Sometimes smaller is better.
Sometimes smaller is better.
Gear Guy

20 Stocking Stuffers for $20 or Less

The smallest presents often make the best presents

Sometimes smaller is better.

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A lot of outdoor gear is prohibitively expensive, but plenty of pieces are totally useful and absolutely affordable. I’ve rounded up 20 of my favorites that won’t break the bank but will make great Christmas or Hanukkah gifts.

Victorinox Swiss Army Classic SD Pocket Knife ($17)


This knife packs a blade, file, scissors, and four other functions into a tiny package that you’ll barely notice in your pocket. Plus, part of the proceeds go to support the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that helps injured service members.

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Traditional Mexican Blanket ($16)

(Yoga Accessories)

Yoga mat, picnic blanket, seat cover—the uses are endless for what I refer to as the original adventure blanket. It’s also durable and easy to wash.

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Balega Hidden Comfort Running Socks ($8)

Digital Xposure Photography
Digital Xposure Photography (Balega)

Socks are a cliché holiday gift, but any runner on your list will love these things. The synthetic build as good as it gets for moving moisture off your feet and ensuring that your dogs stay blister-free.

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Nalgene Tritan Wide-Mouth BPA-Free Water Bottle (Starting at $3.50)


The Nalgene one-liter wide-mouth water bottle might be the most iconic piece of gear ever made. Everyone loves them because they’re durable, light, and fit perfectly in almost any backpack side pocket.

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HotHands Hand and Toe Warmers ($5)


I tested hand warmers last winter, and these are the best. Every skier needs them in their bag or pocket for those bitterly cold days when gloves aren’t enough.

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LuxFit Premium High-Density Foam Roller ($9)


If you’ve never foam-rolled your legs after a long day of hiking, running, or skiing, you’re missing out. The rolling hurts at first, but it helps your muscles stay loose and feel less sore.

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Stanley Classic One-Hand Vacuum Mug ($17)


I tested travel mugs head-to-head last year, and this double-walled vacuum-insulated classic took home the top prize. It also looks great thanks to the old-school styling.

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Polar Insulated 24-Ounce Water Bottle ($8)

(Polar Bottle)

The wide mouth on this cycling bottle fits ice cubes, and the insulation keeps the cold inside, so you never have lukewarm water on your ride.

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Coleman 5-Gallon Water Carrier ($9)


With five gallons of water in your car, you can camp pretty much anywhere you want for at least a couple days.

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KT Tape Pro Elastic Kinesiology Therapeutic Tape ($15)

(KT Tape)

KT Tape allowed me to kayak for an entire season with a sore shoulder and has also prevented nipple chafe. Read up and you’ll see it can also help prevent injuries and improve strength.

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Yaktrax Walk Traction Cleats ($14)


These cleats wrap around the bottom of most shoes or boots and add loads of traction in the snow or on ice. I used them to hike out of the Grand Canyon in January and watched as everyone else slipped endlessly.

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Body Glide Original Anti-Chafe Balm 1.5 Ounce ($10)


Every runner should have one of these little roll-on sticks. Apply it to your thighs, nipples, and any other body part that might get rubbed raw from your clothing.

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SOG Key Folding Knife Key-101 1.5-Inch Blade ($6)


The knife enthusiasts in your life will appreciate this clever design. Even if they forget their everyday carry blade, they’ll still have a way to open boxes as long as this knife (which folds into a key-like handle) is on their chain.

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Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow ($12)


You need a proper pillow when car camping. A puffy inside a stuff sack doesn’t cut it. Therm-a-Rest’s version is slightly skinnier but just as long as your pillow at home and compresses better for traveling.

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Massage Ball ($9)

(Master of Muscle)

This spiky little ball has been essential for curing my nagging plantar fasciitis. Even if the runners on your list don’t currently have that malady, they should still roll out their arches and heels just in case.

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UCO Stormproof Match Kit ($8)


I tested fire starter tools, and these matches came in second for ease of use. They’ll ignite even when totally wet and burn for 20 seconds.

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Gear Aid Tenacious Tape for Fabric Repair ($4.50)

(Gear Aid)

Duct tape does the job, but Tenacious Tape is better for tent, backpack, and jacket repairs because the adhesive is stronger and the tape is more durable.

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Paracord Planet 550-Pound Type III Paracord Combo Crafting Kits ($17)

(Paracord Planet)

Paracord is one of the most versatile pieces of outdoor gear. Use it for everything from hanging your food in a tree to securing your tent on a windy ridge.

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Petzl Tikkina Headlamp ($20)


This headlamp puts out 80 lumens, which is plenty to get you down the trail once the sun sets. It also has a power-saving mode that dims the light when your batteries run low.

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