Home Gear Reviews 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families

2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families

by Karen Ung

Spend more time outside, and less time shopping this holiday season with our Holiday Gift Guide for outdoor families. We have curated a collection of gifts for outdoorsy kids, men, and women including gifts of experience for the people who have everything. Don’t forget to enter our giveaways while you’re here! You could win a Family Ski Trip to Whitefish Mountain Ski Resort and Grouse Mountain Lodge, Sunday Afternoons girls’ beanie, or copy of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. 

Disclosure Statement: Some of the featured products were received free to test and review. Also, a tiny portion of purchases made through affiliate links support this website at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Banff Gondola, Sulphur Mountain

Enjoy a Mountaintop Christmas with Banff Gondola

For a magical day in Banff, ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Enjoy the Mountaintop Christmas festivities (crafts, cookie decorating, write letters to Santa), explore the interpretive centre and watch a short film, dine at Northern Lights or Sky Bistro, then hike the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak. The views are incredible year-round, but there’s something special about winter when the surrounding peaks are capped with snow. Book your tickets online at Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection (book in advance for the best price).

Ski Whitefish Mountain Resort & Stay at Grouse Mountain Lodge

Make some memories at Whitefish Mountain Resort, a top rated ski hill with legendary powder (it’s pretty much a powder day every day), 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, and epic views of Glacier National Park. When the lifts shut down, head into town and experience Whitefish’s lively après scene. With the hotel shuttle running until 2 AM, you can stay out as long as you like. After playing hard, relax in your well-appointed room at Grouse Mountain Lodge. Amenities include a pool, outdoor hot tub, sauna, and gym. 

>> Enter to win a Whitefish / Grouse Mountain Lodge Family Ski Trip for 4 here! <<

If you don’t win, you can ski Whitefish and stay at Grouse Mountain Lodge for only $99 USD per person (book by December 6, 2019 for 2019/2020 ). Book your Ski & Stay package here.

Kananaskis Nordic Spa | Image captured with permission from the spa.

Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Escape to Kananaskis for the ultimate in relaxation! With five pools, saunas, heated hammocks, and a steam cabin, every hydrotherapy cycle (hot, warm, cold, rest, repeat) can be different. I loved my spa day and lunch at Two Trees Bistro and highly recommend this 18+ facility for a relaxing girls’ day or anniversary. While spa access is on a first-come, first-served basis, you can hike, snowshoe, ski, or skate while you wait. See our Kananaskis Valley Winter Activity Guide for things to do in the area. For guaranteed access to the nordic spa, book a massage or spa treatment. Visit Kananaskis Nordic Spa for more information.

Coastal Bliss

Coastal Bliss is “the spa delivered to you.” Book a massage with a registered massage therapist, facial, pedicure, waxing, or makeup application and be pampered in the comfort of your own home. Spa technicians can also come to holiday parties at your workplace (mini mani, anyone?). I loved not having to rush to my appointment or look for parking. Coastal Bliss set everything up; all I had to do was relax and enjoy my massage and pedicure. Book now and use discount code Playoutside 15 for 15% off any service! Gift certificates are available here.

BronzeBaxx Luxury Tanning and Wellness

BronzeBaxx Luxury Tanning and Wellness is best known for its luxury tanning beds and airbrushed-by-hand spray tans, but it is also a popular destination for athletes who want to boost recovery and look their best.  Recently, I tried their infrared sauna and Ballancer Pro lymphatic massage and was surprised by how good I felt after. The sauna warmed me up, so I had a good detoxifying sweat; and then I got squeezed in the Ballancer Pro (the suit provides varying levels of compression to your core and extremities). My legs felt lighter immediately afterwards, but over the next several hours, I lost a lot of water weight, so I can see why celebrities like this treatment the day before the red carpet. Make an appointment at BronzeBaxx!

Afternoon Tea at Mount Engadine Lodge is divine!

Afternoon Tea at Mount Engadine Lodge

Afternoon Tea at Mount Engadine Lodge has become an annual tradition for our family. After a day of adventuring in the heart of Kananaskis, we look forward to the delicious charcuterie platter, desserts, and assorted teas. They even have gluten-free crackers and cakes! The setting is incredible, with mountains all around, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a moose while you dine (they like to hang out in front of the lodge).

Afternoon Tea is served from 2 pm – 5 pm. Call before you go to confirm tea time (there are sometimes event closures). For more information, visit Mount Engadine Lodge.

Spring skiing at Nakiska

RCR Rockies Card

The RCR Rockies Card gives you 3 free ski days at 4 awesome ski resorts. Your 1st, 4th, and 7th ski days are free, and your other ski days are discounted. On your discounted days, get $15 off the regular lift ticket price at Nakiska, and $20 off at Fernie, Kicking Horse, and Kimberley. There are also double discount days (check the ski hill you’re interested in for details)! Buy RCR Cards online from Resorts of the Canadian Rockies by December 31, 2019.

Canmore Cave Tours
Grand Gallery, Rat's Nest Cave | Image Credit: Adam Walker

Canmore Cave Tours

Explore the caves of Grotto Mountain with Canmore Cave Tours. No caving experience is necessary as all tours are guided. I loved the Adventure Tour’s 6-storey rappel! Book an adventure for you and a friend with Canmore Cave Tours today!

Calgary Climbing Centre climbing lessons

Whether your loved one wants to learn to belay or lead climb, Calgary Climbing Centre has a class for that. Private, group, and family lessons are available at various locations around Calgary. Check out the program listing and purchase gift cards for your location.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

Get unlimited admission to over 80 Parks Canada places with your Discovery Pass! Did you know you can save $20 on Family Passes until December 31, 2019? Purchase your annual park pass here.

For the Kids

My girls love their Fjällräven Kånken packs!

Fjällräven Kånken Backpack

Designed in 1978 to “spare the backs of school children”, the Fjällräven Kånken backpack is a stylish classic. The pack has a small zippered compartment for things you want to keep handy, and a large zippered compartment with a removable seat pad for comfort while wearing the pack, or sitting on the ground. Different variations are available (Classic, Mini, Laptop 15″), but I like the Re-Kånken best as it is made from recycled water bottles. Available at Fjällräven Calgary (17th Ave SW) or online.

Under Armour ColdGear

Cold weather calls for warm, moisture-wicking, quick-drying layers. My girls love their Under Armour ColdGear Crew Long Sleeved Shirt and ColdGear Leggings. They are brushed and soft on the inside, and smooth and quick drying on the outside. Four-way stretch allows freedom of movement and the wide waistband is comfortable and stays in place. The Crew top is a longer length which pairs perfectly with leggings and longer sleeves keep hands warm on chilly days. Wear them to school, to play sports, or as base layers! Available from Sport Chek.


A slackline equals hours of fun at the park or campsite. All you need are two big trees to set it up! Tree protectors are included with the Barefoot Slackline so you don’t rub bark off the trees, and a training line (included) can be set up for beginners. Read the instructions before use, so you set the slackline up properly and safely.  The slackline shouldn’t be too high off the ground. Available on Amazon.

The Lorax

The Lorax is a kid-friendly cautionary tale about pollution and deforestation that ends on a hopeful note, reminding us that things can change if we care enough. Printed on recycled paper and available on Amazon.

Unicorn Snow Tube

Turn heads with the GoFloats Winter Snow Tube! This heavy duty snow tube has thick material so it will last, two handles, and a high centre seat so your bottom won’t hit the ground. Also available in Flamingo, Penguin, Ice Dragon, and Polar Bear. Buy from Amazon.

Sunday Afternoons Kids' Nova Trapper Hat in Frozen Berry

Sunday Afternoons Beanie

Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Nova Trapper Hat (suitable for 3-6 years old) is cute and cozy with a microfleece liner and earflaps. Purchase it online from Sunday Afternoons, or enter to win one below!

Waterproof Motorola Walkie Talkies

Do your kids forget to put their toys away? Waterproof walkie talkies for the win! Motorola’s T600 Talkabout Radios also have 22 channels, a 35-mile mountain-to-valley range (for neighborhood use, expect a 2-mile range), a built-in flashlight, and weather channels. Get up to 9 hours battery life with the included rechargeable batteries, or up to 23 hours with 3 AA batteries. Find them on Amazon.

Runners Balance Bike

Let your little learn to ride a bike the easy way: by starting on a balance bike! We like Runners brand because it’s Canadian and high quality (our kids started on the original Runners wooden balance bike).  Suitable for 18 months – 5 years old. Buy it on Amazon.

Secret Hideaway

Every kid loves having his or her own secret hideaway. The Monobeach mini teepee made with pine wood and 100% natural, non-toxic, unpainted cotton canvas is sure to bring a smile to your child’s face on Christmas morning. Get it on Amazon

Petzl Tikka Headlamp

Hike hands-free in low light with the Petzl Tikka 300 Lumens headlamp. I have an old Petzl Tikka that is over a decade old and still works, so I bought the same headlamp (but newer and brighter) for my kids. Available on Amazon

Razor Scooter with LED Lights

The Razor Party Pop Kick Scooter has 12 multi-color LED lights and brightly colored wheels. Recommended for ages 6 and up; supports riders up to 143 pounds. Get it on Amazon.

Airhole Facemask

Prevent steamy goggles and soggy/frosty facemasks with an Airhole Standard 2-layer Facemask. The patented airhole lets you breathe freely and stay comfortable longer. Available on Amazon

Compact Binoculars

Binoculars are fun for birdwatching or observing wildlife from a safe distance. The SGODDE compact binoculars provide 10x magnification with a 25 mm lens and are waterproof, fogproof, and lightweight (0.6 lb / 272 g), so you can bring them on every hike! Available on Amazon

For Him or Her

Aventura Clothing: eco-friendly fashion

Aventura Clothing specializes in sustainable, fair trade certified styles. I purchased my first Aventura item in Moab, Utah twelve years ago, and I have been a brand ambassador for the past three years. My favorite Aventura pieces include their vests and Adira athleisure line, but I have several great Aventura scarves and dresses too! The photo gallery above shows a few of the fall/winter pieces on my wishlist. Purchase online at Aventura Clothing

Ecoths: Sustainable Men's Wear

Ecoths is Aventura’s men’s line. If you’re looking for eco-friendly gifts, select “sustainable” styles that are made with 100% organic cotton. You can also choose items made in fair trade certified factories so you can feel good about your purchase. Available from Aventura Men’s.

Heat Holders Thermal Gear

Heat Holders socks, hats, and mitts are super warm thanks to Japanese-designed thermal yarn, extra long looped cushion pile, and a thick brushed inner layer. The Heat Holder Original Socks are 7x warmer than cotton socks! I have been wearing them in the house and to sleep for several years to help with my Raynaud’s and love how soft and warm they are. Since the Original are a bit too thick to fit in my boots, I recommend the Lite or Ultra Lite styles for every day wear. Heat Holders also makes toasty warm base layers perfect for the coldest days (I bought a pair 5 years ago and love them). Men’s, Women’s, and Kids’ thermal gear is available at Heat Holders.


MEC Travel Light Carry-On

The roomy, lightweight, and affordable MEC Travel Light Carry-On is a thoughtfully designed, minimalist carry-on bag. Weighing in at 572 grams, the pack has multiple compartments for organizing, a padded laptop compartment, and exterior zippered pocket you can stuff the pack into when not in use. I have taken it on 4-day press trips and 10-day road trips and find it the ideal size and weight. Note that the straps are quite thin so you won’t want to take this pack backpacking, but for getting to and from the airport/hotel, it is fantastic. Get it at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).

Ekster Parliament RFID-blocking, Trackable Wallet

Earlier this year, I traded in my big wallet for a compact (1.1 x 10.5 x 6.5 cm) smart wallet from Ekster. The Ekster Parliament is made of premium leather and has an aluminum cardholder case to prevent skimming. As if that weren’t cool enough already, you simply press a button to see/access all your cards (I LOVE this feature!). You can also purchase a tracking card with a solar-rechargeable battery, so if you ever misplace your wallet, you can call it and locate it. Cool, right? For more information, or to buy one, visit Ekster.

KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody
KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody in Lagoon (6 other colors available)

KUHL Spyfire Down Hoody

Form meets function in the attractive and well-made KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody. This down jacket will be your go-to outer layer for cold weather with its flattering lines, 800-fill down, and thoughtfully-designed hood. Read our complete review here. Available at Kuhl.com.

Mountain Pillow | Image Credit: Made Laine Studio

Mountain Pillow

Love the mountains and fresh air? Bring a mountain pillow into your home to remind yourself of your happy place. Looks even better layered with various sized pillows on a couch or chair. This double mountain pillow is made of chunky weight wool yarn, cotton fabric, and stuffed with polyester pillow filling. Available from Made Laine Studio’s Etsy Shop. Handmade in Calgary, Alberta!

Helly Hansen LIFA Merino Base Layers

Helly Hansen LIFA Merino tops and bottoms are available for men, women, and kids in a variety of patterns and colors. With merino wool on the outside and soft, moisture wicking LIFA (synthetic fabric) on the inside, even those with sensitive skin can get the benefits of merino wool. I recommend the half-zip top for temperature regulation. Note that these fit a bit small, so if you are between sizes, order the next size. Available from Sport Chek.

Native Eyewear Dropzone Ski Goggles

Native Eyewear DropZone Polarized Ski Goggles

Polarized ski goggles are a must for snowlovers. They block glare better than nonpolarized goggles allowing you to see contours in the snow better. These high-end goggles come with two lenses; one for sunny days and one for cloudy days. Read my full review of the Native Eyewear DropZone Polarized Ski Goggles here. Buy online from Native Eyewear.

OUTAD Folding Camping Chair

We bought a couple of these OUTAD chairs in 2017 thinking they were too good to be true (they’re cheap!), but they have proven to be durable and super quick and easy to set up. The poles are attached so you can never lose one, and they fit together like tent poles. This 1.8 lb chair can hold up to 200 pounds and sets up in seconds.  Get it on Amazon.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild is the tale of Cheryl Strayed’s challenging but healing journey on the Pacific Coast Trail after the loss of her mother and breakdown of her marriage. Available on Amazon. Enter to win a paperback copy below!

Giveaways: Available Prizes & Rules

Visit this story: Why you should ski at Whitefish Mountain Resort + Family Ski & Stay Getaway to enter to win a ski & stay package from Pursuit Glacier Park. Open to residents of Canada and the US who have reached the age of majority in the province/state in which they reside.

Enter the Rafflecopter forms below to enter to win a Sunday Afternoons Girls’ Nova Trapper Hat in Frozen Berry or copy of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.


Participants must be residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority in the province in which they reside at the date of entry. 

Giveaways close at midnight on November 24, 2019. 

A valid email address must be provided in order for me to contact you if you win. Winners will be notified by email on November 25, 2019 and must respond within 48 hours or a new winner will be selected.

Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

More Great Gift Guides!


You may also like


Franco Lee November 25, 2019 - 10:06 PM

Hello Karen,

Would love to take the family out for a spa day. Love from the flee family.

Kim Brochu November 20, 2019 - 2:30 PM

Love the Aventure leg warmers and the super cool wallet!!

Katy Emanuel November 19, 2019 - 5:05 PM

I like the idea of the Nordic Spa for myself for a day, sounds so nice. For the family a Parks pass is one of our favourite gifts

Cassandra Riches November 18, 2019 - 8:31 AM

The gift guide ideas I like best are the ones that are experiences. As for the long trail I’d like to do… The John Muir Trail in California.

Maegan Morin November 17, 2019 - 10:56 PM

I absolutely love that tent! OMG my daughter would adore it so much.

Greta Duncan November 15, 2019 - 8:51 PM

I always love adventures/experiences more than things for gifts. I have always wanted to stay and ski at whitefish. Maybe hubby will see this and get the idea for the spa gift card for my stocking ?

Katy Emanuel November 15, 2019 - 5:45 PM

I would love a day at Kananaskis Nordic Spa, it looks so great, although the Kuhl down hoodie looks and sounds pretty great too. Santa always brings our family a Parks Canada pass for the year.

Kathy Hunt November 14, 2019 - 8:16 PM

I like the Walkie talkies.
If I had time and money I’d like to do the Haute Route

Stacy Finnbogason November 14, 2019 - 6:45 PM

I love the kids toque from Sunday Afternoons and the Motorola walkie talkies!

Family Gift Guide (+Giveaway) | Born to be Adventurous November 14, 2019 - 6:12 PM

[…] 2019 Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families – Play Outside Guide […]

Comments are closed.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Accept Read More