For a lot of people, holiday shopping is easy. A new smartphone, a nice watch, a scented candle — you’re good to go. But you? You have to shop for someone who lives for the Great Outdoors.
And unless you find a way to pack up a stretch of Appalachia or figure out what kind of gift wrap goes with the experience of waking up in a tent in the middle of nowhere, or sniff out a candle that smells like bacon and eggs over a campfire on a chilly November morning four days out in the sticks, you probably have your work cut out for you. Or so you think…
Hikers, campers, and backpackers all need gear — and lots of it. From trail running shoes to fishing poles, tents, packs and more, we have everything you need to make sure the explorer on your list gets everything on theirs.
Price: $8 If you’re looking for clean fuel and carbohydrates to burn on a hike, trail mix is an integral part of the equation. It’s easy to store, doesn’t spoil, and if you’re eating the right stuff, it’ll give you all the energy you need to keep laying down miles.
Shar’s original trail mix is made right here in the U.S.A. and features ingredients that are all organic and vegan -- almonds, pecans, cashews, pistachios, blueberries, cherries, dark chocolate and coconut flakes. Plus it’s gluten free, and contains no GMOs, preservatives, or additives, and most importantly, delicious.
Price: $12 There’s nothing worse than dealing with broken gear when you need it the most. Whether you notice a rip or tear when you’re coming home from a long trip or out there in the wild when catastrophe strikes, having a good patch kit can make all the difference. Gear Aid’s Tenacious Tape is a cheap insurance policy that’ll make sure your gear is good to go whenever you need it to be. It’ll stick to everything from puffer coats, to nylon tent shells, sleeping bags and even Gore-Tex fabric -- rubber, nylon, plastic, vinyl, whatever.
Price: $34.95 The pervasive image of the Rambo-like trekker, smashing through the underbrush and killing warthogs with nothing more than a bowie knife and his bare teeth is both outdated and absolutely ridiculous. Real hiking, backpacking, and camping is all about doing more with less; about saving space and working efficiently with the tools you have.
The Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-Tool is everything you could want in a keychain-sized tool. It includes spring-action pliers, needle-nose pliers, wire cutters, scissors, a knife blade, a flat and Phillips head screw driver, a file, and, of course, a bottle opener. It’s made from 420 HC stainless steel and 6061-T6 hard-anodized aluminum, and is just as bad ass as any other legendary Leatherman out there — all in a package small enough to fit on your key ring.
Price: $39.95 Scoff all you want, but a solid electric lantern is a life-saver on the road. The Zero Mini V2 from Goal features a rechargeable battery that gets anywhere from four to 500 hours of use in one charge (depending on the brightness setting you use), an impressive 210 lumens of brightness. Plus it’s got built-in magnets and a hook for easy mounting, fold-down legs to provide a solid base if there’s nowhere to hang it, as well as a built-in 3200 mAh battery to keep all your devices charged.
Price: $49.95 Figuring out a safe way to boil water for drinking or cook up a proper meal isn’t always as easy as gathering tinder and sparking a match on the ground. That’s where a good camp stove comes in. The Jetboil MightyMo is a do-it-all outdoors workhorse of a camp stove that can perform in frigid temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, weighs less than a deck of playing cards, and is ultra packable. It can also be accessorized with Jetboil’s skillet pan and cooking pot (or any lightweight cooking accessories), features a push-button igniting system, a four-turn incremental heating regulator. At less than 50 bucks, it makes for an excellent gift for the wanderer in your life.
Price: $40 The advantage to cast-iron is it can be used in direct heat over an open flame, is incredibly durable, retains heat like no other, and is relatively affordable. And while amateurs may tout the portability of a cast-iron skillet, the reality is skillets aren’t very practical in the wild. They’re also heavy, and don’t really offer too much for the mobile kitchen.
A double dutch oven, on the other hand, can be used for tons of delicious outdoor recipes -- everything from chili and soups to pan-seared steaks. The Double Dutch Oven from Lodge features a lid that when turned upside down is magically converted to its own 10.25-inch skillet, perfect for cooking up eggs, bacon, hash browns, steak, or whatever the hell else you could possibly imagine.
It may not the most convenient cookware to lug around if you’re looking to save on packing space and weight, but proper cast-iron cookware means all the difference between eating and eating well in the Great Outdoors. Trust us.
Price: $39.99 For the folks who bring their canine companions along for every nature trek, the Carhartt Chore Coat is the perfect accessory. Dog jackets can be hit or miss, but this one features light-weight ringspun duck cotton, a quilted nylon lining and a corduroy collar (Because what’s the point of putting your adventure pal in a nice warm jacket if they won’t look cute while you do it?).
Price: $55 Ask any hiker or backpacker what their biggest concern out in the wild is, and staying hydrated will be at or near the top of their list. Having a good hydration pack is crucial — whether it’s a dedicated pack or an insertable hydration bladder. The Oasis 1200 Hydration Pack comes with its own three-liter bladder while offering 20 liters of overall space. It also features ample pockets -- inside and out -- to hold whatever you need on the trail or out in the wild.
Price: $80 It may not save anyone’s ass on a week-long trek, but for day hikers, the Daytrip Lunch Bag from YETI is the perfect way to keep your meal from spoiling while out in the elements (especially on a hot day). The Daytrip Lunch Bag features a durable, water-resistant shell with a magnetic clasp to keep everything inside cold (or hot), and features a lightweight, insulated, closed-cell foam interior that offers proven temperature regulation. The bag folds up and stores easily in any pack or bag, which makes it ideal for use in the outdoors.
Price: $79.99 It’s important to remember that the gear you have on your feet is equally critical as the gear you have in your pack. And if you’re shopping for the kind of person who enjoys long day hikes or challenging terrain, a solid pair of hiking sneakers are a necessity.
Merrell is one of the most popular hiking footwear brands in the business, and for good reason. Their Moab 2 Ventilators are top-tier, and boast features like performance suede and breathable mesh uppers, a protective rubber toe cap, a Vibram TC5+ sole for extra grip on all-terrain, an EVA midsole, and their own Merrell M Select FIT.ECO+ footbed for extra comfort on those longer hauls.
Price: $59.99 Ah, yes, underwear. If you think this is some kind of gag gift, you are sorely, sorely mistaken. Thermal underwear is basically glamping for people who don’t know what glamping is.
These full-body “union suits” by Duluth Trading Co. harness their thick, heat-trapping 9.1-ounce “waffle fabric,” for protection, heat retention and freedom of movement. People rave about the quality of these suits, and we trust the team at Duluth to know what they’re doing.
Price: $225 You might not think a lightweight pack makes a difference when you’re carrying 35 pounds of gear on your back to begin with, but you’d be wrong. Quite wrong. The Mariposa 60 Backpack from Gossamer Gear is one of the lightest backpacks money can buy, but don’t let its two-pound overall dry weight fool you; this pack has been trail tested and time proven to put up with anything that’s thrown at it.
It’s made using 100 and 200 denier Robic nylon, features a waist belt and stiffener for proper weight distribution and comfort even on long hikes, internal hydration sleeves and drinking tube keepers on both straps, a SitLight pad and removable stay, plenty of pockets to store whatever you need (it can comfortably carry 35 pounds of gear), and even external pole holders.
Price: $270 and up Any schlub can grab a 60-dollar tent and call it a day (and some of them certainly work fine for the weekend warriors out there), but if you’re looking to buy someone gear they’ll actually use, keep in mind shelter is one of the three basic essentials to human survival (along with water and food).
The Copper Spurt HV UL Backpacking Tent from Big Agnes comes in one-, two-, three-, and four-person formats, and features a full-coverage, waterproof, PV-treated rainfly for complete weather protection, 18 square feet of covered gear storage to keep your boots and other clothing dry (without cluttering the tent), taped seams, and floors rated to 1200mm water proofing. It also has a four-way, high-volume hub design that provides both increased strength and useable interior space, Big Agnes’proprietary rip-stop ultra-strength nylon in the shell, and a DAC Featherlite pole system that creates ultra-steep walls for maximum comfort inside.
If that all sounds like a foreign language to you, it’s okay -- it’s the king of tents. Shut up and buy it.
Price: $185 and up What? You think the call of the wild stops when the temps drop? Hardly. In fact, some of the best camping and hiking to be found takes place after all the mosquitos and tourists are gone for the season.
The Haloes Down Hoodie from Salomon is a lightweight windproof, water repellant, insulated down jacket specifically engineered to go with you everywhere you need it. The jacket weighs in at just under a pound, and conveniently packs into its own hand pocket, which means it takes up very little space in an already-cluttered backpack. It features down-proof nylon fabric that won’t lose feathers or insulation when things get rough, 700 fillpower synthetic insulation to keep you warm high up in the mountains, an adjustable hood to keep your head from losing warmth, draw cord adjusters to keep wind out, three discrete pockets, and AdvancedSkin technical fabric to keep you warm without making you sweat.
Price: From $120 and up Of course, when the temps are warmer and don’t require the heavy artillery, a quality windbreaker is essential. The Helium II Jacket from Outdoor Research fits the bill and won’t totally blow your gift budget.
It features a 100% waterproof, Pertex Shield+ 30D ripstop nylon shell with taped seams to keep water out. It’s waterproof, it’s windproof, and at just 6.4 ounces, it packs up smaller than a granola bar.
Price: $220 If you’re shopping for someone who really goes out there and does the damn thing, a proper hiking boot is the best piece of equipment they’ll own. The Kaha by Hoka One One is consistently ranked one of the best hiking boots for the money.
The Kahas feature water-proof full-grain leather uppers, a GORE-TEX waterproof bootie to keep your feet extra dry, a Vibram Megagrip hi-traction outsole with 5mm lugs built in for added traction (with multidirectional lugs included with every shoe for even more grip), an EVA top layer for added support and comfort.
Price: $306 This is a pretty expensive Christmas gift, but if you’re shopping for a loved one who heads out hiking all the time, this could very well mean the difference between life and death. Hikers get lost. Their phones lose service. They leave their compass at home. It happens all the time.
Best Safety Boots
The Garmin InReach Mini is a small, lightweight, compact satellite communicator that enables two-way text messaging between any phone, email address, or other Garmin device. Users can also use it to send detailed GPS-supported SOS signals to the search and rescue monitoring center, share their route with family and friends, download detailed maps and other crucial survival information, and even get updated weather forecasts sent directly to the device.
It’s part location beacon, part weather service, part route tracker, part communication device, and is even Bluetooth compatible so you can pair it with any smart device you own.
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