13 Holiday Gifts for Campers (That Aren’t Gear)

While we love good gear, there are plenty of great holiday gear gift guides already out there. So this holiday why not give a gift that really stands the test of time — an experience. It’s easy to forget about that solar-powered lantern, but the memories and exposure gained from an outdoor lesson or wilderness certification can change one’s life. Plus, it is scientifically proven that spending resources on experiences, rather than things, leads to actual, genuine, long-term happiness. Not to mention, by combating consumerism, you can help protect the environmentevery non-gear gift given at a time.

So, this year shower your loved ones with gifts of lifelong memories, valuable experiences, and good times shared together. Here are 13 non-gear gift ideas to spread adventure-packed, nature-filled holiday cheer this year.

1. Adventure sports lessons

Photo: Jack Schlinkert in Joshua Tree National Park

There are an infinite number of outdoor activities to master this upcoming year. And while Henry David Thoreau once said “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes,” chances are you won’t need to buy any new gear if you are just trying out a new sport with some lessons. If that’s not the case, consider checking out used gear shops or rent gear before making any longterm investments.

Has your buddy conquered mountain biking? How about signing them up for rock climbing lessons this year? Windsurfing? Skiing? Sky diving? Volcano boarding? How about the art of bowmaking? The list goes on…

2. Deluxe bike tune-up

Photo: Vanessa Lamb at Mare Island Preserve, Vallejo CA

A thorough bike tune-up is a cycling luxury that more often than not someone would not pay for themselves. Nonetheless, it’s important to show bikes some love! Your friends – and their gears – will thank you.

3. Donation in their name

It is easy to get swept up in a spending frenzy over the holidays. To help offset your expenditures, consider donating the money that would have otherwise been spent on more stuff to a worthy cause. Have a loved one who is passionate about protecting the environment? We love supporting the Indigenous Environmental Network — an alliance of Indigenous Peoples whose mission is to protect the sacredness of Earth from contamination and exploitation. In addition, here are 10 High-Impact Environmental Charities to donate to.

4. The gift of fitness

Photo: Alyssa Ackerman at Ocotillo Hills, New Mexico

Sometimes we all need a little extra push to fulfill our fitness goals. While we don’t recommend signing your family members up for a marathon without their consent, there are lots of alternative fitness races like Tough Mudders and other mud runs out there that are fun incentives to stay active and keep up those New Year’s fitness resolutions. Cover their entrance into a race or consider buying them some yoga lessons, ClassPass gift cards, or covering a couple months of a gym membership. Everyone benefits when your whole crew is in tip-top hiking shape!

5. Wilderness certifications

If you are heading out into the backcountry, it’s important that members of your crew are experienced and trained for whatever variables may come your way. Investing in wilderness certifications like Wilderness First Aid or First Responder are good places to start. Plus, the courses can be fun if you can sign a few buddies up and do it all together.

Not only is having some baseline, medical experience handy in a pinch, having those extra certifications can let you take your adventures to the next level. This winter, you can give the gift of extra pow and sign your loved one up for an avalanche training course.

6. Annual National Parks Pass

Photo: Tiffany Nguyen at Yosemite National Park

The National Parks System is arguably one of the greatest American inventions of all time. Encourage your loved ones to support our park system this year by giving them the America the Beautiful Pass – the annual NPS pass that is only $80.

Most national park entrance fees are around $20. Bigger parks like Yosemite and the Grand Canyon are $30. So, this annual pass is crazy good deal for getting out to some unadulterated American nature.

(Psst…check out some Hipcamps near National Parks to use as your basecamp for exploring the NPS!)

7. Outdoor licenses or permits

Fishing at Odin’s Helm Camp by Hipcamp Field Scout, Nic Castellanos.

Falconry, fishing, hunting… If you’ve always wanted to give fishing a try, there are a number of Hipcamps where you can explore the waters. When searching for camps near you, simply filter by activity, and choose ‘fishing’ – you’ll be presented with a list of camps nearby that offer fishing on their private land. To obtain a fishing license, head to your state’s department of fish and wildlife. In California, you can gift a LIFETIME license, how cool is that? A few Hipcamps that are great for fishing include Clear Creek Ranch in Northern California, Coarsegold, just 45 minutes outside of Yosemite, and Odin’s Helm Camp.

If you’re really stumped for the person who truly has everything, go for a Falconry license! Unfortunately, we don’t have a falconry filter on the Hipcamp site…yet. Similar to obtaining a fishing license, just head to your state’s department of fish and wildlife to find out more about falconry.

8. Subscription to an outdoorsy magazine

Call us old fashioned, but we still love flipping through magazines just like we love real photo albums. Instill some wanderlust by subscribing a friend to an outdoorsy magazine.

Of course there are the biggies: National Geographic, Outside Magazine, Backpacker, Surfer, to name a few. But there’s also a ton of boutique, niche publications that are a bit more expensive but are immensely aesthetically satisfying. Some of our favorites include Sidetracked, a beautifully-rendered outdoors journal which takes a personal approach to capturing “the emotion and experience of adventures around the globe,” Wilder Quarterly, an oversized magazine whose most recent cover story was a “Season by Season Guide to Getting in Touch with Nature,” Rouleur, a quasi-bougie cycling magazine every cyclist can indulge in, and The Surfers Journal, a serious sexy swell publication for surfers and non-surfers alike.

9. Damaged gear repair

Taking note from Patagonia’s Worn Wear campaign, “if it’s broke, fix it!” Sweden also recently started paying people to fix their belongings instead of throwing them away. Chances are there’s a stash of damaged goods tucked away in some corner that’s been collecting dust waiting to be fixed, but more likely creeping its way towards the dumpster. This holiday season, hop on the global movement to combat wasteful, throwaway culture and offer to repair a friend’s old gear.

A lot of clothing can be doctored up at your local dry cleaners. For more technical gear, check the retailer’s website for more information on how to repair damaged items or see if there’s a local Repair Café near you. If not, consider opening up your own shop!

10. Hipcamp gift card

Photo: Lisse Lundin at Eagle’s Nest Treehouse at Salmon Creek Ranch, Bodega Bay, CA

Nature is the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Help your loved ones get outside this year by showering them in gifted camping goodness! You can purchase Hipcamp gift cards online and have it emailed to the lucky camper – zero paper trail or carbon footprint, lots of love.

11. Campervan rental

Don’t say we didn’t warn you: a campervan rental may lead to owning a campervan sooner than later. There are companies all over the United States (and abroad!) that offer campervan rentals, in all makes of vehicles. If you buy this as a gift for a loved one, make sure they book their van at least 6 months in advance… they book up FAST.

Dragonfly Vans, Montana. If you’re going to Yellowstone, you can pick up your van at the airport!
Peace Vans Rental, Seattle
VW Surfari, California
Bongo Buggies, California
Escape Campervans, USA
Juicy Van Rentals, USA

12. Foraging Class or Wildcrafting Workshop

What’s cooler than cooking your own food? Cooking your own food that you also foraged! It’s likely with a simple google search, you can find foraging classes near you. In the Bay Area, you can go on wild mushroom adventures, wild food walks, forage seaweed from the ocean, and learn how to make your own foraged cocktails with ForageSF. Juniper Ridge also hosts wildcrafting workshopswhere students take to the trail to learn more about their sustainable harvesting practices.

Juniper Ridge founder, Hall Newbegin on a foraging hike at Camp Navarro. Photo by Hipcamp Field Scout, Monica Semergiu.

13. Mobile Adventure App Purchase

Did you know there’s a hidden world of treasure out there? Geocaching is a modern day treasure hunt where you can hide caches of small items and tokens and then post the cache’s GPS coordinates for other players to find using the app. The basic version is free and offers limited capability, or gift a 3-month or 1-year membership. Other apps that may spark the interest of an outdoor lover include Gaia GPS, to easily plan and track adventures.

If you love this list or have something to add to it, let us know on Facebook. Happy, healthy holidays!

Featured photo by Hipcamp Field Scout, Kelly Sparks at Happy Hog Farm, TX

Hipcamp Staff

Hipcamp is an online marketplace where you can list, discover, and book campsites and accommodations on private and public land. Hipcamp is your go-to guide to getting outside. If you’re a landowner, Hipcamp creates new revenue streams for your business, which can help conserve your land and keep it wild. #FindYourselfOutside #LeaveItBetter

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