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Gift ideas for your friend who wants to get outside more

Floating over powdery drifts on snowshoes for the first time. Seeing a city from a new perspective, high up on a nearby viewpoint. Going to sleep under the stars, and waking up invigorated by the fresh air.

Trying a new outdoor activity for the first time can be incredible – but it can also be intimidating. Do you need special gear? Will it be hard? How do you make it more fun?

Help your friends and family members overcome their hesitations and get them ready for #goodtimesoutside. Whether they want to try a weekend camping trip, bike commuting to work or snowshoeing up a hiking trail, these practical, thoughtful gifts will support aspiring adventurers to play more.

Person cheering with binoculars

1. A light in the dark

Petzl Tikka Headlamp

When they can’t find the tent zipper at 2am, the Petzl Tikka Headlamp comes to the rescue. A red light mode helps preserve night vision, and a glow-in-the-dark ring makes it easy to locate. Plus, it checks off one of the 10 hiking essentials.

2. A better view

Bushnell Powerview Binoculars

Let them get a little more out of every peak and vista. Bushnell Powerview Binoculars have 8x magnification, and they’re small and tough enough to toss in a daypack.

3. Gear rentals

Group of friends paddleboarding

Load a gift card with enough to cover gear rentals for a tent, SUP or cross-country skis, and see how long it takes them to get hooked on a new outdoor pursuit.

4. Toasty toes

Darn Tough hiking socks

Outdoor adventures are more fun with warm, dry feet. Inspire them to hike a little further or finally try an overnight backpacking trip with these Darn Tough Light Hiker socks.

5. Tech protection

MEC dry sleeves

Instagramming from the trail or the kayak can be risky. Help keep their technology a little safer with a slim dry sleeve.

6. A soft base layer

Cozy, stretchy merino wool will keep them comfortable when the temperature drops. This mid-weight base layer has flat-locked seams to prevent chafing, and it’s versatile enough for all seasons.

7. A comfy toque

MEC pom pom hat

Having a warm head makes a huge difference. This pom pom toque is made from merino wool, which means it’s super soft and will keep their head toasty even if it collects a few snowflakes.

8. A hot drink on a cold day

There’s nothing like sipping a mug of warm tea or hot chocolate after a long snowshoe or hike. The Stanley One Hand Vacuum Mug keeps drinks hot for hours, and the leakproof lid means no nasty surprises in their pack.

9. A beginner-friendly guidebook

Backpacker's field manual book

Help them prepare for their first backpacking trip. A favourite since it was first published in 1998, The Backpacker’s Field Manual helps them get trail-ready with advice on everything from buying a pack to planning a trip menu.

10. Spray-free rides

Portland Design Works fender

Extend their bike-commuting season with these front and rear Origami Fenders. The superlight design fits on almost any bike and snaps on in seconds to keep splashes at bay.

11. Waterproof hiking shoes

Keen Targhee Shoes

Appropriate footwear is a must for hiking. Keen Targhee hiking shoes have grippy outsoles for stability in rough terrain and a waterproof-breathable membrane for dry feet on rainy days.

12. A secure ride for tiny adventurers

MEC Happytrails Child Carrier

Are they hoping to get back on the trail after adding to their family? With more than 140 reviews, the MEC Happytrails Child Carrier Backpack is a proven way to introduce the next generation to the outdoors. Its backpack suspension system and fleece-lined child harness make it comfortable for both the carrier and the little one, and the diaper bag even unclips to become a daypack.

13. Packable raingear

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. In a durable waterproof-breathable jacket like the Patagonia Torrentshell, they won’t have to worry about a little (or a lot) of rain. It packs into its own pocket, so it’s easy to stuff into any daypack.

14. Easy hydration

Playtpus hydration bladder

Going farther often means carrying more water. Keep them well-hydrated on day hikes and multi-day trips with an easy-to-clean Platypus hydration system.

15. An outdoor mug

Mountains are calling enamel mug

For mornings that call for super-sized coffees, and long, hot chocolate-fuelled nights around the campfire. This enamel-glazed steel mug feels great in your hands, and United By Blue removes 1 pound of trash from oceans and rivers for every product sold.

16. A no-hassle campfire

No more shivering while going through half a box of matches trying to coax flames to life. A fire-lighting kit will have them roasting marshmallows and warming their fingers in no time.

17. Grippy snowshoes

MSR Evo snowshoes

Keep hiking even after the snow flies. The MSR Evo 22 snowshoes grip well on both uphills and descents, so your friend can check out their favourite trails and summits in a new season.

18. A durable picnic blanket

MEC picnic sheet

When the ground at their lunch stop is a bit damp, they can whip out this ground sheet and enjoy a leisurely meal. It also works as a tablecloth for a picnic table or a place for the kids to play.

19. A versatile daypack

Gregory Salvo Daypack

Big enough for extra layers and lunch, the Gregory Salvo 28 Daypack is designed for all-day adventures. With an inner hydration sleeve and exterior water bottle pockets, it holds plenty of H2O, and the suspension system helps stabilize the weight while preventing a sweaty back.

20. Adjustable trekking poles

Help them stay balanced on rough terrain and long hikes. Trekking poles can make steep hills and slippery surfaces more manageable, and they’re also great for deflecting spiderwebs and testing how deep that mud puddle really is. These Black Diamond Trail Poles come with powder baskets to use while snowshoeing, and collapse down for easy storage when they’re not needed.

21. A guide to the stars

Night sky star dial

Mountaintop stargazing is more fun when you know what you’re looking at. This Night Sky Star Dial helps them identify constellations, making their next overnight camping trip even more unforgettable.

22. An MEC gift card

Let them spend an hour wandering the store or perusing the website with a gift card in hand. Who knows what new outings you’ll inspire?

Heather van der Hoop
Heather van der Hoop

Editor, science nerd, runner and skier who loves rugged trails and glacier-fed lakes. May or may not own a quiver of MEC Rad Pants.