Sustainable Gift Guide for Adventurous Friends

We know, it can be very difficult to shop for us outdoorsy folk. Every piece of gear is agonized over, and you know we’ll be putting it through the wringer. With Christmas inevitably comes waste, from extra paper used in wrapping to unwanted gifts cycling into our landfills. This year, the two of us are making a conscious effort to both gift and receive mindfully, only giving presents that we know will go to good use and asking for only what we need. If there’s someone in your life like one of us and you have no idea where to start shopping, look no further! We rounded up some of our favorite brands, pieces of gear, and stocking stuffers that will go to good use for the adventurer in your life this year.


Brands We Love

If you truly enjoy shopping for presents and having your giftee be surprised, consider purchasing from brands who are dedicated to sustainability and have environmental activism in their mission statement. Here are a few brands we absolutely adore and often shop from ourselves! (blurb on what each brand does)

Patagonia

Environmental stewardship has always been a core piece of Patagonia’s mission statement. In addition to making quality and sustainable clothing, Patagonia offers research and adventure grants to those who are seeking to make a difference and discover solutions to our planet’s most pressing problems. Though their gear is definitely a chunk of change, when buying Patagonia you can be certain that it’ll last you a lifetime. And if it doesn’t, the company will always replace or fix your used gear. A down jacket costing $250 makes a lot more sense when it’s the last one you’ll ever have to buy.

TenTree

For every purchase, TenTree plants ten trees. All of their clothes are made sustainably – shoppers can choose from items made out of tencel, hemp, or recycled polyester. If you’re looking for cozy sweaters, beanies, or socks TenTree is an incredibly thoughtful gift for your friend who loves to shop responsibly. Rumor has it their website has some killer gift guides right now…

prAna

Using recycled wool, organic cotton, and responsible down, prAna clothing is a perfect gift for hikers, yogis, or anyone who loves comfy and fashionable ath-leisure. All of their materials are also fair trade certified, which ensures their products are made from workers who are paid a sustainable wage. From cozy blankets to yoga pants that will stand up to serious activity, prAna is a company both of us adore.

Cotopaxi

Cotopaxi’s slogan is “Do Good.” Ever since we participated in their “Questival” challenge in Los Angeles last fall (one of our first ever adventures together), we’ve been in love with this brand. In addition to promoting and practicing sustainability, 1% of Cotopaxi’s revenues are put into the Cotopaxi Foundation. Plus, you really can’t beat their fun and funky styles.

Parks Project

For your national parks loving friend, this brand is truly a stellar gift. Parks Project makes adorable clothing, posters, and accessories displaying your passion for our public lands. Meanwhile, parks project invests much of their profits straight into advocacy for our public lands, fighting to keep our parks alive and protected. They also host clean-ups around the nation, and we had the opportunity to participate in one at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater while we were in Denver! Parks Project, you rule.


Stocking Stuffers

Kula Cloth

Hands down, one of our favorite accessories on the JMT was our Kula Cloth. Essentially, it’s a square-shaped reusable pee cloth that allows women to pop a squat in the backcountry without wasting rolls of toilet paper. Whenever we saw another lady rocking a Kula on the back of her pack, there was an instant connection.

Sustainable toiletries

One brand that has recently caught our eye is Bite Toothpaste Bits. This company has replaced plastic tubes with glass jars containing one time toothpaste bites. This eliminates plastic waste, as well as the extra toothpaste that inevitably goes to waste as we give up on squeezing every last drop. Add in a bamboo toothbrush, and your giftee’s nighttime routine has significantly less impact.

Reusable every-day items

There are so many replacements for items that we use every day. With adorable hydro flask coffee mugs and water bottles, colorful metal straws, and sturdy tumblers there are so many reasons to give your friend the gift of a reusable drink carrier. Never again does iced coffee have to mean single-use plastic waste.

Responsible socks

Admittedly, the idea of getting socks for Christmas is now suddenly much more exciting than when we were kids. There truly is nothing like a pair of fresh wool socks on a cozy winter day. A couple of our favorite brands are SmartWool (made with responsibly sourced wool) and Farm to Feet (a 100% US-based company dedicated to environmental stewardship).

Non-gift Gifts

There comes a point where a person just doesn’t need any more stuff. If you can’t think of anything to gift a friend or family member, consider a gift card, national parks / adventure annual pass, or leaving a donation in their name. A national parks pass gives the gift of adventure and inspires your buddy to get out there in 2020, while leaving a donation in someone’s name truly shows your dedication to protecting our planet.


Big Purchases (for very special friends)

You caught us, these are big purchases that are on both of our wishlists. When it comes to forking over money for expensive gear, quality is of the utmost importance. Ensuring that products are functional, usable, and long lasted are key factors in giving a gift that will have a huge impact. If you’re looking to splurge on someone special this year, consider these awesome items.

Jetboil Products

Nothing says “I love you” quite like the gift of warm backpacking meals. Without a jetboil on the JMT, we would have been subject to cold-soaked oatmeal for breakfast and who knows what for dinner. These lightweight, compact, and reliable stoves are top of the line and will get their fair share of use from anyone who enjoys a warm meal in the backcountry.

Yeti Cooler

This is a product that your giftee will never ever ever have to buy again. For your friend who loves car camping, hitting the beach, setting up picnics, or basically going anywhere where cold beverages are a must – the Yeti Cooler is a magnificent gift. These coolers are built to withstand the harshest weather conditions, while keeping your drinks the perfect “ahhh” temperature.

Nemo Disco 15 Sleeping Bag

If you’ve heard your (good) friend, significant other, or close family member complain about one too many cold nights in a tent, they might be crying for help. In the form of a new, quality sleeping bag. This bag is made with responsibly-sourced down and is guaranteed to keep your loved ones warm while they’re putting themselves through what you may consider misery.


At the end of the day, what the most important when considering sustainability in your holiday shopping is this: does this person need this item and how will they use it? All too often, we forget that the full phrase is reduce, reuse, REFUSE, and recycle. By refusing items that we do not need, the demand for materials is decreased and less waste is generated. However, by ensuring that the items we’re buying are practical, quality, and made by responsible brands we are taking steps towards lessening our impact this holiday season.

Christmas is such a wonderful opportunity to gift those you love with gear that inspires adventure. For both of us, the sign of a perfect present is a twinge of wanderlust that comes directly after unwrapping. As we continue to buckle down and transcribe interviews, sift through video footage, and create content over many cups of coffee – we’re always looking to fill our days off with adventure. The recent snowfall in Southern California has been calling our name – and after this busy holiday season you can bet your butt we’ll be busting out our microspikes and crampons!

To follow our winter adventures, as well as watch us catch up on all of our summer content be sure to check out our social media pages. Last week, we posted a video of our one-day trip through Yellowstone National Park – including everything we stopped to see! For geysers, grizzlies, and the funkiest landscapes we’ve ever seen click here.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smalltowns2summits/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4PWsvwADCzRN30pUrFcLkQ
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Small-Towns-to-Summits-227733361424169

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