Not sure what to get that special – and adventurous – lady in your life? It’s OK, neither were we. So we talked to the women who test, review, and buy the gear that works best.
Too often products for women – especially outdoor gear – miss the mark. A focus on “feminine colors” and outdated designs (looking at you, step-through bike frames) have superseded fit, function, and necessity.
Fortunately, the “pink-and-shrink” mantra is in its death throws. Years of poorly designed products have given rise to a growing market of forward-thinking organizations that produce gear for women, and often by women. Not only that, but these brands commonly strive for fair worker wages, environmental responsibility, and ethical practices.
For this gift guide, we talked with GearJunkie staffers Emily Reed and Mallory Paige as well as Wylder Goods founders Lindsey Elliott and Jainee Dial. Wylder launched last year as an online marketplace to equip – and more importantly, empower – women for adventure.
The gifts here all focus on real utility for women and an eye toward ethical or sustainable practices.
We love these snowshoes so much we awarded them Best in Show and Gear of the Year honors. They’re lightweight, comfortable, and easy to use. And the curved rocker design makes them feel more like an athletic shoe and less like a bulky snowshoe. When they’ve reached the end of their life, you can recycle them at participating locations.
“When I first came across these running dresses, I was unsure about the whole idea,” GearJunkie Marketing Manager and product tester Emily Reed admitted. But it’s quickly become a favorite. The material is made to glide across your skin and not ride up. And the pocket on the small of the back is perfectly sized for a phone or wallet. It’s proven perfect for outdoor pursuits and, with leggings underneath, after-work yoga classes.
Full-grain leather, durable nylon, and a Vibram sole help make the Danner Light Cascade rugged yet nimble for an all-weather boot. Each boot weighs about 1.5 pounds, resists water, and is built in the USA. Plus, the Cascades are built to be repaired, not thrown out.
Synthetic fill paired with strategically placed dynamic vents made this a standout jacket in 2017. At the heart of The North Face Ventrix Hoodie are perforations along the shoulders, back, and underarms that dilate during activity to help dump heat and prevent sweating inside the coat.
The Women’s Natural Pull-Over Hoodie has become an essential layering piece for our office’s cold Minnesota winters. The hoodie blends merino wool with tencel, a textile made from renewable eucalyptus wood pulp. The dropped hem makes it great for work or places you want more coverage. Plus, who doesn’t love thumb holes?
Gone are the days of second-guessing adventure because of your time of the month. The clutch size proved perfect for seven days in the Boundary Waters and became our editor’s go-to toiletry kit.
Crush singletrack, tear up a cross race, or just ride to the bar – Freel’s MTB shorts offer function and style. The four-way-stretch nylon resists sun, splashes, and prickly shrubs. And each pair is made by women.
Made in the USA from recycled wetsuits, this yoga mat is sure to be a favorite gift. It provides just the right amount of cushion and plenty of traction while upside down. And for 20 bucks more, you can purchase the Cradle to Grave edition, which is the only mat you’ll ever need. If anything happens to it, send it back and Suga will replace it.
Inspired by a vintage forestry pack, this twill backpack keeps gear protected from the elements. The padded shoulder straps have webbing daisy chains and a padded back that offers comfort.
These ultra grind chalks have the friction to get you through the crux, with an added kick to put your mind back in the action. Organic extracts in the chalk give a natural dose of menthol, which smells fresh and soothes sore fingers. Climb on.
The folks at Wylder teamed up with American classic Stanley to bring this fun and useful flask to life. The rugged exterior means it can stand up to any adventure and the wide mouth makes for easy filling and drinking. For an especially awesome gift pair this flask with a nice bottle of American-made whiskey like the award-winning Outrage from Corsair Distillery or the delicious and smooth Bourbon from Breckenridge Distillery.
A top choice as a versatile downhill ski that thrives in soft snow, the 100Eight scored high marks across diverse ski tests. GearJunkie’s managing editor got these for his wife, and she absolutely loves these skis she calls her “curvy girls.” For intermediate to advanced skiers, these new planks are sure to please.
Pockets galore add utility, a soft lining adds warmth, and an abrasion-fighting canvas exterior gives the Toad & Co. Corbett muscle for rugged outdoor activity. Plus, the brand uses organic cotton and donates a portion of sales to the Planet Access Company to help train and employ persons with disabilities.
Everyone needs a knife. Most of us need a corkscrew. Opinel’s 10-cm blade with built-in corkscrew means there’s one less item to buy, pack, and potentially replace. The French knife has a beechwood handle and uses Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel.
Dozens of design and size combinations help make S’well Traveler tumblers a unique gift idea. Not only does it have a wide, ice-cube-friendly mouth, vacuum insulation, and BPA-free construction, but unlike many travel mugs it’s triple walled to prevent exterior condensation.
This string of lights packs up small and proves useful whether tent camping, hanging in the backyard, or living the van life. Use any USB-compatible power source or pick up one of Revel’s solar packs. For each product sold, Revel Gear sends light and solar to communities across Africa, which not only increases education success but also cuts down on health concerns related to breathing carbon dioxide. Increase your camp ambiance and feel good knowing you’re helping give back too.
There’s nothing like a cozy hoodie to keep you warm aprés ski. With the Foxhole, there’s no sacrificing style for comfort. This cute, paneled hoodie has a slim cut and is made of organic cotton and recycled polyester. And for each item sold, the brand plants 10 trees complete with a registry where you can see where your trees are planted. It’s like two gifts in one.
This tent is certainly an investment, but it will last a lifetime. Weighing in at 5 pounds, it’s light enough to pack into the backcountry and durable enough to weather a storm. And like all Fjallraven tents, it’s made without PVC plastic and toxic flame retardants and is fluorocarbon free. Rest easy knowing this tent is good for both you and the planet.
Keep the shoulder-season chill at bay, or add a non-bulky layer to winter pursuits with a sleeveless puffy. Recycled 600-fill down packs the baffles inside this two-tone, canvas vest. And, as with anything Patagonia, it’s made to be repaired as it ages.
Made in America from bison down, these socks will keep your gal’s feet warm and dry. Plus, United by Blue cleans up a pound of trash from oceans and waterways for every single product they sell. Warm feet and a happy heart: There’s no better gift.
Swedish brand Redew is out to revolutionize the toxic jean industry. Get dressed worry-free knowing Redew uses 80 percent fewer chemicals and less water in production and donates 25 percent of profits to wildlife conservation efforts. Best of all, these fit. The stretchy, fashionable cut means you can easily wear them hiking, climbing, or biking, and then out for a beer afterwards. And, as our contributor Mallory Paige has learned, these jeans last wear after wear. She’s regularly washed one pair with no fading or adverse effects. She has another pair she’s never washed, and they still fit just as perfectly (after a solid 100+ wears) as they did the first time around.
There’s no better gift than a weekend of adventure. And the talented women at Chicks with Picks have it figured out. They offer everything from backcountry skiing and avalanche rescue to introductory rock climbing and advanced ice climbing. With locations ranging from Wyoming to Iceland, there’s sure to be something to fit your budget and goals. And to top it all off, Chicks with Picks hosts a yearly gear auction to raise money for local non-profit organizations.
Looking for more gift ideas? You can’t go wrong with a flannel.