Here’s a roundup of travel and outdoor apparel gift ideas. Most of these are waterproof and/or made of interesting fibers like peppermint leaves and merino wool. As always, I’m most interested in items that function equally well in the backcountry as they do running through an airport.
1. Insulated Touchscreen Gloves ($45) from Mujjo have always been a solid, low-profile, and practical pair of gloves. This year, they are warmer, thanks to an extra layer of Polar fleece and the added option of “double-insulated” thickness for colder temps. This year’s version also has a new-and-improved thumb construction to help when using larger screens. (Get 15% off any product on mujjo.com with coupon code #qualitygifts, valid through Dec 16.)
2. FITS Socks Holiday Gift Pack ($49/ three pairs) is your more traditional gift, but with an outdoor angle. These socks are all made in the USA out of 18.5 micron merino wool, which is not as itchy as old-school wool and even has a soft, cashmere-like texture. The gift pack includes a pair each of Light Runner Low, Performance Trail Quarter, and Medium Hiker Crew socks. They stay warm even when wet.
3. CHUPS Socks ($35/pair) are another option for the traditionalist; they are thick and cozy and come in a variety of bright, multi-color, festive patterns (plus a few cheesy Santa designs for good measure. They are made from either cotton, recycled cotton, or merino wool and are all soft and hypo-allergenic.
4. JUMPER Boxer Briefs ($25) were created by a former Airborne Ranger and outdoor apparel executive “who wanted to reinvent underwear.” This really is a remarkable pair of skivvies made out of—wait for it—peppermint leaves. Fabric made from peppermint is, apparently, breathable, stretchable, environmentally friendly, and has natural anti-odor properties. These are actually 18.5% peppermint leaf, 34.5% promodal (from birch and Eucalyptus trees), 39% polyester, and 8% elastin. They come in a range of colors and have a unique top-releasing, quick release fly system.
5. Maloja StiafenM. Cardigan ($219, pronounced “mah-low-yah”) comes from a German based brand specializing in stylish adventure wear that doubles perfectly on the airplane (or, in my case, teaching in the classroom). This zip-up cardigan has simple, slightly-retro lines, a stand-up collar, and a natural, casual fit. It is made from high twisted cotton, fits well, is just heavy enough, and has been my daily companion all autumn long. It comes in both grey and blue.
6. KUHL’s Resistor Pants ($99) are are tough, stretchy, waterproof, and wrinkle-free, even after a few days crumpled on the floor (my wife told me to put them away, but I argued it was scientific research). I love that I’ve seen KUHL pants and shirts for sale in hardware stores and dude ranch gift shops, that’s a good sign. This morning, at a ranch in New Mexico, I was wearing these pants over waterproof boots when I stepped into a frozen creek while carrying my 6-year-old daughter; the water went up to my calf and the pants were dry before we got back to the lodge, despite freezing temps. They’re made of 65% Cotton, 26% Nylon, and 9% Spandex, making them just stretchy and lightweight enough. They go well with KUHL’s “smoked paprika” short-sleeve Response Shirt ($49).
7. Sawyer Kids T-Shirts ($25) are not your average children’s designs for T-shirts. They are a fun mix of outdoor themed, adventure promoting messages and, yes, the company is named after Tom Sawyer, the quintessential adventurer. Messages like “grow wild,” “free range,” “climb a tree,” and “Lil ripper” make for fun gifts. Plus, Sawyer donates 10% of its profits to causes that support kids in need and the environment. They also cover carbon costs with shipping, have eliminated all plastic bags in their packaging, and use only recycled packaging. Definitely check out all the options first before deciding; there are many.
8. MagnaReady flannels ($64.95) have a patented magnet-snapping false button open/close system, which I’ve never seen before and which makes putting it on an effortless, well, snap. Even better, ripping them off feels pretty good. The shirts are pretty thick, made of 100% brushed flannel herringbone cotton, and come in a few classic plaid designs, with button down collar and rounded breast pocket.
9. Mack Weldon’s 37.5 Oxford shirt ($88) is another handsome but “low maintenance” shirt, which I’m a sucker for. It has a classic fit, button-dock collar, and double-button cuffs, and is 60% Cotton and 40% 37.5 Polyester. “37.5” refers to the optimal body temperature in degrees Celsius, referencing the shirt’s ability to breathe and keep you from sweating. It’s another great bridge shirt that I can wear to work and also run around town in.
10. Helly Hansen Calgary Parka ($350) is the grand finale—a big ticket gift item that will last through the last of the spring snows. It has a simple, unassuming profile, but is insulated with PrimaLoft, covers hands and down to the thighs, and is perfect for long, wet, cold, and windy winters. The Calgary has pockets inside and out, fold-up reflective sleeves, and a large hood. This jacket would be equally appropriate on the slopes or the Safeway parking lot.