Thankfully, there are loads of outdoor retailers out there now—big and small—that are making quality products. They are consistently using the latest and most innovative techniques, materials, and processes to provide outdoorsmen the best gear to have a challenging yet comfortable and relaxing time when heading outside.
But it can be tough to sift through all of the marketing claims and tech mumbo jumbo to find the toughest, smartest, and most cost-effective outdoor clothing, tents, packs, and other products. A glance at this gift guide, though, will put any gift-giver (or a guy wanting to pick up something for himself) on the right path to top brands and products from the outdoor industry. These picks are guaranteed to give your guy the gear to make his outdoor experiences memorable—and put a smile on his face when he tears off the wrapping.
Hand-free illumination is a must when futzing around the campsite or exploring in the dark. The Actik Core offers a bright 350 lumens that will effortlessly light up the night. An included rechargeable by USB battery is estimated to save about $1,000 in battery cash and a reflective headband means you’ll be easily seen.
Everybody needs to have a knife by their side during woodsy trips, and the lighter the better. This new sheepsfoot knife from Gerber only weighs 2.3 ounces but features a blade that’s a little over 3 inches and a special SharkSkin grip to keep it in your hands at all times. Flat top serrations at the base of the blade make it simple to sharpen.
If you love the idea of ultralight backpacking but don’t want to really commit to the pared-down style, take a look at the Paragon. It connects the minimalist world with the cushier and relaxed domain of outdoor maximalists with a sleek alpine design and light(ish) weight coupled with an aluminum chassis for excellent ventilation and solid load stabilizing. Two zippered pockets on the belt keep essentials near and special shoulder strap system lets you quickly store your sunnies.
You don’t have to worry about your down bag losing loft and warmth in damp environments with the Nitro, which is stuffed with 800-fill feathers that are treated with a hydrophobic finish called DriDown. Guys who have hot feet will love the slick, zipperless foot vent on this lightweight mummy that allows you to poke your dogs in and out all night with no fuss.
Space is a premium in ultralight tents. The prevailing design for shelters feature sharply curved walls that limit movement and make you feel cramped at the sides—the Copper Hotel solves that with poles that have a more vertical cant before bending at the top. A huge vestibule makes storing gear or stinky dogs easy, but it only weighs 3 pounds, 7 ounces on the trail.
The days of wearing clunky and heavy leather boots when backpacking are quickly coming to a close. But if you want a super-light boot that still gives you the ankle support and weather-proofing of a big boot but feels like you’re racking up miles in agile basketball high tops, check out the Ultra Flex. A knobby Michelin sole provides ultimate traction and a Gore-Tex liner keeps out water.
This new U.S. brand was started by an engineer from India who wanted to create products that breathe well and perform comfortably in hot and humid conditions. The Kameng uses an eVent membrane that has millions of micropores that help disperse moisture buildup inside the boot and also keeps out any inclement weather. Paired with a burly Vibram MegaGrip sole and a tough suede and Cordura upper, these boots are ready for any terrain.
These days, merino wool has made its way into all kinds of gear—shells, pants, hats—but the sheep fleece is still optimal for base layers. Icebreaker’s Tech line is perfect for fall and milder winter conditions with mid-weight fabric that helps regulate your body temp while staying odor-free after a long day in the mountains. Flat seams and a half zip ensure a comfortable and chafe-free fit.
For more active pursuits in the mountains, take along the Ventrix. It features new dynamic ventilation technology—air permeable fabrics, vent holes in the armpits and inner lining—that lets you stay warm while venting out the heat and moisture generated when playing hard outside. Tougher fabric on the forearms keeps rips and tears at bay.
Whether hiking, hunting, or hanging out around the fire, a pair of Smartwool merino wool PhD socks are an essential piece of kit. This hunting-specific pair has all that you need when tromping though the woods, like a super-durable wool blend, four-way stretch, mesh venting, and an achilles strap for better stability and warmth. But their extra-tough technical construction also makes them perfect for long treks on trails and other outdoor pursuits.
Your grandfather probably wore wool pants when he headed out to split wood or sit by the lake for some late afternoon fishing. The natural fabric is water resistant and warm, but back then it was thick and scratchy, making any outings uncomfortable. Today, wool-focused companies like Ibex are turning out high-tech apparel out of the old stand-by. The Gallatin Pursuit pants are top-of-the-line wool wear. The heavyweight brushed twill pants also feature 100 percent woven wool panels over the knees for extra protection from wind, water, and wear.
From the company that first patented the quilted down jacket back in the ’30s comes the EverTherm, a new type of down jacket sans the bulk or puffiness. Made with a new Thindown fabric—basically a down textile—it can be sewn into the seams so there’s no chance of shifting but still provide the warmth (down to -15 degrees) and packablity (11 ounces) of a puffy.
This new release is touted as the jacket with the best warmth for weight ratio of any jacket Patagonia has ever made. Instead of down, it uses a PlumaFill synthetic insulation that mimics the structure of down so you get the toastiness and compressibility of down, but gain the ability of synthetics to perform even when wet. Minimal details like no elastic shock cords or cord locks help the Micro Puff weigh in at only 9.3 ounces.
Made with Columbia’s award-winning OutDry waterproof, breathable fabric, the Ex Eco is also notable because it’s made with no “intentionally added” toxic perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) or any dye, which saves over 13 gallons of water per jacket in production. It’s also created from 100 percent recycled fabric sourced from 21 plastic bottles. Oh yeah, and it will keep you dry in the wettest, wildest weather.
You can’t go wrong with something from American heritage brand Filson to pair with your classic camp shirt, and the new Quilted Pack jacket is aces. Light enough to keep from roasting yourself while tending the fire, but with PrimaLoft Gold insulation and flannel-lined pockets, you’ll stay toasty when hunting for downed wood in the forest.
Sitting down to pry off your damp and dirty boots after a long day in the woods is one of life’s most enjoyable experiences. But once you free your swollen feet from your socks, make sure to slip them into a pair of lightweight Glerups. Made from thick felted wool with a flexible calfskin sole (look for the new natural rubber sole option on November 15th) these supremely comfy shoes are a must around camp.
Ditch the old enamelware mug or your single-wall steel cup and step up to the MiiR Camp Cup. This double-walled beauty has a hard powder coat on the outside for long-lasting durability and is made with medical-grade stainless steel so there’s no metallic aftertaste or transfer of strong flavors like burnt coffee. Slap on the lid when heading out for an early morning hike and you’ll stay splash free.
Preparing meals, washing up, and even setting up camp often has to be done in the dark, whether you got into camp late or want to head out in the pre-dawn hours. A nice, bright—and light—compact lantern like the new Apollo can help make those chores easier with its glare-free, 250-lumen glow. You can run it on an internal rechargeable battery or 3 AAs, and can even use the USB port to charge your phone.
Sitting down after a hard day’s fun is always better with some frosty brews. This Hydro Flask bundle is perfect for you and your buds since it comes with three hard-coated, stackable pint cups. The 64-ounce, double-walled growler will keep beer cold up to 24 hours and the Fresh Carry System is designed to make sure that golden nectar is still carbonated.
When car camping, you usually end up bringing a lot of extra gear because you aren’t restricted by weight considerations. That’s why a nice roomy duffel bag is key. This 1,000-denier monster from Montana-based Mystery Ranch, purveyors of tough and durable bags and packs since 2000, has a horseshoe-shaped zipper for easy entry, hidden backpack straps for ultimate portability, and a bunch of pockets inside and out for miscellaneous gear.
When you want to haul a bunch of beers—or some food and drinks that you want to keep cold—around the outdoors, a soft cooler is ideal. This just-released burly Boss promises to keep ice icy for multiple days and the bomber shoulder straps and suspension system mean you can carry your chilly essentials wherever your boots will take you. Lots of clip points and three pockets make it easy to bring along a collection of coozies and a few bottle openers.
If you’re serious about trail running, an Altra shoe is probably where you’ll end up. The Superior 3.5, an update to its award-winning 3.0, continues the company’s goal of building a better shoe with zero drop from heel to toe and a roomy foot box for a close-to-natural foot feel. It’s light and flexible with an airy mesh upper but features a tough and grippy DuraTread outsole to shred trails and has a removable rock plate to go featherweight.