This isn’t a guide to affordable gifts children can buy. There are no JC Penny neck ties and no "Best Dad Ever" coffee mugs. Instead, this is a list of awesome stuff adults can give their outdoorsy dads that they’ll actually appreciate.
A Good Knife
Knives are the cornerstone of being prepared outdoors, and since you use it, touch it, and look at it so often, carrying a nice one just makes sense.
Robert Young Pelton’s latest folder, the DPx Gear HEST/F Urban Ti, feels nice in your hand, thanks to a unique frame that’s solid titanium. Built in America and built to last a lifetime, the knife is chunky, satisfying to use, and comes with a no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee.
A Quality Flashlight
When I needed to say thank you to my girlfriend’s dad a couple of months ago, the way to do that was obvious—with a fancy new flashlight. The FourSevens Mini MkII produces 1,020 lumens in a light that fits on your keychain. So like that knife, this is something your dad will carry with him everywhere and use every day.
Spending up to the copper-bodied Mini MkII results in a light that feels a lot nicer than the standard black aluminum light tube, and the brighter color will be harder for your old man to lose.
If your dad’s anything like mine, he’s probably still wearing an ancient fleece jacket he bought in the 1990s. Probably because he’s still convinced that was only last decade. Help him out by going to Orvis, typing in “Barbour” and buying him whichever jacket you think suits his style.
If your dad’s the casual type, look at replacing his old hoody. Ethical cashmere purveyor Naadam makes one that’s impossibly warm for how light and soft it is.
Once you look through a quality glass lens, you’ll never go back to cheap plastic. Glasses like these Zeiss lens Aether items actually enhance your vision across a variety of light conditions. Here paired with glare/wind shields, and an ultralight titanium frame, they’re a superior technical option, in addition to being classy. I wear them in place of dorky, tech'ed-out options to climb mountains.
A Better Grill
Is your dad still using an old Weber, or worse—propane? Give him the gift of tasty meat with a great grill. I love my Big Green Egg for the jets of flame it shoots, the smell of scorched arm hair, and the ultra hot seers it puts on steaks, but Traeger pellet grills achieve similarly delicious results in a package that’s much easier to use and that offers more grill real estate for the price. Their latest model even syncs to your phone over WiFi so you can control long smokes remotely.
Music He Can Hear
Being able to take good music with you outdoors is a relatively recent development, thanks to smartphones and Bluetooth speakers. But most of the stuff out there struggles to be both rugged and to provide decent sound quality. Sound engineer James Demer set out to fix both problems by housing quality components inside a rugged Pelican case. With the subwoofer plug installed, the handmade speaker is totally waterproof, while the sound is said to be as good as a home-stereo system.
A Solid Night’s Sleep
Another product that’s received quality of life-improving upgrades in recent years: the sleeping pad. If your dad’s still uses an old self-inflating pad, upgrading him to the latest generation of inflatables is going to blow his mind and save his back.
The Therm-A-Rest NeoAir All Season is unbelievably comfortable for something that packs so small and light, while the car camping-only Exped Megamat will be more comfortable than your dad’s bed at home.
An Upgraded Shotgun
With steel shot quickly becoming de rigueur, your dad may find himself unable to use his old double gun in the field. Weatherby’s new inertia-driven semiautomatic Element faces no such limitations, while giving your dad quick follow-ups on missed birds. Synthetic stocked guns will be practical in the duck blind, but the wood versions will fit in better at upland shoots and at the club.
A Warm Shirt
Smartwool has upgraded the classic flannel with merino wool, making this shacket much warmer and more durable than your dad’s old cotton items. The buffalo check plaid is a classic look—it’s quickly replaced all my other flannels.
A Flight Home
This is what my dad got this year, twice. He’ll appreciate seeing you more than anything you can buy for him. And buying your own ticket home is the ultimate way to show your dad you’ve achieved some small measure of financial independence.