Gifts for

You Have Lots of Choices, and that’s Both Good and Bad

If you live in Idaho, there’s a good chance there’s an outdoors person or two on your gift list. That’s great because there are so many things a full-fledged Idaho outdoors person needs to stay active throughout the year.

While that’s the good news, the bad news is it can be tricky to buy for them. For example, snowboards and surfboards both use wax, but one doesn’t work for the other, so close doesn’t cut it. The point is, getting almost the right thing can lead to disappointment, so gift buying can veer into tricky territory. But, let me be clear, I am old school enough to believe that a gift is exactly that. It’s not an order from a catalog or website where the person should expect to get exactly what he or she ordered.

If you’re the buyer, you also want the person to be happy with what you bought them, so here are some tips, and beware, some are a little unconventional, but they remain in the spirit of Christmas gift giving.

Be a sleuth

This goes beyond asking leading questions. There’s a good chance your friend or family member has a favorite store. Find out what it is and visit if you haven’t already. If it’s a big-box store, they probably won’t know him or her. If it’s a small store, chances are good they do, and they can help you pick out the right gift.

Have them make a specific list

You choose how many items, but let them list specific items they would like and you decide what to buy. They will know what they’re getting, but not know which item, so there’s still some surprise.

Surprise them with a pre-Christmas shopping trip

This probably works best for adults, not kids because they love opening presents from under the Christmas tree. It can be a fun way to buy the person exactly what they want, but still have an element of surprise. Take them to their favorite store and let them pick something out before Christmas. It’s more fun if there’s a little misdirection, like saying you’re going someplace else—even a place that person prefers to avoid—then swinging by their favorite store.

Enlist a spy

This can a hunting or fishing buddy, a sibling, a skiing or riding buddy—anyone who knows the person really well and can pry out information without tipping them off.

Buy a gift card

These can seem a little impersonal, but it’s one way that you can be assured to get them exactly what they want.

Now you have some ideas on how to buy 
a gift, but there are also some pretty safe bets 
for outdoors people.

  • • Long underwear: Go ahead and laugh because, as kids, the thought of getting underwear for Christmas was about as exciting as getting broccoli for Halloween candy, but hear me out. A high-end base layer (that’s technical talk for long undies) is one of the most comfortable and versatile pieces of clothing an outdoors person wears. What else can you use for snow sports, spring fishing, summer camping and fall hunting? A good base layer doesn’t come cheap, so many people aren’t willing to splurge. But trust me, it’s a gift that will be used and used for a long time.
  • • Passes, licenses, etc.: One thing an angler is guaranteed to use is a fishing license. Ditto for a hunter. A season ski pass is a great gift, but mid-winter isn’t the best time to buy them (late winter/early spring is). Many ski resorts sell multipack passes at a discount. A ski and lodging package at a resort is another nice gift. Also consider a guided fishing trip or other ways to give an outdoors person a cool outing.
  • • Knives: Honestly, I don’t know what it is about knives and multitools, but we can’t get enough of them. There are so many cool ones out there, and many are specialized for everything from whitewater rafting to big game hunting.
  • • Headlamps, flashlights and lanterns: It’s another gift that will get used for years, especially for camping. One that’s bright, waterproof and impact-resistant will be long-lasting and useful.