By Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoors Blogger
The holidays are upon us, and along with them comes holiday shopping.
Don’t worry friends; Santa Wade is here to help! For all of those outdoor lovers out there, I’ve pulled together a few gift ideas at a few different price points to help you make someone’s holidays a little brighter.
Hopefully this will give you some ideas for what to get that outdoorsman or outdoorswoman in your life.
1. Hiking boots:
As you might imagine, we’ve had a ton of hiking boots in our house! I tend to favor the traditional hiking boot style, while my wife often prefers a more contemporary approach.
I currently have two pairs of hiking boots that I use regularly. The first is a pair of Monty Hi boots from Ridgemont Outfitters, and the other is a more rugged pair of Salomon waterproof boots.
My wife also owns a pair of Ridgemont Outfitters Outback boots, as well as a pair of Keen’s hiking shoes and some Keen’s hiking sandals.
If you’re shopping for a newcomer to the hiking world, Ridgemont Outfitters makes great casual hikers. They’re great for day hikes and basic trails, and they fit much like a sneaker or athletic shoe. This means sizing will be a little easier, but these boots won’t be as great on rugged terrain, in deep mud, or when plowing through snow.
For more technical hiking, elevation gain, or inclement weather, a more rugged boot like my pair of Salomons is preferable.
Look for something with waterproofing, but that still breathes so it won’t retain moisture from sweating. The high ankle will provide support on longer hikes and will help prevent injury.
They’re more rugged than casual hiking boots, but they can be a little difficult to fit, so make sure that you get a gift receipt in case the recipient needs a different size or style.
My wife likes her trail shoes and hiking sandals.
Obviously, this isn’t the best season for the sandals, but if you’re buying them for a patient individual, you may be able to snag a good deal or two.
Trail shoes are a nice compromise between more technical boots and a more casual shoe, but they won’t have the same ankle support as a more traditional hiking boot.
Where can I buy?
If you’re shopping locally, Active Endeavors, Dick’s Sporting Goods, and Gander Mountain can help you out with a number of different brands, styles, and price points. I’ve mentioned several in this post, but there are tons of brands out there, and a sales rep will be able to give you more guidance.
What’s the price?
It varies, depending on brand and style, but a good pair of boots will likely set you back at least $50 to $60, and the price will only go up from there. There are some crazy-expensive options out there, but you can get a great pair between $100 and $200 if whoever you’re shopping for has been really good this year.
NOTE: It’s worth getting a gift receipt. Hiking boots don’t always fit exactly like other shoes, and without trying them on, it’s hard to know whether they’re exactly what you need.
As a kid, I hated getting socks for Christmas. As an adult, however, I absolutely love it! That’s because the people gifting socks to me know exactly what I want: wool and synthetics. Never cotton! Cotton is a very poor outdoor material that absorbs moisture, takes a long time to dry, and won’t insulate when wet.
What should I look for instead?
When it comes to socks for hiking and camping, I’m a big fan of merino wool. Unlike cotton, it wicks away moisture and will insulate while wet. Synthetics will do the same, but will dry more quickly. In fact, when it’s really cold, I’ll often wear a thin synthetic sock and then a nice comfy wool sock over it.
Where can I buy?
You shouldn’t have any trouble finding these locally. Ask for them at Active Endeavors, Gander Mountain, or Dick’s Sporting Goods during your holiday shopping.
What’s the price?
Depending on brand, style, thickness, and material, you can expect to pay anywhere from $8 to $30. That may sound expensive for socks, but trust me. Your hiker will love them!
Just like hiking boots, there are tons of options when it comes to daypacks, and a lot of it comes down to personal preference.
Daypacks are similar to hiking boots in another way: we’ve had tons of them in our house over the years! We’ve hauled North Face, Deuter, Coleman, Kelty, Osprey, and Cotopaxi packs, and they’ve each had their pros and cons.
My favorite daypack is my Cotopaxi Luzon. It’s simple, durable, comfortable, and is guaranteed to last for 61 years. I’m a big fan of the company, and their business model, which revolves around encouraging people to have adventures as well as investing in sustainable poverty alleviation. This pack may not be for everyone, however. It’s a simple design with no internal structure or organization.
If you’re shopping for someone who thinks everything should have a specific place, you may want to consider a pack with more organization. North Face, Kelty, and Osprey all make great packs that have more internal structure.
Daypacks come in a number of sizes. Measured in liters, you want to make sure that whatever pack you buy isn’t too big or too small. You probably won’t want to go smaller than 15 Liters unless you’re buying for a kid.
On the other end of the spectrum, you probably don’t want to select anything larger than 40 Liters. My Luzon is 18 liters and is just right for me. My wife’s Deuter pack is 33 liters and is better suited for carrying more gear.
Whatever brand or size you’re thinking about gifting, be on the lookout for waist and sternum straps. It’s exhausting to haul weight on your shoulders all day, and a waist strap will enable the wearer to distribute the weight of the pack to the hips, for a much more comfortable hike. The sternum or chest strap helps to further distribute the weight and reduce back strain. I can’t recommend them enough.
You should also consider a pack that will accommodate a hydration pouch or bladder. Being able to take a drink without digging a bottle out of your pack is awesome. It’s one of the best ways to stay hydrated on the trail without having to stop frequently.
This is another gift that will really wow the outdoorsman or outdoorswoman on your list, but can also be difficult to get just right. Consider a gift receipt on this one too.
Where can I buy?
Cotopaxi packs are only available online or through their flagship store in Salt Lake City, but I really can’t recommend this brand enough. It’s definitely worth the time to browse their site.
Otherwise, you can find a number of different brands, fits, and styles at Active Endeavors, Dick’s, and Gander Mountain.
What’s the price?
The Luzon I love so much costs $40, plus shipping. That’s a good starting price for this kind of gear, but packs can get pretty pricey too. Depending on what brand and style you buy, you could be looking at $150 or more! That sounds like a lot, but if you buy a reliable brand like Osprey or Kelty, this daypack will be a gift that lasts for years.
3. Hydration bladder:
I mentioned before that when shopping for a daypack, it’s wise to look for one that will accommodate a hydration pouch or bladder. This is my favorite way to hydrate on the trail.
If you’re unfamiliar with the product, you should look into them, because they’re quite handy. The premise is that there is a compartment in your bag where you can store a hydration pouch full of water. A tube runs out of a specially designed opening in the pack, then along the shoulder strap, where it will terminate in a bite valve from which you can drink.
While I don’t use my hydration pouch for short hikes, it’s a life (and time) saver when you’re racking up miles.
The bladders or pouches come in different sizes, but the most common are 2 and 3 liters. I’ve tried out a number of brands with varying degrees of success. Most have been just fine, but a few have leaked.
The CamelBak brand has become synonymous with hydration packs and it isn’t unusual for people to refer to any and all bladders as CamelBaks. Incidentally, that’s also the brand that my wife and I have had the most luck with.
Where can I buy?
Pretty much anywhere sporting goods are sold.
What’s the cost?
You’re looking at around $20 to $30.
4. Stocking Stuffers:
If you’re worried you’ll buy the wrong thing, or boots and packs are out of your price range, don’t fret, here a few extra ideas that will either be easy or (relatively) inexpensive.
Gift Cards: I know they don’t come with the same excitement as unwrapping a gift, but you know that the recipient can get whatever it is they’ve got in mind.
Snacks: Everybody loves snacks, and hikers really love snacks. Pick up a couple of RX, Epic, or Cliff Bars, or some healthy trail mixes (find them at any grocery store) and make your hiker happy.
Hand-warmers: You’ll find these at sporting goods stores, big box stores, and even some hardware stores. They’re quite inexpensive but rather handy to have in your pockets during a cold winter hike.
Wool stocking caps, scarves, or gloves: They needn’t be fancy or expensive. They can even be homemade! These are great gifts for anyone who is going to spend a lot of time in the outdoors in winter weather!
5. The Gift of Time:
If you’re still not sure what to get your hiker, adventurer, or outdoor explorer for the holidays, I’ll make one more suggestion. The best gift you can give is to share an adventure.
Bundle up, wear layers, pack some water and snacks, and spend some time outside together.
The holidays are another great time to explore the outdoors with the people you love, and I can think of no greater gift.
Happy holidays! I’ll “see” you in 2017!
|Meet Wade Ellett, Let’s Move Quad Cities Outdoor Blogger. Wade is an outdoor adventurer who shares his passion for QC outdoor adventures here! Read his other posts by clicking here.|