Andres holding a sleeping pad

Andres’ gift picks

As a specialist at MEC, Andres is one of the first people to see new gear hit the store floor. “I love learning about technology advancements about gear. Whether it’s the latest bike model, waterproof tech or digital gadget, it’s fun to geek out with co-workers about it.”

So with all that gear, how to decide what makes this list? “I wanted to include products that people could use right away and that would be nice to give as a gift,” he told us. With his know-how in gear, love of getting outside, plus thoughtful consideration to his picks, this list is full of winners for wish lists.

MEC Reactor Sleeping Pad

Give the gift of solid sleeps. “The MEC 3.8 Reactor Sleeping Pad is the best sleeping pad for value and reliability. Period.” he told us. “On a snowy camping trip, I lent it to my brother while I tried out a different model. He slept soundly, I sunk into the snow on a deflated pad. Never again.”

MEC Kokanee Gaiters

“You won’t find better value than these GORE-TEX gaiters – people in the store love them,” says Andres. Based on the great product reviews, he’s totally right. “They make a huge difference on hikes by keeping bugs, mud, snow or dew off your pants or legs.”

Andres wearing gaiters and holding trekking poles

Fun animal mitts

If you have any kids on your list, keep their paws warm with Kombi Animal Mitts. “Beaver mitts – totally perfect for kids playing outside in Canada. Now’s the time to get kids’ gifts for winter.”

Platypus GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System

“If all your camping is in the northern hemisphere, you don’t even need to consider other filters. Gravity filters are the most convenient: easy to use, maintenance free, and reliable,” says Andres. His pick for the backpacker on your list is the Platypus GravityWorks Filter System.

Andres holding a gravity water filter

A super long spoon

The easiest stocking stuffer for hikers, campers or anyone who eats dehydrated meals. “I don’t know how I survived before owning one,” says Andres. “Clean knuckles and gloves after eating is key.” He suggests the MSR Alpine Long Tool Spoon, which is part spoon, part stove repair tool. Pair it with a camping meal, like the Pad Thai (he says it’s tasty).

Bike gear to keep rolling in the rain

“If you know someone who wants to keep biking in the rain, there’s no substitute for a full fender set. It keeps you dry and the cyclist behind won’t get sprayed either.” Totally practical, and the gift that keeps giving for everyone in the bike lane.

As for gloves? Andres recommends the Showers Pass Crosspoint Gloves. “They’re warm enough and completely waterproof. Good for biking or hiking in wet or alpine conditions.”

Andres wearing yellow gloves

Double layer socks

Tip: runners and hikers can never have too many good socks. “I always recommend WrightSock Double Layer Socks. They feel like you’re walking on a cloud – and no blisters. I own three pairs.”

Running belt

Sure, races may not be happening for awhile, but you can still keep runners in your life motivated with fresh gear. “This small, easy to carry Ultimate Direction running belt holds a phone and a bit of water to keep runners going that extra mile,” says Andres.

Fill it up with a couple of Honey Stinger gummies as a bonus. “Pomegranate or cola are the best flavours,” he shares.

Andres drinking from a water bottle

Waterproof-breathable socks

Bridgedale Storm Lightweight Boot Socks have a waterproof-breathable membrane built right in – the ultimate holiday stocking stuffer. “Great for unexpected rain, creek crossings, or just to keep your feet dry during wet hikes, bike rides or adventures.”

Andres holding waterproof socks

Gear maintenance supplies

The Park Tool Bike Cleaning Brush Set would be a great gift for mountain bikers on your list. “Keeping a bike clean goes a long way, not just to make it shiny, but to help moving parts work better and last longer,” says Andres. “I recommend wiping mountain bikes down after every ride, and then doing a thorough cleaning every couple weeks.”

Don’t forget about wet-weather jackets and pants too – you can refresh those with the Nikwax Tech Wash Kit. “I just got back from a hiking trip with mud and snow up to my knees. My jackets, pants and gaiters all got Nikwax’d as soon as I got home so they’re ready for the next trip.”

Andres with bike and in store

Photo: When Andres isn't helping people with gear in MEC stores, he's trying out gear in the mountains and on the trails.

A massive thank you to Andres for sharing his favourite gift ideas, in between full days of helping people get ready for their next adventure.

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

A Canada-wide crew of adventurers, thinkers, doers, writers, photographers and people who love the outdoors.