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8 Gear Upgrades Your Dad Needs, But Is Too Stubborn to Ask For

From a new GPS watch to a custom multi-tool — there’s something for everyone.


Heirloom-quality outdoor gear is as good as it gets, but even the hardiest piece of equipment can come due for an update from time to time. For the discriminating outdoorsman in your life, the right upgrade will not only be appreciated but enjoyed and taken care of for years to come. Whether you’re looking for something for the data-driven athlete, gear-hoarding camper or gram-counting backpacker, we’ve got the gifts to help dad update his outdoor kit, even if he’s too stubborn to admit he needs it.

Garmin Fenix 6

Sure, the watch on his wrist just keeps on ticking. But for navigating in the wilderness and living a rich life of action, he needs more. Garmin’s fenix 6 — tested to military standards for thermal, shock and water resistance — is our choice. Dad can rely on it to stay in tip-top health, tracking calories burned, steps taken, water glugged, hours slept and even his stress level. A Pulse Ox sensor shines light beams at his wrist to gauge how well he absorbs oxygen with changes in altitude. But he’ll appreciate the fenix 6 even more deeply during workouts. Built for the multisport enthusiast, Dad will have more cycling, run, and hiking data at his fingertips than he ever thought possible. Don’t be surprised when he casually crushes your KOM on the next family bike ride.

BUY NOW: $600+

Nemo Firefly Tent

Dad’s pup tent from his days in the scouts or that aborted Appalachian Trail attempt in the 1970s is probably still going strong. But for backpacking and multi-night camping trips, shaving some weight will mean a more comfortable time on the trail. Nemo’s new Firefly backpacking tent is a sure bet. It’s affordable, roomy and easy to set up — even with a well-earned cold one in-hand. Large doors and two vestibules offer plenty of space to stretch out, while the pre-bent aluminum poles allow extra headspace.

BUY NOW: $350

Leatherman Custom Multi-Tools

For the tool collector, having a knife, hatchet and a multitool for any occasion is a must. For everyone else, a multitool will suffice. Whether your old man has a different pocket knife for every day of the week or just one trusty go-to, he’s sure to appreciate an upgrade and something a little more personal. Leatherman’s custom shop allows you to add engraved images, script and patterns to a host of its multi-tools. We’re partial to the Surge, as you can customize both the handles and blade. When he reaches for his favorite tool, rest assured he’ll remember who gifted it.

BUY NOW: $90+

Patagonia Macro Puff Quilt

For some dads, the notion of a new camping blanket will seem frivolous. Isn’t the plaid one that’s been stuffed in his trunk since 1983 good enough? Patagonia’s new Macro Puff Quilt might initially be a hard sell for that traditional wool-blanket-loving-trail-curmudgeon in your life, but one chilly trailside cookout or post-fly-fishing tailgate and he will be hooked. It stays warm even when wet, packs down to nearly nothing and has a phenomenal warmth-to-weight ratio. You’ll probably want one for yourself, too.

BUY NOW: $249

Vasque Clarion 88 Reissue

Finding the right hiking boots can be a long, winding journey. You’ve got to find the right last, and just as importantly, the right style. Vasque’s Clarion 88 hiking boot takes the guesswork out of styling (and comfort). Vasque recreated the original Clarion from 1988, but updated it with a modern Vibram rubber sole and Gore-Tex liner. The result is a boot that was made for rugged excursions from the Presidential Range to the Sierras. It’s perfect for the serious and amateur hiker alike.

BUY NOW: $160

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 Southwest Pack

That tired, old external frame pack that dad has been hiking with since before you were born doesn’t owe anyone anything by now. Spring for a model that shaves pounds and ounces to keep him on the trail for more years to come. Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Southwest line is built for serious excursions in gnarly terrain (though it works just fine on more mellow hikes too). The ultralight Dyneema fabric stands up to dense underbrush, abrasive sandstone and everything in between. At 1.9 pounds empty, it’s the lightest pack of its size on the market.

BUY NOW: $310

DPS Alchemist Wailer 100RP

Gone are the days of straight, 220cm skis. Your dad may have learned on a pair of skis older than you, but for today’s turning style, he needs an upgrade. The proprietary carbon layups, progressive sidecut and innovative flex that DPS has developed accommodate skiers on any terrain. Forgiving in a slide or slash in soft snow, but responsive when locked into a carve on hardpack, these skis are truly a one-ski quiver. Throw in a Phantom Glide treatment when you order your pair, and he’ll never have to wax his skis again.

BUY NOW: $1,300

Black Diamond Solution Wool Hoody

Dad’s bulky old wool sweater is an awesome heritage piece, but today’s merino is a far cry from that 1960s-era scratchy wool. Black Diamond’s new Solution Wool is an excellent update that can pull 4-season duty with ease. It utilizes core-spinning technology, which combines the benefits of nylon and merino by spinning merino fibers around a nylon core. The result is a soft hoody that wicks sweat better than a synthetic, is warmer than wool on its own and is at home on the trail or at the pub after. You’ll definitely earn some bonus style points with this one.

BUY NOW: $229

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