How to spot a really cool Father's Day gift

Filed under: Just For Dads, Birthdays, Shopping

It seems to me that the best kind of gift is something that is totally cool but also totally unnecessary. Clothes are definitely a necessity; they're no fun to get. The same goes with ordinary tools-of-the-trade sort of thing, even if they're for a favorite hobby. A new set of screwdrivers, no matter how needed or nice, just isn't all that exciting, even to the serious woodworker.

On the other hand, somewhere, I have a night-vision monocular -- one half of a pair of binoculars that lets you see in the dark. It was a gift from my girlfriend at a time when such technologies were just beginning to become available. I probably used it twice at most, but it was a totally cool gift because, well, heck, we're talking night-vision! You can see why I married her, can't you?

To give you an idea of what makes a cool gift for Father's Day, here are three items I've come across that qualify as really cool gifts, with an explanation of why.

The Gerber Gator Combo Axe II
This is a camp axe that has a hand saw hidden in the handle. Gerber is a good name so this is bound to be a quality product and it's not outrageously expensive. At $50, it's not outrageously expensive and it's small, so it's not going to take up a lot of room once the recipient is done playing with it.

Why it's unnecessary: Let's face it -- most people have little or no need for either an axe or a saw like this; those that really do are probably looking at something more serious than this -- and probably already have it.

The appeal: It's a combination of an axe and a saw! It's two in one! Guys love things that are combos. Why else would we have Swiss army knives and Leathermen tools? Keyrings with a built-in flashlight and bottle opener? Sporks! Plus, this has a huge potential for injury. Anything that can cause accidental bleeding is automatically cool.

The downside: It's an axe and a saw. Somebody's gonna lose a finger or worse. If the recipient is really clever, he'll manage to put his eye out with it. And you know how difficult it can be to get bloodstains out of a rug or couch.

ATP Photo Finder
This device simply records GPS location data and then adds that info to digital photographs. It lets you track where you were when you took each photo. A little pricey at $80, but for someone who takes a lot of pictures, this would be an awesome gift.

Why it's unnecessary: Unless you're a serious nature photographer or professional photojournalist, do you really need to know exactly where you were when you took a photo? I mean, look at the picture -- you were right smack in front of Cinderella's castle. And if you can't remember whether it was Disneyland or Disney World, you need more help than this can provide.

The appeal: First off, any thing that involves the GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) system is automatically cool. I've owned GPS receivers for at least a decade and lusted after them for years before that. Plus, it's a photogadget. Unless you're a pro, any kind of photogadget is pretty neat. Put the two together and voila! Instant cool.

The downside: "And in this picture, I was standing at exactly latitude 37.728885 North, longitude 122.468648 West at 4:17pm. In this next one, I had moved a bit east to..." Do you really want that on your conscience? Do you really want to have to bury the body in your rose garden?

Snow Peak Carry-On Chopsticks
These take-apart chopsticks are made from stainless steel and Japanese white ash recovered from recycled baseball bats. The wooden tips detach and are stored inside the hollow steel handles, protecting the tips and reducing the size. The pair even comes with a carrying case.

Why they're unnecessary: First off, it may come as a shock, but not everyone can use chopsticks. Even if you do, for a dollar or two you can get a dozen pairs of the cheap plastic chopsticks you find in most Chinese restaurants; I have some at the office, in the car, and dozens of pairs at home. Why spend $30 on travel chopsticks?

The appeal: Well, who doesn't need travel chopsticks? Whoever whips these babies out will definitely be the coolest guy around the campfire. Plus, they're made from recycled material which is very in these days. They seem to be very over-engineered -- look at the quality and precision of the design; it's way more than you really need for a pair of chopsticks. How awesome is that!

The downside: Let's face it -- these are going to get lost on the first camping trip they go on and that's $30 down the drain. Plus, there's all that mess to clean up while the recipient learns to use them.

So there you have it -- three cool father's day gifts, plus the info you need to be able to spot others for the rest of your life. Go forth and make dad happy.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.