I strive to be the kind of person who gives people thoughtful gifts that recipients genuinely appreciate. Here’s some really nice stuff that I’ve given, received, or just bought for myself recently. It’s gone down well for me, so I think it’ll work for you and your outdoorsy loved ones too.
My buddy Ty Brookhart makes these mugs by hand, in a tiny studio behind his log cabin in Gold Hill, Colorado. They’re not just unique looking, they’re also made from local clay, surprisingly durable, and feel good to hold. I’m drinking coffee out of one he made me over a year ago right now. As gifts, they’re perfect for people who are difficult to shop for. I’ve given Ty’s work to both of my mothers-in-law, hopefully convincing them that I’m capable of being friends with creative people. The mugs range from $42 to $58.
Filson Wool Trapper Coat
I got one of these for Virginia for Christmas this year. I can tell you that safely ahead of time, because I was so excited, I made her open it early. At $795, a coat like this one is obviously a splurge, but compared to other luxury brands, Filson’s stuff is genuinely functional outdoors, so I feel good knowing that she’ll be able to wear this thing in the snow, as well as out to dinner. The heavy wool body is very warm, and naturally repels precipitation, while the sheepskin shearling collar adds both flash and cozy comfort. The best part is that Filson actually cuts these for slim bodies; unlike a lot of their coats we don’t need to get this one tailored. Filson makes them for both men and women.
Fjallraven Keb Trousers
These are, hands down, the best pants I’ve ever worn. They’re perfect for hiking, hunting, climbing, lounging…you name it. At $225 they’re a little pricey, but they hold up to abuse and last through years of constant wear. Anyone who does anything outdoors will appreciate a pair of Kebs, just note that they make them in a couple different lengths and cuts. With my 34-inch inseam, I wear the longs, while Virginia likes the women’s curved model because it has a higher waist.
A Bright Flashlight
A good quality, modern flashlight is one of those gifts that works for pretty much anyone. I’ve given them to my mom, several of my in-laws, and a bunch of friends. The FourSevens Mini is still my favorite. It can put out up to 900 lumens in a package that’s not much larger than a chapstick. And you can run it with a pocket clip, keychain ring, or as a headlamp, and it has a magnet in its base so you can use it as a work light. Not bad for $60.
A Good Knife
Pretty much as soon as Virginia and I started dating three years ago, I gave her a $140 Spyderco Paramilitary 2. It’s as good a pocketknife as anything out there, and operates with such satisfying precision that it’ll be a nice upgrade from whatever the receiver currently carries. Knives like these are an essential tool for virtually any activity, even just eating a steak at a restaurant.
I asked Santa for a pair of these this year. Not only are they made in America by a brand other than Luxottica, but they use glass lenses for much improved clarity over the plastic alternatives. Prices start at about $200, but there’s a variety of options like lens polarization and frame materials you can add on top of that. With three sizes available, these will fit virtually any face.
An Upgraded Sleeping Pad
Give the gift of comfort with one of the most luxurious sleeping pads ever made. Or, two of them. Nemo built a coupling mechanism into its new Roamer pads that genuinely enables them to create a unified comfort that’s as good as your bed at home. Two of the $230 XL pads add up to a queen size bed, but pack smaller and easier than the full-size Exped Megamat Duo. These would make a great gift for a outdoorsy couple, or give them to your partner if you want to have more romantic nights outdoors.
A Better Leash For Your Dog
Climbing rope makes the best dog leashes, but many of the commercially available options are made from a single strand, which is uncomfortable to hold. So I make my own by tightly braiding two strands together, and attach real carabiners to guarantee my dogs’ safety.
If I were to describe ethically-sourced, cruelty-free, vertically-integrated, environmentally-responsible anything, you’d expect it to be expensive. Doubly so if we apply those plaudits to cashmere. But, a new brand called Naadam is doing all the above, and doing it at surprisingly affordable prices. Plus, the natural properties of wool apply to cashmere, just as much as they do to merino wool, with even more softness, so items like the $75 sweater are as functional as they are luxurious.
Everyone who does anything outdoors needs a good set of base layers. But, because we wear them virtually ever day, most of us who do stuff outdoors are sorely in need of a new set. This year, Smartwool brought genuine innovation to the space with 3D knitting technology that allows them to incorporate mapped ventilation zones into the material without using uncomfortable seams. That means you can wear a heavier weight through high output activities without getting all sweaty. And the person you give these to will genuinely be warmer outside. Prices start at $120 for 200-weight pieces. Those are a good all-rounder for any activity in cool to cold weather. If you plan to give these to someone who prefers aprés to activity, opt for the $150 250-weights.