Got someone in your life that loves the outdoors and all the pursuits therein, but you just don't know what to get them for a present? Well never fret, the beauty about the outdoorsy is there are plenty of little bits and bobs they need which can suit just about any budget! From hobbyists to the most hardened adventurers, there are so many different things we will always appreciate to get at the bottom of a gift bag that you can really do no wrong, but even so, you are probably in need of a little direction. I am going to breakdown generally by budget and then talk about some of the many options you have at your disposal, then make recommendations based on my personal experience - pretty much everything on this list is either something I personally bought or the successor to something I bought in the past. You will certainly need to know a little about your present recipient, but with a little research, you can pick something they are sure to love. Let us get started and dig into the lower budgets...
Note: All price categories were correct as of the time of writing but I'm sure you will understand things change as time goes on, even if the thing I have recommended here gets a little more pricey I am sure you will be able to find a nice equivalent.
Depending on who you buy for there is a multitude of affordable presents that your giftee is sure to love! This is probably the price range where you can grab pretty much anything worry-free, you don't have to outlay too much cash and there are so many options here that you can pick almost anything and know you will probably be safe.
Presents for any outdoors types
A pocket knife/box-cutter
Having some form of cutting implement is such a useful thing to have in almost any setting, indoors or out! Obviously, you will need to abide by your local laws but I still recommend having a small cutting implement to hand at all times. My first pick is a Rolson mini Stanley-blade/box cutter, I have had one of these on my car keys for years and has been used for so many different applications, most recently it was used in our trip to Cadair Idris where I needed to split a plaster in half (I had one big plaster and two cut ankles).
If they need something more substantial, for example, someone who loves to go fishing is sure to love a good knife. Many years ago, I purchased a Jake Pyke knife for just under £20 and that thing has been at my side for everything from fishing to gardening to pumpkin carving; remember with a bigger knife you have to be especially careful of UK law, so having a good reason to have such a knife on your is important (as I understand, a knife kept in a fishing tackle box and not on your person is generally okay). Something like the Promithi Sport folding knife should keep you on the right side of the law. I hope it goes without saying that I am not a lawyer and you should take some time to understand your local law, but most authorities seem to regard smaller non-locking blades as okay.
A final great option for the outdoorsmen and women who need a few more bells and whistles is, of course, a Swiss army knife or multi-tool. While these jack of all trade devices will never replace actual tools they can be a great little lifesaver in a pinch. The Swiss branded knives and Leatherman multi-tools, arguably the most recognisable brands, can run a little expensive but there are plenty of affordable options that are just as feature-packed...
I know my knives have seen a huge amount of use over the years, and if you find the person you are buying for loves the knife, then for next year when you are once again stuck for a gift you could always get them a knife cleaning and sharpening kit!
Proper good Socks (Don't laugh, hear me out)
I am aware that this is such a cliché, but don't write it off quite so quickly! A truly good pair of socks is a wonderful thing and anyone who spends hours outdoors, regardless of what their outdoor pursuit is, will be grateful for a quality pair or two. This is one that is especially true for the more active hobbies, as a hiker I walk through so many socks that I am always happy to get more good pairs. Right now I have a love for Jeep branded socks, not just because of my Wrangler but they are both warm and comfortable plus they have proven themselves on many walks of different difficulties. This bulkier style of socks not only keep the feet toasty but also help to keep my hiking boots fitting well by preventing slip, without feeling like my feet are being strangled.
You will need to pick socks carefully, as people such as runners may not necessarily love a heavy pair of socks. Running socks still have quite a lot of variance in quality with better ones offering reinforcement, typically at both the ball of the foot and the heel, they may contour to the arch while offering a little compression too; you may find that an experienced runner may have a preference to a particular style, but if you know someone who has just taken up running then getting them a proper pair of socks may open their eyes to a part of their gear they are missing. If they are more of a fell runner, then a taller pair of slightly thicker socks may be preferred like the 1000 mile trail running socks shown below, whereas someone who runs in drier and smoother climates may prefer a more traditional pair of trainer socks.
To most people, socks may just be socks, but when tailored to a specific task they are great bits of kit; I'd be willing to wager there is at least 1 person in this world who considers themselves a sock enthusiast (and despite what you may be feeling while reading this, I am not talking about myself - I am quite clearly a sock connoisseur!).
Presents for Walkers
Be they hikers, ramblers, scramblers or runners there are a whole heap of great options for the outdoor trailblazers. Sometimes it is easy to look at these outdoor pursuits and think you barely need more than the shoes on your feet and the clothes on your back, but there are still plenty of little pieces that can make excellent little gifts...
In the age of the internet, you may feel a little reluctant to buy books but the beauty of the great outdoors is the trails rarely change and these books will not go out of date any time soon. A great option as a little present for someone who is always on the go, trail books can breed inspiration and get them excited about their next adventure. I have unintentionally started collecting these 50 walk books from the AA, each one is a well-planned collection of walks with clear mapping and described routes - what's not to love? I may spend a lot of time browsing the internet to find new walks but every once in a while I'll break out one of these books and find another new walk that sounds like a treat, or revisit one I've done before
A good compass
Another one that seems a little lost in the age of technology, but having a compass in your kit is a nice safety-net should all digital signals fail you. As I plan my route ahead of schedule, I pretty much always know which general cardinal direction my walk is going in but for years I carried those positively useless little keyring compasses that may as well have been painted on. When you consider that a solidly built compass with more features than I could ever expect to understand can be bought for such little cash, then why wouldn't you? I have certainly been stood at a cross-roads, halfway up a mountainside with 0 signal and no GPS but a compass and the knowledge I need to go North has been enough to see me to the end safely. Anyone who engages in orienteering is likely to already have a stellar compass, but more casual walkers should absolutely have one in their pack - this may be one of those presents that goes underappreciated until it is needed!
Packet Jacket or Packet Over-Trousers
I have always sung the praise of these as great options for getting through the elements without having to use up all your backpack space. I love these because their little pull-string bags just get strapped to the outside of my pack, I can quickly throw them on in a pinch and it means I can dress lighter and in more layers without having to sacrifice something else to save space. I'm a huge fan of Regatta gear as an affordable option that has never steered me wrong, my last set of over-trousers and jacket lasted years until user-error led to their demise but I was so happy with their performance I immediately replaced them with the same again. It isn't just about the horrendous depths of winter either, these are perfect for carrying in spring/summer when having something more lightweight but still waterproof is really needed; if the weather should get well into the negatives then an extra thermal layer underneath and you are good to go.
If the person you are shopping for is brand new to walking and hiking then some of the more affordable options are great for helping them figure out what they need and what they don't. By getting them various accessories it can give them a taste of all the things they may find essential and if they like something it means you could always buy them an upgrade as next year's gift. While I wouldn't expect you to buy them all of the clothing they may need in this budget, there are a few pieces of essential accessories I think they might really appreciate...
Newbie walkers may sometimes underestimate how punishing the colder months can be without appropriate gear, so something like a neck gaiter can help keep them warm as the temperatures plummet. Something simple like this adjustable gaiter from Onehous will offer plenty of protection without busting the bank. Beyond that, how set are they for gloves, headwear, base-layers? There are so many options that you could easily blow the budget for the newbie walker, but I am positive everything in this list would be absolutely appreciated!
Gifts for the photographers
Photography and outdoor living go hand in hand, so there are plenty of gift options here that will suit all skill levels. Even when buying for the most kitted out of snapper there is still a couple of bits and pieces they may appreciate as there is always a need for spares in case of emergency.
Photography in all conditions is always worrying, my particular DSLR is weather sealed yet I still feel uncomfortable shooting in anything more than a light sprinkling of rain without some cover. These devices are expensive investments at pretty much any level, and the lenses you are attaching to the end can run similar if not higher price-tags. Enter the rain-sleeves, quite simply a coat for your camera! Pretty much universal and can mean the photography session does not have to stop just because the heavens have opened. What makes these a good option as a present is that even if they already own rain-sleeves, these will still eventually wear out or break meaning a spare will eventually be required. There isn't too much to say here - I think this is a no brainer for photographers of all skill levels!
Eye-cups are an important part of photography, using your camera can feel really clumsy without them, so I can tell you from first-hand experience there is nothing more frustrating than losing one on a long walk and not having a backup. Plus, the rubber of eyepieces does eventually wear out or separate from the frame, and being able to just switch it out when one finally gives up the ghost is so handy. Even if your targeted recipient likes a more fancy eye cup, having one or two generic backups in case of emergency is worth it (Of course, if you know the style they like you could always get them a spare of that!). Throughout my time snapping pictures I have ended up driving miles to find a camera shop or next-day delivering replacements to where I was staying on holiday, now I always have a couple of spares in my kit and its never an issue.
Camera Extension Tubes
Extension tubes are a great little accessory for any photographer, although be aware most of the more experienced snappers may already own some. Extension Tubes sit between your camera and your lens and allow images to be captured much closer than the lens would otherwise be capable of, they can also be combined with a macro lens to get some crazy close up shots. They are a super inexpensive piece of equipment that can really allow for some amazing photography, and any newbie should find plenty of enjoyment playing around combining them with their existing lenses. I have always been able to find a use for extension tubes, even if it is just potting around my own garden in spring snapping pics of bugs, they are well worth the low cost (especially if you, oh I don't know, find yourself housebound for nearly year straight an unable to travel...).
Gifts for other hobbies
There are so many hobbies that can come under the realm of outdoors that it would be difficult to cover absolutely everything, so I am going to give some general bits of advice here that can be applied to whatever it is your giftee happens to be into. In this price range, the best gifts you can give are usually what I would consider 'consumables', those items that the hobby will always require and always need spares of. These are the kinds of things I personally would always be happy to receive because I can never have too many of them! You may need to have a sneak peek into what they already own, just to know what you are looking for or if they are even in need of extra bits.
To start with, let's go for a hobby that has kept me busy over many weekends: DIY. DIY is still a little tricky because not everyone needs everything and so you need to know what they are likely to be doing. If they only ever work with wood then they are probably unlikely to need a pop-riveter, and if they only work with metal then wood chisels probably won't be of much use to them.
Now it goes without saying I probably don't need a new hammer drill every year, but if someone was to get me different drill bit sets every year I would be more than happy with that! Not only is there about a billion different sizes and shapes of bit but over time my older sets are going to be missing a few as bits shatter from hard-work (especially the smaller sizes). Pretty much every well-known manufacturer makes affordable sets of good quality bits for all different purposes, and if someone were to buy me a few of these, even if I already had those bits, I would still be eternally grateful because I know I am going to need a substitute eventually. Having these spares can prevent the worst thing that happens to any DIYer, having one break in the middle of a job and having to make that trip to a hardware shop, taking me out that zone and killing my flow - even more so if they break on a Sunday and I have to wait until the following week to get a replacement.
A great option if you have no idea what drill bits would suit your target is something like this little Bosch set, it covers a range of common sizes for wood, metal and masonry and is super affordable considering the quality (This is the set I have owned for years now, the only broken bits were due to my stupidity! And no, I did not have a spare and yes, I did have to stop what I was doing and go to my local hardware shop...) or for a little bit more you could grab the drill and driving set from them too. If you are looking for something a little more general-purpose, perhaps for someone who has just bought their first home or is just starting to get into DIY, then you could spend just a bit more and get something like the assorted kit from Makita which has a little bit of everything for drilling and driving and even includes a spirit level - can't say fairer than that for under £20.
Once the holes have been made I usually need something to go in it, and more often than not I don't have the size for the job...nuts and bolts, screws and rivets are just some of those things that I need a constant supply of and if someone were to hand me an assorted pack of either I would be over the moon! If you can, of course, go snooping through draws/cupboards/those chocolate tins we all use for storage and try to figure out if there is a specific size that they don't have many of. Even if you don't know what you are looking for you can still take an educated guess, if you dig through my draws of bits and bobs it's pretty easy to see I don't have many screws longer than a few centimetres and while I have very thin bolts and pretty chunky bolts the in-between draw is almost always low.
DIY has so many options that It would be difficult to think of them all here, but knowing your recipient can open up even more options. That concept of consumables can be applied to so many different things, from sandpaper to welding rods, angle brackets to wiring connectors. It might not seem like the most exciting present, but considering these little bits and bobs are what enable me to do the projects that bring me no end of joy then these are great little gifts for any DIYer!
A quick look at other hobbies
It is not something I have done for some time, but I used to be quite the fisherman; you would need to know a bit about the kind of fishing the target recipient does but if we apply the consumables principle then hooks, floats, weight and line would all make great gifts that I am sure they will love. Maybe they are into drone flying, in which case you probably cannot go wrong with replacement drone blades - just make sure you get the right make and model! So many sports have things that come under this category, boots need replacement studs, sticks and bats need tape - as I keep saying, just do a bit of snooping and I am sure you will find something they need...
Up to £100
If you are looking to spend a little more then your options open up considerably. The trouble is, you need to be careful here as you are now out of the consumables range and you will want to make sure you get them something they actually need; if snooping was important for the Under £20 range then its doubly so here. Remember, giving someone the choice is still a great gift, you can always be upfront and say "I wanted to get you X, but I wanted to make sure you got what you actually wanted so let's go out/online and you can pick the one for you".
Apparel and gear for all
Clothing and accessories can be tricky and I still recommend giving someone the choice, especially if you are planning to spend a good chunk of change on something. That said if you are determined to surprise them with something nice I do think there are some relatively safe options you could look into. Things like colours and designs can be tricky to get right, and trying to guess sizes is always a recipe for disaster, but you can always drop subtle questions into conversations to try to fill in the gaps.
Depending on your giftee it can be difficult to buy a backpack for them, especially if like me they already have multiple bags in different styles and sizes. But if you notice they have a gap in their collection you might be able to fill it - perhaps they only own a gargantuan 100L rucksack and nothing a bit lighter? Now, I always like to try on a bag and do a deep dive of its pockets before I buy to make sure it is suitable for what I want but reviews on the internet have usually got you covered so you can still make a safe purchase online and know you are getting something quality. Osprey are my preferred brand of bag, they have lifetime guarantees but I have never had to use it because their bags are always high quality so if you did want something a little smaller then their Talon range has everything from tiny 11L packs up to a more sizable 44L - I personally use an older 35L pack for my lighter walks, that way my camera fits and I still have a little space for snacks.
If on the other hand, your recipient already has something in the smaller sizes but needs a giant pack then things can get a bit challenging with a budget under £100 - packs get expensive fast! However, this Osprey Farpoint 80, at the time of writing, came in clutch as a great option that has a spacious 80L capacity. My own pack is 75L and that offers plenty of room, anything bigger than this is a bonus!
If you want more pockets and storage space while spending a little bit less then my favourite affordable brand, Regatta, has an absolutely amazing priced Survivor III which really demonstrates the range and variety of rucksacks on offer. This does sort of drive home why it may be vital to offer your giftee the chance to get to a store and try a bunch of options on to make sure they get the right pack for their back!
So this one seems fraught with some of the same dangers mentioned previously, but there is one great saving grace with sunglasses: if they already own a cheaper pair then you already know what style they like. It doesn't really matter what you end up going with as long as they have at least a UV 400 (or 100% protection) rating and ideally have polarisation (if the person you are buying for is a fisherman then polarisation is practically a must!). With some of the more well-known brands you are often just paying extra for the name, but there is a certain degree of safety in these names because not only will they be a quality product but if the person you are buying for doesn't know much about sunglasses they will still recognise them as a good quality item.
Ray-ban or Oakley is usually a safe bet for brand recognition and quality, so I found three great style options that come in (only just) under £100 on Amazon - getting polarised in named brand sunglasses within this price range is a little tricky, but doable especially if you shop sales.
If you would like to take a punt at some lesser-known names that offer polarisation and the UV protection you need then there is practically no end to your options. You can even get Polaroid branded sunglasses with polarisation for a quarter of the price of the named brands...I have had plenty of luck over the years buying outside of the known brands so I don't really consider this a gamble, check the reviews and buy accordingly.
For the photographers (and other hobbyists)
If you want to spend a little more cash on the photographers then you start to run into some of the difficulties as mentioned above - it is hard to pick something for them without knowing everything about their kit thus far. Again, hobbies can be difficult like that and giving them the choice may be the best option but you could always try to look for gaps in their collection so far and try to buy based on that.
A tripod, mini-Tripod or Monopod
Most photographers will at some point end up with one of three, but having all three can give you more freedom to pick the correct tool for the job. I love having a full-sized tripod but a good one can be a bit weighty, so for most hikes I usually pack a mini-tripod instead. You will need to spend a bit of cash to make sure you get something capable of actually supporting the weight of a camera, but it won't be a bank-buster. Likewise, when I'm packing super light and don't expect to be doing long exposures then my monopod is an excellent option as an extra bit of bracing to keep my photos stable; once again you should avoid cheap monopods at all cost as they simply won't be stable.
There is a whole range of filters out there for different sizes and applications, and a little filter kit in this price range will usually be good quality. As an example, this Neweer bundle offers a whole bunch of different knick-knacks in a single pack for a reasonable price. That said, if you are buying for someone already kitted out then these are not going to be of much value, that said a single high-quality filter will be much appreciated. While much more expensive (it is entirely possible to go well over our £100 maximum), single high-quality filters will be appreciated by veteran photographers, for example, this K&F variable ND filter and circular polariser cost more than the entire Neweer kit but everything K&F does tend to be exceptional quality. The top of the top tend to be found in square filter kits, but the filters alone can run close to £100 and then you need to buy the mount as well then we are starting to get a little pricey for this range. I have included one entry-level square filter kit, which gives the photographer access to a handful of different filters and a mount for their camera; a kit like this will allow them to get a taste of what is on offer and then upgrade their favourite filters as time goes on (future gift possibilities here!).
Extending this principle to other hobbies
As the price range grows so do the options and this becomes a real challenge to pick a good present. If you are dead set on getting a surprise you are going to have to snoop around and try to figure something out based on that. Without knowledge in their particular hobby, you are going to struggle here, so as mentioned before if you are willing to spend up to £100 I would absolutely consider giving up the surprise just to make sure you get them a worthwhile present. Taking fishing for example, do they want a new rod or pole? For the DIYers do they have a good drill? Do they actually use their drill enough to warrant an upgrade? Do they need a sander, a pressure washer, a workbench, a trolley jack? If you know they use something a lot, try to find the brand and model number and google it - is it fairly entry-level? Can you afford whatever the next upgrade would be? I'm sure if you start digging you will find so many possibilities...
North of £100
If you are planning to go more expensive then I whole-heartedly recommend getting input from the person you are buying for. When you start going more expensive there are some great options, including smartwatches, camera lenses, GPS devices and more for a whole bunch of different prices but I genuinely believe taking a shot in the dark isn't the right option here. It gets even worse if you are trying to buy for a specific hobby, with the high-end kit being a complex minefield of buzzwords and stats, you can easily feel completely lost. Just using watches as an example, Garmin has an excellent feature-packed range of watches with prices spanning from around £100 to well north of £500. Let's not even start looking at the huge range of camera lenses or drones, with everything from entry-level kits to high-end showstoppers in your price range... I have included a few different bits here, but I implore you to consider discussing the more substantial purchases with your gift recipient - I am almost certain they will be immensely grateful you let them have a say in it.
I know we always want gifts to be a surprise but your recipient will appreciate being able to choose for themselves, with the generous budget meaning they have an unbelievable range of options at their disposal. A shopping trip together could be a nice fun addition to the buying process, spend a bit of time together and in the end, you will know they 100% got what they wanted...