TravelingMoms like to get out and get active – solo and with our families. Having outdoor gear to support our active travel style is essential. The writers and editors who sweat, scramble, swim and ski while on vacation have convened to create this list of the best outdoor gear for active family travelers. And we’re also a group likely to be out adventuring instead of hitting the mall. If you’ve been procrastinating procuring gifts for active travelers in favor of powder days and clear starry nights, we’ve got you covered! These are items always present in our backpacks and compact carry-ons when we’re getting out there off-grid and into nature. We rely on this gear to have a good time under the sun and stars and we think it will enhance your outdoor experience, too!
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Best Splurge-Worthy Outdoorsy Gifts ($100+)
A Good Knife – SOG Tomcat 3.0
A good knife in your pocket can save your tail in an outdoor emergency. It can slice an apple after a gnarly hike as you rest lakeside. It can even be a reminder of how much you adore that certain someone each time they flick it open. SOG Knives are known for durability and offer an engraving option on many of their blades for a few extra dollars. Costing just over $100 to around $500, knives can get expensive, but are a gift which can be both practical and personal.
This little device keeps you connected in the backcountry wilderness using others to extend your reach. While you may not WANT to be reached while on vacation, it’s reassuring to know you CAN be if you want to. Don’t be that rookie recreationist–plan ahead, go big, but go safe with goTenna Mesh. The colorful little device can connect you to loved ones nearby and give you peace of mind while you go wild. Starting at $179 for a pair; set up a small network with more devices.
Go Sun Sport Solar Stove
Cook up something with the suns rays in minutes! Neat and much easier than schlepping burners, fuel, and pots when you’re heading out for an adventure, the Go Sun Sport Stove is perfect for cooking a small meal or just a hot snack for the family. The company is socially solid as well. They’re doing great things in developing nations with this solar subsistence stove. It can make hot dogs, heat burgers, steamed vegetables and so much more. The kids will love to cook trailside, even on an overcast day!
Rumpl Puffy Blanket
Keep warm or picnic with a puffy under you with a Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket. Stylish and comfortable, the blanket packs up quite small, making it an easy addition in the back of the car for a road trip or as a welcome part of your new van life! With down or synthetic fill, there’s a blanket for your activity level and need. The Old Growth Puffy is particularly appealing to the eye. A buttery soft blanket can be under the tree for around $129.00.
Ice Mule Backpack Cooler
It’s tough to trek with a boxy cooler. However, there are few things better than cooling off from a long hike with an adult beverage (or even a cold soda or juice box if you have the whole tribe). Carry your drinks with this handy backpack cooler to ensure a properly chill atmosphere apres activities! Just over $100 will get you a cooler you and an active traveling buddy can use to enjoy a whole weekend of cool refreshments. Other sizes offer versatility for length of trip and price points.
Thule Motion XT XL Rooftop Storage Box
This might make some travelers truly swoon. Yes, it’s a big ticket item, but one you will surely be thankful for when you have a little more leg-room during your next road trip. Heck, it’s even going to help you on the way to grandma’s house if you’re a savvy packer. This can be under your tree for around $699.95.
Mid-Range Ideas ($50-$100)
Bending Branches Paddles – Arrow
This beginning/intermediate paddle is a great way to not only encourage healthy outdoor excursions but also show some thought and care when gift-giving! Your lake and river paddler will love the versatility and craftsmanship of the Arrow (and what a pretty new paddle it is!) and you’ll be happy with the reasonable price tag. Bonus points for supporting Bending Branches, a small USA business in your holiday shopping!
Trayvax Tough Wallet
Sometimes you don’t need a giant backpack or even a messenger bag to enjoy an outdoor adventure. For those trips to the local outdoor market, a festival al fresco, or even a stroll through an urban park, you want to keep your cards and cash close. This slim, tactical wallet is perfect for the active traveler who needs a dapper solution to the pocket bulge common to many trifold traditional wallets. The Trayvax Element is a beautifully crafted gift-worthy wallet for any traveling man.
Grayl Water Bottle Filter
Fill. Press. Drink. This is perhaps one of the most intimate ways to gift a useful item to an outdoorsy companion. Nothing says “I love you” like the promise of a Giardia-free backcountry excursion. This compact, light bottle is an easy and cost-effective way to make sure your water is safe to drink with no fuss of tablets or drops when you’re far from a tap. Get the Grayl for $59.99 and drink with confidence no matter your coordinates.
The Ultimate Camp Chair – Helinox
Sure, a folding lawn chair will work in your campsite, but this is the Cadillac of camping when it comes to lounging! The Helinox brand is coveted in the camping world for packability and comfort. So this can be the gift which makes your cozy camper cry out in delight this year. The Camp One is a luxe chair, sure, but that campfire time is an elevated experience when you sit in style!
Outdoor Gift Guide – Everyday Adventurers (Under $50)
Stormy Kromer – Beanie & Classic Cap
A legendary brand in the Midwest, Stormy Kromer’s classic cap was a team effort between a husband and wife seeking a cap which would stay on and keep your ears warm! Stormy Kromer is a household name in adventure families and a comfortable way to enjoy those crisp days without worrying about frostbite. They even have styles to keep the tykes toastie. From wool vests to caps and beanies, this practical gift option is durable and adorable.
HydroFlask water bottle
For road trips, short runs, or to throw in the pack for a quick front country foray, this tough water bottle has been a favorite of our Rural (and very outdoorsy) TravelingMom for years. Her dented and dinged blue bottle has seen many miles and still keeps water cold and refreshing for hours on end! This mini-investment will make any adventure better for active travelers on everyone’s list. You can even customize your colors for a very cool canteen.
Layering is the key to enjoying outdoor events and adventures as any savvy active traveler knows. The Terramar Cloud Nine 4-Way Stretch Brushed Long Sleeve Scoop Neck top can work as a cute undershirt or as a functional way to keep warm as a next-to-skin layer for those day-long ski and sled-ventures this season. Terramar Sports carries a variety of warmth-rated garments to keep adults and kids toasty sun up until the last lift ride of the night.
Odds and Ends and Stocking Stuffers
Puffy jackets and vests are a staple in winter warrior wish lists. However, no one wants to leave a fluffy trail of feathers after a hike in the woods. It happens to the best of gear; punctures mean leaking insulation and ultimately less loft. NoSo patches are an easy way to minimize damage. Bonus: they look better my old Duct tape patch job! Wear it like statement jewelry for your winter warmies. The small packages make great gifts for active travelers and are fantastic stocking stuffers too, for around $14.99!
Eagle Creek Pack-It shoe sac
When you’re active in your travels, good soles are a must. Which means packing a few pairs of shoes, at times. If you’re really outdoorsy in your travels, there’s a really good chance your shoes are trashed or at least not worthy of mingling with your delicates on the inside of your suitcase. Eagle Creek makes great packing solutions and the shoe sac is a favorite for solving this very problem. The ultra light weight sac won’t add much to your manifest weight while keeping all of the proof of your last adventure contained.
You can really never go wrong with gifting a good pair of wool socks to a loved one. Outdoorsy travelers know the feeling of setting off with fresh, new socks is one of the best in the world! This rural TravelingMom has been a Smartwool diehard since 2004 and has since passed the gearhead gene to her kids, who also love great socks. With arguably the best size range on the market, infants to grown ups can have cozy toes.
Rite in the Rain Notebook
Travelingmoms always have thoughts and stories spinning in their heads. Many of us carry a notebook (old school!) or at the very least make notes on our phones when we travel. The only journal which has held up to white water rafting, mountain climbing, and hiking in a rainforest has been the Rite in the Rain variety. These little rugged books, although not much to look at, will keep your words from smearing into oblivion and make a great stocking stuffer!
Outdoor Gift Guide – Active Traveling Kids
Yukon Charlie’s Snowshoe Youth Kit
Get the kids into the outdoors at an early age! This awesome starter kid for younger kids will ensure the snow babies can keep up with mom and dad in the future, by letting them find their snow legs early. Fresh powder during Christmas break will never look so good as it does to the kids that have a little extra motivation to get out and play. The kit includes aluminum snowshoes from Yukon Charlies along with poles for extra confidence and ease. The set retails for around $50.00 but will last much longer than the hard plastic variety and looks a lot like mom and dads!
Slackline Industries Playline
This packable piece of equipment fits well into any car and will make your campsite the most popular in the park! Kids (and grown ups) will love testing their balance and skill on a slackline. Hours of fun and friendly competition will get you moving. To get the kids excited, check out some YouTube videos of slackline athletes doing crazy tricks. Add this element of excitement to the campsite or the backyard for around $50.00, depending on the kit you choose.
686 Winter duds
Any of the experienced outdoorsy moms in the crew will tell you: warm kids are happy(er) kids! 686 makes kids and adult performance gear perfect for days on the slopes, with options rated to outlast the coldest days on the mountain. The audio pocket is a nice addition, making tunes easily accessed for extra motivation. Some models have a pocket for ski and lift passes. Perhaps the coolest thing though, is the 686 Youth Evolution Multiple Sizing System, allowing you to get a little extra mileage out of the gear.
Ultimate Experiences to Gift Outdoorsy Travelers
National Park / America the Beautiful Annual Pass
For $80 (at the time of publication), give the gift of our nation’s great outdoors. Make sure to check the government website, as the rules can change about the number of vehicles, people, and other regulations which are covered, depending on the agency and site. It’s certain, though, a National Parks pass is a rad gift for those active travelers and outdoors lovers in the family!
Cloud 9 Living Experiences
This company is devoted entirely to giving the gift of experience. Some experiences are as simple as a massage; others include race car driving or white water rafting. Check out the website and see if there is something you’d love to see a friend or family member experience this season instead of contributing to their clutter!
Folks like to get after the powder. If your friend or relative is a ski bum, you can’t go wrong by purchasing them a ski-related gift. Lift tickets, season passes, or some other gesture to get them access to their favorite runs are sure to please! Perhaps you’ll get them into a new valley to try some fresh routes they’ve been meaning to conquer. If you’re an adventurous grandparent, ski lodges sometimes have promotions for grand kid/grandparent combos which are worth looking for when you’re gifting ski fun.
So, there you have it. Since you’ve been outside playing, your shopping list is probably about half complete. Take advantage of a rainy day or the lack of snow in your area. It’s not too late to find the perfect gifts for the active travelers close to your heart.