Do you have someone on your holiday gift list that loves the outdoors? This is the ultimate gift guide for the hiker, camper, and outdoor enthusiast! I’ve included ideas for outdoor experiences, gear, and some great nature-related reads. No affiliated links – just suggestions from a fellow outdoors person.
I think the best gifts are those that provide an experience. Doing any one of these activities with a friend or loved one is a great way to build cherished memories. Many of the suggestions below are location specific. A quick internet search should provide you with results of similar activities in your local area.
A Walk in the Treetops
Hiking in the treetops is a unique and gift-worthy experience. If you live near Vancouver, there’s Capilano Suspension Bridge. The park is completely decked out in Christmas lights and decorations during the holiday season. Throughout Ontario and Quebec, Treetop Trekking offers aerial walks and zip-lining. In Nova Scotia, there’s OnTree which offers aerial obstacle courses.
Guided Foraging Class
Pay a local guide to provide a foraging tour for your friend or enroll them in a local foraging class. Depending on where you live, this might be a season-specific activity but it gives your recipient something to look forward to when the snow begins to thaw.
Learning a New Outdoor Skill
Speaking of outdoor lessons, how about a surfing lesson in the Pacific Northwest? Learning to ice climb in the Canadian Rockies? Taking a bushcraft, horseback riding, dog sledding, or snowshoeing class? I bet any outdoor enthusiast would love the opportunity to learn a new outdoor skill. Check in with them, maybe there’s something they’ve been longing to try!
There are some great wildlife tours all around the country. Local guides can help participants get close to bears, whales, and other animals. This would be ideal for someone who loves photography or learning about animals. Another option is Quebec’s Parc Omega. Parc Omega is a safari park with lots of opportunities to get up-close to deer, bison, caribou, and wolves.
Season Pass to Parks Canada
Parks Canada offers Discovery Passes with access to over 80 parks across Canada. They also have single-location passes. You can purchase individual and family passes.
Bushcraft and Camping
A lot of people who enjoy camping spend years accumulating the gear they need. You can always ask what they are missing from their pack. If you are still not feeling confident in what to get, you can always purchase a gift card to an outdoors’ store. Here are some other suggestions ranging in price. Some of the smaller items would make great stocking stuffers.
Knife or Multi-tool
Got a friend, family member, or partner that’s into bushcraft? I can almost guarantee they would be overjoyed to receive a knife (even if they have 6 already).
Alternatively, the multi-tool is a versatile gift that can be used for many outdoor activities. The pliers are great for picking up hot pots from a campfire and extracting hooks from fish. The scissors are useful for cutting paracord and bandages. The tweezers can pull out splinters. The file can be used to sharpen a blade. The list goes on.
Animal and Plant Identification Cards
A lot of outdoor shops carry pamphlet-sized identification cards. You can get ones that identify animal tracks, medicinal and edible plants, birds, mushrooms, and other species. They are great because they pack small and are lightweight in comparison to the alternative guidebook
Firesteel and Storm Proof Matches
A firesteel is a compact, longlasting, and weatherproof tool for starting fires. It’s challenging but rewarding to learn to start a fire this way. A firesteel would make a great gift for somebody just getting into camping and bushcraft.
Likewise, stormproof matches are great. They can be lifesaving in an emergency situation when one needs to make a fire fast.
Freeze Dried and Dehydrate Food
Freeze dried and dehydrated packs of food can store for a long time and are easily cooked over a campfire or stove. You can find these at places that sell camping supplies. If you have a dehydrator and a vacuum sealer, you can find recipes online to make your own homemade packs.
Help your friend or loved one fight the drying effects of being outside in the cold weather with a salve. To save money, you can make a large batch yourself.
Hiking and Trekking
A GPS is a useful device that can help hikers and campers navigate difficult territory and conditions. These devices are more reliable than a smartphone, can endure harsher conditions, and often have a longer battery life. Some GPS systems come with SOS capabilities including location sharing.
Wool Socks and Heated Gloves
The hands and feet are two areas of the body that lose heat fast in the cold. A nice pair of wool socks can help wick moisture away from the skin keeping feet toasty in the cold weather. These would make a great gift by themselves or given together with a pair of battery operated heated gloves.
The best cold weather undergarments are made of wool. They keep warm even during vigorous activity because of their ability to wick away sweat. Synthetic fabrics also make good base layers. They are warm and breathable. Avoid cotton layers because they don’t wick well and any moisture will cause the body to get cold fast.
A pair of compact and lightweight binoculars that can be stored in one’s pocket. You could pair them with a book on bird identification.
Ice cleats are great for hikers! They are built to keep a person from losing their grip on icy terrain. They can attach to shoes or winter boots. You usually only need a rough estimate of shoe size.
There’s nothing better than having a good book to read around the campfire or when it’s too frigid to be outside. Here are my outdoor-themed non-fiction recommendations.
Books About Plants
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries From a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben – Wohlleben demonstrates that trees are capable of having friendships, mothering their children, telling time, and speaking to each other through sound, olfactory, visual and electrical signals. This book is incredible and can also be purchased in audio format. I’ve written a full review here.
The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature by David G. Haskell – Haskell is a scientist who wants to see how much he can learn about nature by observing a single square meter of old growth forest over the course of a year. His journal entries are packed with fascinating insights.
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer – Kimmerer is an Indigenous scientist who blends traditional Indigenous knowledge with scientific research to produce this beautiful and informative book about the teachings of plants.
Books on Animals
Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive by Mark L. Winston – This book is a fascinating look into the lives of bees. The author argues that we could learn a lot from bees and their social formations. I’ve written an overview of some of the things that I learn from this book here.
What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World by Jon Young. A great book on how bird behaviour can teach us more about our local ecosystems. I’ve become more present in nature as a result of reading this book and I recommend it to any with the slightest interest in birds.
Essential Bushcraft by Ray Mears – A super useful book that’s divided into sections on clothing, cutting tools, water, fire, shelter, cordage, hitting the trail, and living from the land.
Bushcraft: Boxed Set by David Canterbury – This boxed set includes Bushcraft 101, Advanced Bushcraft, The Bushcraft Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild, and Bushcraft First Aid.
Bushcraft: Outdoor Skills and Wilderness Survival by Mors Kochanski – Another great intro to bushcraft book that covers all the basics.
Fire Making: The Forgotten Art of Conjuring Flame with Spark, Tinder, and Skill by Daniel Hume – This book teaches traditional fire-making skills, discusses different tinders, and new fire-making techniques.
Radical Mycology: A Treatise on Seeing and Working with Fungi by Peter McCoy – A look into everything fungi! It includes tips on identification, cultivation, and explores how fungi are crucial for environmental health.
Any of the Peterson Field Guides are great resources for learning to identify plants, animals, and fungi.