Though many don’t think of clothes as being particularly exciting gifts, pieces designed to wear while exploring the outdoors may be the exception. There are specialized clothing options for any outdoor activity. Though these items are not generally necessary to enjoy these activities, they are designed to improve performance and comfort and may be a worthwhile investment for someone regularly engaging in these pursuits. Since many of these are made of technologically-advanced fabrics to increase mobility, some of these can be pricey and perhaps something people won’t buy for themselves.
High-tech fabrics and layering
An almost universal benefit to clothing worn while exploring the outdoors is breathability. Wicking fabric, which moves moisture away from the body helps make you more comfortable and in extreme conditions, can be a lifesaver. New technology has created fabrics that resist tearing without being bulky and heavy. Clothing made of such “ripstop” fabrics hold up better than most everyday fabrics and also often have the benefit of drying quicker than denim. No matter the activity or weather, layering is the most effective way to stay comfortable. These base layers may be more welcome as a gift than traditional “underwear.”
Walking into an outdoor store, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the options in outerwear. There are many styles and fabrics as well as many special features. Depending on the activity, these features may be useful or extraneous. Important things to consider are warmth, water resistance, and bulkiness. Think about what activities will be engaged in and what type of body movement is required. Ask questions. Most outdoor stores hire knowledgeable people who are willing to help.
A hat is a welcome and sometimes necessary accessory for many outdoor pursuits. Some activities recommend or require the use of a safety helmet, but there are also a variety of other head covers that provide comfort and protection. In the winter, of course, hats keep our heads warm; there are many options of fabrics and styles to choose from. Hats are used year round to protect from the sun. Again, depending on the activity and personal preference, there are a number of options. You can choose from hats with or without a brim, with ear flaps, with extra panels to cover the neck, those that are crushable and packable, those that float, some with chin straps or mesh panels to provide airflow, and even some with secret pockets.
While some gloves are designed primarily for warmth, others also have function in mind. For some activities gloves may be particularly useful, such as biking, paddling or rock climbing. Many gloves are now designed to be able to use a smartphone while wearing them.
Socks and shoes
Wool socks are great for warmth but also wick moisture away from the body, reducing the occurrence of chafing and blisters. Some newer synthetic fabrics provide the same benefits without the bulk. Sock liners can be useful gifts for avid hikers. There are also specialty socks to wear while cycling and paddling. Water shoes or neoprene boots keep feet warm and dry while kayaking, paddle boarding or canoeing. Climbing shoes, while not necessary, add flexibility for rock climbing. Hiking boots or sneakers add traction and stability on trails, especially those with significant hills and uneven terrain.
Today it is easy to find specialized clothing. There are a number of stores dedicated to outdoor pursuits, with both brick and mortar and online options. If you are unsure where to find them, search outdoor outfitters or a special interest, such as bicycle shops. Many of these stores are staffed by knowledgeable salespeople who also use the items they sell. They can advise you on special features and give personal recommendations and tips as well.
Next up … Holiday Gift Ideas to Get Outside – Gear