It doesn’t need to be summertime to stock up on summer gear, nor does it need to be summer to “opt outside.” Christmas is the perfect time to cash in on deals and stock up for adventures in the year ahead, whether they include a January ski trip to Vermont or a summer retreat to Yosemite. But you also don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on popular brands that have succumbed to the worst impulses of far-left activism.
When big brands like NorthFace, REI, and Patagonia all wax poetic about their supposed virtue while pushing political agendas, it’s easy to assume funding corporate activists is an inevitable part of brand-name shopping. But there are plenty of quality outdoor gadgets available for stockings that don’t come with a required donation to far-left companies.
Here are 17 items to get the outdoor enthusiasts in your holiday circle. Or maybe just opt for a gift card to Cabela’s, Duluth Trading, or Columbia.
1. America the Beautiful National Park Pass
Give your friends and family the gift of access with a year-long pass offering unlimited entrance to America’s national parks and monuments for $80. Passes can be shared with others and allow holders to come and go as they please to more than 2,000 federally managed sites, including national parks and battlefields. With entrance fees often costing $20 per person or $35 per vehicle, $80 for an all-access pass is truly a bargain gift that will keep on giving.
2. AllTrails Plus Subscription
Does your family think national parks are too crowded and too regulated? Give the gift of another route. There are 154 national forests providing some 158,000 miles of trails waiting to be explored with some of the same scenery that the renowned parks have to offer. The hidden gems aren’t all that hidden if you know where to look.
The AllTrails app offers more than 200,000 downloadable trail maps with real-time location tracking to guide users on their next trek. The app even informs outdoor enthusiasts of trails within their local community, if a destination park is out of range. Paid subscribers receive a whole range of additional features including safety measures like a lifeline to keep friends and family informed in addition to the ability to download maps to use offline when cell service is no longer available. Subscriptions can be gifted for $35.99/year.
3. Local Wildlife Book
If you’re shopping on a budget, a wildlife book focused on local plants and animals is a great avenue to explore nearby surroundings. There are plenty of wildlife books for any and every region of the planet available on Amazon but take the opportunity to support a local small business instead and shop at a neighborhood bookstore. The cashier behind the counter might even have some expertise that can point you in the right direction, whether there’s a book on birds, reptiles, or insects specific to the area of interest.
Combine a local bird book with a pair of quality binoculars to see the creatures up close. The New York Times hired a professional ornithologist to test 25 pairs last year over the span of almost 200 hours and rated the Athlon Optics Midas ED as the “best binoculars for nearly everyone.” The Celestron TrailSeeker ED came in next as a close second with a smaller grip. The Bushnell Falcon 10×50 Wide Angle binoculars are also a popular choice for anyone looking for a pair under $50.
Help a camper kick it with a hammock. Some hammocks can cost eye-popping hundreds of dollars since they’re designed as a tent replacement for backcountry camping. But Wise Owl offers a perfectly capable double-capacity hammock with tree straps for $30.
Simple but no less essential or meaningful, a great blanket can go a long way. Wool blankets in particular are the perfect lightweight accessory to toss into a hammock on the fly.
No outdoor enthusiast will tell you they have too many socks. Whether it’s hiking, camping, climbing, hunting, fishing, or running, dirty and soggy socks routinely become the most worn-out apparel from outdoor recreation and new ones never go unappreciated. Just make sure to buy the right socks for the right activity. If you’re buying for a trail runner, for example, buy socks suitable for trail running, like these lightweight quarter socks. If buying for a skier, buy thick no-itch wool. Find what hobbies you’re shopping for and ask your local outdoor retailer what their best options are.
8. Survival Kit
It’s one of those items that you hope no one will ever need but everyone better have. The S.O.L. outdoor kit is ideal for a lightweight compact set of emergency gear, though it doesn’t hurt to go with something larger.
9. Emergency Whistle
Something as small and simple as a $7 emergency whistle is a great stocking stuffer on its own.
Compasses are great, since our phones aren’t always with us. But don’t buy just any compass. The SUUNTO MC-2 Compass was built for serious hikers tackling serious routes.
Give the gift of light with an inexpensive headlamp or lantern. Extra flashlights almost always come in handy at the most unanticipated moments whether they’re stuffed in a backpack or glovebox. A simple high-quality headlamp can be found for $20 on Amazon but they’re also commonly found at local retailers.
12. Bug Bite Suction Tool
Another $10 stocking stuffer that can save its users days of agony: The “Bug Bite Thing suction tool” is a lightweight, compact tool that supposedly removes the venom or saliva of an insect after an unwelcome visit. Who knows if it really works, but it’s worth a shot!
13. Outdoor Candle
A good gift is sometimes something that is totally unnecessary but is nice to have. Gift some outdoor ambiance with Coleman’s $9 scented wick candle that’s suitable for backpacking. Just don’t give it to anyone prone to starting a wildfire, because only you can prevent forest fires.
14. Get ‘Em a Drink
Drinks hit different above 10,000 feet. Send the outdoor enthusiast in your family on their way with a bottle of Colorado’s Tincup whiskey, which comes complete with a tin cup lid to sip. Or keep the bottle for yourself after filling a backpacking-friendly Stanley flask for your recipient.
15. Outdoor Yoga Mat
There finally exists a lightweight yoga mat designed to be used outside. The CGear Outdoor Yoga Mat is a non-slip mat featuring “Silicon ribs for grip.” Thin and foldable, this mat is the perfect gift for the outdoor yoga lover — and it’s currently on sale for $40 instead of the original $80.
16. Hydration Backpack
While great for mountain bikers and day hikers, a quality hydration backpack bag is a must for trail runners. CamelBak’s options are more expensive than generic brands, but they will last a lifetime. Osprey bags enjoy a similar reputation and are currently on sale for 45 percent off. Help your recipient keep his or her bladder pack sanitary with tablets specifically designed to keep them clean.
17. Smart Water Bottle
Add water bottles to the growing list of gadgets proclaiming to be “smart” these days. The LARQ Bottle Movement PureVis is a self-cleaning water bottle that can keep water cold for 24 hours or hot for 12. The bottle purifies the water at the touch of a button to eliminate 99 percent of bio-contaminants.