Every year, Uproxx puts out a big old series of gift guides; and every year, the Travel & Adventure Gift Guide grabs a lot of eyeballs. Maybe it’s got good SEO or social media mojo or whatever, but my personal theory is that people like these sorts of gifts because we all like to imagine ourselves (and our loved ones) as the sorts of people who need these products. Whether we travel often or rarely, across the globe or in the same state, we all love to consider ourselves vagabonds, brigands, and wanderers.
That’s all to the good in my book. I think that a bunch of people who fancy themselves “citizens of the world,” is a net win — even if their only 2022 travels were to a package resort in Key West. If travel is indeed “fatal to prejudice,” as Mark Twain famously wrote, then even just longing to travel is a step in the right direction.
Whew. That got deep pretty quickly. Point being: We love travel, you love travel, and the people you’re buying gifts for love travel too. So we rounded up some gifts that capture that spirit across a variety of price ranges. For apparel, I went with unisex-feeling men’s fits but I gave some options for women, too. And remember to check out our “experiential travel gift guide” for less tangible but equally enticing items!
Roaming — Roark’s Adventure Atlas
Roark is so cool.
I mean, it’s a clothing brand, ultimately, competing with other clothing brands. Fine but not revolutionary. And yet somehow they’ve built a definable “Roark lifestyle ” and this book puts it on full display — with pro surfers and fun-looking miscreants venturing across the globe surfing and skating and just soaking in the warm tones of late afternoon or cold tones of the arctic. In-house photographer and longtime FOU (friend of Uproxx) Dylan Gordon does a sterling job of conjuring mood with his photos and the Roark team brings together a fantastic collection of writers to add context and story to what would otherwise be just a lovely coffee table book.
I’ve owned this volume for three months now and have picked it up at random only to get lost in it multiple times. Best of all — it motivates me to travel in a more raw, close-to-the-bone, rough and rugged way — with a little less tech and a little more intrepid spirit.
The Vagabond’s Way — 366 Meditations On Wanderlust, Discovery, and the Art of Travel
If you were traveling in the late ’90s, you definitely heard the name “Rolf Potts” spoken with sincere reverence in hostels from Ko Sahn road to… well, Ko Phi Phi (80% of the US-UK-AUS backpacking scene seemed centered in Thailand at that time). Potts was the vagabond king and a true digital nomad at a time when the infrastructure for working online was still shaky. Over the years, I’ve had multiple people ask me to send him photos of their tattered copies of his seminal guidebook Vagabonding. His essay “Storming ‘The Beach’” ushered in a new era of young, web-first, propulsive-almost-gonzo travel writing that influenced a generation.
As a world traveler, Potts has slowed down a tad — he bought a farmhouse and got married (in a wonderfully fortuitous story of pandemic love). As a travel writer, whew! My boy hasn’t lost a bit of speed on his fastball (as this Uproxx essay illustrates) and his new book, The Vagabond’s Way, underscores that fact. The book is set up as a series of meditations — travel quotes that Potts reflects on and reacts to. In its sharpest moments, he shares stories from the road, each illustrating the spirit of travel as he sees it.
The result of this formula is a book that’s snackable, weighty, and fun all at once.
The premier travel writer of a generation offering travel inspiration in short bursts and fun anecdotes? Sign. Us. Up.
Roark Shorey Boardshorts 16”
I already waxed philosophic about Roark as a brand, so all I really have to say here is that these shorts fit really nice and come to the exact right spot on the thigh — not so long that I feel like Jalen Rose when he was running with C Webb and not so short that people will be shocked to find out you’re not an Australian rugby player. They’re in the goldilocks zone — perfect for the surf, the sand, and the pool.
Plus they look cool.*
*If you’re looking for swimsuits for women, I can’t recommend OneOne Swimwear highly enough. The fit and fabric is impeccable — I bought some for my lady and she gets lots of compliments!
I spent my hard-earned cash on three pairs of this cut — that’s saying something.
Decked x Pathfinder Campire Cooking Kit
The problem with not having a campfire cooking kit is that you’re left completely and utterly to your own devices. Did you remember the spatula? The kettle? The tongs?
The last time I camped without this set, I burned a hole in a much-beloved sweater while using my sleeve as a potholder. Had I had this, it wouldn’t have happened. But more than just preventing your own idiocy, this is a product that can help you cook better over an open flame. The pots have a smaller footprint but they’re deep — allowing you to crowd multiple items onto a grill or set them directly in the coals.
Best of all, by being “all of a piece,” this kit cuts down on your packing time and the stress of double-checking yourself while also making unpacking less of a drag. All wins in my book.
Making camping easy is a noble quest and the key to more people savoring our wild spaces.
Destination Hitch 2 Bike Rack
Traveling with a bike used to be the absolute worst. Roof racks? A nightmare. Things have gotten steadily better and this rack is the next stage of the evolution — convenience meets affordability. For $200, I’m not seeing a better rack on the market — it’s sturdy and easy to use. Those are the bike rack requirements. Not much more needs to be said. Oh, this rack fits e-bikes! Definitely a nice perk. And it generally feels low maintenance. It also stores easily when you’re not using it.
Truth be told, the deterrent of adventure in this world is hassle. People want to do cool shit but we’re also generally lazy and ridiculously overworked. No one wants to wrestle with a bike on what is, in theory, labeled a vacation. That’s where this super convenient rack nails it.
The best value in bike racks to get your giftee biking on their next road trip!
Ta Planet Haelo Hoodie / Ta Planet Haelo Jacket
Price: $238 / $211
This jacket and its companion piece, a more female-focused hoodie is a rich, warm olive, incredibly lightweight, and highly functional. It’s good for an adventure, a night out, and even a nice dinner. It’s pure streetwear with an action sports vibe. Or maybe vice versa. All I know is that the lines and energy of this piece are a lot cooler and more stylish than North Face or Patagonia. It’s also incredibly warming and packs down into a stow bag.
People have been trying to make ultra-versatile puffers for a long time but it’s a tough prospect. This is the one. I feel comfortable wearing it across social situations. Last week I took it camping and wore it over a suit in a single day — it got compliments in both contexts!
The most fly puffer in the game right now in a color that is both enduring and very much “of the moment” in streetwear.
National Park Annual Pass
Get the Parks Pass. Go to more parks. Go to lots of parks. Be like Uproxx’s Emily Hart (aka @EmilyVentures) and try to see them all!
A Parks Pass is the best gift because it encourages a spirit of adventure and motivates planning in a major way. No one is going to be bummed about that. In fact, if your friends are anything like mine, you’ll hear about how great the gift is over and over throughout the year.
National Parks are “America’s best idea” and maybe its best gift, too!
Randolph — Concorde 23K White Gold Sunglasses
If you love to travel, you need aviators. That’s just a fact. And those aviators should make you feel cool. Like “Miles Teller and his pilot pals playing football on the beach in Top Gun: Maverick” cool; “Don Draper cool”; Brad Pitt or Wiz Khalifa cool. And I just don’t know about any shades cooler than these Randolphs.
They’re icy and blue and made in white-freaking-gold. They hold to your face beautifully and make you feel stylish in workwear or streetwear.
I am not in the “I buy cheap sunglasses because I lose them” camp. I spend on sunglasses because they are… something of a shield. A separation layer between my internal and external worlds. I like to approach social situations with glasses on. It makes me feel comfortable in my skin. Sure, white gold sunnies are an investment, but they’re in the category of a nice haircut or a great pair of shoes — an investment in your own self-confidence.
No sunglasses will make your giftee feel cooler. Period.
Nikon Z 30 Camera
This is a camera made for creators. It shoots in 4K, it’s super mobile, and it is sold in tandem with a “Creator’s Accessory Kit” that includes a remote, mic, and tripod. The controls can all face forward so that you don’t need a dedicated filmer and Nikon’s SnapBridge app makes it insanely easy to transfer footage.
We’ve written before about how mirror-less cameras are the ultimate “plug and play” cams but this camera, by fully leaning into creator culture, really owns that — they’re easy and accommodate streaming, selfies, and on-the-fly content that’s a significant jump from what you can do with your phone.
If you have a serious traveler in your life, the chances are that they’re creating content. And if they are — and they’re trying to make that content look influencer-level — they’re going to need a serious camera that is equally adept and photos and video. This is that camera. Better still, it’s rugged enough for life on the road.
HydroPOD CARRY Portable Shower Kit
This is for your dirtbike friend, your surf friend, and your trail-running friend. It’s a camp shower with nice water pressure that will allow you to feel clean as you transfer from a serious adventure to a night out (or even just a dinner where you don’t want to feel grimy). Oh, the festival-hopping friend will also love this one!
As a surfer, I’ve seen a lot of these at San Onofre State Beach — perfect for transitioning from the waves to a sunset barbecue. The water pressure can be hand-pumped and the 4.8-gallon tank gives you plenty of time to get clean.
If you care about an adventurous type who longs to stay clean between activities or keep sand out of their cars, this is the product for them.
EDITOR’S PICK: Mark Levinson No 5909
Testing these headphones was a revelation.
The sound quality, the construction, the feel, the noise canceling — this is a product made for the road. Every element is form-meets-function, right down to the various adapters to make battery charging a breeze (the 15-minute rapid charge function is so vital for a non-planner like me). But beyond the look and feel and functionality, what is so special about these headphones is the sound. This is the first time I’ve truly felt lost in a soundscape while sitting in coach on a plane. The quality is just so… immersive. You’re able to fully disengage (if that’s how you like to fly) and get lost in the music, a good book, or a podcast.
The first time I put these on, I scrolled straight to my favorite song and heard elements I’d literally never noticed before. We’re talking about my number one track on Spotify for 2022 and these joints made it sound brand new to me! That’s special. It’s the sort of sound that producers and musicians talk about — textured and rich. I fell in love with these very quickly.
$1K is a whole heck of a lot for travel headphones. That’s undeniable. But these aren’t just hype — they’re built right, the battery is a 6-hour beast, and the case keeps the whole package together beautifully. They are, to be frank, the travel and work headphones I have on the very top of my personal list. Now… who wants to grab me a pair?