2020 Holiday Gift Guide - 73 Ideas For The Outdoorsman On Your List
Updated: Oct 13
It's not even Halloween yet but I am already seeing a lot of holiday gift guides being published - the best gifts for tech junkies, the best gifts for foodies, the best gifts for people that already have everything and on and on. So, I wanted to share a few of my personal favorites for the outdoors person on your holiday list. Now you can get a head start on that shopping.
I have broken this list into seven categories: backpacking, fly fishing, hunting, clothing, accessories, "by the fireplace" and "the ultimate".
A few notes.
First, I have an affiliation with a few of the brands that made this list but if I don't love it, I didn't list it. Virtually every product to make the cut I either own or have in-depth, first-hand experience with, so I am speaking from personal insight when making the recommendation.
Second, I am a "buy it right and buy it once" kind of person so I believe in quality over quantity - that is reflected in what you see here. I would be glad to answer any questions or send you more in-depth information any any of these items if you'd like.
Third, while many of these gifts are not gender specific there are some items that are "men's"- in these cases, the majority of these brands have amazing women's gear as well.
Last, I have intentionally curated these gift ideas to highlight quality items at every price point depending on the naughty/nice scale. There should be a little something here for everyone no matter how bad they have been.
1. Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry Rechargeable Lantern ($50) - The ultimate packable, rechargeable lantern for any trip. https://princetontec.com/product/helix-backcountry-rechargeable/
2. Princeton Tec Axis Rechargeable Headlamp ($60) - A super bright (450 Lumens) rechargeable headlamp perfect for all things backcountry. https://princetontec.com/product/axis-rechargeable/
3. Goal Zero Venture 30 Power pack ($80) - A powerful and portable 7,800 mAh weatherproof charger for phones, headlamps etc. https://www.goalzero.com/shop/venture-power-banks-accessories/venture-30-power-bank/
4. Katadyn Outdoor Hiker Pro Micro Water Filter ($85) - Probably the most compact and lightweight water filter with double-action pump on the market. https://www.katadyn.com/us/us/42894-8019857-katadyn-hiker-pro-transparent_usa
5. Optimus Stoves Elektra FE Cook System ($100) - This fuel-efficient, high-performance cook system includes the stove, heat exchange pot with lid , clip-on windscreen and ignitor. https://www.optimusstoves.com/us/us/16999-8020709-optimus-elektra-fe
6. White River Knives Backpacker Pro ($125) - The perfectly-sized, razor-sharp, and incredibly versatile survival knife and Kydex sheath. https://www.whiteriverknives.com/collections/survival/products/m1-backpacker-pro
7. Danner Crater Rim Hiking Boot ($330) - Rugged waterproof nubuck leather American-made hiking boot with GORE-TEX liner and Vibram soul. https://www.danner.com/men/hike/crater-rim-6-brown.html Read a full review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-danner-crater-rim-6-waterproof-hiking-boot
8. Osprey Packs Xenith 75 Backpack ($350) - Feature-rich 75-Liter backpack perfect for long weekends or week-long outings. https://www.osprey.com/us/en/product/xenith-75-XENITH75S18_564.html Read the review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-osprey-xenith-75-backpack
9. Big Agnes Star Fire UL 30 Down Sleeping Bag ($470) - Insanely light and packable mummy bag filled with water-repellent down. https://www.bigagnes.com/Star-Fire-UL-30
10. Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL3 Tent ($500) - Ultralight, three-season, three-person (2 big people) backpacking tent. https://www.bigagnes.com/Copper-Spur-HV-UL3-2020 Read a full review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-big-agnes-copper-spur-hv-ul3-three-season-tent
1. Flyfisher's Guide to Michigan by Jon Osborn ($30) - The inside scoop on Michigan's fly waters written by my good friend, Ozzy. https://www.amazon.com/Flyfishers-Guide-Michigan-Jon-Osborn/dp/1940239214
2. Kast Gear Black Ops Steelhead Gloves ($100) - Thin, waterproof, breathable cold-weather fishing glove. https://www.kastgear.com/collections/gloves/products/kast-steelhead-glove
3. Brodin S2 Trout Landing Net ($120) - Beautiful Costa Rican-wood landing net with mother of pearl measure marks and eco-clear net bag. https://www.brodin.com/online-store/S2-Trout-p104120269
4. Scientific Anglers Amplitude MPX Floating Fly Line ($130) - The slickest, fastest, most-durable floating fly line - especially perfect for faster-action rods. https://www.scientificanglers.com/product/amplitude-mpx/
5. Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Sling Pack ($230) - Bomb-proof, submersible fly fishing sling pack. https://fishpondusa.com/thunderhead-submersible-sling
6. Costa Corbina Polarized Sunglasses ($260) - The ultimate polarized fishing glasses featuring 580 glass lenses. https://www.costadelmar.com/en-us/sunglasses/CB-97963464567
7. Snowbee USA Nivalis Hooded DownJacket ($300) - A perfect down-filled, weather resistant, hooded, cold-weather jacket. https://snowbee-usa.com/collections/clothing/products/snowbee-down-jacket
8. Waterworks-Lamson Standard Seat Freshwater Fly Rod ($300) - Medium-action high-quality fly rod at an entry-to-mid-level price point. https://www.waterworks-lamson.com/product/standard-seat-freshwater-rod/ Read the review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-waterworks-lamson-standard-seat-freshwater-fly-rod
9. Redington Sonic Pro HD Waders ($400) - Durable, comfortable 4-layer waterproof, breathable waders with welded seams and lots of pockets. https://www.redington.com/fly-fishing-waders/sonic-pro-hd-wader
10. Outcast Sporting Gear OSG Striker Raft ($2,800) - The most bad-ass portable 2-man fishing raft ever invented. https://www.outcastboats.com/rafts/osg-striker-raft.html
1. Smartwool Hunt Extra Heavy Crew Socks ($25) - Itch-free, stink-free, extra tall and durable Merino wool hunting socks. https://www.smartwool.com/shop/hunt-extra-heavy-crew-socks-sw001351
2. OnX Hunt Mapping App - Elite Package ($100) - The best GPS mapping tool for hunters, hands down. https://www.onxmaps.com/hunt-app?ref=nav
3. Alaska Guide Creations Hybrid Bino Pack with M.A.X. Pocket ($105) - The apex of bino harnesses/protection with lots of pockets and non-intrusive fit. https://alaskaguidecreations.com/products/hybrid-m-a-x
4. White River Knife and Tool Sendero Classic Knife ($300) - Heirloom-quality hand-crafted, classic-style knife made in collaboration with Jerry Fisk and White River Knives. https://www.whiteriverknives.com/collections/hunting/products/senderoclassic
5. Latitude Outdoors Classic Saddle Starter Kit ($310) - Everything you need to get started in saddle hunting in one perfect, made-in-the-USA package. https://www.latitudeoutdoors.com/collections/hunting-products/products/the-classic-kit
6. YETI Tundra 65 Cooler ($350) - It's a Yeti so you know the drill: heavy duty, bear/bomb-proof, ice-keeping magic that's worth every penny. https://www.yeti.com/en_US/hard-coolers/tundra-65-cooler/10065200000.html#start=1 (Or go all in on the the new $800 V-series stainless steel model: https://www.yeti.com/en_US/hard-coolers/yeti-v-series/YVS.html#start=1)
7. Lowa Tibet Superwarm GTX Boots ($460) - If your sturdy backpacking boots and your warm hunting boots had a baby this would be it. https://www.lowaboots.com/mens/backpacking-mountain-hunting-cold-weather/tibet-superwarm-gtx-slate
8. Maven B.1 8 x 42 ED Binoculars ($900) - Maven's flagship all-purpose optic featuring ED glass and superior low-light performance. https://mavenbuilt.com/collections/binoculars/products/b-1-8x42-10x42
9. Bronc Box Modular Storage System ($995) - The Sherman tank modular storage and transport system to protect your weapons and gear. https://shop.broncbox.com
10. Browning Citori 725 Filed O/O Shotgun ($2,500) - Simply one of the most beautiful and versatile modern over-under shotguns ever produced. https://www.browning.com/products/firearms/shotguns/citori-725-shotgun/discontinued/citori-725-field.html
1. Howler Bros Electric Hat, Brown ($30) - This hat is lucky. What else do you need to know? It's luckier in red, but the brown is solid too. https://howlerbros.com/products/howler-electric-standard-brown-khaki-s20 Find out more about this lucky hat here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/lucky-hats
2. Mountain Khakis Camber 107 Canvas Pants ($80) - Heavy-duty, canvas-style pants perfect for brush busting. https://www.mountainkhakis.com/collections/mens-pants-canvas/products/mens-camber-107-pant
3. Mountain Khakis Teton Flannel Shirt ($85) - The thickest and softest flannel I have ever owned, and I've owned a few. This one is my favorite. https://www.mountainkhakis.com/collections/mens-flannel-shirts/products/teton-flannel-shirt
4. Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip ($120) - It's like a sweater but, you know, better. https://www.patagonia.com/product/mens-better-sweater-quarter-zip-fleece/25523.html
5. KUHL Burr Canvas Jacket ($120) - Versatile combed-cotton canvas jacket with patina finish that performs as good as it looks. https://www.kuhl.com/kuhl/mens/outerwear/burr-jacket/
6. Stio Eddy Water/Wind Resistant Shirt ($130) - The do-everything, any-weather, all-purpose camp shirt. If you can only own one shirt the rest of your life, this is it. https://www.stio.com/products/mens-eddy-shirt-ls?variant=32111406678081 Read the review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-stio-long-sleeve-eddy-shirt
7. Stio Thermop Fleece Shirt ($150) - Kind of like a flannel and kind of like a fleece, this shirt is insanely warm and insanely comfortable. https://www.stio.com/products/mens-thermop-fleece-shirt?variant=32133351505985
8. Stio Azura Insulated Vest ($170) - Lightweight and warm vest in a stylish trim cut. https://www.stio.com/products/mens-azura-insulated-vest?variant=32120786026561
9. Filson Fleece-lined Jac Shirt ($175) - It's not a jacket and it's not a shirt - it's somehow both. Cotton canvas lined with fleece that is totally bad ass and 100% Filson. https://www.filson.com/men/shirts/jac-shirts/fleece-lined-jac-shirt.html
10. Filson Mackinaw Wool Cruiser Jacket ($395) - Buy this in red and black plaid and your outdoor cred increases exponentially just for wearing it. An absolute classic. https://www.filson.com/men/outerwear/jackets-and-coats/mackinaw-cruiser-alaska-fit.html#sku=11010043-fco-000000844
1. Orvis Angler's Fish Pint Glasses ($20) - Unique trout-pattern pint glasses that look amazing and feel substantial in the hand. https://www.orvis.com/p/angler-s-pint-glass/2kr8
2. Zippo Classic Brushed Brass Windproof Lighter ($24) - If it was tough enough for the boys in World War II it's tough enough for any adventure. The iconic Zippo stands as a legendary and distinct symbol of America. https://www.zippo.com/products/classic-brushed-brass?_pos=11&_sid=32b2c46e6&_ss=r
3. Whiskey Leatherworks Fish/Upland Print Dog Collar and Leash ($35/$39) - Handmade with Latigo leather, solid brass components and one-inch webbing in a variety of patterns, these leashes and collars are as unique and beautiful as the dogs wearing them. https://whiskeyleatherworks.com/collections/fish-upland-print-dogs Read the review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-whiskey-leatherworks-pheasant-pattern-dog-leash-and-collar
4. Sanborn Canoe Company Scout Cribbage Board ($65) - Handcrafted in Minnesota and matching their popular canoe paddle designs, this cribbage board is perfect for the cabin. https://sanborncanoe.com/scout-cribbage-board/
5. Filson Tincloth Packer Hat ($75) - Classic Fedora styling in a water-resistant, oil finish Tin Cloth. https://www.filson.com/tin-cloth-packer-hat.html read the review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-filson-tin-cloth-packer-hat
6. Whiskey Leatherworks Bradford Fly Wallet ($90) - Crafted by hand in Missoula, Montana this leather and wool fly wallet is nothing short of a work of art. https://whiskeyleatherworks.com/collections/fly-wallet Read the review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-whiskey-leather-works-bradford-fly-wallet
7. Sightline Provisions x Whiskey Leatherworks Copper Flask ($125) - What happens when you two of your favorite companies get together and work on a flask? Pure Awesomeness. https://whiskeyleatherworks.com/collections/whiskey-leatherworks-x-sight-line-provisions/products/sight-line-provision-x-whiskey-leatherworks-flask
8. Hultfors Aby Forest Axe ($150) - Bigger than a hatchet and smaller than an axe, the Aby is the perfect camp companion for chopping and splitting. Hand forged and made from Swedish steel with an American Hickory handle and leather sheath. https://www.hultafors.com/products/axes/H0253-aby-forest-axe/160449
9. Petromax 500 HK Chrome Lantern ($200) - German engineered with over 200 pieces assembled by hand, the Petromax lamp is the oldest and most well-known pressure lamp in the world. As beautiful as it is practical. https://www.petromax.com/products/light/light-lamps/ Read there review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/gear-review-petromax-hk-500-chrome-kerosene-lantern
10. Luminox Atacama Field Watch 3122 ($890) - When the folks that make watches for the Navy Seals decide to make a field watch, this is what you get. Water-resistant Swiss quality in a simple, understated design featuring the famed Luminox illumination system. https://luminox.com/collections/land/products/atacama-field-automatic-1907-nf
BY THE FIREPLACE: Pour a drink and crack a book...
In The Glass:
1. Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon ($30) - My go-to Bourbon. Drinks well above its price tag. https://www.buffalotrace.com/our-bourbon.html
2. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon ($35) - My second go-to if I can't get my hands on my first go-to. https://www.woodfordreserve.com
3. Ironfish Maple Bourbon Whiskey ($50) - Totally unique and amazing straight, but even better in an Old Fashioned. https://ironfishdistillery.com/bourbon-whiskey-finished-in-maple-syrup-barrels/ Fix it like this: Salted Maple Old Fashioned - https://ironfishdistillery.com/salted-maple-old-fashioned/
4. Eagle Rare 10 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon ($60) - Buffalo Trace's slightly more sophisticated big brother. https://eaglerare.com
5. Jefferson's Bourbon Ocean Aged ($80) - My go-to when I want something a little fancier. Imagine Jefferson - now age it in oak barrels out to sea. Delicious and unique. https://jeffersonsbourbon.com/jeffersons-ocean/
Alt #1. Almavia Bordeaux ($ varies depending on year) - Simply the best red I've ever tasted, and that's saying something. http://www.almavivawinery.com/en/the-wine/
Alt #2. Bourbon County Stout ($15-$20) - Just so damn good. The perfect cold-weather Stout with (more than) a hint of Bourbon. https://www.gooseisland.com/beers/barrel-house-beers/bourbon-county-stout-2020
On The Bookshelf:
I had a really hard time whittling down the book list, so I tried to choose a wide range. shoot me a note if you'd like some other ideas, I have a bunch.
1. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing - The ultimate Type-3 adventure story. If it was fiction it would be unbelievable. It's not. This is typically the first book I recommend to anyone when they ask.
2. Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose - A well researched, insightful and enjoyable-to-read work memorializing the Herculean efforts of Lewis and Clark's journey and documentation of the vast unknown western territories.
3. Winterdance by Gary Paulson - An often hilarious recounting of one man's Iditarod journey while enduring snowstorms, frostbite, dogfights, moose attacks, skunks, sleeplessness and hallucinations in the relentless push to go on.
4. Sources of the River by Jack Nisbet - A true story of adventure following the field journals of David Thompson while exploring the rugged Northwest Territory.
5. Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey - Ed Abbey unleashed in his natural element. An autobiography full of raw, often rough but beautiful, funny, philosophical and poetic prose about the wilderness he loved.
6. A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold - Perhaps Leopold's seminal work, A Sand County Almanac outlines his "Land Ethic" in thoughtful, philosophical yet poetic prose and should be required reading for anyone who cares about conservation or the natural world.
7. That Wild Country by Mark Kenyon - If you care about the outdoors, wild places, public land, road trips with family and friends, campfires, hunting, hiking, fishing, camping, history or a good old fashioned yarn, my friend, Mark, covers it all as he winds his way through the tangled and often tenuous 150-year history of the 640 million acres of land owned by the American public. Read the review here: https://www.allenoutside.com/post/book-review-that-wild-country-by-mark-kenyon
8. The Longest Silence by Thomas McGuane - The thirty-three essays inThe Longest Silence take us from the tarpon of Florida to the salmon of Iceland, from the bonefish of Mexico to the trout of Montana all Infused with a deep experience of wildlife and the outdoors, finding moments to be both reverent and hilarious.
9. Trout Magic by Robert Traver - Described as a warm, joyous, and maverick look at trout fishing and its attendant tall tales, strange happenings, and all-around fishing lore. Robert Traver is a masterful storyteller and this book belongs on the shelf of every fly angler.
10. Body of Water by Chris Dombrowski - Originally from Michigan and close friends with the late Jim Harrison, Dombrowski is both a poet and Montana-based fly-fishing guide. In Body of Water, he recounts his trip to the Bahamas, where he met an aging guide who taught him about fish and life. This affirming work features reflections on his experiences catching and releasing bonefish, the history and geography of the Bahamas, the construction of fishing rods, stories he has told his children, and the difference between fishing or hunting for sport and for dinner.
11. Spring Creek by Nick Lyons - Spring Creek is a classic read that recounts the author's experiences during the month he spent trout fishing and should not be missed by anyone who fly fishes and dreams of the "perfect fly fishing experience." Lyons writes about us, the regular, average fly fisher and our doubts about our fishing skills and worthiness to be in such a wonderful place.
12. The Bear by William Faulkner - It's short and about a bear. But the bear is a metaphor for the natural world and man's interaction with it. Beautiful prose and engaging dialogue Faulkner style.
13. The Nick Adams Stories by Ernest Hemingway - A classic volume of 24 short stories following the adventures and mishaps of the central character, Nick Adams, conveyed in the iconic, sparse but gripping prose only Papa can deliver.
14. The Road Home by Jim Harrison - In what I believe to be one of Jim Harrison’s greatest works, five members of the Northridge family narrate the tangled epic of their history on the expanses of the Nebraska plains. Chock-full of powerful, gut-ripping prose that expose the deception of passion, the pain of love, the vitality of art, and the supplication to nature's generosity and fury. To get the complete story, I also recommend reading the accompanying story, Dalva, either prior or after.
15. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy - If you've never read McCarthy before, hang on! This is an epic novel of the violence and depravity that attended America's westward expansion based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s. It traces the fortunes of the Kid, a fourteen-year-old Tennesseean and rolls through a whole cast of interesting characters along the way. Dark and haunting with some of the most vivid metaphors I have ever read.
1. Classic Ford Broncos Restored 1977 "The Hutch" - I mean honestly, do I need to write anything? If you know someone that loves the outdoors, has a weakness for sheet metal and anything classic and has been REALLY REALLY good this year, look no further. https://classicfordbroncos.com/build/the-hutch/
Many of these items can be found at local retailers. In Michigan, I highly recommend Jay's Sporting Goods, Bill & Paul's Sporthaus, Pere Marquette River Lodge, Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company, Nomad Anglers and The Bottle and Can.