As the holiday season approaches, days get colder, and that familiar smell of peppermint-and-pine-and-spice fills the air, there’s another thought that hits my mind: time to start buying gifts. It’s not that I’m all of a sudden filled with amazing gift ideas and I’m ready to shop – oh no. I just see all the signs for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and think, oh crap, time to start buying stuff. Because I work in the outdoor industry, I often purchase gifts for my family and friends that I know they wouldn’t purchase for themselves. Things like wool socks, or new bike lights, or cast iron pans. And that makes sense, I think. But when the tables are turned, I know that there isn’t much in the way of gear my family can buy for me. Not to mention, as a self-proclaimed Gearhead, I know I don’t really need a lot of the things that I want. My family now knows that I don’t want them to buy me anything I don’t ask for (not for selfish reasons, but for the simple lack of need: see this post on that) and yet I still find myself purchasing and gifting presents just because I feel like I should. But why? If my friends and family understand my desire for less, and respect it, shouldn’t I in turn practice what I preach? Shouldn’t I avoid giving them more stuff, too?
I did a little research on gifts for gearhearsnand found a wide variety of options – but many of them suggest gift boxes or small knick-knacks. While monthly gift boxes like Cairn and stocking stuffer knick-knacks match the give-and-get holiday theme, you can wind up sending someone way more stuff than they want or need. And I don’t know about you, but I want to give presents that will actually be used!
So, what do you give the gearhead who has everything? Turns out, there are some awesome gift ideas out there: and all are things you use or use up (let’s call them Useupable Gifts), not just more stuff to clutter a gear room. So, I’ve compiled a list of seven gift options for the gearhead in your life who really doesn’t need any more stuff. I’m sure there are tons more, so if you have any awesome ideas, drop them in the comments!
In no particular order…
Fireside Provisions is like the Blue Apron for backpackers, minus the auto-renew subscription. You pick out what type of trip your taking: is it an overnight, a weekend trip, a day hike, or a longer backpacking trip? Then choose your meals and snacks accordingly. You can pick from breakfasts like Fennel Potato Sausage Hash, to Gourmet S’mores for dessert. It’s definitely pricey, which is what makes it a great gift! Gift the backpacker in your family a $75 gift card, and they’ll be able to buy a weekend box for two with some good ol’ classic s’mores. Things to keep in mind: there are not many options for vegetarians, and Fireside Provisions only ships to a limited number of states.
2. REI.com Gift Card: for outdoor school classes
Lots of people have heard of REI, the largest consumer co-op in the country. But few people know that the company also teaches outdoor school classes! Classes range from very free to very expensive (sometimes $300 or more) depending on the curriculum, but there’s a whole range of excellent classes for less than $100, and even less than $50. While you can’t purchase gift cards specifically for the outdoor school, any REI gift card can be used to pay for the class. This means it’s easy to send someone a gift card and let them pick the class and date that works best for them! Consider including a suggestion and calendar of upcoming classes. Things to keep in mind: REI classes can fill up quickly, so provide some suggestions that are far out just in case a class is full. Also, if for some reason the giftee is not an REI member, tack on a $20 membership, and sign them up for life.
Okay, so this doesn’t get used up… but Misadventures Mag is just too awesome to not include. If you’ve got an outdoorsy girlfriend, sister, mom, dentist, landlady, ally, or basically any other #forceofnature in your family, gift them Misadventures. Misadventures is an online and twice-yearly print magazine that is created by and curated for women. It focuses on female writers, adventurers, and athletes. For $19 a year, you can get both the Winter and Summer print editions delivered to your door, or you can find Misadventures in stores through this helpful tool. They’re only on Issue 4 of the print edition, and so far, Misadventures is killing it. Things to consider: Okay, I know I said this whole list was stuff that could be used or used up, and a magazine doesn’t get “used up.” But one or two editions of an awesome magazine are great pass-along presents. Encourage your adventure gal pal to pass them to another Force of Nature when she’s done.
4. Necessities Gift Basket
I’ve always loved gift baskets full of food. You get those fancy chocolates, little cracker snacks, and all sorts of other things one doesn’t generally buy for themselves. So why not cater a gift basket towards an upcoming trip? While I haven’t seen a gift basket of this sort, I think it’d be a great idea to give someone a Trip Necessities gift basket. Grab a reusable shopping bag, and load it with fuel, snacks, a few backpacking meals, some First Aid refill supplies, coffee or tea, and a flask full of your favorite alcohol. Happy adventuring!
5. Repair Kit
While I was in Alaska this summer, our tent was mauled by a bear. No, we weren’t in it, and no, we didn’t leave food or anything smelly in the tent. The bear just attacked. Yes, bears do sometimes just get curious and attack stuff. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but turns our bears haven’t learned that lesson just yet.
Long story short, duct tape and Gear Aid Tenacious Tape saved the day, and got me and my travel buddy back on the trail.
Ever since then, I think EVERYONE should carry a repair kit. You can buy pre-made repair kits like this one from Gear Aid, but consider putting together your own. Replacement stove parts, some duct tape, or even a small pair of scissors are always good to have on hand. Pack it all in a small stuff sack, and stencil something clever on the side, like MACGYVER TOOL KIT. Things to consider: this doesn’t just need to be to repair tape. If you’re giving this to someone who tends to, ahem, slack on carrying the First Aid essentials, consider including some Neosporin, super glue, and a fire starter.
I realize this isn’t super creative… but a massage is always a great gift for athletic people, especially those who don’t take care of their bodies. Which, in my experience, is all of us. Check Groupon for awesome deals in your area, or ask your own masseuse (if you’re fancy enough to have one) for a gift card.
7. Pack or Bag Patch Swag
I know I’m not the only one who proudly attaches patches to my pack or duffle! If your friend has recently taken a trip to some place cool, consider getting them a patch to wear proudly on their bag or gear-hauler. Things to note: The ones that get sewed on are a heck of a lot sturdier, but do require a sewing machine. That, or a heavy-duty needle and iron fingers.
8. Off-Season Yoga Studio Gift Card
Look, everyone gets lazy in the off season. Why not encourage the other adventurous people in your life to stay balanced and limber? As a climber, I feel like yoga is a great way to keep in shape and body-aware when it’s too rainy and cold for touching real rock. Most studios do gift cards for 10-class passes, or check Groupon. Or hey – check your climbing gym! Many now offer yoga classes.
9. Homemade Trail Latte
Mix up a delicious instant coffee latte so your friend can start their morning right! This is not for the lactose intolerant or sugar sensitive, but it sure is tasty!
In a blender, mix 6 tbsp instant coffee, 1/2 cup instant nonfat milk, and 3 tbsp confectioner’s sugar. 2 tbsp = one mug of coffee, or roughly 10 oz of coffee, so this recipe makes roughly eight servings. Dump into a mason jar, write the portion and servings on the lid, and gift to your friend for their next camping adventure, or lazy weekend morning: because this is good enough to just drink in your pajamas at home.
10. Homemade Hippie Trail Cereal, I.E. Muesli
Muesli is making a comeback! If you never had muesli before, I recommend making your own following this formula, instead of buying it at the store. Muesli is basically just fancy oatmeal, and can be eaten cold or warm. This makes it the perfect trail cereal! Make a jar to give to a friend, or even pack 1-cup servings into reusable bags.
The great thing about muesli is that pretty much any combo goes. But in case you need some inspiration, below are some recommendations to get you started.
Oats + Coconut + Dates
Oats + Barley + Cranberries + Almonds
Oats + Sunflower Seeds + Cherries
Barley + Pumpkin Seeds + Dried Apple
Or, if you want a more exact science and a recommendation for how to make it camp and trail friendly, I’ll post my own favorite recipe up here pretty soon. Stay tuned!
What do you think? Do you have any great gift ideas that don’t just gift more stuff? Or have you received the perfect usable holiday gift in the past? Leave a response in the comments below!