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 this year.
Read their stories and suggestions to set yourself up for gifting success. As one fellow 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. Solid footing
I gave my parents in Saskatchewan Blundstones last Christmas, and then my dad fell on the crazy thick and super slippery glare ice the first time he wore his new boots. (He’s okay! And they both love the boots.) So this year, I’ll be buying both of my parents traction devices. Maybe Glerups, too, since he can’t get hurt inside with those on, right?
– MEC staffer K (keeping her name secret so we don’t ruin the surprise)
2. 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 three, so he knows coffee.
I was given an Aeropress as a gift for a backcountry canoe trip and I’ve never loved something so much as that gift. 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
3. Matching outfits
Last Noelmas, my partner and I gave each other Honcho Ponchos. Luxury item no doubt, but awesome. We’ve used them as plane pillows, beds for our dogs, extra blankets for us, post race keep-warm attire, rain poncho for sport spectating, our morning walk frost-fighting cape, public changing privacy barrier, and they are just great for lurking around the house, watching TV or eating oatmeal.
Our best gift to each other over the last several years. Also, fun fact: if you have a pair of them, they can snap together!
– MEC staffer Paul, who enlightened us all with the fact that two Honcho Ponchos can snap together (whoa!)
4. 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
5. Did we mention socks?
Darn Tough socks. Sure, socks can be a boring gift, but my dad wears holes in his socks super fast. Three 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
6. A growler
The all-time most coveted – and hotly contested – gift in our annual Boxing Day stealing Santa game was a growler. This growler by Hydro Flask is a nice choice.
– MEC staffer Shona (note: we’re assuming a full growler would be even more hotly contested)
Check out gift ideas for outdoor beer and wine enthusiasts for more growler-related items.
7. First-ever tracks
I can’t wait to see my kid carve his first turns (and take his first faceplants). Santa’s bringing these Komperdell skis this year so my kid can rip up the bunny hill.
A tip for any other parents out there – or anyone choosing a gift for parents – the Toaster Suit is fantastic for keeping kids warm in winter. A total MEC classic.
– MEC staffer Brock, who’s getting ready for weekends full of pizzas and French fries.
8. Diplomatic warmth
I got Hut Booties for all my nieces and nephews, all in the same colour so no fights.
– MEC staffer Maude
9. Yeti is hot (and cold)
Yeti, Yeti, Yeti. I got my brother a Rambler 36 and now everyone in my family wants one. They’re the best for keeping your winter lattes hot and your summer iced teas cold.
– MEC staffer Joseph
10. A versatile neck gaiter
A neck gaiter makes a fantastic present. You don’t have to worry about sizes and it’s one of those things that people don’t realize how useful they are until they have one – they’re awesome for gift exchanges. I use mine for bike commuting, trail running and walking in cold weather… it’s like a warm little hug.
– MEC staffer Karen, who admits to owning more than one neck gaiter.
11. The perfect T-shirt
I love this shirt. Love it. It’s organic cotton, Fair Trade certified, fits well, and the price is fantastic. I already own it in a couple of colours, and I’m planning to give the men’s version as a gift to my partner this year (hopefully he doesn’t read this).
– MEC staffer Missy, who’s wearing the black version of this shirt right now.
12. Super cozy fleece
The Patagonia Better Sweater – I got one for my mom (who’s always cold) last year and she loves it.
– MEC staffer Sonia, who leads our community investment program when she’s not keeping her mom cozy.
13. Green gifts that keep giving
A silicone bowl for all the leftover lovers out there! Also for fans of arriving at work with your bag not covered in chili (we’ve all been there).
– MEC staffer Cat, who garnered the most comment “likes” from other staffers with this suggestion… nice!
– MEC staffer Graham, a climber who knows the importance of warm hands.
– MEC staffer Nicolas
(If you’re looking for more ideas like these, check out our gift guide for your most eco-friendly friend.)
14. Stocking stuffers they’ll actually use
– MEC staffer Gen
I love giving a GSI Scraper because everyone finds them awesome when they have them, yet no one ever buys one for themselves. I still haven’t bought one for myself. If my Secret Santa is reading this: wink wink.
– MEC staffer Mireille
The Gerber Dime Multi-tool is extremely handy for everyday life. My wife pilfered the first one I purchased. I may need to wrap up two more to keep my kids from permanently “borrowing” my replacement.
– MEC staffer Graham
Camino Hot Chocolate! It’s become an expectation of my family that there’s one of these wrapped up for them. The variety of flavours makes it perfect for everyone.
– MEC staffer Kaitlyn
15. No wrapping required
Sometimes the best presents aren’t things at all. A few cool ideas:
Years ago, I gave my parents an MEC gift card for the value of a one-day showshoe rental so they could give it a try before deciding whether they wanted to buy their own. They loved the idea, and it got us outside as a family during the holidays.
– From MEC staffer Heather
My favorite gift to give is to make a reservation in a hut and plan a weekend in the snow with friends or family. [Tip: check out our info on how to dress in layers to make sure everyone packs along the right gear to stay cozy all weekend.]
– MEC staffer Mireille
A race value pack! Perfect for runners who don’t want more “stuff” but want an experience gift that they can enjoy throughout the year. 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 races, so she knows just how fun they are.
Something all these ideas have in common? They’re all great at helping the people on your list have good times outside.