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Welcome to the holiday season — which in the world of the internet, means lots of gift guides. Here, we're tackling the must-haves this year for all sorts of outdoor activities, so you can find something special for anyone in your life who loves to be outside. We've already tackled hiking gifts, so for this round-up, I'm focusing on the best camping gifts. These curated camping gifts range from handy items to keep in a car camping bin to the best layers for staying cozy around a fire. I've arranged these starting with stocking stuffers and ending with extravagant purchases, but they're all geared towards car camping or campsites (but not necessarily backpacking, so keep that in mind as you shop). Furthermore, I can vouch for these: I've used all of these items for multiple seasons, and they are permanent fixtures in my car camping bin for every excursion. These are surefire hits for any camper on your holiday gift list, so check out my top picks below:
1. For the Coffee Lover
Alpine Start Coffee - Amazon, $24.99
Camp coffee is one of the joys of waking up outside, and this 30-pack from Alpine Start is both reasonably priced and high-quality. I like my coffee stronger, so I recommend using one packet in a 12-ounce mug, but you can definitely get away with 16 ounces of water. This is a medium roast that avoids the acrid taste of lower-end instant coffees, and the brand also makes a coffee-and-creamer version, as well as an instant chai.
2. For a Trip to the Hot Springs
Nomadix Original Towel - REI, $39.95
Hot springs are usually on my list of road-trip/car camping destinations, but this generously sized towel is a welcome addition on every camping trip I take. This is great for campsite showers, hot springs excursions, or just to dry off your feet after a wet hike. It measures 30 x 72 inches, dries quickly after use, and packs down much smaller than your standard bath towel.
3. These Must-Have Camp Shoes
Merrell Hydro Moc Shoes - REI, $54.95
I got these shoes as part of a media package, and like so many random items that fall into my lap, they've become a staple. These come with me on short backpacking trips, road trips, camping trips, and on walks to the mailbox. Like all foam Croc-like shoes, these are ugly as hell, but they're supremely comfortable, and thanks to the contoured heel, they stay on my feet better than other similar shoes. They're one of the best camping gifts to give this season.
4. For the Person Who's Always Borrowing Your Multi-Tool
Leatherman Sidekick - REI, $69.95
I carry a small pocket knife backpacking, but when weight doesn't matter, I don't leave home without a multi-tool. This super durable go-anywhere tool has two knife blades, pliers, screwdriver tips, a bottle opener, file, and more. This will last someone as long as they can manage to avoid losing it, and is the gift that says: "You're always asking to borrow mine... here, have your own."
5. For the Best-Lit Campsite
BioLite AlpenGlow 500 Lantern - REI, $79.95
There are less expensive lantern-style lights out there, but this model from BioLite has multiple settings that mimic sunrise and sunset, along with higher-lumen options for illuminating a truck bed, camper, or tent. This charges quickly with a USB-C, and will last many nights lighting up your living space with a warm (or cool!) glow.
6. The Gift Everyone Will Be Jealous Of
America the Beautiful Annual Interagency Pass - REI, $79.99
This is a gift that keeps on giving. Despite the somewhat goofy name, this all-access pass grants the holder entry to every national park as well as federal land such as national monuments. I've gotten discounts on campsites and activities, and with national park entry around $30 per vehicle, this will repay itself in just a few visits. You'll probably want to get one for yourself also.
7. The Best Camping Gift for Someone Who Dresses Like An REI Ad
Wondery Golden Soul Flannel Shirt - REI, $95
Some items are worth the special splurge, and no one will be sorry to see this show up in the gift pile. This is the shirt I throw on in the mornings and evenings at camp, and while I have lighter, more packable layers, something about the heavy-duty shirt-jacket style of this flannel feels absolutely prime for sitting around a campfire. Wondery is BIPOC-women owned and operated, and was one of my surprise favorite brands I discovered this year.
8. For the Designated Camp Chef
GSI Outdoors Selkirk Camp Stove - Amazon, $109.95
I have had this stove since 2018, and it hasn't let me down. It has two large burners, boils a large pot of water in just a few minutes, and has fantastic temperature control for simmering or keeping food warm. The igniter still works, and the whole system can be set up in no time at all. It's simple and easy to use, and I haven't had any propane seam leaks or finicky connections, which can be a hassle with other stoves.
9. For the Person Who Doesn't Want to Lug Around a Giant Cooler
Orca Walker Tote - Amazon, $199
I have several coolers of varying sizes and weights, but I love the portability of this tote from Orca, which sits nicely behind the driver's seat of my truck and can be carried with handles or a shoulder strap. This is a great option for two-person camping trips where you need to keep a day or two worth of food cold and accessible and don't want to lug around a giant hard-sided cooler.
10. For Your Friend Who Can't Keep Their Tech Charged
Lion Eclipse Power Bank - Lion Energy, $206
As I am a trash millennial, I'm already worried about keeping my phone, headphones, headlamp, and lantern charged whenever I go camping. I don't want to worry about running out of external battery space, and I also don't want to lug around a huge generator. This battery pack is pricey, but your tech-obsessed recipient will be grateful for the compact package that charges a phone 10 times, a pair of headphones dozens of times, and also tackles other small devices. It has wireless charging as well as several USB ports for wired charging.
11. The Best Luxury Camping Gift
Sea to Summit Spark Sleeping Bag - REI, $489+
This is an extravagant gift, but I'd be remiss to not include the best sleeping bag I've tested this year. This bag goes backpacking and car camping (it packs down to the size of a basketball), and lofts to a ridiculously plush level that's kept me warm down to temperatures in the 20s. Since it packs down small, it's perfect for people with limited space in their camping setup, but don't want to choose between a warm bag and a packable bag. The women's version is the Flame, and comes in similar temperatures ratings as the Spark.