Our gift guide for outdoor families has something for everyone on your list!
Whether it’s the festive decorations, good eats, get-togethers with friends, or simply how pretty everything looks with a blanket of snow, I’m always excited about the holidays. While there has been a little less socializing than usual, we will be baking cookies in double batches and putting the Christmas tree up asap so we can enjoy it as long as possible. We are the crazies that put our tree up in November and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Shopping for gifts, however, is not one of my favorite things. I prefer to make things by hand, bake treats, or plan special outings with friends and family… but since the kids keep growing, I’m obliged to find cute and cool things for them… Bonus if they’re useful and will last a long time! To that end, I’ve curated a collection of high quality gear that can be enjoyed season after season. I’ve tried to include many Canadian products, and sustainable ones (made from recycled materials or less toxic ones).
Look for the following icons in our gift guide to shop local and green!
🍁 Canadian Company
🍃 Sustainable Choice
Thanks to our amazing sponsors, this year’s Holiday Gift Guide has five (5) giveaways! Complete the entry forms – within the post / at the end of this post – by November 19 at 11:59 PM MST for your chance to win.
Disclosures: This post contains affiliate links through which I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for fueling my coffee habit (how blog posts get written – true story)! While some of the featured products were received free to test and review, all words and opinions are my own.
Gifts for the Whole Family
Sunday Afternoons Hats: Hats are the perfect gift any time of year. Whether you’re looking for a wide brimmed hat for sun protection on your upcoming beach vacay, hiking hat, or warm toque for snowshoeing, Sunday Afternoons has tons to choose from. We love their merino wool toques, Artisan Series Trucker Caps, Adventure Hats, and sun hats!
For winter, check out these toques:
- Sunday Afternoons’ new Nightfall Beanie has reflective fibres woven into it to provide extra visibility after dark. Available in kids and adult sizes.
- The Stellar Beanie has glow-in-the-dark constellations on it! Available in kids and adult sizes.
- Kids’ Graphic series beanies are reversible, but most kids will want the embroidered designs on the outside! Choose Forest Bear or Winterland Fox.
- The Everwool collection 🍃 is made of super soft merino wool and features a microfleece earband for extra warmth and comfort. Men’s and women’s styles available.
Reduce your use of single-use plastics 🍃, and keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold with Hydro Flask BPA- and pthalate-free pro grade stainless steel bottles and mugs:
- Hydro Flask Coffee Bottles with Flex Sip Lip: These leakproof, insulated coffee bottles will keep your cocoa (or coffee/tea) hot for hours. They are perfect for early mornings at the ski hill, or chilly days on the snowshoe and cross country ski trails. Don’t forget marshmallows and cookies! The 12 and 16 oz size fit in most car cup holders. Available in 12 oz, 16 oz, and 20 oz in 8-11 colors.
- Mugs: If you’re a slow sipper – or have kids that don’t let you drink your coffee in one sitting – you’ll appreciate this insulated mug that keeps your beverage hot all morning. Suitable for use at home or camp, the press-in lid prevents spills and the soft-touch exterior makes it easy to hold the cup without burning your hands. Available in 6 oz, 12 oz, and 24 oz in 5-6 colors including a bright orange (clementine) and dark purple (eggplant). *** If you’re looking for a leakproof coffee cup, get the coffee bottle above.***
- Lightweight Wide Mouth Trail Series bottles: These bottles are 25% lighter than standard Hydro Flask bottles so you can enjoy ice cold water on the trail all day long (especially if you toss some ice cubes in – a benefit of a wide mouth bottle). If you’ve been drinking out of plastic, you’ll notice how much better water tastes in a pro grade stainless steel bottle. Choose from 24 oz & 32 oz wide mouth bottles, or 21 oz standard mouth.
Baffin Polar Mitts (unisex) 🍁: These toasty and rugged mitts are the ideal gift for the person who always has cold hands and/or adventures in extreme temperatures. The Polar Mitts are Polar Proven® (tested in the Arctic) and suitable for moderate to high levels of activity in crazy cold weather. The inner layer is breathable to allow temperature regulation, while the outer layer is made of wind and water-resistant nylon and leather for durability and weather protection. Long gauntlets with drawstrings keep warm in and cold out, and if you happen to get too warm, the inner layer is removable – and washable.
Yukon Charlies Snowshoes: As Yukon Charlie’s Ambassadors, we’ve had the opportunity to try several of their products, and love their snowshoes’ super easy-to-use bindings, lightweight and affordable trekking poles, and inflatable sleds. The kids’ Sno-Bash snowshoes have a one pull binding that kids can fasten by themselves, and the kit comes with poles and a travel bag.
My Elite Spin snowshoes have Northwave bindings that adjust precisely by simply spinning the dial (like the Boa Closure System on some ice skates). I love that I can keep my mittens on while putting my snowshoes on! They’re durable too; after 4 seasons, they’re still like new!
For more information on the YC Elite Spin and Kids’ Sno-Bash Snowshoes, check out our reviews:
- Yukon Charlie’s Elite Spin (Men’s and Women’s) Snowshoe Review
- Yukon Charlie’s Sno-Bash Youth Aluminum Snowshoes
If you have avalanche skills training and plan on snowshoeing in steep terrain, choose a snowshoe with good crampons and integrated heel lifts like the Elite Spin, Carbon Spin, or Pro Float Snowshoes. You can find these as well as running snowshoes (only 1.1 kg / 2.5 lbs!), trekking poles, sleds, and traction devices at Yukon Charlies, Amazon, and occasionally Costco.
Last but not least, don’t forget trekking poles with snow baskets! I like the super lightweight Yukon Charlie’s Carbon Lite Trekking Poles.
Locally made soap from Bowness Soapworks 🍃 🍁: Shop local this Christmas and purchase some made-in-Calgary handmade soap! Melba Seto crafts these beautiful soaps in NW Calgary with nontoxic ingredients (many foraged locally). Look for cool collaborations with Calgary businesses like the Sunshine Roast Coffee Soap made “with fresh brewed coffee locally roasted coffee from Calgary Heritage Roasting Company and infused with ground coffee.” The Bowness Special is a multi-colored fan favorite created with remnants of other soaps to ensure there is no waste.
Prairie Spirit Alpacas Socks, Wool, and More 🍃 🍁: Over 100 alpacas roam on Carmen Jadick’s acreage in the foothills near Millarville. These fluffy alpacas have the softest wool which is twice as warm as sheep’s wool, hypoallergenic (contains no lanolin), lightweight and breathable, water resistant, naturally fire and dust mite resistant, and durable. It’s also a sustainable choice!
Handmade alpaca wool products available from Prairie Spirit Alpacas include socks (wonderful socks!), insoles, knitting kits (everything you need to make a scarf, sweater, shawl, wrist warmers, hat, or Bernie Sanders Mitts!), teddy bears, handwoven scarves, duvets, and dryer balls. Natural and hand dyed wool, and roving, is also available. Find these awesome products online, or at the farm.
If you’d like to visit the alpacas and do some in-person shopping, Carmen offers farm tours by donation & appointment every Saturday from 10 am – 3 pm. Read about our experience in our story: Prairie Spirit Alpacas: Cuddle the alpacas, buy the softest wool, and enjoy the views.
The Comfy Wearable Blanket has become a staple of our work from home and online school outfits, and we love it so much, we bring it camping too! The wearable blanket is made of ultrasoft fleece microfibre with a luxurious sherpa fleece lining. It’s long enough to cover your legs when you sit cross legged on the sofa, and the hood provides extra warmth. Stash snacks and your phone in the large Marsupial™ pocket and you’re ready for a movie marathon!
Available in child and adult sizes in a variety of styles (Original, Quarter Zip, Teddy Bear – fluffy on both sides, Comfy Dream – single layer of microfibre fleece), and colors. Purchase on The Comfy (US) and Amazon (Canada and US).
MEC Hut Booties are a camping essential whether you are a tent, RV, or backcountry camper. After a day of hiking or skiing, cocoon your feet in warmth. 100g Hyperloft polyester and 9 mm EVA foam insoles with soft footbeds provide insulation and cushioning. Choose from light blue, dark blue, green, or black. Buy now at Mountain Equipment Coop. (For kids, get the MEC Toaster Booties.)
Matching pajamas are always fun for the holidays! These Moose on Red Family Pajamas from Little Blue House by Hatley are a festive red, but can be enjoyed year round. Available from Amazon and Little Blue House by Hatley.
A Buff Polar Neckwear is a colorful and functional accessory that can be worn not only as a neck warmer, but as a headband, mask, balaclava, or beanie. The Primaloft fleece contains recycled polyester and is UPF 50 rated. 6 patterns to choose from at MEC, Sport Chek, and Sporting Life. For a lightweight and sustainable option, try the Buff merino wool neck tube 🍃: 100% merino wool, breathable, and naturally anti-odor.
Outdoorsy Gifts for Him, Her, and Them: Under $50
Thrive Provisions Wagyu Beef Protein Bars 🍁: Looking for gluten-free, keto-friendly protein bars that taste great? Try the Wagyu Beef Protein Bars by Thrive Provisions! The bars are made with Alberta beef and contain 13 or 14 grams of protein (varies by flavor). Thrive was founded by 4th generation Alberta ranchers with a goal of fostering “a community that supports healthy lifestyle choices and the vibrancy of life!” Chorizo, Chocolate & Cocoa, Honey Lime & Black Pepper, Maple Apple & Blueberry Meat Bar, and Variety Packs are available from Thrive Provisions and Amazon. Get 25% off at Thrive Provisions with our exclusive coupon code: playoutsidegalVIP.
Aeropress: Coffee lovers agree that the Aeropress is a must-have for great coffee on the go or at camp. Brew 1-3 cups of rich flavored coffee in about a minute, with no mess and no stress. Available at MEC and Amazon.
Tentree Juniper Classic T-Shirt – Men’s & Women’s 🍃 🍁: Based in Vancouver, BC, Tentree uses a sustainable blend of recycled polyester, TENCEL Lyocell (wood pulp fiber), and organic cotton to create super soft garments. For every item purchased, ten trees are planted, so you can feel good about putting Tentree under the tree. Buy the Juniper Tee in a variety of colors at Tentree, MEC, and Sport Chek.
Hillsound PackStack™ backpack packing cubes 🍁: Protect your gear with stackable and waterproof packing “cubes” (they’re crescent shaped actually) designed to fit in 40L+ or 60L+ backpacks. Choose from Tall (17 cm high) or Short (10 cm high). For extra protection for electronics or cameras, the PRO version has seam sealed waterproof CORDURA® fabric and a waterproof YKK zipper. Buy PackStack™ and PackStack™ PRO at Hillsound.
Smartwool Performance Ski Socks 🍃 : With a merino wool blend that is breathable and durable, cushioned zones and vent zones, these socks will keep your feet comfy in performance ski boots. We recommend the Smartwool Performance Ski Targeted Cushion Lift Bunny OTC Socks for women (narrower fit), and Smartwool Performance Ski Zero Cushion POW (Protect Our Winters) Print OTC Socks – Unisex. Find them at MEC!
Gifts from 50-$100
Leatherman Sidekick Multi-Tool: The Sidekick’s 14 tools include a mini saw and pliers with built-in wire cutters. Recommended for every outdoor adventurer! As a bonus, your purchase includes a carabiner with bottle opener. Available at MEC and Amazon.
Biolite Headlamp 330: This top-rated headlamp is bright (max 330 lumens), rechargeable, lightweight, and comfortable. Its 3D slim fit construction keeps it in place, and at only 69 grams, it won’t weigh you down. Available in grey, teal, red, and yellow at Amazon and Sport Chek.
Hillsound Trail Crampons 🍁: Hillsounds’ trail crampons provide great traction on winter hiking trails with 11 carbon steel 2/3 inch spikes. A velcro strap provides extra security (though I found they stay on the whole hike with no issues), and a carrying bag is included. Available at Hillsound, Sport Chek, and Amazon. For more information on choosing traction devices, see our story: Traction Devices for Winter Walks and Hikes.
Gifts Over $100
Fjällräven Keb Trousers 🍃 (men’s and women’s): With an award-winning design, sustainable yet rugged fabrics, and great fit, the Fjällräven Keb trekking pants are a must-have for every adventurer. Thoughtful features like vents, boot hooks (like built-in gaiters), pockets, and stretch in the right places make these pants suitable for hiking and scrambling.
The Kebs are made of a stretchy, breathable material AND G-1000 ECO fabric on areas that need reinforcement. G-1000 is “densely woven fabric made from 65% polyester and 35% cotton.” It is highly durable and wind resistant, and can be re-waxed any time to restore water resistance. All you need is a some Greenland wax (an eco-friendly alternative to DWR treatment) and an iron. I love that these pants are rugged, comfortable, and look good!
Women’s Kebs are offered in Regular and Curved Fit. Men’s are available in Regular and Long length. Find the Keb Trousers in a variety of colors at a store near you, or online at Fjallraven and MEC. The Calgary and Banff Fjallraven stores have offered an exclusive discount for Play Outside Guide readers until December 31, 2021 (excludes Kanken packs). Message me for details.
Olang Winter Boots with built-in traction: Olang Canada‘s “boots with grips” blends fashion with function. With Olang’s patented pivoting grips, you’ll never have to worry about carrying/losing ice cleats again! Whenever you need traction, simply flip the grips so the spikes face outward (don’t worry, it’s easy to switch them back when you go into a coffee shop). This European brand is taking Canada by storm with warm, lightweight, high quality boots with grips. They fit true to size and come with an extra insulated insole for additional warmth. Buy yours now at Olang Canada, Sporting Life, Sole to Soul, and other high end shoe stores.
Smartwool base layers 🍃: Smartwool designs sustainable base layers and accessories with merino wool. We like their midweight quarter-zip thermal tops that can be worn as a base layer, or on their own during high intensity activities. The Men’s Intraknit 200 1/4 Zip Top comes in four colors, and the Women’s Intraknit Merino 200 1/4 Zip Top is available in six colors. Available at Smartwool andMEC.
Hydro Flask 5L Down Shift Hydration Hip Pack: Cyclists will love this hydration hip pack. With an insulated reservoir with reflective lining, it will keep 1.5 L of water cold for over 3 hours. If you need a refill, the puncture and tear-resistant stretchy side pockets can accommodate 12 – 24 ounce Hydro Flask bottles. The High-flow HydraPak®️ Blaster Bite Valve self-seals after each sip, and compression straps allow you to strap extra clothes to the bag. Other thoughtful features include zippered pockets, bike light attachment, soft-lined media and sunglass pocket, and reflective logo. Available in blue or black at Hydro Flask (US only) and Altitude Sports.
Warm and Cozy Lululemon Fleece and Joggers 🍁: Gift the gift of comfort with a Lululemon Cinchable Fleece Zip-Up (comes in French press, white opal, and bold beige) or Lululemon’s iconic joggers (available in men’s and women’s styles). I’m really digging the tapered, just-above-the-ankle style. Find these and more loungewear and activewear items at Lululemon.
Baffin Boots 🍁 are made for Canadian winters. Since 1979, polar explorers and weekend warriors alike have turned to Baffin to keep warm in winter. Whether you’re looking for boots to walk the kids to school, or go snowshoeing in the mountains, you can find the perfect boots at Baffin. Search their collection by activity or temperature rating (from Elemental to Polar Rated). I’m enjoying the Baffin Chloe Boots (rated to -40C) this winter. Due to the thick insulation, some models run a bit small, so you may need to order one size bigger; check the Fit Tip before you buy. Purchase at Baffin, MEC, Amazon, and Sporting Life.
KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody (men’s and women’s): After 2.5 years, the KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody is still my favorite jacket, one I get compliments on all the time. Not only does it have a flattering fit (rare in a puffy jacket!), is keeps me warm with 800-fill down, and a well designed hood. The Spyfire line is a best seller for KÜHL, and includes the KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody, KÜHL Spyfire Down Jacket (no hood), Spyfire Down Parka, and Spyfire Down Vest. Available in 7 colors at KÜHL. The Men’s Spyfire Down Hoody comes in 8 colors, from size S to XXL. See my review of the down hoody here.
Helly Hansen Verglas 3L shell (men’s and women’s): This high quality shell can be used in all seasons to keep wind and rain off. Whether you are hiking or backcountry skiing, the waterproof and durable material will protect you from the elements. Pit zips manage temperature and condensation, the hood fits over your climbing/bike helmet, wrist cuffs and lower hem are adjustable to keep moisture and drafts out, and all seams are taped (just as you would expect in a technical jacket). Find the Verglas 3L shell at Helly Hansen and Sport Chek. See our review of the HH Verglas 3L Shell here.
Camera Clip: The hiking photographer will appreciate this Peak Design Capture Camera Clip V3 that secures your camera to your backpack or belt. “Works with DSLR, compact and point-and-shoot cameras.” I’ve been using mine for 4 years and love that I can keep my camera handy on the trail without having it swinging around. When I need to take a photo, I just press a button to release the safety and my camera slides out of the holder. Purchase on Amazon.
Gifts for Outdoor Kids
The Wild | Life Outdoor Adventures Subscription Box 🍁: These adventure boxes are “action packed with quality outdoor gear, 10+ hours of activities, game, crafts and a merit pin.” The gear and activities will pique your child’s curiosity and encourage them to go on an adventure. Purchase a monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly subscription for an adventurous 8-12 year old in your life at jointhewildlife.ca.
For a limited time, the Wild | Life is offering cool holiday boxes for kids 6 & up. Choose the Holiday Explore Kit (navigation skills), Holiday Survivor Adventure Kit (first aid and survival skills* – better for bigger kids), or Holiday Bird Nerd Adventure Kit (tips and tools for bird lovers – my fav!) and save 15% with coupon code: WILDGIFT2021.
Sunday Afternoons Hats: Kids will love Sunday Afternoons sun hats, Trucker Caps, and beanies. The Stellar Beanie has glow-in-the-dark constellations, the Play Hat comes in 18 fun patterns, the Trucker Caps have kids’ favorite animals, and the Nightfall Beanie is reflective. Find your child’s new favorite hat at Sunday Afternoons, MEC, or Amazon.
Fjällräven Kånken Pack: Surprise your munchkin with a colorful Kånken pack. The Kånken Mini is a great size for daily exploring around the neighborhood with room for a snack, book, water bottle, gloves, and a hat. The most sustainable options include the Re-Kånken made from recycled plastic bottles, the Kånken Re-Wool made from recycled wool, and the Tree Kånken made from wood fibre. 🍃 Available at Fjällräven Calgary (17th Ave SW) or Fjällräven online, Sport Chek, Sporting Life, and Amazon.
Kombi Animal Family Child Mitts: Your little one will be so excited to wear these super cute, warm, and waterproof mittens! Choose from puppy, crocodile, deer, shark, and llama mitts and never battle your kid to keep mitts on again (hopefully). Available at Sport Chek and MEC.
Julbo Idol Kids Sunglasses provide full UV (UV A, B, & C) protection and look good doing it. Their lightweight (19 grams!) , ergonomically designed frames make them really comfortable too. Sized for 10-15 year olds. Available at All Out Kids Gear, a southern Alberta family-run store.
Razor Tekno Glow Kick Scooter with Glowing Blue LED Light-Up Deck: The Tekno light-up scooter has 12 LED lights in the deck to make your evening rides more exciting! The lights are powered by two AAA (included and replaceable) batteries. Recommended for riders 6 & up to a maximum of 143 lbs (65 kg).Available at Sport Chek. If you prefer a folding scooter with larger wheels, try the top-rated Razor A5 Lux Scooter. Available on Amazon.
Picture Book: Through beautiful artwork and words, Because of an Acorn by Lola M. Schaefer, Adam Schaefer illustrates how everything in an ecosystem is connected. Available at Indigo and Amazon. Suitable for preschoolers.
For the outdoorsy person who has everything (or is just really picky)
For the outdoorsy person who has everything, consider a magazine subscription, park pass, or gift of experience:
Outdoor and Travel Magazines: Outside Magazine, Powder Magazine, Sidetracked Magazine, Adventure Journal, The Explorers Journal are recommended for travelers and outdoor adventurers.
Gift cards are the perfect gift for hard-to-buy for folks who are super picky and return everything. We suggest:
Gifts of Experience
- Nightrise, is a unique after-dark multimedia experience at the Banff Gondola. Ride up for sunset, dine at Sky Bistro, then enjoy the dazzling lights, projections, and sounds. December 2, 2021 – March 12, 2022.
- A Mount Norquay Big Drop Card “saves you 50% every day that you visit” and pays for itself in two visits (based on adult lift ticket rates). Not a skier? Treat someone to a thrilling afternoon at Mount Norquay’s Tube Park – it has the biggest vertical drop of any tube park in the Canadian Rockies!
- Journey into Rat’s Nest Cave below Grotto Mountain with Canmore Cave Tours. Read about our experience in our story: Go Underground with Canmore Cave Tours.
- With an RCR Card, your 1st, 4th and 7th visits are FREE at Nakiska, Fernie, Kicking Horse, or Kimberley. Only $119.95!
- Go on a sleigh ride with Banff Trail Riders.
- Go on a clue solving adventure with Mystery Towns Clue Solving Adventures. It’s like a scavenger hunt, locked room, and walking tour in one! Available in Calgary, Canmore, and Banff.
- If you’re celebrating a special occasion, splurge on dogsledding with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours. The Spray Lakes scenery is breathtaking and cuddling the huskies is unforgettable.
- Try fat biking at Canmore Nordic Centre. Rentals are available at Trailsports (reservations recommended).
- Explore Banff in a vintage-styled open top coach (glass covered when it’s cold) with Open Top Touring. We wrote about our experience here: Explore Banff with Open Top Touring!
- Book a cabin or hut at Alberta Parks for a winter comfort camping adventure! Read about our experience at Reesor Hut, Cypress Hills here.
Giveaway Rules, Prizes, & Entry Forms
Entrants must be 18 years of age or older and residents of Canada. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter forms below for the contests you are eligible to enter (note: some can only be shipped to Canada). Contests close on November 19 at 11:59 PM MST.
Winners will be selected randomly via the Rafflecopter app and announced on the blog. Winners will also be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond after which time, if no response has been received, a new winner will be selected. Good luck!
- One (1) Hydro Flask 16 oz Coffee Bottle with Flex Sip Lid and one (1) 12 oz Mug
- One (1) Thrive Provisions Gift Basket containing 4 boxes of Wagyu Beef Bars and a t shirt in the winner’s size!! Value $260.00
- One (1) $50 Gift card for Bowness Soapworks OR The Magic Pantry Market Place
- One (1) The Wild | Life Outdoor Adventures Subscription Box.
- Two (2) Sunday Afternoons Kids‘ Hats.
Thrive Gift Basket
Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Hats
Bowness Soapworks or The Magic Pantry Marketplace Gift Card
Hydroflask Coffee Lover’s Giveaway
The Wild | Life Outdoor Adventures Box
Check out MORE Holiday Gift Guides and Giveaways!
- Born to be Adventurous – 50+ Best Gifts for Outdoorsy Kids
- Hiking in my Flip Flops – The Best Camping Gifts for Your Favorite Tent Camper or RV Owner
- Traveling Mel – Best Gifts for Travelers + Frequent Flyers (they’ll actually use)
- Yellowstone Trips – Gifts For National Park Lovers