outdoor leisure

A Gift for Every Kind of Outdoorsy Type

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos Retailers

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If you’re not someone who loves the outdoors, buying a gift for an outdoorsy person can be tough. They may already have so much gear that it’s hard to pick something they need and will appreciate. (Pro tip: They will always appreciate a fresh pair of hiking socks.) Or they might have picked up a new outdoor hobby and you want to make sure your gift will actually be useful. And the world of outdoor gear itself — with all of the ripstop fabric, waxed cotton, four-season hydrophobic this and that, and the lugged, layered, limited-edition everything else — is not exactly welcoming to newcomers. But I’ve tested hundreds of outdoor items — from camping and climbing gear to the hiking and backpacking equipment you need to survive in the woods — and can vouch for all of these gifts. Plus I’ve added in some gift ideas from select articles on the site. To make it easier to shop, we’ve grouped our suggestions by price point.

Under $25

For the hiker who loves national parks

This colorful calendar features classic early-20th-century illustrations from the Works Progress Administration.

For the friend who’s always prepared

LighterBro
From $15
From $15

A Strategist favorite, this add-on turns any standard lighter into a multitool. Among its handy features is a blade, a flathead-screwdriver tip, and, of course, a bottle opener.

For the hiker always wondering about the flora on their hike

If any of my friends make a note about some type of wildlife while we’re on a hike together, I make a mental note to gift them one of these Audubon field guides. The entire series is helpful for spotting all types of plants and animals, but I found that my friends most enjoyed these wildflower guides — just make sure to get them the right edition for their region.

For anyone you know who has feet

Socks may be a tired, disappointing cliché of a Christmas gift, but that’s only if you give the wrong ones. Everyone wants warm feet on a cold day, and these mid-weight hikers will give them that forever. (Yep, forever. They’re guaranteed for life.) Darn Tough socks, a favorite of former Strategist writer David Notis, are soft, won’t slide or bunch, and wick away any sweat that would otherwise lead to blisters.

For the co-worker who enjoys foraging or an impromptu picnic

Simple, razor sharp, and inexpensive — plus it floats. The legendary Opinel is such a winner that, even if they already have one, they’ll be stoked to get a second.

For the friend who can’t break their coffee addiction on the camping trip

This tiny Yeti cup has all the features from the Rambler mugs we love: thick stainless steel construction, double-wall insulation, and a sliding magnet lid — but in a new eight-ounce size that’s perfect for espresso or a small coffee.

Under $50

For the budding adventure photographer

Photo: Publisher

Photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin, who co-directed Free Solo with his wife, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, has put together his first collection of stunning adventure photos documenting his journeys in Nepal, Antarctica, and Tibet, among other destinations.

For the camper who needs their food to be hot — ten hours after they make it

Rigwa Life 1.5 Bowl
$26

This double-wall insulated bowl will let them keep a stir-fry hot or a salad from wilting. For hours. It works for ice cream, too.

For the white-water rafter

Instead of tossing their important things in a dry bag to get mixed up with everything else, they can store a phone, passport, charger, cash, and anything else they want to keep handy in this easy-to-open waterproof bag.

For the hiking friend who always runs out of water

This is the bottle I pack for any trip I takes into the backcountry. It came in clutch when my friend and I finished the water we’d packed on a three-day backpacking trip in Patagonia.

For the outdoorsy brother who carries his keys on a cheap carabiner

Built for actual rock climbing, these Black Diamond carabiners will be an upgrade to the cheaply made ones he clips to his belt loops.

For the backpacker whose sporks just aren’t cutting it

$46

Snow Peak makes high-quality minimalist outdoor gear and apparel, and these collapsible chopsticks are no exception. They’re made of bamboo, have stainless-steel handles, and weigh just 1.8 ounces. They just may be the last pair of chopsticks your giftee ever needs.

For the friend who loves coffee as much as camping

The collapsible pour-over packs down for easy storage, yet it pops up to full size in only a moment. Pair it with the Hydro Flask 12-ounce coffee mug, which is double-wall insulated to keep your coffee hot for hours, even on the coldest days.

For the backpacker with sore feet

Backpackers who hike along the 2,650-mile-long Pacific Crest Trail switch out of their trail shoes and into these slippers once they hit camp. Harrison Bacordo, who completed the trail in 2022, said these lightweight Birkenstocks were “fantastic and kept my feet healthy and breathing.”

Under $100

For the sibling who keeps calling AAA on camping trips

This little jump-starter has saved me countless times on camping trips and road trips to National Parks. (I once left my interior lights on at the campground parking lot, which drained my battery.) You hook up the two cables like you would with another car’s battery, turn this starter on, and then jump start your battery. A true life (and trip) saver!

For the friend who likes to set the mood at camp

This tiny glass lantern attaches to a standard propane canister to create a warm, ambient light. It’s great for using up leftover gas in backpacking canisters.

For the outdoorsy friend whose true love is baking

$80

This stovetop set insulates food on the top and bottom, creating the effects of an oven without the bulk or fuel needs. That means cakes, breads, and casseroles are on the (camping) menu.

For the camper who doesn’t want to wear a headlamp

These solar-powered lights are great for the campsite or the backyard, providing eight to 20 hours of light on a single charge (depending on the setting). The clever carrying case lets you wrap the 18-foot cord, with its ten lights, in a compartment around the center of the case before pushing the case closed, keeping the string untangled and protected. The built-in solar panel on the case charges the lights and also works as a USB power source if you need to charge your phone.

For the outdoorsy person who loves graphic design

This coffee-table book features scans from over 400 National Park Service brochures and maps. It’s a showcase of graphic design in the outdoors from 1910 to now.

For the suburban survivalist

The FreeT4 combines the usefulness of a classic Leatherman multitool with the light weight and small size of a folding knife. Although it doesn’t have the pliers that draw so many users to the brand, it does have 12 other great tools including a blade, screwdrivers, scissors, and tweezers.

For the saltwater addict

‘Surf Shacks,’ Volume 2
$47
$47

This coffee-table book is like MTV Cribs but for surfers and generally cool people. It documents the homes of surfers and the surfing lifestyle, from beach houses in California to bungalows on Pacific islands.

For the surfer who wants to stay cozy on land

Slowtide makes a wide variety of changing ponchos in fun prints and low-key solids out of cozy, absorbent cotton terry and chambray. They’re designed so you can keep warm and covered up while easily changing out of your swimsuit or wetsuit. They come recommended by Strategist senior editor Winnie Yang: “I got my daughter the kid-size version for throwing on after swimming lessons, and she’s gotten years of wear out of it.”

Under $200

For the urban hiker

The 15-liter version of the AllTrail is my main hiking daypack and the pack I use most for going around the city. It has a clamshell opening and two stretchy side pockets for water bottles or a rain jacket. I can always fit one more layer than I think.

For the person who says they know how to make a fire (but really doesn’t)

This portable, gas-powered fire pit is perfect for anyone who’d rather not mess with kindling and tinder. It’s outdoor-gear reviewer Graham Averill’s current favorite fire pit: “It’s small, puts out enough heat to keep you warm, and is safe to use even if there’s a fire ban,” he says. “I use it mostly for tailgating in the fall and winter, after a day of skiing. It takes aprés ski up a notch for sure.”

For the friend who’s always the last one off the chairlift

$199

Thanks to the power it packs into its compact size, the Theragun Mini is one of the gifts we recommend most at the Strategist. You can knead out sore muscles with one hand, and it weighs just 1.4 pounds.

For the car camper with a significant other (or who wants a big seat all to themselves)

This has been my main car-camping chair for more than two years. It’s the MVP of the beach, the picnic, and, of course, at camp, because it can fit two adults comfortably and packs up into a carrying case in literal seconds — no fumbling with poles required.

For the ski bum with an empty coffee table

They may not be able to visit all their favorite mountains this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t appreciate them. This coffee-table book is filled with more than 200 resort maps, all hand-painted by James Niehues.

For the skier whose feet need a rest

$104

If they don’t have a pair already, it’s time. Any outdoorsy person will appreciate taking off their ski boots (or hiking boots) and sliding into these slippers. The felted merino wool manages both moisture and heat, and it’s supercomfortable.

For the scrambler who has never found pants they couldn’t tear

For some people, ultralight fabrics just don’t cut it. They scuff and tear. But these polyester-cotton-blend hunting pants from Fjällräven are ready for whatever rock scraping, dirt crunching, kneeling, sliding, and spelunking they might do. The fabric vents moisture and heat and is weather resistant, while the slim cut tucks into rubber boots.

Under $500

For the hiker who likes their drinks cold — for hours

Yeti makes high-quality hard coolers that keep ice frozen for hours on end, and its soft coolers keep their contents just as cold but with more portability. In fact, the brand’s soft models are among our favorite coolers. (Former Strategist writer Lauren Levy called the Yeti Hopper the best soft cooler back in 2016.)

For the outdoor explorer who’s ready for anything

A lot of down jackets can feel stiff, limiting your mobility. But this Mountain Hardwear puffy stretches, so you can move in this jacket without fear of popping a seam in the shoulder or armpit. It’s also super-warm and comfortable, and has smart features like cinch straps in the pockets so you can tighten the jacket around your waist without exposing your hands to the cold.

With additional reporting by James Lynch.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

34 Gifts for Every Kind of Outdoorsy Type