12 Gifts Your Mom Will Actually Use
From tech gadgets to apparel upgrades, some of our best-reviewed gear make great presents.
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This year, avoid buying last-minute Mother’s Day presents that will end up collecting dust in the corner of the garage. Whether you’re in the market to get your loved one a gadget to help her beat her 5K time or a kitchen upgrade to help her morning routine run more smoothly, we have a recommendation for gear she’ll actually use. We rounded up our favorite gift ideas from recent Buyer’s Guides and gear reviews to help you choose the right present for all the moms in your life.
For the Active Mom
Trigger Point Grid Foam Roller ($35)
Workout gear can be pricey, but you don’t need to drop a ton of cash to get a good recovery tool for Mom. In our roundup of the best recovery tools for under $50, we picked Trigger Point’s perfectly simple Grid as our favorite foam roller. “It’s nothing fancy,” our tester wrote, “just a hollow core wrapped in ridged EVA foam to release those tight muscles.”
Julbo Elevate Sunglasses ($120)
Everyday sunglasses can be clunky and heavy—not ideal for running. We prefer lightweight frames meant to move with you for both. That’s why we included these shades in our 2019 Summer Buyer’s Guide roundup of the best women’s running gear. Our testers were familiar with the brand’s Resist frames and loved how the Elevate “combines technical specs (polarized, polycarbonate, photochromic lenses for protection, durability, and adaptation to changing light) with a stylish circular design and a cutout at the nose.”
‘Endure’ by Alex Hutchinson ($19)
Our Sweat Science columnist, Alex Hutchinson, wrote a book about endurance and the physical and mental limits of the body. It’s essential reading for the active person in your life who’s looking for a deeper dive into human performance. “Endure is my attempt to answer the most basic question of all: What is endurance?” Hutchinson writes. “A wave of recent (and controversial) research has called into question the traditional view that our limits are determined by our hearts, lungs, and muscles. Instead, the limits we perceive as physical often originate in the brain—though it’s too simplistic to say that endurance is ‘all in your head.’”
For the Tech-Junkie Mom
Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Noise-Canceling Headphones ($60)
We tested $400 noise-canceling headphones, and while they impressed us, we were curious about how budget-friendly options measured up. After comparing three models under $150, the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 came out on top. It placed first in three categories: noise cancellation, fit/feel, and battery life. “Low-frequency sounds, like road noise and car and airplane engines, are precisely the things you want to drown out with noise-canceling headphones. After listening to all three pairs back-to-back in my truck with the engine running, the Ankers were the clear winner,” our tester wrote.
Garmin Fenix 5S Plus Sapphire GPS Watch ($750)
Does Mom want to track her workouts? We suggest the Fenix 5S Plus, which was included in our 2019 Winter Buyer’s Guide review of the best smartwatches and wearables. “Not only can this GPS watch track just about every activity under the sun, but it also includes U.S. topo maps and can store up to 500 songs,” our tester wrote. “The 5S Plus does everything its predecessor did and more—in a smaller, sleeker package.”
Petzl Bindi Headlamp ($60)
Mom can ditch the big camping headlamp for evening walks or jogs. Instead, keep her visible and safe with this lightweight option from Petzl. “Headlamps designed specifically for running tend to be ungainly. Not this one,” our tester wrote in our 2019 Summer Buyer’s Guide. “A minimalist’s dream, the Bindi weighs only 1.2 ounces but provides 200 lumens to brighten your way on the trail.” Bonus: it’s so small that you can keep this stashed in a front jacket pocket or fanny pack.
For the Homebody Mom
HMM Japanese Ceramic Pour-Over ($50)
If your mom drinks coffee on the daily, a good pour-over will be a welcome upgrade—or addition—to her caffeine routine. Our columnist Jakob Schiller swears by this one from HMM, made from a Japanese ceramic that doesn’t affect the taste of your joe. The secret sauce is in the internal ridges that ensure the water evenly distributes over the grounds in the filter.
LifeStraw Home Glass Carafe ($55)
Hydrating will seem a little more attractive with this sleekly designed carafe in the fridge. We included the LifeStraw Home in a roundup of the best gifts for foodies because it makes tap water more palatable by filtering out the stuff you don’t want (bacteria, lead, and mercury) while retaining the stuff you do (magnesium and potassium). And this vessel doesn’t have to be refilled constantly—it holds seven glasses of water. It’s also dishwasher-safe.
Smithey Ironware Co. No. 12 Cast-Iron Skillet ($200)
Built in the United States from premium cast-iron, this skillet is an heirloom in the making. The polished interior handles sticky food like a champ, and at 12 inches, this pan is big enough to cook dinners for the whole crew or do meal prep for the week. We also like that it can still be wielded with one hand.
For the Stylish Mom
Prana Stefany Sarong ($35)
This oversized scarf is a shoulder-season essential. Use it as a sarong or towel when you’re at the pool, and throw it around your neck when the temperature drops at night. Bonus: it’s made with 100 percent recycled polyester. Testers love the colorful patterns that provide an accent to everyday outfits.
Allbird Women’s Tree Breezer ($95)
Allbird makes streamlined, comfy kicks that are easy on the planet. The Breezer meets this description with a dressed-up feminine look. Break-in time is nonexistent with these flats, thanks to the cushy EVA sole. The merino wool lining helps with sweat and odor, and when it’s time to clean these shoes, just throw them in the washing machine. They come in 16 different colors, so you can pick Mom’s favorite.
Outerknown Costa Shirt ($98)
Our editors tested Outerknown’s first-ever women’s line when it came out last spring. The consensus among Outside lady shredders was that the items were uniformly well made, and that the cuts were fun and cute. The Costa was a fan favorite for its versatility. It’s suitable for both office and beach, and the linen-nylon blend looks even better a little wrinkled.