Whether you’re planning to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Eid Milad ul-Nabi, New Year, the solstice, or just the happy holidays, this is a time of year for giving. So why not whip up the wanderlust of a globetrotting relative or friend with one of these perfect presents for travellers?

North Street Scout 21 duffle bag: for students of the ‘throw it in’ school of packing © David Else / Lonely Planet
North Street Scout 21 duffle bag: for students of the ‘throw it in’ school of packing © David Else / Lonely Planet

North Street Scout 21 duffle bag

Effortlessly mixing cheerful looks and functional design, the Scout 21 from North St Bags is ideal for travel, whether you’re heading for the beach in Bali or mooching round the markets in Marrakesh. With a simple shape and single main compartment, it’s the antithesis to multi-zipped high-tech backpacks.

The outer layer of canvas-type fabric (Cordura) is tough, and a waterproof lining on the inside protects your stuff when it rains. Also on the inside is a small internal pocket with zip and key tape. North Street bags are made to order in a range of colours, and custom shades are also available for a totally bespoke gift for your luggage-toting significant other.

  • Plus points: no-frills style, retro looks, fun
  • Worth noting: inner lining is waterproof but zip is not, so this bag isn’t for total immersion on kayak trips
  • Cost: US$99
  • Rating: quality 9/10, practicality 8/10, value 8/10
  • More info: northstbags.com
In cold or wet weather, the Eidfjord Jacket keeps you protected © David Else / Lonely Planet
In cold or wet weather, the Eidfjord Jacket keeps you protected © David Else / Lonely Planet

Bergans of Norway Eidfjord Jacket

Bergans of Norway is a venerable outdoor company (credited with inventing the framed backpack a century ago) working with modern materials to develop new products like this Eidfjord Jacket. It’s lightweight, waterproof, windproof and breathable, and ideal for trekking or travel anywhere wet and cold. In testing, we were impressed by handy features such as underarm zips for ventilation and pockets positioned to avoid backpack straps.

The Eidfjord is available in male or female cut (colour options for men are blue, green or black, while women get blue, yellow or pink) and it’s made from a fabric called Ecodear – partially derived from plants (rather than oil, the source of most polyesters) – making it an ideal gift for the special, environmentally conscious, person in your life.

  • Plus points: soft-to-touch fabric is comfortable, flexible and quiet
  • Worth noting: voluminous hood designed to go over a mountaineering helmet; for other activities adjustment cords need to be pulled tight for a close fit
  • Cost: £280, €379, US$339
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
  • More info: bergans.com
Ultra-lightweight materials create the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Antishock walking poles © David Else / Lonely Planet
Ultra-lightweight materials create the Leki Micro Vario Carbon Antishock walking poles © David Else / Lonely Planet

Leki Micro Vario Carbon Antishock walking poles

For big days on the trail, walking poles (aka trekking poles) ease the strain but can be cumbersome. For a loved one into long-distance walking, Leki Micro Vario Carbon Antishock poles make a great gift. Available in standard or ‘Lady’ versions, featuring carbon fibre and aluminium, they’re remarkably light, and fold easily to fit inside a backpack – especially handy when travelling by plane to a trekking destination.

Thanks to a quick-release lever, pole height can be easily adjusted, ideal when switching from uphill to downhill sections, while a damper provides shock absorption without compromising grip or stability.

  • Plus points: ultra-light, compact, extremely comfortable
  • Worth noting: minimum pole length on the Lady version is 101cm; our tester reports this may be too long for anyone under 1.5m tall
  • Cost: £154.95, US$219.95, €169.95
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
  • More info: leki.com
State your case in fancy footwear with Common Ground shoes © David Else / Lonely Planet
State your case in fancy footwear with Common Ground shoes © David Else / Lonely Planet

Common Ground shoes

If your partner or soulmate supports a cause, you could buy them a slogan-emblazoned T-shirt. Or you could go for something special like these shoes from Common Ground. The relaxed slip-on style is ideal for easy travel, beach-strolling or just loafing at home. Options include solid colours or designs with different graphics on each foot, subtly representing issues such as immigration, gun violence and gender equality.

  • Plus points: unique, stylish, thought-provoking
  • Worth noting: our tester found the split in the fabric on the upper part of the shoe slightly uncomfortable; those with high arches may want to go up a size
  • Cost: US$70
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 8/10; value 8/10
  • More info: common-ground.com
Wherever you go, never miss a shot with the Olympus TG-Tracker © David Else / Lonely Planet
Wherever you go, never miss a shot with the Olympus TG-Tracker © David Else / Lonely Planet

Olympus TG-Tracker video camera

For capturing special travel moments – diving with sharks, snowboarding with buddies, hiking with the kids – the Olympus TG-Tracker is an impressive action camera and perfect holiday gift. It’s tough on the outside, packed with high-tech gadgetry on the inside, and simple to operate so even video virgins can produce excellent results.

Obvious features include a flip-out screen, a fisheye lens, a lamp for night shots and a mirror for those all-important selfies (there’s a stills option, too). Hidden clever stuff includes HD, 4K or high-speed record options, GPS so the camera can link location data to footage, plus wi-fi and cable sockets to connect to a smartphone, TV or computer. In use, we found the TG-Tracker coped very well with vibration and sudden changes of light to produce crisp clips for the digital album.

  • Plus points: compact, shockproof, waterproof, dustproof, no protective case required
  • Worth noting: screw-on coupling attaches camera to helmet or handlebar mount, body harness or supplied pistol-grip handle
  • Cost: £279.99, US$349.99, €349.00
  • Rating: quality 9/10, practicality 9/10, value 9/10
  • More info: olympusamerica.com or olympus.co.uk
Tools for travel on the Leatherman Juice CS4 © David Else / Lonely Planet
Tools for travel on the Leatherman Juice CS4 © David Else / Lonely Planet

Leatherman Juice CS4

If your best friend loves traditional gadgets, a penknife is the perfect present. The Juice CS4 from Leatherman combines old-school looks with high-tech engineering and is perfect for trekking, camping or long-distance travel. Tools include scissors, pliers, knife and saw to get you through the rigours of the day, plus corkscrew and bottle opener to help you celebrate achievements in the evening.

  • Plus points: compact, ergonomic, subtle appearance
  • Worth noting: blade is chamfered both sides so suitable for left- or right-handers
  • Cost: US$83.85, £89.95
  • Rating: quality 9/10; practicality 9/10; value 8/10
  • More info: leatherman.com

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How we review products

Our opinions are by definition subjective. Our testers (male, female, young, old) trial products in the real world, then give their honest opinion and scores for quality, practicality and value: 5/10 = mediocre; 6/10 = fair; 7/10 = good; 8/10 = very good; 9/10 = excellent; 10/10 = perfect. We don’t include anything that scores less than 5/10.

We aim for gender balance, and over a year cover an equal number of male- and female-specific items. We state where kit is available in male and female versions, or for everyone, unless it’s obvious.

Prices are quoted in at least one major currency. Where possible we include other currencies. We take prices from manufacturers’ websites; information was correct at the time of publication, but you may find different prices online or in specialist stores, particularly after a period of time when products are discounted.

Manufacturers supply Lonely Planet with test products for review. We do not accept freebies in exchange for positive coverage.

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