Last year we rounded up all the gear that our staffers wanted for Valentine’s Day. Spoiler: no one was interested in flowers or chocolates. That’s also true in 2021. We think the best Valentine’s Day gift is time spent together outdoors, and these ideas can help make those experiences better.
Camping Gear for Two
Writer Johanna Flashman summed it up best when she wrote that “camping can either be a romantic night out in nature or the worst date ever (think The Parent Trap or Backcountry). We all prefer the former, but that takes the right equipment and a lot of planning.” She perfected her car-camping kit after years of testing and knows how to create “date-night-quality romance from the comfort of a tent in the Sierra.” In addition to providing helpful tips for organizing an awesome trip, she also included a checklist of gear she recommends. (Do yourself a favor and print it out before your next adventure.) And contributing editor Blair Braverman lent some advice on how to plan a camping trip for your non-outdoorsy partner.
For a specific product recommendation, check out the Kelty Low loveseat ($110), which associate gear editor Ariella Gintzler described as “one piece of car-camping gear that’s universally loved by almost everyone on staff. I’m not generally one for bringing luxury items into the woods, but somehow this camping couch is on my permanent list of things never to leave behind.”
A National Parks Pass
Recreating in our national parks continues to look a little different this year, but they’re still worth visting if done safely—especially if the park is local to you. An annual pass is $80. Check out this 2021 calendar we put together to help you decide the best time of year to go. (You can also visit on these days, when entrance fees are waived.) And consider gifting some gear that celebrates America’s best idea, like Swiftwick’s National Parks Collection of socks ($20), and apparel from Parks Project, which donates to conservancies across the country.
Accessories for Your Partner’s New Hobby or Sport
A lot of us picked up new hobbies over the past year, from biking to cross-country skiing to simply moving more. Gifting an item that makes your partner’s new activity more fun can encourage them to get outside more often. Check out our gear page, where we highlight items that we’ve tested and turn to for specific sports. If you’re having trouble finding something, know that you can’t go wrong with a bomber pair of socks. Our Gear Guy loves the Darn Tough Micro Crew ($23) for hiking. He called them “just damn comfy.”
Reservations for a Future Trip
Planning a getaway gives you something to look forward to, even though there are a few new things to consider while traveling this year. “Before the pandemic, the thought of calling ahead to visit a national park or an outdoor mecca seemed preposterous,” wrote contributor Jen Murphy. “But reservation systems formerly in place at popular sites like Yosemite and Rocky Mountain have shown that a little planning isn’t all that painful, especially when it means fewer people on the trails.” Check out our travel page for more inspiration. Contributor Megan Michelson recently reported on the best Airbnbs to stay in near Zion and Bryce Canyon—dreamy.
Books That Will Get Them Stoked
We almost have too many books to recommend, so why not start here: columnist Graham Averill rounded up six classic adventure tales that you’ll love revisiting again and again. If you’re looking for more contemporary reads, writer Heather Greenwood Davis compiled a list of what other authors think were the best adventure books of last year. “These eight titles will keep your wanderlust fired up for when it’s safe to travel again,” she writes.
OK, Maybe We Do Want a Little Chocolate...
In 2020, we learned to be kind to ourselves, especially after going through tough emotional crises, like a breakup. As contributing editor Blair Braverman wrote, cooking or ordering your favorite meals can be a form of self-love, and we all deserve to treat ourselves—and our loved ones—every once in a while with something sweet.
Start with Ritual Chocolate, based in Park City, Utah. Its Valentine’s Day bundles ($33 and up) feature various tasty things perfect for the chocolate connoisseur in your life. You can supercharge any boring trail mix with this Valentine’s Day box ($65) from Tierra Farm, located near Albany, New York. It’s filled with chocolate-covered organic nuts and dried fruits. And for a cozy après drink on Valentine’s Day weekend, whisk up a Mexican hot cocoa, a spicy-sweet concoction that calls for a dash of cayenne. It’s just one hot-chocolate recipe in this compilation, courtesy of columnist AC Shilton.
Gear Sales to Check Out
We’re always keeping an eye on sales that are worth your time. Here are some good bets for Valentine’s Day.
Sale dates: Now through February 16
Sale details: The brand is currently offering up to 40 percent off past-season apparel and gear.
Our pick: The 35-liter Planing Roll Top backpack ($129). We love the large the mesh outer pocket, which helps air out soaked clothes.
Sale dates: Now through February 28
Sale details: The site is currently offering up to 50 percent off gear, clothing, and equipment.
Our pick: The Outdoor Research Carbide Sensor gloves ($115). These were the warmest gloves in our 2021 Winter Buyer’s Guide test.
Sale dates: Ongoing
Sale details: We keep finding gems in Huckberry’s sale shop, which features men’s apparel and gear up to 50 percent off.
Our pick: Any of these Whiskey Peaks glasses ($65 for set of 4), with their topographic impressions of various well-known mountains. We’ve recommended them before, but they make a killer gift.