In our first Goodlifer Gift Guide for Men, we look to the mountains for inspiration. We have rounded up a selection from some of our favorite companies; some old friends and some new discoveries. We’ve chosen goods with character and integrity, admirable traits for men as well. Here is our selection of durable, heirloom, wildcrafted, handmade, ethical gift ideas for the mindful, rugged outdoorsman.
Juniper Ridge John Muir Trail Gift Pack
Probably one of our favorite companies of all time, Juniper Ridge truly embodies the “good life” in their products and in the company’s work/life ethos. Juniper Ridge specializes in “wildcrafting,” the art of foraging and wild harvesting botanicals and extracting essential oils and fragrances which are infused into their handmade line of soaps, incense and other timberline-scented wares. The company founders maintain a wanderlust inspiring Instagram and snapshots of life on the trail and can often be found free-ranging the Pacific Northwest, Northern California and the Desert Southwest in their mobile distillation Field Lab (an Econoline van), harvesting cedar and juniper in forests, or backpacking along the John Muir or Pacific Crest Trails in the Sierra Nevadas.
This limited edition gift set is wild harvested from Muir’s favorite trails and is a perfect gift for a rambling man or city dweller who could use a strong dose of biophilic olfactory rejuvenation. Their site features a wide array of incense and other products that will evoke sun drenched afternoons in the footsteps of Western mountaineering pioneers. A portion of proceeds benefit a range of wilderness conservation organizations.
$112, Juniper Ridge
Wetterlings Large Hunting Axe
Wetterlings is the oldest existing axe forge in Sweden, building axes by hand since 1880. Goodlifer recently visited their factory in Storvik to see the process of turning Swedish steel into mighty axes. Wetterlings CEO Julia Kalthoff recently refurbished the on-site hydropower generating station, drawing a constant flow of clean energy from the river where the factory sits. Every Wetterlings axe is handmade from start to finish by Swedish blacksmiths and craftsmen who apprentice for years to learn the centuries old ways of axemaking. Each Wetterlings axe comes with a leather blade sheath made of vegetable tanned leather and all are fitted with oil finished American hickory handles. Outdoorsmen and bushcraft experts throughout the world swear by this Swedish steel, and their provenance from the land of iron, Vikings and Thor infuses these primitive tools with serious mojo. This axe model can be used as a hatchet with one hand, but is also the smallest model that can be used with two hands to tackle small trees and limbs. The longer handle gives it good striking force compared to weight, making it a great companion in the outdoors for the hunter, for the bushcrafter and for the camper. Other models also available at Lie-Nielson.
$109, Lie-Nielson Toolworks
The BioLite Stove took the outdoor industry by storm over the past year and has fast become a favorite of ours here at Goodlifer for its smart design and for the founders’ commitment to bigger picture, global sustainable development goals. The BioLite stoves are designed by a team of industrial designers who worked on products for the likes of OXO, Nike and Bosch, and who were inspired by the idea of making a well designed portable stove that could be fueled by wood and produce energy at the same time from waste heat. Their two-pronged approach is to serve the outdoors market while building an entrepreneurial market-based approach to poverty alleviation and emissions reduction in the developing world, where upwards of 3 billion people cook with fire on smoky, inefficient primitive open fires and stoves. The BioLite HomeStove is designed for use in these markets to radically improve the performance of stoves while reducing emissions drastically and providing a much-needed sustainable, portable power source for charging mobile phones and other portable devices. The BioLite CampStove, pictured above, delivers the same performance in a more compact package for camping, with the ability to charge many USB-powered devices, including iPhones and new products like the Camelback UV Light Purification water bottle featured below.
Camelbak UV Light Water Purifcation Bottle
The Camelbak All Clear UV Light Water Purifaction Bottle is the answer to Montezuma’s Revenge. Equipped with a USB-charged UV spectrum light in the cap, this bottle can purify clear waters of microbes and bacteria in about 60 seconds. With the addition of an optional pre-filter attachment, water with sediments can be filtered directly into the bottle before being UV purified. For truly murky or turbulent waters, Camelbak recommends a heavy duty water pre-filter, available from various outdoor companies such as MSR. Like many of their other bottles, the All Clear .75L bottle is made of durable, BPA-free, dishwasher-safe sustainable Tritan copolymer from Eastman. For day-to-day use in the urban jungle or traveling in, say, Mexico, this bottle is a valuable companion that helps eliminate store-bought bottled water and plastic pollution in your personal travel and life. Headquartered in a LEED certified building in Petaluma, California, Camelbak has been a pioneer of personal hydration products for years, and has a strong company commitment to social responsibility (“We give a shit” is one of their core values).
Rivendell Mountain Pack to benefit 1 Million Trees NYC
This bag and others from Rivendell Mountain Works are descendants of designs created by the late Don Jensen, who was a climber active with the Harvard Mountaineering Club, in the 1960s. This collaboration (and the one that follows below) are great examples of people coming together to make something cooler than the sum of it’s parts. Designer Matt Singer has built an admirable career and body of work in a highly personal collection of clothing and accessories, partnering with various companies on limited edition projects. This smart collaboration benefits the very worthy One Million Trees campaign in New York City. Replanting the urban forest is something we can get behind here at Goodlifer and we dig the colorway of this bag and its useful leather tabs for attaching accessories. A win-win.
$225, Matt Singer
Ursa Major x Topo Designs Dopp Kit
This limited edition collaboration is a wonderful introduction to the “super natural” Vermont-based men’s skincare products company, Ursa Major. The philosophy of Ursa Major is to create products that are “effective, healthy and sublime” and they document their growing commitment to sustainability (aiming for 100% natural, organic, fair-trade) on their Blog Cabin blog. A sampling of their paraben-free, sulfate-free, pthalate-free line of shave cream, wash, tonic and balm is gathered together here in a partnership with the Colorado based Topo Designs in a cool, one-of-a-kind camo camp Dopp kit, available only via this collab.
$125, Ursa Major
Geoduck Pillow by Feathered Friends
Named after the largest burrowing clam in the world, the Geoduck by Feathered Friends is a must-have for those who desire a portable and comfortable camping pillow. Anyone who has spent a rough night camping with their head propped up on an improvised pillow of rolled up towels, jeans and shirts will appreciate this. It provides just the right amount extra elevation for your noggin and packs down light and small. Stuff it into its integrated stuff sack while traveling, then pull it out and watch it expand to three times its size when you’re ready to catch a nap. Eco-credentials: The pillows come in a wide variety of colors as they are made from fabric left over from the production of jackets and sleeping bags, helping to reduce wasted fabric trimmings. The down that Feathered Friends sources is a byproduct of the poultry industry and is Blue Sign certified. Feathered Friends was founded in 1972 by husband and wife team Peter and Carol Hickner who, out of necessity due to a bad local 1970s economy, began producing tents, jackets and sleeping bags from the basement of their home. The small company is still run by the same couple out of a Seattle factory and retail store that also happens to be a respected expedition outfitters. In a world of huge outdoor brands, we love this story.
$45, Feathered Friends
Snowpeak Titanium Straw
The venerable Japanese mountaineering, camping and outdoors accessory company Snow Peak has a cult-like status among veteran alpinists for their spare, elegant sensibility and minimalistic designs. While they offer a range of high-tech and lust-inducing camping stoves and gear, what we’d like to introduce you to here is the Snow Peak Titanium Straw. Credentials: “titanium is tasteless, odorless, does not corrode, is non-allergenic to 96% of the earth’s population, and has an excellent weight to tensile strength ratio.” Needless to say, this is a high-performance straw. Consider it an elegant replacement for a lifetime of plastic straws. Equally at home in the mountains and your local juice bar, this is heirloom design at its best, replacing a wasteful product of modern living with a well-designed permanent solution that can be handed down through generations. A wonderful way to reduce exposure to disposable, toxic plastics in your life and food.
Patagonia Wild Salmon Jerky
Environmental and socially responsible role model Patagonia is a tough act to follow, but that’s sort of the point. They have consistently challenged themselves, and the outdoor and apparel industries, to be more thoughtful, conscious, transparent and collaborative. One of the latest entries into their meaningful and deep commitment to conservation is Patagonia Provisions.
Three varieties (smoked black pepper, chili pepper and teriyaki) of sustainably harvested wild salmon are cured and dried into rich trail-worthy jerkies, a welcome alternative to traditional beef jerkies for pescatarians and sustainable seafood lovers alike. Rich in protein, low in fat and loaded with three times the Omega-3s of fresh salmon, wild salmon jerky is perhaps the ultimate trail food. Patagonia sources selectively harvested, river-caught wild sockeye salmon, ensuring that less-abundant species continue their migration unharmed. A rich and detailed history of man’s relationship to salmon is told on the Patagonia Provisions’s website, along with an essay by company founder and conservation pioneer, philanthropist and activist Yvon Chouinard.
Voltaic Amp Solar Charger
A Goodlifer favorite, the NYC-based Voltaic Systems has updated their line of portable solar charging accessories, and this portable zip-up fold-out model, their most compact, is on our wishlist. We have been wearing Voltaic solar backpacks for years around New York City, in the wild and traveling to foreign lands with foreign power outlets, topping off our phones with 100% clean, green electrons from the sun. The Voltaic bags and solar accessories never fail to solicit curious glances and questions, and we are often stopped by strangers everywhere who are fascinated by the idea of portable solar panels. You actually have to be something of a people-person to wear a solar backpack as you will get stopped and asked about it (people looking for love, take note). What we like about the Amp charger featured here is that it can be left open or propped up on a window sill or car dashboard to charge up the on-board batteries. The shell is made of recycled PET (soda bottles) and offers storage space for cables. According to Voltaic, 4-5 hours in the sun will fully charge a typical phone, 1 hour will provide about 3 hours of talk time from the the two waterproof 2.0 watt panels. All Voltaic products come with a range of adapters, including USB to connect a wide variety of mobile devices, and the larger, higher voltage laptop bags and backpacks are able to charge laptops.
$99, Voltaic Systems
Red Clouds Old Timer Tool Roll
The Red Clouds Collective is one of a new wave of creative cooperatives made up of individuals who are choosing to join forces and work collaboratively on artistic and commercial endeavors, inspired by their collective lifestyles and creative energy. At Goodlifer we love examples of bridging work/life balance in the service of creating, and we admire the ethos of designers who are dedicated to producing durable, heirloom, handcrafted goods from natural materials. The simple, elegant but tough-as-nails “Old Timer” Tool Roll is compelling for its original design purpose, to hold a set of tools (perfectly sized for a carry on a motorcycle or bicycle), but we like the idea of using this as an ad hoc Dopp kit for toothbrush and razor, or for art supplies or other tools of the trade. The designers at Red Clouds say of this piece: “This is our tribute to the simple ways of life and looking good while being prepared.” Red Clouds also produce a range of bags, leather accessories and clothing inspired by the outdoors and craft traditions of the Pacific Northwest.
$40, Red Clouds Collective
Best Made Ditty Bag
NYC-based Best Made is one of the pioneers of a new breed of outfitters that has re-introduced the crafts, legends and lore of the great outdoors to a generation of urban dwellers, while updating classic designs with smart, modern touches. One of our favorite pieces from their collection of new classics is this take on the Navy Ditty Bag. “Originally the ditty would have been the first test of an apprentice sailmaker or seaman: before he could be trusted with the fabrication of a sail, he had to prove his mettle by making his own ditty bag out of sailcloth.” The Bestmade Ditty is designed as a bag for camp and travel that could be easily hooked to a branch or a bunk, and at a moment’s notice be slung over the shoulder, or tossed in a duffle. Particulars: The heavyweight, tightly-woven cotton fabric is impregnated with wax which provides resistance to inclement weather and produces a handsome patina over time. The wax consists of food and pharmaceutical waxes, making it completely non-hazardous. The Martin family has been making American textiles since 1838, and their waxed fabrics have outfitted countless outdoorsmen, soldiers, and farmers for generations. The bag’s rope since is woven in Europe’s western lowlands by rope makers with four centuries of experience. It is pre-stretched to prevent elongation, and with high UV-resistance, was typically used as halyard and sheet ropes on classic fishing boats. This extreme attention to detail and authenticity is what sets Best Made apart. An entertaining bit of history and lore of the Ditty Bag can be found on the Best Made blog.
$118, Best Made
Wild Rose “Wild Man” Beard Conditioner
Wild Rose Herbs embodies many of the ideal qualities we at Goodlifer look for in a company, but the first thing you will notice is their outright friendliness! Beyond a commitment to sustainable sourcing, natural healthy ingredients, and transparency, the company is imbued with a strong, artistic DIY ethic, and is even “barter friendly”. This is the future, people. Wild Rose was founded in 2011 by Ash, a freelance herbal alchemist and aromatherapist who offers these products from her personal recipes. Wild Rose herbs are organically grown (many by Ash herself) or ethically wildcrafted in their native bioregion, and all formulas contain therapeutic-grade steam distilled essential oils. According to Ash, “You will never see a synthetic or harmful ingredient. We encourage label-reading and questions.” Wild Rose offers a range of products for men and women, including massage oils, aromatherapy, tattoo care, salves and a range of DIY herbs and home brew items. We tested the “Wild Man” line of beard conditioners, based on grape seed oil which mimics skin’s natural moisturizers, absorbs quickly, strengthens hair and leaves beards shiny and soft. Offered in four different scents, our favorite for the holidays is Tundra, a blend of peppermint, lemon and Peru balsam. The Cove scent is a blend of lime, sage and tea tree oil. According to Ash, the Raven scent is reminiscent of a moist, pre-dawn forest. This earthy, woodsy blend contains Ravensara, an obscure and exotic oil. Bonus: the Original “Wild Man” scent contains just enough lavender that it may act as an aphrodisiac.
$19.95, Wild Rose Herbs
Teroforma Whisky Stones MAX
In the underground whisky bars of Tokyo, bartenders have perfected the art of freezing solid blocks of water with no bubbles or visual imperfections. Just solid blocks of pure, glasslike water. On a trip to Tokyo several years ago, we watched as a bartender armed with an ice pick expertly chipped away at a rough hewn cube of clear ice, producing a perfect tennis ball sized sphere with emerald-like faceting. The diameter of this ice diamond ball was precisely 2 or 3 millimeters smaller than the mouth of the crystal tumbler that it was deposited into. Watching the slow pour of Scotch over the rippled surface of this ice ball was a visual feast of craft, discipline and suchness that will never be forgotten. We can learn a lot from the whisky enthusiasts of Tokyo. These oversized blocks of soapstone are the Brutalist answer to the Japanese ice ball. Kept in the freezer, these rocks provide the rocks without diluting your drink. Milled in Vermont by the oldest soapstone workshop in the U.S., Teroforma offers these in two sizes. You want the MAX. The big ones. These gray stone blocks will lend an air of raw, primitive elegance to your dram or tumbler (and maybe your Tumblr), and should last you forever.