If you’re looking to get your outdoorsy spouse, friend or family member a unique Christmas gift this holiday, here are a few ideas.


The Coppermine and Beyond by Michael Peake

new outdoor adventure book cool funThe Coppermine and Beyond

Author and renowned paddler Michael Peak has done it again. He just released the third book in the Hide-Away Canoe Club’s trilogy, The Coppermine and Beyond.

This book is the largest of the three, at 144 pages and 300 modern and historic photos. It’s the final volume of the HACC Trilogy and it looks at several classic northern trips (between 1911 and 2007) and rivers, and includes several never published photos by George Douglas from 1911 to 12 in the Coppermine region.  

The photos are mesmerizing, the written words are captivating, and the historical content makes this book a must-have for any canoe tripper’s bookshelf.

Here’s what Canadian best-selling author, Roy MacGregor, said about the book:

“Michael Peake’s The Coppermine and Beyond is both a great book and the most wonderful canoe trip of a lifetime—in fact, it is about a lifetime of tripping, whitewater, exploration and northern adventure. Some 80 years after George Douglas photographed the Mackenzie, Coppermine and other rivers, the four Peake brothers—The Hide-Away Canoe Club—retraced his paddle strokes and re-photographed the scenes Douglas found. This is the story of the Canadian north, filled with such characters as Robert Service, Pierre Trudeau, Eric Morse, Bill Mason and, indeed, the Peake boys themselves. A book to treasure.”

Watch the video Michael created to explain the book.


Backcountry Brushes by Arja Speelman

beautiful nature bookBackcountry Brushes

Here’s another unique book. Backcountry Brushes is a guide that takes the reader on various multiday canoe journeys, described in prose and accompanied with the author and artist’s watercolour illustrations. Backcountry Brushes also includes practical tips for groups, such as route planning, backcountry etiquette, safety and meal prep.

Arja Speelman has created a refreshing, informative, captivating and passionate view of paddling wild places. The illustrations are stunning yet elegant, and the personal trip tales provided create an exceptional way to share some solid camping tips.


LatLong Killarney Map by Arnaud Icard

maps paddle explore backcountryLatLong

LatLong is a relatively new map company that earlier this year came out with three detailed canoe maps on Ontario’s Haliburton Waterways, Queen Elizabeth Wildlands II and a section of Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park. Now, they have a brand new one for Killarney Provincial Park.

These maps are printed on a grease-, tear- and water-resistant FSC paper. This, of course, means they are not waterproof—but a good map case will easily solve that issue. Plus, these maps can be written on with a regular pen or pencil. I prefer it this way so I can scribble notes along my route choice.

The maps are highly detailed, at unusually large scales (scale 1:36,000, 1:18,000 and 1:16,000). Each shows campsite locations, portages, contour lines, navigation obstacles, trails and points of interest. They also are packaged in a folder system, so they can be tucked away on your bookshelf when not in use. That’s a big bonus to me. Each map folder comes with a separate note booklet and scale ruler.


One Winter Up North by John Owens

kids book christmas presentOne Winter Up North

This is an absolutely gorgeous book. One Winter Up North truly illustrates the joy of winter camping, the comforts of wilderness travel, and the sense of awe this season brings to anyone who embraces it. John Owens has created a wordless picture book journey through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in winter, snowshoeing the frozen lakes and silent forest with family, encountering the wonders of northern wildlife in the cold season. It’s a wintery adventure that unfolds in images.


Whirligig Canoe Lawn Ornament by Chris Pearson

I saw canoe maker and craftsman Chris Pearson’s social media post on the Open Canoe Association page showing off his wind propelled paddlers and I knew I had to get one.

The master was all hand carved, and then he created a rubber mold and added on the extra parts. The drive train is made of solid brass and bearings, and it’s then hand painted.

An absolute piece of art like no other. Be warned, they are pricy ($375 plus shipping) and since they are homemade, very limited in numbers. But they’re worth putting up on your front lawn—especially if you live on a windy hill like me.


Canoe Barrel Organizers by Recreational Barrel Works

barrel organizersRecreational Barrel Works

If the canoeist you’re shopping for packs a barrel on their canoe trips—60 litre or 30 litre—then you definitely want to get them something to keep everything organized inside. One of the disadvantages of using a barrel for food storage is that it always seems whatever you’re looking for is always on the bottom, forcing you to take everything out of the barrel to retrieve that one item.

Recreational Barrel Works (a Canadian, family-based company) has new storage bags (colour coordinated), a compact pocket organizer to store all your kitchen utensils, and a cooler made specifically for the 60 litre, 30 litre (or 20 litre) ideal for keeping meat frozen longer and fruits and vegetables fresher… and a few beers cooler as well.


Trangia’s 27-1UL/GB/SB Cookset

Trangia’s limited edition 27-1 UL/GB/SB cooksetCanadian Outdoor Equipment

Most Canadian campers use a white gas stove or gas canister stove. But if you go across the Pond to the UK, the majority use an alcohol-based stove. These are cleaner, quieter and less expensive to fuel.

The best overall model is Trangia’s limited edition 27-1 UL/GB/SB cookset sold by Canadian Outdoor Equipment. It offers flexibility for cooking setups and styles, since it comes with two burners: Trangia's alcohol burner and Trangia's gas burner (for isobutane). So you have a choice of both if you want.

The 27-1 kit has two saucepans (1.75 and 1.5 litre), a 22-centimetre frying pan, windshields (upper and lower), a pan grip and a strap. The material used is 50 per cent stronger than ordinary aluminum, and as light as titanium. This is one lightweight (weight is a mere 875g.), compact, and portable camping stove set ups—and it’s darn unique.


Fire Lite Tinder Cord by SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer)

strong but thin diameter paracordSurvive Outdoors Longer

I picked up this cordage at the beginning of the past canoe season and threw it in my “ditch kit” just in case. It makes a strong but thin diameter paracord. But that’s not all. It also doubles as a ready-to-use fire starter. The nylon outer sheath provides a rugged protectivelayerfor the ignitable waxed cotton inner core. And it really works. I used it half a dozen time to help get wet wood ignited and speed up the water boil for a cozy hot cup of tea during a sloppy rainstorm.


Dick Duff’s Organic Jerky

jerky yummy stocking stufferDick Duff’s

Jerky always should be an annual stocking stuffer for any camper. Try Dick Duff’s. I got hooked on it late in the season and basically tried it because it is organic. You’ve got to love anything organic. The cattle are raised sustainably without the use of GMOs, pesticides, added hormones or antibiotics. It’s a jerky that’s good for the planet, but it also tastes darn good.

They’ve got a bunch of unique flavours: Red Wine & Rosemary, Sweet Chipotle or Dijon Mustard. My favourite is the wine and rosemary combo. Be warned. The Sweet Chipotle has a kick, but it’s addictive. It makes a good addition to a backcountry stew or stroganoff. This jerky is low in fat, naturally gluten free, certified organic and a serious source of protein. And I happen to be snacking on it while writing this blog. Yum!


Scout’s Coffee

scout coffeeScouts Coffe

Pair those traditional Girl Guide cookies with Scouts Coffee. What a perfect stocking stuffer, and a great way to support Scouts in learning new skills, making new friends, and becoming better leaders.

There are perfect bundle ideas: Beaver, Rover, Cub, Venture. But I’d go for the total Scouts Bundle. Good price and good blend: organic. fairtrade and roasted in Canada, too.

Whatever you choose, the Scout Coffee fundraiser allows Scouting Groups to enhance their programming to help develop youth into well-rounded Canadian outdoorsy types; and it’s a given we need a lot more of that right now.

A total of 35 per cent of the sales go back to local Scouting Groups to fund their adventures and over five per cent directly supports the No One Left Behind program, which aims to remove economic barriers for youth and families wishing to participate in Scouting.

Good coffee and good cause. That’s a perfect stocking stuffer.