The Gift Guide

Presenting nine foolproof rules to keep in mind when scouting for presents (or just a little swag for yourself), plus 67 great products we couldn't keep under wraps.

You Can Buy Quality on a Budget

The North Face 88 Blocks Full Zip Hoodie

Rule 1

Exhibit A: The North Face's poly-and-cotton 88 Blocks Full Zip Hoodie. It laughs at cold snaps—with thumb loops at the cuffs and a stealthy balaclava sewn inside the hood—and will run you just 75 bucks (thenorthface.com). Need more? Read on and you'll find 27 more great gifts for less than $75.







Gift Guide: The Classics Always Work

Rule 2

Patagonia Slingshot Vest, Merrell Wilderness, Toshiba NB200, Plymouth Gin , Plymouth Gin
(Photograph by Shana Novak)

With certain products, the verdict is already in: The quality is proven, or the style is simply timeless—as with the retro-western, 650-fill down Slingshot Vest by Patagonia ($125; patagonia.com; see item 1 in photo). Also unfazed by fads: Woolrich's crushable, water-resistant Cabin Ridge Hat ($22; woolrich.com), a wool-felt fedora for fly-fishermen and travelers alike. And any cyclist will love Rapha's old-school, poly-and-wool Winter Hat ($45; rapha.cc), which is just svelte enough to slip under a helmet. For hauling gear, get something that won't wear out after a few demanding trips, like the North Face's nearly indestructible Base Camp Duffels (from $110; thenorthface.com).

More gifts:
2. One of our editors has 11 years on his Merrell Wilderness boots. He expects a helluva lot more. $275; merrell.com
3. Lightweight and minimalist, Toshiba's energy-sipping NB200 is a wired traveler's dream. $400; toshiba.com
4. Amazing: Plymouth Gin—exquisitely balanced, versatile enough for any cocktail—is only $25. plymouthgin.com

Gift Guide: Don't Give Him a Bracelet

Rule 3

Fossil AM4258, LG enV3, Apple iPod Nano
(Photograph by Shana Novak)

A man is allowed two pieces of "jewelry": a ring and a watch. For straight-up value, you can't beat Fossil's minimalist AM4258 ($75; fossil.com; see item 1 in photo). The bike geek on your list will drool over Festina's Tour de France '09 ($425; festinausa.com), with its carbon-fiber dial and yellow markers, while anyone who's ever gotten lost will appreciate the hidden digital compass on Wenger's analog Nomad LED Compass watch ($375; wengerna.com). For a more presidential look, we're coveting the Jorg Gray 6500 ($325; jorggray.com), which Obama has famously worn since he received it as a birthday gift in 2007; it's also just a really handsome watch at a reasonable price.

More gifts:
2. LG's enV3 phone has a three-meg flash camera and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. $130 with contract; lge.com
3. Apple's newest iPod Nano shoots video at 30 frames per second and live-pauses FM radio. From $149; apple.com

Gift Guide: There's No Excuse for Fruitcake

Rule 4

Innate Kaze Modular Vacuum Bottle, Leatherman Wave, Eddie Bauer Ranger Belt, Mulholland Sportsman's Flask,  Nixon Chronicle, Casio Exilim Mobile, UGG Ascot, Smartwool socks
(Photograph by Shana Novak)

Luckily, some gifts work even for those folks who are impossible to buy for. Any caffeine junkie will appreciate Innate's insulated, stainless-steel Kaze Modular Vacuum Bottle ($24; innate-gear.com; see item 1 in photo), a mug/bottle combo that keeps liquids hot up to ten hours. Or Jetboil's new Flash Java Kit ($100; jetboil.com), which pairs a French press with the company's wickedly fast and efficient stove system. Even casual runners will dig Nike's nifty, water-resistant SportBand ($59; nikeplus.com), which tracks everything from pace to calories burned. And for hikers or travelers: Nemo's Ditto Backpack holds 1,200 cubic inches when loaded and packs away into its own pocket when it's not ($49; nemoequipment.com).

More gifts:
2. We've tested lots of multitools over the years. Leatherman's Wave is still our favorite. $99; leatherman.com
3. Eddie Bauer's saddle-leather Ranger Belt works with everything from Carhartts to khakis. $79; eddiebauer.com
4. Two steel shot glasses come hidden in Mulholland's ten-ounce Sportman's Flask. $80; shopmulholland.com
5. Simple and a little retro: That's why we like Nixon's Swiss-made Chronicle wristwatch. $250; nixonnow.com
6. Casio's Exilim Mobile: Our favorite shock- and water-resistant camera phone. $275 with contract; casiotoughphones.com
7. The guy who has everything? He probably also has crappy slippers. For him, UGG's Ascot. $100; uggaustralia.com
8. Emroidered hand towels? Terrible stocking stuffer. Smartwool socks? Always a winner. From $14; smartwool.com

Gift Guide: Feed the Powder Hound

Rule 5

Spy Optic Trevor Goggle

Those who live for the fresh stuff can never have enough warm clothes or ski gear. Our favorite fourth-season gift this year is Spy Optic's Trevor Goggle ($55; spyoptic.com). We've tested countless models, and you simply can't get a better combination of fit, peripheral vision, and sharp optics at this price. But anything that lays a warm foundation—like Ibex's merino Zepher boxers ($52; ibexwear.com) or the versatile Merino Wool Buff neck gaiter/balaclava ($27; buffwear.com)—also makes a great gift. As do Redfeather's lightweight, grippy Conquest snowshoes ($70; redfeather.com), a perfect (and well-priced) choice for nonskiers.

Gift Guide: Kids Need Adventure, Too

Rule 6

Redington Minnow Kid's Outfit, Giro Revolver, BCA Arsenal Shovel With 240 Probe, Sorel Fairbanks Drift, Patron Silver, Timex Expedition WS4
(Photograph by Shana Novak)

You just need to set them in the right direction. Teach them to fish with Redington's Minnow Kid's Outfit ($160; redington.com; see item 1 in photo), which includes an eight-foot, 5/6-weight graphite fly rod and casting games. Camping is also a good first step. It's getting easier to find good kid-specific gear, like Kelty's new pint-size, 20-degree Little Tree sleeping bag ($55; kelty.com) and Pacific Outdoor's Kids Mat ($40; summithut.com). Or introduce them to winter hiking with Ecco's insulated, Gore-Tex-lined Freeride Boots ($85; eccousa.com) and L.L.Bean's budget-friendly, kid-size Winter Walker snowshoes ($50; llbean.com).

More gifts:
2. Removable liner. A slew of vents. Giro's low-profile Revolver has everything but a high price. $70; giro.com
3. BCA's Arsenal Shovel With 240 Probe is the best combo we've ever tested. $100; backcountryaccess.com
4. Sorel's insulated Fairbanks Drift: warm down to single digits but still low-key enough for the bar. $100; sorel.com
5. Fuel your friends' next margarita party: Patron Silver, Cointreau, fresh lime juice—mixed 2:1:1. $43; patronspirits.com
6. Timex's Expedition WS4 has all the info you need (altitude, barometric pressure, temp, etc.) on its oversize face. $199; timex.com

Gift Guide: Raise a Proper Toast

Rule 7

Glenlivet Nadurra Triumph 1991, Eddie Bauer Quilted Field Vest, L.L. Bean Buckskin Chopper Mitts, Freestyle Submersion, Victorinox Soldier Knife, Mountain Khakis Flannel-Lined Original Mountain Pants
(Photograph by Shana Novak)

Spirits are the season's easiest go-to, but make sure you know the recipient's tastes. If it's Scotch, we suggest you splurge: The Glenlivet Nàdurra Triumph 1991 is our new favorite ($85; theglenlivet.com; see item 1 in photo). Wine can be tough to nail, so go for a critics' choice, like the 2005 Adobe Road Syrah ($38; adoberoadwines.com), which Wine Spectator gave 92 points. A fine sipping tequila, like Herradura Añejo ($50; herradura.com), is unbeatable; if you're mixing, you want a good blanco. Specialty brew is a safe bet as well. BeerOnTheWall.com ships hard-to-find domestic bombers, like Stone Brewing's Vertical Epic Ale ($10) and Global Brew 12-pack samplers ($33).

More gifts:
2. Eddie Bauer's down Quilted Field Vest hits the mark if you want rugged sportsman style. $99; eddiebauer.com
3. L.L. Bean's merino-wool-lined Buckskin Chopper Mitts are as tough as they are warm. $49; llbean.com
4. Freestyle's Submersion is a burly and well-priced dive watch depth-rated to 200 meters. $125; freestyleusa.com
5. Anyone would be happy to have Victorinox's six-tool Soldier Knife in the backcountry. $58; swissarmy.com
6. Go-anywhere winter wear: Mountain Khakis' Flannel-Lined Original Mountain Pants. $90; mountainkhakis.com

Gift Guide: Everyone Loves a Gadget

Rule 8

Garmin Nuviphone G60, Shun Classic Ultimate Utility Knife, TAG Heuer 43mm Aquaracer Automatic, Bose QuietComfort 15, Knob Creek, Filson Mackinaw Cruiser, Marmot Spring Gloves
(Photograph by Shana Novak)

Whether it's for a CNET-surfing father-in-law or a Luddite brother with an ancient flip phone, a shiny new gizmo is sure to please. The season's must-have: Garmin's Nuviphone G60 ($299 with contract; garmin.com; see item 1 in photo), a dashboard-and-trail-ready GPS that doubles as a cell phone to cut your device needs in half. Our other faves? Samsung's Reclaim smartphone ($49 with contract; samsung.com), which is made from plant-based biodegradable plastics and features a QWERTY keyboard; VHoldR's ContourHD1080p ($330; vholdr.com), the first lightweight helmet cam to shoot in true hi-def; and Nikon's 12.1-megapixel S1000pj point-and-shoot, with its built-in projector for slide shows right on the tent wall ($430; nikonusa.com).

More gifts:
2. One nice blade, like Shun's Classic Ultimate Utility Knife, beats a dozen so-so ones. $125; shuncutlery.com
3. TAG Heuer's 43mm Aquaracer Automatic will still be ticking for your great-grandchildren. $1,800; tagheuer.com
4. What crying baby? Bose's new QuietComfort 15 noise-canceling 'phones boast the richest sound yet. $300; bose.com
5. We don't know your boss, but we bet he'd enjoy some smoky, peppery Knob Creek bourbon. $30; knobcreek.com
6. We prefer Filson's 100 percent wool Mackinaw Cruiser to a preppy peacoat. $280; filson.com
7. Marmot's leather-palmed Spring Gloves are perfect for sunny days skiing and chilly nights out. $60; marmot.com

Gift Guide: Make Her Warm and Happy

Rule 9

Lole Cuddle Sweater, ASICS Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66, T-Mobile myTouch 3G, 5.10 Yosemite Jeans, Oris Divers Date
(Photograph by Shana Novak)

And if she's warm and looks cute, even better. A few fail-safe options: Lole's wool-and-acrylic Cuddle Sweater ($100; lolewomen.com; see item 1 in photo), which every woman in the office gave a thumbs-up. Or down booties like the North Face's fuzz-lined NSE Tent Mule Furs ($45; thenorthface.com). Another safe bet is Cloudveil's Run Don't Walk Pants ($125; cloudveil.com)—they have a flattering, yoga-pant fit but, because they're made with a stretchy Polartec material, are much, much toastier. And if you're already thinking ahead to your next camping trip, go all in with Big Agnes's Dream Island ($190; bigagnes.com), a 15-degree sleeping bag for two.

More gifts:
2. A classic resurrected: Runners wore ASICS's Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 in the '68 Olympics. $80; asicsamerica.com
3. T-Mobile's speedy myTouch 3G syncs seamlessly with the Google universe. $150 with contract; t-mobile.com
4. 5.10's boot-cut Yosemite Jeans have Half Dome's profile stitched on the back pockets. $79; fiveten.com
5. Oris's rugged stainless-steel Divers Date has a softer side, too: a subtle wave pattern on the face. $1,550; oris.ch

More Gear

Big. Crazy. Opinionated.

Thank you!

Pinterest Icon