Gifts for the outdoorsy and adventurous types who won't tell you what they want

December 5 2012 | meggyfin

My brother's getting a degree in forestry, pretty much lives for the outdoors and his dogs, doesn't really like "stuff" and every time I ask him what he wants he goes "I dunno. A gift card?"

A gift card to what?!?! AUGH

Anyone have ideas for what to get outdoorsy and fairly minimalist people? -Bird

Ooh this one is a fun roundup. I LOVE shopping for outdoorsy people because the products are usually so useful and creative. That's why it always seems like a bummer to just give a gift card. So here are my favorite non-gift card gifts for your outdoors-y types that won't tell you what they want…

AeroBed PakMat Sleep System
Scratch off map of the world
sugru Hacking Putty
Sugru Hacking Putty
Mo-Tool Wood Inlay Axe
Wood inlay multi-tool axe
Light-up water bottle
Water bottle with storage
SteriPEN Traveler handheld UV water purifier
Stanley flask
Niteize Figure 9 carabiner
the fish corkscrew
peek-a-boo bird house
Swedish FireSteel
Swedish FireSteel
Portable charcoal grill
steel pint cups
Tac Bac - Tactical Canned Bacon
Tactical bacon
SurvivalStraps Survival Bracelet
SurvivalStraps Survival Bracelet
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Fifty Places to Hike Before You Die: Outdoor Experts Share the World's Greatest Destinations

Now, what are YOUR go-to useful items for those outdoorsy types that never tell you what they actually want?

  1. I LOVE outdoor gear. My go-to site is The Clymb: http://www.theclymb.com/invite-from/NikWhite

    You can probably just pick anything on there, wrap it up and give it to an athletic/outdoorsy person like me, and be good to go. Or you can just, ya know, mail stuff to me. That works too. I just got my sister a $250 winter ski coat for $75, so you can find some awesome things on there for CHEAP, and I don't think I've ever seen anything low quality come up.

    (Also I swear I don't work for them or anything, I just lurve the clymb a bunch)

    • I feel bad just had to tell you I used your invite/link. haha. Thank you! As a transplanted Texan in Maine I definitely need to stock up for winter!

    • I LOVE outdoorsy stuff. people try to get me generic warm things for winter but I'm actually allergic to wool so I have to be pickier about socks and sweaters and well tons of stuff! (wool is in WAY too many things in my itchy opinion)

      http://www.campmor.com has good stuff at great prices. here in Maine, I find random gear at reny's for a good price.

      oh and the para cord bracelet is awesome. they even make them for dogs (I got mine one on etsy) bc when you're enjoying the great outdoors with great gear your dog has gotta come too!

  2. This says something about my lifestyle. I read this list, looking over my shoulder ocassionally to show my partner.

    "Oh look, a solar-powered water bottle that acts like a lantern!!"
    "Oh, I've seen it."
    "A water bottle with storage!"
    "Seen that too"
    "Emergency rope bracelet!"
    "Oh yeah, I've seen that before."

    I think you may have created an ideal Christmas list for my partner. o.o

  3. One thing I've got to say is that if the person you're buying stuff for is a backpacker and you don't know exactly what they want/ aren't a backpacker yourself, include a gift receipt if you buy them gear!

    Backpacking is one of those things where you have to be very precise with gear and quite often it just wouldn't be a good fit for their gear style if you don't know it. A 4lb sleeping mat sounds like it's really light, but to a backpacker that's actually quite heavy.

    Still, buying them general outdoorsy things probably won't be a bad idea – just buy them things they can use while car camping or for day hikes where the exact gear isn't quite as important.

    • This! Buying from a local shop is a good idea too because they can return it for something that fits into their kit a bit easier. Some gadgets seem really cool, but aren't necessarily practical for outdoors applications.

    • This.

      I would really hesitate before buying the sleeping pad listed above for this reason.

      Most of us backpackers have very precise ideas of what we want, and unless they will give you a precise description (usually with a link to the product), if you want to get them gear, you should give them a gift card to REI or their local store.

      For instance, if I were getting a new sleeping pad, it would be this one: http://www.rei.com/product/829826/therm-a-rest-z-lite-sol-sleeping-pad

      or this one: http://www.rei.com/product/829852/therm-a-rest-neoair-xlite-sleeping-pad-womens

      Anything else would be returned. For someone else, it would likely be a completely different selection.

      • One possible exception to this would be trekking poles. The things are awesome and many people are hesitent to use them until theyve tried them, then they never go back. If he does not already own a pair, a good pair of trekking poles (REI's website has good reviews) would probably be an excellent gift.

          • The exception is people who really are allergic to wool, since Icebreaker is all wool. But for those skeptics who just THINK that wool has to be itchy, Icebreaker can totally prove them wrong! I love my Icebreaker so much, and I have spent way too much on their clothes!

        • When choosing trekking poles, remember weight is still a consideration. I personally have three "sets" of poles in my gear closet because I continue to buy cheap pairs that inevitably break. So if someone either (a) bought bme a pricier pair that was well constructed or (b) bought me a lightweight back-up for the next time I break them, I'd be thrilled.

          The first time I took my husband, a fairly experienced backpacker, I insisted he use trekking poles because it was winter thus he had a heavier pack an the trail might be slick. He brought old ski poles. They bent and broke, but he was simply amazed at how much more comfortable he was tackling elevation with poles.

  4. And for people who prefer to make rather than buy, those survival bracelets are pretty simple! My husband made them for fun when he was bedbound with M.E. and he says it's quite a therapeutic craft as well.

  5. If he's in to forestry and wants a gift card, get him a gift card! As a long-distance backpacker, I'd be a little annoyed at some of the gifts on here just because backpackers don't get gear unless they're sure it's what they want or need. The stuff listed up there is more or less for "car" camping and not being outdoors for long periods of time. If you do decide to get some of those gifts, while they're cool-looking, they're really not practical for most backpackers.

    Last year I was preparing for a long distance hike and I asked for a certain brand of shoe because I'd done research on them and I liked the weight, fit, and durability of the shoe. I was given so many different pairs of shoes and had to return them all and pay for return shipping myself, so I guess I'm a little more passionate on the gift card option these days 🙂

  6. Do you know if your brother likes a certain type of outdoor gear? For example my brother who is a rock and ice climber and is super-SUPER particular about his gear but I know he loves to wear silk as his base layer. So I always buy him a good brand of silk pants or shirt because I have seen and smelled his base layers before and he really does (whether he knows or not) new ones every year. I have a few caving friends who swear by poly-pro as a base layer. So again I just always get them new ones. My kayaker friends have a "warm/ fuzy" rule for post river clothing changes. So when I see super comfy and very warm socks or slippers or fleece shirts I buy them. They are always happy to get new warm-fuzzys.

    Also for what it is worth, I have multiple degrees in foresty and forest hydrology and love getting gift cards. If your brother lives near a locally owned store you could always call and see if they could do a gift certificate for you. I've done that in the past for my brother who lives outside Lake Placid, NY. He stock piles them for when he needs a new climbing rope. Then he can buy what he needs.

  7. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! my dad may be the most impossible person to shop for ever, so i've been searching in all possible areas. He's active but I wouldn't really call him the outdoors type.. BUT he travels for work Alot, and the scratch map up there is a lifesaver!! Something he would never get himself but I know he will have a ton of fun recounting all his travels and seeing how much of the world he has visited. *sigh* xmas shopping complete

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