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The holiday season is officially upon us, and that means that between your Thanksgiving meal and the cheer of Christmas, you’re about to spend the next few weeks totally bombarded by holiday gift guides. These gift guides are, well, often terrible: overloaded with hokey or substandard presents grafted directly from the latest viral TikTok trend or compiled without any real rigorous or hands-on testing methodology, they are usually a pure commerce play by flagging media outlets, a desperate bid for affiliate revenue amid a season of holiday giving and generosity.

This gift guide is, well, the opposite of that. In this list, you’ll find selections from the Task & Purpose staff that either A) we personally recommend or B) has a cool as fuck story behind it. Buy them, don’t, it doesn’t matter — either way, none of these links are affiliated so we won’t see one red cent. Take a gander, and who knows: maybe you’ll find a holiday diamond in the rough worth passing on to someone you love. 

The Fisher AG-7 Orginal Astronaut Space Pen

As humans, our interest in the universe around us has seen a resurgence in recent years, and our efforts to explore it have followed suit. We have cameras zooming through space taking photos of planets and stars we’ve never seen, the U.S. Space Force was recently stood up, and NASA is even working on a return trip to the Moon! 

Enter the Fisher AG-7 Original Astronaut Pen. This ink-filled space instrument went through two years of NASA testing before receiving the green light to go up with the Apollo 7 astronauts in 1969. It performed so well, it has become the go-to pen for astronauts ever since. Fisher still sells this exact pen, and boasting a brass and steel construction made in the USA, it’s the perfect gift to pair with the Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch. — Marty Skovlund Jr.

Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch 

OK, we know this wrist piece isn’t exactly budget-friendly, but what it lacks in affordability it totally makes up for in cool factor. After rigorous NASA testing, it was deemed “flight qualified for all manned space missions” on March 1, 1965. This high-quality chronograph went on to be the first watch worn on the moon and has been worn on all six moon missions since. Notably, it played a critical role in the self-rescue of Apollo 13; after multiple onboard explosions, the astronauts turned to this watch to time a series of engine burns that allowed them to return to earth safely.

Of course, this wristwatch offers more than just a cool story. The OMEGA Co-Axial Master Chronometer Calibre 3861 movement is at home in a 42mm steel case that’s anti-magnetic, waterproof to five bars (50 meters), and space-proof to at least the Moon. The chronometer, chronograph, and tachymeter complications are well-suited for missions on earth or in the heavens, and damn it, it’s just a good-looking watch! — Marty Skovlund Jr.

Ares Diver-1 Watch

The Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch may be suitable for space exploration, but the Ares Diver-1 is where you should turn for ventures deep below the ocean’s surface — 1,000 meters deep to be precise. 

12-year CIA veteran Matthew Graham, the watchmaker and founder of Ares Watch Company, set out to make a mission timer that could not only survive but thrive in the most adverse environments on earth. Boasting a Swiss automatic movement (but also available with a quartz movement), a flat sapphire crystal with inner anti-reflective coating, tested down to 100 bar (1,000 meters), an anti-magnetic rating of 18.8Oe, shock resistant to NIHS-91-10 standards, and thermo-compensated -0 to 50+ C … this watch lives up to its maker’s mission.

I’ve been wearing an Ares Diver-1 for a few years now, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s a watch born out of service to our community, and something I genuinely feel proud to put on my wrist every morning. – Marty Skovlund Jr

Gerber Applegate Combat Knife

Former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia received the Medal of Honor in 2019 for actions during the Second Battle of Fallujah, the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War for U.S. troops — and according to Bellavia’s accounting of the events surrounding his heroism, he never would have made it out alive if it hadn’t been for his Gerber Rex Applegate folding knife.

On November 10, 2004, Bellavia found himself engaging enemy fighters inside a dark house full of propane tanks and plastic explosives, first with his M4 carbine and then with an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. After killing four insurgents, Bellavia was confronted by a wounded fighter who engaged him in hand-to-hand combat.

“He’s screaming, there are people screaming downstairs and I have no composure at all. This is not a John Rambo moment. I’m really scared. I stand up and he digs into my leg with his fingers. I’m looking for my Rex Applegate Gerber knife: not a multi-tool, just a serious blade,” as Bellavia described the encounter in a 2006 oral history of the Fallujah campaign. “I flick my blade to the side and it snaps to the ready. I had never stabbed anyone before so I went down on him with a stabbing motion.”

Harrowing, but a lesson: there’s a reason why ‘Gerber’ is synonymous with a solid blade among the guys in your platoon. If it worked for Bellavia, we’re sure it’ll work for you under less, uh, trying circumstances. – Jared Keller

Hooten Young Whiskey 

There’s no shortage of whiskey reviews with words like “hints of,” “palate” and “mouth feel.” I’m not going to offer a step-by-step breakdown (you can read our past review), and I don’t have a goatee, smoke cigars, or own a leather armchair, so you’ll just have to trust me on this. 

If you’re looking for a drink with a story, then Hooten Young Whiskey is worth a try. It’s on the pricier side, but this spirit, named for legendary Delta Force soldier Norm Hooten and his business partner and friend, Tim Young, hits all the marks for a high-end whiskey: It’s smooth, has a range of flavors that are distinct yet not so numerous that they bleed together or compete, and is meant to be enjoyed straight or with one large ice cube in a nice glass. It’s great for special occasions, like a reunion with an old friend from the military, and pairs well with stories of belligerence and daring-do from “back then” when we were all in better shape, had more hair on our heads, and fewer fucks to give. – James Clark

Casio G-Shock DW-6900 

The Casio G-Shock is the Hilux, maybe even the AK-47 of tactical watches, and has been a fixture of the Global War on Terror. But this watch’s legend began during Operation Gothic Serpent, commonly referred to as the ‘Black Hawk Down’ mission in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. American special operations forces have touted the glory of the G-Shock ever since, and with good reason: its durability, reliability, and utility are second to none when it comes to tactical timekeeping. The DW-6900 in particular was featured on Johnny Strong’s wrist in Black Hawk Down (although we can’t confirm that posthumous Medal of Honor recipient Randy Shughart actually wore one during the mission), so that’s why we’re recommending it here — but any G-Shock is well worth your investment. — Jared Keller

Military surplus “Birth Control Glasses”

It’s the first days of basic training in whatever branch you’ve joined — Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, even the Space Force, and you need glasses. Enter the Department of Defense. These glasses are sturdy, easy to keep track of, and can’t help but be noticed. So if you or someone you know is looking for some new frames, why not go with the government’s finest, designed to secure lenses in front of your pupils for eight to 10 weeks of bullshit? No sense in chasing the latest fashion trends, these glasses get the mission of securing somewhat acceptable vision done. — Max Hauptman

Twitter 

What’s more fun than arguing about politics with your relatives over Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners? Try having millions of humans and even more bots screaming at each other about topics ranging from current events to what television stars from the 1990s look like now – No. 19 will break your heart. Twitter is the cacophony of human existence expressed in 280 characters at any given time. The company is now owned by Elon Musk, a billionaire who just wants to see the world burn…probably. Given Musk’s recent strategic decisions, such as laying off Twitter staff en masse for what seemed like the helluva it, he will likely need to offload the company for pennies on the dollar within the next week or two — making it a bargain holiday buy.

Twitter would be the perfect holiday gift for any psychotic family members who honestly believe that honey bees try to steal their thoughts by dancing to Rick James music. Is that trending? It will be now! Twitter confirms every paranoid fantasy and every oft-debunked conspiracy theory. Even better, it has done so much damage to humanity’s faith in science that soon kids will be learning that the sun revolves around the Earth #Galileosucks! — Jeff Schogol

Solarcaine spray

I’m not an advocate for masochism, but there’s nothing quite like coming home from a hot, humid day all chaffed up from ill-fitting underpants, looking at your glowing red thighs, and applying Solarcaine sunburn spray on the affected area. You will hop up and down for a good 30 seconds, but the relief is worth it. — Jeff Schogol

Moisture wicking shirts

If you’re overweight and going to the desert, moisture-wicking shirts are your best friend. They allow you to sweat profusely while feeling like you’re wearing pajamas. They can also be very form-fitting, so when you show up in Iraq weighing nearly 300 pounds with a tan sweat-wicking shirt and matching cargos, you will look exactly like a toasted Pillsbury Doughboy. I may or may not be speaking from experience, but your mileage may vary. — Jeff Schogol

Alice’s Restaurant

Why wait until Thanksgiving to play Arlo Guthrie’s legendary 18-minute and 25-second song that shows how weed can make anything funny? To countless baby boomers, Alice’s Restaurant was more than a tale about being arrested for littering. It was a blistering commentary on the draft, in which a young man whose only run-in with the law was illegally leaving garbage by the roadside was asked by his draft board if he was moral enough to go to war. Since the draft ended nearly 50 years ago, most younger listeners will think Guthrie is just another bong bard, but for many people aged 70 and older, this 1967 song is the hippie generation’s Divine Comedy.  — Jeff Schogol

Windex 

Have you ever found yourself cleaning your windows and thought ‘gee, I wish I were cleaning the multi-role fighter jet used by the premier aerial demonstration team of the U.S. Air Force?’ I know I have, which is why I use Windex, the same cutting-edge cleaning product that the Air Force Thunderbirds maintenance team uses to keep their F-16s looking so shiny. In fact, the Thunderbirds run through about 24 oz. of Windex (two bottles) per jet after every flight. With 52 sorties a week during a normal show season, that adds up to a lot of Windex. The Air Force does not officially endorse Windex, but I think that if it’s good enough to clean dead bugs off a Thunderbird that just landed in the swamps of Florida, then it will probably do the job for your windows too! — David Roza

Motrin & Water & Socks Coffee Mug

This miracle combination has sustained the military since ibuprofen was first patented in 1961. What better way to pay homage to the lifeblood of our nation’s defenders than with a mug emblazoned with this trifecta? Designed and sold by our very own veteran artist Aaron Provost, this mug is a great reminder of what it takes to remain in peak physical condition.—- Kyle Gunn

Literature by Army Rangers

Ok, maybe I’m biased here, but I think Army Rangers make damn good storytellers. For that reason, you can’t go wrong stuffing stockings with Leo Jenkins’ moving memoir on his transition from the military, aptly titled On Assimilition, or Luke Ryan’s post-apocalyptic tale of survival, The First Marauder. — Marty Skovlund Jr.

And poetry by veterans

If reading a whole damn book just isn’t your jam, no worries. Ditch the prose and opt instead for a few poetry anthologies penned by veterans. The authors listed below don’t care about rhyming schemes, instead aiming for approachability that won’t take an MFA to understandand, while leaving you with something to think about—a feat much easier said than done. Warning: many of the poems in these collections hit pretty hard.  — Marty Skovlund Jr.

Print editions of Coffee or Die Magazine 

Print magazines may be dead, or in the process of dying, but some of us made a valiant last stand. These limited print runs published by Black Rifle Coffee Company are equal parts informational, inspirational, and entertaining. The pages are filled with original photography and bespoke works of art that accompany deeply reported features, laugh-out-loud personal essays, and dispatches filed from reporters on assignment around the world—all with servicemembers, veterans, and first responders in mind.  – Marty Skovlund Jr., obviously

Ben Cantwell Belleau Wood Print

It’s hard to imagine what trench warfare was like, or charging at your fellow man with a bayonet fixed. But God, former Marine-turned-artist Ben Cantwell really knocked it out of the park with this historic portrayal of brutal combat during one of the most infamous battles of the 20th century. But if you are looking for something a little more subtle but just as meaningful, take a look at the… — Marty Skovlund Jr.

Unwilling to Quit Framed Print 

Many of us fought in Afghanistan over the past 20ish years. Almost all of us watched in disbelief as the Taliban retook the country while the US executed a chaotic withdrawal from Hamid Karzai International Airport last year. Images of parents throwing children over barbed wire barriers, people falling off the wheels of C-17s in flight, and bloody Marines in the aftermath of an attack that left 13 of our nation’s finest dead flooded our TVs and phones. I doubt most of us will ever forget those chaotic final weeks of our war in Afghanistan.

The artist who goes by Invader Girl captured all of these emotions with one image: our American flag standing as the last flying at HKIA, naked flag poles flanking it on both sides. The painting is simultaneously beautiful and heart-wrenching and has an element of “if you know, you know” present. If you’re looking for something meaningful to put on your wall, this is it. — Marty Skovlund Jr.

The Original Fairbairn Sykes Fighting Knife

You’ve seen this knife before. It’s featured on multiple special operations unit patches and is widely seen as a symbol of excellence in today’s modern military. It’s more than a symbol though: this carbon steel double-edged blade has its roots as a knife developed for and used by British commandos in World War II. In fact, the first batch of 50 was delivered to the Special Operations Executive (SOE) station in Knebworth, UK. This legendary dagger is once again being produced by hand at the legendary knife-makers headquarters and is the perfect gift for anyone who appreciates military history, knives, or both. — Marty Skovlund Jr.

GoRuck GR1 Heritage

Designed by a former US Army Special Forces communications sergeant, I’ve carried variations of the GoRuck rucksack around the world for close to a decade now. It has held up on reporting assignments to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as birthday parties in Mexico and is as functional as it is simple. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted out of a daily-use backpack, and this new Heritage version made of waxed duck canvas with red wing leather has me as excited as I’ve ever been about a bag to put my stuff in. — Marty Skovlund Jr.

Darn Tough Heavyweight Boot Sock

I’ve made a habit out of recommending these socks over the years, and for good reason. I was issued my first few pairs of Darn Tough boot socks while serving in the 1st Ranger Battalion back in 2007, and I’m literally still wearing one of those pairs as I type this. They’ve held up through everything from long offset infils in Afghanistan to hopping freight trains in Colorado to a long walk across the border from Poland to Ukraine earlier this year. I’ve worn them elk hunting in Utah, on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, and in the delivery room for the birth of both my children. I. Love. These. Socks. 

Did I mention they come with a lifetime warranty? These are the ultimate socks, and as long as those original pairs from 2007 hold up, I’ll keep recommending them on every gift and gear guide I’m a part of. — Marty Skovlund Jr.

The Hooded Khyber Jacket

Let me set the scene for you: You’re deployed to a secret, off-the-books location somewhere in the world that Americans aren’t supposed to be. But, a secret deployment is still just a deployment, and you still need to order creature comforts from back home. So you head over to SOFLETE and order a big supply of their puffy jackets for the team, and a pallet’s worth of their supplements to maximize your time in the prison gym you built at this dusty outpost. 

And then you wait. 

Sure, it takes longer for mail to arrive when deployed, but after a while, you start to wonder what’s taking so long. You check with SOFLETE, and they say they shipped your order. Hmm. That’s when a lightbulb goes off, and you realize maybe the Navy SEALs in charge of sorting mail for everyone have been rat-fucking the packages. 

So you head over to their team house, where you find a few nefarious SEALs sitting around in your puffy jackets, drinking the supplements you ordered. Of course, you claim what’s rightfully yours, and they claim ignorance. 

“We just thought SOFLETE donated a bunch of stuff to us,” they tell you. Sure bro, the non-existent donations department at SOFLETE randomly sent a bunch of free product to a base that doesn’t exist. But then again, these jackets are pretty great, so you totally understand why someone might want to tactically acquire them. 

I can neither confirm nor deny that any of this actually happened, but I can confirm that the Hooded Khyber Jacket is pretty great, and if you were a cold Navy SEAL, you’d definitely steal one too. But why go through all that effort when you can just buy one yourself? — Marty Skovlund Jr.

A basset hound

The perfect gift for a family that has everything. Basset hounds have been bred through generations to rely completely on humans for survival. You will get used to carrying your dog up and down stairs because the dog needs to conserve energy. If you ask your hound to fetch something, the dog will look back at you quizzingly as if to ask, “Are your legs broken?” These dogs grow during the night, eventually taking up 90% of the bed. Bonus: You will learn to give up your couches and pillows to your dog and still enjoy cleaning the dog’s floppy ears twice a day. — Jeff Schogol

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