From Jeeping to camping and all the things that go in between, I’ve been a Jeep nut for around 20 years now, and everybody around me knew it even before I had this job. If you aren’t into “the Jeep thing,” it can be hard to shop for the Jeep nut in your life, as people often tell me. So, when the Christmas season rolls around, I always feel like I am doing my civic duty to all our readers by putting together some of the things that I either have and really value, or have gotten as gifts in the past that still stand out in my mind as cool gifts.
Jack, Clamp, Pull, Spread
What: Hi-Lift Jack (PN HL485): $80
Why: I got my first Hi-Lift Jack almost 20 years ago after getting a rental high-centered on a downed tree and spending way too much time trying to get it off. Since then, I’ve used Hi-Lifts for everything in the title above and then some. I still have that first Jack, and try to make it a point to keep one in every Jeep. My favorite is the all-cast 48-inch version. The all-cast has a decent hook that doesn’t get in the way, and on the 48-inch version, it can still be stowed in the Jeep across the fenderwells just inside the tailgate.
Where: Hi-Lift Jack Company
What: Casio Watch (PN PRW-2000): $280
Why: This watch features an altimeter so you can see how much altitude that trail gained, a barometer which can help you see when storms might be rolling in, a compass to help you back to camp, a thermometer, and sunrise/sunset times in addition to the normal watch alarms, timers, and chronometer. If that wasn’t enough, it is solar-powered and adjusts itself automatically by radio signal every night.
What: Sirius/XM Satellite Radio: $50-$200
Why: When wheeling in the back of beyond there is often no radio station at all, and unless you’ve spent a ton of time and often money on a CD collection or iPod, canned music can get boring. So with a radio station bounced off a satellite I can hear it anywhere in the country. Sure, I often wish they played more varied playlists, but with 10 stations I like to listen to all the time and over 100 to choose from, I am never at a loss for something to listen to when I’m wheeling.
What: Benchmade Knife: $100-$300
Why: I’ve been carrying Benchmade knives for well over a decade now and tend to not leave home without one. The company has several different knife classes but I find myself liking and using the ones from either the Blue (made in USA) or Black (made for extreme use). I use them as pry bars, screwdrivers, wire cutters, even sheetmetal and rivet cutters: They take a beating. Sure, I occasionally mess up a tip or the edge, but that’s what sharpening stones are made for.
Where: Benchmade Knife Company
Here Ducky, Ducky, Ducky
What: Duck Tours $35/per person (price varies)
Why: I’ve always had a thing for amphibious vehicles. I love Jeeps, and love boats so that kind of makes sense. Well the DUKW is an amphibious version of a deuce-and-a-half and while it is slow in water is still a lot of fun. These Duck Tours are tours of cities both on land and in water, and before they became popular there was no way I’d ever get a ride in a DUKW. Now I make it a point to look for a Duck Tour in any city I’m in.
Where: Search for “Duck Tours” on the Internet. There isn’t a central number or contact.
What: Smith Optics Parallel D-Max: $129
Why: These glasses feature easy-to-change lenses. For me, that means two things. One, I always have sun, safety, and shooting glasses with me. Two, when (not if) I destroy some of the lenses, I can get replacements relatively easily and inexpensively. For sunglasses, I like any of the polarized lenses, as they make eye strain on those long trips a thing of the past yet aren’t too dark to be useless on all but the sunniest days.
Where: Smith Optics
What: BioLite CampStove: $129
Why: Toting propane containers to camp in a Jeep is a pain in the butt and keeping our mobile gadgets charged is a never-ending battle with no electricity. This stove solves both issues. It can cook your meals running off of whatever scrap wood you can forage and at the same time it converts heat off the side of the stove into electricity. And, as a nice bonus it cuts down on empty propane containers and extra batteries so it is good for the environment, too.
909/BLSTOVE (909/257-8683), biolitestove.com
The Next Thing
What: A New Jeep Project (price varies)
Why: Whether your significant other is shopping for a new-to-them Jeep because the current one is done or it’s at an impasse doesn’t matter. You know when craigslist and the want-ads are being browsed and when that eye is straying to the side of the road and backyards. Maybe it is time to give the gift that keeps on giving and pick up the next project.
Where: If we gotta tell you where, you shouldn’t even be considering this as a gift.
What: Logitech Harmony Remote Control: $30-$350)
Why: So it isn’t directly Jeep related, but it will make life better. Having multiple remote controls cluttering up the living room is for cavemen. I got this Harmony remote control two years ago and swear by it. With one touch, I can “watch TV,” “watch a DVD,” “listen to iPod,” “listen to CDs,” and so on. No more playing the old remote control shuffle just to turn on the tube or some background music or raise or lower the volume.
Topping on the Jeep
What: Bestop soft top (PN 79123-01): $845
Why: I am really good at spending money on hard parts for the Jeep, but when it comes to keeping a top on a Jeep, I’m not good at it at all. I’ve been known to just tape, staple, and even bind with leather to get a top to go just a little bit longer. So, finding a new top under the Christmas tree one year was an awesome surprise. The top I got was a Bestop Replace-A-Top for a YJ Wrangler in sailcloth. Your needs might vary, but sailcloth and tinted windows are always nice to have.