At the risk of overcomplicating one of the last bastions of low-tech, completely offline entertainment, there are a few things you can take outdoors that enhance the experience rather than detract from it. It’s not worth bothering with a lot of gimmicky outdoor gear, but the right tools in your belt (or your pack) can enhance a big hiking, backpacking or camping trip by making the adventure easier, safer, and easier with these outdoor gifts. Are. Idea.
We won’t talk about extremely personal items like sleeping bags and tents here – these are generally big-ticket items that depend a lot on personal preferences. Most of the gifts here would be a safe bet, depending on whether your gift recipient is a glamorous person, a seasoned traveler or an aspiring weekend warrior looking to spend more time in the wilderness.
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Safety First: Garmin inReach Mini 2/inReach Messenger
Price: Starting at $299 on Amazon
If you spend time outdoors alone, off the trail, or without cell phone service, a compact little satellite messenger from Garmin guarantees you won’t be out of luck if things don’t go according to plan. There is a little upfront investment and associated subscription costs with these devices, but when you get to a tough spot with no cell service or a turned off phone, you won’t regret having it.
The pair of devices from Garmin are very similar, with the Garmin Mini 2 offering more potentially unnecessary navigational features, so just choose the price point that works best for your budget. Garmin’s offerings are the gold standard here and there’s no better way to get a little peace of mind in the backcountry thanks to two-way texting, weather forecasts, and emergency calls.
Never get lost again: Gaia GPS Premium Subscription
OK, I know you can’t touch it or put it in a stocking, but if you have any plans to explore the outdoors and won’t rely solely on paper maps then the Gaia GPS is a must. Nothing can compete with a backup (laminated!) paper map, but Gaia GPS is the most reliable option for mapping trails, tracing a route, or even finding out where you Are when you’re not completely sure (it happens!).
Gaia GPS also offers a free app, but the premium subscription gives you offline map downloads, which is required. My favorite step is to download the entire area to Gaia GPS before heading out when I’m not sure what trails I’ll end up on – the flexibility and peace of mind can’t be beat. Don’t rely on sketchy trail reports, Google Maps or anything else – investing in the real deal will keep you safe and on track.
Pinterest with Pages: External Magazine Subscription
Price: $1.99/month, via Outside Magazine
Magazine subscriptions are a classic gift that keeps on giving. While the field of options has sadly narrowed recently, Outside is a comprehensive outdoor publication full of great ideas for getting outside and staying active. There’s no better way to figure out what you want to do next weekend, next winter or on a once-in-a-lifetime trip than flipping through the printed pages of an outdoor magazine, never having to worry about With the added bonus of not having to. About battery life when you read in your tent. Outdoors covers a wide range of activities, including kayaking, mountain biking, and trail running, and features gear reviews, essays, and excellent travel ideas for adventures to be had.
Every pack, everywhere, at once: REI Co-op Flash 18/22
Prices: Co-op Flash $39.95 for 18, $59.95 for 22
You don’t need to know much about your giftee’s outdoor aspirations to be sure that they could use at least one more unstructured, lightweight pack that weighs almost nothing. I’ve been buying these flash packs for years and they’re as good as it gets when you need a smaller pack to slip into your other pack, whether it’s a 45L backpacking behemoth or a suitcase.
REI’s flash packs come in fun patterns, roll up easily and take up barely any space, and are generally really useful for everything from a sunny beach day to summit climbing in the snow (Whether as primary or secondary pack). The 18L option is actually my favorite because it’s so simple, but if you need a pocket the 22L version is also very useful.
Glamping without limits: Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300
Price: $279 on Amazon
If you plan on car camping or otherwise carrying your gear without it on your back, a portable battery can help make things a lot easier. A power pack like the Jackery Portable Power Station can help you blow up an air mattress, run string lights, or charge an iPad, iPhone, and even a laptop all at once.
This thing isn’t small, but it’s easy to carry and compact enough to fit in a corner of the car with a little space to spare. If you want to take things up a notch, pair it with a solar panel like the Jackery SolarSaga to charge without having to plug it in. Jackery has plenty of power station options if you need more or less juice. You might be surprised how often this thing comes in handy even at home.
gopro hero12 black
Price: $399 on Amazon
GoPro has become synonymous with action cameras for a reason. If you need a great little gift with lots of utility, the GoPro is still the best choice for any outdoor adventurer. Equally useful at the top of the snowboard park or hiking on whitewater, the GoPro Hero12 Black is a relatively indestructible solution for scoring great action shots and video in extreme settings. If you prefer to save a little cash, picking up a model from a year or two ago is a great value option (the same goes for most cameras!) and you’ll hardly sacrifice anything in terms of features.