Trails + Tales

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Tag: Outdoors

Practical Gift Ideas for the Outdoorsy Person in Your Life

Christmas may be over, but there are still plenty of opportunities to gift your loved ones something special. Whether you’re shopping for Valentine’s Day, or an upcoming anniversary or birthday, finding the perfect gift for the outdoor explorer in your life can be a challenge. With so much gear on the market, it’s easy to get distracted or become paralyzed by all of the choices.

Don’t panic if you have no idea what to get your boyfriend, girlfriend, or best friend who likes to spend their days outside. These eight gift ideas are sure to please even the pickiest hiker, camper, or traveler in your life.

Backpack with Hydration Pack

This pack from Osprey is perfect for someone who loves spending time outdoors. Whether they’re prepping for a long day hike, spending the day as a tourist in a new city, or braving the summer heat during music festival season, this will be their go-to accessory.

The great thing about this particular model is that it’s unisex, so my boyfriend and I both feel comfortable wearing it. When I saw it in person, I was surprised by how much space there is for gear. In addition to the 2.5-liter fluid reservoir, there’s room for everything your adventure-loving friend needs to have a fun-filled day out on the trail.

Waterproof Speaker

A Bluetooth speaker is a gift that’s sure to get a lot of use year-round. I use my Mini H2O speaker all the time in the shower, hanging out with friends, and on my many outdoor adventures. I especially like how small this speaker is, and that it still gets pretty loud for its size.

Subscription Box

Monthly subscription boxes have seemingly exploded over the past few years, and I for one, am here for it. So far, I’ve gotten my beauty fix via Birchbox, my snack fix from Love With Food, and now, my outdoor gadget fix is satisfied thanks to Cairn.

Each month, Cairn promises to send a box filled with 3-6 products curated for people who love the outdoors. What I love about this gift is that it keeps on giving. Each month, I get to discover new products, add to my collection of gear and feel inspired to get outside and put my gifts to good use.

Hiking Boots

A great pair of hiking boots can make your time out on the trail that much more enjoyable. This Christmas, I was fortunate enough to receive these beautiful and functional hiking boots made by Kodiak. What I love about these boots is that they’re functional AND stylish. You’d be just as likely to catch me wearing them out and about in the city as you would in the wild.

I originally wanted these boots in black. But since they were out of that color at the time, my mom ordered them in olive instead, which I ended up liking even more! Ordering boots for someone else is tough, so it’s always a good idea to ask for a gift receipt. Great hiking boots are a staple they’ll use for years to come, so you want to make sure they absolutely love them.

Portable Charger

A powerful portable charger is a great gift for someone who loves to camp. This will help them keep their phone charged in case of an emergency, and enable them to charge other electronics at their campsite such as a portable speaker. My boyfriend recently got me this portable power bank, and I’ve been using it constantly ever since.

Solar Lamp

While we’re on the topic of camping gear, I want to mention another cool gift idea that the outdoorsman or woman in your life may not have yet. A solar lamp is a convenient tool they can keep in their pack for camping, hiking, biking, and more. I especially love this one my boyfriend got me because it’s inflatable, collapsible, and super bright. I can’t wait to use it all summer long and never have to worry about bringing batteries again.


Who doesn’t love a great pair of socks? I was super excited to receive a pair of Darn Tough hiking socks in my stocking this year, and I’m sure your outdoorsy family member, friend, or significant other would appreciate a pair too.

These socks are perfect for long days on the trail. They’re specially cushioned and made of merino wool that wicks away moisture and enhances comfort and durability or outdoor activities. With socks like these, your adventurous pal will never find themselves with another painful blister again.

Outdoors Membership

If you’re shopping for a couple that loves to get outside, a membership to a local outdoors club is a special gift they can use together. My boyfriend’s mom got us both memberships to the Appalachian Mountain Club for Christmas, which gives us access to a wide range of local activities and workshops. It also means we’ll get to join a vibrant social and volunteer community of people in our area who love to get outside as often as we do. This was a thoughtful gift we’ll both get to enjoy all year long.

These are just a few of my favorite things I’ve received as gifts in recent months. What’s your favorite outdoorsy gift you’ve ever given or received? I’m always on the lookout for new gear to try or to give.

What’s on My Essential Summer Camping Checklist

With Memorial Day Weekend behind us and the warm summer months stretched out before us, thoughts of crackling campfires and long nights spent under the stars have started to take over as I plan out my weekends. But before I decide to hit the road and pitch a tent in the great outdoors, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s always best to make a list and check it more than twice before leaving the comforts of home behind. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to get stuck without enough blankets, forget utensils to eat dinner with, or worse, run out of wine midway through the trip.

Although your own list may look different depending on your specific needs and preferences, this is the checklist I’ve created to help myself plan and pack for short camping trips in the summer with friends. Feel free to download the checklist, save it to your phone, or even print out a copy for your next summer camping extravaganza.


I hope this list saves you time and comes in handy for you like it has for me in the past! Is there anything I forgot to add? I’d love to hear what essentials you bring on your own warm weather camping trips.

5 Reasons Kauai Belongs at the Top Your Travel Bucket List

Nicknamed “the Garden Isle” due to the tropical rainforest covering much of its surface, Kauai is the perfect outdoor oasis for those who like a dash of adventure mixed in with their beach days. Last summer, my family chose Kauai for our vacation out of the six Hawaiian islands precisely for its lush landscape, laid back atmosphere, and endless exploration opportunities. We were anything but disappointed.

The stunning coastlines, secluded beaches, and small-town friendly atmosphere are just a few of the things that made Kauai stand out in my eyes amongst even the most beautiful islands. And although it’s nearly impossible to capture the magic of Kauai in words (or even pictures), I’ve done my best to describe what made this place so special to me in the short time I was lucky enough to be there. Read on to learn more about what makes Kauai so unique, and why you should book the next flight out to see for yourself!

The Na Pali Coast

Without a doubt, the highlight of our trip to Kauai was seeing the famed Na Pali coast. The vibrant colors, hidden caves, and spectacular cliffs make this coastline almost too beautiful to believe. Whether you hike there, fly over it, or see it from the water – the most important thing is that you get there.

My family chose to see it first from the sky, booking a helicopter ride one of our first days on the island. Although we were a mixture of excitement and nerves going into it, we quickly relaxed once we were up in the air taking it all in. Flying over the Na Pali Coast is like something out of a movie. In fact, we flew over many locations used in the filming of the Jurassic Park movies. To get the most complete views of the sweeping coastline, I’d highly recommend going the helicopter route.

Once we’d seen it from up above, we were itching to get up close and the coast from a different perspective. Going off of a recommendation from a friend, we decided to book a small boat tour with Na Pali Experience. I can’t say enough good things about this company. From the moment we got there, our tour guide Nate (who also happens to be the owner), was completely dedicated to showing us a great time out on the water. Not only did he know a ton about the island from being born and raised there, he was also a skilled captain and a ton of fun to be around.

We spent our day out on the boat taking in the views, motoring in and out of caves, and snorkeling alongside the coastline. At one point, were even surrounded by a pod of dolphins in the water. There’s no other way to describe it other than magic. If you don’t book a small boat tour for the views, at least do it for the pineapple. I’m almost positive it was the freshest I’ll ever have.

The Beaches

Anyone who knows me knows I love going to the beach. What’s not to love about long days filled with salt water, warm sun, and sandy toes. So it was no surprise that I fell in love with Kauai’s stunning beaches. What did surprise me was just how many beaches there were, and how secluded they seemed.

A world away from the crowded beaches of the Jersey shore, Kauai’s beaches had a sort of undiscovered charm to them. At one small beach, we were practically the only ones there. And although there is a beach seemingly anywhere you turn in Kauai (it is an island, after all), we especially liked these three, which we visited during our weeklong stay:

Tunnels Beach – Gorgeous beach with plenty of room to spread out, relax, and enjoy some coconut milk from the vendor on the street. This beach is a little tricky to find, but once you do, you won’t want to leave. Great spot for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing.

Poipu Beach Park – This was probably my favorite beach we went to during our stay in Kauai. I loved the size of it, and how calm the water was due to the natural rock barrier. We came here later in the afternoon and spent the evening watching the sun set over the water and making friends with the monk seal relaxing in the sand.

Anini Beach – Anini beach was on a whole other level of chill. There was hardly anyone surrounding us, and the beach felt like it went on forever in either direction. Great spot for long walks and photo ops.

The Hiking

It’s no secret that the Garden Isle is home to some of the best hiking trails in the entire state of Hawaii. Ranging from 3,000 ft ridge and cliff trails to treks along the gorgeous Na Pali coastline, there were simple too many trails for us to explore in just seven days. Instead, we chose to take advantage of two vastly different day hikes: one scenic hike to a beach on the Na Pali coast, and one to a hidden waterfall.

Kalalau Trail – All total, the Kalalau Trail is a 22-mile roundtrip hike that requires a permit to complete. However, the first two miles of the hike do not require a permit and make for an incredible day hike to Hanakapi’ai Beach for you, your family, and friends. Be forewarned, the trail does get steep, muddy, and slippery at times. However, the views along the way of the coastline more than make up for it.

Secret Falls (Wailua River State Park) – I will say that the name of this one is misleading, as it seemed to be one of the more popular destinations for tourists while we were in Kauai. Because the trailhead is only accessible by water, we decided to do a guided tour that included kayaking and then hiking to the waterfall. Beware that the trail to the waterfall is extremely slippery and muddy. We had quite a few people in our group (including my younger sister) get hurt along the way. However, the waterfall itself did not disappoint and was especially refreshing after sliding around in the mud all day.

The Sunsets

Everyone knows that Hawaii has some of the best sunsets. However, it’s impossible to imagine how beautiful they really are until you’re on the beach enjoying one for yourself. Every night we felt like we were living in a post card. Two of the best sunsets we caught were at Poipu Beach Park, and the Beach House Restaurant, which also happened to have delicious food.

The People

No description of Kauai would be complete without mentioning the people who live there. The locals breathe life into the island, and their energy was contagious throughout our visit. Whether it was our tour guide Nate, who has lived on the island his whole life and made it his mission to share it with others, or the locals working in gift shops, restaurants, and grocery stores – everyone we came into contact with was warm, welcoming, and friendly towards us throughout our stay.

Are you convinced yet that Kauai should be your next exotic getaway? If not, which Hawaiian island would you most like to visit? I’d like to see them all someday, but I know Kauai will always hold a special place in my heart.

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