Editor’s note: This year’s a bit different—shop early to avoid lines in-store and get your gifts delivered with plenty of time to spare. Shopping in-store? There might be a line. Join the waitlist from anywhere to save time.
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 favorite gifts under $50 are sure to impress everyone on your list.
By now we hope everyone on your list shirks single-use plastic, so this Hydro Flask bottle should be a hit for all. It up-levels standard reusable vessels with double-wall vacuum insulation that will keep bevvies hot or cold for hours, plus it has a supersized mouth for easy fill. We also appreciate the slim build that fits in most cup holders and, of course, the plethora of flavorful colors. $34.95
This scarf from REI Co-op may be the closest you can get to actually hugging your giftee this year. The wool blend is cozy and warm without any scratchiness, which adds up to a most snuggly hug in scarf form. And at 6 feet long, there’s plenty of squeeze to go around. $39.95
You know you’ve hit adulthood when socks actually make the top of your wish list. And with these, you won’t have to add them year after year. Darn Tough socks live up to their name with an unconditional lifetime guarantee and a reputation for accompanying thru-hikers from Mexico to Canada. These ones use a merino, nylon and elastane blend for Goldilocks-like comfort, moisture management and durability. $23
Some might say you’d be unoriginal for choosing a gift based on its number of five-star ratings. We know of at least 23,000 people who’d disagree. One of the highest-rated products on REI.com, this 20 oz. YETI tumbler features double-wall vacuum insulation that keeps hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold to the last sip. 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 rum and Coke. Will your giftee be the next five-star reviewer? $29.98
Putting the kibosh on cooties is a good idea in 2020 and beyond. This hand sani from Alpine Provisions blends soothing cedar and sandalwood essential oils and organic aloe vera for high-desert vibes with a natural alcohol for its antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Need another reason to feel good? Alpine Provisions donates 5 percent of sales to support the Colorado Outward Bound School Scholarship. $22
“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
Part hot-yoga sweat catcher, part sarong-ready beach towel, part national-park study guide—what can’t this Nomadix do? Its recycled fabric is quick-drying, slip-resistant and absorbent, making it ready for anything. So, if your master plan is to help your loved ones do more with less, you can’t go wrong with this gift. $39.95
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. $35
We didn’t know that turtles had fur, but now that we do, we can’t get enough. This headband from Turtle Fur is made with a stylish chunky knit and lined with snuggle-worthy fleece. Set your chill-prone friend up with cozy headgear that’ll turn heads. $18
“Just the right size to bake a deep dish chocolate chip cookie for two after dinner or melt butter for popcorn,” writes REI customer Erasmus. (Take a second to wipe up the drool before we move on.) Built brutally tough for a lifetime of unparalleled, even heat retention, this miniature skillet from Lodge is just as great as its more standard-size brethren, but a bit more portable. And cuter. $7.25
Turn any campsite into an Instagram-worthy set with this lantern from LuminAID. It charges via solar or USB, then spits out up to 150 lumens and five brightness settings. You can also use it to juice up your other gadgets. Even if your loved one isn’t a digital influencer or device enthusiast, the PackLite Max is a no-brainer for any first-aid kit, car emergency supply pack or bug-out bag. $49.95
Insulating yet stretchy, chic yet durable—this 100 percent merino wool neck gaiter from Buff somehow does it all. And “neck gaiter” is just the beginning. Your giftee can use it as a bandana, a balaclava, a mask, an ’80s-fabulous sweatband (or scrunchie), a 1780s pirate cap, the list goes on. Which means this naturally odor-resistant, moisture-wicking headgear is both a gift and a test of your giftee’s ingenuity. $29
More Gift Ideas
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. $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. $59.95
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. $44.95
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
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.) $19.95
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. $24.98
All photography by Andrew Bydlon.