Keep your outdoor adventurer and action hero happy, healthy, and safer with these savvy choices.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the December 2016 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
For someone who’s always on the go, the easy-to-use Sony HDR-AS50 is a great gift. Like the larger, pricier Sony FDR-AX33, this one includes an excellent image stabilizer—a rarity for an action cam—which lets the photographer take hiqh-quality video while skiing or biking or otherwise mixing it up.
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Fujifilm FinePix XP90
If you’re looking for a waterproof camera that won’t sink your budget, the Fujifilm FinePix XP90 is one to train your sights on. It has a bold design and comes in blue, green, orange, or yellow. But it’s got more going for it than just a pretty face. It performs well and even has geotagging, so it’s easy to prove whether the photos were taken in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the one in Las Vegas.
Olympus Stylus TG-4
When waterproof cameras were introduced, they could take nice pictures underwater, but on dry land they weren’t as good. The top-rated Olympus Stylus TG-4 shows how far these devices have come. It can withstand falls from up to 7 feet, is waterproof to 50 feet—and takes good photos (on a par with most point-and-shoots).
Ninja Personal Blender with Auto-iQ BL480
Can’t afford a personal trainer? Try a Ninja. Okay, it’s not quite the same, but you won’t find a better personal blender for under $100. Whether your loved one is into fresh smoothies or whole-fruit juicing, the Ninja Personal Blender With Auto-iQ BL480 is up to the task. Once the breakfast beverage is ready, she can take it on the go in the 18- or 24-ounce container.
This treadmill folds and unfolds with the press of a button. The fitness fan in your life will also appreciate theLifeSpan TR2000e's sturdy deck and intuitive controls, which include additional incline and speed buttons on the front handrail. The Intelli-Guard safety feature helps keep users safe by pausing the treadmill after they step off the running belt, reducing the risk of trips and falls.
Camping and tailgating are a lot more tasty with the Cuisinart CGG-306 portable gas grill. After just 10 minutes of preheating, it serves up sizzling burgers and steaks, complete with appetizing sear marks. Cooking temps are fairly even across the surface on this two-burner model, and surprisingly, the cooking area—at 245 square inches—is larger than even our top-rated small grill.
Bell Draft Mips
Sleek and sporty, the Bell Draft MIPS (shown) is equipped with Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology, which may reduce the rotational force and amount of energy transferred to the rider’s head in a crash. The Scott Arx Plus, $125, is a similarly good MIPS option. Lightweight (and higher-priced), it keeps a cyclist’s head cool and protected. For kids, consider the Bell Sidetrack MIPS, $60.
A final note: Fit matters, so confirm when you buy a helmet that your giftee will be able to exchange it if it’s necessary. Read more on how to get the right bike helmet fit.
Easy to operate and loaded with features, the Fitbit Surge is our top-rated tracker. It has GPS, a real-time heart-rate monitor, and a large touch-screen display for reviewing step count, stairs climbed, and calories burned. It’s also a watch, gets phone and text notifications from Android and iOS smartphones, and lets you control a smartphone’s music playback.
Garmin Vivosmart HR
It doesn’t have GPS, but the budget-friendly Garmin Vivismart HR has lots to recommend it, starting with the $105 it saves you over the Fitbit Surge—and no skimping on fitness features. It tracks real-time heart rate, step count, stairs climbed, calories burned, and sleep patterns, and displays smartphone notifications (Android or iOS).
It’s nice that some fitness trackers offer push notifications, but not everyone wants to be flooded with texts and email 24 hours a day. For people who want workout data, plain and simple, the Mio Fuse is a welcome option. It monitors heart rate, step count, and calories burned. No GPS. No stairs climbed. The LED matrix display gives the time and color-coded alerts to keep you on track.
Scosche SportClip 3
The Scosche SportClip 3 isolating ear-insert headphones are great for anyone heading out into winter weather who wants to listen to Twenty One Pilots instead of the local carolers. They’re compatible with iPods, iPads, iPhones, and a variety of other mobile devices. And in addition to being splashproof, they offer very good sound at a surprisingly affordable price.
At about 19 pounds, this large but portable speaker system is rugged. That makes the Braven BRV-XXLgreat for the outdoors, but even better, it also offers very good sound quality, so it’s an ideal companion for ice fishers and tailgaters. Plus it’s simple to use, with a clearly marked 3.5 mm input, microphone inputs, and bass and treble controls.
For a cooler that can really go the distance, turn to this heavy-duty model. Weighing in at 15 pounds, it’s got a polyethylene shell designed to withstand a hungry bear, making it ideal for the outdoors type. You can even have a custom design imprinted on top. Best of all, the Yeti stays cool when it counts: In our tests, ice lasted up to twice as long in the Yeti compared with other coolers.
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Michelin X-Ice XI3
Every winter wonderland has a downside: driving. To help keep your loved ones safe, consider giving them Michelin’s X-Ice XI3 snow tires (size tested, 215/60R16). These bad-weather babies provide superior snow traction and grip on ice without sacrificing a smooth, quiet ride. But they usually wear faster than all-season tires because their tread is designed to bite into snow and ice.
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