers who travel by vehicle. If you’re going to buy one, you need an easy way to transport a portable stove that’s on the larger side.
2. Thermal Imaging Scope
This next gadget is for the serious outdoorsman (or lady). As high-quality thermal imaging scopes can be very expensive, you should have a clear purpose in mind when browsing for one. Are you hoping to capture nocturnal animals? Do you need a thermal scope for hunting expeditions? Are you hoping to increase your home’s security?
Whatever your reasons for buying a thermal scope, shop carefully. Thermal vision doesn’t need a light source to operate, unlike standard night vision. This means it’s perfect for night-time hunting trips and detecting movement whether from people or animals in extremely low light conditions.
You should be aware thermal imaging scopes are normally a little heavier than night vision scopes. Make sure your chosen gadget has ergonomic features that allow it to be gripped tightly without discomfort. You don’t want to lose this piece of kit in the woods!
3. Go Pro
Go Pro cameras have been a staple in the equipment bags of mountain bikers, hikers and climbers for a long time. Yes, they can be rather pricey. However, depending on the type of video footage you’re trying to capture, they may be the only viable choice. Nothing matches Go Pro cameras for rugged, fast-paced action shots and videos.
These ‘action’ cameras are popular for two reasons. They can be mounted in an almost endless variety of ways on car hoods, bike handles, skateboards, rucksacks, shoulder harnesses and lots more. They’re also designed to withstand very fast movement so, unlike many other portable cameras, they are capable of recording things like extreme sports in crystal clear quality.
You don’t need to empty your bank account quite yet because Go Pro cameras come in a wide variety of models. Some models can be bought for as little as £120. Other Go Pros retail for more than £380 and come with an array of sophisticated features like super time-lapse vision, HyperSmooth stabilisation and 1080p live streaming.
4. Metal Detector
Metal detectors have experienced a serious surge in popularity over the last five years. They’ve become cool gadgets and now everybody wants one. There’s something unmistakably relaxing about an afternoon spent metal detecting. It’s not really about finding valuables; it’s about getting outdoors and paying attention to things.
These devices come in a range of different sizes and prices. If you want to make metal detecting a regular hobby, you might consider a more expensive product with an interchangeable coil and a large ID LCD meter. Or you could spend less on a midrange detector with a medium-sized waterproof coil and a non-slip adjustable neck.
If this is your first foray into metal detecting, we recommend a midrange product, at least to begin with. You’ll find some fantastic machines on the market for under £80. Some of our favourites come with universal headphone jacks so you can plug in and tune out the background noises. This can be very helpful when detecting in locations like the beach.
Paul Nicolaides is a Landscape architect and garden builder with over 30 years experience in designing, building and maintaining gardens. Contemplating just how important garden space is for nature and recreation he created 'Cool Garden Gadgets' to explore the best gadgets for enhancing outside spaces. From outdoor dining ideas to the latest garden technology we break it down for you here.