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A Gift Guide for Everyone: The Great Outdoors!

By December 2, 2018September 26th, 20193 Comments

Most of us spend the majority of our time indoors – at work, sleeping, hanging at our home or enjoying nights out with friends. But those glorious hours we enjoy in the fresh air can be the best parts of our day – especially when we travel! Here’s the cream of the crop, the best of the best gift ideas for your outdoorsy loved one to pick up this holiday season. We tried and tested each one personally and do hope it gives you inspiration for your families/friends and even for your next trip to nature!

Gregory Zulu 30 Pack

Zulu 30 Backpack by Gregory Packs

The 30-liter Zulu pack from SoCal’s Gregory Mountain Products is the perfect blend of day hiking and short multi-day trip bag.  I love using it as my winter carry-on because the stretch outer pocket makes stuffing jackets in a breeze.  But the Zulu 30 also easily holds my tent, mattress, quilt, insulating layer, rain jacket, stove, camp kitchen…you get the idea.  The two side water bottle pockets are versatile enough to be tight on a thin bottle as well as a Nalgene. One bonus with Gregory is that you get an included rain cover – it’s little touches like that which make this pack great for adventurers and travelers alike. It’s hydration compatible – if you’re into that sort of thing – and it has attachments for storing sunglasses and trekking poles.  If 30 liters isn’t enough, this pack is available in 35, 40, 55 and 65-liter variants – and there are also women’s variants called Jade. They all come with Gregory’s lifetime guarantee – which gives the confidence to really push this pack to its limits. – Christian

Retail: $139.95

MSR Hubba NX Solo Tent

MSR Hubba NX Solo Tent

(The newest version of the tent will be released early next year) Mountain Safety Research’s Hubba NX tent is an incredibly lightweight backpacking tent for one-person.  This tent is my go-to tent for any time I’m not car camping – and now it’s been further improved for 2019.  Featuring all new poles built from Easton Syclone materials, as well as MSR’s new ‘Extreme Shield’ waterproof coating – this tent is built to withstand storms and the test of time.  I’ve been using MSR tents since my boy scout days and they certainly stand up to the highest standard. The lightweight line of tents can be pitched in the traditional way – that is with a footprint, tent body, and rainfly – but they can also be pitched in a ‘fast & light’ mode with just the rain fly and footprint. These features allow you to carry less, and travel further.  The tent body is rectangular, but the rain fly is hexagonal – which increases airflow and reduces condensation. This shape also allows for a small vestibule to store gear out of the elements.

Overall, this freestanding tent weighs just 2 pounds 7 ounces – and has a neat open top stuff sack that is much easier to deal with than other brands.  The bottom line is that this tent is light to carry, can withstand the rain, and is a breeze to set up and take down. – Christian

Retail: $259.00

Foxelli Trekking Poles

Foxelli Trekking Poles

You might notice a theme to this guide: that backpacking and camping, while incredibly fun, can really put pressure and stress on our bodies.  Descending mountains or hills is what causes most stress and the Journal of Sports Science study found that using trekking poles can reduce stress on our knees by up to 25%!

Enter the Foxelli Carbon Trekking Poles.  A pair of these poles weigh just 14 ounces – so they won’t add much to your weight.  They have a moisture-wicking grip made of cork that stays cool during intense use. The poles are built using sliding locks so they can extend to fit the height of virtually anyone, but then compact down into an easy to carry length of just 24” (even small if taken completely apart!). I think these poles give incredible quality at a pretty amazing price point ($70) and apparently many people agree looking at the reviews on Amazon.  They come in a nice sleeve with attachments for snow, sand, rock, and pavement. These poles easily beat out competitors that priced well above them. – Christian

Retail: $59.97

Therm-a-rest Corus HD Quilt

Therm-a-rest Corus HD Quilt

Backpacking can be rough on the knees and back – especially when you’re loaded up for a multi-day trip.  Enter the Therm-a-rest Corus quilt. This down quilt is used in place of a heavier sleeping bag – and thus saves on weight and bag space.  The Corus weighs just 1 pound and 6 ounces, and stuffs down into a tiny stuff sack. It’s 650 fill power down is responsibly sourced and has also been treated so make sure it doesn’t lose its insulating properties when wet. Not to mention, it’s incredibly soft feeling and comfortable!  The quilt has baffles that block escaping heat, and comes complete with a pad-attachment system to make sure the quilt stays in place over your mattress. This is one of those items that has changed the way I backpack for the better – no more giant, heavy sleeping bags that don’t insulate when you’re sleeping on top of half of them.  No more sliding off your pad and waking up with your face pushed into the condensation laden tent walls! The quilt has a 35-degree temperature rating for men, meaning you’ll be well prepared for camping from the spring through the autumn. – Christian

Retail: $239-$249.95

Darn Tough Merino Hiking Socks

merino wool hiking socks

If you’re at all like me – that means you sweat.  A full day of hiking in cotton socks surely means gross moisture and permeating smell.  Enter the Darn Tough merino hiking socks.  Merino wool is a natural moisture-wicking fiber, and paired with nylon makes this sock seamless, soft and breathable.  Darn Tough prides themselves on quality and guarantees their socks for life! Seriously! They come in a variety of cushions and styles.  I went with the No Show style, trying to avoid that hiker look. – Christian

Retail: $16.00

Patagonia Micropuff Hooded Jacket

Patagonia Micropuff Hooded Jacket

Patagonia is amongst the most famous makers of outdoor gear.  This might leave some searching for less expensive alternatives to the professional gear on offer – but in a world where the daily news forces us to take stock of our values – Patagonia is a company that I feel great buying from. On election day recently – they created a landing page directing everyone to vote – and opened up a discussion that protecting public lands is an issue for all of us – for all generations.  This isn’t a partisan political issue – this is an issue for everyone – and that understanding how much care and effort is needed to protect our national parks, monuments, and our environment in general needs to be at the top of our minds. They’ve built a group called Patagonia Action Works that helps people get involved in solving the environmental crisis. They also talk about how all their gear is made – and make sure to promote fair labor practices.  That and their gear guarantee is great as well – you can send almost anything in for repair and they’re incredibly reasonable about it.

This is how I found myself repeatedly looking at the Micropuff Hoodie.  Weighing just over 9 ounces, the jacket uses a synthetic down alternative which gives an incredible warmth-to-weight ratio, and keeps its insulating properties when wet.  The shell is made of ripstop nylon and feels great to the touch, and I really like the quilted look of the jacket. I know that this jacket will last me a long time – through the long New England winter – and it’s versatile enough to wear under a shell for skiing or hiking in wet weather.  It’s also great for just throwing on during those cold nights when you have to take the dog out for one last walk before bed. – Christian

Retail: $299

Petzl Actick Core Headlamp

actik core headlamp

All the ladies love a good headlamp…right?  This one from famous French mountaineering equipment make Petzl looks just as stylish as any famous Parisian fashion label – but perhaps sparkles brighter!  At 350 lumens, the headlamp gives an incredibly clear white light powered by a rechargeable 1250 mAh battery.  The rechargeable battery can also be replaced by two AAA sized batteries if you’re without power. That’s enough power to last 160 hours at 5 lumens, 7 hours at 100 lumens, or two hours at max power.  Those modes make it easy to go from night walking to reading in the tent in a breeze. You can switch the beam width and there’s even a red light mode that preserves your night adjusted vision! The reflective headstrap is as functional as it is stylish! – Christian

Retail: $69.95

Jaybird Wireless Earbuds

Jaybird Headphones Wireless

I finally found the ideal wireless travel earbuds. While Jaybird Earbuds are designed for athletes who train indoors and outdoors, these buds are just as good on the plane or lounging in a hotel lobby. These wireless earbuds are ideal for the trail too as they’re durable and take up very little space. They are water resistant and come with its own charging case, letting them last up to 4 hours without a charge. I’m also happy they pair well with calling and talk-to-text apps, which is great for transcribing and taking meetings on the road too. Bottom line and most importantly: the Bluetooth sound is fantastic and the buds fit nice and secure. -Eileen

Retail: $64.99

Youphoria Camping Hammock

Youphoria towel and hammock

Once you’ve wrapped up that action-packed outdoor adventure, sit back and relax on another one of Youphoria’s fantastic products. The portable hammock is ultra-lightweight at just under 12 ounces! It is also super durable, stitched with Dyneema, some of the strongest thread on the market. Most importantly, it’s perfect for the day out on the trail or at sea.

Simply hang up that hammock, grab a good book, and chill out! Hammocks are also a fantastic way to stargaze and look for the constellations. Soak up all that mother nature has to offer in the Youphoria portable hammock. – Jeanne

Retail: $31 – $45

Rumpl Puffy Down Throw

rumpl puffy throwsI’m a huge fan of down – you won’t find much better in terms of warmth to weight ratio.  This 600-fill goose down throw from Rumpl weighs just about a pound and can be a warm companion whether you’re sitting by a fire, doing some summer backpacking, or just lazing on the sofa.  I’ve even used it on a plane instead of using an airline blanket! It’s machine washable and comes in a stuff sack which can only be described as adorable. Judging by how small it packs down, one might think this is a blanket for children – but it is, in fact, a wonderful 50” x 70” in the smallest size – but they have a queen size one that’s 88” x 84”! – Christian

Retail: $159.00

Altra Timp Trail Running Shoes

Altra Timp Trail Running Shoes

I’m relatively new to the idea of zero drop shoes. In fact, I’m relatively new to the idea of trail running, but Altra practically invented the idea of zero drop shoes.  If you’re not familiar, zero drop shoes allow the toes and heel parts of the shoe to be equidistant from the ground.  This can reduce stress on the knees, reduce overpronation, and help with a better push-off. The Timp model is the medium cushioned shoe, but they also have higher cushioning and lower cushioning models (their Lone Peak is famous with the ultralight crowd).  I use it for hiking rather than running and the Timps even have bits for attaching gaiters. The main thing I really love about this shoe, other than it’s weird looking lace positioning, is the giant toe-box. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a descent and my toes get crammed into the front of my shoes — that doesn’t happen with these! – Christian

Retail: $130.00

Parks Project Arches Sunrays Tee

Parks Project T-shirt

This might look like just a t-shirt, but it’s not.  When you buy something from Parks Project, that money goes to fund a whole variety of projects across 30 national parks in the US.  From restoring trails, removing invasive species, taking care of the wildlife and education the next generation of conservationists, this group does it all.  They were founded by volunteers, and continue to generate volunteer efforts across the country. By partnering directly with the national parks themselves, Parks Project funds the most vital and important projects.  Their shop carries gear for almost all of the parks — from Acadia to Zion! You can shop by park, or by item – it’s a perfect place to shop for the nature lover on your list! – Christian

Retail: $38

Grizzly Tarps Heavy Duty Tarp

grizzly tarpThis is one of those items that you stumble upon and it just works so damn well.  We had a group of 10 car camping up in the Whites. Late on the Saturday afternoon, the storm clouds gathered and the heavens opened up!  Our social weekend quickly turned into each group hiding out in their own tents (and some of us in our cars!). Enter the massive Silver Grizzly Tarp.  This waterproof tarp was quickly put up in the middle of our tents, covering a picnic table.  We tied it off with ropes and some bungee cords — and at a near instant, we were playing cards out of the rain.  I’ve kept this tarp in the car for every car camping trip afterwards and it shows no signs of wear, tearing or holes.  While it might not be the sexiest piece of equipment, it is surely one of the most reliable. – Christian

Retail: 12’x20′ $32.99

Zoku Ice Coffee Maker

Zoku Iced Coffee maker

As any true New Englander would tell you, iced coffee is not simply a summer beverage. When the temperatures drop, we crave iced coffee to keep us cool while we shovel ourselves out of the latest blizzard. I also enjoy a nice coffee over ice while on my way to the best winter hiking trail to get a little exercise despite the weather. Zoku has the perfect product to turn our leftover hot coffee from the morning into a chilled afternoon treat.

The iced coffee maker contains a stainless-steel mug and insulating sleeve. Simply stick the mug in the freezer for a few hours, slide on the sleeve, pour in your coffee and snap on the spill-resistant cover. No need to make the drive to Dunkin’ Donuts, your coffee will be ready to serve in five minutes. Grab this stocking stuffer for the coffee lover in your family! – Jeanne

Retail: $29.99

PackTowel Personal Towel

PackTowel Personal Towel

The PackTowel Personal Towel is made out of microfiber – which means it can absorb nearly four times as much water as a similar cotton towel.  What makes it even more attractive for a backpacker is that it packs up much smaller and dries roughly 70% faster than cotton towels.  No more smelly backpacks after storing a wet towel overnight (it has definitely happened to all of us!). The PackTowel is available in a whole bunch of sizes and colors, and it also comes nifty prints!  They also have an ultralight version where the largest size (beach towel size) weighs in at just over 5 ounces. That’s an impressive amount of drying power and comfort so such a small weight penalty! – Christian

Retail: $9.95-$44.95

TrailKeg Portable Keg Package

Trail Keg

This little wonder makes searching out your favorite craft beers a breeze.  It also makes taking a bit of your favorite brew camping with you an incredible experience.  No, I’m not saying you should lug this double insulated, pressurized keg up a mountain! But let’s say you’re up in Maine, or Colorado, California (or anywhere there’s a craft brewery), you can bring along your Trailkeg growler and fill it up with the best local beer.  The container will keep it cold for 24 hours and the package comes with a tap and little CO2 cartridges that you can use to pressure your beer like any normal keg! Fresh, cold beer is now portable! If you’re into local brews, the TrailKeg is an essential companion. Nothing beats sitting around a fire after a long day of hiking and having a delicious, cold beer! – Christian

Retail: $149.99

Adjustable Mountain Ring

There are few things more aesthetically appealing than travel-themed jewelry. From rolling waves to state-shaped necklaces, options abound for those who love to explore. But for lovers of the great outdoors, the Adjustable Mountain Ring is a must. The sleek design offers a chic look that can be worn anywhere, from atop a snow-covered mountain to along a sun-soaked beach. Showcase your love for high altitude in gold, rose gold or silver, ensuring that your jewelry matches your tastes while still representing your love for fresh air, green trees, blue skies, and jagged peaks. —Ashley

Retail: $9.50

Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot

Columbia Women’s Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot

Hitting the trails always requires a solid pair of hiking boots. Without them, you’re sure to end up with sore soles, blisters and who knows what other foot ailments. For the hiking enthusiast in your life, consider the Newton Ridge Plus Waterproof Amped Hiking Boot by Columbia for a shoe that will protect your feet not only from the hike itself but also from the elements. The suede material is flawlessly smooth (at least during early use!) and is waterproof to keep your feet dry along the way. Comfort is key when it comes to hiking so enjoy a cushioned midsole, a super-grip rubber outsole that can tackle everything from thick grass and tree roots to rocks and gravel, and ankle support in the form of sturdy sides and backing. Plus, it comes in a variety of vibrant colors, from shades of blue to red and orange. —Ashley

Retail: $79.99

Dexas Snack-DuO

Dexas Snack duo for dogs outdoors

We can’t forget our furry friends who love the outdoors too! One thing that will always impress me is how adaptable dogs are. Take them on a hike through a forest, to the top of a mountain peak, along sandy ocean dunes or across dusty deserts (though preferably not in the summertime)—they will come out with their tails wagging. The excitement of an outdoor adventure is amplified with a pet along, but it’s important to make sure that he or she is taken care of when you’re out in the elements. Pet lovers will go crazy for Snack-DuO, a plastic reusable bottle designed by Dexas with dogs in mind. There are two chambers—one for food or treats and the other for water—that allows pet parents to provide nourishment for Fido without having to tote around too many containers. The standard is a bottle, though a smaller 16-ounce option is now available as well. —Ashley

Retail: $12.99 and up

Iain Sinclair Cardsharp2

When it comes to camping and hiking, size is an important factor. The smaller the better, as it’s often easier to carry that way. And you won’t find many knives smaller than the CardSharp2 by Iain Sinclair. Folded up in the shape of a credit card, this handy tool can be stored in your wallet at all times—but is especially ideal for outdoor adventures. Simply unlock the safety, flip out the blade and snap the handle into place for easy use when it comes to cooking, cutting and more. The surgical steel just makes the knife even sharper, and the blades come in black, silver and lime green varieties. —Ashley

Retail: $14 and up

Matador Mini Pocket Blanket

matador blanket

It’s not always easy to stay clean on outdoor adventures, but Matador has found a way to solve that slight problem. The Mini Pocket Blanket is an incredible—and incredibly small—tool for anyone who travels outdoors. Measuring only 44 inches by 28 inches, you can hold the blanket in the palm of your hand once it’s folded, making it easy to store in any backpack or even a pant pocket. The pouch that it comes in is attached to the blanket so you’re sure not to lose it and easy-to-follow red lines make packing it up simple as well. Though small and lightweight, it’s perfect for rugged hiking excursions and taking in views from mountaintops, but it can also be used for an afternoon picnicking in a city park. —Ashley

Retail: $19.99

BRÜMATE Glitter Flask

brumate glitter flask

They may be as girly as can be—I’m talking iridescent glitter and colors like Peacock and Blush—but you can’t say that BRÜMATE‘s Glitter Flasks aren’t practical. Sip in style with these stunning 5-ounce bottles, perfect for an outdoor adventure. Whether you’re sharing with a significant other at the beach at sunset, enjoying a drink while stargazing in the desert or passing it around the campfire in the woods, this flask is compact enough that it won’t take up much space but still large enough for you to get your fill. The perfect travel companion, the BRÜMATE Glitter Flask will have you feeling as good inside as you are on the outside next time you hit the trails. —Ashley

Retail: $22.99

goTenna Mesh

goTenna Mesh

Backcountry hiking almost always comes with a loss of cell phone reception. In an emergency, communication is key, but it’s often hard to know what to do when you’re out in the wilderness with no way to get a signal out. However, a revolutionary new technology makes it easier than ever before to keep in touch when you’re off the grid. GoTenna Mesh devices help provide a mesh networking system that allows texts and GPS coordinates to extend beyond the normal range, even without service. The messages bounce from device to device relaying information through your previously set-up network. The bigger the network, the stronger your signal, so this is a great gift for anyone that spends time out of regular cell phone regions. —Ashley

Retail: $179

Men’s Planet Collection: Trees, Rainforests, Oceans

Conscious Step Trees Oceans Malaria Socks

Socks are one of the most popular items to buy men during the holiday season. This Christmas, give the gift of comfort while also giving back to the planet with Conscious Step’s Men’s Planet Collection. The box holds three different pairs of colorful socks, each providing funds for some pretty incredible organizations that are working to save the planet. Enjoy the Great Outdoors while also protecting the environment, combating deforestation and keeping the ocean healthy. Made with organic cotton and a seamless toe with machine-wash material, these are comfortable and practical as well as beneficial. —Ashley

Retail: $44.95

Brave Era Silk Travel Sheet

Brave Era Silk Travel Sheet

While there’s something magical about traveling outdoors, there’s nothing wrong with adding a little luxury to the equation. Stay in comfort with the Silk Travel Sheet by Brave Era, a foldable sheet made entirely of the smooth material. The naturally hypoallergenic material protects against many of the particles you’ll find in nature, like allergens, insects, and dust, while also regulating temperature to make sure you fall asleep and stay asleep, no matter where you are. Available in a pure white shade or a deeper grey color, these silk sheets are stylish as well as useful.  —Ashley

Retail: $99.99

Eileen Cotter Wright

Author Eileen Cotter Wright

Eileen Cotter is a freelance travel journalist and owner of Pure Wander. She's our resident expat extraordinaire and falls down a lot in yoga class. Follow her on Instagram @Pure_Wander.

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