I get this question a lot: “Hey Bubba, what would make a good gift for someone who loves off-roading & already has everything?” My knee-jerk suggestion is beer from a local brewery. But if they’re persistent, then I usually aim for something under $100… and something that an off-roader/overlander can never have too many of. So that being said, I put together a list for this holiday season. Here are my Top-10 gift ideas under $100 that are sure to put a smile on any off-roader’s dust-covered face.
A pair of gloves are always needed on the trail… and you can never own too many either. I particularly like the fast-fit style by Mechanix gloves. They slip on fast, and tend to last. The camo design is my personal favorite, but they also offer these gloves in black, brown and grey. These are great for stacking rocks, wrenching on a vehicle, and pulling winch line. For under $20, you can’t go wrong.
Similar to the gloves above, an off-roader/overlander can never have too many flashlights. You just don’t know when ‘your plans may change’ and a casual day trip becomes an all-night recovery. The Nebo Torchy is the perfect compact pocket flashlight that is super easy to store. It puts out 1000 lumens, and has a USB rechargeable battery. My favorite feature is the clip for your hat, and the strong magnetic base… both of which are perfect when working under the hood of a vehicle. I keep these lights in each one of my vehicles because of how handy they are. And – they’re under 40 bucks.
A tire plug kit is a great item to have an any vehicle, and having multiples is great too. I always keep one in my Jeep, plus a few extra around the shop. I’ve used dozens of different brands, and ARB is hands-down the best. All the tools in this kit are metal (instead of the cheapo plastic-handle versions). And unlike many competitor’s kits, ARB also includes valves stems & a valve stem tool. I have owned one of my ARB tire plug kits for over 5 years now, and the blow-molded bright orange case has stood up to the test of rolling around in the back of my Jeep & being stuffed under seats. At $50 – this kit is worth its weight in gold should you pick up a nail.
This is a little bit of a splurge, but here’s the thing: This small compressor can play a vital role in having a good day off-road. Almost everyone (except for Wooley’s stubborn ass) ‘airs down’ when they go off-road. If that phrase is new to you, it means when we get to a trailhead, we let air out of the tires to increase the contact patch, give the tires more bite on rocks, and to soften the ride on trail. But at the end of the day when it’s time to hit pavement again, you either have to risk it until you get home, find a shady gas station air pump (which is usually out of order), or face the embarrassment of asking the guy in the Lexus if you can borrow his on-board air. Forget all that – all you need is this compact little air pump. This thing comes in clutch at almost every trail ride. And surprisingly enough, this little compressor works faster than you’d think, even on oversized mud-terrain tires. At $125 this maybe a more pricey gift, but it’s one that will be very well received. Plus – it’s great for airing-up vehicles around the house too.
Most folks, at least those who value their spleens, ‘air down’ when they go off-road (see Smittybilt compressor above for description). There are a dozen ways to do it, but the one I’ve found to be most reliable, is the ARB quick deflator. Even if someone already has a quick air-down tool, there’s always that one guy with a stick or a pocket knife who’s sloooowly letting air out of his tires & causing the herd to get restless… so having an extra to share is never a bad situation. ARB makes a high quality product in a well-made case, and they offer it at the reasonable price of $54.
Most off-road folks carry recovery bags. And those recovery bags usually have the standard metal d-rings, flat straps, and maybe some bug spray. However – there is another recovery rope that every off-road rig should carry… and that’s the kinetic rope. A typical/basic flat strap is perfect for winch extensions, towing, or as a tree saver. But the kinetic rope is specifically designed to safely snatch a vehicle in order to get it unstuck. In layman’s terms – it works like a bungee cord. Imagine one vehicle is stuck in thick mud, and another vehicle is on dryer land attempting to pull the stuck vehicle free. When the recovery vehicle hits the gas to pull the other one out, instead of a sudden harsh jerk when the strap snaps taut, the kinetic rope stretches, and uses that kinetic energy to help pull the stuck vehicle. They’re amazing. And in a weird way, they’re really satisfying to use.
Not only are these bright green and UV resistant, but VooDoo ropes have a great reputation, and offer a lifetime warranty. There are many brands of kinetic rope (Bubba Rope, Masterpull, Yankum, etc), but the VooDoo comes in right under our $100 mark at $97.
A soft shackle has become one of my favorite pieces of recovery gear that I’ve (only recently over the last few years) added to my bag. It works like a metal d-ring… by attaching vehicles & ropes to one another. From a safety standpoint, these things are game-changing. Because if a rope fails on a recovery, you no longer have a piece of metal that’s flying through the air like a cannonball towards peoples’ heads (which all jokes aside, can be very fatal). And not only is it safer, but it’s lighter & easier to pack… and it doesn’t clink & rattle going down the trail. I personally carry a few different brands, but the Warn has been my favorite, because honestly, it’s just easier to use versus some of the stiffer options. This is a great gift at only $35.
A new tool in the off-road world is the recovery ring, also known as a snatch ring. The recovery ring works just like a traditional snatch block, and is designed to be used in conjunction with a winch (so make sure the recipient already has a winch installed). It is used like a pulley, and doubles the pulling strength of the winch. This can be vital when trying to get unstuck from deep mud. However unlike a traditional snatch block, the recovery ring is light & small. The downside is: It requires the use of a synthetic winch line and a soft shackle (above), as well as a tree saver. Factor 55 makes the best recovery/snatch ring on the market, however Overland Vehicle Systems has the best price. OVSR offers the ring at $39, or you can buy it as a kit with a soft shackle for $65.
Anytime you’re in a vehicle, you run the chance of mechanical failure. But the stakes are higher when you’re off the map. Therefore it’s always a good idea to have some basic hand tools in your rig at all times. Over the years, I’ve stored my tools a few different ways. But ultimately – my favorite & most organized… has been with a tool roll. Now if you go searching for tool rolls, you will quickly find $200-$300 tool bags. But I’m here to tell you after years of use, the Bucket Boss tool roll is a quality bag at a fantastic price. It lets me ccarry a set of metric sockets, standard sockets, extensions, a full set of wrenches, 2 ratchets, zip ties, and an assortment of screwdrivers & pliers. This tool roll is perfect for the trail, it packs up nice for vehicle storage, and it’s only $44.
Rounding out the list, is literally one of my favorite and most-used items in my Jeep: The Noco 1000-amp jump box. This is a compact jump box, used to jump-start your vehicle if your battery dies. Overlanders like myself tend to run many accessories off-grid… 12-volt fridges, lights, radios, etc. And the chances of a dead battery is high. You can’t expect AAA to make it down the trail, nor can you rely on a second vehicle with jumper cables. This little jump box packs away nicely, it’s rechargeable of course, and it’s easy to use. Besides being able to jump start your vehicle, it also works as a power bank for recharging your devices. And – it has a handy flashlight built in. This is a great gift that could save the day, and at $99, it’s right in budget.
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