Finding the perfect gift for a traveler or outdoorsy person can be tough, especially since plane tickets and high-end outdoor gear can be pricey. Most of my picks are under $200, including some great finds under $50. I’ve gear tested all of these and use them during my travels. Happy shopping and adventuring!
Be a Better Packer With My Travel Gear Favs:
Gregory Packs Border Travel 30L ($149.95) – My obsession with this backpack is real. I’ve used it for a winter hiking trip in Moab, ski trip to Banff, snowmobile overnight trip in Yellowstone National Park, for a 3-week trip to Ecuador and Colombia, and for a weeklong trip to Italy. The split-case design makes it super easy for packing. One side has ActiveShield technology that is vapor and odor resistant. You can get so much stuff in this pack and it’s comfortable, which is why it’s become my go-to carry-on pack for international trips. I tend to leave a little room in the pack so I can stuff my small crossbody purse and puffy jacket while travel. That also gives me a little squish room so I can fit it under the seat on a plane.
Mystery Ranch Spiff Kit ($65 for large, $45 for small) – Any toiletries bag that makes me change from the one I’ve used for 5+ years must be amazing. This one is somehow spacious and compact at the same time. I have the large size and it holds everything from my makeup bag to emergency kit. This spiff kit is amazing.
Mystery Ranch Zoid Bags ($16, $18, $19 – $53 for trio) – I’m a fan of packing cubes and a huge fan of this trio. The small bag is 1.5 liters. Medium bag is 3.5 liters, and the large bag is 7 liters. They’re durable and shockingly hold a tremendous about of stuff. I first gear tested these in late September on a work trip to Wisconsin combined with a trip to San Antonio for a wedding. In the medium bag I was able to pack all my stuff for wedding outfit except my dress including shoes, clutch, bra, jewelry, and still had a little space. They’re now standards in my luggage. I can’t believe how much you can into the packing cubes!
For the Trekker or Hiker:
Zeal Optics Nucla ($149.00) – These polarized shades blend performance with style. They come in black, plum, tortoise, and ocean. Mine are ocean with horizon blue lens. These sunnies are flexible and durable, plus they’re plant-based and ultra-light weighing less than an ounce. The Z-Lite thin injection frame is made of a plant-based Z-Resin injected with microscopic air bubbles. The Z-Resin is from the castor plant replacing use of traditional plastics and significantly reducing amount of CO2 produced in manufacturing. The Ellume polarized lenses are also made from Z-Resin. If you’re like me and drop your shades from time to time, don’t worry. These are impact resistant and lenses have a scratch resistant hardcoat. These are functional enough to wear hiking, yet stylish enough you’ll get asked who makes those shades during a weekend brunch on a patio. Zeal Optics is a Boulder, Colorado company. Their sunglasses are designed in USA and made in Japan.
SCARPA Rush GTX shoes ($188.95) – I gear tested these waterproof Gore-tex hiking and trail running shoes while in Ecuador and Colombia. I couldn’t believe how lightweight they are which makes them perfect for travel. I didn’t need any break-in time with these. They were great for the get go. With the waterproofing and grippy sole, they were excellent hikers in rainforest terrain. These were the first pair of SCARPA shoes I’ve tried and I’m now a fan of the brand. They’re my new favorite hikers!
Kahtoola RENAgaiters Low ($49.95) or RENAgaiters Mid ($59.95) – I became a huge fan of Kahtoola after I got a pair of their EXOspikes. Those were my top pick in my 2021 Holiday Gift Guide. This past summer I tested the RENAgaiters in both low and mid versions. They really help to keep dirt, sand, and debris out of your shoes while hiking. I can’t wait to test out the Mid version while snowshoeing this winter.
Outdoor Research Echo Hoodie ($69) and Helium Rain Jacket ($159) – These are two pieces I wish I would have had for my Everest Base Camp trek. The Echo Hoodie is ultralight, breathable, and it has active odor control made from bio-based, silver-free technology. It comes in a variety of colors. I got mine in fuchsia, but likely adding another one in a different color because I like it that much. The Helium Rain Jacket is an ultralight rain jacket. It’s seam-taped and waterproof, yet breathable because of Pertex® Shield diamond fuse technology. It’s also windproof. I got the color Sprout, but Treeline would be a great holiday gift color. It packs into a pocket so it’s easy to toss into your backpack or suitcase. I’ve worn mine in the rain and as a lightweight windbreaker. It’s great for the trail or for a tropical vacation and pairs great with the Echo Hoodie.
For Winter Adventuring:
Minus 33 Woolverino ¼ Zip Micro Weight Hoodie ($109.99) and Reversible Shade Beanie ($24.99) – This hoodie is super packable, lightweight, and keeps you comfortable. I tested during a 3-week trip to Ecuador and Colombia and was especially grateful to have it while braving gusty winds, cold temps, rain, and snow while in Cajas National Park. It’s a unisex design and an excellent layering piece. Because it’s a merino wool fabric it will keep you comfortable in hot, cold, wet or dry conditions. I pair it with the Woolverino Reversible Shade Beanie. This beanie is micro weight but warm. It’s perfect for a high-intensity workout on a cold day and perfect for travel when you need a hat. Plus, it’s reversible.
Outdoor Research Melody Pullover Hoodie ($89) – The logan green color I got is perfect for Christmas. This hoodie has thermo-regulating technology that works to keep you comfortable and dry during high exertion activities in winter. I’ve worn it hiking Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, as a mid-layer snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park, and aurora watching in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Outdoor Research Shadow Insulated Hoodie ($199) – It’s called a hoodie, but really, it’s a puffy jacket that’s warm without being bulky. Mine is in elk, which is a rich plum color. Like the OR Melody Pullover Hoodie, this has thermo-regulating technology. It’s wind and water resistant. If it can keep me warm on a windy, snowy day in Rocky Mountain National Park and while doing a live segment from near Everest Base Camp then I know it’s a great piece.
For the Beachgoer and Tropics Adventurer:
Costa Del Mar Untangled Collection Sunglasses ($226) – For someone who’s out on the water a lot, Costa Del Mar sunglasses are a must. Their Untangled collection is made from 97-100% recycled fishing nets in a partnership with Bureo NetPlus to keep discarded fishing nets and gear out of the oceans. Mine are the Caleta style and I first gear tested them during a New Year’s trip to Roatan, Honduras. They are pricey, but worth to the money to protect your eyes on the water or beach. I love the plum frames and gray lens combination. For extras, add the Costa Clarity Kith ($11), loop retainer ($10), and Topo C-Mask ($15).
Booe Waterproof Belt Bag ($79.99) – I bought this to use during a boat day to the Rosario Islands while in Cartagena and to keep gear dry while in the jungle in Colombia. Because of its TRU Zip waterproof zippers and durable TPU coated waterproof fabric, it is airtight, submersible, and floats. It’s great for boating, kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boarding. The zipper keeps dust out so it would be great in the desert or on OHV adventures. It has an adjustable strap so you can wear it around your waist, as a crossbody, or on your shoulder. It’s great for keeping your phone, cash, sunglasses case, portable charger, keys, or whatever you might need on the water or adventuring but want to keep dry or dust free. It has an interior phone pocket with a clear screen so you can use your phone without taking it out of the bag. I found it to be a great extra tech bag and stored my headlamp, waterproof phone case, a portable light for filming, and small flashlight. Mine is moss green. It comes in 7 colors.
ZAGS UPF 50+ Blissful Dots Party Poncho ($118) – ZAGS is a woman-owned company based in Charleston, SC specializing in sun savvy style with colorful SunWraps and Ponchos. My first purchase was the Blissful Dots Party Poncho. This travel chic piece is lightweight, packs well, and has 50+ UPF protection. It’s great for a beach or boat day, but I’ve also worn it out to dinner and wine tasting. It’s sun savvy chic and versatile.
Bye Bye Dry Skin (Traveling and At Home):
Kate McLeod Daily Stone ($45 for starter kit, $38 for regular stone refill, and $12 for mini stone) I got this as a gift and immediately became a big fan of this company with a big focus on sustainability. The solid lotion is perfect for home or travel. With scents of rose, frankincense, and neroli, the Daily Stone is heavenly as it melts on contact. It’s luxurious and all natural. It comes in a reusable bamboo canister. For the travel size, there’s a bamboo fiber travel case ($22) for easy storage on-the-go around the world or just to the gym. There’s a variety of scents. This company was started by a pastry chef. The company donates 2% of total annual revenue split equally between climate and mental health non-profits.
Naples Soap Company Florida Fresh Body Oil ($22) and Body Butter ($36) – My dear friend Tiffany sent me these two products along with their Coconut Lime Loofah Soap and Florida Key Lime Natural Soap so I could add a little “Florida Ocean” to myself care routine. I love when friends share their favorite finds, especially when they are made in the USA and from a woman-owned company. Plus, the products are made using natural and organic ingredients. The founder and CEO is a nurse and created the line when searching for products for her eczema and psoriasis and her daughter’s eczema. I use the body oil on wet skin before I get out of shower. The rich body butter is luxurious on my skin in Colorado’s dry climate. The soaps are fabulous too. I love taking a quick trip to Florida’s coast with each of these.
Apple AirTag ($27.98) and AirTag Keychain Holder Case 2Pack ($7.99) – I started using two AirTags when I had to check my trek bag on way to Nepal for my Everest Base Camp trek last Spring. I loved seeing where my bag was and having the peace of mind my trek bag made it as soon as I landed in Kathmandu. I also had one in my Gregory Packs Border 30L since I was leaving it in storage at a hotel while I trekked. I now always have an AirTag in my carry-on roller just in case it must get checked and I have one in my backpack, usually attached to my keys in a secured pocket. With the AirTags I also got the keychain holder case 2 pack. The cases are waterproof, shockproof, and easy to secure to a zipper or something in luggage. These would also be great if you use an AirTag on a dog collar. I got a 2 pack in clear, but you can also get them in a 4 pack and in colors.
Lovani Mini Hair Straightener ($14.38) – I have very curly hair and this mini flat iron works wonders on my hair, especially on my bangs and around my face, while traveling. It’s a tourmaline ceramic flat iron with dual voltage so you can use it around the world. It comes with a heat resistant bag that has a back pocket for the power cord. Plus, the price point is under $15!
Lotus Sustainables Reusable Produce Bags ($17.99 for 9-bag pack) – Ditch the plastic bags at the grocery store and use these instead. They’re eco-friendly and machine washable. These tight-knit mesh bags are multi-purpose. They’re great for bagging produce at the grocery store, but at home you can use them for storage of loose items, kids’ toy storage, and for travel. I use one to keep the bathing suit, flip flops, and coverup that’s always in my carry-on bag together. I also use a designated one for shoes. They’re great as a road trip laundry bag too. The 9-bag pack comes with 3 different sizes and three colors.
An assortment of hydrating face masks and eye gels, hand and toe warmers, and gift cards for gas, hotels, and flights always make great stocking stuffers. I’m also a big fan of sharing the gift of the outdoors with a gift card for the U.S. Park Pass or state parks pass. Subscriptions to magazines like NatGeo (Digital only is $19, Print and Digital is $39 a year) are great too! Gift cards and subscriptions are great for Audible and Kindle for avid readers. Apple gift cards for Apple Books and iTunes are always good gifts for travelers, hikers and adventurers.
Author Jennifer Broome gear tests outdoor and travel products throughout the year searching for products for her annual gift guide and that she uses. For past holiday gift guides, check out 2021, 2020, 2019, and 2018 lists.