Home Gear Reviews 2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families

2020 Holiday Gift Guide for Outdoor Families

by Karen Ung

Discover great holiday gifts for outdoorsy kids, men, and women in our Holiday Gift Guide!

Spend more time outside, and less time shopping this holiday season with our Holiday Gift Guide for outdoor families. We have curated a collection of great gifts for outdoorsy kids, men, and women including gifts of experience for the people who have everything.

Holiday Gifts for Outdoor Families (clockwise from top left): Shady Rays Snow Goggles, Airhead Snow Pup Foam Sled, Petzl Actik Core Headlamp, Hatley Yuletide Yetis Coveralls

Disclosure Statement: Some of the featured products were received free to test and review. Also, a tiny portion of purchases made through affiliate links support this website at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Gifts of Experience

Enjoy a Mountaintop Christmas with the Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola, Sulphur Mountain

For a magical day in Banff, ride the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Enjoy the Mountaintop Christmas festivities from December 19-30, 2020 (crafts, cookie decorating, get a photo with Santa), explore the interpretive centre and watch a short film, dine at Northern Lights or Sky Bistro, then hike the boardwalk to Sanson’s Peak. The views are incredible year-round, but there’s something special about winter when the surrounding peaks are capped with snow. Book your tickets online at Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection (book in advance for the best price). Kids ride free all day Monday to Friday and before 12 PM on weekends with the Family Experience. Ages 5 and under ride free anytime!

Kananaskis Nordic Spa

Kananaskis Nordic Spa | Image captured with permission from the spa.

Escape to Kananaskis for the ultimate in relaxation! With five heated pools, saunas, heated hammocks, and a steam cabin, every hydrotherapy cycle (hot, warm, cold, rest, repeat) can be different. I loved my spa day and lunch at Two Trees Bistro and highly recommend this 18+ facility for a relaxing girls’ day or date night. For your safety and convenience, you can now book a morning or late afternoon/evening hydrotherapy session (reservations required). Visit Kananaskis Nordic Spa for more information.

Stay the night at Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge and enjoy some of the wonderful winter activities in the area. See our Kananaskis Valley Winter Activity Guide for trip inspo.

Coastal Bliss Mobile Spa

Coastal Bliss is “the spa delivered to you.” Book a massage with a registered massage therapist, facial, pedicure, waxing, or makeup application and be pampered in the comfort of your own home. Spa technicians can also come to holiday parties at your workplace (mini mani, anyone?). I loved not having to rush to my appointment or look for parking. Coastal Bliss set everything up; all I had to do was relax and enjoy my massage and pedicure. Purchase Coastal Bliss gift certificates here.

Glamping at Mount Engadine Lodge

Treat someone you love to a luxurious, all-inclusive glamping getaway at Mount Engadine Lodge. The glamping tents are heated and have their own bathrooms and decks, and the dining is divine. Breakfast, brown bag lunch, Afternoon Tea, and a gourmet dinner are included in your stay! No cooking, no dishes. Just relax and enjoy the stunning mountain setting. For information on our trip, read Glamping at Mount Engadine Lodge in the Heart of Kananaskis.

Book your stay now at Mount Engadine Lodge.

RCR Savings Card

Ski Close (and affordably) at Nakiska with your RCR Savings Card!

The RCR Savings Card (coming soon) gives you discounts at four awesome ski resorts. Get $25 off full day lift tickets at Nakiska, Fernie, Kimberley, and Kicking Horse anytime at BC Resorts, Monday through Friday at Nakiska, max. 5 visits per ski resort. The RCR Savings Card will be $29.95+tax until December 24th, 2020; and $39.95 from December 25th, 2020 to March 28th, 2021! See Resorts of the Canadian Rockies for details.

Canmore Cave Tours

Canmore Cave Tours
Grand Gallery, Rat’s Nest Cave | Image Credit: Adam Walker

Explore the caves of Grotto Mountain with Canmore Cave Tours. No caving experience is necessary as all tours are guided. I loved the Adventure Tour’s 6-storey rappel and the squeeze through the Laundry Chute got my heart thumping! Book an adventure for you and a friend with Canmore Cave Tours today!

Calgary Climbing Centre climbing lessons

Whether your loved one wants to learn to belay or lead climb, Calgary Climbing Centre has a class for that. Private, group, and family lessons are available at various locations around Calgary. Check out the program listing and purchase gift cards for your location.

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Lake Louise, Banff National Park

Get unlimited admission to over 80 Parks Canada places with your Discovery Pass! Did you know you can save $10 on family annual passes or $2 on senior annual passes at AMA? Purchase your annual park pass from AMA or Parks Canada. ***Special note for 2020: Since many visitor centres are currently closed, it is advised you purchase your pass online. You can print a temporary pass and use it until your pass arrives in the mail.***

For the Kids

The Wild Life Outdoor Adventures Subscription

Get an outdoor adventure kit delivered monthly to your favorite kid. Monthly subscriptions are available for 3, 6, or 12 months (or you can pay a higher monthly fee and cancel anytime). Kits contain useful outdoor gear and 10+ hours of skill-building activities, games, and crafts for kids 8-12 years old (though I think it would be ok for 5 & up). Get your subscription from The Wild Life Outdoor Adventures.

Fjällräven Kånken Backpack

My girls love their Fjällräven Kånken packs!

Designed in 1978 to “spare the backs of school children”, the Fjällräven Kånken backpack is a stylish classic. The pack has a small zippered compartment for things you want to keep handy, and a large zippered compartment with a removable seat pad for comfort while wearing the pack, or sitting on the ground. Different variations are available (Classic, Mini, Laptop 15″), but I like the Re-Kånken best as it is made from recycled water bottles. Available at Fjällräven Calgary (17th Ave SW) or online. Select styles are currently half price!!

Under Armour ColdGear

Cold weather calls for warm, moisture-wicking, quick-drying layers. My girls love their Under Armour ColdGear Crew Long Sleeved Shirt and ColdGear Leggings. They are brushed and soft on the inside, and smooth and quick drying on the outside. Four-way stretch allows freedom of movement and the wide waistband is comfortable and stays in place. The Crew top is a longer length which pairs perfectly with leggings and longer sleeves keep hands warm on chilly days. My girls wear them to hike, ski, and play outside! Available from Sport Chek.

For more warm winter clothes, see our Best Winter Gear Guide for Kids! Includes everything from base layers to snow pants.


Barefoot Slackline

A slackline equals hours of fun at the park or campsite. All you need are two big trees to set it up! Tree protectors are included with the Barefoot Slackline so you don’t rub bark off the trees, and a training line (included) can be set up for beginners. Read the instructions before use, so you set the slackline up properly and safely.  Available on Amazon.

Airhead Foam Sled

Turn heads with the Airhead 39″ Sweater Shredder Foam Sled (1 person) or Airhead 39″ Powder Pup Foam Sled (1-person). These sleds are light and fast – and have handles so you don’t fly off! Also available in 49″ length with 2 sets of handles for 2 kids at Sport Chek.

A Book

A River by Marc Martin

chapters.indigo.ca” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener nofollow”>Indigo | Amazon.

Sunday Afternoons Beanie

Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Lodgepole Beanie in Sand Castle

Sunday Afternoons Kids’ Lodgepole Beanie (suitable for 3-6 years old) is cute and cozy with a full micro-fleece lining and earflaps. Available in Sand Castle (cream and pink) and Misty Fog (grey + blue and green) at MEC.

Waterproof Motorola Walkie Talkies

Waterproof Motorola Walkie Talkies

Do your kids forget to put their toys away? Waterproof walkie talkies for the win! Motorola’s T600 Talkabout Radios also have 22 channels, a 35-mile mountain-to-valley range (for neighborhood use, expect a 2-mile range), a built-in flashlight, and weather channels. Get up to 9 hours battery life with the included rechargeable batteries, or up to 23 hours with 3 AA batteries. Find them on Amazon.

Hatley Pajamas

Hatley is the place for the cute, unique pajamas. From Fair Isle to Moose PJs, this Canadian company has something cute for all ages (baby to adult sizes). It’s our go-to place for baby gifts (check out their sister store, Little Blue House for family pajama sets and more babywear)! Where else can you get “Little Bear Bum” pjs?!


Runners Balance Bike

Runners Balance Bike

Let your little learn to ride a bike the easy way: by starting on a balance bike! We like Runners brand because it’s Canadian and high quality (our kids started on the original Runners wooden balance bike).  Suitable for 18 months – 5 years old. Buy it on Amazon.

Secret Hideaway

Monobeach Mini Teepee

Every kid loves having his or her own secret hideaway. The Monobeach mini teepee made with pine wood and 100% natural, non-toxic, unpainted cotton canvas is sure to bring a smile to your child’s face on Christmas morning. Get it on Amazon

Razor Party Pop Kick Scooter with LED Lights

Razor Party Pop Scooter with LED Lights

The Razor Party Pop Kick Scooter has 12 multi-color LED lights and brightly colored wheels. Recommended for ages 6 and up; supports riders up to 143 pounds. Get it on Amazon.

Swany ViralOff Mask (Youth)

Swany ViralOff Mask – available in blue, pink, or black

These reusable Swany ViralOff Masks are treated with antiviral ViralOff® (active ingredients are titanium dioxide and silver chloride) for a 99% reduction of viruses on the fabric within 2 hours. Available at MEC.

Compact Binoculars

Compact Binoculars

Binoculars are fun for birdwatching or observing wildlife from a safe distance. The SGODDE compact binoculars provide 10x magnification with a 25 mm lens and are waterproof, fogproof, and lightweight (0.6 lb / 272 g), so you can bring them on every hike! Available on Amazon

For Him or Her

Cariuma = Cool, comfy, “consciously made” sneakers

Based in Brazil, Cariuma uses sustainable materials to craft super cool, super comfy sneakers. From cork and plant-based foam insoles to organic cotton and recycled polyester (made from plastic bottles), you can reduce your environmental footprint when you choose Cariuma kicks. Plus, for every pair you buy, two trees are planted in the Brazilian rainforest! I love my OCA sneakers!! Men’s and women’s styles available.

Shady Rays Snow Goggles: The last goggles you’ll ever need

Shady Rays Snow Goggles at Naskiska

These magnetic, interchangeable polarized Snow Goggles by Shady Rays are the bomb! The magnetic lenses are SO easy to change (no clips to fiddle with), and the optics are fantastic. Polarized lenses cut the glare and provide better depth perception on the snow. I got three interchangeable straps and lenses with my goggles, so I can customize my look for less than the cost of three pairs of goggles. Everything fits in one case so you can change your lenses throughout the day when conditions change. And if that doesn’t already get you smiling, every order of Shady Rays Snow Goggles provides 10 meals to feed hunger through their partner, Feeding America. Order yours from Shady Rays.

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

Hike hands-free in low light with the Petzl Actik Core Lamp. I have been using Petzl headlamps since 2004 and love how reliable they are. The Petzl Actik Core has the same great quality as the Petzl Tikkas we’ve used for years, but is more powerful (up to 450 lumens!) and rechargeable so you can save a lot of money on batteries. Available at MEC

Aventura Clothing: eco-friendly fashion

Aventura Clothing specializes in sustainable, fair trade certified styles. I purchased my first Aventura item in Moab, Utah twelve years ago, and I have been a brand ambassador for the past three years. My favorite Aventura pieces include their vests and Adira athleisure line, but I have several great Aventura scarves and dresses too! The photo gallery above shows a few of the fall/winter pieces on my wishlist. Purchase online at Aventura Clothing

Ecoths: Sustainable Men’s Wear

Ecoths is Aventura’s men’s line. If you’re looking for eco-friendly gifts, select “sustainable” styles that are made with 100% organic cotton. You can also choose items made in fair trade certified factories so you can feel good about your purchase. Available from Aventura Men’s.

Heat Holders Thermal Gear

Heat Holders socks, hats, and mitts are super warm thanks to Japanese-designed thermal yarn, extra long looped cushion pile, and a thick brushed inner layer. The Heat Holder Original Socks are 7x warmer than cotton socks! I have been wearing them in the house and to sleep for several years to help with my Raynaud’s and love how soft and warm they are. Since the Original are a bit too thick to fit in my boots, I recommend the Lite or Ultra Lite styles for every day wear. Heat Holders also makes toasty warm base layers perfect for the coldest days (I bought a pair 5 years ago and love them). Men’s, Women’s, and Kids’ thermal gear is available at Heat Holders.

Get FREE SHIPPING on Heat Holders® when you purchase $25 or more!

A Good Book

Into Thin Air is based on a true story of the May 1996 disaster on Mount Everest that claimed several lives. A cautionary tale and story of courage (people put themselves in harm’s way to rescue fellow mountaineers) in one.

Nature lovers with young children will appreciate a copy of Play the Forest School Way: Woodland games, crafts and skills for adventurous kids. I enjoyed doing many of these activities with my kids!

Master The Art of Doing Nothing during lockdown and you’ll never be bored. Research shows it’s actually good for you to do nothing sometimes, so put that phone down and pick up this book!

Available at Indigo and Amazon (Amazon links above).

MEC Travel Light Carry-On


The roomy, lightweight, and affordable MEC Travel Light Carry-On is a thoughtfully designed, minimalist carry-on bag. Weighing in at 572 grams, the pack has multiple compartments for organizing, a padded laptop compartment, and exterior zippered pocket you can stuff the pack into when not in use. I have taken it on 4-day press trips and 10-day road trips and find it the ideal size and weight. Note that the straps are quite thin so you won’t want to take this pack backpacking, but for getting to and from the airport/hotel, it is fantastic. Get it at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).

KUHL Spyfire Down Hoody

KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody
KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody in Lagoon (6 other colors available)

Form meets function in the attractive and well-made KÜHL Spyfire Down Hoody. This down jacket will be your go-to outer layer for cold weather with its flattering lines, 800-fill down, and thoughtfully-designed hood. Read our complete review here. Available at Kuhl. (A parka, jacket, and vest in the same style is also available. Men’s Spyfire Down Hoody also available!)

Helly Hansen LIFA Merino tops and bottoms are available for men, women, and kids in a variety of patterns and colors. With merino wool on the outside and soft, moisture wicking LIFA (synthetic fabric) on the inside, even those with sensitive skin can get the benefits of merino wool. I recommend the half-zip top for temperature regulation. Note that these fit very snug, so if you are between sizes, order the next size. Available from Helly Hansen | Sport Chek | Amazon.

OUTAD Folding Camping Chair

OUTAD Folding Camping Chair

We bought two of these OUTAD chairs in 2017 thinking they were too good to be true (they’re so cheap!), but they have proven to be durable and super quick and easy to set up. The poles are attached so you won’t lose any, and they fit together like tent poles. This 1.8 lb chair can hold up to 200 pounds and sets up in seconds.  Get it on Amazon.

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Franco Lee November 25, 2019 - 10:06 PM

Hello Karen,

Would love to take the family out for a spa day. Love from the flee family.

Kim Brochu November 20, 2019 - 2:30 PM

Love the Aventure leg warmers and the super cool wallet!!

Katy Emanuel November 19, 2019 - 5:05 PM

I like the idea of the Nordic Spa for myself for a day, sounds so nice. For the family a Parks pass is one of our favourite gifts

Cassandra Riches November 18, 2019 - 8:31 AM

The gift guide ideas I like best are the ones that are experiences. As for the long trail I’d like to do… The John Muir Trail in California.

Maegan Morin November 17, 2019 - 10:56 PM

I absolutely love that tent! OMG my daughter would adore it so much.

Greta Duncan November 15, 2019 - 8:51 PM

I always love adventures/experiences more than things for gifts. I have always wanted to stay and ski at whitefish. Maybe hubby will see this and get the idea for the spa gift card for my stocking ?

Katy Emanuel November 15, 2019 - 5:45 PM

I would love a day at Kananaskis Nordic Spa, it looks so great, although the Kuhl down hoodie looks and sounds pretty great too. Santa always brings our family a Parks Canada pass for the year.

Kathy Hunt November 14, 2019 - 8:16 PM

I like the Walkie talkies.
If I had time and money I’d like to do the Haute Route

Stacy Finnbogason November 14, 2019 - 6:45 PM

I love the kids toque from Sunday Afternoons and the Motorola walkie talkies!

Family Gift Guide (+Giveaway) | Born to be Adventurous November 14, 2019 - 6:12 PM

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