The weather where you are might not be making you think about sandals, but if you’ll be taking a vacation to a hot place or you want a truly original gift idea, check out this Keen custom shoes offering.
The original Keen Newport sandals were a revolution that launched a company and they’re still super-popular for several reasons. They’ve comfortable, functional, cool, and protective of your toes. Plus they’re terrific for water activities like kayaking and river rafting. Now they can come in whatever color combination you want as well.
Keen gave me a code to try this process out and it was a pure delight. Well, for my teenage daughter anyway. I knew she’d go crazier with the choices than I would, so I let her loose on the Keen Custom page so she could make her own unique pair.
After picking her size, she chose from 20 strap colors. Then from 13 stitching colors. Then from 14 microfiber colors for the tongue and sides. After that the lining, from four choices. She chose the woven tab colors (from 7 options) for the two pull tabs, then picked from 10 bungee lace colors and 5 colors for the plastic pull tab at the end. Last was the outsole and midsole, which produced the only bit of whining: sorry kids, gray or black there.
It gets topped off with a yellow and black Keen logo no matter what, but it would take a math club contestant a few minutes to figure out how many combinations you can get from all that. It’s a lot of choices. She went back and forth a few times trying different options, which is easy to do on the intuitive website. Each time you change something, you see the result on the screen and you don’t have to ever hit a back button and start over.
At the top of the screen is how hers came out. Here’s another pair I mocked up with random choices. Obviously a much different look.
This process takes 2-3 weeks, so order today if you want them by Christmas. (To avoid that stress, print the custom page and buy a gift card for $130 instead.) The process was very smooth though, with Keen keeping us updated: a verification e-mail that pictured the shoes as we’d ordered them, another e-mail later that it was in process at the factory, then one when the shoes were on their way.
Sure, these cost more than a pair of regular Newports you buy off the shelf, but how much is it worth to have bespoke travel shoes like nobody else’s? For now anyway these don’t come in kids sizes, but the women’s sizes start at 5 and the men’s at 7. See more at the Keen custom shoes page.
Here’s a nice little travel tool you can buy for yourself, buy for a friend, and buy for a Secret Santa gift and still be out less than $40 after tax.
Gerber is best known for seriously gnarly survival and hunting knives, but they also put out pocket multi-tools that fold out to be pliers, saws, screwdrivers, and more. These GDC pocket tools aren’t as serious as either of those, but they won’t get you stopped at security and they’re super-light.
I took that photo at the top to show how the two I’ve been using size up to some other items you probably have in your daypack or work messenger bag. The GDC Zip Light is something like you’ve seen before: you press a button and the LED flashlight guides you on your way to the bathroom or helps you find the light switch. But it’s double-duty gear because it also has our favorite accessory built in: a beer bottle opener. As you may have noticed, we like items with beer bottle openers built into them.
Little LED lights like this usually last for years before the power runs out, but if it does before you lose it, the batteries can be replaced. You probably won’t lose it though because it’ll attach to your bag. You don’t have to wrestle to remove it though: there’s a quick-release connector with all these Gerber GDC items. Get it direct from Gerber or at Amazon for $12 or less.
The Gerber Zip Driver is there for you when you need some tightening or fixing along the way in your travels. Like the light it’ll clip to your bag or daypack, which is good since the four screwdrivers just rotate around—they don’t tuck away. You get two sizes of flat screwdrivers and two sizes of Phillips ones. They’re made of strong stainless steel and the small one is small enough to work on some precision things like eyeglasses or the damned battery cover on my Franklin Spanish translator that I otherwise love.
There’s another version that has hex wrench tools rotating around and one that has a small blade that folds in. These would be great stocking stuffers because they fit the original intent of stocking stuffers: small and inexpensive.
Find out about deep discounts and coupon codes through our Insider Travel Gear Deals newsletter and get a free report: “10 Travel Gear Gifts for $20 or Less.”
The Mountainsmith Descent is a solid camera bag option for anyone who travels with their DSLR and extra camera gear. It’s not massive, so you won’t feel dwarfed by your camera equipment everywhere you go, and it’s affordable while still delivering on the features you need. The Descent is designed with a cross-chest carry (more on that in a minute) and features a handy clamshell access to the main compartment. You get a media pocket under the lid, and an external front pocket with key clip. A large front section offers plenty of organizational space for documents, a tablet or Kindle, and a wallet. The bag could definitely double as your carry-on if you travel light.
Inside, the main compartment is divided into four sections with sturdy Atilon foam with a 14 L volume. You can fit two camera bodies and two lenses, no problem. The outside is nylon with waterproof coating, and there’s a rain hood as well.
The mobility for this bag is quite good. due to a secure hip belt in addition to the shoulder strap. I know some photographers prefer backpacks to sling bags, and I do too…when hiking good distances. When I have my DSLR with me, however, I tend to want to stop often and take lots of shots. If you’re like me, and want to access your camera at any moment, the Descent’s sling shoulder strap will really work for you. I like the ability to slide the bag forward as I walk or when I stop at a sight. I don’t want to have to take the entire bag off my body to access the camera. Is the Descent going to be as comfortable to move with as a backpack style? No, but it’s darn close. If you’ll be hiking or traveling good distances between shots, a backpack might be for you, but if you’re a stop and shoot all day long kind of photographer, opt for the sling carry.
The Descent is versatile, fitting most users, but if you have a long torso, you’ll want to try it out in a brick and mortar store before ordering. The adults in our family had no problem exchanging the bag back and forth to wear, with easy adjustments to the sling strap and optional chest strap. Pick up the Descent for an exclusive $99 price at REI this December or find it on at other retailers and Mountainsmith in January.
It’s the start of winter snow fun, and one of the quickest ways to ruin your day is getting soggy, cold feet when you’re outdoors. So when you’re planning active adventures in cold weather, you don’t have time to experiment. Outfit your feet in Vasque Skadia UltraDry boots, and you can stay outside all day.
To keep your toes warm, the boots have 200 grams of Thinsulate Ultra—a lightweight insulation made by 3M—plus a heat-reflecting liner and a soft, fleece-lined collar. For making sure the snow stays away, the leather upper with a coated finish and an UltraDry membrane provides waterproof protection.
Even your soles will be happy with the Perpetuum last and EVA midsole with TPU shank, providing stability with low-weight performance. The boots also have a snow-specific Venture outsole with ColdHold Compound to keep your soles just as warm as the rest of your feet.
You might think that all this means the boots will be so heavy that you’ll be tired of the extra weightlifting at the end of the day. But they weigh just 2 pounds. Plus, they’re not your typical gigantic snow boots, and won’t take up your entire carry-on.
When I first tried these boots, I didn’t want to take them off, even at the end of the day. They’re my most comfortable winter boots, and when I’m wearing them, I don’t even think about whether what I’m doing will result in getting my feet wet. It just doesn’t happen.
Holiday gift alert! If there’s an outdoorsy, sporty woman in your life who could use a new watch, Momentum’s M1 Twist will look very pretty under the tree. (Or maybe you just want to buy one for yourself.)
For those not familiar with Momentum, this company has been the market leader in the SCUBA diving market for years. Their watches are made for all types of outdoor use, excelling in practicality while still delivering on style. I find it refeshing that Momentum offers high quality craftsmanship without the premium pricing of prestige watch brands, and plus, they service what they sell.
The M1 Twist is an oversized ‘boyfriend style’ ladies dive watch. The first thing you notice when viewing the M1 Twist: color! This watch is visibly fun, coming in no fewer than ten color options. The case is beautiful stainless steel, and the watch face is luminous and elegant. It’s a very intriguing combination. This said, any watch I wear has to be more than pretty jewelry. The M1 Twist is all about functional design: I’ve been wearing mine for over four months straight (nearly every single day) and it shows no sign of wear. The wrist band is made of natural Italian rubber that’s vanilla scented. Yes, vanilla scented. The face glows in low-light environments, and yes, as a dive watch, the M1 Twist can and does perform underwater (20 ATM depth rating).
The M1 Twist is understated–you won’t find a plethora of bells and whistles–but what it does do, it does well. It tells you the time, it tells you the date, and it illuminates underwater and in the dark, with a nice dive-style swivel. I really like the inclusion of military time on the watch face, as my schedules while I travel are usually written in military style on international trips. It’s easy to adjust the time for various time zones, and you get extended battery life.
Before using it underwater, make sure the M1 Twist is totally sealed by testing the knob on the side of the watch face. To adjust the time, you untwist this knob and then pull it outward to move the hands; it needs to be completely pushed in and tightened before diving or swimming. I’ve finally made a habit of checking this before entering water.