Uproxx Life Editorial Director Steve Bramucci runs down the best last-minute gifts for travelers and adventurers.
This year’s Uproxx Gift Guides are brought to you by Sirius XM. Check out their site to find all the holiday music and content you need to get into the giving spirit.
Your chance to order a gift online is winding down. Many sites have their “drop dead” order day listed as today, the 15th. Others extend as far as the 19th with certain Amazon items available as late as the 22nd. But the fact remains: your time is ticking. Time to pick something special for those special someones.
Assuming that’s your aim — you clicked on a gift guide, after all — Uproxx has you laced up. Check out our run of 2023 guides below:
- The Uproxx Gift Guide for the Home
- The Uproxx Fitness Gift Guide
- The Uproxx Kitchen Gift Guide
- The Uproxx Gift Guide for Vinyl Lovers
- The Uproxx Drinks Gift Guide
- The Uproxx Guift Guide for Sneakerheads
- The Uproxx Streetwear Gift Guide
And we’re. not. done. yet!
Today, with your ordering windows waning, we’re running down a list of the best travel and adventure gifts we tested this year. Everything included here has proven up to snuff by our skilled team. We vouch for it and promise that giving one of these gifts will make a big impact on your favorite thru-hikers, vagabonds, adventurers, and explorers.
Oh, this bike! What a gift this would be!
I bought mine for myself and I still think of it as a gift. It’s the perfect commuter vehicle and great for urban adventurers, with a belt-drive transmission that rides so much differently than other e-bikes I’ve tested. In many ways, it’s more like a belt-driven exercise bike — with each pedal push creating propulsion and no crunching gears.
I rode this bike to 20 different venues around the state of Oregon for my recent book tour and do you know how many problems I had?
Zero. Not one hitch. Even though I am not the best planner on earth and an “e-bike book tour in Oregon in October” mostly means “getting rained on while riding for 20 days straight.”
Everything about the bike is smooth — from how you shift to how you break to the propulsion itself. Even when you’re tearing along at 20mph without breaking a sweat, it feels like it’s all you because the transmission is so cleanly synced.
I love e-bikes, generally speaking. I own three. But if I was recommending one as a day-in and day-out rider that feels like traditional bike riding but doesn’t require that level of effort and charges rapidly while holding enough charge to traverse large cities… I would highlight this bike every time. It’s awesome, I promise. Let it transport you to cool hiking spots and nearby beaches and beyond!
BUY IT FOR:
The person who fancies themselves as a biker but is just a tad too lazy to ride a push pedal on their wide-ranging urban explorations. They will freaking flip over this bike. Use the discount code HOLIDAY15 for 15% off and delivery before Christmas!
Igloo Legacy 54 Qt Cooler
The cooler industry seems bifurcated these days. Either your cooler is built like Fort Knox with giant clamps so that your ice won’t melt for seventeen months or it’s a hipster throwback that incorporates modern insulation improvements. I typically opt for the latter. But that’s mostly because I like the look of the vintage-feeling coolers and don’t love lugging giant fishing coolers around just for a weekend in the woods.
This is the cooler I use and, yes, I use it in part because it looks dope. But also, it’s a great cooler. It locks, it has a bottle opener, and it’s well insulated. The handles never pinch your hands. Sure, opting for metal is a tad heavier than 80s-era plastic coolers, but as Butch Cassidy once said, “That’s a small price to pay for beauty.”
The truth is that storytelling is a part of adventuring and always has been. It’s fun to have a cool-looking cooler and, if we’re being honest, a great vibe is probably more important to most of us than “what can keep things cold the longest.” Though again, this cooler does that too!
BUY IT FOR:
The adventurer who balances style with functionality.
Roark Layover 2.0 Pants
If money permitted, I would buy ten pairs of these. I love them. They’re my dream travel pants because they feature:
- Zippered pockets.
- Fleece lining at the shins (not at the thighs where it causes friction and leaves you sweaty).
- The ability to look buttoned up and casual in a way that few pants can pull off.
One more thing worth mentioning: These are sturdy. I wore them a whole lot on the bike-based book tour mentioned above and I didn’t develop so much as a loose seam. If I were going on a 12-month world trip right now, these are the pants I’d buy.
BUY THEM FOR:
The vagabond who loves the intersection of form and function in their fashion.
Aviator Nation Teddy Apres Half Zip Jacket
I bought this for my lady and then asked her to review it. She texted the following:
That pretty much sums it up. It’s funny how few jackets are cozy these days. I swear that all the brands got Gore-Tex mania and forgot that most adventurers would prefer a jacket that is cozy to one that has 17 different zippers and four strips of reflective fabric sewn in.
I haven’t worn this but I did buy and (horribly) wrap it so I saw the metal zippers and other marks of quality. Plus, I like that Aviator Nation has a subtle logo instead of something obtrusive. And that this sinches at that waist instead of falling loose.
BUY IT FOR:
The adventurer who appreciates the joys of being comfy before, during, and after a big outing.
Helm Calistoga Sienna Boots
The reason I love these boots is because of how balanced they are. They’re proper work boots — tough enough to travel around the world in while working odd jobs. But with a few dabs of water and a little rubdown with a washcloth, you can have them looking hotel lobby or restaurant ready.
Apparently, they were created for the “vineyard or the tasting room” and that tracks. Having worn my pair a fair few times, I will tell you that they look even better after some wear, that they’re more comfortable than traditional workboots, and (let’s be honest about our vanity here) they make me stand a full inch taller.
The perfect all-rounder for hiking, tramping, and going out.
BUY THEM FOR:
The person who wants one boot for hiking, working, walking, and looking presentable in public.
Beats Studio Pro
You know Beats Studio Pro. They’re the most ubiquitous over-ear headphones on the market. But I don’t see them reviewed often so let’s talk about where they excel:
- These have the best battery life of any headphones in their price range (any that I’ve tested up to $500).
- The noise cancelling is superb.
- The ear cushions are comfortable for long-term use.
- The look is sleek and stylish.
- They fold exceedingly easily.
Never a brand to sit on its laurels, Beats has improved the distortion and created a spacial audio feature that tracks with the movement of your head. The result? This is the best Beats has ever been and the head of the class at this price point!
BUY THEM FOR:
The long-term vagabond who can appreciate the truly impressive battery life.
Shwood Francis Acetate
First and foremost, I like these glasses because… they look so cool. Style comes first in sunglasses. Period.
You have to have one pair of acetate glasses in your repertoire and while Ray Ban’s are most people’s go-to, I like these better. The wood inlays class them up but they fit the face well and won’t be constantly sliding off your nose. The hinge is ultra-sturdy which is, in truth, the first thing I look for in sunglasses after style.
Not for nothing, but I love the case for these. It’s made out of recycled cardboard but it’s so stiff and sturdy that when you find the case buried in the bottom of your bag you don’t cringe thinking that maybe your glasses are ruined. The fact that I’m from Portland and all the Shwood pairs are named for spots in Oregon is just a happy accident. I would have loved these regardless.
BUY THEM FOR:
The traveler who needs glasses that are sturdy and stylish in equal measure.
Writer Pick: Thule Roof Box Thule Motion XT L
If you park in any National Park parking lot, you’ll be lost in a sea of Subaru Outbacks with this exact Thule roof box rigged on top. Why? Because Thule is the Kleenex of roof boxes. At least out in the Pacific Northwest, we don’t even call them roof boxes. We call them Thules.
So what makes a Thule worth having? If you’ve ever been the friend who forgot to call shotgun and got stuck in the backseat with a leaking grocery bag in your lap and a rogue tent pole poking you in the side, you know the stakes of an overly packed car. A roof box is a road trip no-brainer. Because road-tripping and car camping aren’t about roughing it with freeze-dried meals and no pillow. It’s about finding epic places to do epic things with all the toys and comforts to heighten the experience.
And if you’re going to spend hours in a car to find the magic, you might as well be comfortable.
This Thule is generally easy to use, though, like any roof box, you’ll be awkwardly balancing on the backseats to reach everything inside of it. Most importantly, it fits a ton of stuff. 16 cubic feet in volume. That means all your ski gear in the winter. Your camping gear in the summer. All your stuff as you move from apartment to apartment throughout your life. The only downfall is how hard roof boxes are to store, but for the year-round adventurer, it’ll live on top of your car anyway.
— Julianne Sato
BUY IT FOR:
The adventurous sort who loves a good road trip, gear-heavy adventure sports, or a car camping weekend.
Writer Pick: Away Suitcases
If you’ve ever found yourself wrestling with a clunky suitcase while trying to catch a flight or struggling to fit all your essentials into a bag that seems to defy the laws of spatial logic, it might be time to upgrade your travel gear. If so, we have a clear winner: Away Suitcases. We know that Away suitcases have been the luggage darling of the Internet, but I was unconvinced they were worth the hype until I tried them for myself.
Reader, they’re worth the hype.
I travel often, dragging heavy, cloth suitcases my family has had since the 90s all over the world, twisting my wrists and busting open zippers at the most inopportune moments. But I never saw the point of spending money on a nice suitcase. As long as it kept all the contents inside the bag, who needed anything fancier?
But it’s not about a fancy-looking suitcase. Sure, Away suitcases do look stylish, striking the perfect blend of minimal and modern with the beautiful spectrum of trendy colors. But for me, it’s about a suitcase that makes the chaos of travel more convenient.
I especially loved the Bigger Carry On suitcase. The interior design of this suitcase is filled with thoughtful compartments and a compression system to maximize space, so you can get away with not paying for that checked bag when you fly on budget airlines. The hard shells are durable and water-resistant. They’re also extremely lightweight, which we all know matters when you’re getting charged $50 for a bag that’s two pounds overweight.
The best part is how well they move. Away suitcases have 350-degree spinner wheels that make maneuvering through tight spaces or sprinting to catch that connecting flight ever so slightly less stressful. You can pull them like a normal wheeling suitcase, but you can also gently push them and they’ll glide along next to you. If you’re chronically late to the airport, these suitcases are your best bet against missing your flight. — Julianne Sato
BUY IT FOR:
Anyone who travels enough for convenience to matter, Away Suitcases will make your travel life easier.