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Expedition Portal’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

Another holiday season is upon us, and with it comes a new bag of toys to be had. Whether you travel with four wheels or two, we have assembled a list of wishes suited to the overland traveler. Starting at just $10 and, well, considerably more because the good toys are not always cheap. This has been a good year for gear, and we’ve found something for everyone.


Sea to Summit Talus TsI, $368 Comfort Light Insulated, $189


One of the newest entries in the highly competitive sleeping gear market, Sea to Summit quickly bested the rest with a comprehensive line of sleeping mats, bags, liners, and pillows. Our favorites are the Comfort Light Insulated mat and the Talus TsI bag. The mat uses the brand’s innovative and supremely comfortable Air Sprung Cell technology to create hundreds of individual cushions. The Exkin Platinum® fabric and Thermolite® insulation provide ample warmth in temperatures dipping below the freezing point. Paired to their 750+ fill-power 23ºF rated Talus TsI sleeping bag, this combo has kept us warm and cozy from the Rockies to the Himalayas. The ULTRA-DRYdown fill is highly water resistant and the quality of the shell’s design and construction are top-tier. www.seatosummit.com

Autohome Columbus Variant (Small), $2600

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It’s not going to fit under the tree, but hopefully it will find its way onto the roof of your truck. Leveraging their 57 year history, Autohome’s Columbus Variant is a stalwart of overland travel––and for good reason. Built with time-tested materials to exacting standards, this is one of our favorite products of the year. In the smallest of the three available sizes, it is perfect for vehicles big and small. Hard as it is to believe, The Columbus Variant can be set up in as little as one minute with the release of just one latch and the installation of the ladder. Sleek and quiet on the highway, the smallest size only weighs in at 97 pounds. Look for this and other tents in the upcoming issue of Overland Journal’s 2016 Gear Guide. www.autohome-official.com

Overland Journal Helle Fossekallen Knife, $125


The Helle knife company is one of the last remaining manufacturers in the world determined to not let the legacy of tradecraft slip through their skilled hands. Founded by brothers Steiner and Sigmund Helle in 1932, their knives are still produced in a small facility in Holmedal, Norway, much as they have been for more than seven decades. The Fossekallen is one of their more all-purpose knives with a drop-point blade and generously sized handle for maximum control. The curly birch handle has a small finger guard and the grain of the wood is beautiful in a way only nature can be. The blade is constructed of Helle’s unique triple laminated steel for optimal sharpness; the alloy steel core flanked by corrosion resistant stainless steel polished to a high sheen. Adding to the uniqueness of the knife we made a limited run of laser engraved Fossenkallens featuring the Overland Journal logo. www.overlandjournal.com

Colemen FyreChampion Hyperflame Propane Stove, $179


When our team compiled our extensive stove review for the Summer issue of Overland Journal, the Cook Partner was the hands down winner of the two-burner category. That doesn’t mean we were not impressed with Coleman’s latest flame thrower. The esteemed grandfather of the two-burner category, Coleman outdid themselves packing the latest technologies into the Hyperflame. The burners have pot supports that double as wind-thwarting shrouds. Well made with high quality materials, this is a stove worthy of the Coleman name. www.coleman.com

Ironclad Ranchworx Gloves, $43

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Every overlander needs a good pair of gloves. In fact, maybe several pairs. Essential to protect hands from injury, a quality work glove is well worth the purchase price. Over the last year, our staff has relied on Ironclad gloves with the Ranchworx as our favorite. With genuine leather in the palms and additional Kevlar Duraclad reinforcements, they are brawny enough for any hard task. The rubberized protectors across the tops of the fingers stay positioned perfectly and don’t reduce finger flexibility or dexterity. www.ironclad.com

Filson Dry Duffel – Medium, $160

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Filson has long been known for classic designs constructed with timeless and natural materials. Their waterproof dry bag, made with radio frequency-welded PVC-coated polyester, is clearly a departure from their norm. Despite the use of modern materials, the end result is decidedly––Filson. Our test sample arrived in an elegant green, not the bright Crayola-inspired colors found in most dry bags and duffels. Using a simple roll top closure with a padded shoulder strap and a comfortable carry handle, the Filson Dry Duffel has just the features you need, and nothing more. We put our bag to a lengthy test, logging more than 2,000 miles on the back of our V-Strom test motorcycle. www.filson.com

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV, $999

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Every photographer has missed a shot because their camera was out of reach. Most of those shooters will also swear up and down that their big DSLR is the only way to get a high-quality image. That may have been true in years past, but the latest model in Sony’s venerable RX100 line is the nexus of compact packaging with professional image making potential. The Zeiss glass and 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor produce stunning images and the fast processor not only records 4K video, it can capture slow motion scenes at 960fps. With dimensions that allow it to slip into a shirt pocket, it is always at the ready. We’re so impressed with the capabilities of the Sony RX100 IV, it was used to capture several of the images featured in the upcoming issue of Overland Journal.www.sony.com

Gerber Impromptu pen, $72 Rite in the Rain Notebook, $3.75


If you’ve been searching for an outdoor-themed stocking stuffer that can be used every day, take a look at the Gerber Impromptu pen and Rite in the Rain Notebook. These handy little gifts are great for field notes, camping lists, vehicle logs, and daily writing in the office and the bush. The notebooks are weather resistant and include helpful standard to metric conversions, as well as several map tools. Two different rulers are printed on the back, and the page dimensions come out to a standard 3×5 card.

The Impromptu is the perfect pen to go along with your adventurer’s new notebooks. The machined steel construction is solid and give is a quality feel, and the Rite in the Rain ball-point ensures reliable script even when wet. It also incorporates a tempered glass breaking tip for vehicle escape and self-defense. List price is $72, but it may be found on Amazon for $34.95. www.gerbergear.comwww.riteintherain.com

Hilleberg Staika 2-Person tent, $945


If you only go camping on the occasional fair-weather weekend, any tent will do. If however, your trips frequently flirt with heavy weather and force you within the sanctuary of nylon––you need a Hilleberg Staika. Part of Hilleberg’s Black series of expedition grade shelters, the Staika has developed a reputation as one of the strongest tents in the world. Made with their legendary Kerlon 1800 outer shell fabric, the dome architecture employs three 10mm DAC aluminum poles paired to a dozen stake-points. The result is a veritable fortress for two. Dual vestibules allow for gratuitous gear storage and the entire shelter can be pitched without exposing the inner tent body to the elements. Built to last for decades, it may be the last tent you ever purchase. www.hilleberg.com

Maxtrax MKII, $299

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When you don’t have them, $299 seems like a lot of dosh for a pair of traction mats. When you eventually need them to extract yourself from a sticky situation, the price quickly becomes inconsequential. Oft imitated or outright copied, there is only one genuine Maxtrax. Used by overlanders the world over, our own experiences have proven them to be worthy of essential kit status. The next time you go dashing through the snow, only to come to a grinding halt, will you be the overlander with an easily solution or not? www.maxtraxamerica.com

Salsa Cycles Beargrease, $4,299


Every year new routes are forged in some of the most rugged landscapes on the planet. The tool of choice for many of these epics is not a truck or motorcycle, but a fat-tired mountain bike. From the South Pole to the rocky trails of the American Southwest, the fatbike has logged more rugged miles than anyone ever thought possible. The tip of the performance spear is Salsa Cycles’ carbon fiber Beargrease. Light and stiff, it is also versatile, finding purpose as a spirited day-rider and a multi-day pack mule. Making light of gnarly terrain, it redefined an entire category of mountain bikes when it was initially released, and it continues to improve with each successive model. www.salsacycles.com

Hults-Bruk Almike hatchet, $150


Who makes the best hatchets and axes? That is a question prone to insight passionate responses, but we’re inclined to go with Swedish-made Hults-Bruk. Few companies of any kind can boast of a 300 year old legacy, but Hults-Bruk can trace their origins back to 1697. Their hand-forged axe heads are zone tempered for maximum durability and edge holding, and are paired to beautifully sculpted hickory handles. The Almike has a one-pound head and a 16-inch handle making it ideal for small camp chores like making kindling or even felling small trees. Get one now, head to your nearest forest and use it to bring home your Christmas tree. hultsbruk1697.se

Kupilka 5 Shot Glass, $9


When nights get cold and everyone huddles around the fire, sometimes the scene is not complete without a nip of whiskey or schnapps. The people at Kupilka of Finland agree and have made one of our favorite camp accessories, a handled shot glass. Made of Kulpilka’s proprietary Kareline material which is a 50/50 blend of pine wood fibers and thermoplastic, their cups, bowls, and flatware have a unique aesthetic that looks almost hand carved. The Kupilka 5 shot glass has a lanyard so it never gets misplaced and an easy to grab handle for gloved-hand security. www.sport-hansa.com

Coast HP3R Rechargable Pen Light, $95

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For what seems like–forever–the pen light has been little more than a novelty. With battery and LED technology continually evolving, the modern compact torch can now produce useful lumens with favorable power consumption. The HP3R is just the latest in a series of high-tech lamps from Portland-based Coast. With a max output of 245 lumens capable of throwing a beam of light 300 feet, it packs a lot of power in its small, all-aluminum body. The best feature is the micro-USB charging port hidden behind a protective shroud. In the event you don’t have a power supply to recharge the battery, the HP3R can be fitted with standard AAA batteries in a pinch. We’re very fond of this little light. www.coastportland.com

Spyderco Native 5 Lightweight, $140


The Native 5 Lightweight is relatively new for Spyderco, but its DNA goes back to 1997. As one of the original and most popular knives in the Spyderco lineup, the Native has undergone a number of changes through the years. The latest iteration is quite impressive considering how refined it is, and offered at such an affordable price. The full-flat-ground CPM S35VN blade has a distal taper, index finger choil, and mild swedge. With its 2.95-inch blade, and 4-inch closed length, the Native 5 Lightweight is an ideal size for every day carry, at least for me. The narrow width and light weight at just 2.5 ounces makes it virtually vanish when clipped into an inner pocket. The fiberglass reinforced handle has Spyderco’s bi-directional scales which give the knife a level of texture that remains secure even when used with wet, cold hands. www.spyderco.com

Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.