Person holding socks

15+ foolproof gift ideas from MEC staff

On the hunt for brilliant gift ideas? You’re in luck. We asked MEC staffers for their favourite presents they’ve given, received or are excited to wrap up (or possibly unwrap) this year.

Read their stories and suggestions to set yourself up for gifting success. As one staffer reading this list said, “This is the best thread. I suck at gift ideas and this is so helpful.” We hope this helps you, too, if you’re on the hunt for something fun for your favourite people:

1. The gift of great coffee

The Aeropress is perhaps the most life-changing Christmas gift I’ve ever received.

MEC staffer Sean, dad to three kids under the age of four, so he knows coffee.

I was given an Aeropress as a gift for a backcountry canoe trip and I’ve never stopped using it on my adventures. I give it to all of my fellow coffee lovers – it has been perfect for coffee at home and in the wild. I’m obsessed.

MEC staffer Kaitlyn

2. The most comfortable headlamp yet?

After I lost my headlamp on an overnight hiking trip, I needed a replacement. I picked out the BioLite rechargeable headlamp to take on a 12-day rafting, kayaking and camping trip in the Grand Canyon, and it was awesome. It might just be the most comfortable headlamp on the market – you’ll forget it’s strapped to your head.

MEC staffer Brock

3. Socks they don’t know they love (yet)

Dissent Labs ski socks! Most skiers will never pay $47 for a pair of socks, but if you buy them a pair of these, they’ll never have another blister and they’ll love you forever. I got them for two backcountry ski friends a few years ago, and they’ve haven’t bought any other brand of ski socks since then. Plus, the first pairs I got them are still going strong. They last forever.

– MEC staffer Steven

4. Did we mention socks?

Darn Tough socks

Darn Tough socks. Sure, socks can be a boring gift, but my dad wears holes in his socks super fast (he says “one of his big toes is very aggressive”). Four years in now and he still hasn’t punched a hole in his Darn Tough socks, though he’s convinced he’s getting close…

– MEC staffer Alex

Person holding socks

5. A mug that gets compliments

I gave my husband this little GSI Doppio Enamelware Cup last year. Every time he walks to the coffee shop for a macchiato, someone always asks where he got his tiny mug from… it’s just the right size for people who are fans of espresso and bringing their own mug.

– MEC staffer Karen

6. Stability all winter long

Walking on snow or ice can be treacherous and an embarrassing slip can bruise more than your ego. I bought my parents Kahtoola MicroSpikes last year and they absolutely love them. They’re able to keep doing all the things they like to do outside, like walking my dog for me while I’m at work. Everybody wins!

– MEC staffer Dennis (owner of adventure dog Allen the Dog)

7. A puddle-proof suit

As a parent, I can’t speak highly enough of the Newt Suit. If you’re striving not to helicopter parent but cringe when your little sits in mud/dirt/water/sand/grossness to play – as they inevitably do – then this one-piece is a lifesaver any time of year. You can smile and wave knowing you can peel off the Newt Suit when they’re done playing. Just make sure they’re not also scooping the mud into their mouths (been there).

– MEC staffer Amil

Person holding a Garmin

8. Adventure tracking

One big item on my wishlist is a Garmin inReach Mini (though I’d be equally pumped on the Garmin inReach Explorer+ too). I had some moments of type 2 fun on a solo hiking trip this year, and it would’ve been nice to say a quick hi to my wife at the end of each day. It’s definitely on my list for our PCT trip next summer.

– MEC staffer Robin

9. A super saw

I gave this Agawa Canyon Boreal 21 Saw to my sister last year – she’s pretty particular about what she acquires – and it’s been a big hit. She lives in the Yukon, and loves that’s this saw is robust but packable, so she can bring it along whenever she’s out on the trails. Plus it’s designed and made in Canada, and she’s a fan of supporting local when she can.

– MEC staffer Bianca

Person holding saw

10. Coziness from head to toe

Patagonia Glerups collage

Over the past couple years, I’ve been decking my mom (who’s always cold) out in cozy stuff. First up was the Patagonia Better Sweater, which she loves. Last year, I gifted her a pair of Glerups so she could stay in slipper-mode even when she was taking out recycling or grabbing stuff from the shed.

– MEC staffer Sonia (who leads our community investment program when she’s not keeping her mom cozy)

Know someone who’s into maximizing cozy levels? See our gift guide for your friend who’s always cold for ideas.

11. Warm feet for everyone

I got down booties and slippers for my whole family the year we re-launched them. They still all wear them and they’ve become regular items in their cold UK travel kits. I gave a mix of booties and slippers depending on outdoorsy-ness levels (i.e., booties for people who’d be wearing them in a tent, slippers for people who’d likely be wearing them at home).

– MEC staffer James (who leads up the design team for MEC Label)

12. Small but mighty cubes

Packing cubes are a great gift idea for fellow travellers! Take it from someone who travels almost every month, these cubes keep things Virgo-organized so you can find stuff (even when fumbling in the dark on early mornings heading to the airport). Bonus: they can double as gift packaging.

– MEC staffer Amil

13. A gift they’ll use every day

Can I just jump in and throw my weight behind Abeego as the best product and gift ever? I know the founder (she’s from Victoria, BC) and she is incredible… and this product is the only wrap I’ve used in my kitchen since 2016. It really does keep your food fresher than plastic wrap.

– MEC staffer Sarah

Check out our full list of gift ideas for your eco-friendly friend for more green living gift suggestions.

14. Reusable hand warmers

Zippo hand warmers

Zippo hand warmers! Either the mini version or the big one. Instant heat without any garbage. They are amazing.

– MEC staffer Graham, a climber who knows the importance of warm hands.

15. Handy repair tool

Speedy Stitcher, because repairs are rad and green. [Note: Judging by the reviews on mec.ca, this handy tool has given lots of backpacks, clothes and even a sail new life.]

– MEC staffer Nicolas

16. The latest Leatherman

I have a Leatherman Wave (I love it) and the Leatherman Free P4 is on my wishlist. It’s the coolest Leatherman going – it has all the tools and functions that made the Wave the champ for years, but with the new magnetic cam system for easier opening. If you’ve got someone on your list who’s into multi-tools or gadgets, this is just the thing.

– MEC staffer Alex (our go-to person to ask about tools and EDC items)

Person holding a Leatherman tool

17. A deluxe camping pillow

Simply the best, most comfortable camping pillow out there. Mark [part of our MEC Label design team] actually takes his deluxe pillow to hotels as he finds it more comfortable than regular pillows. Fact.

– MEC staffer James

18. The gift of motivation

A race entry! Perfect for runners who don’t want more “stuff” but want an experience gift that they can enjoy. For trail runners that want roots, rocks and rubble, and road runners that want to put proof to those pace claims.

– MEC staffer Kaitlyn (who helps plan MEC events, so she knows just how fun the races are)

A big, coast-to-coast thank you to Carly for putting showing off her fellow MEC staffers’ top picks in the photos, from the folding saw to the cozy socks.

Happy holidays, guaranteed

Everything you buy from MEC is covered by our Rocksolid Guarantee (it’s kind of legendary). And if you see a better deal anywhere in Canada – we’ll price match it.

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew over 2000 strong. Includes adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who get out often.