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The Dream Gifts Rad Dads Want for Father's Day

Dad deserves a thoughtful gift this Father's Day. And to help you narrow down the selection, we've tracked down ten of our favorite athletes for gift buying advice.


Garmin InReach Explorer+ ($375)

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(Courtesy Garmin)

Eric Larsen, Polar Explorer

Polar Explorer Eric Larsen's soon-to-be spouse told him that he's the hardest person in the world to get a gift for. "All I would want is outdoor gear and I get it from my sponsors," says Larsen. "It's kind of a double-edged sword." One gift that he would suggest for fathers who are explorers is Garmin's inReach Explorer two-way tracking device. "It's like Spot on steroids," Larsen said.

Larsen can use the new inReach to write messages to his fiancé Maria Hennessey and 8-month-old son Merritt from anywhere—allowing him to stay in constant contact. "When I am gone for two months on a trip I can be like, 'hey, how was breakfast?' instead of having to set up a satellite phone for a conversation," which is often impossible when trudging through the Arctic.

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Donation to a Good Cause

Davis Phinney, Cyclist

Davis Phinney—two stage Tour de France winner and Olympic medalist—laughed out loud when I asked him what gear he wanted for Father's Day. "I have never actually expected a gift for Father's Day, my kids have given me a lot of fatherly joy," he said. "Because of my background and my son's status as a pro [cyclist], I am well swagged out as a dad."

Phinney was excited to talk about memorable rides with his 19-year-old daughter Kelsey and 22-year-old son Taylor but really wouldn't budge on gear. While reluctant to self-promote, Phinney did mention that the Davis Phinney Foundation is raising money to help people live well with Parkinson's by selling his signed 7-Eleven cycling jersey on e-bay.

To save him the self-promotion, I am going to go ahead and suggest it. If you still haven't gotten your father a gift yet, go get that 7-Eleven jersey for him—and bid high, damned high. Once that's gone you should donate to the Davis Phinney Foundation in honor of your dad.


Orvis Guide Sling Pack ($130)

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Eric Porter, Mountain Biker

Eric Porter, pro mountain biker, and father of three-year-old Milo and one-year-old Owen is all about teaching his kids how to bike and ski in a way that won't make them burn out. He stars in this insanely adorable video on the subject.

Porter, an avid fly fisherman, suggests the Orvis Guide Sling pack as a Father's Day gift. "Small, out of the way, and still has everything you need when you need it. You can even stash a can of beer in there," Porter says.

He also suggests signing the outdoor father in your life up for a Wilderness First Responder Course. "As a dad and husband, the most important part about any adventure is making it home safe," says Porter. "I feel like a Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness First Aid course would be great to help me always get myself and my crew back."

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Jaybird Blue Bud Wireless Earphones ($90)

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Aaron Mulkey, Ice Climber

Aaron Mulkey is like a dirtbag mountain sports Bo Jackson. The Rab sponsored professional ice climber is also an accomplished expedition kayaker.  Mulkey suggests Blue Buds wireless earphones that he loves to train with.

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Ruffwear Dog Lifejacket ($80)

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Eric Jackson, Kayaker

I caught up with Eric Jackson while he was driving his RV with his wife and youngest son KC from the Lyon’s Outdoor Games—where the family swept the podium in freestyle kayaking—to the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, Colorado. His daughter Emily, who's eight months pregnant, and middle-son Dane were following behind in their own Sprinter vans.

He wants to compete on Father's Day in his new Rockstar model kayak that will be available for pros only.

EJ noted how odd this sounded. "You're probably thinking, you designed it and your company made it," he said. But he explained that it will take his wife and two oldest children, who help him run the family company, a lot of legwork to get him in that boat on Father's Day. For a cheaper and more conventional option, EJ would like a couple of Ruffwear Dog PFDs for his two Dalmatians.

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New Shoes

Timothy Olsen, Ultrarunner

Professional endurance runner Timothy Olsen loves balancing his last-minute training for the Western States 100—where he currently holds the course record—with spending time with his 10-month-old son, Tristan.

The Ashland, Oregon, resident doesn't want gear. "Being a sponsored athlete, I have pretty much anything I could want," Olsen said. "I am a pretty simple dude." So, I asked him if there was anything he would suggest other people buy for fathers. "A new pair of shoes is the perfect gift," Olsen says. New shoes make the ideal gift because they set a father free from feeling selfish about getting the new shoes he needs (or at least wants). Check out our favorite shoes of the season here


Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Jacket ($350)

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisper
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer. (Courtesy of Mountain Hardwear)

Matt Wilder, Climber

Pro climber Matt Wilder stepped outside from the Spot Boulder Rock climbing gym where he was training for the World Cup at the GoPro Mountain Games to take my call. Predictably, the recent Ph.D. graduate said he has everything he wants, but he had a few suggestions for people shopping for the fathers in their lives.

"The Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer is one of the lightest jackets out there," says Wilder. "It's the perfect piece of gear to throw into a pack, it's hardly noticeable and offers great wind protection." Wilder plans to spend his third Father's Day with his son Bayes climbing or hiking but making sure it is something his son will enjoy too. Based on this photo we saw on Wilder's blog we think you should go for a climb. Nice line Bayes.

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Time Together (Free)

Aamion Goodwin, Surfer

I felt self-conscious asking Kauai-based pro surfer and off the grid child-rearing guru Aamion Goodwin what gear he wanted for Father's Day. After all, getting back to basics and uncluttering your life while raising kids is, like, his thing. “I want to wake up, eat a couple of eggs, and have time with my family. My wants are pretty simple really,” Goodwin responded.

With no gear suggestions on the horizon, we spoke about what it means to "gift" time. His suggestions for actually giving and receiving are simple but poignant. "Do real things, be outdoors, and be with your family," Goodwin said. "And leave your cell phone at home."


Patagonia Nine Trails Shorts ($65)

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Chris Davenport, Skier

Big mountain skiing legend and Backcountry.com athlete Chris Davenport was privileged by his youngest son, 5-year-old Archer, that he will be getting a barbecue grill this Fathers Day. While Davenport seemed happy with the gift, the time he spends with his three boys is the most important part of the day. "I travel so much during the winter, all I really want is to spend time with my family," says Davenport.

What gear does the first man to ski all 54 of Colorado's 14ers in a year want? "I am getting more into ultra distance trail running," says Davenport. To keep it easy, Davenport would ask for a Patagonia running outfit. He mentioned the Nine-Trails shorts.

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