Shopping for an adventurer who already has all the gadgets and gizmos they’ll ever need? You’re in the right spot. This guide isn’t about gear. It’s about something better than that.
I’ll be your guide through this list of stoke-tastic activities — experiences that range from extreme sports excursions to cozy lodge stays, snowy mountaintops, and sparkling Florida waters. So pull up your calendar and start daydreaming. An experience you’ll never forget is just a click away.
GearJunkie’s Favorite Outdoor Experience Gift Ideas
Unlock a year’s worth of admissions to any of the country’s 63 national parks and more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. That means anywhere managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, and Army Corps of Engineers.
Additionally, REI donates 10% of pass proceeds to organizations devoted to the outdoors.Check Price at REI Co-op
If you’re looking for a step up in intensity, look no further. Alpenglow Expeditions offers an intriguing suite of big-mountain adventures, but a good starting place might be this Peru-based climbing school. The course functions as an introduction to mountaineering and includes a 3:1 climber-to-guide ratio. It’s the real deal — you’ll be training on mountains ranging from 17,000 to 19,000 feet. Feeling out of breath yet?
You (or whomever you’re gifting this to) don’t need any prior technical mountaineering experience or even experience at altitude. But top-notch physical fitness is a must. It’s a 14-day trip, after all!Check Price at Alpenglow Expeditions
When it comes to heli-skiing, you want two things: a certain level of epic intensity and the knowledge that you aren’t actively making climate change worse. A Bella Coola heli-skiing package delivers both in spades.
British Columbia’s steep lines and pillowy drifts never fail to disappoint, and the operators of Bella Coola Heli Sports have worked hard to create a climate-positive, not just climate-neutral, experience.Check Prices at Bella Coola Skiing
After all this high adventure, let’s change tack slightly and focus on some cozy fireside noms. Intriguing startup LOGE zeroes in on fun outdoor locations, then purchases “forgotten motels” nearby and refurbishes them into trendy, comfy base camps for adventurers of all stripes.
Each location offers gear and activities unique to that area. So if you’re the kind of person who wants your lodging and adventure bundled together, LOGE could be your huckleberry. The company is in the process of opening up locations all over the country, with many coming in summer 2024. But some spots, like the Mount Shasta lodge, are rocking and rolling as we speak.
Shasta offers outdoor stoke in all seasons, so chances are you’ll find a date that matches your needs. And don’t forget to avail yourself of the fire pit and free live music at the end of the day.Check Price at LOGE
Picking the perfect travel itinerary can be tough! With so many venues, vendors, and places to stay, just sorting through the choices can be paralyzing. Instead, let Orvis Adventures take care of all of the details so you can prepare for the experience of a lifetime.
Take the brand’s Reel Baja trip — led by renowned fishing guide Jeff deBrown — which offers access to exclusive fishing locales, veteran knowledge and how-to tips, and expert fly casting instruction. Clients can expect to angle for marlin, sailfish, dorado, yellowfin tuna, wahoo, and many more species across a wide breadth of beach, inshore, and offshore locations along the fabled Baja coastline.
Looking to prepare for an adventure? Gear up and check out the brand’s large selection of fishing apparel.Check Prices at Orvis
If you’re looking for a trip with a little bit of everything, check out this trip. REI Co-op’s well-reviewed Great Smoky Mountains Adventure is a four-day smorgasbord of rafting, hiking, ziplining, and historical explorations — all through one of the most beautiful and underrated national parks the country has to offer.
You’ll be sleeping outdoors, but REI’s Signature Camp experience includes tasty fireside food, stargazing, storytelling, and other activities. Just bring a rain jacket — this experience operates no matter the weather, and the Smokies are a temperate rainforest. But hey, that’s part of the charm. Look out for salamanders, of which the park has the largest diversity in the world.
This trip is included as part of a sponsorship deal with REI Co-op.Check Prices at REI Co-op
Sweden’s rugged terrain, expansive vistas, and culture of outdoor adventure make it a top-notch trekking destination. As the centerpiece of Fjällräven’s adventure programs, the Classic Sweden trek is 68 miles of Scandinavian goodness high above the Arctic Circle.
All you have to do is walk; Fjällräven takes care of food, transfers, and support.
Just, um, don’t watch or read The Ritual before you go.Check Price at Fjallraven
The Utah desert is an overlander’s dream — wide open space and vehicle-friendly public lands make for an unstoppable combo. ATV-maker Polaris offers a range of guided and unguided trips through third-party outfitters, but I’d recommend starting with something classic, like this guided jaunt through east Zion.
The 5-hour trip makes for a perfect little excursion on a longer trip (say, a tour of Utah’s famous national parks). It’s also a great winter activity if snowsports aren’t your thing. So give your legs a break and take the wheel. The desert awaits.Check Price at Polaris
The promise of deep Japanese powder is a draw for many. However, the difficulty of navigating a foreign culture and setting up logistics can be an enormous roadblock. That’s why evo set up its powder pilgrimage service, evoTrip. Spanning the Furano, Hakuba, Myoko, and Niseko regions of Japan, evoTrip’s adventure vacations promise world-class skiing and snowboarding, superlative dining, onsens — you get the idea.
To skip the planning phase, let evoTrip take care of the details. Packages include lodging, transportation, lift tickets, and more! Bottomless pow and uncrowded slopes await — so scope out evo’s Japan trips and sign up for the best powder-filled adventure of your life.Check Price at evo
Captain Experiences is another third-party guided trip aggregator; this one focuses on chartered fishing guides. When shopping for a charter, you can sort by group size, trip type, type of fish you’re after, and more. You can also read trip reviews and rankings.
The Key West trips look particularly fun, offering deep-sea and nearshore excursions in pursuit of yellow snapper, mahi-mahi, and more. Book a half-day trip to leave time for margaritas, or go full steam ahead with back-to-back full-day trips. The fish are out there — all you have to do is get to them. May as well make that part as easy as possible!
This might be the perfect gift for the mountain biker in your life. The only thing better than riding Moab is not having to leave Moab at the end of the day so you can do it all over again. Enter FieldStation, another venture aiming to be a combination lodging/adventure base camp destination.
FieldStation Moab offers accommodations for everyone from van lifers to eight-person families. There are snack stations and all the connectivity you could ask for. But close that laptop and get outside utilizing FieldStation’s local partners and guides. There’s hiking, climbing, rafting, and — naturally — all the mountain biking you could ask for.Check Price at Field Station
You can say this for Colorado — no matter the season, there’s something fantastic to do outside. That’s especially true in the San Juan mountains outside of Silverton. The range offers mountain biking, ATV adventures, trail running, fishing, backcountry skiing, snowshoeing, and more.
And once you get back to the hut, enjoy staff-prepared meals, a sauna, Wi-Fi, shared bathrooms, gear storage, and more. It’s all the fun of Colorado mountain adventure with none of the hassle. What more could you ask for?Book at Campfire Ranch
It’s time to close out this list, but before I do, I want to offer you something … unique. International Mountain Survival’s yearlong Mountian Course might just be the most intense thing you’ve ever paid someone for the pleasure (?) of experiencing. From the description, this course walks right up to the edge of unpleasant and then hops merrily over.
Only six individuals who apply are chosen, and you’ve got to have a doctor’s note okaying you for the physical and mental trials you’ll endure. And that’s only if you’re lucky enough (if that’s the phrase) to be chosen.
Once you’re in, you’ll spend multiple sessions in different seasons learning tracking, snow mobility, navigation, backcountry medicine, firearms safety and marksmanship, shelter building, stalking techniques, expedition planning, and more. Your teachers? Survival experts, former members of mountain-division military units, and professional guides.
Can you hack it? Only one way to find out.Check Price at International Mountain Survival
Why You Should Trust the Author
As a lifelong outdoor and mountain athlete, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I look for in a paid experience. Trustworthiness, a track record of safety, an appreciation for and support of local guides, and beautiful scenery are all paramount. The outfitters and websites offered here were hand-chosen by GearJunkie editors and me to match those stipulations.
Also, I’ve suggested locations that I’ve either been to myself or wish to go to. Hey, a little personal touch never hurt!
How to Use This Guide
Many of the experiences listed in this guide are one of several offerings available from the various outfitters. For example, REI Co-op offers trips of various types worldwide.
So, if you don’t see something you’re looking for in this list, poke around a little. See what locations LOGE is offering this summer. Explore Alpenglow Expeditions’ comprehensive list of schools and adventures.
If you can’t find something to match the skills and desires of the adventurer in your life, I’ll eat my hat.