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Choosing a gift for an outdoorsy mom can be tricky. From technical fabrics to backpacks ranging in capacity from 7 liters to 75, there is a lot to sift through, especially if you don’t know the lingo. As an outdoorsy mom and gear staff writer for Outdoor Life, I’ve developed a few opinions over the years about what does and does not make for the best gifts for outdoorsy moms—here’s my take:
- Best Indulgence: Happy Yak The Purist
- Best Fishing Gift: Gill OS3 Coastal Jacket for Ladies
- Best for an Experienced Fly Angler: Abel Vaya
- Best for a New Fly Angler: Orvis Encounter
- Best for New Archers: Bear Archery Cruzer G2
- Best Cooler: YETI Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler
- Best for Cold Weather: Big Agnes Women’s Luna Jacket
- Best Tech Gift: Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
- Best for Expectant Moms: Make My Belly Fit
- Best for Campers: Klymaloft Sleeping Pad
- Best for Backpackers: Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Pillow
- Best for Coffee Lovers: Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
- Best for Planners: OnX Backcountry
- Best Homemade Gift: Turkey Feather Earrings
How to Choose a Gift for Moms
Most moms have earned a reputation for thinking of everyone else but themselves. Stay away from gifts that she’ll use for everyone in the family—such as packing cubes, washing basins, or down detergent—and look for gifts that will benefit her primarily.
When it comes to spending time outdoors, less is almost always better than more. Gag gifts or gimmicky accessories have a way of ending up at the bottom of someone’s camping bin, and eventually in the trash can. If you’re looking for something small to give, stick with the best camping snacks (outdoorsy moms love snacks).
Avoid Big-Ticket Items
Before purchasing a big-ticket item for the mom in your life—like a new backpacking backpack or a new tent—first check in to see if she already has something in mind. More often than not, she’ll have her eye on something already.
Best Indulgence: Happy Yak The Purist
- Materials: 80% yak cashmere, 20% acrylic
- Cushion level: Medium
- Height: Mid-calf
- Next-level comfort
- Retains heat better than similar-weight merino socks
- Wool alternative for those with allergies
The Happy Yak Purist—OL’s pick for most comfortable sock—is the only sock that I have ever hoped to find in my stocking. They are made out of 80 percent yak cashmere—the fancy term for the hair that is closest to the yak’s body. These fibers, unlike merino, are completely smooth, making them naturally soft to the touch. They’re also hollow, trapping warm air inside to keep your feet toasty for longer than the semi-hollow fibers of merino wool. These socks are both some of the most comfortable and warmest I have ever tried.
I tested these socks on a 250-mile section of the Colorado Trail, and they kept my feet warmer than wool socks and wicked moisture equally well. The only ding was that they were showing more signs of wear than my other hiking socks (although not enough to be retired from rotation). -Laura Lancaster
Best Fishing Gift: Gill OS3 Coastal Jacket for Ladies
- XPLORE 2-layer fabric construction
- Hi-Viz hood with two-way adjustment system
- Jacket available in Ocean Blue or bright red
- Designed specifically for women
Anglers know the importance of having the best rain gear for fishing and it’s one of the best fishing gifts you can give. Like any good gift, a quality rain suit is something that will last forever and get used on nearly all fishing trips. The Gills OS3 isn’t just generic rain gear that fits women well, they’re one of the best rain gear for fishing—highly water-repellent, stain-resistant, and breathable. -Scott Einsmann
Best for an Experienced Fly Angler: Abel Vaya
- More than 80 different color/design options
- Custom and personalized options available
- 5.45 ounces (in 5/6 weight)
- Dual-pawl drag system
- Priced reasonably for its performance if you don’t spring for a specialized design
If you’re shopping for a fly angler then you can’t do better than one of the stunning reels made by Abel. Not only are you giving someone a reel that will last a lifetime, but it’s also visually stunning. If you really want to show mom your appreciation then get her one of the custom finishes for a functional work of art. If you want to learn more about the Abel Vaya, check out Monte Burke’s review of the best fly fishing reels. -Scott Einsmann
Best for a New Fly Angler: Orvis Encounter
- Entry-level price
- Includes rod, reel, fly line, leader, and case
- Comes apart in four pieces for easy storage and transportation
Fresh air, interacting with nature, and stress relief–for the most part—are all included when you buy a fly fishing outfit. If your mom could benefit from getting started in fly fishing then get her one of the best fly rods for beginners, the Orvis Encounter. It comes with a rod, reel, line, leader, and case. All that’s needed is a few flies and she’s ready to start catching fish out of the local pond, lake, or stream. This gift also pairs nicely with fly rod casting lessons at the local fly shop or a guided fishing trip to learn the ropes. -Scott Einsmann
Best Baby Carrier: Osprey Poco Child Carrier
- Weighs 7.89 pounds
- Carries up to 48.5 pounds
- Built-in sunshade with UPF 50+ protection
- 26-liter gear capacity
- Torso length adjusts from 15 to 22 inches
- Fits waist/hips from 26 to 49 inches
- Deluxe padded cockpit with soft contact surfaces, anatomic fit, and ventilated side panels
- Easy to use harness system for child
- Adjustable frame
- Folds down for easy transport and storage
Sharing the outdoors with a child is one of the best experiences for parents, and a baby carrier allows you to do that. A child is ready for a backpack carrier when they can sit up independently with head and neck control. One of the best baby carriers for hiking is the Osprey Poco. It has an adjustable frame so both parents can swap carrying duties and enough room to carry outdoor and child care essentials. The foot bar keeps the carrier upright and it’s relatively easy to get the child in and out. And the locking hinges and rotating side arms allow the frame to fold down for storage. The harness system and buckle for the child are easy to use and adjust. It also has adjustable stirrups for the child. There’s a soft, removable drool pad that’s comfy as a headrest when baby needs a nap. And there’s also a convenient loop to attach toys, snacks, and pacifiers. -Jackie Holbrook
Best for New Archers: Bear Archery Cruzer G2
- Draw weight: 5 to 70 pounds
- Draw lengths: 12 to 30 inches
- Includes all needed accessories, except a release aid and arrows
- Comes in solid or camo colors
The Bear Archery Cruzer G2 fits archers of all sizes. It can go from extremely easy to pull to heavy enough to hunt just about any animal. That adjustability makes it one of the best compound bows for the money and for new shooters. If mom wants to take up archery, buy her this bow and then take her to an archery shop for a lesson as well as a release aid and arrows. Better yet, get yourself a bow, too, and enjoy the new hobby together. -Scott Einsmann
Best Cooler: YETI Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler
- 3.1 pounds
- Holds 16 pounds of ice
- 13 can capacity
- Three-year warranty
- No leak zipper
- Holds ice longer than others
I own a ton of YETI products, and I love them all. I also didn’t buy a single one of them, and they’ve been my favorite gifts to give and receive for birthdays/holidays. So, if you’re looking for a practical gift mom can use and love, the YETI Hopper Flip makes a great option. Whether she’s at the ball field, the boat, or the beach, she can chill her drinks and look cool doing it.
The price might seem steep for a soft cooler, but by the time she runs through several cheaper ones your mom will save money in the long run. And besides, for all the money she probably spent on you, is it really that much? – Adam Moore
Best for Cold Weather: Big Agnes Women’s Luna Jacket
- Sizes: XS-XXL
- Weight: 15 ounces
- Fill: 700fp RDS-certified down
- Shell and lining: recycled 20D nylon shell; recycled 20D polyester lining
- Extremely warm
- Thumbholes at the end of the sleeves
- Generous hood and collar
You know what moms hate? Being cold. This was my overall pick for best puffer jacket, and it’s still my go-to anytime the thermostat drops into wintertime temps. Forget all these lightly packed mid-weight puffers, advertising delicate, flattering silhouettes—the Big Agnes Luna starts with a high fill power (700fp) and then packs it in to make one of the warmest puffer jackets I’ve tried. That’s what the mom in your life will notice when she first puts the Big Agnes Luna puffer jacket on: how warm she is. Then she’ll notice the thumbholes (thumbholes!) that will help keep her hands from going all tingly when she wants her fingers mobile. Next is the generous hood with a visor and adjustable cords to keep everything in place.
I tested this puffer jacket during an unusually long, cold, and soggy spring in the Pacific Northwest. In the end, it was the only one in my test that I didn’t have to resort to complicated layering to ensure I stayed warm; other puffers I even doubled up on and they still weren’t as warm as the Luna. -Laura Lancaster
Best Tech Gift: Garmin Instinct 2 Solar
- Sizes: Available in the Instinct 2 (45mm bezel) and the Instinct 2S (40mm)
- Solar charging: Standard or solar charging models; both use a proprietary USB charging cable
- Battery life: Varies based on model and enabled functions. “Unlimited” on 45mm Instinct 2 Solar models, in smartwatch mode with at least three hours per day of moderate sunlight (50,000 lux)
- Shock and thermal resistant: Military standard 810
- Water resistant: Up to 100 meters
- Navigation modes: Navigation, Expedition, Track Me, Waypoint, etc.
- Environmental widgets: Altimeter, barometer, compass, moon phase, sunrise/sunset, weather, etc.
- Health and wellness: Vo2 Max, step tracker, stairs climbed, activity tracking, etc.
- Activity modes: 40 activities, including running, hiking, hunt, fish, and more
- Emergency options: Incident Detection
People who spend most of their lives outdoors don’t want a generic smart watch, we want a watch that compliments our outdoor lifestyle. The Garmin Instinct 2 Solar is a feature-rich smart watch that benefits hikers, runners, backpackers, and hunters. It helps you navigate, track your activity, and it tells time. Best of all, the solar charging capability extends battery life for extended trips. If mom needs a GPS watch, activity tracker, and smart watch in one, look no further. To learn more read the Garmin Instinct Solar 2 review. -Natalie Krebs
Best for Expectant Moms: Make My Belly Fit
Make My Belly Fit
- Fits all jackets
- Water resistant
- Removable fleece layer
- Can also be used with newborns
Having to swap out your clothes for a temporary wardrobe at month five can be pretty frustrating for expecting moms. Fortunately, this jacket extender means she’ll be able to keep wearing her favorite technical shell or puffer jacket on hikes and other adventures up until the very end. Just zip up each side and use the zipper in the middle as you would on your regular jacket. -Laura Lancaster
Best for Backpackers: Klymaloft Sleeping Pad
- Available sizes: R (72 inches x 23 inches) to XL (78 inches x 29 inches) and a double (78 inches x 53 inches)
- Weight: 2 lbs, 4.5 ounces
- Height: 2.5 inches (the XL and the double are 5 inches)
- R rating: 2.1
- Fabric: 75D polyester
- Extremely comfortable
- Surprisingly small packed size for a pad with a foam topper
Every mom deserves a great night of sleep in the outdoors, and the Klymaloft delivers just that. With a foam topper above inflatable air chambers, it feels closer to an actual mattress than anything I’ve tried—including traditional car camping pads. And it’s light enough to be a realistic option for taking backpacking to boot. You can read more about the Klymaloft and other sleeping pads in the article The Best Backpacking Sleeping Pads.- Laura Lancaster
Best for Backpackers: Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down Pillow
- Weight: 4.9 ounces
- Size: 15.5 inches x 11 inches
- Packed size: 5 inches x 4 inches
- Height: 4 inches
- Retains some warmth overnight
- Mid-height is better for women
Even if mom already has a backpacking pillow, I guarantee she will appreciate an upgrade to the Therm-a-Rest Air Head Down. Whereas the air-only backpacking pillows are often clammy to the touch after a midnight bathroom break, the Air Head Down uses a smidge of 650 fill power duck down, concentrated on one side of the pillow, to retain warmth and to add just enough cushion to make you think you are sleeping on an actual pillow. Down, the feathers found closest to the skin of ducks and geese, retain warm air in small pockets created by the many barbules along the short shaft of the feather. Despite the down, the size and shape of this pillow is similar to other ultralight designs—it’s only a few cubic inches bigger and a couple of ounces heavier. -Laura Lancaster
Best for Coffee Lovers: Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
- Maximum Pressure: 261psi
- Dimensions: 6.1 inches x 2.8 inches x 2.4 inches
- Weight: 11.8 ounces
- Easy to use
- Produces delicious coffee
- No batteries required
The rumors are true: moms love having coffee brought to them in bed, and the same goes for outdoorsy moms. Even if you’ve already elevated your camping or backpacking coffee game past the instant varieties on the market—maybe you’ve got a french press insert for your JetBoil or a lightweight pourover basket that you can stash in your camping bin—you can still surprise her with a shot of freshly made espresso, or a cup of cafe au lait. I’ve taken this on several camping trips, and everyone I’ve made a shot for has been impressed by how great it tastes compared to one of the best camping percolators. While the Nanopresso doesn’t require batteries, it is a bit more complicated to use than other coffee makers, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with it before heading out on your first trip. -Laura Lancaster
Best for Planners: OnX Backcountry
- Tracking and route planning tools
- GPS offline access
- Detailed maps with route and landmark descriptions
- Easy to save maps offline for off-grid use
- Ability to add useful layers such as historic and active wildfires, air quality, avalanche forecasts, slope angles and aspects, and more
Trip planning is time consuming. Choosing a destination, planning a route, securing a map, getting permits. And let’s be real: The less time mom has to spend on planning to get out there, the more time she will actually have to get out there. That’s where a subscription to OnX Backcountry comes in.
Starting with the detailed maps that OnX already offered with its Hunt subscription, the Backcountry app layers on campground and trail information for hikers, campers, and backpackers from the Outdoor Project, as well as detailed information about wildfires, smoke and air quality conditions, weather forecasts, avalanche conditions, and more. This app is one of the simplest to use out there (although setting it up on mom’s phone and laptop would be a nice gesture), making it an appropriate gift for even self-styled luddites. -Laura Lancaster
Best Homemade Gift: Turkey Feather Earrings
- Feathers of your choice (at least two, reasonably symmetric ones)
- Two earring hooks
- Needle-nose pliers
- Nail or fly scissors
- Craft wire or Crimp beads
- A fly-tying vise (optional)
Again, you don’t have to shell out for something store-bought. Throw it back to kindergarten and make Mom something special instead. Few things are prettier than spring sunshine on turkey breast feathers—especially if those feathers are attached to a bird you just tagged. To capture that sight and the memory of my hunt, I always save feathers from the birds I kill and turn them into earrings. It’s turkey season now, so tag out quick or pluck a few from a buddy’s bird. Even better? Secretly snag some from the longbeard your mom killed. If you’re a fly tier or a feather hoarder like me, you can use feathers from ducks, pheasants, grouse—whatever’s available. (My two favorite pairs are made from drake mallard curls and mallard speculum feathers.) If you do have the necessary materials lying around, this project won’t cost a dime. Scrounge earring hooks from an old pair, or buy new sets online or at a craft store.
Experiment with patterns and wire wrapping until you get the right look. Trim your feathers along the quill for size. I typically form a U-shaped hook with a bit of wire, then crimp it in place or bind it to the quill with wire. Finally, add the earring hook, which you open and attach with the needle-nose pliers.
If you want to get fancy, you can shape feathers with a fine pair of scissors. Just keep in mind that the feathers are very light, and have a tendency to fly up in wind or when walking, so it’s not a bad idea to add a little weight to the back of the feather, either with a bead or a small patch of leather. If you want to make earrings from wing feathers, be sure to take similar sized feathers from each wing so they’re symmetrical. – Natalie Krebs
Q: What is the best surprise gift for mom?
The best surprise gift for mom is something that she’s always wanted but would never buy for herself. A great example is the Abel Vaya reel. It’s something a fly angler dreams of owning but won’t likely buy for themselves.
Q: What do you get for an outdoorsy mom?
One of the best gifts for an outdoorsy mom is a GPS watch like the Garmin Instinct Solar 2. No matter what your mom likes doing outside, this piece of gear will come in handy.
Q: What should I get the woman who has everything for Mother’s Day?
Get the woman who has everything a new hobby. Whether that’s through an archery lesson, guided fishing trip, or one of the beginner kits in this gift guide.
Q: What do you give outdoorsy moms who love mountains?
Outdoorsy moms who love mountains will always appreciate actual mountains over embroidered platitudes on throw pillows or sketches with John Muir quotes hanging on the wall. If you’re looking for something more sentimental than the suggestions provided in this guide, consider either a framed photo or a scrapbook of one of your loved one’s adventures.
Q: What do you give outdoorsy moms who need a break?
Sometimes planning a trip can be the biggest obstacle of all for outdoorsy moms who need a break. If the outdoorsy mom in your life could use some recharge time in the great outdoors but isn’t up for planning it, offer to either plan the trip for her or take over another task so that she has time to plan it herself.
Q: What do you give outdoorsy moms in winter?
For some outdoorsy moms, winter is the ultimate playground, while for others, it can be the middle of the long, dark slog toward the summer months. Gifts that help moms enjoy outdoor adventure in the winter months—think down and wool–-is a great strategy.
The above picks are based on my experience in a number of areas. As a mom, I know how hard getting out there can be, and the obstacles, big (time) and small (tots), that get in the way of even the best laid plans. As a staff writer for the gear team at Outdoor Life, I’ve spent hours testing and using these products I’m recommending. And as a lifelong camper and backpacker I have experience with what kinds of gifts can help to round out a gear closet.
At the end of the day, what outdoorsy moms want most of all is in the name: to get outside. Giving her the gift of an outdoor adventure—whether with the family or solo time—is the perfect complement to any of the above suggestions. Whether you choose a simple pair of socks or the latest in GPS mapping technology, showing an outdoorsy mom that you appreciate that side of her is the best gift of all.