Give Like a River Guide

15 Guide-Approved Gift Ideas for the Outdoorsy Person on Your List

What does it mean to “give like a guide” this holiday season? I’ve given plenty of loved ones shiny rocks I’ve found on the river or offered to exchange meals instead of items found at the mall. It’s not that I’m cheap (usually…) or forgetful (most of the time…) or terrified of the mall (you got me – I’m terrified of the mall). It’s that after a season on the river you realize the gifts that matter most are time with loved ones, adventurous experiences and sharing good food with good friends. There’s actual research behind that.

Now that’s a good excuse to invest in a family adventure and call your holiday shopping done, right? But if you’re still in need of a little gift-giving inspiration, these river guide-approved outdoor gift ideas are sure to make the outdoorsy person on your list a happy camper…

Big Surprises

YETI coolers on an OARS. Grand Canyon rafting trip| Photo: Outside

YETI Hopper 20

YETI Coolers are the thing river guide’s dreams are made of. In fact, you’ll see them in action on our Grand Canyon rafting trips. Ice cold beer at the end of a two week trip? No words. “Built for the wild,” we recommend any of their bigger coolers for weekend camping trips, road trips or week-long expeditions, but for on-the-go convenience (think day trip) the YETI Hopper 20 is pretty awesome. ($299)

Redington Voyant Fly Rod Kit
Got an aspiring fly fisher on your holiday shopping list? A starter kit from Redington will have everything they need to start practicing their cast in the backyard. A five or six weight rod is the most universal size or visit a local fly shop for advice. ($299)

Chaco’s Winter Collection – Hopi Boot
Your outdoor lover is sure to already have a pair of customizable Chaco kicks for their summer adventures. But did you know that Chaco makes boots and closed toe shoes as well? Sprinkle some desert sand into the soles for good luck and a little river magic! I’m loving the Hopi design with four colors to choose from, plus waterproof leather and cozy wool. ($160)

SUP Board
When I asked Santa for this gift he informed me that I hadn’t been THAT good…but maybe your outdoor lover has been! From fishing to yoga, stand up paddleboards are the perfect craft for exploring a local lake, river or pond. We love the stable and easily packable inflatable stand up paddleboards from NRS. ($1095)

Under $100

Gift Ideas for the Outdoorsy: America the Beautiful Pass REI


America the Beautiful Pass
I can’t count how many times this year I’ve pulled into a parking lot, trailhead or kiosk at a recreational site only to kick myself for not having an America the Beautiful Pass. The pass not only gives you access to National Parks, but also National Forests and Bureau of Land Management sites (just about every awesome place you can camp or visit). This is gifting an entire year of adventuring. ($80)

NRS Expedition DriDuffel
I use my NRS DriDuffel on the river, but also anytime I travel. The handles and easy design make it perfect for loading full of clothes and gear for a camping trip, weekend away, or extended road trip. The best part? It’s 100 percent waterproof. ($85)

LifeProof FRE iPhone 6 Case
A LifeProof iPhone case has saved my life (well, at least the life of my iPhone) too many times to count. What active person wouldn’t love a beach proof, dirt proof, river proof and outdoors proof phone? ($80)

Melanzana Micro Grid Dress
Leadville-based Melanzana has been a longtime guide secret (and favorite). Gentlemen, their Micro Grid dress is everything lady guides love: soft, warm, colorful and just fancy enough to wear to a nice family dinner (hint, hint). ($79)

Opinel Olive Wood Folding Knife
Food is often my favorite part of spending time outdoors (a meal always tastes better outdoors!) and every dedicated chef needs a nice knife. I’m loving the classy and functional Opinel Folding Pocket Knife for all my camp cooking needs.($56)

Under $50

Gift Ideas: American Rivers glass pendants

River Glass Pendant Benefiting American Rivers
A good cause and beautiful jewelry? Both thumbs up for that. American Rivers explains it best, “Our river glass pendants are handmade using river-tumbled glass collected by American Rivers’ staff at dam removal and river restoration project sites. Each pendant symbolizes the hope that our work provides for rivers…” Plus, this gift goes toward helping protect and restore our nation’s rivers. ($35)

River Inspired Arts & Goods
Support local artists in your community for cards, jewelry and stocking stuffers this holiday season. Want something with some river flair? Many guides spotlight as artists during the winter. Check out Grand Canyon guide Heather Solee’s desert hand drawn cards and art prints, a canyon landscape inspired trucker hat from Heidi Michele Design or Salmon River cuff bracelets from December Moon Design. ($3 – $35)

Rite in the Rain All-weather Notebook Kit
For the budding naturalist or writer on your list, river guides’ favorite weather-proof journals are now available in a convenient kit with a pen and notebook cover. ($30)

Under $25

Gift Ideas for the Outdoorsy: The Hidden Canyon

The Hidden Canyon: A River Journey
The Hidden Canyon is a great gift for the photographer, writer, and river lover in your life. Along with the original journal by Edward Abbey, photographs by John Blaustein and an introduction by Martin Litton, the book includes a new afterword by Kevin Fedarko, author of The Emerald Mile.  This new edition is completely redesigned and contains over four dozen previously unpublished photographs. ($20)

Hydroflask Pint Glass
Hydroflask pint glasses are so cool and I’m still not really sure how they work. But I do know that this summer, working in one of the hottest places in the lower 48, I could pour a beer into this OPEN glass and it would stay cold for an hour (not that my beer ever lasts that long). ($21)

SmartWool PhD Ski Socks
Put aside your fear of being the “boring sock-gifting aunt (or uncle).” An outdoorsperson can never have too many warm wool socks, especially in the variety of thickness, style and fun patterns that SmartWool offers. ($20)


Need more inspiration? Check out OARS’ previous gift guides. These outdoor gifts never get old…

23 Gift Ideas for River Lovers

21 Cool Ideas for Outdoor Lovers

15 Awesome Outdoor Gifts That Give Back

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Photos: Outside/Yeti, REI, American Rivers, John Blaustein


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