Best gifts: Weird but useful gadgets and gear

Some gifts are predictable — think socks or that box of chocolates, where a high proportion of them are the hard caramels. Other gifts are weird, wacky, and off the wall. But there are a lot of weird gadgets and gear out there that will also make someone — or maybe you — a great gift this holiday season.

Here I bring you a selection of the weird gadgets and gear that I’ve come across this year that I’ve found to be surprisingly useful. I mean, I never knew that battery-heated jackets were a thing before this year!


Warms on demand!

Milwaukee Tools M12 Heated TOUGHSHELL Jacket

I used to think that I was too tough for a heated jacket. I was wrong. 

This is perfect not only for people who have to be out and about in the cold for work, but also for those who have a dog that needs walking no matter the weather, or who just enjoy nature no matter what the weather.


$169 at Home Depot


No more split nails!

FreeKey 2825 Key Hook System with 3 Group Rings

How come we can put people on the moon, but keyrings still were a massive pain to use? Not any more! A simple squeeze and these keyrings open up, allowing you to sort out your messy, out-of-date bundles of keys.


$7 at Amazon


Sharp, yet safe!

Folding Titanium Craft Scalpel Knife

Scalpel blades are cheap, disposable, and super sharp, but unless you have a decent handle, they can be super dangerous and lead to unexpected trips to the ER. I love this craft knife because the oversized handle works great for my paws, and it offers ample grip, even when sweaty or wet.


$25 at CountyComm


Let there be light!

120 LED outdoor solar lights (2-pack)

I was initially skeptical about these outdoor solar lights, but I’ve had a few that have lasted a couple of years and are still going strong. 

For this price you’re getting two lamps with a battery, solar panel, PIR motion detection, and 120 LEDs, all packaged in a weather-resistant IP65 shell… that’s a really good deal.


$16 at Amazon


Beautiful pieces for your desk

Shire Post Mint Moon Coins Fidget Toy

2020 has been the year for things to fidget with on your desk, and these moon coins make the perfect desk toy. Absolutely stunning reproduction of the lunar landscape, condensed down onto 1-inch and 1.5-inch coins. Truly blown away by the quality of mine!

And prices start from $7!


$7 at Shire Post Mint


This has saved me thousands of dollars in repairs

20-Pin USB-C Magnetic Breakaway Connector

This connector is a standard USB-C type connector that is attached to a dongle using a magnet. The magnet is strong enough to keep the connector together but will allow the connector to separate if the cable is given a tug that is strong enough to take the laptop on a journey groundwards.

I’ve tested it several times — a couple of times by accident — and found it to be effective.  

It just works.

The connector is rated for 100W (20V/5A) power transfer, which is what I use it for, but it is also good for data and can support a throughput of 10Gbps, and can support [email protected] video output.


$17 at eBay


Stop ruining good scissors

Ever Ready Titanium Bonded Bandage Shears

I’ve got a few of these on my desk. I use them for cutting things that would ruin good scissors. Robust, last for ages, and can cut quite thick wire or sheet metal.


$7 at Amazon


Keep your coffee warm for longer

YETI Rambler 14 oz Mug

Everyone needs a good mug. Here are the highlights of Yeti’s Rambler:

  • 18/8 stainless steel made with kitchen-grade stainless steel, so they’re puncture- and rust-resistant
  • Dishwasher safe because no one needs more work to do
  • Thick gauge steel makes for stronger, more durable drinkware to resist dents and dings
  • Double-wall vacuum insulation keeps cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot until the last sip
  • No sweat design say adios to damp or frostbit fingers


$24 at Amazon


Who couldn’t do with a worry stone at their desk?

Upcycled bowling ball worry stones

I have a couple of these on my desk. They’re not only super nice to play with, but also look good and get people’s attention.

This unique worry coin is upcycled from a discarded bowling ball. They have shaped them with one concave side for maximum satisfaction when holding between forefinger and thumb. Each Bowling Ball Worry Coin will have unique colors and patterns. 


$12 at Shire Post


Open packages without opening an artery

Slice Micro Ceramic Blade

This tool is Pperfect for scrapbooking, news articles, coupons, art projects, and plastic packages. 

  • Finger friendly design
  • Features a high-tech ceramic blade that’s almost as hard as diamonds; lasts longer than steel and never rusts
  • Non-Slip Rubberized Finish with Built-in Magnet and Key-Ring Hole
  • Cutting tool that’s quick, easy, and safe
  • 1% of Slice sales are donated to fund Autism research at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital – Stanford University


$8 at Amazon


What does that check engine light mean?

BlueDriver Bluetooth Pro OBDII Scan Tool

You can use this to read and clear your Check Engine Light and all other vehicle systems. Here are the features:

  • Get your unlimited free vehicle-specific Repair Reports, generated from our database of millions of fixes verified by Professional Automotive Technicians
  • As easy to use as a code reader with all the capabilities of an expensive handheld scan tool, plus the benefits of your smartphone or tablet (free app updates, portability, saving data, interactive graphing of live data)
  • Officially licensed and certified for Apple and Android devices
  • The BlueDriver App and BlueDriver Sensor work exclusively with each other to ensure quality
  • BlueDriver is the Professional OBD2 Diagnostic Scan Tool trusted by mechanics and developed by Professional Engineers in North America


$99 at Amazon

Need more gift ideas?

Check out our ZDNet Recommends directory or Holiday Gifts hub for some more inspiration. 

Our sister sites also have the following gift guides: 

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