Give gifts that enhance the outdoors experience and relish the fact that your loved one will carry your gift along on great adventures.
All items listed here are things we’ve personally tested or brands that we love. From a tent to hiking boots, we’ve got you covered.
Give the gift of versatile, sustainable warmth with the Ultralight 850 Hooded Down Jacket. The DownTek PFC-free insulation stays dry longer, which means excellent warmth no matter the conditions. Elasticized cuffs and drawcord hem keep the cold wind out. And the internal zippered pocket keeps essentials handy. Whether heading to the mountains or relaxing in town, this durable, sustainable, and packable jacket is an everyday essential. With plenty of styles, lengths, and colors you’re bound to find the perfect fit.
A koozie when you want it, a cup when you need it. Hydro Flask’s unassuming Cooler Cup has an ingenious design: The silicone lid that holds a can in place doubles as a non-slip base for the 12-ounce vessel. We’ve tried it and love it — it’s easy to use, insulated, and very packable. Great for frequent and year-round campers.
It’s a cooler, it’s a backpack, it’s both! The Pelican Dayventure is sure to become an adventure favorite. This rugged, yet light and comfortable, backpack features dual-insulated compartments. The bottom is a dedicated cooler, complete with a leak-resistant zipper and ability to hold a six pack. The upper can work as a secondary cooler or dry backpack storage. Regardless of what you carry, you can rest assured knowing it will be safe in this durable, waterproof, tear-resistant pack.
Slender, lightweight, and super inexpensive: Black Diamond’s Solution harness offers a whole lot of bang for not a lot of buck. We tested this harness and were impressed with its comfort, construction, and value. It’s a great choice for logging hours at the gym this winter or as an all-around go-to harness.
What were our favorite sleeping bags this year? Sea to Summit swept the top spots for both men and women. The unisex Ascent 15-degree was the male tester’s favorite, while the ultralight women’s Flame bag won over our female tester. The Ascent scored big for cushy warmth, strong construction, and an ability to accommodate numerous sleep positions. As for the Flame, it provides great loft, high packability, and simple but comfortable construction. Want to learn more about our favorite sleeping bags? Check out GearJunkie’s Best Sleeping Bags.
Leatherman Free P2: $120
A Leatherman is never a bad gift, but this year the brand gave gear lovers something to REALLY lust for. The Free series, new for 2019, uses magnets to rethink how we use multi-tools. Most notably, the pliers-based Free P2 sports one-handed operation — flick your wrist and the tool butterflies open with a flourish. Plus, DIYers can access all the implements with a simple thumbroll, sure to save more than a few fingernails. We reviewed the Free P2 — and Free K Series pocket knife — and loved them. Maybe buy two, since you’re sure to want want for yourself.
Had it with the city life? BioLite’s Solar Home 620 kit turns any dwelling into an off-grid sanctuary. Be it your campsite, cabin, or car, the Solar Home 620 adds illumination and entertainment — powered by the sun. The kit includes a 6-watt solar panel, MP3/FM radio, and three hanging lights — each putting out 100 lumens. This makes a great gift for car campers, van lifers, and doomsday preppers.
The hammock craze is here to stay, but it’s old news. All-in-one hammock systems, however, could be the next big thing. Kammok’s Mantis All-In-One Hammock Tent offers a lightweight base, bug net, and rainfly tarp. So with the Mantis, you can hang in virtually any element — rain, bugs, or clear, starry night. The whole shebang weighs in at 2-lb. 12-oz. and comes with a lifetime Kammok warranty. Plus, our tester tried it out this year and loved it. And if you’re looking for an ultralight version, check out the Mantis UL ($259), the same setup in a 2-lb. 3-oz. package.
Anyone who travels often will appreciate this versatile carry-on. It’s sleek, durable, able to fit an incredible amount of stuff in a small space, and won the award for best travel backpack of 2019.You can completely tuck away the backpack straps and carry like a briefcase. Or wear it comfortably as a backpack We’ve stuffed this pack to the gills countless times and have never had a problem with the zippers.
Looking for the ultimate, do-all shirt? Then it’s time you met tasc Performance. Made from a blend of organic cotton and bamboo (with a touch of spandex), this t-shirt is unbelievably comfortable. Plus it has an antimicrobial treatment to prevent odor build up and four-way stretch for full range of movement. The Carrollton is also available in a long sleeve and hoodie. For women, check out these great options.
Look cool, stay dry. Vasque relaunches the heritage Clarion ’88 boot, now with waterproof suede leather and a Gore-Tex membrane. Available in color-splashed or monochrome men’s and women’s styles, the Clarion ’88 looks like a hand-men-down boot from the days of Magnum P.I. and “Sweatin’ to the Oldies.” We’ve been wearing these on summer camp trips, fall hikes, and even early season blizzards in Denver, Colo. The boots live up to the Gore-Tex reputations, keeping our feet dry and warm through a variety of conditions.
Looking for a new kind of bicycle helmet? Bontrager made waves (literally) in the cycling world this year with its line of WaveCel helmets. The brand claims its “flex, crumple, and glide” pleats outperform standard EPS foam helmets when it comes to preventing concussions in common bike accidents. The claims are controversial, but in our riding tests, the helmets proved comfortable and offered peace of mind. And at $150, it’s nowhere near as expensive as some high-performance options.
Ombraz No-Arm Sunglasses: $179
Doubt that drawcord sunglasses are more comfortable? We did too, until we tried them. Ombraz sunglasses offer a whole new look on shades and we’re here for them. The armless sunglasses are easy to put on and take off, provide surprising comfort, and resist falling off your head like traditional frames. Still not sure? Check out our review here.
Freestanding, lightweight, and sturdy in foul weather, the NEMO Hornet has proved itself time and again among GearJunkie testers. Mostly, we love how much this tent saves both weight and pack space. The NEMO Hornet Elite weighs a scant 2 pounds 1 ounce. Ditch some stakes and the stuff sack for a minimum trail weight of 1 pound 11 ounces. And it uses a clever three-pole design, mesh interior, and integrated rainfly for a tent that keeps out bugs, rain, and wind.
We never shy away from recommending a good knife. But what about maintaining that blade? We used, and loved, Work Sharp’s Angle Set Knife Sharpener this year. Whether the knife knut in your life has a blade for every occasion, or just one trusty pocket knife, a good sharpener like this can add many years of use. And for $50, it’s a great way to maximize the life of an expensive knife.
Mountainsmith’s Zerk 40 pack is short for “Berzerk,” and that’s exactly who the brand tapped to help design it. With design input and testing by the one and only Real Hiking Viking (a.k.a. thru-hiker Tom Gathman), Mountainsmith developed a pack built for fast and long pursuits on trail. Add or remove bungees and straps as you see fit on this semi-customizable pack, all to add comfort and carry options, or drop weight. The primary concept behind the pack, Gathman told us, is to make all hiking essentials stowable and accessible on the go. Wanna a full breakdown? Check out the video review we did with The Real Hiking Viking.
Trigger it, scrape it, rub it, and massage that pain away with the simple but versatile Wave tool. The Wave boasts eight different surfaces for various myofascial release and soft tissue manipulation. The brand advertises it for treating adhesions, scar tissue, fibrosis, trigger points, myofascial restriction, pain, and cellulite. We use it for post-climb/ride/hike muscle relief.
Add more tunes to your life. This rugged speaker will keep the music flowing for 40 hours on a single charge. It’s waterproof, portable, and you can even pair speakers for a full on party. It’s become our favorite go-to speaker and is the ultimate gift for anyone who likes to spend outdoors with their favorite sound track pumping. You can choose from a variety of colors, or surprise your favorite angler with the limited edition Fly Box DB2.
Go ahead, ski in jeans! Rohan’s Nordic Jeans look and feel like everyday denim, thanks to THERMOLITE PRO — tiny ceramic pigments that transfer infrared rays from the sun into heat that keeps your legs warm. No bulky lining means more range of motion but all the benefits of cold-weather pants. We’ve been wearing a pair through an early season cold snap and can attest they work like a charm. They’re not waterproof, so they won’t replace your actual ski bibs — but they’re great as stylish trousers when the mercury dips.
Pocketalk Language Translator: $249-$299
Add a layer of confidence to your travels with a pocket-size translation device. Pocketalk knows conversational speech patterns in 74 languages and works like a walkie-talkie. Set your input and output languages, then hold down the left button to speak. When you’re done recording up to 30 seconds of speech, let go and Pocketalk plays back in the output language almost instantly. Developer Sourcenext claims its cloud-based translation outperforms Google Translate and in our use, the Pocketalk caught virtually all idioms and turns-of-phrase. Plus, Pocketalk utilizes noise canceling speakers to make it easer to hear in busy, noisy public places. The devie alone costs $249 to work off your phone’s data or wifi. But for $299, comes with two years unlimited use and a global SIM card that works in 126 countries.
This duffel is undeniably cool. It doesn’t just look rugged, it is rugged. We took it across the U.S.-Mexico border last year for a multi-day bikepacking trip. Not only that, but since then we’ve dropped it, kicked it, strapped it down, and stuffed it in overhead bins, and it shows zero signs of fatigue. With some cleverly designed carry options — backpack straps, shoulder sling, and suitcase carry — and not too many features, the REI Big Haul Duffel 40L wins our praise. Compression straps, ballistic nylon construction, and daisy chains make this a versatile and durable bag. And at 40 liters, it’s small enough to bring almost anywhere, but big enough to bring almost anything.
Want to get in on what might be the next big brand? Appalachian Gear Company (AGC) uses 100 percent alpaca fiber with “no harsh chemical processing,” no synthetic fibers, and all U.S. manufacturing. The result: AGC’s trademark All-Paca material — a warm, soft, stretchy alternative to merino. We’ve worn these hoodies through fall and winter and can attest to their comfort, whether on a chilly walk, in a drafty gear cave, or snuggling up at home at the end of an epic day. This Charlotte, N.C.-based brand launched on Kickstarter late last year and is just now making a name for itself.
Bring fire to the backcountry without leaving a trace. The Fireside Outdoor Pop-Up Fire Pit sets up in a minute, burns fast, and generates about 80 percent less smoke that a typical fire pit. Best of all, it won’t scorch the earth beneath — all thanks to its “Fire Mesh” design, which allows air to draw in from below. The result is a more efficient fire that complies with both BLM and National Forest Service regulations. Great for rafters and adventures by land where low impact is a must, the Pop-Up Fire Pit weighs 8 pounds and can hold up to 125 pounds of firewood. Best of all, it cools to the touch within minutes of snuffing the flame. We’ve tried it and are impressed.