Every family has one. That relative who'd rather be camped out by a lake, roasting hot dogs over an open fire, than doing anything else. How about a tiny, backpack-friendly Bush Smarts Game Kit ($35; www.bushsmarts.com) to keep them entertained under the stars? It comes with miniature cards, dice and a score pad for dozens of different games, promising hours of entertainment. . . . Don't underestimate the power of a really good lantern. The 1.1-pound Goal Zero Lighthouse 250 ($80; www.goalzero.com) casts a strong light for up to 48 hours and can be hand-cranked back to life in a pinch; a built-in USB hub makes for easy charging. . . . Outdoor adventures in the summer usually involve mucking about in water. The AstralPorter ($85; www.astraldesigns.com) is a water shoe that actually looks cool and dries in the blink of an eye. . . . Anyone who's spent a sleepless night in the woods will appreciate the gift of a Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad ($179.95; www.rei.com). Lightweight, warm and packable, this will make the die-hard backpackers on your list very happy. . . . Seriously, what's better for camping or traveling than the Izola Sunrise Travel Cup ($18; www.izola.com), a collapsable vessel that can transform from a shot glass into a two-ounce espresso cup in the blink of an eye? . . . I don't know about you, but I've always dreamed of having a sleeping bag that I could wear. Lucky for lazy campers like me, the dream is alive with Poler's Napsack ($130; www.polerstuff.com). With zippers at the shoulders (the better to stick out your arms), and a cinch at the bottom for easy leg extension, this is a wearable sleeping bag that'll make those cold mornings on
Mt. Shasta all the more bearable.
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'L.A. Son' ($30) reads as part memoir, part cookbook from Roy Choi, the man behind the Kogi Taco Truck franchise in Los Angeles. Credited with helping birth the gourmet food truck scene in Southern California, his original, down-to-earth style is as fun to read as his tacos are to eat. . . . Is life like a box of chocolates? Forrest Gump may have been talking about the Russell Stover Gift Box ($13) when he delivered his famous musing, but the Noir Truffle Box ($26) from Recchiuti Confections offers deeper insight. With each bite of these super-gourmet treats, the meaning of life melts into one's being until the box is empty, and it's time to rediscover it again. Nine chocolates, including four distinct, single-origin squares, delight even the most discerning of chocolate aficionados. . . . Aspiring Alton Browns will certainly get a kick out of Molecule-R's Molecular Gastronomy Kit ($59). With tools like pipettes, tubing and silicon molds, and additives like agar-agar, calcium lactate and soy lecithin, home chef becomes mad scientist in the virtual kitchens of El Bulli. Nobody will judge you for laughing maniacally while turning food into spheres, emulsifications and deconstructed versions of their former selves. . . . If you want food to look pretty, you had best prep correctly. It's easy to do with Fred & Friends' Obsessive Chef Cutting Board ($26), which features angled guides for slicing, grids for dicing and fine lines for assisting with that exact julienne. Ants on a Log becomes exactly seven ants on a 3.5-inch log; baguettes will be cut into one-inch rounds at precisely 45-degrees; and most importantly, when your food and beverage director asks for an equal amount of blueberries in each muffin, he will get an equal amount of blueberries in each muffin.