Dear Dad: Father’s Day Gifts for Outdoor Pursuits

Father son camping
Photo: Alex Guillaume/Unsplash

If we wrote a letter to our dads this Father’s Day, it might go something like this:

Dear Pops,

Just wanted to say, Happy Father’s Day.

Thanks for always being there. Thanks for teaching me how to paddle a canoe, and getting me into waves. Thanks for putting those wooden blocks on my bike when I was a kid and always pushing me up those mountains.

I’m sorry I left all your tools outside in the rain, and I still owe you a few dozen rolls of duct tape.

And I’m sorry I said Bruce Springsteen sucks. He’s actually pretty cool.

The older you get, the more you appreciate what dads did growing up, especially if your dad was the outdoor type. He instilled your spirit of adventure, found your first skis at a yard sale, and taught you to always have the sharp part of the knife facing away.

So whichever outdoor-loving dad you’re buying for – your husband, uncle, brother, friend, or your own dad, here are some gifts to kick off his summer and to show him that you get it now, and are grateful.

Patagonia Stretch Planing Boardshorts 19” ($79)

Patagonia Planing

There isn’t a dad alive who doesn’t appreciate any gift from Patagonia. The entire company is based on environmental ethics, social responsibility and straight-up quality.

Since Patagonia got into the surf-trunk game ten years ago, they’ve constantly improved. The new generation of the Planing Boardshorts are made from fast-drying, four-way stretch, 91%-recycled fabric.

Ideal for bodysurfing, rafting, paddling or evening surf sessions, they’re bluesign® approved and Fair Trade Certified®. Plus, these have a 19” outseam – because dads aren’t always into short shorts. Colors and prints are fantastic too.

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Smith Transfer with Chroma Pop ($169)

smith transfer

Dads, in general, are not cool. They traded in their coolness for shirts covered in baby puke. But Dad can be cool again in the Smith Transfers, classic wrap-around sunglasses that come in seven frame colors and two lens shades.

The Transfer features ChromaPop polarized lenses, which help to better visualize color and details (important in any outdoor endeavor). They also have auto-lock hinges, and Smith’s new QuickFit adjustable-temple technology.

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Hydro Flask National Park Foundation Limited Edition 32 oz. Water Bottle ($48.95)


Does your father still buy cases of single-use plastic water bottles? If he does, remind him that he likely grew up drinking from the sink. Or the hose.

The reusable movement is growing, and every generation is favoring canteens and reusable bottles over the wasteful, toxic habit of single-use plastic.

This summer, Hydro Flask has an entire line of limited edition 32 oz. water bottles with art celebrating the Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Yellowstone, Olympic and Great Smoky Mountains national parks, and contributing to the National Park Foundation.

And as with all their drinkware, these bottles keep beverages cold up to 24 hours and hot up to 12 hours.

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Dry Case DryVibes 2.0 ($99.99)

Dry Vibes
Dry Vibes

Dads like to vibe too. Whether its Neil Young or Wu Tang, any family adventure is better with sound.

The DryVibes 2.0 from Dry Case has been improved this year to have more booming sound, and now comes with four different mounts (suction cup, tripod, bike and carabiner), so it can be attached to just about anything.

This Bluetooth speaker also floats, so it’s ideal for a paddleboard, a sunfish or just laying around in the pool. Now it’s just a matter of arguing over what you’re going to listen to.


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Backpacker’s Pantry Camp Food Gift Bundle ($53)


Does your father have a hunger for adventure? No doubt, he has a hunger.

Backpacker’s Pantry is an awesome supplier of packaged and freeze-dried food that packs light and fills your belly, with options from egg scrambles and lasagna to astronaut ice cream and hot apple cobbler.

This Gift Bundle is perfect for multiple meals, and will serve two people with 22 grams of protein per serving – just what you need on the mountain or the river.

This particular bundle starts with Mountain Standard Power On Pancakes. The midday snack is two kinds of salsa: Red Mountain and Green Chile. Dinner is a tasty Pad Thai of spicy, sweet garlic sauce, rice noodles, and roasted peanuts by the campfire. It all comes with a nice long-handled spoon.

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Leatherman Free P4 ($139.95)

Leatherman Free P4

Leatherman is calling it the most advanced multipurpose tool ever made. We’d have to agree, and so would your dad.

Even if your Pops already has a multitool, Leatherman’s Free P4 (and the P2 for $119.95) are game changers. These tools boast durability, but it’s really usability that sets this tool apart.

Specifically, all the tools are accessible with one hand, and the Free features magnetic opening and closing. The Free P4 has pliers, separate needle nose pliers, premium wire cutters, a knife, a serrated knife, spring action scissors, a saw, package opener, pry tool, awl, can opener, wire stripper, bottle opener, electric crimper and four screwdriver-head options.

You could replace a transmission with this thing, and it’s 8.6 ounces and 4.25 inches.

A surf fin tool would be nice but overall, everything you need in a compact tool with A 25-year guarantee, made in the USA.

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Pelican SC24 Soft Cooler ($299.95)

pelican soft cooler

Chances are that many of your childhood memories involve some kind of cooler. Your Dad prized that cooler. One or more days with you and/or your siblings may have required a few beers.

Whether your father will fill it with six-packs of Milwaukee’s Best, kombucha, those big bottles of Coca Cola with real sugar from Mexico, or just hydrating H2O, cold drinks are the key to summer fun.

Pelican has long been known for its quality cases, and the soft cooler follows the same line with a quick access, dual-lock buckle system, a compression-molded anti-slip base and stainless steel tie-downs with a bottle opener. The SC will keep ice for 24 hours and comes in 12-, 24- and 48-can sizes.

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“Some Stories: Lessons From The Edge Of Business And Sport” by Yvon Chouinard ($45)

Some Stories Patagonia

If there’s one person who has influenced our lifestyle, it’s Yvon Chouinard, the climber/surfer/activist pioneer from Ventura, California, who founded Patagonia.

He has become an icon of not only adventure sport but ethics in business, showing that industry can be altruistic as well as profitable. In “Some Stories,” his fourth book, Chouinard looks back on his 80 years in both adventure and business, telling his own epic stories and the evolution of his philosophies in his own tone and sense of humor.

Obviously, it’s printed on 100% post-consumer recycled paper. And you can read it after your dad’s done with it.

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Reef Men’s Voyage LE ($65)

Reef Voyage

Dads of all ages are familiar with Reef. Maybe they first wore them in 1984. Maybe it was 2014. The Voyage is a timeless slap elevated with durable and particularly waterproof leather.

Reef has done wonders with developing sandal beds, specifically with their Swellular Technology, which is built around comfort, support and traction. If Dad has a tried and true old pair of slaps and you’re worried about a new pair of unfamiliar flip flops, these boast a no break-in-period instant comfort.

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