30 Nov Great gift ideas for hikers, outdoor, nature and national park lovers with 2020 updates
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Online guide to popular holiday gifts. Great for mom, dad or grandparents
Looking for a great online gift for the hiker, nature, outdoor or national park lover on your list that’s sure to please? Or perhaps you’ve been especially good this year and want to treat yourself? Here are popular gifts for hitting the trail or enjoying our national parks. Links are provided to purchase our favorite gifts if you’re an online shopper like we are.
These are popular gifts that will please mom, dad or a grandparent for many years to come.
We fully realize that COVID-19 restricts travel and we advocate heeding the advice of public health experts to keep yourself and others safe. These make great gifts to enjoy now, even if you are doing more dreaming and planning than actually traveling. And once travel is deemed safe, you will be out the door ready for a new adventure.
The travel apps we recommend can be utilized at home as well as on the road. The sun hat will be a favorite travel accessory, but also popular for walks around the neighborhood or trails near home. We love to play games when we travel, but find them perfect for a cold winter night at home.
This is a 2020 update to our popular online guide. Half of the items are brand new for this year. The others have been reviewed and updates made so the information is current. Let us know if you have a favorite that we have omitted. We will update this frequently.
We have more ideas in “Best gifts to make travel more fun, comfy and safe.”
New outdoor, nature, national park gifts for 2020
I’ve been accused of being a “birder.” And my love of birds has rubbed off on my wife so I decided to stoke her interest with a gift of binoculars. Here’s a secret – I get to use them, too. I went upscale after reading product reviews. Lots to choose from, but I went with Nikon binoculars and what wildlife enthusiasts refer to as their “superior glass,” meaning the great quality of the images.
National Geographic is well-known for amazing photography. The popular travel book 100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas continues that tradition, packed with photos that will make you gasp. Extensive traveling and planning tips make the book equally valuable as a guide. The only downside is that once you read this book your bucket list will grow exponentially. Other books in this series – 50 States, 5,000 Ideas and 100 Drives, 5,000 Ideas are also great gifts for mom, dad or grandparents.
I wear a big, floppy hat to keep the damaging sun off my forehead, nose and eyes. And of course it flips and flops in the wind, especially when I’m on a boat. That’s until I discovered the line of Shelta hats, which tames the wind and keeps me from looking like a goober with headwear twisted around my neck and prevents my hat from going overboard. They come in a variety of styles and colors. The company describes them as “visionary sun protection” with a “no-flop brim.” And I agree with its promos. Shelta also makes other sun protection clothing for outdoor enthusiasts.
This makes a great gift for national park adventurers. Tracking national park visits is fun and easy with this National Parks Scratch-Off Travel Map. Updated for 2020, the map includes all 62 U.S. national parks, including the newest, White Sands. Five top iconic spots to visit are included for each national park. The 16×20 map can be hung in a standard frame if you wish. Mappinners also makes several other versions like America the Beautiful with 50 scratch off states and Greatest 100 World Destinations.
Since the pandemic, my family prefers vacations by car. And to limit the amount of contact with others, we pack a cooler full of sandwiches and food and stock up at grocery stores along the way. It’s a good strategy for anyone who wants to limit potential exposure. Our current medium-sized cooler is old and cracked, so we’ve added a Yeti Roadie to our Christmas list. Friends love this product, even though it’s priced on the high end. But I’ve told Santa that we’re worth it.
The popular dice game Yahtzee now comes in a national parks travel-size edition for home or on-the-road. National Parks symbols including a deer, tent, canoe, hiker, pine trees and binoculars replace the traditional dice dots. A portion of proceeds supports the National Park Foundation.
Other popular gifts for outdoor, nature and national park fans
We really love playing the board game Trekking the National Parks. Having lots of national park knowledge doesn’t make you a good player – it’s all about strategy and getting into the heads of your competitors. The board game components are high quality. The game won the MENSA and Parent’s Choice award. Those are great accolades.
When someone suggested that I read a book about national parks authored by Matt and Karen Smith, entitled “Dear Bob and Sue,” honestly, I was skeptical. Three books later, I’m eagerly awaiting their next travel memoir. The trio of “Dear Bob and Sue” books entertains, enlightens and educates.
Like many good writers, Matt and Karen Smith are great storytellers, often sharing the small, quirky things from their trips rather than straining to describe big vistas and huge landscapes. And their dialogue as a seasoned married couple made me laugh out loud, a rare effect in the category of travel books. (Read more about the authors and their books here)
We’ve long used AllTrails as a hike research and planning tool. Just search the area you are traveling and a list of hikes ranked by difficulty pops up on a map. Click into hikes you wish to learn more about and you’ll get mileage, elevation gain, trail description and most valuable for us, reviews from other trail users. After using the free version for years, we upgraded to AllTrails Pro in 2018 ($29.99 annually) for the ability to download maps for offline use and print trail maps as a backup. This is especially helpful when we combine parts of different trails (which usually renders the trail signage not applicable). We often do hike planning on our laptop, and then drive to the trailhead and navigate our hike by phone. AllTrails synchs information across all your devices so current info is always at your fingertips.
Author, photographer and waterfaller Kevin Adams nailed this third edition of Waterfalls of North Carolina. With 1,000 waterfalls in western North Carolina, his guide is a great gift for the outdoor enthusiast. Adams provides driving directions, step-by-step trail details, photos and very candid descriptions, such as “it’s extremely dangerous” or “it’s really cool” and “the most pristine I’ve seen.” He rates each waterfall for beauty, photography, hiking distance and difficulty. Some falls are easy to reach, others more challenging, but Kevin’s your trusty guide who’s taken my family to some spectacular new destinations.
We play it at home and on the road. National Parks Trivial Pursuit contains 100 cards with 600 questions in six categories: natural wonders, battlefields and historic sites, cultural heritage, science and nature, wildlife and wildcard. We love learning about our national park system and the environment. The game is challenging but not pull-your-hair-out difficult. It’s a nice stocking stuffer that more than one person can enjoy.
What does the annual $80 fee for a National Park Pass get you? Admission all U.S. National Parks of course, but also entry to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites across the country. The pass covers the holder, plus all passengers in a personal vehicle (capped at four adults at some sites). There’s no better bang for the buck in our opinion. And the news gets better. If you’re 62 or older, as many of our active baby boomer readers are, $80 gets you a lifetime pass. Don’t tell B, but she’s getting one for Christmas. Annual passes are online from REI and others. Senior annual passes are available online through the National Park Service, but include a $10 processing fee. Ordering by mail or in person at one of hundreds of federal recreation offices saves the $10 processing fee.
We discovered LifeStraw from ToTravelToo bloggers Jane and Duncan Dempster-Smith, who spend their life globetrotting. The water filter system gives peace of mind to international travelers by removing bacteria, parasites (including Salmonella, E. coli, Giardia) and chemicals. Traveling stateside? LifeStraw’s carbon filter removes odor and chlorine taste. And we love it for hiking. We used to carry extra water (heavy) or a filter pump (pain in the rear) on long hikes or overnight trips. Now we can drink water straight from the nearest stream, puddle or pond. Ready for the best part? Each purchase helps provide water filters to children internationally where clean water is a challenge. Already have your own favorite water bottle? LifeStraw Universal adds the same protection to your current bottle. $27
Updated for 2020.
Disclaimer: If you purchase products from the links on this page, we receive a small commission. This helps offset the cost of producing the blog, and allows Wandering Rose Travels to donate to charities who support affordable housing, public lands and veterans. Prices were correct at the time of writing, but are subject to change.