Dads are the best, and yours probably put aside his once-burning passion for the outdoors for many years in exchange for changing diapers, attending soccer games, and working extra hours to pay for school. But now that you’re grown, Dad has time to get back to the camping, hiking, or hunting that he loves. The only problem is, his gear probably hasn’t advanced any further than his list of bagged peaks in recent decades.
This Father’s Day is the perfect time to show your dad you care by getting him a new piece of gear to get him back outdoors, effectively proving that he raised you right (a double present, if you will). Check out the following must-haves for a Dad re-emerging from the world of toys and goldfish crackers to the world of boulders and trout.
A New Pack
There’s a good chance your dad’s current pack has an external frame or is made of, I don’t know – a wicker basket, depending on how long he’s been out of the game. Modern backpacking packs have made huge strides even within the last decade and are light, comfy as a dream, and have well-designed pockets, compartments, and straps, enabling him to store and access all his gear effortlessly. Get him something that will feel great on his back (that might ache from giving you so many piggy back rides).
If he’s not a backpacker, but instead a hunter or fisherman, the same applies for these sports’ gear packs. Lighter, more logically-designed packs will enable Dad to store his binoculars or find the perfect fly without needing to unpack everything in the dirt.
New Sleeping Bag and Pad
If your dad thinks backpacks have improved since his day, wait till he sees modern sleeping bags! If his current bag has flannel duck print on the interior and rolls up to the size of the family German Shepherd, he will be awestruck when you give him a comfortable down or synthetic sleeping bag that packs down to the size of a football but keeps him toasty in his hunting blind all night.
Similarly, maybe in his pre-kid days, he was tough enough to forgo a sleeping pad or just used one of the cheapy foam kind that is now disintegrating in the garage. But after getting up to feed you and your infant siblings in the middle of so many nights, he now appreciates a comfortable night’s sleep like never before. A good inflatable sleeping pad is easy to set up and turns camping into an impossibly relaxing night.
New Binoculars (Night vision binoculars)
Whether he uses them to admire birds or to bring those birds home for dinner, good binoculars are a must for outdoor dad use. More than likely your dad’s old pair are “porro prism” – the safari-looking ones shaped like a bowlegged person. But to lighten his load, get him some smaller, easily-packable “roof prism” ones – the kind that are just two parallel tubes and do just as good a job.
If his old pair are fine but you want to give him something extra exciting, why not get him night vision binoculars? It’s a well-known fact that dads love gadgets, whether they actually need them or not. So why not give him the ultimate spy/adventurer accessory that he’ll have a blast with, even if he never stalks a deer with it?
Emergency Survival Gear Kit
Make sure your dad comes home to you safely (while also enjoying more gadgets) by getting him an emergency survival gear kit. You could buy him a compass, pocket knife, mini flashlight, etc. piece by piece, but a kit makes it easy by combining everything your dad needs in one compact, sleek storage box.
Lots of dads will still beat their grown children up the mountain and scoff at the idea of toilet paper when there are leaves aplenty. However, there are also many dads who feel they have nothing to prove after their own youthful hikes and completing the world’s hardest job (parenthood). These dads would welcome any gear that makes existing outside a bit easier, so why not improve their bathroom experience?
Get a lightweight, collapsible shovel for him to use during “personal moments” out among the bushes, or better yet, get a portable, collapsible toilet. Combined with sealable bags, these mobile commodes take up little space and provide all the comforts of home but with a much better view (Sunday newspaper not included).
Only if you’ve been living in a cave in recent years (good alternative when you can’t find your tent!) could you have missed all the hype about cooler innovation. Whereas coolers in your dad’s heyday were mostly symbolic – they kept your beers and steaks cold for about a day – the ones available now can keep food and drinks chilled for over two days. This is a big improvement when you need to be out on the pontoon fishing all weekend and don’t have time to run to town for more ice.
Hiking poles rule. Yes, it’s mostly older people that consistently use them, but that is because their age has made them wise and they’ve figured out how amazing these additions to a hike can be. They essentially provide you two extra legs which takes a ton of pressure off of your joints – great for going both uphill and downhill. Your dad will be amazed at how suddenly easy hiking has gotten again. And get yourself a pair while you’re buying Dad’s – you know you’re going to love them too.
Double Present Time
Your dad is going to love having some new gear to reclaim his perhaps long-forgotten love of the outdoors. And you being the one to give him the push in the right direction will be an added bonus because he’ll be proud of the parenting skills he used to raised such a considerate young person. No matter how you look at it, when it’s you, the coolest dad in the world, and the promise of open-air, this will inevitably be a great Father’s Day.