21 Gifts for the Adventure-Inclined

Get your loved ones out experiencing something awesome this year

By Katie O'Reilly

December 15, 2020


Photo by Bogdan Kurylo/iStock

The best gift an outdoorsy, adventuresome type could hope for is one more opportunity to scale that mountain or explore farther off the grid. But this year, we think adventure-oriented gifts are perfect for just about anyone, seeing how starved most of us are for travel and novel experiences. Here, we’ve rounded up some holiday presents so awesome that they just might inspire you and your loved ones to make some serious post-pandemic adventure plans.

The original wearable sleeping bag was invented high in the mountains of Chile and designed to provide campers and home loungers with maximum mobility, versatility, and coziness. The lightweight Selk’bag ($100), so named for the lost Selk’Nam natives of Tierra del Fuego, Chile, boasts a weather-resistant shell and lightweight insulation. Plus, it’s a proud member of 1% for the Planet. Go on—give the gift of a maximally comfy quarantine.

OK, we admit it—the US national parks get a lot of love in our gift guides and magazine. Renowned nature photographer Ian Shive’s new coffee-table book shines a glorious light on another wilderness system—the truly wildest one in the country. Refuge: America’s Wildest Places ($50) contains astonishing artwork exposing the (relatively) undercover splendor of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the largest network of protected lands and waters in the world. This visually arresting and educating book showcases the migratory birds of Midway Atoll, the ruggedness of Kenai, Alaska, the coral reefs of the Palmyra Atoll, the golden prairies of the Rocky Flats, and so many more landscapes and their wild inhabitants. It's an ideal gift for armchair adventurers (and isn't that most of us, these days?).

Give selfie-snappers and texters the gift of peace of mind via Hangtime’s Koala ($25), a rugged, durable smartphone harness (just clip it to pack or person) created for climbers, skiers, fly fishers, hikers—and anyone else who doesn't want to worry about their phone tumbling out of their pocket and ruining an adventure by shattering!

Fact: Once you hit adulthood, socks are in fact a great gift, especially for the adventure-inclined. Add in an avenue to recycle your giftees’ used unmentionables—thus putting a dent in the massive problem of textile pollution—and you’ll have eco-minded giftees salivating. Basic Revolution is an annual socks box (starting at $89) that allows you to send loved ones a box of seven or 15 pairs (choose from many options including organic cotton and bamboo varieties). Afterward, giftees can send back any hole-ridden, un-donatable clothing that’ll fit in the box (shipping label included), and Basic Revolution will recycle or upcycle those old unmentionables. It's our kind of a two-punch present.

Give your favorite outdoorsperson the gift of safety and yourself the gift of peace of mind with the Welly Adventure Kit ($25), a fashionable first-aid kit that includes many various-sized bandages (many in fun designs and colors), a roll of rope, wound prep pads, antibiotics, hydrocortisone, Ibuprofen, and more.

Need a tasteful present for the snow adventurer who already has everything? Wanderwide’s Ski Register Print ($59 for the print; frames cost an additional $80 to $190) will allow them to track the slopes they’ve already hit and dream about their next ski and snowboard adventures. After conquering each destination, they can get out the custom stamp (included with purchase) and mark it off. Bucket lists have never looked so displayable!

Ready to upgrade the campers in your life who are still using those limp little nothing-burger camping pillows? The Hest Pillow ($79) was designed for those who crave and need comfort and support in the Great Outdoors. At 2.2 pounds, it’s built for all-terrain travel (it compacts into a dirt- and water-resistant, machine-washable zippered cover). The Hest's curved shape contours to head and neck, and it was designed for breathable airflow, so tent-dwellers can maintain an optimal sleeping temperature.

Speaking of a classed-up camping trip, High Camp Flasks’ Firelight 750 Flask ($125) is deceptive in its stainless-steel sleekness: It’s actually a three-piece bar set, composed of two small double-walled tumblers and a 750-ml vacuum-insulated flask—enough to fit an entire fifth of your giftee’s favorite spirit or a full bottle of wine (oh, and it'll maintain drinks’ temperatures for 24 hours too). Weighing in at 29 ounces, it packs easily (the tumblers secure to the flask via a nifty magnetic-lock system), and of course, is designed for sharing.

Make sure giftees remember to eat out in the wilds too! The portable, packable Flatpack Grill and Firepit ($50) from UCO Gear weighs just 3.2 pounds, folds down to less than 1.5 inches thick, and stows away inside a durable canvas case when not in use. The grill sets up in less than 30 seconds with a stable, folding base. Constructed from durable stainless steel to provide resistance to rust and corrosion, the Flatpack brings the gift of a fire wherever your loved ones’ adventure takes them. It also comes with a neat grate offering 130 square inches of grilling space.

Attention lovers of dog-lovers: Certified B Corp Cotopaxi recently teamed up with Wolfgang Man & Beast to unveil the very whimsical and vibrant Good Dog Collection. Perfect for canine adventures, it includes a cobranded Cotopaxi Batan fanny pack ($30) made from remnant fabric), collar (starting at $18), and leash ($25) made from 100 percent repurposed materials. The best part is, purchases support a grant to animal rescue Nuzzles & Co., which aims to help families suffering from COVID-19’s financial impacts to continue to care for their pets. 

This year, the parks fanatics at Parks Project teamed up with the Sierra Club to create tie-dyed sweats (each piece is unique!) from organic dyes. Considering proceeds from purchases help preserve public lands, the gift of this unisex hoodie ($78) might just be perfect for all the groovy, parks-appreciating people on your list.

Coalatree’s soft, comfy Evolution Joggers ($62) are made from recycled coffee grounds, using a waterless dye technique. They’re also equipped with hidden zipper pockets, easing travelers’ pickpocketing worries.

Boots that look as good on the trail as they do at brunch—striking both technical and fashionable notes—make for a pretty great gift to begin with, but the real magic of Alice + Whittles’s Weekend Boot ($200) is in the details. These vegan boots are made from 95 percent repurposed marine plastics collected by fishermen (making them water-resistant and free from virgin plastic) and are temperature-controlled, thanks to a cozy lining of recycled synthetic fleece. Vegan glue binds this boot's uppers and soles, and its anti-slip sole is made with sustainable, 45 percent recycled rubber. We took them out for a snowy hike and were mightily impressed with their traction, support, comfort, and of course, all the compliments they fetched.

Cozy, affordable, and lightweight as it is, fleece has been giving environmentalists a chill, due to its tendency to shed tiny plastic fibers in the washing machine—which ultimately go on to become ocean pollution. It creates something of a conundrum for outdoors lovers, which is why Houdini Sports Wear created the warm, light, and multifunctional Mono Air Halfzip ($180) out of Bluesign-certified and recycled fabrics that encapsulate insulation fibers in small pockets. You won’t get fleeced with this outerwear, which purports to shed up to 80 percent fewer microfibers than your average fleece jacket.

Made from Responsible Down Standard–certified insulation and Bluesign-approved fabrics, PrAna’s Ice Thistle Long Jacket ($279) is a performance-level jacket that folds down into a packable pocket. A PFC-Free DWR coating ensures rain- and snow-resistance, and a drawcord system lets giftees easily adjust its hood and sleeves.

Got a loved one whose happiness directly correlates with how far off the grid they happen to be? The four-ounce Somewear Satellite Hotspot ($300) communicator will pair with their mobile device to provide SMS/weather/tracking/SOS—ideal for camping, hiking, and biking anywhere there isn’t cell coverage. The device features the most affordable satellite data plans on the market. And thanks to its smart routing capabilities, the Somewear can actively detect and default to cellular and wi-fi networks when in range, thus preserving valuable satellite data. It's simple to use and lent us maximal peace of mind on a recent backcountry adventure!

The amazingly armless Ombraz Sunglasses are polarized, virtually indestructible shades designed for mountain biking, skiing, fishing, and other outdoor endeavors, sans the discomfort and headaches from traditional glasses’ arms and their tendency to squeeze day-long wearers’ noggins. For every pair sold, Ombraz collaborates with the Eden Reforestation Project to plant 20 mangrove trees, thus sequestering more carbon than it takes to produce and deliver a single pair. We’re partial to the class, circular-frame Dolomite style ($140), which comes with small, built-in visors to reduce peripheral glare in the mountains or on the water.

Trail runners and hikers will most definitely appreciate the gift of the latest rechargeable, lightweight headlight model from Biolite. With 750 lumens, pass-thru charging capabilities, and eight different lighting modes that enable users to see and be seen, the HeadLamp 750 ($75) helps provide near-infinite run times. Plus, its uniquely slim front profile keeps this headlamp comfortably situated (no bouncing) on even the sweatiest of foreheads.

Chances are, you know of some coffee-loving campers. The X Brew Coffee Dripper ($22) from Sea to Summit provides the gift of pour-over brew on the trail, no wasteful paper filters necessary (due to its reusable stainless-steel filter). This collapsible coffee dripper folds down to a 20-mm height, so it won’t take up much pack real estate.

Got some giftees who can rock a novelty T-shirt? We’re partial to Vardagen’s Keep Going—An Outdoor Collection, which contains a range of truly artful, truly irreverent homages to getting away and exploring. Its super-soft tees are made from eco-friendly cotton, and prints are made with water-based inks. We like this (only slightly trippy) mushroom shirt ($42). Titled "The Original Internet," it’s a depiction of the first social network—the miles of mushroom mycelium running beneath the forest floor. 

57Hours is a cool new platform that functions like the Airbnb of adventure: It matches adventurers of all experience levels with guides who can custom-curate excursions. Participating guides specialize in kayaking, surfing, fly-fishing, skiing—you name it. 57Hours (thus named to remind weekend warriors exactly how many hours they have to burn between work letting out on Friday and resuming on Monday) offers gift cards—ideal options for those who prefer an experiential gift. Guides exist in most US locales and practice COVID-19 safety, so this gift is also ideal for loved ones who’ve been missing travel and novel experiences.