We all know how busy the holiday season can become. Cooking, cleaning, priming for house guests, or fighting the interstate and airline terminalsand that's without spending hours hunting for the perfect gift for that special someone. So let me do some of the work for you. I've scoured the outdoor world in search of the newest must-have gear for the active-minded people on your list. Whether your brother's a backpacker, your wife's a skier, or your cousin's a rock climber, I've got a little something for everyone on your list, and for every budget.
For the Backpacker
Marmot Hydrogen +30 sleeping bag
It's called the Hydrogen because it practically floats, weighing a mere one pound, five ounces, yet keeping you warm down to 30 degrees. Super-fluffy 850-fill down and a tough but light Pertex Quantum shell make this the perfect bag for the ounce-counting hiker.
REI Mistral Jacket
This versatile lightweight soft shell is made with Polartec PowerShield, so it sheds light rain, blocks the wind, and has just enough insulation to keep you warm when hiking on cool days. And its trim fit won't snag on pack straps or branches.
Wenger Evo S52 Swiss Army Knife
Multi-tools come and go, but it's hard to beat the granddaddy of them allthe Swiss Army Knife. Wenger has updated its design with an ergonomic handle and a locking blade, but it still has all the tools you're apt to need: knife, compact pliers, screwdriver, can opener, toothpick, and more.$61; www.wengerna.com
For the Paddler
Olympus 720 Stylus SW
Want to take pictures, but worried about the camera getting wet? Fear notthe new Olympus 720 Stylus SW is waterproof to ten feet. Plus it has seven-megapixel resolution, a 3x zoom, a big two-and-a-half-inch LCD screen for image framing, and even image stabilization for sharp pictures when careening down Class 4 rapids.
Kokatat Gore-Tex PacLite Paddling Jacket
Paddling tourists will appreciate the light weight, breathability, and watertight seams of this jacket, made with Gore's lightest waterproof-breathable material. Splash-repelling collar and cuffs and a neoprene waistband ensure you stay dry.
Aqua-Bound BilgeMaster Pump
You're out on the water, and sooner or later some of it will get into your kayak. Get it out fast with this handy pump, which has an easy-to-grip T-handle, a sturdy steel piston, and the ability to clear a gallon of water with a mere seven-and-a-half strokes.
For the Skier
Volkl AC4 Titanium
A serious ski for serious skiers, the newly designed AC4 Titanium is an all-around ski with the binding built straight into the ski, creating stupendous responsiveness and nominal weight. Plus it has a full wood core and aggressive sidecut, making it ready to rip from here to Whistler.
Dakine Blade Pack
'Boarders and skiers will both appreciate the Blade's ability to comfortably lug snowboards or skis, along with a day's supply of clothes and snacks. A zippered waist pocket holds most digital cameras, while an insulated pouch for water reservoirs ensures your fluids don't freeze.
180s Storm Shell Earwarmers
Light but warm, these earwarmers are ideal for cross-country skiers. They're made with Polartec Powerstretch, so ears stay warm and dry. And they fold up flat for easy pocket storage.
For the Cyclist
NiteRider Firestorm HID Headlight
Turn dark into light. That's with the HID (high-intensity discharge) Firestorm does for the early morning or late night cyclist. Whether it's for use on trails or roads, the Firestorm's incredibly bright output ensures that every pothole and root is revealed-and that cars see you.
Pearl Izumi Instinct Jacket
This light jacket is ideal for cycling in cool and damp weather. The Instinct's 2.5-layer polyester fabric keeps out wind and water, while pit zips help regulate temperatures when climbing. Layer up or down beneath it for all-winter comfort.
Innovations Proflate 16
I hate flats, you hate flats, everyone hates flats. So make the cyclist on your list love you with the Proflate 16. It uses a CO2 cartridge to quickly fill road or off-road tires with Presta or Schrader valves.
For the Climber
Petzl Quark Ice Tool
For hard mixed climbs, the Quark has a curved design to clear obstacles and a grip that insulates hands. The pick bites deep into even hard ice for great security, while the integrated leash keeps you attached to the tooland the mountain.
Black Diamond Chaos Harness
Climbers who crave comfort over long, multi-pitch routes will find order in the Chaos. Its waist belt is anatomically shaped for comfort, while the wide leg loops provide superb support. Four gear loops and a beefy haul loop ensure that all the stuff a climber needs stays on board.
Grip Master Hand Strengthener
Climbers who can only dream of 5.10 routes when the snow is falling this winter can still keep their hands and fingers strong with the Grip Master. It allows each finger to be worked individually, or give the whole hand and forearm a good test. Available in three tension settings.
For the Traveler
Osprey Meridian Wheeled Convertible Pack
Help the traveler on your gift list get out there with Osprey Meridian, a pack that makes it easy to lug your load two wayson your back, or as a wheeled suitcase. It's also a whopping big (5,800-cubic-inch) travel pack with an adjustable suspension that zips out of the way when checked for air travel. The main compartment is easy to access, and handy features such as laptop sleeve and water-bottle pockets are a big bonus.
MSR Miox Purifier
Anyone who's done some rough traveling knows that access to clean, safe water can be an issue. So give the gift of hydrationMSR's Miox Purifier, a pen-sized unit that uses an electrically produced salt solution to kill viruses, bacteria, and water-borne organisms. Only drawback? It can take up to half an hour to purify the water.
Ex Officio Buzz Off ExO Dri Long-Sleeved Crew Shirt
Bugs and heat are the bane of many travelers. But Ex Officio's ExO Dri shirt solves both problems. Its Buzz Off treatment repels insects from the Florida Keys to Madagascar, while its airy fabric lets in the slightest tropical breeze. As a bonus, it wicks and dries like nothing on the planet.