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When it comes to outdoor gear, I’m not in much of a minimalist mood right now. After the last 18 months, I gravitate toward bigger, heftier, and more comfortable—and what’s most interesting about a lot of modern gear design is that you really can get more with a lighter touch on the land. Here’s a wish list of the best gifts for outdoorsmen that will make your hunting, fishing, and camping more enjoyable—and the nights before a heckuva lot more restful.
Best Gifts for Outdoorsmen Top Picks
- Best Air Mattress: Thermarest MondoKing 3D
- Best Sleeping Bag: Bib Agnes Echo Park 40
- Best Camping Hatchet: Gränsfors Bruk Splitting Hatchet
- Best Fish Fillet Knife: Bubba Multi-Flex Interchangeable Set
- Best Hiking Boots: KEEN Targhee III
- Best Fishing Pack: Orvis Waterproof Sling Pack
- Best Camping Stove: Camp Chef Everest 2 Burner Stove
- Best Rifle Case: Pelican V770 Vault Single Rifle Case
- Best Backpacking Flask: VSSL Flask
- Best Polarized Sunglasses: Costa del Mar Untangled Collection
Best Air Mattress: Thermarest MondoKing 3D
Forget bears, snakes, spiders, and the blood-sucking chupacabra. The real reason you toss and turn in a tent is less horrifying: Sticks that nag you all night long and roots that rob you of comfort thanks to a too-flimsy sleeping pad. That’s why this is one of my top picks for the best gifts for outdoorsmen guide. The MondoKing 3D is a self-inflating 4.25-inch-thick antidote to the all-day grumps that come from a poor night’s sleep. Built in both large and extra-large versions, these aren’t backpacking pads—packed for travel they roll into a bundle more than 10 inches in diameter—but for car camping. As a truck bed bivvy, they’re a knockout. On cold nights, the 7.0R-value insulates from the coldest ground, while a stretch-knit fabric on the top helps with breathability on warmer nights and lends a comfy feel for when you use a sleeping bag as a quilt. The stuff sack doubles as a pump sack to add firmness to the pad once it self-inflates.
Best Sleeping Bag: Bib Agnes Echo Park 40
Three-season sleeping bags are almost always too warm for summer nights, and for side-sleepers and all-night tossers-and-turners, mummy bags feel like a straitjacket for your legs. With a wider, taller cut, there’s plenty of wiggle room in the Echo Park 40, the best sleeping bag, and when you slide a sleeping pad into the integral pad sleeve on the bottom, you could practically wage a cage match inside the bag and never fall off the pad. The 40-degree rating is a bit warm for some midsummer nights, but the bag’s double zippers do more than provide ventilation at the foot. You can enter either side of the sleeping bag—a bonus when sharing a two-person tent—and also open it all the way up to use a quilt. And for the money, there’s a great list of features: An interior mesh pocket where you can stash a smartphone or headlamp; interior and exterior loops that make it easy to hang the bag for drying; and a cotton/poly inner lining for almost-like-home comfort.
Best Camping Hatchet: Gränsfors Bruk Splitting Hatchet
This little beast rides in my truck 365 days a year making it one of the best gifts for outdoorsmen. It’s basically a splitting maul downsized for one-handed use, and there is nothing better to split firewood rounds. The 2-pound head carries tons of energy on the downstroke, and a steel collar below the head protects the 19-inch hickory handle when splitting larger pieces of wood. If you typically purchase split firewood, by the cord or by the 5-pound grocery-store bundle, this hand-forged Swedish hatchet is the precise tool you need to build out kindling for starting and feeding a fire. It’s a bit heavy for limbing and cumbersome for felling, but for general camp use this is a far better choice than a thinner hatchet.
Best Fish Fillet Knife: Bubba Multi-Flex Interchangeable Set
When it comes to cleaning fish, I often just make do with the closest tool at hand, which means I’m often either over-gunned for trout and crappie or under-gunned for larger species. It works, but not terribly well. With this set of fillet knives, you can switch blade lengths and flex characteristics to match the edge to the fish, so you’ll leave less meat on the bone. Bubba’s interchangeable knife set comes with four different full-tang blades that lock into the common handle. Ranging from a tapered flex 7-inch blade to a stiff 9-inch blade, the set covers the gamut from farm-pond bluegill to honker redfish. The entire set comes in a carry satchel with a magnetic insert that keeps the blades secure.
Best Hiking Boots: KEEN Targhee III
When it comes to best gifts for outdoorsmen, a solid pair of boots is a great option. I’ve ridden the KEEN Targhee train for 15 years, through several design iterations, and the mid-high version is my go-to for long hikes, dove hunts, and general bushwhacking. I’m amazed at how well they hold up. They’re the most comfortable boots I own, and I own a stupid number of boots. The newer Targhee III retains the family’s waterproofness and solid grip in sloppy trail conditions, but with a somewhat less bulky profile and more of a sneaker feel thanks to a more flexible sole than the Targhee II which, thankfully, remains on the market.
Best Fishing Pack: Orvis Waterproof Sling Pack
I’ve never really loved a fly fishing vest. They’re bulky, and get in the way of my casting stroke, and I can’t ever remember which pocket holds what. I went with a hip pack, but was constantly soaking the thing while wading deep trout pools. Now I’m on the sling pack bandwagon, and I’m not going back. The Orvis subsurface-friendly version is a winner with a just-right balance of payload capability and streamlined design. A large main compartment has interior pockets for extra leaders, strike indicators, and other small items, while the outside of the main compartment has tippet-bar loops, a fly-drying patch, and a forceps sleeve on the shoulder strap to keep the necessities close at hand. As far as the best gifts for outdoorsmen go, this pack checks all the boxes.
Best Camping Stove: Camp Chef Everest 2 Burner Stove
The first thing I look for in the best camping stove is pure power, and with a pair of high-pressure 25,000-BTU burners, the Camp Chef Everest bests most stoves on the market not only in heat output but in a strong burn that bucks the wind. Next is flame control. It’s one thing to sear a steak or boil coffee water in a jiffy, but another to provide flame control all the way down to a low simmer. Camp Chef specializes in one thing only—cooking gear—and they’ve built the Everest with a huge range of burner control. There’s ample room between the burners for a couple of good-size pots at a time. Add a Mountain Griddle to the outfit and you’ll have nearly 240 square inches of flat-top available for pancakes, flatbreads, and burgers. The unit folds up compactly, and it’s tough. I’ve packed it in a canoe many times, and have never had an issue with the external flame control knobs.
Best Rifle Case: Pelican V770 Vault Single Rifle Case
You should baby a scoped rifle whether you’re driving a half-hour to deer camp or flying cross-country, and there’s no better way than with the best rifle case. Pelican brings all of its nearly 50 years of case-building to a price-point solution in the Vault series. The high-impact polymer shell is crushproof and has four push-button latches and two 5/16-inch padlock holes for safekeeping and air travel. The V770 interior tapes at 50 inches by 10 inches by 6 inches, so it’s long enough for magnum rifles and most standard shotguns. It comes with five layers of protective foam, so it’s a snap to custom cut a gun-cradling fit for your specific firearm.
Best Backpacking Flask: VSSL Flask
This wouldn’t be a true best gifts for outdoorsmen guide without a solid flask recommendation. There’s plenty to celebrate in the outdoors, whether it’s a first buck or notching off a final push to a high-elevation campsite. The VSSL Flask brings a sort of rugged charm to such occasions. The sleek machined aluminum cylinder holds 8 ounces of your favorite snort, with a separate end-cap compartment that hides a pair of sleek, collapsible, stainless-steel shot glasses. It’s outfitted with a SUUNTO precision compass on one end and a 4-mode LED light on the other. I first started packing this flask as a sort of novelty, but soon enough discovered that there’s something compelling about an end-of-the-day relaxer, be it camp-side or in the lodge. And the sleek shape makes it easy to cram into the most overly stuffed gear bag.
Best Polarized Sunglasses: Costa del Mar Untangled Collection
The frames in Costa’s new Untangled series are made of recycled fishing nets, highlighting the connection between clean oceans and sustainable fisheries. They all feature Costa’s 580G glass, which offers 100-percent protection from UV light, absorbs high-energy blue light to cut through haze, and is armored with scratch-resistant layers on both the inside and outside of the glass. The designs of some of these models are a bit of a departure, including roughened and textured surfaces to underscore the connection to their commercial fishing heritage. For women, the Victoria has a vintage-hip round design that sets them apart. I like the Pargo for men, although I’d opt for the Pescador with removable side shields if I could pull off the larger size.
Field and Stream is here to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: Gift Guide for Fly Fishermen, Fishing Gear Gift Ideas, Best Gifts for Him.