Best Camping Gifts for 2021

2021, best, camping, for, gifts, outdoor - 12 minutes to read


There’s no better time than the New Year to start making plans for summer camping adventures. No matter your or your loved ones’ experience level, this list of camping gifts will have anyone excited to get outside.

All of these top camping gifts are under $300—with the exception of the six-person family tent. They are proven to be long lasting, and most have an additional element of sustainability, like recycled materials. I have been using each of these gifts—or similar models—for as long as 10 years now, so everything you read here has been tested and vetted.

The gifts on this list range from stocking-stuffer camping accessories—like camping journals and bamboo utensils—to forever staples, like a propane stove or a YETI cooler. You’re bound to find something on this list of camping gift ideas that’ll be a hit and last them for a long time. 

An upgrade from the classic Coleman 2-Burner Gas Stove, the Coleman Eventemp 3 Burner Propane Stove gives you the most versatility for your frontcountry kitchen. With two traditional burners and one that goes across the middle of the stove, you can have three separate pots and pans cooking at once, or a sheet evenly heated across all three burners on your next car camping trip. I’ve made everything from an extensive egg, sausage, veggie breakfast to an elaborate pad Thai on this best camping stove with ease. Every time I’m cooking the night before a big alpine start, I’m glad I paid a little extra for this reliable and durable camping stove.

A sturdy, insulated, long-lasting water bottle or thermos is a classic gift, and one I’ll be giving to more than one family member this year. The Rambler series is known for being stainless steel, insulated, and dishwasher safe. Ramblers come in a variety of classic and seasonal colors and models; my favorite models are the Rambler 26oz With Chug Cap and the Rambler 20oz Travel Mug. While they aren’t—for weight reasons—my top backcountry choice, a non-plastic bottle that’s dishwasher safe and keeps things hot or cold for an extremely long time, is perfect for camping or everyday use.

The YETI 35 Hard Cooler is one of the pricier items on this list, but it’s a forever gift and the best cooler for camping. One of my top sustainability gift picks, this cooler never goes out of style, and is durable beyond any other cooler I’ve ever used. It’s perfect for a day trip or a weekend of car camping. I took one of these coolers out for five days in Moab, Utah in intense heat, and it kept perishable foods cold the whole time, even the eggs. You can even take it floating down a river, and its Bearfoot Non-Slip Feet feature makes it great for fishing. Paying a steep price for it now means you or your loved one will never buy another cooler again.

This blanket is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. While it’s something I’d never think to buy for myself, I find myself using it all the time. I’ll take it out for afternoons in the park or spread it under my tent for added insulation on winter camping trips. It’s warm and versatile, with a polyurethane-coated nylon backing that keeps it dry in wet conditions. It can fit three to four adults comfortably, and it’s worth the price given how long it lasts. For me, that’s been seven years and counting.

You can’t go wrong with a classic pair of camp shoes for both men and women. Chaco’s Classic series have a simple design with adjustable straps and a super comfortable and functional podiatrist-certified LUVSEAT™ PU footbed. They’re great to slip on after a long day of hiking or to wear for a dip in the river or lake or casual day of fishing. I’ve even climbed a mountain or two in my Chacos and been super happy the whole way. They’re ultra durable, vegan friendly, and have fantastic traction. If you’re buying these for someone else, they fit very true to size, and have the risk of rubbing if you go too big. While you may want them to be a surprise, do your research to make sure you get the right fit.

Rite In the Rain’s All-Weather Notebook is a great stocking stuffer for any camper, backpacker, or scientist, and is weatherproof, waterproof, and fully recyclable. You can write in anything when the weather’s dry, but consider throwing in an all-weather pen—like the Fisher Space Pen—to complete the gift. Who knows, you might get someone into journaling or sketching outdoors, and they’ll have a lot of stories to share with you after their next trip.

The REI Co-op Rainier Rain Jacket is a high-quality piece of gear that won’t break that bank. REI Co-op traditionally offers strong gear at much lower prices than other name brands. This jacket is sturdy, breathable, and dry, with pit zips and a removable hood to make it versatile across activities. Additionally, the jacket’s shell is made from recycled nylon ripstop, was made in a Fair Trade Certified factory, and is also available in women’s sizes.

For such a thin jacket, the Thermoball Eco Insulated Jacket is shockingly warm. In its neutral colors, it’s also a practical everyday jacket. It has great zippers and pockets, packs within itself for easy storage in a pack or purse, and is extremely durable. (I bought this puffy used, and it still took a few years to develop a small hole in the sleeve—which can be easily repaired.) The most impressive part about this jacket is that it’s made with recycled materials. This jacket’s insulation is made with synthetic materials instead of with down, and The North Face still proves it can produce a superior, cruelty-free product. Like I recommend with Chacos, make sure you know the jacket’s recipient’s exact size, because insulated jackets like this one work best when it’s snug enough to not let cold air in, but not too tight they can’t layer underneath. I’ve found this jacket works best as a light—yet warm—outer layer, or over one or two baselayers, under a shell. (Women’s sizes here for a smaller jacket and more tailored waist.)

I don’t know who decided that getting socks for the holidays was a bad thing. I don’t think there’s ever something I’m more excited to get, especially when they’re nicer than socks I’d buy for myself. Whether you’re shopping for a hiker, hunter, fisher, or just someone who lives in an area that gets below 40, these socks will be a hit. Made in the U.S., Smartwool socks are made from yarn, Merino wool, nylon, and recycled nylon. These socks keep their shape, keep your feet dry, and are all-around warm and comfortable. They last shockingly long, too. So, pay attention to the details—there’s truly nothing worse than uncomfortable feet, which can turn into awful blisters quicker than you realize there’s a problem. I’d be ecstatic to get Smartwool for Christmas.

The REI Co-op Groundbreaker 2 is one of the best gifts for couples, for you and a loved one, or for an adventurous friend that you could buy. Whether it’s for a seasoned backpacker or someone getting into camping, this tent is definitely going to get someone excited for summer. It’s ultralight, easy to set up, and while it’s designed for 3-season backpacking, it’s a great frontcountry camping setup, as well. In my opinion, it’s the best camping tent for two people with minimal frills and long-lasting quality. If you’re looking for a great tent for a beginner backpacker or camper, the Groundbreaker 2’s simple design isn’t intimidating for someone without experience setting up a tent. Gift this tent strategically, and you also may have a great summer coming up.

The Coleman WeatherMaster 6-Person Tent with Screen Room is a great gift for the whole family, and if you are looking for a more luxurious experience, it’s definitely the best car camping tent out there. The winner of our best overall family tent award, this Coleman family tent is easy to set up, roomy, and comes with a great porch to watch the stars—without having to deal with bugs. If you’re looking to set up a spacious home away from home and maybe ease certain family members into the camping experience, you’ve found your tent. Just because you put someone else’s name on it doesn’t mean it isn’t a gift for yourself, too.

You can’t go wrong with a hiking backpack as a gift. And this 33-liter Osprey pack may be the best backpack for the job. It is large enough to fit a book, lunch and snacks, a picnic blanket, and a bathing suit/towel for a comfortable day hike. It’s mobile enough to fit all your layers, helmet, and first-aid kit for a long, technical hike. It sits comfortably on your torso with a waist and chest strap, and while Osprey makes women’s-specific packs, I haven’t found the S/M of the Men’s Osprey Talon to be too large or disproportionate (albeit, I am 5’8”). This certainly is not an inexpensive pack, but in the spirit of sustainability and longevity, it’s one the recipient will use for a long time. It’s also probably the best hydration pack I own, with a designated compartment for a water bladder, such as the Camelbak Crux Reservoir.

This is the best sleeping pad I’ve ever slept on. Personally, it’s a little too heavy for backpacking, but it’s the perfect comfortable sleeping pad for frontcountry camping. I bought this sleeping pad for my mom to use on her first camping trip ever this fall, and I fully credit this sleeping pad—along with the Coleman Eventemp—to her saying she’d love to go again. It’s easy to inflate and deflate, portable, and warm, and is great for side sleeping. That being said, this sleeping pad is fairly narrow, so if you’re someone who would like more room, I’d recommend this Sea to Summit double sleeping pad.

Made with recycled synthetic fibers, the Marmot Trestles Elite Eco 20 Sleeping Bag is still my pick for the best men’s and women’s sleeping bag on the market at an ultra-competitive price. It comes in regular, long, and x-wide sizes, and is a strong 3-season bag at 20 degrees. I’ve taken this sleeping bag backpacking and car camping for three years now, and like it because it’s roomy and has a warm footbox. It packs down enough to store at the bottom of my backpack, and is light enough that it doesn’t feel like I am sacrificing weight for warmth. This sleeping bag also comes with a storage bag that doesn’t compress the internal fibers. And if the recipient of this gift decides to start backpacking, they already have the sleeping bag they need.

Friends don’t let friends camp without a headlamp, but not all headlamps are created equal. The Black Diamond Spot 350 Headlamp has served me for years, and if I ever need to buy another, I will stick with Black Diamond. This headlamp has a compact design, but is powerful and waterproof, with a long-lasting battery life. This headlamp is well-suited for everything from alpine starts to late evenings setting up camp. It is ultra lightweight, and projects up to 350 lumens (projecting an approximately 282-foot beam). You can choose between three modes—white beam, peripheral white mode, or red—and a strobe function. While it’s not rechargeable, you can throw in rechargeable AAA batteries.

To-Go Ware’s Bamboo Travel Utensils are a perfect stocking stuffer for a camper, backpacker, or anyone on the go. They’re convenient, easy to clean, and reduce waste. 40,000,000,000 plastic forks, spoons, and knives are used and thrown away each year, and by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Eating with bamboo is healthier for you, better for the planet, and creates less trash to pack out on your next camping trip.

Light, compact, and relaxing, hammocks are a blast to have with you on a hike, on campus, or in your backyard. The ENO DoubleNext Hammock is, in my opinion, the best camping hammock because of how light it is and how small it packs down. It can hold up to 400 pounds. Its lightweight carabiners can be clipped to any solid anchor—you have to buy the suspension system separately. This hammock is quick to put up, so it’s a good piece of gear for even short outings.

Final Thoughts

If you still aren’t sure what to buy an outdoors person for the holidays, it never hurts to just ask. Sure, it’ll ruin the surprise, but serious outdoorsmen and women are usually picky about the gear they use. You could also always buy them a gift card to your local outdoors store, too, and support a small business. 

But we all know an outdoors person who has every piece of gear they could ever want and need. If you’re struggling to come up with anything at all, don’t just buy something that’ll be regifted or sit in the garage. Consider donating to an environmental or conservation group in their name. Some of my favorites include:

Use OutdoorFox to inform yourself, get all the tips on hiking and camping. Browse through our recommendations and product reviews and start planning your adventure today!

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