When it comes to the holiday season, I’m a huge fan of giving back and I try to donate to organizations that support our trails, promote outdoor stewardship, and conserve our wild places. It’s still fun to give gifts though and the holiday season is a great excuse to buy for your loved ones and yourself!
This year I raided my gear stash with one objective: find 20 of the most useful outdoor items I’ve ever purchased, each one under $20, and turn the results into a holiday gift guide. Challenge completed!
Each item on this list has been well used, well tested, and most have years of mileage all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. In fact, my oldest item is my Mongol Rally issued Buff, which has been with me since 2008 and has literally been around the world! Just to prove how much I’ve used these items, here’s my somewhat worn, somewhat dirty pile of goodies.
So without further ado, I’m proud to present the 2018 TrailChick-approved “Best Outdoor Stuff You Can’t Live Without” Under $20 Gift Guide.
Ruffwear Quencher. $14.95. The best adventure dog bowl ever!
GSI Outdoors Nesting Red Wine Glass. $7.95. Amazingly lightweight and packable. Enjoy wine in style anywhere!
TrailFork Paleoats. $8.50. Simple ingredients and awesome taste. Breakfast of champions right here!
Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Medical Kit. $18.95. Off-the-shelf first aid kits are never perfect, but this one is a great size and weight for carrying in a pack. Augment your supplies as needed.
Granite Gear 11L Compression Sack. $19.73. A good compression sack will change your backpacking life and the REI outlet has a bargain price on this one right now.
OR 10L Ultralight Dry Sack. $19.50. Here in the PNW especially, a dry sack is a must! A smaller one is handy for paddleboarding too!
Sawyer Permethrin Pump Spray. $16. A non-toxic spray for your clothing and gear that actually repels mosquitoes, ticks, chiggers and mites. Check out my article about how to survive mosquitoes, which includes more info on Permethrin and it’s companion, Picaridin, also on my gear guide.
SOL Fire Light Kit. $10. Only 0.7 ounces and this can potentially save your life or make a miserable day a little less miserable.
Sawyer Mini Water Filter. $19.95. Sawyer makes great stuff and this 2 ounce filter is one of the lightest and most compact on the market. Perfect for trail running!
Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellant. $8.95. Non-toxic and it really works! Mosquitoes and annoying bugs be gone. This stuff is a miracle!
GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Coffee Maker. $9.95. I like simple, delicious coffee and this is the best, most packable, lightweight coffee filter out there. I take this filter everywhere! Read my full review.
REI Co-op Multi Towel Light. $9.95+. Perfect go anywhere packable towel for outdoor adventures.
Sea to Summit X-Bowl. $15.95. I’ve taken this everywhere! Collapses flat but still rigid enough to hold meals and liquids. Dishwasher safe and stands up to boiling water too. Ingenious!
Solight Twilight Solar Lantern. $17. I love this little solar-powered, collapsible, lightweight floatable lantern! It’s been one of my best outdoor finds. Easy to charge and perfect for camping and backpacking, it’ll generate light all night and toggles between a few settings. Read my full review.
Smartwool PhD Ski Socks. $17.73. On sale at REI now, these merino wool socks are the bomb! I use them all winter on the slopes.
Grabber Hand Warmers 10 Pair. $10. I struggle with frozen hands and these things have saved me more than a few times! I always have at least 2 pairs in all of my packs.
Therm-a-Rest Z-Seat. $14.95. The ultimate 2 ounce item that fits easily in a pack and gives your butt an instant shield from rocks, wet terrain, and snow.
Wrightsock Cool Mesh II Quarter Socks. $13. I’ve put hundreds of miles of trail running and hiking on my Wrightsocks and never had a single blister thanks to their 2-layer construction.
GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug. $9.95. I’ve had my mug for years and it’s simple, lightweight, easy to strap to a pack and a perfect size for food, coffee, and hot drinks. Easy to clean and well insulated!