Gear Shed

Q:

What Are the Best Valentine's Day Gifts?

Our Valentine's Day gift guide.     Photo: pavelgr/Shutterstock

A:We all know the saying. It’s the thought that counts on Valentine’s Day. The same holds true when buying gear for the outdoor enthusiast in your life. No matter how much money you have to spend, it’s the experience you have with your loved one that makes the holiday special.     

The following gifts range from $10 all the way to $3,545. I'll leave the experiential component up to you—feel free to go as luxurious or as close-to-home as you want.

USGS Topo Map (~$20)

Plus: A highlighter and a plan

This gift promises adventure at a low cost. For those of you with less than $20 to spend, make your own topo map at usgs.gov of your partner's favorite recreation area.

Highlight trails you plan to hike, mountain bike, or backpack with your sweetie over the next year. If you have the time, make your own key of experiences—think picnics and camping trips—to add to your adventures.

Vapur Vintage Flexible Wine Carrier ($12)

Plus: A bottle of nice wine

While you can pour a bottle of wine into any container and bring it on a backpacking trip, the 750ml Vapur Vintage Flexible Carrier is remarkably light and looks classier than pouring wine out of a Nalgene. Plus, it rolls to the size of a highlighter when not in use.   

Dakine EQ 31L Travel Bag ($40)

Plus: A plane ticket

The Dakine EQ 31 Liter is a practical, durable travel bag that is perfect to carry on a plane. Plus, it’s made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.

Throw a plane ticket to a romantic destination in the bag, and you’ve turned a practical gift into a romantic home run.  

Really want to impress her? Get a toiletry bag like Dakine’s Prima 5L and fill it with your partner's favorite toiletries in travel size.  

MSR Alpine Deluxe Kitchen Set ($55)

Plus: A gourmet recipe

MSR’s 1.5-pound kit will turn you into the Bobby Flay of the outdoors. We love clever gadgets like the grater that doubles as a strainer. Not a good cook? Have no fear. Food always tastes better outside and a few simple ambience decisions can up your romance game.

G3 AviTECH Shovel ($65)

Plus: Skills to build a quinzhee

A shovel is an essential piece of backcountry ski equipment, and if you live in the high country, you likely have one in the back of your car. A bit of advice—never buy a cheap plastic snow shovel because it will likely fail when you need it.

We like the G3 AviTECH shovel because it has a straightforward design, and it’s sturdy and light. It’s also a key tool if you want to build a quinzhee—a snow shelter that’s much easier to construct than an igloo.

Make a big snow pile, let it settle, and then hollow it out with the shovel. With the right touches (maybe a few dimmed headlamps and a blanket), a quinzhee can be just as cozy and romantic as a resort lodge. Snowshoe out to somewhere remote, build your snow shelter, and make hot toddies.

Nemo Tango Duo Down Slim 30 ($350)

Plus: A backpacking trip

Nemo introduced the Tango Duo Down Comforter last year. The whole system weighs about as much as a single sleeping bag because of its innovative backless design and 700-fill Downtek.

This year the company introduced the Tango Duo Slim, which weighs less than two and a half pound and fits in a two person-backpacking tent. Consider it an investment in snuggling.

  

Ventana El Conquistador de Montanas 29er ($3545)

Plus: A cross-country mountain biking trip

A tandem mountain bike is a gift that says, “I want to spend more time with you in a ‘I-don't-care-if-I-look-ridiculous-because-I-love-you-so-much,’” kind of way.

This premium frame is Ventana’s most popular model. Figuring out the build will likely be a good bonding experience for both of you. Then take a trip to Santa Cruz’s Wilder Ranch State Park, which has miles of legal single track with views of the ocean. 

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