Christmas Gifts for Offroaders
Off-road drivers are lovable people so naturally you’d want to get them nice christmas gifts, but you absolutely must read our gift-buying advice first…
THE PROBLEM is that off-roading is a technical hobby which means there’s lots and lots of gear to buy, and that means it’s very easy to make the wrong choices, with “wrong” being not what’s wanted.
Let’s take tyres for example – the chances of getting that right are about 1 in 1,000,000. You might get the brand right, the model right, and the construction right but fail on the size – you bought 245/70/17 and they really wanted 255/65/17. Now that difference may mean nothing to you, but it does mean a lot to your gift-worthy offroader, so you really need to play safe with choices. And don’t assume what they use now is what they want in the future, as there’s a steady stream of new products to try and preferences change over time. A new GPS receiver? Good luck picking the one that’ll light their face up.
So what do you do? Just give cash? Of course not, that’s crass. Here’s a few rules that should see a joyous gift-giving:
Buy neutral gifts. Play safe by choosing gifts that just about any offroader is going to need – like the list below. But of course a disclaimer – while I suspect all offroaders would be happy to have their stocking filled with these gifts, I’m not guaranteeing satisfaction. Perhaps the best way to check is to have a quiet word with your offroader’s friends, who will usually have a pretty good idea of things to avoid and things to buy. But beware friends who tell you what they think your offroader needs, not what your offroader wants. It’s a gift, so the only opinion that counts is the giftee. And offroaders are known to consider playing pranks quite funny, so if your offroader loves his Toyota let’s just say that an “Eat Sleep Jeep” sticker is probably not going to impress!
Buy quality. Whatever gift you give, you must give quality. Better a single high-quality item than spending the same money on several items that are sub-standard, because most people appreciate quality in a gift more than quantity and this is especially true of offroaders. As a general rule, you’ll find quality gear at specialist 4X4 shops and small hiking gear shops and just quietly, you tend not to find quality at large non-specialist camping chains. An example of a terrible gift is a cheap, no-name air compressor or a tiny 12v fridge that costs $100. And when it comes to recovery gear, poor quality leads to poor results which leads to injuries or worse. For a nice touch, consider having something engraved on the gift.
Buy the whole gift. For example, let’s say you’ve bought a Maglite as a gift. That’ll need a mount kit, so get one. You bought Maxtrax? Get the bag too, or a mount, unless you’re sure it won’t be needed. You bought a tree-trunk protector? Add a shackle and gloves too. Does the gift need batteries? Buy them too. This whole-of-kit approach will really show that you didn’t just splash the cash but really thought things through and that’s the mark of a true gift.
Consider the whole cost. Let’s say you’ve done the research and decided on a differential lock. Fantastic, but unless your offroader is a pretty handy mechanic that’ll need installation work, so either organise the install or realise you’ve just loaded up your giftee with extra cost before they can use the gift. Which may be fine, but just be aware.
Beware new kit. Most offroaders own what they want, because they tend to prioritise offroad spending over clothing, mortgage repayments, hygiene goods and other non-necessary items. If they don’t own a relatively cheap item, that’s probably because they don’t want or need it. For example, a side awning for a roofrack which you may think is a great idea, but such awnings add weight, stick out over the side and look unsightly – in the opinion of some people. And they might not want a handwinch, because they’re saving for an electric. Remember, this isn’t about what’s right, it’s about what they want.
Now with all that said, here’s the list and good luck! It’s all around the $15 – $500 mark so something for everyone. I’ve not provided links or pricing for most of this stuff, but a little Googling should fix that for you.
Note: I have recommended some specific products below, but I have no financial or other interest in doing so, other than my own book. It’s just kit I like.
- Snatch strap – everyone has one, they wear out regularly and are expensive enough to make it seem like you care, but not too much.
- Gloves – all offroaders need gloves, so splash out on a really good quality set. Everyone could do with a second or even third set for passengers. Quite cheap, so combine with something else.
- Tyre deflators – handy for saving time. Combine with a set of 8 metal valve caps (so there are some spares) and a tyre pressure gauge. You can never have too many tyre pressure gauges.
- Handheld UHF radio – at least 2 watts, and able to run off replaceable batteries. Handhelds are forever being lost or broken.
- Sportscam – such as a GoPro, Contour. A bit risky as there’s so many different models, but you may score well. Ensure you get the vehicle mounting kit and a memory card so it’s ready to run.
- Maxtrax or Treds – get four, or another two, plus a mount or a bag. Over time, these do wear out and there’s a new version available if your set is old.
- Maglite – the perennial favourite. Avoid the very large models unless you’re quite sure about it, and get a mounting kit.
- Novelties – for example, Treadz 4WD Jewellery. Have to be sure it’d be worn though, or maybe just appreciated on a mantelpiece.
- Maps – see if there’s a new offroad-worth map out in the area you usually travel. Hema’s offroad atlas of Australia as it is always a safe bet the one in use is not the current version. Combine with a tough holder for the map.
- Synthetic winch rope – have to check it’s the right diameter and length, but any form of winch rope does wear out so a new set is always appreciated.
- Detailing voucher – most offroaders wash their cars, but don’t polish them. A professional clean could well be the go. Combine with some quality carwash kit like Meguiars – offroaders are one of the few people that aren’t offended by gifts of cleaning material.
- Scale model of the car – almost can’t go wrong with this if you get the make and model right!
- Winch damper or extension strap – if they have winch this would be good to combine with tree trunk protector, snatch block and gloves. Almost can’t go wrong, and they do wear out.
- Bridle – even if they don’t have twin recovery points a bridle can be used in all sorts of recovery situations.
- Bowsaw – sure, chainsaws are useful but a small high-quality bowsaw is sometimes all you need and a lot quicker.
- Driving course – not a 4WD course, strangely enough unless they’re a novice. Snow driving or rallying often works well for offroaders.
- Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife – everyone who loves the bush loves these. Even if they own one, get a slightly different model. No offroader will turn this one down.
- Tyre repair plugs – because they get used up and you always want more. Cheap, so combine with other things.
- Framed photo of their truck – pretty much can’t go wrong here. Get a good photo, take it somewhere like Ted’s Camera, print it on A3 and have it framed.
- Small radio controller rockcrawler – there’s a few of these around for under $200. Make sure they’re the sort that goes very, very slowly, a true crawler.
- Survival equipment or courses like Bob’s.
- The 4WD Handbook, Glovebox Guide or Treks Close to Melbourne – well, I have to recommend my own books!
I hope that gives people some ideas for gifts. Remember, the worst mistake you can make is to spend money and time on a gift that’s not really wanted. So read the guidance at the top, chat with trusted friends, buy quality, buy the whole gift and you should experience the true joy of giving!