From the big boys to mom-and-pop shops (and even one outfit founded by a United States Marine Corps Infantry Officer), here are a few online retailers we recommend for outdoor-oriented gift buying online this holiday season. —Stephen Regenold
Huckberry — Touted as “your favorite store and magazine rolled into one,” Huckberry blends a small online store with a great blog. Its offerings lean toward niche brands and unique products, not screaming deals. Aviator watches, backpacking tents, and a $95 “tactical” pen caught our eye.
REI — A behemoth in the online as well as brick-and-motor worlds, REI has useful buying guides on a microsite for Holiday gear. The aptly titled “Gifts for Kids,” “Gifts Under $25,” and so on offer gear ideas in an easy-to-read grid formation.
The Clymb — You must be a member (which requires an email address or Facebook log-in) but once “in” shoppers at this retailer can grab 70-percent off items during ongoing three-day sales. Major brands like Columbia, The North Face, Salomon, and Adidas make up the majority of the ever-changing stock.
Steep&Cheap — One random piece of outdoors gear at a time is sold at deep discount on this site. A product image, a countdown clock, price, and a “quantity remaining” box give an immediate visual check for a shopper looking to nab deals that are regularly up to 70% off retail price.
Backcountry — Another massive force in online gear, Backcountry has a comprehensive stock with hundreds of brands. We like the low-B.S. copywriting plus the massive reader comments sections, which dish the good and bad on thousands of pieces of gear.
Woodchuck Case — Pure wood cases for an iPhone, tablet or other device. That’s the main product from Minnesota-based Woodchuck, which mills sheets of cedar, maple, and oak with a laser for intricate designs and phone-cradling cuts. An online shop offers cases at $29.99 and up for a unique gift.
The House — We toured the massive warehouse of this retailer last month. It’s one of the world’s biggest of its type, stocking hundreds of thousands of skis and snowboards. Massive discounts come from the sheer volume, including snowsports gear that can crest the 70-percent-off retail mark.
Fidelis Co. — Founded by a United States Marine Corps Infantry Officer, Fidelis is a boutique with just a few classy items on its virtual shelf, most all made in the USA. We like the Rigger’s Belt, which is made of a thick nylon and can double as a tie-in point for a Marine-style rappel.
Backcountry Edge — “Awesome Gear, Amazing Service” is the philosophy of this family-owned retailer based in Manheim, Penn. The site has good gift ideas organized by price and category and a small staff that is easy to contact for service or a suggestion on a gift.