The holidays are just around the corner and it’s time to start brainstorming gifts!
(Cue the groaning.)
I know. I hate shopping. Especially for other people. Not because I’m a Scrooge or anything. But because buying for someone else is extremely stressful! So stressful that sometimes you want to just give up and buy the person a gift card or a pair of socks.
We’ve all been there.
But this year, you don’t have to settle for the generic gifts. If you’re shopping for the special outdoor lover in your life, I have GOOD news.
2017 has been a year of amazing outdoor tools and knick-knacks, and I’ve discovered the ultimate list of practical, lightweight, compact, and earth-friendly gifts that should make every adventurers top 50 gear list.
Whether they’re a casual weekend camper, a backcountry backpacker or prepping for the Pacific Crest Trail, these handy (and mostly affordable) gifts are sure to make their life a little easier and a little more awesome.
So without further ado, happy holidays and have fun shopping!
NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. Anything you purchase using one of my links earns me a small monetary kickback at NO extra cost to you. Of course I only link to products that I believe to be useful and good quality. If you want more information on affiliate links and why I use them, click here.
Gifts Under $20
Get safe, purified water wherever you are! With the lifestraw you can drink directly from a water source without worry of ingesting harmful bacteria. It filters out 99.99% of water born bacteria and parasites.
Quick-drying, soft and packable – microfiber towels are a must have for any outdoor lover.
A lantern powered by the sun – how could it get any better than that? Oh wait – it just did! It’s inflatable, so no need to sacrifice precious pack space.
When outdoors, good weather isn’t always a guarantee. Make sure your stuff is protected with a dry bag! (Also great for float trips).
There’s one thing we all miss when backcountry camping – a hot shower.
Well, miss no more! A solar shower absorbs heat from the sun and can get to steamy temperatures. And if there’s no sun where you’re camping… well… that’s just a bummer.
If you’re loving the outdoor life, we can only assume you love nature! And if you can’t live life without shampoo (like most of us) there are many earth-friendly options out there.
NOTE: ‘Biodegradable’ soaps are still not good for the environment. They are just less harmful than their chemical-ridden friends. You’ll still need to observe the Leave No Trace guidelines.
Another inexpensive, earth-friendly alternative to our usual chemically infused products.
NOTE: As stated above, you should still check the Leave No Trace website for information on how to properly dispose of used hygiene products.
This little item comes in handy time and time again. Whether you’re hiking during a drizzle, canyoneering through waterfalls or snorkeling in the Hawaiian islands – this simple, yet wonderful clear bag will keep your phone safe and sound down to 30 meters!
NOTE: Yes, you CAN take pictures through it. Another win for the “Under $20” gifts!
I seriously can’t believe I found a portable blender that actually works (especially for so cheap!) but I did. This little puppy makes individual-sized smoothies and charges via USB – so you can charge it using your portable solar charger if you need to! (See outdoor gift #34)
Better than duct tape. (Is that even possible?) This is a must-have for any camper, hiker, climber or adventurer of any kind. Weather-resistant tape that will fix any damaged gear in a snap!
I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve done my business outside. For the off-grid camper, this earth-friendly item is an absolute must!
NOTE: Depending on how close you are with your prospective gift-receiver, this may be an awkward one.
When in the wilderness, I’d much rather have one of these ugly things than a rain jacket. Why? Because they fold up smaller than a deck of cards (super easy to carry) and they can cover more than just my torso. Ever got caught in a rainstorm with a fancy camera or cellphone? Not fun.
The name kind of speaks for itself! Waterproof paper – perfect for taking notes on a wet day OR, in the most dire of circumstances, for leaving weather-proof notes if you get lost on a trail.
Unless you’re camping in the desert (which is fun, too) you can’t leave home without these beautiful little life-savers. I went through so many of these in Oregon. Starting a fire in a temperate rainforest is no joke!
Yet another life saving tool. You can’t always control the weather, but you can beat it with this awesome lighter that will light in any condition (though I don’t think it’s been hurricane or tornado tested…. yet). Don’t let bad weather ruin your campfire plans!
Who doesn’t hate mosquitos? I mean, what good are they other than being food for adorable bats? Block them from your personal bubble (without all the chemical crap) using this handy mosquito-repelling bracelet.
Most of us aren’t international travelers, but there’s so much to see in our own country – especially for outdoor lovers! Keep track of your road trip progress with this awesome scratch-off map that doubles as lovely, personalized wall art.
Perfect for vegetarians or for backpackers who sadly can’t afford buttloads of beef jerky (like me). Just plop the fish in boiling water or broth (it works best if there is some kind of acidity – i.e. Lemon juice) and pull it out after 10 minutes. It releases a little bit of iron at a time, preventing you from becoming anemic. Which is always a good thing.
A tried and true favorite. This headlamp has been with me through pitch-black ocean caves, sketchy night-time treks and countless midnight bathroom runs. It’s been 8 months of use and the sucker is still working on the same battery. *MIND BLOWN*. And did I mention, it’s waterproof? It can withstand being fully submerged in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes.
If you’re every going into bear country, this is a must!
Ah, how technology has advanced. Now you can listen to music in the rain, on the beach or floating down a river with your own waterproof and sand-proof speaker! There are plenty of models out there (many with better sound quality and higher price tags than this one) but this mini Altec has served me well through many a campsite celebration.
For women only.
Not to get too personal but this weird (and at first blush, gross) invention changed my life forever! Saying goodbye to tampons will not only save your bank account but it’ll help the environment, too – and it’s so much easier to deal with when you’re camping off-grid!
NOTE: Maybe don’t purchase this for someone unless you know them well. There are plenty of, err, less personal gifts for your new outdoor loving acquaintance. 😉
Forget about that squeaky, plastic inflatable pillow. Instead, how about a soft, comfortable pillow that squishes down to nothing and then bounces back to its original shape and fluffiness when you need it?
Yeah. That’s a thing now.
NOTE: Depending on the size you want, you can get it for even less than $20.
Similar to the basic lifestraw, only better! It’s integrated into a water bottle so you can fill up at any water source and go! Getting clean water has never been easier.
Want to make your camping spot a little more “homey”? These tiny LED string lights will warm up any campsite (and make for some Instagram-worthy camping photos).
Is it dorky? Yes. Should you care? Nope.
When you’re on a long hike, you need a lot of water, and carrying a gallon jug by hand just isn’t feasible. Instead, get yourself a reservoir! It easily slips into any backpack and you can drink on the go. So functional!
I love my beanies. Mostly because they camouflage my unwashed hair. But most of them are REALLY hot and get wet with sweat by the end of my hike.
No more! SealSkinz are the perfect beanie for the outdoor lover. They’re waterproof so they’ll wick the sweat away and stay nice and dry during your trek.
A comfortable and cute way to relax outdoors! These colorful mats are weather-proof, water-proof, easy to clean, and perfect for any type of outdoor chilling.
Everyone needs one of these!
For MULTI-ple reasons. Get it?
The perfect, and most earth friendly, way to wash your dishes!
Per the Leave No Trace guidelines, you should never wash your dishes directly in a river or body of water. Instead, fill up the kitchen sink (which folds down nice and small for your traveling pleasure) and bury the used, dirty water 200 feet away from the water source.
Designed to endure even the harshest of outdoor conditions, this is the ultimate off grid tool! This handcrank radio can easily and safely clip onto your gear and provides weather alerts/updates as well as a built in flashlight and USB charger for your cellphone or other small device (ALL powered by your own arm strength! Time to start doing curls at the gym…). It also, of course, provides radio entertainment – so that’s cool!
With this handy little bag, you can do your laundry off-grid! The bag is set up like an old-fashioned washing board, except it’s self-contained (no need for an extra bucket), lightweight and folds down super tiny! Sure, it takes a little elbow grease, but it’s better than smelling like B.O. the whole trip. Trust me.
Perfect for the casual car camper – these lightweight and surprisingly comfortable chairs pack down smaller than you can imagine! Seriously, it’s unbelievable how tiny they get.
A staple in every campers life. Hammocks are the ultimate day-time relaxation!
Ditch the battery-powered chargers and harness the infinite power of the sun! Perfect for charging cell phones, tablets and, yes, portable blenders.
Who can say no to free energy?
When the outdoors is life, but so is coffee. This tiny, handheld, all in one coffee maker is perfect for the backpacking caffeine addict! Small, portable and easy to use.
When I found these gems I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. Cookware that folds flat?! Totally bizarre but totally real.
These pots and pans are BPA free, made of silicone, fold flat when not in use, and can be used safely over a jet boil. The ultimate set up for the outdoor chef!
Perfect for wet, boring campsite days or rainy hikes – these things are completely waterproof. Heck, you can even SWIM with them on!
If the weak-sauce of the black bag shower just isn’t doing it for you, try this pressurized shower by Rinsekit! It holds 2 gallons of water and has 2 settings – jet stream and soak.
NOTE: Also great for cleaning gear. And pets!
The outdoor lover in your life will have no trouble putting this to use! The America the Beautiful pass will get you into any of the US National Parks for free PLUS many National Monuments and Recreation sites! They’ll feel like National Park royalty.
Gifts Over $100
A portable wood burning stove with a twist. This tiny, portable piece of magic is optimized for the best, most even cooking (with an LED display for fire strength, fan speed, etc.) and can even charge your devices! The little stove turns fire into electricity. This is the future of camping.
The Rumpl blankets are water resistant and oh so toasty and warm! Beach bonfires, hammock lounging, under-the-star sleeping – these blankets are the perfect outdoor companion. And, bonus, they now make them in super cute colors!
Best suited for the car camper, this table is made of high-strength aluminum, folds up unbelievably small and weighs less than 2 pounds! Are you sold, yet?
There’s been a lot of hype about Yeti coolers, but it’s definitely well deserved. Yeti coolers are 2 times more insulated than most other coolers and the Tundra and Roadie are made to be totally bear-proof!
One of the higher end gifts, but so incredibly useful. This is the ultimate camera for adventurers. It’s shockproof, dummy proof and, unlike the Hero4, it’s waterproof up to 10 meters with no extra casing necessary!
These are the ULTIMATE adventure boots. I use them everywhere but they’re particularly useful in sandy or dusty environments. Completely sand proof! Not to mention, they’re slip-on (no-fuss), they last forever, and they’re incredibly cute! I can’t rave enough about these boots.
For the adventurer with little to no fear of heights, this tree tent makes hammock camping a comfortable reality!
Now you can sleep with your head in the clouds… If you’re willing to climb that high.
This handy little tool turns any smart phone into a high powered walkie talkie. This is the ultimate off-grid communication device. It can connect with any other Gotenna users in the area, share messages, share your location and even access offline maps. You receive 2 Gotenna’s with your purchase. One for you, and one for a trusted buddy. And, of course, they’re waterproof.
A mat, a pillow, sheets and a comforter all rolled into one! What an adorably cute and totally practical idea for a quick, easy set up. Ideal for casual summertime camping and especially perfect for the lazy, no-fuss outdoor adventurer in your life!
The perfect backpack for those long, overnight trails. The Atmos makes 70 lbs feel like 35 lbs by distributing the weight comfortably and giving your back plenty of breathing room.
The breathable design allows you to get through long, difficult hikes without that dreaded sweaty back and it’s incredibly durable!
Need more suggestions for your holiday shopping list? Or have something to add to mine? Drop me a comment!
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