17 Awesome Gifts That'll Inspire Adventure

The best apparel, gadgets, and gear for the outdoorsy folk in your life

By Katie O'Reilly

December 19, 2018


Photo courtesy of Oru Kayak

This holiday season, give the adventurers in your life even more reasons to scale that mountain, conquer that trail, camp out, and just generally stay outside. Outdoorswomen and men, after all, are all about the journey. Here are some cool accoutrements that won't just help facilitate it; they'll make the journey maximally glorious.

Know of a cyclist who likes to ride with style? The bike bag mavens behind Po Campo have teamed up with the whimsical helmet manufacturers of Nutcase just for the holiday season to offer a matching handlebar bag and helmet for $99. Po Campo’s Kinga Handlebar Bag (normally $45) is made from vegan, weatherproof materials with reflective accents and, once off the bike, converts to a crossbody bag. Nutcase’s Street Helmet (normally $70) boasts adjustable fitting, a detachable visor, and plenty of cushioned protection. It makes for a sporty look that’s as safe as it is stylish!

In other collaboration news, the makers of Airblaster Ninja Suits—the most whimsical among one-piece base layers for cold-weather adventurers—tête-à-têted with the coziness experts behind Rumpl Puffy Sherpa Blankets to offer matching sets for female and male adventurers who identify with ninjas. The suit is $120; the blanket, $159. The photo opps? Priceless.

Bring loved ones’ outdoor dining experiences to the next level with the gift of the UCO Bamboo Elements Mess Kit ($20) from Industrial Revolution. Its bowl, plate, spork set, and reusable tether (which keeps everything organized together) are made from 90 percent natural materials. Plus, these good-looking vessels are guaranteed not to leak. 

With the gift of the Aquaphonics AQ9 speaker ($60) from Lifeproof, the mountaineers in your orbit can take their beats to the peaks. This compact, waterproof bluetooth device, available in three jaunty colors, was built for traveling—it plays nice and loud and even features a clip-on carabiner.

As anyone with a canine adventure copilot could tell you, taking Fido along on a hike can quickly escalate into a juggling act. It’s why Soggy Doggy invented the No-Pockets Leash ($24), a durable lead that incorporates a compact, waterproof phone case that’s compatible with various phone sizes and styles. Which means that during the darkest winter walks and hikes, dog companions will be easily able to access their phones’ texting, talking, navigating, and flashlight functions.

Just this week (in time for the post-holiday skin season!), Coal Headwear partnered with Protect Our Winters (POW)—the ski bums’ global climate action nonprofit—to release the POW beanie ($36). This hat is made with a proprietary new fiber that, all told, consumes 76 percent less energy, 85 percent less water, and 76 percent less waste than a typical acrylic beanie would. What’s more, a portion of proceeds will support POW’s advocacy work.

Last month, The North Face reinvented one of its largest and most iconic product lines, ThermoBall jackets, using recycled polyester fabric and recycled insulation. The result offers the same compressible, lightweight alternative to 600-fill goose down that adventurers have been coveting since 2013, but now with a lighter footprint—each ThermoBall Eco jacket diverts at least five plastic bottles from landfills. The ThermoBall Eco comes in six different colors for women and men, in both adult hoodie ($220) and full-zip ($199) styles.

A retro, tailored layer that’s crafted for trails and made out of ultrasoft, sustainable llama fiber? Yes, please, quoth all the adventurers on your list. Cotopaxi’s Libre Sweater ($140) features raglan sleeves for enhanced mobility, an engineered mesh back panel for temperature regulation, heavy-duty ribbing for durability, and a fetching throwback style. This ultrasoft unisex piece comes in eight different colors, and it’s a gift that’ll provide valuable income for the farmers and knitters of Bolivia.

Want to give a gift you know will get put to good use? A quality pair of shades is a necessity for any active, outdoorsy type, and Earth-loving adventurers have been known to fall in love with Costa sunglasses, which are made using 100 percent recycled fishing nets. Their frames are fully recyclable, the polarized lenses provide UV protection, and what’s more, these sunnies come with a case made entirely of recycled and upcycled materials. We’re partial to Costa’s Del Mar model ($249), which is available in four pretty colors, features a stylish keynose nose-bridge, and conjures Southern California’s beachy lifestyle—even in the dead of winter.

Otterbox has added new growlers to its popular Elevation collection. The Elevation 28 ($35) is made of stainless steel and lined with copper to maintain the temperatures of water, beer, hot cocoa—you name it. You can pick out a recipient's favorite color, and if you’re feeling really generous, outfit their new growler with accessory tops (sold separately) like cocktail shakers and thermal lids. Cheers!

Special for the holidays, the camping aficionados behind Alite have unveiled the Stonefly Chair ($95), a backwoods/music festival/backyard throne boasting a fun, nature-inspired pattern. This 2.75-pound, fully collapsible chair is equipped with dual cup holders, comfy armrests, rubber grip feet, color-coded aluminum for easy assembly, and a breathable nylon stuff sack. It’s ideal for the gift recipient who deserves to take a load off in 2019. 

New from Garmont, the women’s Atacama hiking boot ($160) is inspired by South America’s high-desert regions. With a trendy design, female-specific foot bed, and elastic gaiter on the back for easier boot entry, this mid-cut boot is gentle enough for sore Achilles tendons and tired feet but tough enough for the most unforgiving of terrain. 

Snow gear built from factory scraps and plastic bottles? Sounds like some classic Patagonia hijinks. For this winter’s Recycled Snow gear collection, the company diverted about 215,000 pounds from the waste stream and built them into a range of snow jackets, snow bibs, and snow pants (pictured are the Powder Bowl Pants, $299)—80 percent of which are composed of recycled fabrics. All Recycled Snow pieces are built to provide tough, long-wearing, waterproof, and windproof protection for skiers, boarders, and sledders.

Over the past five years, United By Blue has been developing a supply chain for bison fibers, which are super-insulators that the ranching industry typically just discards. This season, the company harnessed bison fiber’s natural capacity for warmth and launched unique bison puffer jackets ($228) and vests ($188) in both women’s and men’s versions. These attractive pieces come in multiple colors, pack down easily, and provide puffy-coat-grade coziness without making wearers look like, well, buffalo.

Kalpana is the Nepali word for “dream,” and any giftee who’s ever found herself having to boulder up some rocks, mid-hike, while wearing flimsy athletic pants, can attest that abrasion-resistant, breathable, moisture-wicking hiking tights can amount to a dream. The UPF 50–rated Kalpana Hike Tight ($80) from Sherpa Adventure Gear boast a wide waistband (for a smooth fit under layers), a hidden key pocket, dual side panel pockets that zip shut to secure essentials, four-way stretch, and a gusseted crotch for maximum mobility and comfort.

Tentsile has been enchanting every camper who’s dreamed of sleeping in the trees ever since debuting its tensile (get it?) force-using, over-the-ground suspension tents a few years back. Tentsile tents not only offer protection from snakes and bugs, but also spare bad backs restless nights on wet, bumpy grounds. For the rough-and-tumble outdoorsy type who’s been really good this year, consider splurging on Tentsile’s toughest two-person tree tent, the Safari Connect ($750). It’s stitched from heavy-duty ripstop fabric and insect mesh, comes with a waterproof rain fly, and has a lateral wing cut to help keep campers stow gear below and keep it dry. It also packs neatly into a compact duffel—meaning recipients can assume new identities as “backpackers by day, Ewok villagers by night.”

Since 2012, the entrepreneurs behind Oru Kayak have been making paddling more accessible, thanks to their unique, origami-inspired boats, which are made from corrugated plastic and fold down to fit inside duffels for easy carrying. This season, Oru launched its first tandem kayak. The Haven ($1,999) fits two but can easily be converted to single-person occupancy. It’s not cheap; however, it lets you give the gift of paddling to a loved one—and the gift of getting to spend more time on the water with your favorite kayaker to yourself.