Gifts for the Outdoors Lover in Your Life: A Few of My Favorite Things

It’s that time of year, when everyone is hustling and bustling to buy the perfect gifts. However, though you probably love the significant other/child/friend you are shopping for very much, chances are that you don’t share their hobbies and don’t know what to get them. Enter the gift guide.

Gift guides are great, great because they are useful. But gift guides are also terrible, terrible because they are boring. So, rather than do a stereotypical outdoors gift guide, of which there are MANY on the internet, I’ve decided to list a few of my most favorite pieces of gear. I think this will be more fun for both you and I. And of course, since these are all my favorites, you know they have the full LP seal of approval. Enjoy!

Full disclosure: This article contains affiliate links, whereby I receive a small commission for referring visitors to retailers. This has no impact on the final price you pay, but helps us keep the lights on. I am not sponsored by, nor do I receive any financial benefit from any of the companies that produce products in this list. All of the products included here were initially purchased by me using my own money.


What is it? A mounting device that security attaches your camera to (almost) any strap on your pack. Camera can be accessed with a single push of a button.

How much is it? The pro model, which is the one you want, goes for about $80.

Why do you like it so much? The Peak Design Capture is my favorite piece of gear, full stop. Short of buying my first real camera no other piece of gear has helped improve my photography as much as Capture has. Why? Well, hiking is hard. And because hiking is hard your fiends don’t want to waste energy standing around with packs on their backs while you fiddle with your camera case. With easy one handed access, Capture allows you to grab your camera and take a shot without ever breaking your stride. This means more pictures, and more pictures, in time, means better pictures. You want better pictures.


What is it? A very simple, extremely small and light fly fishing rod

How much is it? About $200, with a  line, spool, and three flies.

Why do you like it so much? Look, I just wrote 1300 words on why I love this set up so much. Here are the highlights: its very very small, its very very light, its great on tight streams, its easy for newbies to handle, and it straight up catches fish. What else could you want?

(N.B., This rod really is best suited for small streams or new fly fishers. If you are looking for more or a general purpose rod, or a rod you can grow into, take a look at the Sawtooth, which is about $40 cheaper)


What is it? The best Goddamn hat in the word

How much is it? $80-90, which seems like a lot until you remember that it is the best Goddamn hat in the world.

Why do you like it so much? In my entire life I have only needed two Tilley Hats. Between the two of them they have been been to the bottom of the Grand Canyon so many times that I’ve lost count, drug through deep, nasty South East Asian jungles, used as a pad for glissading down slippery rocks while caving, floated a mile or so down the Mekong while I frantically gave chase, frozen solid on the Tibetan Plateau, distracted a toddler with hours of peak-a-boo, and been fully submerged in Yak poop. If that isn’t enough for you, take a look at Padre’s Tilley:

It is actually older than the Earth.

Tilley makes a lot of different models. Being an Arizonan, my personal favorite is the airflo, which wears the coolest. Honestly though, you can’t go wrong with any of them. These hats will be with you for a life time. Be prepared to cry when it finally gives up the ghost.

Arizona Wanderings “I Quail AZ” Shirt

Image Credit: Ben/

What is it?  A super sweet shirt with a quail on it

How much is it?  A very reasonable $9.99.

Why do you like it so much? I won’t lie to you, I actually don’t own this shirt. I do own a quail hat from Ben…


…and it’s fantastic. Unfortunately the quail hats are no longer in stock, so we will have to make do with this super sweet quail shirt instead. As an added bonus, you get to support one of Arizona’s best outdoors bloggers.


What is it? A well ventilated, super tough shirt

How much is it? About $70

Why do you like it so much? I don’t think I’ve been on a hike in the last two years wearing anything other than an adventure top. I love them so much that even after this…

…I still wear mine all the time. What makes them so great? Well, you could read my review, but TL;DR they are super breathable and super tough.


What is it? A really good set of binoculars

How much is it? A little less than $500

Why do you like it so much? For my entire life I have used terrible binoculars and terrible binoculars are terrible. This year I finally stepped up to a set of Talon HDs, and so far I have been consistently blown away. Side by side with Padre’s Vipers they are only slightly less sharp, but sit more comfortably on a tripod. I will never go back to bad glass.


What is it? Incredibly innovative hiking boots

How much is it? Prices seem to vary day to day, but somewhere between $180-280. 

Why do you like it so much? There isn’t much I can say about these boots beyond what has been said in the many installments of the 1,000,000 step review. They are not perfect…

…but at 950,000 steps these are my favorite boots ever.


What is it? The only pants I wear hiking

How much is it? $110 

Why do you like it so much? I know the cool thing now is to wear hyper minimalist pants to cut ounces, but here’s the thing: I like pockets and I don’t like thorns. The versatacs have plenty of pockets and they survived multiple years of hiking every weekend in the Arizona desert. I loved them so much that when my first pair finally died, I rewrote an entire Dr. Suess book in their honor.


What is it? A really big silk bandana

How much is it? $34

Why do you like it so much? After years and years of being a buff guy I finally converted to the way of the bandana earlier this year. Not just any bandana, but specifically a Schnee’s Wild Rag, which is a GIANT silk bandana. Wonderfully soft, the wild rag can be tied to any tension to for exactly the amount of breathability you desire. Even better, it’s giant size assures that the wild rag can be used any way you imagine. Only downside? You’re basically be wearing a hiking ascot.

That’s all I’ve got! If you have any questions or need more gift advice feel free to ask in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This post, and all posts on LesserPlaces, may contain affiliate links– links that allow me to receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you when you shop through them. This is how we keep the lights on. 

Don’t forget you can follow Lesser Places by email, or on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram using the menu at the top of the page. Or, you could click the links below to share with your friends directly. Or, copy and paste the URL someplace you think people will find it useful. Or, print the story, place it in a nice envelope, and send it to one of your friends. Basically we support any way you want to share.  No, we aren’t above begging.


Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. He writes here at Lesser Places, occasionally for, and even more occasionally for scientific journals. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions.

2 thoughts on “Gifts for the Outdoors Lover in Your Life: A Few of My Favorite Things

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.