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Photo illustration by Lauren O’Connell

13 must-have gifts for gear heads who need to get away from screens

From a resurrected camera classic to a perfect single malt Scotch whisky.

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The holidays are soon about to sneak up on us, and many people have spent the past days, weeks, months glued to screens. For the tech-heads in your life, though, you can liven up the final days of 2020 with gifts that encourage breaks from screens (or at least make screen time fun again). Maybe the tech-lover in your life also loves to cook. Maybe they have a secret eye for fashion. Or maybe they love anything bright and shiny and new. Any which way, they’ll remember these gifts for long after this year (finally) ends.

Highland Park 18 Year Old

$179; prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Made for the adventurous at heart, this Scotch was made to honor the Vikings who first explored the rugged shores of Orkney, where the Highland Park distillery lies. Dubbed the world’s best spirit, it’s a winning gift — literally — at the right price point. It won the Ultimate Spirits Challenge’s Chairman’s Award two years in a row and is Scotland and Highland Park’s most award-winning single malt. Those with discerning palates will love its burnished gold color and notes of cherries, dark chocolate, toffee, and marzipan.

“Eat a Peach” by David Chang

$28; prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

The famed chef and host might helm an empire these days, but his journey to superstardom wasn’t always so peachy. In his intimate account, Chang lays bare his mental health struggles and how he fits into the restaurant world that he helped shape. 

HifiMan DEVA

$299; prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

The DEVA is a dream for audiophiles, who can nerd out over the company’s ultra-thin NEO “supernano” diaphragm, full-range acoustics, and Bluetooth input. For everyone else, it helps that it’s beautiful.  

Shinola Duck Watch

$650, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

The Detroit brand’s newest watch is tough enough for adventures on land or sea, with a 20-ATM water depth rating. And its array of colors, from bright to moody, means that it never takes itself too seriously. 

Prepdeck

$129, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Mise en place has never looked so good: in Prepdeck, every ingredient fits oh-so-satisfyingly into its own little box. There are also essential tools like graters, planes and spice jars that slide in neatly, behind colorful patterned colors that mimic wood, marble, or even pineapples.  

Highland Park Full Volume

$107, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Inspired by the distiller’s love of vintage guitars, this Highland Park special release dials up the volume on the bourbon notes, thanks to ex-bourbon casks (rather than traditional sherry oak casks). The single malt brings together creamy vanilla and bright citrus with aromatic smokiness in perfect harmony. Kosher certified and adventure-ready, it’s the ideal gift for music lovers who want to jam and explore with a bold dram.

Oculus Quest 2

$299, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Oculus’s newest all-in-one system is what’s been called “the new default for VR.” Less expensive and more accessible for newbies, it could be the headset that breaks virtual reality through the mainstream. 

Arcteryx Keppel Trench Coat

$499, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Tailored for classy urbanites, but just as tough as the rest of their gear, Arcteryx’s Keppel takes the classic trench coat and adds waterproof, windproof Gore-Tex. It’s also cut to be comfortable when you’re riding a bike through the rain. 

Highland Park The Light 17 Year Old

$300, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Warm days in Scotland’s Orkney Islands, from which Highland Park hails, are a time of celebration: emerging from hibernation, its distillers embrace long days, clear skies and fresh, crisp air. The Light, a 17 year single malt aged in refill American oak casks, celebrates these rare days with vibrant aromas of fresh smoked peat and cedarwood, plus the bright sweetness of vanilla and pears. Unlike winter, however, it won’t last long. Part of a series of bottles, The Light is a limited release and therefore perfect for gifting.

Polaroid SX-70 instant camera

$349, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Back in the ’70s, the SX-70 was Polaroid’s most advanced and luxurious camera. The wizards at Retrospekt have resurrected these vintage-chic machines from the ground up with a thorough rebuild and cleaning, so they’re as good as new. 

Vinta Backpack

$198, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

This beautiful backpack not only looks clean and retro, but also has waterproof twill fabric, detachable travel or camera bags that nest inside, and dedicated spaces for laptops up to 16 inches. There’s an array of colors, but Charcoal hits hard for us. 

Onitsuka Tiger Lawnship 3.0 Sneakers

$110, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

Onitsuka resurrects one of its first lace-ups with the Lawnship 3.0. The all-white look with barely any logos is wonderfully minimalist, while the leather adds a touch of class (and makes it easier to clean). 

Highland Park Fire Edition 15 Year Old

$320, prices taken at time of publishing and vary by retailer

This 15 year, limited-edition whisky — the counterpart to the exclusive Ice Edition — is entirely matured in seasoned Port casks, a first for Highland Park. It’s what gives the Fire Edition its fiery glow, along with notes of red fruits, vanilla custard, and cinnamon bark for an intensely fruity finish. Its unique gift box pays heed to the battle of ice and fire that birthed Ragnarok, the new world, making it a collectible standout on a bar cart.

© 2020 Highland Distillers Limited. Highland Park® Scotch Whisky. Imported by Edrington Americas, New York, NY. “H” Device ®. Please Drink Responsibly.

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