The Crankshaft Culture ‘Not Another Holiday Gift Guide’ Gift Guide

Ledlenser MH5 headlamp on Andy Lilienthal at camp.

Holiday gift guides can be great ways for people to find that just-right gift for their special someone. They can also be useless shill pieces aimed at bringing in traffic to their site without anyone actually touching the products—but that’s not the case here! The Crankshaft Culture Holiday Gift Guide features products we’ve actually used and really like. We’re not being paid to post these—we genuinely enjoy them. And if we love them, we thought we’d share. So here’s the first Crankshaft Culture Holiday Gift Guide, just in time for the holidays.

Benchmade Mini Bugout

Custom Benchmade Mini Bugout folding pocket knife on a wooden background.

Knives are an everyday carry thing for me. I was recently introduced to the Benchmade Mini Bugout knives and have found them to be great compact blades. Plus, they can be customized with different colors, blade logos, and more (as seen above). Open, the Mini Bugout is 6.49″ long and has a blade length of 2.82″; closed it’s 3.7″. They have great folding action, a high-grip composite handle, a sturdy metal clip, and Benchmade will sharpen them for life. These are great little knives. MSRP: $170+

Peak Design Medium Camera Cube V1

Peak Design Medium Camera Cube V1
Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

We’re always looking for that just-right way to carry camera gear. We discovered the Peak Design Medium Camera Cube V1 in 2023 and really like it. It’s super convertible and modular. You can pack a lot in a small space and its functionality is top-notch. The construction is robust and high-quality, and the zippers open widely to grab gear. We will often just throw it into a backpack for an instant dedicated camera carrier. We’ve taken this to four countries thus far in a variety of climates from hot to cold, wet to sandy, and frankly, we don’t know how we lived without it. MSRP: $89.95

Ledlenser MH5 LED Headlamp

Andy Lilienthal wearing a Ledlenser MH5 headlamp cooking out of an Egoe Nest Box.
Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

When it comes to headlamps, we’re fans of Ledlenser’s offerings. And while they have a ton of different models, our go-to is the MH5. Compact and powerful, the Ledlenser MH5 is comfortable whether cooking at camp or working on your vehicle. It’s small enough that it isn’t obtrusive and powerful enough to light up the night. It has both white and red modes and can be recharged using the included proprietary cord. While it isn’t the newest or the most high-tech (we reserve that for the HF6R and HF8R), the MH5 is a great all-around headlamp. MSRP: $39.96

Dometic GO Camp Seat Heater

Dometic GO Camp Seat heater
Photo via Dometic

Whether out cold-weather camping, in a vehicle without heated seats, or at home in your always-cold office (like me), the Dometic GO Camp Seat Heater has become a favorite piece of kit for my chilly self. When not in use, it resides in a zippered pouch. When ready to go, you have your choice of a 12-volt plug or a USB-A plug. To use it, you simply plug it in and press the square button on the side. The heater has three heat settings (as warm as 130° F) and a 45-minute run time. As the weather has gotten colder, I’ve been using it on my office chair to keep warm and it works like a charm. Dimensions: 13.8 x 17.7″ x 0.8″. MSRP: $79.99

Vasque Breeze Men’s Hiking Boots

Vasque Breeze Men's hiking boots in a field.

Hiking boots are one of the most important pieces of gear anyone who ventures outdoors can have. I’m very picky with mine. But I recently got into a pair of Vasque Breeze hiking boots and have been pleasantly surprised. I took these to a host of overland rallies, a mid-summer Oregon adventure, and hiked parts of Iceland in them this year, and they were comfortable and offered up plenty of grip everywhere I went. They’re waterproof, sturdy, and have good structure and ankle support. Plus, they’re made from partially recycled content. They’re surprisingly lightweight and have been great traveling companions. MSRP: $160

Scosche InVert 200W DC to AC Power Inverter

Scosche InVert 200W inverter
Photo by Mercedes Lilienthal

This is one of those products that has helped us countless times and isn’t expensive. The Scosche InVert 200W DC to AC Power Inverter has powered our VHF radios, charged camera and mobile phone batteries, and powered pumps for air mattresses among other things. Whether on the Alcan 5000 or traveling through Iceland, the InVert 200 has three standard wall plugs and two USB-A plugs and it plugs into a 12V outlet. There’s also a power protection mode (PPM) to protect plugged-in devices from damage. This is such a useful item! MSRP: $45.99

Mountain Hardwear Phantom Belay Women’s Down Parka

Mountain Hardware Phantom Belay Women's Down Parka

Mercedes recently got this super-warm down Mountain Hardwear Phantom Belay women’s parka and keeps saying how much she likes it. With 800-fill down and a 3-D box baffle construction, the jacket has proven to be a great cold-weather parka. Lightweight and packable, it’s roomy, has huge pockets, is extremely comfortable. It also has a stuff sack when you need to stash it away when traveling. “I’ve worn it comfortably in temps up to 50 degrees and haven’t been dying of heat,” says Mercedes. “I’ve also worn it in 15-degree temps so far and have been extremely warm, wishing it covered every inch of my body. Can’t wait to use it for the 2024 Alcan 5000 Rally to see how it fairs in extreme temps and beyond!” MSRP: $550.00

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