Funny how it works with these holiday Amazon listies. I might do five or six of them in a season and only one person will buy a single listed item.
But orders do increase and quite often the purchases are similar to the listings … but a different model. Or brand. Or color. Sometimes a mention of one type of gear will spark a little flurry of orders for related items. A link to a rifle scope will bring bipods, holsters, and books on reloading.
This post may do the same. I’m going to link to specific products, but it’s not the specific product that matters; this is a list of things everybody swears by. Some I’d regard as absolute necessities for every prepared person. Others are just those things that make you go, “Oh, I wish I’d had one of those five years earlier!”
And they may get the same reaction from people on your gift list.
First a good tire inflator. Here’s the Slime COMP06 Pro Power Heavy-Duty 12-Volt Tire Inflator that Joel swears by. You may have noticed that even when his blog readers do the nicest things for him, he’s not always exactly diplomatic in discussing the faults he perceives. (He’s a lone nut with guns out in the desert; what can you say?) So when he repeatedly swears by (not at) a useful gift, my ears prick up.
But of course there are other variations on the theme of an “OMG I’m in the middle of nowhere and have a flat tire” rescue device. Like this Black & Decker Air Station. It’s less full-featured but can work off both 12-volt and household 120 current, which is nice. Me, though, I carry something much more basic. Not exactly that model, but a small, portable, inexpensive, 12-volt-only device with an easily readable pressure gage. It helps keep the balding tires on Old Blue functional until I can get new ones. (Tip: If you or your gift recipient have an older car, check the fuse diagram in the vehicle manual. Modern vehicles are loaded with 12-volt ports, but if all you’ve got is an old cigarette lighter make sure it’ll handle the amperage, usually around 15 amps.)
Other handy-dandy “wish I’d had that five years ago” items include:
A four-wheeled garden cart. The gardener in your life will never have to cuss at a tippy wheelbarrow again. And this one has fold-down sides for versatility.
A superb tool box. If you’ve ever had to paw your way through a miscellaneous tool-and-junk drawer hoping not to be stuck by loose knife blades and nails (guilty!), you know the value of a good tool organizer from the portable to (oh, one can dream) to the mega-heavy-duty rolling cabinet and plenty in between.
I’ve listed this next item in past years, but that’s because Carla Emery’s classic Encyclopedia of Country Living still and always belongs on every backwoods bookshelf.
There’s also a rich selection of self-reliance books always available in Backwoods Home bookstore. One of these is BHM’s Emergency Preparedness and Survival Guide, on which you can get quantity discounts — perfect for gift giving. (NFI on my part for the BHM books, but you’re supporting BHM, which supports and tolerates me).
I’m also a big believer in the notion that even the most dedicated DIY preppers (that is, even people who butcher their own meat and can all their own veggies), not to mention the rest of us, ought to have a small store of quick, no-brainer emergency foods and equally quick means to prepare them. In those first few days after Something Has Gone Wrong (whether mere winter power outage or major SHTF), you’re not going to want to have to prepare meals elaborately from scratch. That might mean canned or boxed entrees from the grocery store or Mountain House backpacker foods or MREs. That might mean using your woodstove for cooking or having on hand some simple camp stove. In any case, a small emergency cooking kit might be good for the preppers (or wannabe preppers) on your Christmas list. Get clever, get a nice bag or box, and put together a preparedness gift kit of your own design.
And finally, in the “I wish I’d had that five years ago but it’s still a luxury” department, there’s the famous and fabulous military woobie. It’s a poncho liner. It’s an emergency shelter or sleeping bag (“lite” duty and not waterproof). It’s a cozy comforter for winter TV watching and sofa naps. A picnic blanket. A quilt for your bed. It’s lightweight and squooshes down tight for carrying. No wonder soldiers have sworn by their comforting woobies since Vietnam. I got one as a gift and I wouldn’t be without it.