Hi, it’s Wendy. Every year I write a Christmas Gift Guide for those of you who are shopping for the men (boyfriends, brothers, husbands, fathers) in your life. The highly organized of you out there are already searching for Christmas gifts (as evidenced by the increased page views of previous years Christmas Gift Guides) so I decided that I had better kick off the 2014 edition before I hand the rest of them of to Jordon (although I will return to author a post on Christmas gifts for the cook). So here goes. Let me know what you think of these gifts in the comments.
iPad Mini with Retina Display
I know recommending an iPad is like picking low hanging fruit but the new iPad Mini’s with a retina display is amazing. The new retina display has over 3.1 million pixels, which is a million more than a HDTV.
I never recommend that anyone uses the back camera of a tablet ever (you look ridiculous while using it as a camera), but the front facing camera of the iPad Mini with Retina Display is high definition and makes Apple Facetime (or Skype) video calls look fantastic which could be a killer feature if you or your loved one travels a lot. Staying in touch is important.
If the man you are Christmas shopping for is an iPhone or a Mac user, it’s an great addition (or upgrade) from a previous iPad (which may or may not support iOS 8)
Nexus 7 from Google (7-Inch, 16 GB, Black) by ASUS Tablet
If the man you are shopping for is an Android user, check out the new Nexus 7 from Google. It thinner, lighter, and faster. It’s not quite as sharp as the iPad Mini but it has a whopping 2.3 million pixels in the palm of your hand. So even if he has an older tablet, this is a great reason to upgrade with Google’s flagship Android tablet. With 323 pixels packed into every inch, you can read text that’s sharper than the printed page, see images more vivid than the highest quality photo magazine, and watch videos come to life in vibrant 1080p HD. He’ll love it.
- He will love the technology, you will love the price. It’s only $199 for the 16gb version on Amazon
Whether you get him an Android or iOS powered device, he is probably going to want to chill out with it which means he will need a great set of headphones. Money doesn’t mean quality (most people find Beats by Dre to be over priced and provide underwhelming sound despite their popularity). Here are some highly recommended headphones from well respected electronics website, The Wirecutter which tests hundreds of headphones every year.
Sony MDR-7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphones
Here is what The Wirecuttersaid about them:
The MDR-7506 have been a studio staple for years, and there’s a great reason why: Not only do they have an even response across the entire frequency range, the 7506 have better sonic depth and dexterity than many headphones twice their price. Plus, they are durable, comfortable, and reliable. And at a current retail price of less than $90, their performance was better than some of the competition that cost almost twice as much.
If you are on a budget, The Wirecutter recommends the Panasonic RP-TCM125K in ear headphones. We got a pair for Mark and he loves them. For only $15, they were one of the best technology purchases that Jordonor I have ever made.
The Panasonic headphones won because they sounded the best. Hands down. They were everyone’s top choice in terms of sound fidelity. They have a nice overall balance with airy, mellow highs and present-but-not-dominating bass. They sound just as good listening to acoustic guitar as they do hip hop and rock. Nothing pierces, nothing muddies: every frequency plays well with the others. And as you’ll see with other contenders later, that’s not often the case in this price range.
Ultimate Ears MINI BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker
So if your guy wants to share the music, movie, or game he is playing (let’s not share the game), you will want to check out the MINI BOOM Wireless Bluetooth Speaker by Logitech.
Logitech’s UE Mini Boom works because it’s a speaker that you’ll actually use. It’s so portable it fits in a jacket pocket, but the sound it produces has enough power to clearly fill a room and preserve the most important aspects of the song being played. On top of that, despite retailing for substantially less than the original Jambox, pretty much every reviewer agrees that it performs better.
The House of Marley Chant Bluetooth Audio System
A smaller option with a fantastic looking carrying case and carabineer that allow you to take this speaker even more places and on more adventures.
It’s small and protected enough to take with you on trips, back and forth to work or even take with you on a hike and day out of the city.
The chant gives you around six hours of listening on a single charge which is perfect for an evening around the fire or chilling out with friends.
Tivoli The Model One Bluetooth Table Radio
If you know Jordon, you know that he is on 650 News Talk Radio twice a week with David Kirton on the Saskatoon Afternoon Show. So I have to include a tabletop radio. The Model One Bluetooth Table Radio has both an amazing tabletop radio experience with a Bluetooth speaker.
It’s costly at $269 but it would look amazing on any bookshelf while providing brilliant sound to listen to the Saskatoon Afternoon Show on or to listen to the podcast later on that evening. Even if the guy you are shopping for isn’t a News Talk Radio fan, can you think of a better device to listen to ESPN Radio on while having a drink on the deck? I can’t either.
If he is more old school and doesn’t mind some cords to connect his iPhone to the speaker, check out the Sangean WR-11SE AM/FM Table Top Radio 40th Anniversary Edition.
Pentax 8×21 UCF R Binoculars
These are fantastic mini-binoculars. While not as good as high end binoculars from Zeiss or even higher end Pentax, these are affordable and portable enough to take with you anywhere. Jordon keeps a pair of Nikon Realtree Binoculars in his go-bag at all times. If these had come out when he bought those, he would have picked these instead.
Jordon is a photographer and loves his Pentax K-30 DSLR. He bought a Pentax Q this summer and loved it. It doesn’t replace his K-30 (it offers none of the lens options or the low light performance) but is so incredibly portable and easy to take with you no matter where he is going. It’s not going to be the camera he takes with him to photograph Nuit Blanche or to shoot Mark’s football games but it has been great to take with him when we are heading out for a walk, exploring the city or just chasing after the kids. Pentax/Ricoh’s website gives you an idea of lens options but according to Jordon, you really only need four.
The best camera is the one that you have with you. If a Pentax Q-S1 isn’t what you are looking for, then take a look at the popular Nikon 1 series of cameras. The Nikon 1 J4 camera with 1 NIKKOR 10-30mm lens and 30-110mm telephoto zoom lens is a great combo.
Fujifilm X100T 16 MP Digital Camera
At $1300 it isn’t cheap but you wouldn’t expect the best compact camera in the world to be inexpensive.
The Fujifilm FinePix X100was a milestone camera in the industry as one of the first large sensor, prime lens cameras to achieve widespread popularity. Its classic look, obviously cribbed from a certain German camera maker, were justified by the excellent image quality its 35mm equivalent f/2 lens could produce. It was also a rare example of a camera its maker continued to develop, long after it hit the market. The X100T is is the third generation X100 and is better than ever.
I bought Jordon an Apple TV last Christmas. He loves it but if the Google Chromecast was available in Canada last year, I probably would have gotten him one of those.
Here are the reasons he will love it.
- Stream online video, music, photos and more to your TV using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop
- Supports a growing number of apps including Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, ESPN, MLB.TV, Google Play Movies and Music, Plex, MLS, crackle, Vevo, Rdio. Allows to cast a Chrome browser tab.
- Box includes Chromecast, HDMI extender, USB power cable, and power adapter. No remote needed.
- Easy setup: Plug into any HDTV and connect to your home WiFi network
- Works with Android phones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, Mac, Windows, and Chromebooks
Oh yeah, it is only $23 from Amazon
This was Jordon’s favourite book of 2014. Desired and reviled, adulated and condemned, Winnipeg inspires intense and contradictory emotions from residents, visitors and people who have never even ventured within wading distance of the Manitoba capital. The city at the centre of North America inspires a profound sense of ambivalence, stuck as it is between a colourful and triumphant early history, a long period of 20th-Century decline and an uncertain if optimistic future.
Stuck in the Middle finds photographer Bryan Scott and journalist Bartley Kives exploring the geography, design and reputation of the only city they have ever truly known, loved and hated. With vicious honesty and intense affection, Scott and Kives expose Winnipeg’s beautiful and conflicted soul for the rest of the world to admire and detest and ultimately ignore. An amazing book for the photographer or urbanist on your Christmas shopping list.
The Innovators, his follow-up to the massive (in both sales and size) Steve Jobs, is probably the widest-ranging and most comprehensive narrative of them all. Don’t let the scope or page-count deter you: while Isaacson builds the story from the 19th century–innovator by innovator, just as the players themselves stood atop the achievements of their predecessors–his discipline and era-based structure allows readers to dip in and out of digital history, from Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, to Alan Turing and the codebreakers of Bletchley Park, to Tim Berners-Lee and the birth of the World Wide Web (with contextual nods to influential counterculture weirdos along the way). Isaacson’s presentation is both brisk and illuminating; while it doesn’t supersede previous histories, The Innovators might be the definitive overview, and it’s certainly one great read.
13 HOURS presents, for the first time ever, the true account of the events of September 11, 2012, when terrorists attacked the US State Department Special Mission Compound and a nearby CIA station called the Annex in Benghazi, Libya. A team of six American security operators fought to repel the attackers and protect the Americans stationed there. Those men went beyond the call of duty, performing extraordinary acts of courage and heroism, to avert tragedy on a much larger scale. This is their personal account, never before told, of what happened during the thirteen hours of that now-infamous attack.
A new leather Dopp Kit ($34) with:
He will love using the gift and you will love how he looks and smells after. (if the price of leather is too high, check out this great dopp kit from MEC)
LL Bean Canvas Duffle Bag
LL Bean’s Adventure Duffle now comes in soft yet rugged cotton canvas for a lasting combination of durability and classic style. It’s more or less the same great bag that people have been using since the 1940s. It now has a water-resistant coating and comes in a variety of colors. Meets airline carry-on size requirements if not over stuffed. It’s a great gift for the traveller.
Men love flashlights. It’s part of what makes them men. He needs a small one on his keychain, a tactical one (a universal one works too) to take with him on adventures and and a more heavy-duty one in your house and garage. You can’t go wrong with a classic Maglite. The LED bulb will last nearly forever, and heavy-duty aluminum casing gives it shock and water resistance.
For times when he leaves the houses and has to do manly things, he will want an amazing travelling thermos. Made with stainless steel, the Stanley Thermos is rustproof and BPA free. The 8-ounce lid doubles as a cup for your coffee, hot chocolate, or soup. Oh, and it keeps its contents hot/cold for 24 hours. Need more convincing? Didn’t think so.
Kiwi Shoeskine Kit
A shoeshine kit makes the perfect gift; it’s something that no guy thinks to buy, but every guy needs. Buy a quality kit in a manly wooden box that has all the necessary accoutrements to keep your loved one’s shoes shining like a sheet of glass. Included in this set are two cloths, a tin each of brown and black polish, two sponge daubers, two 100% horsehair brushes, a shoe horn, and of course the handsome wood box.
Depending on how old the guy is you are shopping for, he may have grown up with an Atari 2600 gaming console. He can relive his wasted youth with this flashback system. 92 built in games, the console and two controllers for under $50. What’s not to like?
If he is younger and wasted his youth on a Sega Genesis or a Nintendo, check out this system. No built in games but it is a completely redesigned Nintendo and Sega system in the same system. Blades of Steel, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tecmo Super Bowl, and Super Mario all on the same console.
Timex Expedition Analog/Digital Watch
I know watches are passé now that we all have our smartphones (unless of course your watch is a smartwatch) but sometimes you don’t have your phone with you to whip out 20 times a minute. Other times you just need to look like an adult. In those times you need a watch that is rugged enough to survive and smart looking enough to wear out on the town.
The Timex Expedition watches were inspired by the field watches issued to soldiers during the first half of the 20th century and look great with a wide variety of get-ups. While there are more expensive name-brand versions out there, if you’re looking for a simple, yet handsome-looking watch and can’t bear the thought of having to shell out over $150 or more, this is perfect.
- Full size watch, 3 time zone settings for traveling, Maximum style and performance with water resistant leather strap
- Water resistant up to 50 meters, Indigo night light for low light conditions, Metal case construction for enhanced durability
- 24 hour chronograph with lap and split option
- Daily alarm
- Easy to use 24 hour countdown timer
GoPro Hero 4 Silver Edition
He has probably checked out the GoPro channel on YouTube (and made you watch some of them). Whether he admits it or not, he wants one of these. Here is why:
- Built-In Touch Display: Frame your shots. Easily adjust settings. Play back videos and photos. Improved Camera Control: New dedicated button enables quick access to camera settings. Simplified menus make navigating settings easier than ever.
- Fast, Powerful Photo Capture: Captures high-quality 12MP photos at speeds of up to 30 fps.
- Built-In WiFi + Bluetooth: Delivers enhanced connectivity to the GoPro App, Smart Remote
- Durable + Waterproof to 131′ (40m): Designed to withstand extreme environments and conditions. Wearable + Mountable: Enables immersive self-capture during your favorite activities. Compatible with all GoPro Mounts: 60+ mounts and accessories – and counting – for capturing a wide variety of perspective and activities. GoPro App + Software: Control your camera remotely. View and share your content. Easily create gorgeous GoPro-style videos.
- Protune – Now for Video + Photos: Cinema-quality capture and manual control of color, ISO limit, exposure and more. Night Photo Lapse: Customizable exposure settings up to 30 seconds for single and Time Lapse Photos. Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts frame rates for optimal low-light performance. High-Performance Audio: New Audio System captures clean, high fidelity sound and nearly 2x the dynamic range. Ultra Wide-Angle Glass Lens: Enables engaging, immersive footage of you and your world. Selecable FOV: Three FOV settings – Ultra-Wide, Medium and Narrow – allow for a broad range of perspectives. HiLight Tag: Mark key moments while recording for easy playback, editing, and sharing. QuikCapture: Power on and record automatically with the press of a single button. SuperView: Captures the world’s most immersive wide-angle field of view.
Cast Iron Pan
Cast irons pans last a lifetime, cook your food evenly, and even impart a low dose of iron to your food. He’ll be making you bacon and eggs every single morning with this thing.
A Wax Seal
If you get him a great pen, he may actually start writing hand written letters. What would be better then sealing those letters with a wax seal. The fascinating history of the wax seal that dates all the way to the Middle Ages. The practice has changed very little since that time, and it’s easy to do yourself to bring some class to your correspondence. This kit contains one brass seal engraved with a letter of your choice, and four sticks of their supple sealing wax.
Speaking of writing, every man should keep a journal. If he is having trouble getting into this manly habit, perhaps what he needs is a journal so handsome and inviting it’s hard not to write in it. Wrapped up in leather, this journal will have him putting pen to paper in no time. Perfect as a travelogue for all of his 2015 adventures.
The Parker I.M. Appeals to modern, stylish professionals seeking a high-quality writing instrument which makes it a great gift. It’s also at a price that if it gets lost, it isn’t the end of the world.
KA-BAR USMC knife
First used by Marines during WWII, the KA-BAR USMC knife has since become standard issue among other branches of the U.S. military. And for good reason. He will feel 5x more manlier just holding it.
Craftsman 94 Piece Mechanic Tool Set
Craftsman is the gold standard when it comes to tools. This set comes with the Craftsman lifetime warranty, is made of alloyed steel, and better yet, will serve all your socket wrench needs. For the man in your life that isn’t terribly familiar with tools, this is a great set to have. It comes with two wrenches and 52 sockets, as well as a screwdriver with an interchangeable bit set.
If you know a man who spends a great deal of time outdoors, get him a nice pocket compass so he’ll never lose his way. Sure, GPS may be easier and more accurate, but batteries die and satellite connections can be disrupted. That’s when having a compass comes in handy. Get him one that he’ll pass on to his grandkids.
AlpineSwiss Leather Card Wallet
Jordon went to a super slim card wallet this year and has loved it. This is the thinnest wallet on the market and just makes a man’s life better.
Nest Programmable Thermostat
The number one selling home product on Amazon. No wonder, it is a gift that will quickly save you money. The Nest Learning Thermostat learns what temperatures you like, turns itself down when you’re away and can be controlled from your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Rayovac Sportsman 240 Lumen LED Lantern
With optimized beams, rubber grips, and tactical switches, Rayovac’s Sportsman lantern is ideal for use inside and out, whether you’re heading for the hills or camping out in your home during a power outage. Nicely compact and ultra-portable at just 7 inches tall and under 3.5 inches wide, the Rayovac lantern also provides an incredibly bright 240-lumen light that makes it a useful resource for outdoor adventures as well as for emergency preparedness.
You can also find all of the rest of the 2014 Christmas Gift Guides online here. There is a lot of great ideas for all of the important people in your life. Good luck with your shopping and have a great holiday season! Oh yeah, if I missed anything or you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments.