While some people are gift-giving machines, effortlessly selecting the perfect products months before the holiday season begins, some of us need a little help. Fear not. Our 13 favorite gifts under $50 are sure to impress everyone on your list.
Upgrade your pal’s culinary possibilities with the closest thing to fine china we could find fit for the backcountry. This camp kit includes two stainless-steel bowls, two tumblers and two sporks. If the person you gift it to doesn’t take you along to enjoy the inaugural dinner for two, it might be time to upgrade your friend. An added bonus: United By Blue removes a pound of trash from our waterways for every product sold. $38
Turns out we lose 10 percent of our body heat through our heads. Help your loved one combat noggin heat loss with this cozy topper. Made with wool from New Zealand sheep, it’s the snuggliest. Nepali women hand dye and knit these hats in a Fair Trade Certified factory, part of Everest Designs’ mission: A Sherpa and an American founded the company to connect the artisans of Nepal with consumers in America. That’s a win-win. $38
Sadly, we can’t always be seaside, listening to the soothing splash of waves against the shore. We can, however, light a Paddywax candle, close our eyes and let that memory wash over us. The crackling wooden wick instantly transports any enjoyer to a beachside bonfire, sand between their toes. Even better? A portion of all sales benefit the National Parks Foundation, to protect the places we hold near and dear. $29
Some might say you’d be unoriginal for choosing a gift based on its number of five-star ratings. We know of at least 2,600 people who’d disagree. One of the highest-rated products on REI.com, this 32 oz. Hydro Flask bottle features double-wall vacuum insulation that keeps hot drinks hot for up to six hours and cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours. A large mouth lets you dump in ice cubes aplenty on scorching summer days (or fill straight from the source), and its BPA-free stainless steel doesn’t retain flavors from last week’s lime electrolyte drink. Will your giftee be the next five-star reviewer? $39.95
Hello, sunshine! This beauty slips under the $50 mark with a nickel to spare. Any friend would be lucky to receive this 330-lumen BioLite lamp, but runners will especially appreciate it. Its slim housing is balanced by a small battery pack, which sits jostle-free at the back of the head, and it’s a scant 2.4 ounces. It also comes in a handful of fun colors. $49.95
“I never thought I’d fall in love with a fanny pack, but it happened,” writes REI customer Hollybee. Give the gift of love this season. When the Patagonia Black Hole Mini Hip Pack isn’t in use, it packs into its own pocket. When it is, the hip pack fits oodles into its lightweight, yet durable pouch (one person on our staff uses it like a purse, while another stuffs it with pick-up bags and treats for her dog’s morning constitutional). There’s no wrong way to use a hip pack—love is love. $29
Even with fuel, the Primus Essential Trail Stove comes in under $50. It weighs only 3.9 ounces, takes about 3 minutes and 30 seconds to bring a liter of water to a boil and has no folding parts, so it’s always ready to go. The camper in your life will go gaga for this tiny, powerful piece of equipment. $24.95
Add a twinkle to your pal’s backyard or backcountry adventure with this string light from MPOWERD. Ten LED nodes decorate the 18-foot-long cord, which you can charge via USB or the sun. What’s even cooler: Your giftee can use that same port to power up their mobile devices while enjoying the dreamy glow. An easy-to-parse LED indicator shows when it’s time to plug back in, so your friend is never caught in the dark. $39.95
Whether you’re shopping for a shutterbug, a thrill chaser or a coffee-table book collector, rest assured your buddy will love this just-released beauty from Corey Rich, Nikon ambassador and official photographer of the historic Dawn Wall ascent. For more than two decades, Rich has captured iconic shots of adventure superstars, and now he spills the technical and personal details on 56 of his favorite photos. $29.95
Your foodie friend will appreciate Wild + Wolf’s take on a typical multi-tool: Instead of an awl and a wire cutter, you get a corkscrew, cheese grater, peeler, serrated knife, spoon, fork, paring knife, bottle opener and can opener. All that’s left for them to do is mise en place. (This doodad is popular, so head out to your local REI to pick one up. It’s in selected stores.) $36
Aromatherapy has been used for wellbeing for centuries, why stop now? This four-pack from Rinse Bath & Body includes roll-on bottles of eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint and tea tree essential oils. Tell the adventurer you gift it to to apply to their temples, forehead, neck, feet or even the tip of their nose. (This one is also popular; find it in your local REI or stick around for it to be restocked online soon.) $42.95
Clever name, clever design. This reusable, stainless-steel sipper from FinalStraw can take on hot and cold bevvies, is dishwasher safe and even comes with its own cleaning brush. It folds neatly into an included case about the size of a pack of floss. The 2.0 Stainless Steel Straw can withstand up to 16 years of daily use—which will help all the eco-conscious folks in your life eliminate plastic straws while still sipping pretty on iced coffee or campfire cocktails. (Pst, the color names are marvelous, too.) $24.50
YETI’s vacuum-insulated mug will keep your friend’s joe hot for up to six hours, making it as appropriate for morning commutes and alpine starts as evening camp warmers. It comes with a removable sipping lid and is dishwasher-safe, too. And most importantly, at 14 ounces, it fits enough coffee to actually make a dent in drowsiness. $25
All photography by Andrew Bydlon.
Need more inspiration? Check out our Best Outdoor Gifts or Best Gifts for Campers, or find more product roundups in our Trail Mix series. And stay tuned: We’ll be publishing two more gift guides before the holidays, including The Coziest Gifts and The Best Gifts for Skiers and Snowboarders.