Nicole holding binoculars

Nicole’s gift picks

“One of my favourite parts of working at the store is meeting interesting and different people from all walks of life,” says MEC staffer Nicole. “And the other staffers too – it’s great to be surrounded by people who love to get outside and share the same sense of humour.”

When she’s not at the store, Nicole’s main outdoor activities are hiking, camping and climbing. She’s also picked up a new way to experience the outdoors: birdwatching. “I was going out twice a day for a while,” she told us. “I even took out a co-worker to show her what it was all about.”

With a willingness to try new things and years of experience in the store, Nicole knows what makes an excellent gift for anyone on your list. Here are her recommendations:

Binoculars

“I got waterproof Pentax Binoculars for my birthday and I use them pretty much every day for birding,” says Nicole. “The clarity is fantastic, they’re lightweight and durable, and I’ve had a good look at everything from barred owls to a parasitic jaeger with them.” Since they’re waterproof, they’re just right for rainy weather too.

Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody

“Lightweight and incredibly warm. It’s an excellent jacket to go under a top layer on hikes or up in the mountains – I see lots of these on the trail.” The Arc’teryx Atom LT Hoody insulates without being bulky, and based on the reviews, it’s a hit with a ton of people.

Nicole in Arc'teryx jacket

Hot chocolate with some kick

“Best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. Cocoa Camino Chili & Spice Hot Chocolate is a staple when I go fall hiking, or even if I’m just at home reading a book. The spice just adds an extra little kick of flavour.” It’s also organic, Fair Trade Certified, and comes in other delicious hot chocolate flavours.

Gregory backpack

“The Gregory Amber 34 Backpack is probably my favourite backpack. I had such a hard time finding a well-fitting pack until I discovered Gregory packs. They’re so comfortable without being too heavy. As a smaller woman, I always recommend this brand to like-sized people. This one is easily adjustable and the perfect size for a long day hike or a quick overnight hut trip with friends.”

Nicole wearing Gregory backpack

A fantastic hat

“My brother bought this KNP Oilskin Field Hat a few years ago and absolutely loves it. It’s waterproof and keeps his head dry. He wears it rain or shine.” Check out the full selection of hats and toques to find head-topping options for the people on your list.

Darn Tough socks

Pro tip: enlighten everyone on your gift list with a new world of socks. “Darn Tough socks are the most comfortable socks I own,” says Nicole. “I used to think all socks were the same – nope. I wear these every day, even in the summer, and when I wore steel-toed boots as a cabinet maker. I’ll never go back to cotton socks.”

Nicole holding Darn Tough socks

MEC Turtle Light

Looking for the perfect stocking stuffer? “The MEC Super Turtle Light is one of the handiest things my mom has given me,” says Nicole. “I have it on me key chain and I use it all the time, whether I’m looking for my door lock at night or walking through a path at dusk on my way home.”

Patagonia Better Sweater

“This is something that’s been on my wishlist for years. The Patagonia Better Sweater is very popular and great year-round. You can wear it on the trail and it looks nice for an outdoor patio session after your hike.” Consider this a major hint if you know Nicole, and an excellent gift idea for people on your own list too.

Nicole holding Patagonia Better Sweater

Quality travel mug

“I use the Kleen Kanteen TKWide Café Bottle all the time for my coffee and I was surprised at how long it stays hot!” says Nicole. “It doesn’t leak like my old travel mug either so no more coffee stains on everything I own.” Keeps drinks warm for up to 14 hours and cool for up to 47 hours.

Blundstone boots

“Really, you can’t go wrong with Blundstones. They’re a staple piece for any Vancouverites wardrobe, and I’ve had my most recent pair for four years now.” Check out the winter versions for chillier temps.

 

Nicole in her Blundstone boots

Jetboil cooking system

“I never go camping without my Jetboil. The boiling time is so fast, it’s so lightweight, and all the parts fit so perfectly into the cup. The last time I used it was for hot chocolate on the beach while van camping, and I bring it on backpacking trips for fast dehydrated meals.”

Nicole on a hiking trail, looking at a lake next to a photo of Nicole at work in an MEC store

Top left: Nicole and her backpack on a hike to Eagle Mountain on the coast of BC.

A huge thank you to Nicole for sharing her favourite gift picks, right from where the heart of outdoor action is on the store floor.

Jumping people on a dock
MEC Staffer

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