All I want for Christmas … is gear! Is there really any other way to finish that sentence? We’ve put together a holiday shopping guide that goes outside the normal stuff you might find online for yourself or any other hikers, backpackers, skiers or other action sports enthusiasts you may be buying for. At the very least we hope this gives you a little inspiration to be creative with those gift choices for your loved ones this year.
While we varied the kinds of items listed in our holiday shopping guide, we also opted to steer clear of certain things like boots and shoes and backpacks, because the fit and feel of footwear and pack gear is so specific to the user. There’s really no “best” when it comes to a a hiking boot or a day pack, only what’s best for your specific body shape and your biomechanics. That said, we are including other clothing items, so be sure to keep a close eye on sizing when making any purchases.
When making our choices, we certainly went for items that stand out from the pack, and that means they have to have features that make them perform well, be durable and bring something special to your outdoor fun and adventure. We also chose to highlight major brands and some great performance niche companies that we love as well!
This shopping guide only scratches the surface of some of the amazing clothing and gear items out there. There are backcountry cookbooks, performance hoodies, down jackets and trekking poles that are well worth considering, just to name a few. It’s admittedly hard to pick just one from those kinds of categories, so we encourage you to click the links to see some of the best ones you can buy, or visit our products and review pages for even more!
For this list, check out these 22 great action sports gear items from our holiday shopping guide.
1. Rockay Razer Trail Running Sock
Denmark-based Rockay came onto the scene in 2018 and has been scooping up major recognition ever since. The unisex Rockay Razer, a trail-focused crew sock, is constructed from Econyl regenerated nylon, a recycled material that uses fishing nets and other ocean waste. The Razer has midsole compression as well as cushioning built into the ball and heel, and the structure of the sock offers superior stability for runners.
The company uses a 200-needle thread count to give the yarn a wonderfully buttery feel. That feature also allows for a denser construction (aiding durability, especially in trail socks) and provides good stretch and recovery due to tighter tension. The top of the sock balances the ease of circulation with enough snugness to keep dirt and debris from getting inside. The sock as a whole is virtually seamless.
2. Belong Designs Women's Forest Peak Leggings
Designed with the mountains in mind, Belong Designs‘ Forest Peak Leggings have a trendy outdoor mountain pattern. But most importantly, they boast a PrimaFlex material that’s lightweight, breathable with 73 percent polyester, 27 percent spandex — they feel like a second skin, moving with your body and feeling soft inside and out. And, they aren’t see-through when stretched (nor will the image design blow out), so you’ll be hiking on the trail with confidence.
With two compression leg pockets, you can fit your phone and other small personal items securely while you’re on the trail. They’re full length and fit true to size without too much compression. For all-day wear, these leggings will keep you comfortable and could easily become your favorite hiking leggings.
3. Helly Hansen Vertex Hoodie
There was no questioning Helly Hansen’s focus on performance with the Vertex Hoodie. A honeycomb fabric structure, coupled with mesh pockets, spoke to how breathable this hoodie was. It’s one of the lighter such pieces that Helly has in stock, and if you hold the hoodie up to the light, you can see how thin the material is. And, to be clear, this isn’t a cheap or manufacturing-shortcut kind of thin — the weave of the polyester/elastane blend and the strength of the seams were nothing short of high-quality and spoke to a garment that would long be durable.
This would be an ideal hoodie either to layer under a softshell or to use as a top layer on chilly spring or summer mornings, when the cool air gives way to the heat a few hours after sunrise. The Vertex is suited for high-intensity activities, and with its ability to function well while camping, mountaineering, backcountry skiing, or trekking, among a host of other sports, there was little doubt about how suitable it is.
4. LIVSN Flex Canvas Pants
Considering how durable they are, the LIVSN Flex Canvas Pants are surprisingly lightweight while worn. Many of the more subtly integrated features — like a gusseted crotch, articulated knees, zippered rear pockets, knife pockets on each leg and reinforcements at all stress points — help to make these much more than your typical adventure pants.
The exterior fabric, which is a custom EcoFlex Canvas that LIVSN’s produces, is highly durable, something that I appreciated during a rock scramble I wore them on. Under normal usage, there’s no real threat of these pants tearing, and any dirt and debris you may get on them when you sit down for a break or for a meal brushes off quite easily. A lot of double-stitching helps to ensure that these pants will hold up over the long haul.
Truly a standout feature in the material and construction is the mesh seat liner, which makes the Flex Canvas Pant particularly comfortable and does a great job of wicking sweat away during the hotter part of the day or during some strenuous activities. The legs can roll up and be buttoned close to the knee. The EcoFlex material does a nice job of laying flat and packing small.
5. CamelBak Zephyr Running Hydration Vest
A dream for ultra-long distance runners and fast-packers, the CamelBak Zephyr Vest is engineered with body mapping for optimal ventilation and designed to perform for your specific pursuit. It’s lightweight and maxed out with safety features. There’s a secure cell phone pocket, built-in safety whistle, and attachment point for your trekking poles.
Hydration is at the ready with two Quick Stow flasks at the front of your vest for easy access. And since you’re always on the run, the ultra lightweight material is treated with Polygiene to keep bacteria at bay from one stretch to the next.
Want to know how to choose hydration systems? Read our guide.
6. AfterShokz Titanium Open-Ear Wireless Bone Conduction Headphones
Aftershokz Titanium headphones use bone-conduction technology, which many athletes have come to know as delivering audio through the cheekbone rather than directly into the ear. These leave your ears open to better hear oncoming traffic, race officials or other cyclists who may be coming upon you. They’re also the style of headphones recommended by race organizations such as Ragnar Relays.
They’re IP55 certified to repel sweat, dust and moisture; they’re comfortable; and they have a nice long battery life, which is billed at six hours.
7. LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Pole Pair
These three-section poles are ideal for the experienced through-hiker with a luxury price tag. Considered the “Cadillacs” of ultralight trekking poles, they’re adjustable and boast a comfortable foam grip called an AERGON grip, which features a hollow core construction to save weight and create an edgeless, rounded grip for comfortable gripping at all angles especially for “palming” on steeper terrain. These carbon fiber poles weigh in at just 16 ounces. You can easily adjust them with the metal flip lock. Overall, these poles are ideal for extreme hiking for long distance hikers encountering rugged and diverse terrain.
The poles use a PE coated, Kevlar reinforced tension cord for long term reliability and have an external locking device. The shaft adjusted for use between 43 inches and 51 inches.
8. Wanderer Bracelets
If you’ve never heard of the Wanderer Bracelet company before, their bracelet pendants are crafted by hand out of water buffalo bone in a Balinese artistic style that has been passed on for generations. Because they are handmade in Bali and not mass-produced, each pendant takes its own slightly varied shape, meaning no two will ever be the same.
A thin rope connects each of the various pieces. The company says, “Weaving is a deeply important part of Balinese culture. Each morning, you will find Balinese locals placing offerings called ‘canang sari’ — small woven baskets filled with flowers, incense, and other items — in streets and temples as a thank you to the gods to maintain balance and peace on earth. All of our bands are hand-woven to honor this important Balinese practice.”
The centerpiece item features an array of customizable options — including coordinates for any special place you want to honor — while the latch has it’s own creative design for you to choose from. While the coordinates style was certainly my favorite, other options include the time/date of when a couple met, the crossing of their initials, or letters engraved on a heart design. No matter what it is, it should evoke something emotional for you and your significant other, as well as something deeply personal.
Wanderer has built a dynamic culture around their brand, and includes materials in each shipment to help adventurers tell their story and to share why they chose what they did for their particular bracelet.
Read more of what we wrote about Wanderer Bracelets here.
9. Beyond Clothing Modus Jacket
The fit and feel of the Modus Jacket will immediately draw you in. It is tailored in all the right places, and some of the most recognizable features, such as the stitching and zipper construction, readily stands out. It also offers a four-way stretch, which is vital for any premium jacket that wants to earn its spot in a world of highly mobile adventuring.
The Modus Jacket will do a nice job keeping you comfortable and dry during a light rain or when a 30-minute pop-up storm sneaks over the mountains.
But staying dry throughout a day of hiking has a lot more to do with the inner fabrics of the jacket than with the outer shell. The lining of the Modus is made of bamboo charcoal yarn, which is naturally antibacterial, antifungal, moisture wicking and insulating. The lining also is a mesh construction, which enhances its wicking characteristics and makes for pleasant travels even while descending to some of the lower (and warmer) elevations.
The Modus Jacket has an interior right breast pocket and an external left breast pocket, both of which are zippered, as are the hip pockets and sleeve pocket. The cuffs are adjustable, and the main zipper has a garage at the chin.
Read our full review of the Modus Jacket here.
10. Garmin GPSMAP 64st
This is a functional and affordable option for folks who are looking to get out into the woods, and truth be told, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the models in the 64 series. The GPSMAP 64st features a 2.6-inch sunlight-readable color screen and a high-sensitivity GPS and GLONASS receiver with a quad helix antenna for superior reception. GPSMAP 64st includes a 3-axis electronic compass with barometric altimeter, wireless connectivity and preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps plus a 1-year BirdsEye Satellite Imagery subscription.
This is the GPS unit that’s clipped to my wilderness search and rescue pack right now, and it does particularly better than older Garmin models in heavy canopy cover.
11. FITS Medium Hiker Sock
This hiking sock will knock your socks off — without literally feeling like you want to knock your socks off after a long day of hiking. This is the flagship sock that the FITS company was built on — a pursuit of creating the best hiking sock in the world. With the patented Full Contact Fit technology, these FITS Medium Hiker Crew socks are designed to stay securely on your foot all day long without constricting your movements.
The sock is designed to cradle your foot with every step you take, these men’s hiking and they feature high-impact cushioning around the entire foot so you stay comfortable and supported throughout hours of intense activity. They’re constructed from 70 percent Merino wool, 22 percent nylon, 6 percent polyester and 2 percent Lycra.
12. Phoozy Thermal Capsule XP-3
The Phoozy XP-3, designed in North Carolina, is intended to reflect 90 percent of solar radiation, so keeping it sitting on your towel during a few hours at the beach isn’t going to destroy your phone. Everyone who has been in a situation where their smartphone is in direct sunlight for too long knows the device overheats and shuts down — the Phoozy is billed as protecting against temperatures up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other end of the spectrum, cold weather can be torture on a battery, draining far more rapidly than normal. The Phoozy should keep your smartphone safe down to negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Probably my favorite feature of the Phoozy is its flotation capabilities. Drop it in the drink, and it pops right back up, laying flat on the surface of the water. The case isn’t waterproof but, rather, water resistant.
The XP-3 also boasts “military-grade drop protection,” claiming to keep the phone safe in a drop of up to 3 meters, which is more than double military-grade standards.
13. Osprey Daylite Waist Pack
Practical, comfortable, capable-and made for smart and stylish people on the move — all from a brand name in packs that everyone can trust, Osprey. The Daylite Waist Pack is straightforward and spacious, keeping your wallet, keys and other valuables close to your body. Hike, bike or take Fido for a walk with peace of mind knowing your belongings are safe, sound and secured around your body.
14. Snow Peak LiteMax Titanium Stove
Crafted from Japanese titanium, Snow Peak’s LiteMax Titanium Stove is ultralight and powerful, making it a perfect addition for the backcountry. The stove’s foldable arms offer a built-in windscreen for maximum flame protection. At a mere two ounces, the LiteMax is Snow Peak’s lightest stove and is barely detectable in your pack.
When in use, it has dimensions of 4.9-by-3.14 inches, and stowed is 2.6-by-3.14 inches.
15. Juniper Ridge Essential Oil Gift Set - 5-Pack
All of the Juniper Ridge steam distilled essential oils in one box. These are the purest expression of what Juniper Ridge does. Sustainably harvested from wild plants, every drop is steam distilled in the Oakland, California, workshop. These essential oils are the beauty of the West Coast’s wild places, naturally distilled and bottled for you to experience. When you can’t escape the city, let Juniper Ridge help you bring nature home.
Juniper Ridge Essential Oils work in all diffusers. Or try pouring a few drops in a warm bath or on the floor of the shower. Juniper Ridge essential oils can be added to your favorite unscented cosmetic, skin, and hair care products.
16. Emmerson Creek Pottery Appalachian Trail Mug
If you’re looking for something truly unique and personalized, Virginia-based Emmerson Creek Pottery has this handpainted Appalachian Trail mug, celebrating this iconic National Scenic Trail. This mug was designed years ago by one of Emmerson Creek’s former decorators, who to this day continues to create beautiful, nature-inspired art. And it’s fitting for this region: people love hiking along the Blue Ridge Mountains, and all of that inspiration is captured in the design of this mug.
The Appalachian Trail Mug is a one-of-a-kind piece, and you can even seen its creation in this Facebook video. Sign up for Emmerson Creek’s newsletter, and you’ll get 10 percent off the price.
17. Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
Keep yourself protected using the Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat. A moisture-wicking headband keeps sweat and water away from your brow and out of your eyes, keeping you comfortable and cool to do what you love in the great outdoors. Never lose your hat thanks to the adjustable drawcord, making this hat perfect for those wild adventures.
A wide shade with a varied foam-stiffened brim width and UPF 50+ rating protects your face and neck from hot, sunny days.
18. Cotopaxi Fuego Hooded Down Jacket
The Fuego is Cotopaxi’s quintessential down insulation layer. It’s made with responsibly sourced, water-resistant 800-fill goose down, making it the lightweight down jacket that people can’t seem to take off from fall through spring — they even take it camping in the summer.
This versatility comes courtesy of its updated fit, toasty down insulation, and DWR-finished ripstop nylon shell. Cotopaxi also added a built-in scuba hood and elastic binding throughout, further sealing out the cold, and the assortment of stash pockets throughout provide space for all your essentials. Rounding out the Fuego is an adjustable drawcord at the hem and an updated zipper for silky operation in all conditions.
Some awesome color combinations also keep the styling interesting.
19. Fenix PD36R Rechargable Flashlight
When I’m in the wilderness on a search and rescue task, this is the flashlight I carry with me — lightweight and ultra powerful.
The Fenix PD36R rechargeable flashlight is a high-performance flashlight unlike anything else on the market for its size. This LED rechargeable flashlight delivers a maximum 1600 lumens to a 928ft, all on a high capacity 21700 li-ion battery. The Fenix PD36R is our first introduction of a product with a 21700 li-ion battery, extending battery runtimes by twice the standard li-ion battery. The high-capacity 5000 mAh battery can be conveniently charged through the USB-C port on the flashlight. Additionally, you will always be able to see the battery’s charge status at a glance with the external battery level indicator.
Operating this powerful LED rechargeable flashlight is simple with the tactical tail switch for momentary on/off, and the ability to cycle through six lighting modes using the side switch including a 1600 lumen turbo mode. Carry the Fenix PD36R how you want — on a backpack, belt, or MOLLE system with the two-way body clip. IP68 rated dustproof and waterproof.
20. ENO Islander Blanket
This is the perfect blanket if you’re hoping to set up on the beach or want something to stretch out on in the backcountry. The travel-ready ENO Islander Blanket is crafted from lightweight, easy-to-wash parachute nylon and includes stakes and stake loops for a quick, secure setup.
It’s big enough for a family of four, and it has a zippered stash pocket so you don’t lose your valuables. Best of all, the material is breathable, quick-drying, easy-to-clean and stain-resistant, and it can be tossed in the washing machine.
It’s open size is 73-by-73 inches, and it weighs just under a pound. Packed up, it’s only 7-by-8 inches.
21. Trail Tough Hiking Sticks
Each Trail Tough Hiking Stick is hand selected for its size, shape, and feel — and the end result is impressive in its beauty and functionality. The company does not clear large areas of a forest to mass produce these sticks, rather, they take only what we need as they cut new hiking trails through the woods. They say they want to leave the forest as beautiful as possible and allow for growth of future hiking sticks.
The pre-made sticks measure 52.5 inches in length, with a hand-hold length of 44 inches. The diameter of each stick is 1.25 inches. The Wisconsin-based company can also personalize a hiking stick.
22. Serra Madre Puffle 5-in-1 Adventure Quilt
To get an understanding of what the Sierra Madre Puffle is, think about it like your favorite puffy jacket turned into a versatile adventure blanket. It combines many of the functions of a typical sleeping bag, top quilt, and under quilt.
The Puffle comes in two ratings: 40 degrees and 55 degrees, and it’s available in synthetic (20D Hydroshield with 3D PUFL Synthetic Insulation) that weighs 2 pounds, 3.2 ounces, and down (20D Hydroshield with Waterproof 650FP RDS DownTek Insulation) that weighs 1 pound, 5.1 ounces. The down version has the same waterproofing features as the synthetic one. The Puffle quilt puffs up for warmth or compresses down for packing with the included compression sack.
We did an extended review of the Puffle — in some VERY cold hammock conditions — and you can about that here.
Feature image by Nikifor Todorov, Shutterstock
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