How to Give the Perfect Outdoor Gear Gift

Woman standing in front of Rainbow Mountain wearing outdoor gear gifts

Even on portered treks in Peru, personal equipment like a water bottle, jacket, and hip packs are must-haves

The thought of outdoor gear gift-giving: smile-creating or stress-inducing? If you’ve got a hiker or camper on your list, you know she needs equipment. But what exactly? Where do you start? There’s so much out there! Is there a way to narrow down your choices to discover what the best outdoor gear gift for her is? Or should you just stuff an REI gift card in an envelope and call it a day? No way! While Explorer Chick provides most major backpacking, hiking, winter and multisport equipment on our trips, there’s always a list of items we both require and suggest travelers bring along. It’s this stuff that makes great gifts!

The secret of gift-giving is not always the “what”. Many times the “why, when and how” turn what may seem like an ordinary gift, extraordinary. Here are five sure-fire steps to giving the perfect gift to the outdoor-lover in your life.

Every avid hiker needs good headwear, and a backpacking flask to celebrate conquering a steep hike on the Appalachian Trail

Step 1: Do Your Homework

Homework?! Yep, but #sorrynotsorry. While this can be the toughest step, it’s also the golden ticket to secure the perfect outdoor equipment gift. This homework isn’t difficult. It just means thinking hard about the outdoor enthusiast in your life. Chances are you already know her interests, you just need to focus on them prior to whipping out your debit card. Ask yourself:

  • What does she like about being in the backcountry?
  • Are there any current or past outdoor interests?
  • Does she say things like, “I remember when I used to go camping every long weekend. I miss those days.”?

Another idea to consider when researching outdoor gear gifts? If possible, try to factor yourself into your recipient’s outdoor hobbies. Were you on a hiking trip together and both got mildly lost? Hello, GPS tracker. Have you both been scouring Pinterest for backcountry cooking ideas for your next camping trip? Hook a sister up with a cast-iron Dutch oven. Did you share an inside joke about needing a drink to get through those last five miles of trail? Send her a backpacking flask along with some moonshine recipes. You get the idea. Building on your relationship and shared love of the outdoors makes the gift more memorable and fun. Bonus? There’s a good chance you can take advantage of your gift on the next trip, too! Win-win!

Hats, daypacks and trail shoes make forest hikes in the Smoky Mountains an enjoyable walk in the woods

Step 2: Stick to High-Quality Items

We’re well-aware equipment can be expensive—trust us! But unlike generic versus name-brand cereal (Look, we know it’s the same stuff! The jig is up!), there’s quite a big difference between the quality of outdoor equipment brands. The secret to getting the most enjoyment out of backcountry trips? Good equipment, period.

There are two outdoor gear-buying rules to live by:

  1. Only give gear you would purchase for yourself to use.
  2. Buy the best gear you can afford. It’s better to give one great high-quality gift than several, lower-quality items.

Nothing derails great times in the great outdoors like faulty stuff you have to depend on. Stuck in the middle of the backcountry with a broken backpack strap or stove that won’t light? Hard pass. When giving equipment, make sure it’s high-quality and highly recommended by professionals.

Woman sitting on rock next to outdoor gear gifts looking at trees and sky

Proper clothing such as non-cotton tanks and leggings keep your favorite hiker cool on sunny days in the mountains of Virginia

Step 3: Give a Gift Card (the Thoughtful Way)

Gift cards can be an excellent choice for a gift, but can sometimes leave the lucky gal paralyzed by choice. Should she get new hiking boots, or a hydration system? She really needs both! Here’s an idea: Tell her what you have in mind that she can use it for. You know she could use a new backpack, for example, but you can’t just go buy one for her. Backpacks are a very subjective purchase— hello sizes, shoulder straps, and features. Instead, include a note telling her you know she’s been dying for a new backpack, and you hope this gift card can help make those dreams come true.

High-quality cookware and stoves equal happy campers in the backcountry of Yosemite National Park

Step 4: Seek Out Customer-Friendly Retailers

This is especially important when purchasing a gift online. Make sure you are purchasing from a store with visible customer satisfaction and return policies. If your gift recipient needs to exchange or return a piece of gear, the process needs to be hassle-free. If the return procedure is clunky, your perfect gift just became imperfect. Yikes!

A good way to guarantee a pleasant shopping and return/exchange experience? Support locally-owned small businesses! Just about every city has a good, local outfitter employed with knowledgeable and friendly staff. If the gal you want to gift lives in the same area you do, take some time to go down and talk with them directly. Give them an idea of what you’re looking for and they will easily point you in the right direction with several options. It’s like watching wizards work magic. It’s mind-blowing how much these people know. If she lives in a different city, same deal. Take a little time to research her local outdoor outfitter and give them a call. They love, want, and need your business!

“Camp shoes” such as sandals or slides make great gifts for hikers to rest tired tootsies and soak in Grand Canyon views

Step 5: Wait for the Right Time

You mean the holiday pressure is off?! Woo hoo! The best time to give someone outdoor equipment isn’t necessarily on a special occasion or over the holidays. It’s while they’re planning their trip! A new pair of comfy camp shoes is way more thoughtful when given just prior to a backpacking trip than it is for graduation. So surprise your special someone with a perfectly-timed present. The value of your gift is greatly increased when given at the right time.

With a little extra thought, giving the perfect outdoor gear gift is easy to do. Determining “what” to give is important, but so is knowing “why, when and how” to give. Take the time to make your next backcountry gift-giving venture a good one. The outdoor-loving gal in your life will be forever grateful!

What’s your idea of the perfect outdoor gear gift? Let us know over at our We Are Explorer Chick Facebook Group! Also check out sweet Explorer Chick swag over at our Shop!

Related Reads

The Best Gift Ideas for an Outdoors-Woman

7 Hiking Ideas to Personalize Your Trek

The 10 Essential Items to Pack for Every Hike

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