We Don’t Want Flowers for Valentine’s Day
Nothing says "I love you" like getting someone a gift they'll use again and again
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Love is in the air. Apparently it’s in our wallets, too. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend an average of $196 on Valentine’s Day in 2020. We often drop that money on fancy dinners, roses, and sweets for our significant others, but at Outside, we immediately thought of all the cool gear and experiences we could get for less or just as much. Here’s what our staffers really wish their partners would actually spend their money on.
Nutribullet Blender Combo ($140)
The only thing I’m lusting over at the moment is this blender. Last month I completed the Whole30 diet with my boyfriend, during which we discovered the sheer delight of frothy, homemade Orange Juliuses and whipped paleo chocolate pudding. He scored the Nutribullet over Black Friday last year when it was on sale for a hundred bucks, and on principle, I refuse to pay full price for it! I’m secretly hoping it’ll go on sale for the Valentine’s and Presidents’ Day weekend, but if not, I might just have to bite the bullet. —Jenny Earnest, audience development director
I’ve got a tradition going on nine years now that started with a couple of my old housemates: Thanksgiving on Valentine’s Day. Our tagline is: Because there are too many Valentine’s Days and not enough Thanksgivings. Valentine’s Day kind of sucks for everyone—a lot of single people dread it, couples have to deal with hunting down reservations at packed restaurants and trying to engineer a romantic experience—so we ditch all that and have Thanksgiving instead. Couples, single people, families, are all invited. My favorite T-Day on V-Day was in 2013, when the invite list ballooned to 35 people, who all showed up to my two-bedroom apartment in Boulder, Colorado. People were eating on the ground, but it was so much fun. Last year, our first T-Day on V-Day in a new town, I mashed together a bunch of women who I’d met through different avenues. We all became close friends, and now that’s our friendiversary. When my best friend moved to the East Coast, she kept holding her own T-Day on V-Day there. For the same price of a fancy restaurant date and flowers, you can get all your favorite people together for a feast instead. If that doesn’t celebrate love, I don’t know what does. —Gloria Liu, features editor
Pyle Endurance Swim Headphones ($35)
I love indoor lap swimming for strength training and as a way to zone out and exercise regardless of the weather. After about 20 minutes, though, the quiet tranquility of the pool gets a little old. Listening to a favorite playlist or a familiar audiobook lets me recharge without losing count of my laps. These headphones have solid sound quality, are IPX8 waterproof rated, and feature four gigs of internal MP3 storage to load up with ear candy. —Emily Clausen, email marketing specialist
America the Beautiful National Parks Annual Pass ($80)
If I weren’t currently free-soloing it this Valentine’s Day, I would want this pass. For less than half of what most Americans spend on the holiday, you get one whole year of wild columbines in Rocky Mountain National Park instead of roses, or rock climbing in Joshua Tree instead of a rock for your finger. Plus, the pass can be signed by both you and your climbing partner—er, significant other. How romantic! —Maren Larsen, Buyer’s Guide deputy editor
Smartwool Socks ($14 and Up)
These top my Christmas wish list every year, and if I had a winter birthday, they’d be on the top of that list, too. They are just the best socks ever. Comfy, warm, attractive, and durable. Just don’t put them in the dryer! —Marie Meyer, editorial assistant
Unbound Merino Wool Crew Neck T-Shirt ($65)
I’m all about practicality on Valentine’s Day. That’s why I want my wife to buy me another of these wool tees. I wear this one a few times a week as a stand-alone piece or as an undershirt, and I’m quite certain my coworkers are starting to notice. Yes, you can sport it for multiple sessions without washing it, thanks to antimicrobial lanolin in the wool that fights stink. It’s not quite as soft as your average cotton shirt, but you get the temperature-regulating benefits of the natural fiber; I can sweat in it on my bike commute to the office and not get cold and clammy sitting at my desk. Plus, I love the sturdy construction that I know will last for years. My wife just has to put up with me asking her to sniff-test it every other week. So romantic! —Will Taylor, gear director
Four Seasons Bath Robe ($199)
I don’t have enough money to actually buy this robe in good conscience, but that won’t stop me for much longer. I haven’t found another model on the market that feels like this one. It has the perfect heft, isn’t overly soft, and the hem hits around midcalf, so you can lounge properly. I might just pull the trigger on this as a self-care Valentine’s Day gift. —Emily Reed, video producer
Zippo 12-Hour Hand Warmer ($22)
It’s bouldering season here in New Mexico, and days at the crag can be unforgivably cold. I’ve been eyeing this Zippo hand warmer to keep inside my belay parka for quick warm-ups in between climbs. Plus, it can be refilled with lighter fluid, so I don’t have to worry about charging it at night. Because when my partner can’t keep me warm at the crag, this should do the trick. —E.R.
Girlfriend Collective Apparel ($38 and Up)
I asked my partner for an activewear set from Girlfriend Collective this Valentine’s Day. Not only is most of my workout gear made for Minnesota winters (I only recently moved to Santa Fe), but I read awesome reviews about how inclusive the brand is for women of all shapes and sizes, and their models definitely reflect that. It’s also dedicated to making pieces sustainably, such as constructing its tops and bottoms out of recycled bottles. —Mary Mathis, digital visuals editor
SeaVees Wool Slippers ($68)
My husband is pretty, um, frugal when it comes to gift-giving. Which is why, since retailers often have sales around Valentine’s Day, I’m bound to get a lovely pair of wool slippers that are half off, like these from SeeVees. I’m sure he’ll point out that I can break them in during the remaining cold days but they’ll still seem new when I pull them out again in November. OK, honey. I do really hate cold feet.—Tasha Zemke, copy editor