As the technology behind outdoor equipment and gear advances, tech enthusiasts are getting easier to shop for. But the internet is rife with gadgets, gizmos, widgets, and gimmicks. Some of them are ingenious and solve universal problems, some only serve specific functions, and some don’t make any sense at all.
Which tech gifts are actually functional? How do you know what brands to trust? And what’s something that the tech lover in your life will actually use? (In other words, do they really need another phone accessory or keychain EDC?)
Knowing what to get your that techy friend or family member for the holidays can be a tricky undertaking. That’s why GearJunkie has compiled this list — to throw you some of our favorite high-tech gift ideas for outdoorsy people, and some advice on how to shop for them. The gifts that we’ve picked range from $100 to $2,000. So, there are options for every budget!
The Best Outdoor Gifts for Tech Lovers
We’ve reviewed several versions of the Garmin Instinct and Garmin watches over the years, but the latest Garmin Instinct 2X Solar Edition takes the cake when it comes to balancing high tech, performance, and usability. Plus, it’s got an incredible battery life, and a pretty high-tech computer.
It’s not cheap, but it offers GPS, personal data tracking, heart rate measurements, BMI, and VO2. It has more and longer battery life than past versions, and it incorporates Apple Pay so you don’t need to carry a wallet.
Ultimately, it’s a high-tech, clad-with-lots-of-functions, sub-$500 smartwatch. The solar panels on the watch face, the better efficiency, the display and power management, and the incorporated flashlight are all awesome functions. Ultimately, this is a gift for someone who loves tech and maybe needs to upgrade their wristwatch.Check Price at REI Check Price at Garmin
Traeger’s Ironwood is touted as the “next generation of wood-fired grills.” It’s a grill, sure, but not really — the Traeger Ironwood ($1,800) has a full-color digital touchscreen display, WiFIRE Wi-Fi connectivity, and a Bluetooth-compatible app that lets you set temperature, cooking time, and more — and control from afar. With this latest technology, either you can man the grill, or your app can. Read our full review for why we enjoyed cooking on the Ironwood.Check Price at Traeger
Infrared ski waxing machines aren’t new. Shops have been using them to professionally wax boards for over a decade at this point. Infrared heat allows the wax to saturate the ski/board base more thoroughly than iron waxing or hot boxing. It penetrates deeper into material than it otherwise would, and it mitigates the risk of “hot spots” that can occur when using a handheld iron. But those shop-based machines take up a lot of wall space.
Now, thanks to mountainFLOW, you can bring that technology home and hold it in your hand. The brand, known for its eco-friendly ski wax and waxing products, came out with the first version of the infrared waxer in 2022. Now, the brand has released its second version, the IR Waxer 2.0 ($250), and it’s even smaller and easier to use than the first.Check Price at mountainFLOW
This is one of those gifts that is super-functional and higher-tech, without being crazy expensive. For just 129 bucks, you can get a great, portable, travel-friendly, powerful-enough, totally versatile percussion massager. I’ve used this countless times when traveling, camping, and just in day-to-day life.
I’ve definitely considered gifting the Roll R1 as well. Why? The 50W power, four speed settings, and four choices in head attachments have you covered for everything from laidback post-gym sessions to hardcore, long-mileage trail run days.Check Price at Backcountry Check Price at ROLL Recovery
OK, this gift is a big one, but it’s perfect for someone you know has an older GoPro model and wants to upgrade. Especially since the HERO 9-10, the latest HERO 12, is really best-in-class. The update to the lens was a nice touch in this newer model, but also, the improved battery life and better quality color display and video capturing.
But the most perks come in the form of the GoPro quick editing app — there are a lot of choices here — you can gift the latest model camera, a subscription to the app, or even some camera mount accessories. At the end of the day, the latest GoPro tech (and new app capabilities) make a great gift for any tech-lover.
We tested the Goal Zero Sherpa 100AC and 100PD power banks ($200+) into the ground, and they came out on top. Seriously, factoring in battery life, output, and device-charging capacity, these are some of the best power banks on market, at least if you are car camping or traveling (they’re a bit heavy).
If the person you’re shopping for needs a better solution for power after setting up camp, consider this as a gift (cables included and airline-approved!). A close second choice for us is the Goal Zero Venture (35/75) if you are looking to gift a power bank on a smaller budget ($70).Check Price at REI Check Price at Goal Zero
Great Bluetooth headphones that charge using the sun’s rays. What more do we need to say? Adidas took headphone technology to the next level with its RPT-02 SOL wireless, solar-charging headphones. They aren’t cheap, at over $230, but our tester noted that he would “consider these a worthy investment if they match your lifestyle.”
Like most high-tech gadgets these days, the headphones come with their own app. It allows users to customize their action buttons, set their equalizer, and shows you the battery level and whether your battery is draining or gaining milliamps.Check Price at Amazon Check Price at adidas
Eddie Bauer collaborated with the thermal technology company Clim8 to make a pair of mittens (and gloves) that are electronically heated. But that’s over-simplifying these high-tech hand warmers. Clim8 uses multiple thermal sensors embedded throughout Eddie Bauer’s smart mittens to detect and react to the wearer’s body in real time, providing a thermal response that adapts to your needs.
The mittens themselves also have Eddie Bauer’s in-house waterproof technology and PrimaLoft Gold insulation. A durable Pittards leather shell provides good dexterity — even for the mittens. And, of course, there’s an app. Set them up with Climb8’s Bluetooth app, and you’ll be able to control the heat of your mittens from your phone screen. This really is the future.Check Price at Eddie Bauer
Since our ancestors discovered fire, there were only two ways to make fires bigger: more wood or more air. But now, thanks to BioLite, we can also use the power of radio frequency to control how hot or mild our fire pits are!
Actually, the BioLite FirePit+ ($250) still uses air and wood (or charcoal). But it’s controlled via an app on your phone that you can use to moderate the heat of your fire. The battery also has buttons so you can control it manually if your phone is dead, or if you don’t like apps.
Naturally, the FirePit+ also comes with a metal grate so you can use it as a hibachi grill. Or take the grate off and use it as a fire pit for ski area parking lots, or at backcountry basecamps. It serves two purposes — two gifts in one! Overall, this is a fun, useful, and clutch tech-oriented gift for all outdoor people.Check Price at REI Check Price at BioLite
Aside from some boring old protein powder or a new gym shoe, this gift is a fantastic and fun high-tech gift for outdoor athletes and fitness fanatics alike. The $200 jump rope (hear us out) passed testing from our Editor in Chief as a great home gym tool. And, it works great for workouts when traveling or living on the road. Packed up, a jump rope takes up very little space, and the learning curve is quick.
Who doesn’t love jumping rope? Well, the corresponding app (subscription-based) and fitness program kicks it up a notch. With very little investment, this app/rope and set could jumpstart anyone’s home fitness routine.Check Price at Crossrope
How Do You Shop for High-Tech Gifts?
Techy gifts can be a really hard thing to shop for, especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. People who are into technology and high-tech gadgets can be pretty picky about their gear. So, a little bit of internet research goes a long way.
Look up forums like Reddit where tech geeks may have already had long, drawn-out discussions on the particular gift you’re considering buying — which model is better, for example, or what offers the best battery life. And look up gift guides like this one. If you’re here, reading this, you’re already on the right path.
Asking a lot of questions is also going to be in your best interest. Ask the person you’re shopping for what they need and what kinds of brands they like, which ones they avoid, and why. You might have to be sneaky not to blow your gift-shopping cover, but that’s part the game.
Then, ask questions when you’re shopping at the store or online — many websites offer experts to chat with. Ask them what people have generally thought of X- or Y-product, if there have been a lot of returns of that item, if they have other similar products, and what the differences between them are.
Why Should You Trust Us?
We’ve had our younger editors (in their late 20s/early 30s) tag-team this guide, since they are predisposed to being more in the loop with the latest in tech (no offense, Gen Xers!). Our Camp & Backpacking Editor, Will Brendza, and Managing Editor, Mary Murphy, have tested countless solar panels, power banks, power stations, EDC gadgets, battery-powered fire pits, app-controlled accessories, and more both on and off grid in the backcountry.
We also took recommendations from other senior editors, and considered advances and trends in solar and power recently in the past year.
We made sure to provide a balance of gift ideas for hikers, campers, runners, RVers, skiers, minimalists, seasoned tech experts, and more.