34 great gifts for travelers
From must-have accessories to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, here's how to make your favorite adventurer's holiday a treat
Our staffers fought to road test the Electra Townie Go! e-bike. You pedal, but a battery and motor offer extra oomph—30 no-sweat miles per charge. $2,729.99; electrabike.com
Designed in Hawaii for an outfit based in Washington State, the Armundson TR-X bamboo-carbon board taps the gusto of big-wave surfers and the know-how of sailboarders used to the windy Columbia River Gorge. Which should be comforting, even if all that’s on the agenda is a quiet paddle around the nearest pond. From $1,900; amundsonsup.com.
Every fisherman needs a good, lightweight kit. Fortop-of-the line gear, there’s none more functional than the Topo Designs x Tenaka Rod Co kit. It includes an ultra light hip pack, 12-ft medium action Tenaka rod, Tenkara line, a kit of Tenakara flies, and a leader wallet to keep the line and flies in order. $259; topodesigns.com
These luxurious, plush towels have double-sided patterns inspired by ocean-side mountains and iconic pink flamingos. It’s a 2-in-1 deal. $90; 40 by 67 in.; tideandpool.com
This carry-it-all has room for everything, from towels to lunch. (Plus, pockets line the sides for your valuables). For each purchase, Blu Kicks donates $1 to organizations that help protect endangered habitats. $95, www.blukicks.com/collections/womens-accessories/products/beach-bag.
The Wilderness Rucksack may not be cutting-edge technical gear, and, sure, when you summit your next fourteener, you’ll probably carry your carabiners in something all nylon and neon. But for reminding you—as you navigate concrete canyons—of the weekend’s adventures awaiting, nothing beats this stylish, outdoorsy-looking bag, made by hand out of waxed twill canvas and leather in Tanner Goods’ Portland workshops. From $425; tannergoods.com
Sleeping out underneath the stars is the perk that drives most of us to go camping in the first place. But how are you supposed to really see the constellations through the nylon roof of a typical tent? The Starry Night Tent, from Seattle-based REI’s new in-house brand, Evrgrn, is the aspiring astronomer’s solution. The two-person nylon tent has a seamless mesh roof (the camper’s version of a built-in skylight) that lets the evening lights shine through. It comes in zinc and tangerine shades and is just the right size for backyard campouts on the lawn—the ideal way to introduce the littlest members of your family to camping. $199; rei.com
A stylish flask is a necessity in the wilderness, or so says our senior features editor, Christine Ryan. True, not everyone drinks, but pancakes often make an appearance, and having enough maple syrup is the winning move. Especially when carried in this stainless steel flask from the Bay Area company Cork Pops, which lets you monitor the level of the liquid inside. Whatever it may be. $29; corkpops.com.
This collection of herbal elixirs will make a soothing supplement to the standard bandages-and-thermometer first-aid kit. It includes a lavender mister (to clean scrapes and cuts), liniment (for sore muscles), and aromatherapy oil (to ease stress or shock). $75; portlandapothecary.com.
Lighter than cast iron and tougher than aluminum, these carbon-steel pans, designed by a husband-and-wife team in Ojai Valley, California, are perfect for campfire cooking. They come in four sizes, ranging from 8 to 12 inches in diameter, and are sturdy enough to use for steak night at home too. From $28; vagabondmfg.com.
High on both the cozy and the cute factor, this hook pillow from Portland’s Budd + Finn is a reminder of roads traveled in warmer weather—or a little piece of the Airstream we all want. (Even four-legged family members.) $60; buddfinn.com
Call it the Cheryl Strayed effect: Since the writer’s 2012 book, Wild, took over best-seller lists and spawned a hit 2014 film, interest in the 2,650-mile-long trail it covers has skyrocketed. Now hikers can cozy up beneath a new, limited-edition throw from family-owned outfit Woolrich while they daydream about tackling the trek themselves. The Pacific Crest Trail Blanket is emblazoned with the official trail emblem and made fine-grade soft wool, with crocheted edging. $185; woolrich.com
Sometimes, the best gift you can give in the dead of winter is a candy-colored reminder of the warmer, sunnier days around the corner. The rainbow-bright Kilauea Hammock, from San Francisco-based Yellowleaf, is just that. The hand-woven, weatherproof hammock is big enough for two and made of super soft yarn that ensures a comfortable nap. As an added bonus, your gift will keep giving: Each Yellow Leaf Hammock directly creates sustainable jobs in rural Thailand, with a focus on employing mothers. $195; yellowleafhammocks.com
When we first saw this, from Portland-based Original Nomad, we thought, This is brilliant—a hot tub you can take camping! Just fill it up and flip on the heater coils (which can be fueled by either propane or firewood). Then we tested it and realized it’s just as handy to have at home—especially if you’ve been reluctant to devote a large chunk of your yard to the usual permanent hot-tub infrastructure. $750/tub and heater; theoriginalnomad.com.
You know, you’re not the only member of the family who’d like to follow the sun in a cute little travel trailer. Get Max his own canine-size take on the classic Airstream, Shasta, or Nomad, handmade to order by Straight Line Designs in British Columbia. Okay, it’s really a doghouse and not exactly roadworthy, but a dog can dream, can’t he? P.S. Your cat would love one too. From $465; straightlinedesigns.com/new/pet-trailers
Dogs like to camp. Dogs like to hike. Let’s face it, dogs like to do pretty much whatever you’re doing—even going to the office on a Saturday. One thing dogs don’t like to do: Be thirsty. Prevent this by carrying a foldable waxed-canvas water bowl whenever your dog is near. Which should be always, of course. $50; tannergoods.com.
What, exactly, is the Aether Cone? Think of it as a portable speaker deejayed by Siri. Turn on the Cone, which is linked to the Rdio music streaming service, and tell it what you want to hear. (“Play ‘Sideways’ by Citizen Cope.”) The Cone learns your likes and dislikes: Touch the center “power” button, and it’ll cue up your favorite breakfast-time podcast, or your usual cooking-dinner background music, depending on your past behavior and listening patterns. (The Cone uses a built-in accelerometer to orient itself.) And with this, we’re one step closer to living on the starship Enterprise. $399; aether.com
Wherever you go, whatever you do, take your Boombot Pro speaker with you, and you’ll always have a reason to jam out. It’s waterproof (up to 3 feet), hands-free, and small enough to carry. $99; store.boombotix.com
It might seem pricey for a tote, but this multifunctional bag is as sturdy as it comes—brass rivets, leather handles, and a detachable leather strap—while being stylish enough to fit every occasion. (Which means you can do without any other handbags. See? Savings!) $298; schoolhouseelectric.com.
A tailored but tough tote from Filson of Seattle (around since the Klondike Gold Rush) will hold plenty and hold up for many a trip. Rugged twill carry-all, $220; filson.com
Handcrafted in Denver, this waxed canvas backpack sports leather straps that darken with age and tucked-away pockets for stowing those special souvenirs. Natural/Olive Waxed Canvas Day Pack; $285; winter-session.com
The adventurers on your list may take a spill or capsize, but their phones will be fine with the best cases for worst cases. LifeProof iPhone case (for the iPhone 6 series) from $80, and LifeJacket float, $40; lifeproof.com
Playing Candy Crush can kill some time while waiting for a flight, but we’d rather get to know our fellow travelers. You won’t regret carrying these laser-cut, birch-ply friend-makers. Nor will anyone you give a set to. $75; walnutstudiolo.com.
Kick off the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary year with the See America calendar, a project of the Creative Action Network, which is based in the Bay Area. The destinations featured aren’t exclusively Western, of course—rumor has it, some perfectly lovely landscapes do exist elsewhere in our nation. Not surprisingly, though, such landmarks as Yosemite and Depoe Bay in Oregon loom large on these pages. See America: $14; pageaday.com
No phones, laptops, or kids allowed at Camp Grounded; it’s just adults having fun as they digitally detox in Anderson Valley, California. Hikes and yoga are on the agenda; s’mores are on the menu. 3 nights from $400 all-inclusive; campgrounded.org
The setting is one of the most beautiful anywhere in the world—the brilliantly colored mesas and canyons of Northern New Mexico, a landscape made famous by artist Georgia O’Keeffe. (That’s no coincidence. She built her home and studio just across the highway.) But Ghost Ranch Education and Retreat Center offers a lot more than just scenery. Want to learn something amazing? Find inner peace? Ghost Ranch is ready to help you, with workshops ranging from astronomy (Ghost Ranch has incredible star-filled skies) to desert photography to The Power of Listening as a Sacred Art.Participants stay in simple cottages or can choose to tent- or RV-camp. Workshops run from a weekend to two weeks, and range in price from $200 to $2500, lodging and meals included. www.ghostranch.org
River rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon should be on everybody’s life list. But so should rafting the Colorado’s biggest tributary, the beautiful Green River, as it runs through the eastern Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument, including the spectacular gorge known as the Gates of Lodore. Trips range from 1 to 5 days and you can choose to run the river in rafts or inflatable kayaks; whatever you choose, you’ll be dazzled. From $100 to $1200 per person, depending on number of days spent on the river; www.nps.gov/dino/planyourvisit/commercialguidedrivertrips.htm
For a splurge, there’s Clayoquot Wilderness Resort. The romantic luxury tents on Vancouver Island are worth a seaplane ride. It’s camping without all that pesky … camping. 3 nights from $3,580 U.S. all-inclusive; wildretreat.com
Thanks to Yosemite-based NatureBridge, kids in underserved urban areas get to take wilderness trips all over the West. naturebridge.org