Ultimate Outdoorist Gift Guide

The ultimate holiday gift guide for outdoorists and advocates.

Oh hello, gift giving season. Our Christmas tree is twinkling, the first ornament has been hung, and I am itching to start filling the base with treats for friends and family. I love the holidays.

Looking for the perfect thing to please the outdoorists in your life? You could just head to that “gifts for $15 and under” section of semi-worthless junk at Target–or you could fill your Christmas shopping list with thoughtful presents for people who deserve something more than a cheaply made enamel camp mug with a mustache on it.

The following list is full of my favorite products, worthy causes, and unconventional ways to give this season. Do good for the holidays.

Spoiler alert: This list goes beyond gear. Yes, I love a good sleeping bag–but I love doing good, taking care of myself, and taking care of the planet even more. And the holiday season is about more than just “stuff,” right?

Put Your Money Where Your Activism Is

Let’s be honest, most of us don’t need any more *things*–and sometimes, folks can be downright difficult to shop for (I’m pointing at my very picky, very particular boyfriend right now). The best gift you can give is putting your cash towards a good cause. Whether it’s a single-time donation, a sustaining contribution, or an annual membership, donate in your giftee’s name. Here are my top causes this season:

  • The Bears Ears Education Center Kickstarter. As the area sees skyrocketing recreation visitors, it’s our job as the folks who are making it so popular to provide educational resources to make sure visitors are good stewards to the land with a proper understanding of the areas history. This project does all of that. Proud to be a small part of this. Give. Them. Your. Money.
  • For the climate wonk: Protect Our Winters! Make a donation, or shop at their rad digital store. I love the work that POW is doing, and so should you.
  • For climbers: Make someone a member of American Alpine Club +/or Access Fund. Or, think locally, and make them a member of their local climbing coalition.
  • Because public land is native land: Folks keep asking me where the best place to send their money to support the ongoing fight for Bears Ears, and I think donating directly to the legal battle is an important cause. My dad asked where he should donate, and Len from Natives Outdoors said Native American Rights Fund is really leading the charge, so, NARF it is.

Small Acts of Eco-Friendly Lifestyle Changes

Outdoor advocacy is about more than just being pro-public lands. It reaches into the way we live our lives–and it begs us to be more conscious about our every day choices that can deeply affect our planet. Here are a few of the items I always have in within reach:

  • Never use plastic utensils again, go bamboo. I use my To-Go Ware Bamboo Travel Utensils set religiously. This set travels easily, cleans easily, and provides a palpable sense of self-satisfaction every time you ditch single-use ware.
  • Every human needs a reusable tote. I have about 20, but my favorite is the Cotopaxi Iba Tote. A) Sweet colors. B) Little pocket. C) Quality construction. D) Versatile use from groceries to road trip catch-all bag.
  • Reusable drinkware is the future. And by future, I mean now. I live for my teal Hydro Flask 22 oz stainless steel tumbler (with a ‘Do Good’ sticker slapped on it, of course). And coffeeshops usually fill up the whole thing for the price of a small coffee. If you want something with a tighter close, check out the 32 oz. bottle. Bonus: the gift recipient will think of you every morning when they refill their coffee!
  • For the straw lover: Simply Strawsnon-profit collection helps you keep plastic out of our oceans, and donates a percentage of each sale to organizations like Protect Our Winters.

Self-care, My Favorite Kind of Gift

Self-care is one of the greatest gifts you can give to outdoor advocates who spend their days calling reps, organizing community rallies, and fighting to protect the places they play. In the last year, I have found myself constantly emerging from the other side of intense politically-driven work sessions feeling exhausted. Bubble baths are my bff, acupuncture is my new go-to, and small self-love moments like face masks and chocolate croissants are what keep me charging. My picks:

  • Literally anything from Ursa Major. Naturally derived ingredients, all cruelty-free, smells like heaven, hip packaging, and my favorite skin care brand. These gift sets make it easy to find the perfect package. My go-to products are the face balm and 3-minute mask. Want 15% off your order? Use the code MORNINGFRESH, valid until 12/31/17. 
  • The Teva Ember Moc (bonus points for the velvet). Treat yo feet. Weird lookin’? Yes. Fuzzy comfy nest for your winter feet? Also yes. This gift idea doubles as a killer camp shoe + a comforting footwear for those “I’m staying up until 4 AM working on a public lands project” nights.
  • If you’re in SLC, check out The Little Wellness Place. It’s where I go for acupuncture, and has truly changed my life for the better. Gift someone an hourlong session, and they’ll thank you profusely.
  • Sweat it out. I recently did a monthlong Class Pass, and I loved it. This is a great gift for someone trying to find their personal fitness groove, or for someone who just moved to a new city and needs to test out the local way to get active. Yoga, spinning, boxing, cardio, it’s all there. Bonus points if you get yourself one too, because workouts are way better with a bud.

PS: I totally qualify edible treats as acts of self-love/self-care. Bring someone a pizza. Nothing says “I value you as a human and think you’re great” like a fresh-outta-the-oven pizza. Or donuts. Or tacos. Or homemade pie.

Support Your Local Economy + Artists

I could happily receive nothing but gifts from the local SLC farmers market for the rest of eternity. The markets, shops, and artisans in your town are the best resource for close-to-home gifts. Head to the farmers market for seasonal jams, handmade jewelry, bath bombs, even fresh food if you’re giving your gift promptly. Here in SLC, we have a pop-up called Salt & Honey, where all the craftsfolk from around the county set up mini vendor booths all in one incredible space. It’s only open for a few weeks, and I could spend my entire bank account in there–and when your support your local economy, everyone wins.

Because the east coast doesn’t get enough love: check out the map + outdoor prints, puzzles, and postcards from We Are Brainstorm. They donate a percentage of sales to organizations that are relevant to each corresponding piece in their collections, like Friends of Acadia, the National Park FoundationPCT Association, Access Fund, and the Society for Science.

And here are some of my favorite female artists (and overall humans) from around the west:

Ditch the Screen for a Good ‘Ole Paperback

Yeah, I said it, go read a book. Despite having a degree in creative writing, I am admittedly terrible at putting down ‘work reads’ and picking up books. So, let’s all change that. These are a few of my favorite things I’ve been reading, and all the authors are lovely colleagues in the industry who you can feel good about supporting.

Phew, that oughta last you for Christmas, birthdays, and all other gift-giving holidays. But if it didn’t: the folks at Cotopaxi came up with their own gift guide, here, which features a few of my favorite new items from their collection, including the Kusa Bomber Jacket. And if my guide isn’t quite cutting it, Paulina at Little Grunts also put together a gift guide for outdoor advocates.

Am I missing anything? Did you totally score as a gift-giver from reading this guide? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. +1000 if you send me a photo of someone opening their gift, I’m such a sucker for the holiday spirit. 

And when all else fails, get ’em an annual national parks pass.

Note: There are a few affiliate links scattered around in here, because, why not. 

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A Holiday Gift Guide for Dirtbag Climbers

So, what do you buy for that dirt-caked, vagabond person on your shopping list who responds “I want to live in a van” when you ask them what they want to do when they grow up? You could waste your money and purchase a gift that encourages them to get a real job and start planning for the future – or you could embrace their dirtbag lifestyle, which is totally what you ought to do.

These items have all been put through my yearlong adventure living in a van to climb across the country, so they’re 100% dirtbag approved. Give this guide a gander, and spoil the dirtbag in your life with a thoughtful and practical holiday gift:

Kendal Jackson BagsA Homemade, One-of-a-Kind Chalk Bag

Since the beginning of my climbing career, I’ve had one chalk bag – a Kendal Jackson Bags original, a beige canvas sack with little earth-colored mushroom fabric accents. It’s my lucky charm when I climb. Kendal Jackson is a wonderful friend of mine from Tampa, who makes beautifully crafted bags that are sold everywhere from Four Bridges Outfitters in Tennessee to Rock Ventures in New York. You can order one of his already made creations, or you can make a request for custom work. With so many generic chalk bags dangling from harnesses, climbing with a one-of-a-kind is something to be proud of – and you’re supporting a small, family-owned, made-with-love business. Win-win, all around. (And stay tuned for a Kendal Jackson Bags giveaway soon!)

Climbing at Red River Gorge with my Yellow 108 Travis Beanie.Something to Keep Your Noggin Warm

Climbers spend a lot of time exposed to the elements. We all claim to love cold weather for prime sending conditions – but life in freezing temperatures can get pretty miserable. I was gifted a Yellow 108’s Travis Beanie at the beginning of my yearlong climbing trip, and I’ve been wearing it religiously ever since. Made with 30% hemp and 70% recycled organic cotton/hemp, this beanie is as cozy as it is stylish – and when you live in a van, you need all the style points you can muster. Keep your ears warm while covering hair that hasn’t been washed in over a week? Yes, please!

Bonus points: The products made by Yellow 108 use either recycled or salvaged.

 

A Way to Stay Charged – For Free

Goal Zero Nomad 7 solar charging kit.Here’s the thing about dirtbags: We’re really cheap, and usually broke. Spending money on anything is just not on our to-do list, which makes solar power quite enticing – the sun is free! Goal Zero makes a huge selection of products that help you harness the sun’s rays and turn them into energy that can power everything from phones and laptops to blenders and electric razors (both true stories, Niko loves making fruit smoothies in the van, and our buddy Spenser from The RV Project once used our solar battery to power a haircut in Squamish). Our entire van is powered by Goal Zero products, and we absolutely adore it all. For a first-time solar user, I would highly recommend the Nomad 7 Solar Panel. Solar power is the gift that keeps on giving!

Hiking the Annie U White trail in Boulder with the Topo Designs Klettersack.A Sack for All Your Gear

Again, I’ll reiterate something about dirtbags: We don’t always look too good. We’ll wear the same tatter tank tops for years, refuse to buy new gear, and rarely even register how disheveled we often look. Topo Designs creates the perfect products to sneakily offer climbers a way to combine style with functionality. My favorite pack is the Klettersack, a sleek piece that takes aesthetic cues from vintage design while providing durable portable storage for everything from laptops and electronics to camping supplies and climbing shoes.

My favorite part about Topo Designs? The products are proudly made in the USA – right in beautiful Colorado – and the folks behind the brand are all wonderful.

 

Billabong Brady Slippers.Cozy Non-Hiking Shoes to Warm Your Toes

If you hear a climber mention “prime sending conditions,” it probably means that the temperatures are dipping far below what normal folks would consider pleasant. After jamming frozen toes into down-sized climbing shoes all day, there’s nothing like relaxing and restoring blood flow to your feet with a pair of cozy boots. Surfdome recently sent me a pair of Billabong Brady Slippers, and these comfy slippers make my toes feel like royalty. They admittedly aren’t the most durable pair of fluffy boots, but check out this collection of boots for some snug inspiration from brands like The North Face and Sorel. Bonus points if you spoil the dirtbag in your life with one of those pairs of boots that have battery-powered heaters built in!

Something to Sip by the Fire

This gift suggestion is something that won’t be accompanied by a specific product endorsement – but the overall message here is this: dirtbags love campfires, and dirtbags really love sipping booze by that fire. The most obvious choice here is whiskey, but a six-pack of quality craft beer is just as enjoyable. Bonus points if you get something brewed or distilled locally!

Stocking Stuffers:

ClimbOn Lip Balm – For the climber that already uses a hand balm, step up their game with a little lovin’ for their lips.
PROBAR – Cookie dough flavored nutrition bar that packs 20 grams of protein (and it’s organic and vegan), need I say more? Probar is currently my favorite energizing snack on the trail.
Action Wipes – No words needed. Dirtbags are, well, dirty. Help ‘em stay somewhat presentable for those rare occasions when we need to interact with the rest of society.

What are you buying for the dirtbag on your shopping list?
Dirtbags, what do YOU want for the holidays?

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The easiest tent you’ll ever own: Review of the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent

Here’s the first full review from my Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Adventurers.
Check it out, and stay tuned for the rest of the reviews!

Picture this: You’ve finally arrived at your campsite – and it’s now 2:30 AM. You’re exhausted from the drive, but your car is too jam-packed with adventure equipment to allow for sleeping comfortably in it. What’s the last thing you want to do right now? Spend ten minutes fumbling with tent poles and hooks in order to snag a wistful few hours of sleep before waking up and deconstructing your tent all over again.

Major bummer, dude.

Now picture this: Same late-night camping scenario, same levels of I-just-want-to-sleep, but now you’ve got a Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent. You grab the bright yellow sack that holds your tent, unroll it, and within about 45 seconds, you’re ready for bed. You snuggle up in your sleeping bag while your buddies fumble around with their clunky tents.

Niko sets up our Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent at Grandfather Mountain Campground in NC.

Major victory, dude!

When Niko and I received our Outfitter XXL Quick Tent, we were elated – even more so when we managed to go from a sealed package to a set-up tent in less than three minutes. And that was our first time EVER setting it up. We were both instantly impressed, but the real test came when we took the Teton Sports tent on its first adventure to North Carolina for the Hound Ears Triple Crown climbing competition.

After keeping us cozy through misty mountain mornings, light afternoon rain, and some pretty gnarly wind gusts – the Outfitter XXL Quick Tent passed our camping test with flying floors.

Here’s what I love about the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent:

  • It is the easiest tent I have ever camped with. Both set-up and take-down are simple tasks that take less than a minute.
  • It packs down extremely easy, and the roomy stuff sack doesn’t require a battle to get the tent packed away. With a weight of only 4 lbs, it’s light and easy to carry.
  • The tent was designed as a topper for camping cots, but the waterproof base and sturdy structure makes it an ideal tent for ground camping as well (I have only used it directly on the ground).
  • Where many tents offer a small window or two, the Outfitter XXL is entirely wrapped with see-through mesh, so if the weather allows you to go without the rain-fly, you can wake up surrounded by natural beauty.
  • When the rain-fly is up, there is an ample vestibule area for keeping your dirty hiking boots sheltered from the elements without dragging them into the tent. Plus, the rain-fly is easily assembled with four simple clip-ons.
  • While a larger person may find this to be a one-man tent, Niko and I fit perfectly together in it. This is a great tent for adventure couples.
  • It’s my favorite color – and it totally matches my big yellow van.

Peek-a-boo, that's me creeping inside my Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Quick Tent.There is only a single caveat I have with the world’s easiest tent: there are no pockets. But what I love about Teton Sports is their amazing receptiveness to user feedback. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if their next tent release features a pocket.

The bottom line: I would highly recommend this tent. It retails at $100, but could easily sell for upwards for $200. The value can’t be beat, but it’s the impossibly simple set-up that will win you over instantly.

Don’t believe my rave reviews about how quickly this tent sets up? Check it out for yourself:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctjyEtu8coo]

Want more from the folks at Teton Sports?
Send ‘em your thoughts on Twitter, or check out the Teton Sports Facebook page
– they’re always hosting giveaways and posting great outdoor content!

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