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The year is almost over, and whether you've blown your budget and don't care anymore about the amount of money you're spending, or you have a special outdoorsy person on your list you really want to splurge on this year, these are the luxury gifts I'd recommend for this season. However, I didn't just choose these items because they were expensive. Rather the "splurge" means opting for the best item in the category, even if it costs more than its competitors. Think high-quality sunglasses for the best visibility on the water, the Arc'Teryx jacket your backcountry bestie will love, and a folding kayak with a mind-blowing design that will make your life a lot easier, too. Here you have my top picks for splurge-worthy holiday gifts for the outdoor enthusiast on your list. And if you've been particularly good this year and deserve a treat? No one will tell if you buy one of these for yourself.
1. For the Wildlife Watcher
Perfect for the hobbyist bird and wildlife watcher on your holiday list, these waterproof binoculars have a unique textured finish and come in a range of subtly classy colors that set them apart from the standard hunting-oriented binos. They are lightweight and come in a plastic-free package, along with a patterned neck band that pairs lovely with the color schemes. As a phone-addicted millennial, I also love that the glass is shaped to be able to take clear phone pictures through the lens, so you can capture what you see with better clarity.
2. For Your Favorite Car Camping Companion
This super compact, lightweight chair packs into its own tidy carrying case, collapsing down in a smart design that can be broken down over and over without compromising the shock cords or attachments. This is a small chair that doesn't feel like a small chair, with plenty of back support and stability that also lets you lean back or tighten the side straps to sit more upright. I have two of these chairs that live permanently in my car camping setup, and I'm always happy to have them with me.
3. For the Friend with the Popsicle Hands
You know the friend or family member who can't stay warm on the slopes... well, they're the perfect candidate for a luxurious pair of heated waterproof gloves. There are plenty of budget pairs on the market, but this set from Outdoor Research is a truly luxurious gift for the outdoor lover — it's from Outdoor Research and is well-vetted by the outdoor community will last season after season without losing charging and heating capabilities. These recharge quickly with lithium-ion batteries that don't interfere with fit and movement, and are lined with 320 grams of fleece for a soft interior.
4. For the Person You Can't Keep Up With Uphill
Designed for movement in the backcountry, this hoodie has a unique build — it acts like a stiffer hard-shell with its weather-proof and wind-proof features, but is made with Gore-Tex Infinium for more movement and flexibility. It has a four-way stretch polyester face fabric and a light lining that breathes while keeping you protected from the weather. This is a choice jacket for the person on your list who gets after it in the backcountry and wants to be protected without compromising performance.
5. For the Backcountry Ski Lover
Continuing the backcountry ski and snowboard trend ('tis the season), this well-designed pack from Gregory is a solid pick for guided trips, backcountry tours, and will function just fine as a crossover travel pack on someone's next road trip or flight. Designed to carry skis or a snowboard as well as all the gear you need on the hill, this pack opens wide for easy access to the main compartment, and can carry a probe and shovel along the outside, right where you want them. This is a splurge gift in that it retails for over $200, but as far as backcountry ski packs goes, it's a very good price and comfortable for the long haul — two characteristics of this brand that keep me wearing their gear.
6. For the High-Fashion Fishing Fan
COSTA originally built sunglasses optimized for the best visibility on the water, whether you're deep-sea fishing or wading through a local blue-ribbon trout stream. This updated pair will work for any and all fishing situations, with wide coverage, killer rubber grips on the nose band, and temple arms that work well with keepers to make sure they don't take a dive into the water. While this style looks fairly athletic, they also don't look ridiculous when worn out on the town after a day of fishing.
7. The Gift of the Last Button Down They'll Ever Need
This is the last button-down the lucky recipient will ever need. This beautifully tailored wool flannel works as hard as any technical piece of clothing out there, while looking absolutely stunning at the same time. Based on their original Icon Shirt, the hybrid version is more abrasion-resistant and durable, with the same wool flannel base fabric plus a layer of wind-proof and water-resistant fabric across the chest and shoulders for the most rugged mountain bike descents. Each of these shirts are made to order from Kitsbow's shop in North Carolina, and will be a unique, special item of clothing to keep forever.
8. For Winter Layering without Fit Compromise
My favorite splurge-worthy layering company has done it again — this time with a down jacket I have yet to take off since receiving it. Artilect was a discovery from the past year, and from base layers to mid-layers to outerwear, they haven't missed yet. This jacket is beautifully constructed with a moderate fit that sits comfortably under a shell without feeling bunched up, and also works with a mid-layer and a base layer underneath. It has a stretchy face fabric that beads off light precipitation and high-loft down fill — all in a flattering cut and package that fits like a dream.
9. For the Kayaker Without the Storage Space
Finally, for the person on your list who's home storage capacity can't keep up with their love of the outdoors, this ingeniously designed folding kayak will blow their mind. All Oru kayaks come folded up in the size of a large suitcase, unfolding and snapping together into a kayak like a giant piece of origami. They're wide and sturdy, with enough capacity to carry picnic items and gear across your favorite lake or pond, then it unfolds and collapses in less than a minute. While Oru makes a brilliant design for storage and smaller cars, I also love how these increase accessibility for people who might not be able to lift a heavy boat onto their car, or transport it to the water. Any gear item that lowers the barrier to entry is an A+ in my book, so this is one of those luxury gifts for outdoor lovers worth its price point.