Are you stuck wondering what in the heck to get the ultimate adventurer in your life? The person always traveling, hiking, exploring the outdoors, or on the go? Heck, maybe that person is you!
Christmas is right around the corner and I thought I'd help you out by sharing 21 of the best gift ideas not just for the ultimate adventurer, but for anyone! Some are even on our Christmas list for this year...ahem...more dry bags please... All of the items listed below are ones that Scott and I own and use regularly. Whether road tripping in the states, backpacking in the wilderness, or flying overseas we've found the items listed below to be ridiculously helpful on our travels. Enjoy!
1. SWISS ARMY KNIFE
Can we all agree this is the most underrated tool of all time? It seems like it's a gift that always ends up in the drawer never being used to it's full potential. But if you take the time to actually know the tools and functions AND keep it somewhere easily accessible, it will soon be your new favorite tool.
Scott has a Swiss Army Knife with what seems like unlimited options - actually 33 to be exact! We take this on EVERY trip in the US or Canada and use it almost every time. It was a saw, rope cutter, tweezers, and about a hundred other things on our last trip to the Boundary Waters (read about the trip in my other blog post). This is always a great option because of just how versatile it is. We have the Swiss Army Champ with its 33 functions. We keep our in our Jeep and find ourselves using it all the time. Plus it's sturdier than heck.
2. INFLATABLE SOLAR LANTERN
This is the light of all travel lights my friend! If you haven’t seen them, let me tell you more, if you have, you know why. Luci lights are inflatable solar lights that everyone should have. They’re super lightweight, compact, weather resistant, and are powered by the freaking sun. We have 3 ourselves and keep them in our Jeep so they’re always on us. MPOWERED makes a variety of colors and options and I’ve even seen the newer ones come with a USB cord for charging electronics.
When Scott and I first met, he used the Luci light as the “candlelight” for a date, he got me my own for our first Christmas, and we often use them to color paint our night photography. Get the Luci light my friend, you won’t be disappointed.
3. THE ALCHEMIST
Get this for your lover, your friend, your mom, your dad, your kid neighbor who is all grown up and somehow now in college, get this for anyone. It's my favorite book. A friend gave it to me when I started traveling the world and I remember reading it on the plane to London. It finally felt like what I wasn't doing was so crazy after all. It's not just for the adventurer, it's for anyone looking to follow their heart.
Sidenote: I gave The Alchemist to Scott 2 weeks after we met and he thought it was me telling him I wasn't ready for a relationship and wanted to keep traveling. Fast forward to June 2018 and we read part of it at our wedding. Seriously, it's a good one my friends!
4. PACKING CUBES
If you saw my post 9 Things I ALWAYS Take When I Travel you’ll see packing cubes were my #1. These have been a life saver for me when I travel and don’t get enough credit for how much easier they make the journey. We use them when we travel overseas or even a quick road trip. They help keep everything organized and compact. Instead of unpacking your entire bag just to find what you were looking for at the bottom, use packing cubes to keep everything neat. I roll my clothes up to maximize space and sort my cubes by ‘type’ of clothing.
5. MOMENT LENS
The moment lens is our latest purchase and we absolutely love it! It’s an add on lens for your cell phone and we take ours everywhere. They offer different types of lenses but I highly recommend the wide angle lens as your first one. It's the most versatile. It's only compatible with iPhone, Pixel, and Samsung Galaxy phones so double check before you buy. You'll also have to purchase a special phone case (it's what the lens attaches to ensure perfect alignment).
The Moment setup is a little pricey but 100% worth it. You can find cheaper options but they reduce the image quality. The Moment lens is the best in the market. We're actually starting to recommend them to people when they travel as a budget option instead of buying a new camera.
Boy, oh boy, do I have the perfect gift for you! Scott and I both ALWAYS have a hat with us when we travel and now that we’ve made our own, you better believe which ones we’re taking on our next trip. They were made as a reminder to GO, wherever and whatever that means to you. Go to the mountains, go to the trees, go to the water, just….go. They’re great for protection from the sun, when you have helmet hair after riding a scooter (our favorite way to get around overseas), or those long travel days without a shower. Another perk of the snapback feature is that it's not only for adjusting the size, it allows you to hook it and carry on your backpack when it's not being used.
7. BACKPACKING STOVE AND MESS KIT
This gift screams backpacker. We use our stove way more than I would ever expect. We keep the stove, canister fuel, mess kit, and lighter in a draw string bag and grab it anytime we even mention the word road trip. We've cooked tuna steaks on the beach, roasted marshmallows on top of a mountain in a blizzard, and made instant coffee in the morning of our Boundary Water adventures. The stove itself is just over 3 oz and is compatible with most self-sealing canister fuels. It has a fully adjustable flame and is awesome! The mess kit is ideal for any cooking needs you may have and just as lightweight as the stove.
8. THE BEST OUTDOOR BLANKET YOU’LL EVER FIND
Seriously, I promise this will be your new favorite thing you keep in your car. My sister (what up Haley!) got this for us as a gift and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times we've used it this year. See, it's the perfect gift! Quick picnic by the water? Good thing we have the blanket. Raining and windy at the high school football game? Let's use the blanket to block them both. Music in the park? Yep, blanket.
It is polar fleece on one side with polyester backing on the other for water and wind resistance. It’s lightweight, rolls up and is easy to carry. The best part? It’s machine washable. No this is not a dream, it's just that awesome.
We often tie ours to the outside of our backpacks and use it when we hike or go backpacking. I also like the red color because of how it pops in photos!
This is one of my favorite gift ideas in general. Trust me when I say, EVERYONE enjoys some hammock time. I'd recommend the double nest (linked below). Pro Tip: If you're looking to make your photos pop, get a hammock that's a bight color. Green or gray might look nice as a hammock, but won't show up against those natural colors out in the wild. Stick with orange, yellow, or red for that pop you're looking for.
10. DRY BAGS
You can never have enough dry bags amiright? You never know when you’re going to need them and it’s better to be safe than sorry when protecting your gear. Hence, why we have more of these on our own Christmas list. We usually use these for camping or backpacking when we know we're going to be exposed to the elements.
Good socks are a must when traveling, you know what I'm saying? It doesn't matter where you're going, you want to be comfortable and socks are a big part in that. Avoid cotton at all costs. They're just not ideal for traveling. Look for either wool, synthetic, or a combination of both. Get your socks based on what you're doing and what the weather is like. I'll link this blog article that's a few years old but it's still great and shows you where you can find just the socks you're looking for!
12. COMPRESSION PILLOW
This pillow is magic. It's made of chunks of foam that allows it to compress within itself. You fold it up when you're not using it and then unfold, shake it, and watch the magic happen. It expands to 4 inches! We have the medium size and it's good for traveling on trips or backpacking.
13. DRY TOWEL
Dry towels get so compact it's ridiculous. They're good for any trip but especially one that's more unpredictable. You never know when you need to shower in a lake, clean the mud off your backpack, pay a ridiculous fee for a towel at a hostel, or get yourself in some other weird situation. A bonus of dry towels is that you can wring the water out and keep drying. Dry towels are always a simple and useful gift option.
14. NALGENE WATER BOTTLE
A Nalgene water bottle is the perfect gift for the on-the-go traveler. I love mine because of how durable it is. Nalgene's are guaranteed for life and I can verify that I have put mine to the test. With so many different water bottle and thermos options, Nalgene is my favorite general use water bottle. It's traveled around the world with me and still the water bottle find myself using the most.
15. SOLAR POWERPORT
Again, this was gifted to us (thanks Debby!) and we love it! We've used it a few different times including a day at the beach when we played music all day and our latest trip to the Boundary Waters. It's super lightweight, easy to use, durable, and kept our phones charged so we could have music and take photos. We plan to backpack with this more in the future! It's easy to connect to the outside of your backpack or set out somewhere at camp to soak up the sun.
16. SLEEPING BAG
We have a few different sleeping bags we take for different reasons.
Here is one that is similar to the lightest one we have. Weighing less than 2 lbs, it compresses super small and is great for warmer climates and backpacking or traveling overseas if you think you'll need that. I took mine the first time I went to Europe and it doubled as a sleeping bag and pillow if I needed it.
Our medium sleeping bag is a step up from the light one. It's a 15 degree bag and is ideal for colder weather but still great for backpacking because of how lightweight it is. Sleeping bags tend to get more expensive the better quality materials that are used and the lighter weight it is. Also, this bag is labeled at 15 degrees but you can be used in much colder weather if you use it with a sleeping bag liner and layer warm clothes.
Finally, we have our biggest sleeping bag. It's the warmest and definitely the heaviest. This one is made of flannel and canvas. It's more rugged than the Marmot's but a downside is if it gets wet, it will be wet for days. We use it for extreme cold situations mostly when we know we don't have to haul it very far. We mostly use it when we road trip and sleep in the Jeep or are tent camping at a campsite. The one below is NOT the brand we have, but it's similar to the one we use.
The headlamp is a classic travel must. It's a hands free light source that shines wherever you're looking. They're awesome for backpacking but we take ours when we travel overseas too (there was only power certain times of the day when we were in Malaysia). They're versatile enough to use as a regular flashlight, tie up to your bike, or hang in your tent... or any other way you can think to use them (our favorite, strap them to a water bottle so the light shines through the bottom and creates a makeshift lantern). Don't underestimate how simple the headlamp seems, I promise they'll be thanking you for this one!
Everyone needs one. Whether you're traveling or not, a journal is a must! Ok, I'll admit, I'm a big fan of journaling but I'm not the best at being consistent. Nonetheless, I would encourage everyone who's traveling to take and keep up with their journal. You'd like to think you'll remember names and places and food and memories and details but you don't. Sure, sometimes you do but after awhile it all starts to meld together. Also, a journal without lines and just blank pages is ideal for the person who doesn't love writing but has a blank canvas to journal. I was gifted a beautiful leather journal when I first left for my travels. I was proud to open it every time and I love cracking it open once in a while to take me back to a special time in my life.
19. COMPRESSION SACKS
Compression sacks are ideal for saving space. Ours are waterproof and we often keep our sleeping bags or clothes in them when we're backpacking. We also use them for any odds and ends if we want to keep things organized. The ones we have (linked below) are waterproof and work great. Like the dry bags, it seems like you can never have enough of these!
Ok, this was a game changer for us. The Tentsile is a tent hammock that suspends from three points in the air. We didn't sleep in our tent once in 2018, we used the tentsile every time. It's a new twist on the old way of doing things and makes for some really great photos. One of my favorite places we used it was at the Boundary Waters. We set it up so it was suspended over the end of the water. It was pretty darn awesome to wake up, unzip the window, and see nothing but water.
21. THE LITTLE THINGS
Everyone needs stocking stuffers right? I'd recommend carabiners, paracord, gear ties, duct tape, and playing cards. Just some fun little odds and ends for that person you're buying for!
There you have it! A different kind of Christmas list for anyone in your life. I hope you found something useful from it and got different ideas than you had before. If you want to use this list as reference or suggestion for others, feel free to share!
Disclaimer: this blog post contains affiliate links which means I may make a tiny percentage of money at no cost to you.
PS Here's our favorite travel hard drives. We always have 2 with us!