Your favorite outdoor tool

To all the outsdoorspeople out there. What is the one essential tool you can’t do without?

Full disclosure: I am not an outdoorsy expert - far from it.
But my nephew (and a couple of his friends) are mad for “wild camping” (whatever that is).
They’ve just come back from Wales (yeah, I know, at this time of year, brrr).

It’s getting close to Xmas and I’d like to get him something useful and cool.
So, slightly selfish reason for creating this post, but thought it might be fun also.
Calling all Grizzly Adams / Bear Grylls types…



Corkscrew, bottle opener, tin opener.
What more does one need?


That is very much my kind of outdoorsy, TBH.


Bottoms up!


I would argue that the aim is to strip away any non-essentials, so all outdoor tools meet your criterion.

But since that is a totally unhelpful reply, one item that comes to mind is a stove

Bottles and tins to open?


That’s why I do my camping in an empty lot behind an ALDI.


I don’t own one, but if I was looking for a present for an outdoorsy person, I’d go for a Gränsfors Bruks or Hultafors axe.

Probably the outdoor or hunting ranges.

Another really cool thing (and maybe more unique) are Japanese outdoor axes like this one


A decent machete. Handy for thwacking away small branches, clearing annoying twigs and undergrowth at the campsite, and its sturdy enough for chopping firewood and can be used to split logs if you step on the back of it.

You dont need to go fancy. Do get one with a long-ish blade. I keep mine tucked up inside my rucksack frame and can remove it for use without having to take off my pack.


What does UK knife law make of machetes? Genuine question.

Also, if you want the local equivalent, I’d go for a billhook in whatever style is local to you


Tactical fluffy hand warmer.


I’m not in the UK, but yes a good point indeed.

Under a new definition included in these measures, a zombie-style knife is any bladed weapon over eight inches in length with a plain cutting edge and sharp pointed end that also has either a serrated cutting edge, more than one hole in the blade, or multiple sharp points like spikes

The plain one I use likely would be permissible, but cops are gonna cop so :man_shrugging:

This is very similar to what I use.


I genuinely think a billhook would be a great and unexpected present for a wild camper

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@Doctor_Faustus I know he’d love an ax, the little hoolie!

@NukeML . I own an unused machete (from my gardening days, nothing sinister). He’s not having it.

@Doctor_Faustus. Billhook not a bad idea at all.

@ all. I would trust him to use any of these tools responsibly. I wouldn’t trust him to come up with a good excuse for carrying them in case the Plod do stop him and his friends.

But thanks, maybe the tactical hand-warmer…


Tactical bobble hat hand-knitted from acrylic fibre that stores up an ungodly amount of static electricity, enough to power the tactical emergency radio or charge a tactical smartphone.


I also find an entrenching tool to be very handy.

It can also be used to thwack small branches. Its good for scraping and leveling a campsite. The variant above can also be folded to act like a small stool, handy for wilderness bathroom breaks.



Hmm, I wonder if he already has a metal-detector also?
Have to ask my brother.
Good shout.

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Yeah, I’m getting them.

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Previously on BoingBoing:

My brother had a hobby of collecting camping gear. I think he loved the planning and dreaming more than camping itself. In any case, he was always picking up things in two broad categories: ultralight and waterproof. Pelican boxes, waterproof matches, little ultralight flint and steel firestarters, ultralight cookware, freeze-dried foods. He got really into dehydrating stuff for a while, too.

ETA: Oh, and sturdy folding knives. Got to have a good knife!


I think we need a little more information. I read “wild camping” to mean not motor-assisted, so are we talking backpacking, canoeing or something else?

For backpacking, axes, machetes, and shovels are too heavy. Even canoeing we rarely used to carry anything beyond a small folding saw. Many parks in Ontario have fire bans in the summer, and after the experience of this year I expect to see a lot more, hence my suggestion of a small stove, which mostly obviates the need for wood-processing tools. (I may be biased by my experience of campsites in Algonquin Park that were absolutely trashed by Paul Bunyan cosplayers.)

I have never used a Woodman’s Pal

but they have many fans. The only time I have used a billhook was cutting line for an old surveyor on a summer job. I wasn’t impressed, but it was extremely dull.