Florida Rambler’s 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Each year, Florida Rambler’s editors choose a few of their favorite things for our annual Holiday Gift Guide.

In most cases, the gear we select have been used successfully by us, although we do not pretend to do the level of testing of, say, Consumer Reports or Wirecutter. These are products we use day to day.

We purchase these products out of our own pocket without the knowledge of manufacturers, assuring our independence without favor.

Every one of these items is in my own camping box. There may be similar brands that are just as good as the products we list, and we encourage you to Comment below.

Full disclosure, Florida Rambler earns a modest commission when you make a purchase from our links. The income helps finance our reporting about the authentic Florida and its opportunities for outdoor recreation.


SHOCK ABSORBING HIKING POLE by WILCOR — I bought this hiking pole a few years ago on a whim at the Acadia National Park gift shop, and I kick myself in the butt every time I forget to bring it on a trip that includes hiking, even relatively short nature trails. The pole adjusts from 27 to 52 inches and comes with a rugged rubber tip, but the piece de resistance is the spring-loaded, shock-absorbing tip that gives just enough (it’s adjustable). Adjustments are made with simple twists. The cork handle absorbs moisture and fits comfortable in the hand with a wrist strap that will keep it on board should it slip from your hand while climbing a ravine. Made of lightweight aluminum, you won’t see any disadvantage over more expensive carbon-fiber poles. A bargain at $21.95 from Amazon.


TRIPOD MOUNT ADAPTER FOR CELL PHONES by VASTAR — Our smartphones are rapidly becoming the camera of choice for travellers and outdoors enthusiasts, rivalling even the best digital SLR cameras in the field, especially for sunsets and landscapes, even selfies. This inexpensive adapter firmly secures your phone to your camera tripod for a steady shot. Videos become easier to manage for a level playing field. The heavy-duty plastic clamp with a cushioned seat screws right onto the standard camera tripod for a flawless fit, either vertically or horizontally. Expands from 2.3 to 3.5 inches to fit iPhones, Samsung, Blackberry and more (I use it with my iPhone 7, including the waterproof case). Don’t leave home without it. Pocket change for an amazing stocking stuffer. $5.99 from Amazon.


UNIVERSAL GRIDDLE for BBQ GRILLS by LITTLE GRIDDLE. After purchasing a table-top stainless steel gas grill for my camping adventures, I thought it would be cool to add a stainless steel griddle with a full-width grease tray that simply sits atop the grill. Turns out, it was a hot choice, and I now use it on my patio grill at home as well. The griddle gets a real workout on our camping trips, wide enough (18″) and deep enough (13″) to cook a pile of pancakes and bacon — all at once! And I love to flip the home fries around like the pros, then push them off to the side while frying up the eggs. Along the way, easily scrape the grease off the griddle into the convenient well. I LOVE this griddle, and you will too. You can spend more, but the Sizzle Q (SQ-180) Stainless Steel Little Griddle goes for only $44 from Amazon. Other options: $57.86 at

Griddle accessories you should not do without:


WATERPROOF CELL PHONE CASE with FLOAT. I dropped my iPhone in the water on a recent kayak paddle and nearly panicked. Fortunately, it was in shallow water and I was able to retrieve it. For days, I considered what I would do if it fell in the ocean, deep lake or river. I didn’t so much need a waterproof case (the iPhone 7 is waterproof), but I feared it would sink like a rock where it would be difficult, if not impossible, to retrieve. There are more expensive waterproof cases out there, and my nephew (a professional kiteboarder) heartily recommends Lifeproof, but at half the price, I felt the Tendam waterproof case with an easily detachable rescue float that slips over the wrist was a smarter choice for kayaking. So far, it works like a charm. Check it out. This link takes you to the case for iPhone 7/8, but you can navigate from there to match your own phone. $44 from Amazon.


RYOBI ONE+ CORDLESS FLASHLIGHT with ROTATING HEAD. A good, reliable flashlight is always on our camping checklist, but I was tired of constantly having to buy batteries. Then came the brainstorm. My garage is filled with Ryobi One+ cordless tools that run off rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries. This flashlight is the bomb. I also bought a Ryobi 12-volt car charger at Home Depot to recharge these batteries on the road, and it works great. I carry three of the compact Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries on camping trips and rotate them through the flashlight and my Ryobi One+ Tire Inflator, an absolute necessity for RVs and bicycles. In addition to Amazon, these items can also be found at your local Home Depot store. The car charger mentioned here is not available through Amazon.


Bonnie’s Favorite Stocking Stuffers

Florida Rambler co-publisher Bonnie Gross is constantly on the move, living out of a suitcase, toting a kayak and/or a bicycle, or just visiting Florida’s unique hideaways. Her selections of these off-the-radar stocking stuffers were already in her Amazon shopping cart when we put this guide together.

If you like to ramble around Florida, then you want to make it easy to take frequent trips. We like this packing checklist because it helps ease your mind that you haven’t forgotten something important. It’s a great stocking stuffer for $7 at Amazon.

Savvy travelers pack light and rinse clothes in the sink at night. This stocking stuffer from Woolite makes it easy to wash a few items while you’re on the road. $7.44 at Amazon.

Spit Anti-fog Spray really works on snorkeling masks, but it is especially popular with swimmers who do laps. Just $6.50 at Amazon.

When we bicycled the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail near Key West, we got a flat within the first half hour. A cyclist riding by offered us a shot of his Fix A Flat. Now we don’t go on a trail without it. For $10 at Amazon, it’s a great stocking stuffer for your favorite bicyclist.

H A P P Y   H O L I D A Y S! 

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