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UncommonGoods

11 Brilliant Gifts for the Explorer in Your Life

UncommonGoods
UncommonGoods

Got a friend or family member on your list who’s always traveling to adventurous locales or going off the grid in the great outdoors? Whether they’re into mountain biking day trips or through-hiking excursions that last months, your favorite wilderness enthusiast likely requires quite a bit of gear for their activities. Take a look at some of the latest, greatest gadgets out there.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SONY SRSXB3 PORTABLE WIRELESS SPEAKER WITH BLUETOOTH; $118 - $148

This small speaker is made for your outdoor-loving friend who likes to stop and smell the roses—or listen to some tunes, as it were. It boasts a 24-hour battery life, extra bass for a rich sound, and Bluetooth, to easily connect to a phone or tablet. Bonus: It’s water-resistant, so they won’t have to worry about it getting damaged if there’s rain at their campsite or the speaker gets wet on a float trip.

Find It: Amazon

2. ISLE BOX STARTER BOX; $200

Know someone who’s new to outdoor adventures and they need everything? Get them this kit, from a company that hand-selects great gear and rounds it up in convenient packs perfect for gifting. This starter package includes all they need to get going—from a sleeping pad and head lamp to a stove, water filtration system, and a few freeze-dried meals.

Find It: Isle Box

3. STERIPEN CLASSIC 3 UV WATER PURIFIER; $50

For the person who hikes or camps for days: This portable, battery-powered gadget will guarantee they’ve got clean H2O on their trip. With ultraviolet light, it purifies 1 liter of water in just 90 seconds, killing more than 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses, and protozoa—so they can sip safely.

Find It: Amazon

4. THE CHART OF COSMIC EXPLORATION; $38

The great outdoors isn't the only place worth exploring. Pop Chart Lap's color-coded map shows the entire solar system and traces the path of every spacecraft and instrument that’s ever completed a mission out in space.

Find It: Pop Chart Lab 

5. THERM-A-REST SLACKER SINGLE HAMMOCK; $40 - $53

Even the most adventurous outdoorsman likes to kick up their feet after a long day in the wild. This portable hammock is made of ultra-durable rip-stop polyester. Plus, it folds up to store in an attached pocket and weighs just over a pound—so it’s easy to pack and take on the go.

Find It: Amazon

6. BAREBONES EXPLORER COOLER; $130

This rugged canvas cooler has a bottle opener on the zipper pull and can hold up to 36 cans—but it boasts an adjustable shoulder strap, so it’s comfy to carry as your outdoorsy friend ventures into the wilderness. Plus, it’s got a removable lining, making clean-up when they get home easier.

Find It: Amazon

7. BIOLITE POWERLIGHT MINI; $45

Ensure your nature-loving buddy is never left in the dark with this lightweight lantern. Its USB rechargeable battery stays strong for 52 hours and can serve as a backup power source for their phone. It can be easily clipped to a backpack or jacket during hikes or camping trips, or mounted to their bike for safety on an early-morning or nighttime ride.

Find It: Amazon

8. GOPRO HERO 5 SESSION; $300

This compact new camera from GoPro captures super-clear 4K video and 10 MP photos during any activity. It’s waterproof up to 33 feet, and has voice control so your friends can start filming even when their hands are full—or busy holding a fishing pole or climbing a rock wall. Afterward, it automatically uploads footage to a connected GoPro Plus cloud account.

Find It: Amazon

9. AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL PASS; $80

iStock

It's not too late to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. The pass grants your nature-loving friend entrance to national parks and national wildlife refuges, from Yellowstone in Wyoming to Acadia in Maine, for an entire year. Plus, it covers amenity fees at national forests and grasslands.

Find It: National Park Service

10. GO TENNA OFF-GRID TEXT & GP; $200

Stay connected to your friends or family members who venture into the backcountry or otherwise go off-grid. The waterproof device connects with a phone or tablet via Bluetooth and generates its own radio signal so they can send texts or GPS locations to others with a goTenna, or download a map—even when they’re somewhere remote and without cell service or wifi.

Find It: Amazon 

11. SCRATCH MAP; $26 - $40

Uncommon Goods's Scratch Map begins in a basic brown hue but gets more colorful as your travel-loving pal treks around the globe: They can use a coin to scratch off the cities or countries they’ve visited, revealing bright pops of color underneath.

Find It: UncommonGoods

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LittleBits
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Smart Shopping
12 Gifts for the 'Star Wars' Fan
LittleBits
LittleBits

Two years prior to the release of Star Wars in 1977, George Lucas thought it might be interesting if his space opera resulted in a Wookiee coffee mug or an R2-D2 cookie jar. Some 40 years later, merchandise from the film series has become an entire industry unto itself, with an almost unaccountable number of products. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by options, take a look at 12 gifts sure to please the Force fan in your life.

1. LITTLEBITS DROID INVENTOR KIT; $100

A look at the LittleBits Star Wars Droid kit parts
LittleBits

This is the Droid gift you’re looking for. This engineering kit is suitable for ages 8 and up and features a variety of motors, parts, stickers, and other accessories to help users build their own unique robotic companion. Once assembled, the Droid can sense and avoid obstacles, locomote when humans “use the Force” by swiping their hand, or record secret messages to deliver to accomplices.

Find It: LittleBits

2. STAR WARS ELITE SERIES DIE CAST ACTION FIGURES; $20

A Star Wars die cast action figure of Captain Phasma
Amazon

Action figures have always been a hallmark of the Star Wars product universe, and these 6.5-inch to 7.5-inch die cast figures are a worthy addition to the line-up. Instead of being strictly plastic, each has been struck with molded metal parts to make for a durable, hefty figure that’s more statue than plaything. (But don't worry: They're still poseable.)

Find It: Amazon

3. STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE DEATH STAR HOLOGRAM LIMITED EDITION VINYL SET; $135

A Star Wars soundtrack album sleeve
Amazon

Vinyl may not be as popular as it was when the original Star Wars was released, but the analog format still has enough fans to make this a must-have. The eye-popping reissue of the classic John Williams score features a 3-D hologram on one of the records that projects a Death Star image when played. No special equipment other than a turntable and an overhead light source is needed.

Find It: Amazon

4. STAR WARS BB-8 BLANKET SCARF; $40

A model sports a Star Wars BB-8 blanket scarf
ThinkGeek

For chilly winter mornings, nothing’s better than a cozy blanket-scarf hybrid—nothing, that is, unless it’s one emblazoned with the distinctive profile of 2015’s breakout Droid, BB-8. The spherical charmer appears on this acrylic throw that measures 80 inches by 24 inches.

Find It: ThinkGeek

5. STATE BAGS LIMITED EDITION STAR WARS COLLECTION; $80 AND UP

A Star Wars Darth Vader backpack from State Bags
STATE Bags

Love Star Wars? Love trendy backpacks? STATE Bags is prepared to make you an offer you can’t refuse. These unique, understated totes use patterns and color schemes to broadcast your love of Jedi culture without going overboard. Choose between Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, or a Stormtrooper assembly.

Find It: STATE Bags

6. STAR WARS CROSS STITCH; $20

The cover of a Star Wars cross stitch instructional book
ThinkGeek

Rebellious arts and crafts fans will find a lot to love about this book detailing 12 Star Wars cross stitch patterns with varying degrees of difficulty. In addition to logos for the Rebel Alliance, the Empire, and Boba Fett’s helmet, you can also needle BB-8 and the Death Star.

Find It: ThinkGeek

7. MONOPOLY: STAR WARS 40TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION; $25

A look at the Stars Wars 40th anniversary edition of Monopoly
Amazon

Classic Monopoly game pieces and squares have been swapped out for Star Wars-centric themes in honor of the original film’s 40th anniversary. Move your X-wing flight helmet or Millennium Falcon around the board and draw Force cards that could decide your fate. But be warned: Not even mastery of space wizardry can keep you from going bankrupt.

Find It: Amazon

8. STAR WARS BLACK SERIES POE DAMERON ELECTRONIC X-WING PILOT HELMET; $77

A Star Wars Poe Dameron X-wing helmet replica
Amazon

You don’t need to be hotshot X-wing pilot Poe Dameron to wear his flight gear. This movie-accurate helmet features a retractable visor, sound effects from the films, and some beep-blop Droid chatter from co-pilot BB-8.

Find It: Amazon

9. STAR WARS EPISODE VIII FIGHTER SHIPS 4 PIECE GLASS SET; $15

A set of four Star Wars ship glasses
ThinkGeek

Collectible glasses were all the rage in the ‘80s, and now they’re making a comeback. This set of four 10-ounce drinking glasses features famous ships from the series, including the Millennium Falcon, a TIE Fighter, and an X-wing. Strange blue milk not included.

Find It: Think Geek

10. STAR WARS HAN SOLO AND TAUNTAUN POP! FIGURE SET: A SMUGGLERS BOUNTY EXCLUSIVE; $97

A Funko Han Solo and Tauntaun collectible figure set
Amazon

One of the most disgusting-yet-cool sequences in all of Star Wars is the sequence in The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo braves the frigid climate of Hoth in order to rescue his friend Luke Skywalker. Cutting open his Tauntaun allows him to keep Luke warm enough until help arrives. While you won’t be able to disembowel this Funko version, Han still looks as slick as ever in his winter gear while riding his doomed companion.

Find It: Amazon

11. LEGO STAR WARS EPISODE VIII FIRST ORDER HEAVY ASSAULT WALKER BUILDING KIT; $150

A LEGO Star Wars Assault Walker set
Amazon

The Resistance will be having problems with this massive Assault Walker, a 13-inch-tall kit that seems ready to demolish anything in its path. Once completed, the Walker sports a missile-firing head, movable legs, and First Order mini-figures to man the operation.

Find It: Amazon

12. SYMMETRY SERIES STAR WARS IPHONE CASES; $45 AND UP

Hold the phone: Help your favorite fan answer the call of the Force (or the dark side) with these slim and durable iPhone cases from Otterbox. Choose from five different designs, featuring BB-8, a stormtropper, Darth Vader, the Resistance, and Ahch-To.

Find It: Otterbox

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Smart Shopping
11 Gifts for the Curious Kids in Your Life

No matter their age, you want to find gifts that will keep the kids in your life entertained, stimulated, and give them a sense of accomplishment—even during playtime. Luckily, these 11 gifts will do all of that, and will encourage their curiosity to grow.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we’re only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. RACE ACROSS THE USA; $22

Race Across the USA
Young Explorers

Want to get kids excited about the next big family road trip? Or give them some talking points about their favorite aunt’s home state? This board game helps them understand the geography of the U.S., as well as trivia on each of the 50 states and the major landmarks and capitals.

Find It: Young Explorers

2. ROOT-VUE FARM; $35

Whether they join FFA or not, kids can get a head start on understanding horticulture with this indoor garden system. Plant any root vegetable—carrots, radishes, onions, etc—and watch them obsess over the underground view of their harvest.

Find It: Young Explorers

3. DROID INVENTOR KIT; $100

This is definitely the droid you’re looking for. Recommended for kids in grades 3 to 8, this customizable robot comes with an app that defines more than a dozen missions for kids to send their creations on. And for any Star Wars fans, the Droid makes 20 different sounds, just like from the movies.

Find It: littleBits

4. SPEEDY RACER BILINGUAL LAPTOP; $26

Speedy Racer Bilingual Laptop
Imagine Toys

Kids ages 3 and up can play games, make their own music, and work on language, math, and memory skills with this activity-filled laptop. Plus, the English/Spanish component will help enhance the child’s fluency in both languages.

Find It: Imagine Toys

5. BIKE CHALK TRAIL KIT; $20

Bike Chalk Trail Kit
Uncommon Goods

Think beyond the coloring book. By attaching thick, non-toxic chalk to the back of a bike, kids can work on increased spatial awareness, collaborative drawings with friends, and may perhaps have a greater appreciation for the large-scale, colorful work of a Basquiat or Pollock.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

6. ROCKET SCIENCE DRESS; $30

For little girls who want to shoot for the stars, this Katherine Johnson-inspired dress illustrates her human-calculator abilities as drawn out on a chalkboard. Rocket propulsion simulation, gravity loss equations, etc. You know, the basics.

Find It: Svaha

7. 3DOODLER 3D PRINTING PEN SET; $43

3Doodler 3D Pen Set
Amazon

This wireless pen allows kids to freestyle draw in the air—the eco-plastic filament cools in place quickly, giving kids plenty of practice with spatial reasoning without the costs of a full 3D printer.

Find It: Amazon

8. A COMPREHENSIVE CURTAIN CALL OF BROADWAY COSTUMES; $29

A Comprehensive Curtain Call of Broadway Costumes
Pop Chart Lab

For musical-obsessed kids, this curtain call of famous costumes can serve as a checklist for any Broadway productions they haven't seen (or, more likely, memorized the cast recording and seen the movie version of) yet. Perennial children's favorites like Annie, Grease, and Wicked are included, but you might want to have an answer ready for when your preteen cousin asks to watch Cabaret.

Find It: Pop Chart Lab

9. THE PLAY GYM BY LOVEVERY; $140

The Play Mat by Lovevery
Amazon

Specially designed by experts to stimulate infants for their first year, this play mat grows with your favorite baby. It has five developmental zones in addition to 24 different stage-based activities—like teethers, mirrors, and colorful flash cards. And, when baby becomes a toddler, the mat converts into a tent fort for further imaginative play.

Find It: Amazon

10. STOP MOTION ANIMATION KIT; $60

Stop Motion Animation Kit
Uncommon Goods

Budding animators who need to fine-tune their skills (and patience!) will spend hours moving these silly characters around slowly, photographing their adventures, and editing the film into mini-movies.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

11. PRESCHOOL KIDNOCULARS; $15

Kidnoculars
Young Explorers

Kid-proof and specially designed for tiny hands and faces, these binoculars can help preschoolers get to know the world around them. Play a game like “I Spy” and have them find squirrels in trees, clouds in the sky, or all those Cheerios they spilled behind their bed.

Find It: Amazon

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