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Finding the best gift for an outdoorsman isn’t always easy. I know, because I am one, and my friends and family complain about how difficult it is to choose gifts for me when the holidays roll around. Adventure gifts are often technical and activity-specific, not to mention dependent upon heaps of obscure stats (waterproofing, down fill, kN rating, etc.). If you aren’t plugged into the outdoor scene, you’ll probably have as much luck deciphering product descriptions as you will an essay in Mandarin.
The outdoor industry is rapidly growing, however (even during the 2020 pandemic). As a result, outdoor gear is constantly advancing, so outdoor gifts that are as little as three or four years old are often based on tech that is entirely obsolete, and as such, don’t make for good gifts.
Here’s a helpful tip: If you aren’t sure of his upcoming objectives, it can be nigh impossible to find gifts that your outdoorsman actually needs. Is he planning on hiking a peak? Running a river? Learning to rock climb? Packing in for a hunting trip? These are all questions that you can ask to get a better idea of the gifts that might benefit him in the near future.
That said, whether the outdoorsman in your life is a fisherman, climber, mountain biker, kayaker, spelunker, backpacker or simply enjoys a nice camping trip or hike once in awhile, you can find him a great gift with some inside knowledge. I’ve been backpacking and rock climbing since I was ten years old, have climbed mountains and hiked long-distance trails around the globe, and am a full-time outdoor journalist — so if there’s one thing I know, it’s outdoor gear.
I’ve gathered 50 of the most innovative, well-tested and practical outdoor products on the market, so that you can surprise the outdoorsman in your life with a gift he’ll love (and be able to use). Shop them below.
Salomon Quest 4 Hiking Boot
The Quest 4 is a top-notch hiking boot that marries the lightweight, propulsion-focused build of a trail shoe with the support of a boot. I covered the best hiking boots for men in 2021 in another article, but this boot, in my opinion, is the best hiking boot you can buy for an outdoorsman right now (unless you have a specific idea of the style of boot he’s looking for, in which case, check out my article linked above). It’s an excellent day hiking/backpacking hybrid, so it suits all needs.
Ka-Bar Fighting Knife
Ka-Bar knives earned its fame as the standard combat knife of the U.S. Marine Corps in the Second World War and later found extensive use among the ranks of the Army and Navy as well. While this burly, fixed blade carbon steel knife will no doubt lend a hand in a fight (the blade is seven inches long…), I’ve used my Ka-Bar for years merely as a do-it-all camp knife. It works well for everything from chopping meat and vegetables to splitting kindling to cutting twine for tent guylines to hammering in stakes (using the hilt).
Every outdoorsman should have a knife on hand, and it doesn’t get more classic than a Ka-Bar. Besides, when you’re out all by yourself deep in the backcountry, it always makes you feel better to have a big knife on your hip.
La Sportiva Tarantulace Climbing Shoes
Rated our best beginner shoe for outdoor climbing this year, the La Sportiva Tarantulace is an excellent all-around shoe for beginner climbers of all stripes. It offers the comfort and neutrality one needs in a beginner rock shoe, coupled with a thicker rubber outer, allowing it to hold up well when climbing outside on real rock. The stiff, neutral build means these shoes provide all-day comfort and work especially well on long multipitch routes. The lace-up closure system, meanwhile, allows the wearer to fine-tune his fit.
If your outdoorsman is just getting into rock climbing or looking for a decent all-around rock shoe to tackle mellow longer routes outside, the Tarantulace is an excellent choice.
Hestra Njord Gloves
Hestra has been making bomber gloves for nearly 100 years now. Though they offer activity-specific gloves for things like mountaineering, mountain biking and snowboarding, the Njords are stellar all-around leather gloves that can work for the full gamut of outdoor recreation. With a removable knitted wool lining, they provide enough warmth for early and late winter outdoor use, but the goat leather outer is as rugged as any on the market. Whether he’s chopping wood, on belay, mending fences or something else, he’ll love these sturdy, reliable and protective gloves.
Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp
If I’m buying a gift for a friend who’s just getting into the outdoors, and I’m not quite sure what they’ll need, I almost always buy them a headlamp. Every outdoorsman needs a compact, lightweight light source, whether for around camp use or as a backup in case things go south. They make such great gifts because you can never have too many. I almost always carry at least two headlamps when I’m on a multi-day trip. You never know when one might go bad, or if a partner may have forgotten their headlamp at home (it happens often). Even if I’m only planning on a short single-day hike or climb, I never leave home without a headlamp.
Many brands make good headlamps, but Black Diamond headlamps have been my go-to for almost ten years now. The Storm 400 is the brand’s most powerful single-strap headlamp, capable of emitting 400 lumens at the highest setting. Powered by four AAA batteries, it’ll last up to 150 hours on the lowest power setting and is capable of casting its beam a whopping 100 meters (330 feet). Whether he’s a hunter, climber or just enjoys sleeping in a tent now and again, he’ll put the Storm 400 to good use.
Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills
“The Freedom of the Hills,” known by climbers as the “bible” of mountaineering, is the penultimate source of information on all things vertical in the outdoors. More than that, however, it contains a wealth of information about backpacking and camping in general, from fire starting to building snow shelters to wilderness medicine to mountain weather and geology. It also serves as an excellent resource to learn about all aspects of snow and glacier travel, including avalanche danger, crevasse navigation and rescue and more.
My climbing mentor recommended the book to me when I was just fourteen years old, and it has been a critical source of information for me as I’ve progressed as a climber and outdoorsman. It’s always at my bedside.
Simply put, every climber should own a copy of The Freedom of the Hills, but anyone interested in cold weather camping, snow travel, the mountains, and really outdoor recreation in general, will find a lot of wisdom in these pages.
Astral Rambler Approach Shoe
The Rambler is one of Astrals two all-new approach shoes, along with the Rover. The Rambler, however, is the slicker of the two, with a fashion-forward aesthetic that’ll be just as at home at the local brewery as it is on the rock. I’ve been cruising around my current home in Las Vegas with these shoes and have taken them on a variety of techy climbing approaches over the last month or so.
Overall, they’ve held up extremely well. They’re comfortable but stiff enough to offer support when hiking. Meanwhile, they feature a recycled canvas and hemp upper for the eco-minded to feel good about, all encompassed by a high friction outer that can perform on skate decks and slabby rock approaches alike.
Deuter Guide Lite 24
This lightweight, comfortable pack is designed for alpinists but performs well on everything from day hikes to multipitch rock climbing routes. Despite its compact, streamlined build, there’s a ton of functional features here — from the sunglasses holder built into the shoulder strap to the helmet holder on the front of the pack to the ice axe and ski loops/straps at the rear. The shoulder straps are among the most comfortable on the market for a pack of this size, and the pack wears well during long days on the trail (or on the wall).
Travel Magnetic Chess Mini Set
Chess is among the oldest and most popular board games in existence, and for good reason. Every chess player who enjoys the outdoors will appreciate a miniature chess set to take on camping trips, backpacking trips abroad, overnight canoe outings, hunting expeditions and any other outdoor adventure.
Chess is chess; most sets you can find online will at least get the job done. But this set is compact, lightweight and foldable for easy storage, making it perfect for use outdoors. The magnetic pieces will also come in handy while playing in the wind, on an uneven surface or under otherwise unstable conditions.
Zippo Typhoon Match Kit
Matches are a wonderful tool, but everyone knows they can be somewhat unreliable. Whether due to damp conditions, wind or manufacturer’s defect, they can often burn out in seconds or fail to strike at all. Zippo’s four-inch Typhoon matches break that mold, offering a burn time of up to 30 seconds. They’re also able to survive being submerged in water or soaked by rain.
This nifty little match kit stores 15 Typhoons, with a built-in strike pad (plus several spare strike pads) and an attachment point to connect the kit to your pocket, pack or jacket. Also complete with an o-ring seal to keep out any moisture, this is a great addition to any adventurer’s backpack, household emergency kit or glove box.
Alpine Start Instant Coffee Variety Pack
Nothing makes a morning in the backcountry better like a hot cup of joe, and instant coffee allows you to pour yourself one immediately — without all the hassle of grinds and filters. Founded by climber Matt Segal, Alpine Start was designed for outdoor enthusiasts and is one of the best-tasting instant coffee brands on the market. It’s been my go-to ever since I met Segal and tried some samples at the International Climber’s Festival five years ago. It’s also entirely dairy-free and compatible with vegan, paleo and non-GMO lifestyles.
This variety pack of single-servings (offering 18 total servings) contains three flavors: Original Blend, Dairy-Free Coffee + Creamer and Dirty Chai Latte. The chai one is the best of the bunch, hands down, but they’re all tasty. Any man who has spent a cold morning in the backcountry, wishing he had a hot cup of coffee in his hands, will appreciate this variety pack.
Anker Nebula Mini-Projector
This is one of the few gifts on this list that I can’t say I personally own, but I do have friends who’ve bought this projector and who say it’s worth the money. That said, a wireless projector, whether you choose this one or one of the many others available on Amazon, makes an excellent gift for an outdoorsman — particularly any #vanlife enthusiast.
They’ll be able to connect to their laptop or phone and project their favorite movies and TV shows from anywhere. The Anker Nebula can cast a screen up to 100 inches wide and offers 360-degree surround sound capabilities, projecting for up to four hours on its internal battery. Meanwhile, the projector houses a handful of built-in apps like Netflix and Youtube. So, if they want, they can stream without using a phone, tablet or laptop, but instead logging in directly on the projector.
No Picnic on Mount Kenya
As a professional outdoor writer and journalist, I’ve read hundreds of works of outdoor literature. “No Picnic on Mount Kenya” is perhaps the most awe-inspiring. This true account tells the story of three Italian prisoners of war in World War II who escape from an African POW camp to climb Mount Kenya (17,057 feet), the tallest mountain in Kenya and the second-highest in Africa — entirely with ramshackle equipment and gear they secretly constructed in their prison camp. Oh yeah…then they decide to break back into the camp afterward.
Written by one of the prisoners, Felice Benuzzi, who was the leader of the trio, “No Picnic on Mount Kenya” is a gripping, moving tale. The back flap puts it best perhaps, calling it “a testament to the human spirit of rebellion and adventure.” The book kicks ass. I highly recommend it.
Zippo Mag Strike
Every outdoorsman knows that fire is man’s best friend (after dogs, of course). No camping trip is complete without a warm fire, and the ability to start a fire in the backcountry is crucial, if not lifesaving, in emergency wilderness situations.
The Mag Strike offers the outdoorsman in your life the ability to create a spark anywhere, without variables like fuel or matches. Pair it with the gift of Zippo Easy Spark Tinders to allow your outdoorsman to keep the gift of fire in his pocket wherever he goes.
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Z Trekking Poles
The Carbon Z poles from Black Diamond are my favorite trekking poles, although the model I have is a few years older than the current iteration. Lightweight and compact with an easy-to-use folding design and comfortable hand grips, these 100% carbon fiber poles have taken me across thousands of miles over the last few years.
They’re great for backpacking and low-grade alpine hiking (Class I to II) alike. A few weeks ago, I finished a personal goal to solo climb all 58 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado, and the Alpine Carbon Z poles were with me on at least half of those mountains.
MSR PocketRocket 2 Mini Stove Kit
The MSR PocketRocket was always my go-to backpacking stove, and the PocketRocket 2 is even better. It’s lightweight, compact and has everything you need but nothing you don’t: pot, lid with strainer capacity, a bowl that doubles as a measuring cup, stove, pot holder and stuff sack. Boom.
He’ll forget this thing is even in his pack, as it weighs just 9.9 ounces. The burner is extremely high-powered, so water boils in minutes, even at altitude. The PocketRocket 2 is a surefire addition to any backpacker’s camp kitchen.
Yeti Rambler 20z Tumbler
Tumblers always make stellar gifts for outdoorsmen, simply because everyone drinks something — whether it’s water, beer, tea, coffee, hot chocolate or something else. The Yeti Rambler is a rugged tumbler with double-wall vacuum insulation that keeps drinks hot or cold, whichever your need.
While it’s quite bulky and heavy, it’s an excellent buy for fishermen, still or stand hunters, car campers or anyone else who spends lots of time in one place outside. The MagSlider lid is magnetic, adding an extra layer of protection to keep drinks secure and keep the heat/cold in. That said, the magnet is not 100% leakproof and will not prevent spills.
Yeti Tundra 45 Hard Cooler
Another tried and true gift for outdoor lovers from Yeti, the Tundra 45 is my go-to cooler for car camping and has served as my primary source of refrigeration when living out of my car (which I often do). It’s a bombproof, dependable cooler that will keep food and drinks cool for days.
I find that ice regularly keeps for four to five days or more in this cooler, even in the summer heat, and longer if you’re careful about opening and closing it. Its grippy top-coating and stout build mean it also works well as a seat or table if need be. I’ve written dozens of articles with my laptop perched atop this cooler.
Parks Board Game
Not all wilderness gifts have to actually be used in the wilderness. Parks is another gift my girlfriend got me recently, which we both love. We’ve spent hundreds of hours playing Parks together, and the game simply doesn’t get old. The cards feature dozens of exquisite drawings of National Parks from Alaska to Hawaii, each from a different artist, and the gameplay is versatile enough that you’re in for something new every time.
Parks hits the sweet spot between an overly complex game with too many rules that take too long to learn and an overly simplistic game that grows boring too fast.
Rumpl Original Puffy Recycled Blanket
The Rumpl blanket is constructed with durable, 100% post-consumer recycled materials, so it’ll hold up over time and is eco-friendly to boot. Outdoor lovers will appreciate this warm synthetic blanket for cuddling up by a fire, staying warm in a blind or while perched by the banks of a river or while waiting for a fish to bite in the frosty early morning hours.
Goal Zero Flip 24 Portable Charger
In the digital age, every outdoorsman needs a way to ensure his technology stays powered up. The Goal Zero Flip 24 holds a 6,700 mAh battery, enough to charge most phones twice, and a streamlined, button-free layout. Flip out the USB stick and plug it into an outlet to charge it up, then plug into the USB slot to charge your phone, headlamp or any other device.
Mpowerd Luci String Lights
These string lights are rechargeable via a 2,000 mAh battery and sport 100 lumens of brightness with 20 LEDs across an 18-foot cord, lasting up to 20 hours on a single charge. They can also be charged via solar power, with a built-in solar panel.
A friend of mine got me these as a Christmas gift last year, and although at first glance I wasn’t sure I’d have much use for them, I’ve come to appreciate their reliability, long-lasting charge and brightness. They can hang above your hammock, tent fly, between trees or even provide lighting splayed out on the ground. They make excellent gifts for the adventurous person in your life.
Alps Mountaineering Tri-Pod Stool
This stout, lightweight camp tripod is an absolute steal. Steel legs hold up well over time, the 600D polyester fabric can take a beating and the load capacity of up to 250 pounds can fit just about anyone. With an included carry bag and strap, this two-pound stool is an excellent option for minimalist but mellow backpacking outings, hunting trips and fishing trips alike.
Bedrocks are incredibly comfortable, lightweight, and compact sandals, and the brand’s latest offerings are top-of-the-line by any standard. I’ve taken my old Bedrock Classics all over the world, but the newer models feature improved support, traction and padding, upping the value considerably.
I have friends who have completed 400+ mile backpacking trips in these, and I watched a buddy climb North Maroon Peak, one of Colorado’s most rugged 14,000-foot peaks, wearing Bedrocks (though I wouldn’t recommend it). They’re the ultimate lightweight sandal and a worthy piece of footwear for any outdoorsman.
Xero Shoes Men’s Z-Trail Sandals
If your outdoorsman is more of an “across-the-foot” type of fellow when it comes to straps, the Xero shoes offer a great alternative to Bedrock’s between-the-toe design. These sandals incorporate a technical build, with particularly high-quality midsoles that provide impressive absorption and protection for a sandal of this size and weight.
Sea to Summit Alloy Pocket Trowel
One of the most thrilling parts about camping is digging catholes (i.e. burying your bodily waste). It might not be the most pleasant image, but every outdoorsman needs a handy pocket trowel to go #2 in the woods.
This trowel features an ultralight aluminum alloy build, with a hollow handle that comes in handy for storing a small roll of toilet paper. The handle slides up into the blade so you can store it easier, as well.
Black Diamond Momentum Climbing Harness Package
Climbing is fast becoming one of the most popular outdoor sports (which is good for me, since I’m predominantly a climbing journalist). The Momentum package from Black Diamond is actually the exact harness kit I bought when I started climbing almost fifteen years ago, and the brand has updated and upgraded it many times in the years since.
With a harness, ATC, locking carabiner, chalk bag and chalk, your outdoorsman will have everything he needs to get started on the wall. This is a superb gift for aspiring climbers who are just getting hooked on the climbing buzz.
Nalgene Wide Mouth Water Bottle
Every outdoorsman will have use for a water bottle (or two, or three). I’ve never not appreciated the gift of a Nalgene, simply because I take them everywhere: to work; on climbing, kayaking and camping trips; abroad and even to the movies (if they let me).
By nature of that fact, I lose my Nalgenes all the time, although I’ve never actually broken one of the dozens of Nalgenes I’ve owned. I’ve dropped Nalgenes from the top of 100-foot cliffs and they’ve come away with nothing but scrapes. Nalgenes come in a variety of sizes, but the 32-ounce is the tried and true bottle and the one I’ve been using for years.
Katadyn Hiker Pro Water Filter
The Katadyn Hiker has been the industry-standard backpacking water filter for decades. I first bought one nearly fifteen years ago as a Boy Scout. This lightweight, packable, high-output filter is as good as they get.
While the Hiker has been updated many times in recent years, the Hiker Pro represents an additional improvement over the standard Hiker model, with longer filter life, transparent housing and quick-connect hookups for the input and output hoses. Any man who spends time in the wilderness will appreciate a dependable water filter, and the Hiker Pro is one of the best.
Osprey Archaeon 70L Backpack
The Archaeon is a heavy and expensive backpack, but it balances that out with an insanely burly, long-lasting build made completely from sustainable fabrics, including recycled nylon canvas. The Archaeon comes in several smaller sizes, but the 70-liter version is the pack of choice for men on multi-day backpacking trips — and it’s the size of the Archaeon that I currently own.
This is far from the most comfortable pack on the market (the waist belt is surprisingly minimally padded for a pack of its weight and size), but seasoned adventurers will appreciate the old-school style, streamlined design and rugged build.
In the traction world, Kahtoola’s MicroSpikes have become a household name. The brand also offers the NanoSpikes, an ultralight variation, but its new ExoSpikes are the perfect marriage of the bulkier MicroSpikes and minimalist NanoSpikes — providing all the performance benefits without any of the drawbacks in weight.
The TPU Matrix is lighter and more abrasion-resistant than steel, and these puppies fit well on trail running shoes and hiking boots alike, working well in everything from snowy trails to icy roads. If your outdoorsman lives in a snowy environment, he’s guaranteed to love ExoSpikes.
Ruffwear Approach Dog Pack
If he likes camping with a furry friend, he’s sure to love this backpack for dogs. The Ruffwear Approach pack features a lightweight nylon build, with a five-point adjustment system, two attachment points for a leash, two saddlebags and a padded handle. The pack comes in sizes from six liters up to 24 liters.
Carhartt Quick Duck Fleece-Lined Dog Jacket
Since we’re on the subject of doggy gear, let’s continue with this fleece-lined jacket from Carhartt. When out winter camping, even dogs can get cold, so give this gift can help the outdoorsman in your life keep his furry friend warm when they’re adventuring together. The micro-fleece lining is extremely warm, and the jacket includes a pocket to carry treats, a leash or other small items. This is an excellent present for hunters or anyone else who may be keeping a dog with them out in the wild during cold weather.
Crazy Creek Camp Chair
You simply can’t go wrong with the original Crazy Creek camp chair. It’s been around for years, and in the world of lightweight, portable, backpacker-friendly seating, Crazy Creeks style reigns supreme.
The chair features a modicum of foam padding, covered with reinforced fabric (mine’s held up for over a decade). This chair is ultra-compact, ultralight and pretty comfy, too. It’s one of the best all-around gifts for outdoorsmen available.
Hugger Mugger Tapas Travel Yoga Mat
If the outdoorsman you have in mind is more of the meditative type, he’ll appreciate this travel yoga mat for when he’s camping or on the road. The grippy mat is free of latex, heavy metals and phthalates and includes a lightweight, slim build that makes it extremely packable. (Yoga mats can double as ground cloths for technical gear or foodstuff when camping, so I often have one around even though I’m not the most active yogi.)
BioLite CampStove 2+
Unlike most compact backpacking stoves, the smokeless CampStove 2+ from BioLite uses natural fuel (sticks, twigs, grass, etc.) to cook food, so it’s completely eco-friendly. (No more wasting gas and propane every time your outdoorsman goes camping.) Weighing 2.06 pounds and around the size of a standard Nalgene, it’s bulkier than offerings from MSR and Jetboil but remains a lightweight, packable stove.
It also offers far more than a traditional backpacking stove, since it also doubles as a power source, allowing you to charge phones, headlamps and other gadgets via USB with a 3,200 mAh internal battery. Simply put, this is one of the most innovative cooking gifts for outdoorsmen on the market right now.
Field Notes: National Park Series
As an outdoor journalist, notebooks are my bread and butter. My girlfriend recently bought me this pack of mini notebooks for me to take into the field, and I’m a huge fan. The three-pack of 3.5-inch by 5.5-inch books features stunning cover artwork from the U.S. National Parks, and each notebook contains 48 pages of lined paper to jot down notes, sketch surroundings, make packing checklists and more.
Hoka Speedgoat 4
The legendary trail shoe from Hoka One One has entered its fourth iteration, and the Speedgoat 4 is the best of the best. The Hoka One One is probably the standout all-around trail running shoe in 2021, according to most of the trail runners and industry staff I know. That said, I’ve also written about other top-notch trail running shoes on the market now, some of which may perform better depending on your runner’s preferred terrain and style.
GoPro Hero 10
For almost two decades, GoPro has constantly revolutionized the action camera genre. The Hero 10 is GoPro’s latest offering, with an all-new GP2 processor, 5.3K video, 23MP photos, enhanced low-light performance, and HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization. No matter his adventure of choice, a GoPro will capture it well. This is one of those gifts for outdoorsmen that you can’t go wrong with.
Baïst Classic Gloves
Baïst is a relatively new glove brand that I’ve tested in the past. The Baïst Classic is the label’s trademark snow glove, and it holds up well in all cold-weather environments, with a rugged goat leather and Cordura shell that can take an absolute beating. Pair the Classic with the brand’s new Skin Liner 2.0 for an extremely versatile system that can handle temps from minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit up to 45 degrees Fahrenheit and higher.
Whether a hunter, backpacker, mountaineer or snow sports enthusiast, any outdoorsman who spends time in the cold will appreciate these hardy, ultra-warm gloves. The brand originated with snow sport gloves, but now offers motorcycle gloves, mountain biking gloves and cycling gloves — so there’s something here for everyone.
The North Face Base Camp Duffel
The Base Camp duffel from The North Face is my favorite duffel bag for international outdoor expeditions and local car camping jaunts alike. It includes four compression straps to help you pack down your gear, detachable and adjustable shoulder straps so you can wear the duffel like a backpack, and a burly, water-resistant build. The standard Base Camp comes in four sizes, from 31 liters up to 150 liters, but if you don’t know where to start, the large (95 liters) is my vote for general use.
RTIC Waterproof Hard Case
If your outdoorsman is a hunter, photographer or otherwise carries expensive, fragile gear with him, he’ll appreciate this rugged hard case from RTIC.
Though I’m not a hunter or much of a photographer, I reviewed this hard case for RTIC and can vouch for its build. I took the case on a packrafting trip down Colorado’s Roaring Fork River with expensive camera gear inside. Not a drop of water made it through, nor did any of the bumps, scrapes or full-on submerges under the river damage the gear in any way.
Man Crates Personalized Hunting Crate
If you’re not sure about settling on just one item, Man Crates’ personalized Hunting Crate is an excellent compromise. This gift box includes a personalized Stanley insulated vacuum bottle, a TrueBlade folding knife, stormproof matches, Duke Cannon’s Hunting Soap and camouflage face paint.
Some of the items (the camo face paint and hunting soap) are really only useful if your outdoorsman is a hunter, but TrueBlade knives hold up well, stormproof matches are a must-have and the Stanley thermos is practically bulletproof, in my own experience. The personalization option for the Stanley thermos also serves to make your gift one of a kind.
VSSL Build Your Own
Outdoor canteen brand VSSL has a unique offering that allows you to customize your own canister, from the end caps to the sizing to the color to the gear tins inside.
VSSLs feature indestructible, waterproof, military-grade aluminum that can hold up to just about any abuse, and end caps can include carabiner clips and compasses if so desired. VSSL Build Your Own is one of the standout personalized gifts for outdoorsmen available today.
Find Me Personalized Bumper Sticker Puzzle
If your outdoorsman is a van lifer (or aspiring van lifer) and an avid puzzler, then he’ll appreciate this personalized cardboard puzzle depicting a sticker-covered van. You can customize the puzzle with up to six names (up to 16 characters each), each one hidden somewhere in the stickers plastering the van.
La Sportiva Cyklon
I’ve covered the Cyklon extensively and have spoken to the developers and product testers on several occasions, so this is a shoe I know quite well. While the Speedgoat 4 from Hoka One One above is a great all-around trail shoe for moderate terrain, the hardy Cyklon is a solid choice for trail runners in rougher, rockier environments.
La Sportiva’s legendary grip technology was honed in the mountaineering sphere, making this a top-notch shoe for scrambling. Meanwhile, the specialized BOA lacing system, which uses a dial to micro-adjust the Cyklon’s laces in a split second, offers a snug, fine-tuned fit.
Nocs Provisions 8×25 Waterproof Binoculars
The standard-issue Nocs are probably the best performing lightweight binoculars on the market, making them surefire gifts for outdoorsmen of all stripes — but particularly bird watchers, hunters, fishermen, alpinists or anyone else who, well, needs to keep an eye on stuff that’s far away.
I bought a pair of these a year ago, and they’ve held up quite well. Take the waterproof and fog-proof design and add that to Nocs’ “No-Matter-What” lifetime warranty, and you have a top-tier gift you can feel sure about.
Coastal and Lake Art Serving Trays
If your outdoorsman spends a lot of time on the water, he’s sure to appreciate these artisan serving trays, personalized to depict his favorite body of water or coastal region. Measuring 18.75 inches by 14.75 inches by three inches tall, this serving tray includes laser-cut water contours that are stained turquoise blue and layered beneath the Maplewood “land. Meanwhile, the sides are made of sturdy cherry wood.
Family Travel Pushpin World Map
If your outdoorsman is an international traveler, he’ll love this pushpin world map to help him remember where he’s been (and where he plans to go).
This 20-inch by 26-inch map is framed and mounted on a stout foam core and comes with a set of multi-colored push pins, so each member of his family can mark favorite destinations and memories. If he’s a bachelor or solo traveler, he’ll still appreciate the multi-colored pins to mark different outdoor trips and objectives.
Personalized Family Camping Mugs
These camping mugs make great personalized gifts for outdoorsmen with families, as each family member can customize their own mug. You can choose the skin tone, hair color and other features of each person depicted, then select the setting (roasting a marshmallow or drinking cocoa at the campfire or hiking). The campsite or trail sign text can also be customized to incorporate a name or favorite outdoor location.
State Topography Sculpture
If the outdoorsman in your life has spent many of his days and nights in the outdoors in one particular state, then he’ll appreciate these sculptures of his favorite state’s topography. These hardwood and brass sculptures show the terrain in exquisite detail, so every mountain range and canyon stands out to the touch.
Kokopelli Rogue-Lite Packraft
Packrafting has boomed in popularity recently, and Kokopelli is one of the brands leading the charge. Kokopelli offers a variety of rafts for different paddling missions, but this five-pound raft is the brand’s lightest offering and the one I personally own. These rafts aren’t cheap, but when I’m out and about with my Kokopelli, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t either already own one or wish they did. They’re surefire gifts for outdoorsmen, plain and simple.
The Rogue-Lite is the best choice for newbie paddlers or weight-conscious backpackers looking for a dependable raft to get from Point A to Point B on flatwater. It performs decently well on moderate whitewater, but Kokopelli has other rafts, like the Nirvana, if your outdoorsman is into whitewater paddling.
Arc’teryx Acrux TR GTX Boot
The Arc’teryx Acrux TR Gore-Tex boots are the boots I’m currently wearing, on a motorcycle assignment in the Peruvian Andes, and they’re the boots that have taken me up the last 25 mountains I’ve climbed this year. I’ve hiked in these boots up to above 18,000 feet on Mexico’s Pico de Orizaba, the third-tallest mountain in North America, and took them on a 2,000-kilometer motorcycle trip across Guatemala. They’ve been all over and hold up well.
While the Salomon Quest 4’s mentioned above are a better all-around boot, the Acrux is a warmer, hardier boot that performs better in snow and rain and on technical rock, while still working decently well as an everyday hiking boot. If your outdoorsman is a rock climber or interested in hiking in alpine environments, these boots may be a good choice for him — although they can feel quite hot if hiking in summer.
Big Agnes TwisterCane Biofoam Sleeping Pad
The TwisterCane is my latest ultralight foam sleeping pad. The cost is miraculously low, and the pad is entirely eco-friendly, made with renewable sugarcane resin and crafted with carbon-negative practices. It weighs next to nothing, rolls up quickly and easily packs down tight.
Comfort isn’t at the forefront of the offering here — but if your outdoorsman is into shedding weight, the reliability of foam pads, and helping the environment, he’ll love this pad.
MSR Windburner Stove Group System
The Windburner has been out for a couple of years now (I think I received my first iteration to test in 2018), but it still holds strong as a standout kitchen system for small groups. If your outdoorsman often goes camping with a couple of friends or family members, he’ll love the Windburner.
The stove system completely blocks out any wind interference, and the pot securely nests onto the stove eye, preventing spillage. At 1.3 pounds, it’s fairly lightweight for a system of this size (a 2.5 liter pot), and an eight-ounce propane canister nests perfectly into the pot with the burner to save space.
Stanley Adventure Steel Shots + Flask Gift Set
There’s nothing like a stiff shot of whiskey after summiting a peak or at the end of a long day on the trail. This set of shot glasses and flask from Stanley is a present any hardy outdoorsman will appreciate.
While I can’t vouch for the shot glasses, I’ve owned the flask for a few months now, and it’s held up well. It took the brunt of a minor motorcycle accident I had over the summer while moto camping, and even the weight of my 450-pound Triumph Bonneville didn’t dent it (pretty insane!). With four shot glasses and a secure shot glass carrying tumbler, your outdoorsman can share his liquor with his companions, too.
Astral E-Ronny PFD
If your outdoorsman is a paddler, a PFD (personal flotation device) is an essential piece of gear. I’ve paddled in the E-Ronny quite a bit lately (my roommate owns one), and I’m a huge fan.
It’s breathable, comfortable, offers a lot of storage space with dual zippered pockets. Plus, it’s built with recyclable PE foam, minimizing the environmental costs of construction. The hardy nylon fabric is abrasion resistant as well, so it holds up over time. Keep in mind this isn’t a whitewater PFD, but it works great for moderate kayaking, packrafting, paddleboarding, fishing trips and the like.
Nexbelt: The Belt with No Holes
Every outdoorsman needs a sturdy belt to keep his pants up. Nexbelt’s ratchet-style belts span all categories, from rugged hunting belts to classy dress belts to USA-themed patriotic belts. The belts allow the wearer to fine-tune their fit in seconds with a micro-adjusting ratchet, and hold up extremely well over time.
Particularly if he’s a hunter or gun enthusiast, he’ll appreciate Nexbelt’s stout EDC (Every Day Carry) belts. They’re an industry favorite, adored by concealed carriers across the country for their reliability and rigid build. The brand has dozens of belts and is always coming out with something new, so there’s a belt for outdoorsmen of all stripes here.
Pendleton Jacquard Tween Hooded Towel
Surfers around the globe have long looked to ponchos to change into and out of wetsuits on the beach. This plush cotton hooded towel from Pendleton ups the ante, with all the functionality of a towel and build of a poncho. This is easily one of my favorite gifts for outdoorsmen, simply because of its versatility.
You can use this hooded towel to change at camp, dry off after a swim or paddle, stay warm around the fire at night or lay it out to organize gear and food.
Whiskey Peaks International Mountains – 4 Pack
If your outdoorsman is a mountain man, he’s sure to appreciate this set of whiskey glasses, each featuring a raised topographic impression of four classic international summits.
The handblown, unleaded glasses depict the topography of the Matterhorn, Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji and Everest. Like I said above, not all gifts for outdoorsmen have to be used outdoors, and this whiskey glass set is a perfect example. This is one of the few gifts on this list that I haven’t personally tested, but if my girlfriend is reading this article, now she has a solid Christmas gift idea for me…
Huckberry “Adventure Awaits” Bandana
Every outdoorsman needs a bandana. Whether used to wipe away sweat, clean gear, wash dishes, protect your neck from the sun or as a face mask to stave off dust, sand or grit, bandanas are one of those classic pieces of outdoor gear that I never leave home without.
This 100% cotton Huckberry bandana has edges finished with flatlock stitching for added durability and sports a cool desert graphic in the center. If you’re looking for a practical but affordable gift for outdoorsmen, you can’t go wrong here.
Something of a status symbol among outdoorsy youth in the American South, Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) hammocks are my go-to hammock choice and make excellent gifts for outdoor lovers. They’re comfortable and easy to set up and take down, so they’re great for picnics or weekend hangouts, but they’re still lightweight, packable and technical enough to take on multi-day backpacking trips.
I had my first ENO DoubleNest for ten years without a single issue (until it was stolen in New Zealand). ENO also offers a variety of customizable add-ons like rain flys and mosquito nets, so your outdoorsman can upgrade his hammock later on if he enjoys using it.
Personalized Flint Leather Co. Whiskey Wallet
Since I grew up in Alabama, I’m always partial to Alabama-based brands, but Flint Leather Co. is just an all-around solid outfitter. The brand makes a variety of USA-made leather merchandise, but its Whiskey Wallet is my favorite of the bunch.
The wallet comes in three hues, and you can have a variety of designs etched into the full-grain leather, including a mountain vista, oceanside sunset or your outdoorsman’s home state. Four interior card/cash slots and one outside easy-access card slot provide all the storage space he needs without going overboard. This is one of my favorite personalized gifts for outdoorsmen, but if you’re not a fan of the Whiskey, Flint Leather Co. has other wallets, too.
Valandré Odin NEO
Every outdoorsman needs a warm sleeping bag. Like a tent, a sleeping bag is one of the most critical pieces of outdoor gear. This is especially true in the winter months, when a flimsy, low-quality bag can mean the difference between warm, restful sleep and shivering all night long. Also, in case of emergencies when cold weather camping, having a warm down sleeping bag on hand (instead of a shoddy Walmart synthetic bag) could literally mean the difference between life and death.
The point is, you don’t want to compromise on a sleeping bag. Buy the best there is.
Valandré’s Odin Neo is among the best cold weather bags in existence. The elite French brand is known for crafting top-quality down apparel and sleeping bags for alpinists and mountaineers in extreme conditions, and the Neo is perfect evidence of that, with an ultralight (58.2-ounce) build and unprecedented warmth. This bag will keep your outdoorsman warm in temperatures down to -22 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s an excellent choice for serious winter camping, hunting, and mountaineering expeditions, but will serve well in any cold-weather environment, particularly at altitude. Best of all, with the brand’s specialized washing and repair service and lifetime warranty, it’ll be around for years to come.