A graduation gift guide for grads who love the outdoors: From practical tools to personalized accessories

We’ve compiled a gift guide for grads who can’t wait to get off campus and lose themselves (figuratively) in the great outdoors.

Best for campers

Graduation gift guide with the best camping hammock

Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock

Best for hikers

Two pair of socks in a grey color with written letters under them.

Smartwool Hiking Crew Socks

Best solar generator

Best Solar Generators

Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300

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It feels safe to assume that—after spending the better part of many years cooped up inside classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, and/or dorm rooms—any grad is ready for a change of scenery, especially grads who love the actual outdoors. Once all their schoolwork is done, grades have been entered, and degrees are in hand, these grads will surely feel it’s time some exploits braving the elements, and you can help by giving graduation gifts for outdoor lovers that travel well. Wherever their love for the outdoors takes them, we have you covered with the best graduation gift guide for well-accessorized adventurers.

Best for campers: Wise Owl Outfitters Hammock  

Relax Anytime Anywhere

If your favorite grad is equipped with just about everything they need to make it through a backcountry trip, get them camping gifts to introduce even more relaxation and fun to their next outdoor escape. A camping hammock is a perfect way to sit back, take a nap, read a book, or drink a calming beverage outdoors. This is the best hammock from Wise Owl and weighs under 2 pounds, including the hanging straps, so it’s perfect for campers who prioritize portability. When packed down, it’s about the size of a grapefruit, so your grad should be able to easily carry it with them or keep it stashed away in their car. Each hammock comes with tree straps and carabiners for easy setup, with no need for any additional equipment. It comes in over 10 colors so that you can choose their favorite. It’s 9 feet long and 4.5 feet wide, with a 400-pound weight limit, which should be suitable for just about any user. You can even grab a two-person hammock (weighing only 5 ounces more) if they tend to go camping with a partner or friend.

Best for grad parties in the backyard or backcountry: Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3

Tiny But Mighty

No graduation gift guide would be complete without some great speakers. If your recent grad is always on the go—heading out for day hikes, camping trips, beach hangouts, long bike rides, and more—you can’t go wrong gifting them a portable Bluetooth speaker. No matter where they are or what they are doing, a smartphone and a compact speaker will provide the perfect soundtrack for any outdoor activity. The Ultimate Ears WONDERBOOM 3 is an excellent option, weighing under 1 pound and equipped with a flexible handle that can easily attach to a backpack, bike basket, or belt loop. It’s only 4 inches tall, but the small, compact design doesn’t mean you sacrifice anything when it comes to sound. The portable speaker can reach up to 87 decibels (equivalent to standing next to a loud blender or vacuum) and produces full 360-degree sound coverage. This powerful Bluetooth speaker can also withstand the elements and is one of our favorite waterproof speakers for a good reason; it has an IP67 rating, which means it can survive being dropped into a body of water up to a meter deep for half an hour, plus it’s dirt/dust-resistant. In addition, the battery lasts a full 13 hours, so your grad can jam outside all day long. And, if they want to be a party-goer and a party-thrower, you can up the energy with a portable party speaker.

Best for hikers: Smartwool Hiking Crew Socks  

Soft And Strong

A hiker is only as good as their socks are strong, so give a grad who loves to ramble amongst the rocks a pair that will last. While socks may seem like a simple gift, a quality pair or two is one of those hiking gifts that can go a long way. You’ll be taking care of an essential need any avid hiker has and investing in their overall outdoor experiences. Take it from us: nothing ruins a hike faster than angry blisters and constant friction. Smartwool hiking socks come in various colors and sizes, both men’s and women’s. From a tried and true brand, these socks are designed for rugged day hikes and moderate backpacking. An elasticized arch brace provides extra support, medium cushioning absorbs impact, and a flat-toe seam keeps things comfortable. Made from Merino wool and nylon, these socks will keep their feet warm even during cold winter hikes. If your loved one likes to embark on a variety of adventures, you can check out Smartwool’s other socks specifically designed for activities like running, cycling, skiing, and more. There’s a reason we listed them as our favorite wool socks.

Best for interval training to interviews: Garmin epix Pro and Garmin fēnix 7 Pro

Whether your grad is thinking more about the backcountry or the boardroom, they could use a smartwatch that helps them get where they need to be when they need to be there. And when it comes to multi-band GPS smartwatches, Garmin makes the best adventure accessories out there. Endurance athletes to purposeful wanderers can benefit from the rugged, sensor-embedded case, metrics-rich displays, and accurate navigation resources found in Garmin’s newest Pro editions of the company’s multisport timepieces—available in multiple sizes and colors with different types of scratch-resistant/solar-charging glass.

Best for your grad’s new apartment: Fuzzy Ink Wilderness Print

Creative And Inspiring

The perfect grad gifts for outdoor lovers aren’t always the ones they’ll bring on their adventures—they can be ones they’ll appreciate before and after an excursion. A woodsy print or poster is a great present for a graduate who needs a little help decorating their new apartment. At this point, they might have all the gear they need, but what they probably don’t have are elegant pieces that express their personality but also provide a sense of maturity for an adult abode. This print from Fuzzy Ink is an artistic way for your grad to stay inspired. It measures 18 inches by 24 inches and is printed on coated paper with a matte finish, so they won’t have any trouble finding a great spot to display it. This print quietly depicts the beauty and awe that many outdoor enthusiasts find so mesmerizing about being in nature. From the crackling campfire to the expansive display of fir trees, this piece will surely bring joy to a grad who longs to roam around the forest.

Best for outdoor athletes: CamelBak Octane Dart Hydration Pack

Keep Them Hydrated

Any outdoor lover knows how important it is to stay hydrated. Whether hiking, cycling, or running, drinking water is key to preventing heat stroke, dehydration, fatigue, and other issues. Of course, a water bottle is the first thing we think of when it comes to H2O on the go; however, bottles can be bulky and cumbersome. So, if you want to get your grad a great outdoor gift that prioritizes function and efficiency, we recommend a CamelBak Hydration Pack. This multisport hydration backpack can hold 50 ounces of water and easily straps to your back with a long drinking tube and trap management to make hydrating hands-free. All they need to do is bite down and suck to get as much water as necessary—no need to stop during a long run or bike ride to grab a water bottle. The 3D vent mesh provides lightweight comfort and airflow, while front harness pockets can hold snacks, sunscreen, and other essentials. Reflectivity strips are added for extra safety during early morning or nighttime exercise. Your grad will be able to get a run in anytime, anywhere, and stay hydrated all the while. If you’re looking for more options, consider our list of the best hydration packs.

Best personalized gift: Engraved Compass

A Sentimental Gift for Explorers

A personalized gift is always a good idea, especially when you’re celebrating a significant achievement. Giving a gift designed specifically for them—something special that only they will have—will let your grad know how much you care for and support them. If you want to give a personalized gift suited for the outdoors, check out these engraved compasses. You can choose from existing mountainscapes or upload your own favorite photos and illustrations to be perfectly recreated on the compass’s cover. Practically any part of the compass can include etching, so you won’t have to choose between a picture or a message. You can even ask for your own handwriting to be impressed on the metal so your graduate can take a piece of you with them no matter where they travel.

A useful graduation gift for the outdoors: Victorinox Swiss Army One-Hand Trekker Knife

Classic And Cool

Outdoor enthusiasts know that it’s essential to prioritize gear that is lightweight, portable, and multipurpose. You will rarely find a seasoned camper lugging around a toolbox, though the need for various utensils and instruments is frequent. From quick repairs to food preparation, a survival tool or multipurpose knife is a helpful gift for anyone who spends a lot of time outside (they can also be pretty practical for indoor use). A Swiss Army knife is practical, classic, and cool. A household name when it comes to compact knives, the Trekker lives up to the hype. Its attached tools include a wood saw, large blade, 3-millimeter and 5-millimeter screwdrivers, wire stripper, can opener, tweezers, toothpick, and more. It’s one of those camping gifts that offer pretty much everything you need to make it through the trek without any issues. A knife like this is a thoughtful graduation gift that they are guaranteed to use for years to come.

Best thoughtful: Paddywax Candles Parks Collection

Subtle Scents For Serenity

A candle is a fantastic gift for any graduate, signifying new beginnings and ordaining their adult apartment, or childhood bedroom, with sophisticated, balanced scents to keep them calm as they figure out their next steps. We’re a fan of scented gifts in general. But if your recent grad pines for the outdoors but doesn’t have time to travel just yet, a candle that brings nature to them is even more highly recommended. Paddywax has created a National Park Service-inspired collection that features the complex aromas of our country’s natural wonders. “Yellowstone” has hints of sagebrush and fir, the “Great Smoky Mountains” features Maplewood and moss, “Acadia” has seagrass and driftwood, while the “Grand Canyon” smells like cactus flowers and fern. Each candle is 11 ounces and has a burn time between 50 and 60 hours. When they’ve used up every drop of wax the candle has to offer, grads can upcycle the jars and repurpose them as plant pots, beauty tool holders, catch-alls, and more. Best of all, Paddywax donates a minimum of $25,000 per year to the National Parks Foundation, so your gift will not only go to your graduate but support the beautiful natural landmarks they love so much.

Best for day trips: YETI Packable Lunch Bag

Practical Use Practically Anywhere

There is only one thing better than a day outdoors, and that is a day outdoors with snacks. Whether they plan on packing a lunch for a mountaintop picnic or bringing a few celebratory drinks to a grad party on the beach, beverages, and munchies are a must-have for your graduate’s next outside hang. A cooler is the best way to keep their tasty treats fresh all day long, so they never have to worry about their food heating up in the sun while they hike or swim. This YETI lunch bag is the perfect gift for grads to take food outside or pack a tasty lunch for their new job. Available in two sizes, a standard box or larger bag, and a variety of colorways, this pack uses Coldcell Flex insulation” technology and a “thermosnap” closure to keep food at the correct temperature, hot or cold. The adjustable grid means you can set the size by simply closing the top hook into any one of the available hoops. That way, the lunch bag can easily fit under a desk or be stuffed with snacks and drinks using all of its available 15.75 inches. This bag will pair well with just about any outdoor excursion, so your grad will be able to pack all the necessities and then some.

Best wearable: Outdoor Life Tee

Comfortable And Cozy

If you want to get sweet, versatile graduation gifts guaranteed to make them smile, go with cute graphic tees like this one from Outdoor Life. Available in both men’s and women’s sizes, the “Go Play Outside” slogan is a fun way for you to tell everyone you see where your priorities lie. Made from 100-percent cotton and available in five colorways, this T-shirt will complement any hunter, angler, hiker, camper, surfer, sailor—just about any outdoor enthusiast you could think of. The soft material makes these tees particularly great for lounging around a campfire, though we recommend sizing up for maximum coziness—your grad will thank you.

Best for dirty hiking clothes: STNKY Bag Pro Wash Bag

STNKY Bag Pro Wash Bag

STNKY’s Bag Pro Wash Bag is the simple gift our adventurous grad didn’t know they needed. The zip-up laundry bag can hold all of their dirty clothes during multi-day camping and hiking trips to prevent unwanted odors and bacteria from getting onto their clean ones. When it’s time to wash their clothes, the STNKY bag can be unzipped and turned inside out, at which point the clothes will fall into the washing machine without being touched. The bag itself is also machine washable, which is a nice bonus. Anyone who struggles to stay organized and sanitary during their next outdoor trip will love this gift.

Best portable firepit: Colsen Tabletop Portable Fire Pit

Colsen Tabletop Portable Fire Pit

Sometimes setting up a big outdoor fire pit isn’t feasible or reasonable, but that doesn’t mean giving up s’mores for the night. Colsen’s Tabletop Portable Fire Pit runs on the company’s odorless liquid fuel, can be set up and ignited within a few minutes, and produces flame up to one foot tall for roughly 45 minutes. This is the ideal gift for someone who’s into glamping or wants a fire pit they can use indoors and out at any point during the year. The fact that you don’t need firewood to ignite it is particularly important because rainy weather can make dry fuel hard to find. And if you happen to have a grad living somewhere with a sizeable backyard/patio, you can give them a tasteful taste of the campfire life at home with a Solo Stove Bonfire firepit.

Best firestarter: Pull Start Firestarter

Pull Start Fire

On the other hand, if you’re shopping for someone who spends days upon days out in the woods, they’re going to need Pull Start Firestarter. The fire starter is literally ignited by pulling a string built into its small box. Smoke will begin to billow from the box, indicating that the fire starter will be fully ignited within three seconds. It lasts up to 30 minutes once fully ignited. Beyond the convenience of not having to strike a match, keeping a pack of these around can be helpful during an emergency. It’s very difficult to light wet wood with a match, but prolonged exposure to a fire starter can do the trick. Whether they’re trying to save time or their own life, your grad will appreciate having a three-pack of Pull Start Firestarter in their pack.

Best hard cooler: RTIC Ultra-Light 55 Quart Hard Cooler

RTIC Ultra-Light 55 Quart Hard Cooler

No campsite or boat is complete without a cooler that can reliably keep foods and beverages cold for hours—or days—at a time. If you’re shopping for a grad who’s planning a big summer trip, there’s a good chance Ultra-Light 55 Quart Hard Cooler is the perfect gift. The high-capacity cooler has three inches of insulation to maintain a consistent temperature inside, but it was engineered to be nearly a third lighter than the competition. This means it’ll be easier to carry when filled with ice, food, and dozens of cans. A cooler is one of the few gifts that may actually last your grad a lifetime, so it’s important to make the right choice. If you know they tend to pack extra light, RTIC also offers a 32-Quart model of this same cooler. Want more options? Check out more of the best coolers for camping.

Best for post-trail drinks: Hydro Flask 25 oz Ceramic Reusable Wine Bottle

Enjoying a bottle of wine on a mountain sounds like a dream—but wine bottles and hiking don’t exactly mix. Give your grad the gift of sneaky boozing with this ceramic reusable wine bottle from Hydro Flask, which fits one 750 mL bottle of wine. It’s dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning and BPA-free for peace of mind. TempShield double-wall vacuum insulation keeps whites chilled and reds at room temp, and a ceramic-lined interior prevents flavor transfer. Although it’s advertised for wine, we think it’s also perfect for any spirit: Our favorite nature-inspired aqua vitae is Tin Cup Whiskey, cut with water from the Rocky Mountains and named after the tin cups miners used to drink. Need a more traditionally shaped option? Check out our favorite insulated water bottles.

Best unbreakable glasses: Silipint Silicone Pint Glasses

We’ve included the Silipint in our best camping gifts guide, but we think it makes a great gift especially for someone who may be too transient for real drinkware. These shatterproof “glasses” are made of 100% food-grade silicone, meaning you don’t have to deal with dangerous broken glass. Plus, they’re a fun, bright way to reduce the amount of plastic your grad may use between graduation and their very first job.

Best for ski lodge lounging: Chaco Ramble Puff Ankle Boot

Chaco is known for its rugged and arch-supporting sandals, but we think their covered shoe offerings deserve some praise. The Ramble Puff Ankle Boot feels like a down parka for your feet, and they’re perfect for throwing on after a day of skiing or hiking. And, water-resistant rip-stop nylon means they’re not just indoor shoes—they can hold up in the great outdoors. If you’re looking for something that slips on, the Ramble Puff also comes in a clog style just as comfy and dreamy as its boot brethren. Our staff writer lives in both the clog and boot for women—don’t ask her to pick her favorite. Speaking of puffy stuff …

Best for camp comfort: Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho Down

We all know the importance of having appropriate layers for hiking—but what if you want to stay warm without having to wear the same jacket you’ve worn all day. The Honcho Poncho from Therm-a-Rest (also makers of excellent sleeping pads) combines the lightweight, warm properties of 650-Fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down with a water-resistant 100% recycled polyester shell for a wearable sleeping bag. You can wear it around the campsite or campfire or lay it out in your tent and use it as a blanket. Its front pocket doubles as a stuff sack to make it easy to stow away back into your pack (or to use it as a lite pillow).

Best for camp chefs: Opinel Nomad Camping Kitchen Utensil Kit

These knives are great for a grad who trying to step up their outdoor cooking game. The kit comes with a serrated folding knife, a folding corkscrew knife, a pocket peeler, a beechwood cutting board, and a microfiber cleaning cloth that doubles as a travel pouch. A Virobloc safety ring is attached to all knives/peelers to make it safer to open and transport the kit. Your grad never has to struggle to cut a piece of campfire-cook beef or a hunk of crusty bread again.

Best hiking boot: Vasque Breeze Waterproof Hiking Boot

Your grad deserves a new pair of hiking boots for successfully climbing the mountain that is college. This one from Vasque is comfortable—our assistant managing editor (his ankles and dog shown above) says, “Lightweight, breathable, and comfortable to … boot … the Vasque Breeze immediately impressed me by requiring zero break-in, then continued to impress me with its stability and traction.” This means grads can climb the highly-graded mountain of post-grad life and worry more about their rent than getting blisters. They’re waterproof and made of sustainable, durable materials for years and years of adventures.

Best headlamp: BioLite 800 Pro

Grad gifts are all about shiny new things, and this new headlamp from BioLite should excite your night crawler. It packs 800 powerful, bright Lumens to illuminate any dark trails … or the way to the bathroom at night. Your grad will get 150 hours of power on low; seven hours on high; and 8 hours on reserve. It recharges using a micro USB port, and includes a Constant Mode for full illumination without auto-dimming. Plus, 3D SlimFit tech gives you bounceless, slipless, and near-weightless wear. Being comfortable and able to see where you’re stepping? Sounds like a win.

Best solar generator: Jackery Portable Power Station Explorer 300

Jackery topped our list of the best solar generators, and we love the company’s small-but-mighty portable power station that can be charged by a wall outlet, car outlet, and the sun (!!!). The solar panel isn’t included, but you can get this bundle that solves the lack of solar panel upon purchase. It’s easy to carry at 7.1 pounds and can charge up to six devices while your grad is on outdoor adventures. Your grad may go outdoors to unplug, but you’ll get peace of mind that their phone or other powered essentials won’t die out in the wilderness.

Things to consider when picking gifts for folks who love the outdoors

From lite hiking gifts to entertaining accessories to full-on camping gifts, you can help recent graduates prepare for whatever their next exploration entails. Or, for graduates moving to a new city or starting a new job and unsure they’ll get out much in those early post-grad days, give graduation gifts that remind them of what they love, from naturally scented candles to beautiful nature prints. The key is determining their favorite outdoor activities, skills, comfort level, and existing accouterments, allowing you to match the grad with the gift.

Final thoughts on the best graduation gifts for outdoors enthusiasts

We hope this graduation gift guide for grads who love the outdoors has filled you with ideas and inspiration for the perfect present. Whether you’re celebrating a trekking champion, kayaking aficionado, or dedicated camper, you’ll find grad gifts for outdoor lovers that fit their specific interests. After all, a graduation gift, whether it’s hiking gifts or camping gifts, or apartment decor, is about celebrating their accomplishments and encouraging them to follow their dreams while holding onto their passions. 

PopSci wants to help you find the most useful shopping recommendations for the best gifts regardless of occasion or preoccupation. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out our additional expert gift guides, including Best Gifts for Travelers, Sustainable Gifts, Gifts to Turn Any Kitchen Into a Café, New Gear for those New Year New You Resolutions, and Science Toys for Kids.

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Carsen Joenk Avatar

Carsen Joenk

Contributor, Reviews

Carsen is a sound designer and freelance writer focusing on music and technology. She has been writing for Popular Science since early 2020, contributing product reviews and recommendations, with an emphasis on great sound you can take with you on the go. She lives in Brooklyn amongst a growing vinyl collection, exactly three plants, and a fridge full of popsicles.