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Gifts for dads can be tricky, but if your dad loves the outdoors then your shopping just got easier. I pulled the best gifts for dads from our in-depth reviews to bring you a comprehensive list with something for any outdoorsy pop.
- Best Hunting Rifle: Winchester Model 70 Super Grade
- Best Fly Reel: Abel Vaya
- Best Backyard Accessory: ThermaCell EX90
- Best Air Rifle: Air Venturi Avenger
- Best Pocket Knife: Benchmade Mini Adamas
- Best for the Adventurer: inReach Mini 2
- Best for Bass Anglers: Bucca Bull Shad
- Best for the Backyard Lumberjack: Council Tool Flying Fox Ax
- Best Mug: Otterbox Elevation
- Best Hoody: Cabela’s Wooltimate Pullover
- Best Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo: Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0
- Best Spinning Rod and Reel Combo: Shimano Vanford/Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Carbonlite 2.0
How to Choose a Gift for Dads Who Like the Outdoors
Dads who like the outdoors are extremely easy to shop for once you crack the code. Here’s how you do it.
What Does Dad Enjoy?
Narrow down the huge list of possibilities by focusing on his core interests. If dad likes fishing, get him a gift that supports that passion. If he has a lot of hobbies, you can’t go wrong with a gift that goes well with all of them.
Things They Wouldn’t Buy for Themselves
Once you have the list narrowed down, the difference between a good gift and a great gift is buying something that dad wouldn’t buy from himself or something that he can make memories with for a long time.
How to Use this Gift Guide
In the “Key Features” section for each product, I’ve written what type of hobbies the gift is good for and given you an idea of the price range. The amount of dollar symbols corresponds to how many digits there are in the gift’s price tag. So, something that’s $100 will have three dollar symbols and something that’s $5 will have one dollar symbol. To also help you find a gift in the right price range, I’ve listed them from the most expensive to the least expensive. I’ve also hyperlinked an article where you can read more about the product if you want to dive in deeper.
Best Hunting Rifle: Winchester Model 70 Super Grade
- AAA maple stock
- Cartridges: .308 Winchester, .300 Winchester Magnum, .30-06 Springfield, 6.5 Creedmoor, 6.5 PRC
- Hobbies: Hunting and recreational shooting
- Price: $$$$
If you really love dad or you and other family members want to chip in on something really special, then an heirloom-grade hunting rifle will make an unbeatable gift for any hunter. You might actually make dad cry when he opens the box and finds a rifle with a beautifully figured wood stock.
Buying a Winchester Model 70 Super Grade is the easy decision, but choosing the cartridge it will shoot is a tough one. If dad is a deer hunter you can’t go wrong with the .308 Winchester or the 6.5 Creedmoor. If you live west of the Mississippi and he hunts elk, mule deer, and antelope you might consider going with the 6.5 PRC or .300 Winchester Magnum. If he’s an old school dude, then get him the 30-06 Springfield or .308 Winchester, which are both great for hunting anything in North America. Outdoor Life’s editor-in-chief, Alex Robinson, wrote The Case for New, Wood-Stocked Deer Hunting Rifles, which makes a compelling case for these timeless rifles.
Best Fly Reel: Abel Vaya
- 5.45 ounces (in 5/6 weight)
- Dual-pawl drag system
- More than 80 different color/design options
- Hobbies: Fly fishing
- Price: $$$
The Abel Vaya is a functional work of art. In fact Monte Burke chose it as one the best fly fishing reels in his review. Its performance is stellar, but it also comes in a wide variety of colors and paint schemes. You can even order a custom reel from Abel. And that added touch makes the Vaya stand out as a great gift for a fly fisherman.
Best Backyard Accessory: ThermaCell EX90
- Protects Against: Mosquitoes and gnats
- Active ingredients: Metofluthrin
- Hobbies: BBQ, gardening, archery, and hanging out in the yard
If mosquitoes and gnats are preventing dad from enjoying time outdoors, a Thermacell is a must-have backyard accessory. I’ve tested them extensively while hunting in buggy places and for my best mosquito repellents article. They’re highly recommended and they really do a great job at keeping mosquitoes away.
The EX90 uses a rechargeable battery and just one consumptive refill. While the EX90 isn’t ideal for taking on a backpacking trip or a hike due to its size, it is a great option for RVing, car camping, and the backyard. The device takes 15 minutes to create a protective bubble and will provide protection for nine hours on a single charge. After the heat-up time you’ll have a 20 foot mosquito-free zone.
Best Air Rifle: Air Venturi Avenger
- Speed: Around 900 fps
- Needs an air pump or scuba tank to the fill the reservoir
- Calibers: .177, .22, and .25
- Hobbies: Hunting, shooting, pest management
- Price: $$$
Today’s air rifles aren’t Ralphy’s Red Rider or inaccurate pellet guns. They’re powerful and wicked accurate. If dad likes squirrel hunting, hates squirrels, or just likes plinking, the Air Venturi Avenger is a great first reintroduction to the world of airguns. When Jim Chapman did his Air Venturi Avenger review, his rifle shot a 16-shot group at 40 yards that could be covered by a quarter. He also noted that the air rifle was backyard quiet, so it won’t disturb the neighbors. It’s no wonder he chose it as one the best air rifles.
Something any hunter will appreciate is the price of shooting an air rifle, which costs pennies in comparison to the ammo a centerfire or even rimfire uses. Also, at well under $500 it’s a gift a few people can chip in on and provide dad with a ton of fun or a new hobby.
Best Pocket Knife: Benchmade Mini Adamas
- Blade length: 3.25 inches
- Blade steel: CPM-CruWear (it’s really good steel)
- Hobbies: Any outdoor hobby
- Price: $$$
It was very difficult choosing a knife for this best gifts for dads list, but my selection ultimately landed on the Benchmade Mini Adamas, which won best overall in The Best Pocket Knives review. The Mini Adamas is a tough, rugged blade that is also convenient to carry. Anyone from hikers, anglers, to backcountry hunters will love this pocket knife. Dad will carry his new pocket knife on all his adventures and create new memories with it everywhere he goes. An heirloom piece like this is a special gift that any dad would be lucky to have.
Best for the Adventurer: inReach Mini 2
- Weather forecasts
- Shares location
- Two-way messaging without cell service
- Hobbies: Hiking, hunting, backpacking, fishing
- Price: $$$
If dad is big into offgrid excursions or dips out of cell service while hunting or fishing, the Garmin inReach Mini 2 can help ensure he returns for the next Father’s Day. It allows you to stay in touch without a signal via text, and it has an emergency transponder if an accident happens. The device works by pairing with a smartphone, which allows him to text updates while out of cell service. It’s also a GPS with mapping capabilities to make it even handier. This tiny device is literally a life saver and extra peace of mind while he’s out enjoying the wilderness. You can read more about it in staff writer Tyler Freel’s inReach Mini 2 review.
Best for Bass Anglers: Bucca Bull Shad
- Recommended length: 6 inches
- Hobbies: Bass fishing
- Price: $$
Big swimbaits are a very cool and very effective way to catch the biggest bass in a lake. But some anglers need a little nudge to give these large lures a try. That’s why they make great gifts. Your dad can catch the biggest bass of his life on a lure you picked out that he otherwise might never have tried if not for you. There are a ton of big swimbaits to choose from and you can read about the best swimbaits all day. But, one that works everywhere is the slow-sinking Bucca Bull Shad in the 6 or 7-inch model. It will catch big largemouth and smallmouth bass as well as other predators like striped bass and pike. It’s also not as expensive as some other options like the legendary Deps 250.
Best for the Backyard Lumberjack: Council Tool Flying Fox Ax
- Good for throwing or splitting firewood
- Hobbies: Any outdoorsman will like this ax
- Price: $$
If you’re buying for a dad that loves sharp flying objects, a throwing ax is a fun yet practical gift he’ll love. The Council Tool Flying Fox is balanced for throwing, and sticks in ax targets with ease. But, it is also a great ax for turning logs into firewood and kindling. It makes a great gift because it is an utilitarian tool and backyard fun all in one. At under $60 it won’t break the bank either. If you want to see more ax options check out Drew Conover’s article, The Best Camping Axes.
Best Mug: Otterbox Elevation
- 14 ounces
- Hobbies: Coffee and cold beverage enthusiasts
- Price: $$
If dad likes his hot beverages to stay hot and his cold beverages to stay cold, then an insulated mug is just what he needs. Staff Writer Laura Lancaster recently tested the best camping mugs and found the Otterbox Elevation to be the best overall for its durability, solid lid, insulation, and easy cleaning. If you get dad this mug, he can slowly sip his coffee while camping or hanging out on the back deck, and it’ll never get cold. These mugs aren’t just great for coffee too, they’ll keep any kind of beverage at the perfect temp.
Best Hoody: Cabela’s Wooltimate Pullover
- Machine washable
- Made from wool and Berber fleece
- Kangaroo front pocket
- Hobbies: Being a dad, ice fishing, and hunting
- Price: $$$
From shoveling snow in shorts and sweatshirt to long treestand sits, the Wooltimate pullover hoody will keep dad warm. It’s made from wool and Berber fleece so it’s plenty quiet for hunting, naturally antimicrobial, and will insulate even when it gets wet. It also has the 4MOST WINDSHEAR lining in it to block bone chilling breezes while he’s outdoors.
Best Baitcasting Rod and Reel Combo: Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0
- We recommend the 7 foot, medium heavy rod as an all purpose combo
- Right or left hand retrieve refers to the hand dad uses to turn the reel handle. Look at his other baitcasting reels to find out.
- One or two piece? Most anglers prefer one-piece rods, but two piece rods are convenient for traveling or if dad uses a compact car to go to the lake.
- Hobbies: Bass fishing
- Price: $$$
The Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 is a baitcasting rod and reel setup that will make dad’s day and keep him smiling all summer. It’s a high performance rod and reel that looks as good as it fishes. You can get it in number of configurations, but you can’t go wrong with a 7 foot, medium heavy. If dad fishes a lot of places with thick vegetation, a the 7 foot 3 inch, heavy will allow him to muscle fish out of the cover. Or if he’s a smallmouth angler, the medium or medium light power rods are excellent options.
If the $230 price tag is too steep for your budget, also consider the awesome Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcast Combo, which is $100 less.
Best Spinning Rod and Reel Combo: Shimano Vanford/Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Carbonlite 2.0
- For freshwater the 7 foot 2 inch, medium is a versatile choice. For salt, the 7 foot, medium heavy is the way to go. The 6:4:1 gear ratio is a great choice all-around.
- Hobbies: Fishing
- Price: $$$
I’ll give you a second to get over the sticker shock of this spinning combo. But, believe me when I say it’s a great deal and something dad will cherish forever. The Shimano Vanford spinning reel has won numerous awards in Outdoor Life gear tests and it’s unquestionably one of the best spinning reels available. Combine that with sensitive and light Johnny Morris Carbonlite 2.0 rod and you have a combo that dad won’t ever leave home without. The best all-around option is the 7 foot 2 inch, medium combo, which is great for a wide variety of finesse applications. If dad is Ned rig or drop shot specialist, the medium light in the 7 foot + offerings is a great choice. If he only uses spinning rods and maybe wants to use this combo for saltwater, the medium heavy is going to be the ticket.
A hunting rifle, really nice hunting clothing, or a quality knife are all great gifts for a dad that likes hunting.
Dads want a gift that helps them enjoy their hobby and is something they can use for years to come.
A tie is the most common gift and one of the worst gifts for an outdoors dad.
Final Thoughts on the Best Gifts for Dads
Dad deserves something great this year, and the best gift for dad is one that helps him enjoy his favorite outdoor hobby even more.