Gifts Worth Giving: 8 Places to do Your Holiday Shopping

It’s that time of the year folks! Whatever your creed or beliefs, chances are you’re going to have to buy something for someone in the next few weeks. I’m happy to present a few options for gifts that will help support animals, trails, and groups all of which help care for public lands. With anxiety skyrocketing like a Trump Tower to virgin skyline, it’s the least one can do to throw some bones at organizations that do amazing things for our environment.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy


These babies span the spectrum from hiking to going out socks.

For several decades, the ATC has been organizing volunteer maintaining clubs, working to protect and secure a buffer around the trail, and work to make the Appalachian Trail one of the best and most accessible outdoor experiences in the world. The 31 maintaining clubs are filled with volunteers that rush all around the trail like blood through a main vein. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is the heart that helps provide education, staff, funds, and so much more to keep this beautiful beast improving every year. And it turns out they have a stellar online store. Dozens of trail books featuring my 2016 favorite: Hiking Through History: Civil War Sites on the AT. Leanna Joyner did such a good job that you’ll want to thru hike again as a history nerd. Maybe just treat yourself to a 2017 Hiker’s Companion; word on the trail is that there is a new feature that lets you scratch and sniff restaurants in town and privies in Georgia. You want to know what says I love you? Getting someone the best pair of socks in the world; ATC Darn Toughs.

Appalachian Mountain Club

From the huts to the cities, the AMC gets those cranky yankees outside

The AMC is the biggest and one of the oldest maintaining clubs on the trail (it’s actually bigger and older than the ATC). All over the Northeast it provides opportunities to get children of all ages outside. Every day the AMC gives people places to stay in the mountains, puts a large bulk of staff on trails, and works to protect large tracts of woods all over New England. If that wasn’t enough, the AMC store is just a great spot to buy gear. Get a new headlamp that helps maintain the White’s trail system. The AMC has Swiss Army Knives (buy a child a knife, what’s the worst that could happen?), a coaster set that comes together as a topographic map of the Presidential Range, and a bandana with the Periodic Table of White Mountains (going to have to click to figure that one out).

I’m not big on paperweights (I mean if your office is so windy you can’t keep papers on a desk than you’re probably outside and should just use rocks) but if you’re going to get one, get this Faux USGS Katahdin Summit marker. At least this paperweight partners with a great story you can make up.

Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards

Pound for pound, best Non profit in all the land. Cut them a check and they’ll do some saw cuts for you.

While the AMC and ATC are OG trail nonprofits, SAWS is the new kid on the block that’s making waves like a Tsunami. Every year SAWS employs Wilderness rangers, professional trail crews, and more to do the Wilderness work the federal government cannot. From the Blood Mountain to Three Ridges, SAWS has boots on the ground educating and protecting your Wilderness Areas. Don’t have a first aid, leave no trace, or crosscut saw certification? SAWS takes care of that! Every year they start off each season with a FREE skills institute to get certifications and education outdoor stewards need. A donation for SAWS creates jobs, maintains trails, and makes a difference in dozens of Wilderness Areas on the AT and beyond. Your donations make the biggest difference with SAWS, give today and everyone benefits tomorrow!!!

Pacific Crest Trail Associationpct

The PCTA also has a diverse set of hats all around protecting an amazing trail that runs Mexico to Canada. From facilitating partnerships, advocating for public lands, and putting boots on the ground, the PCTA is well worth some of your hard earned scratch. They also have a store with awesome gift options for your loved ones and yourself. They have CoolMax hats so bright they can be seen from space, PCTumblers for the alcoholic on the go, or you can get your Aunt a Mexico to Canada Tee Shirt since she thought that Wild movie was pretty good despite the needle drugs and nips. Don’t want to give someone a t-shirt fearing sizing failure? Looking for stuff that smells like the PCT (now you are)? Look no further!!! Check out this sizable collection from Juniper Ridge Trail of soaps, sprays, and colognes modeled around smells you’ll find on the PCT (minus hiker funk). Looking for a new scent to cover up your morning biz in the bathroom? Try Sierra Granite, Mojave or Siskiyou Cabin Spray. Your roommates will think you shit flowers!

National Wildlife FoundationEveryone in your life would look better in this shirt.

The National Wildlife Federation is a voice for animals and people who appreciate wild places all over the world. For 80 years, the NWF has been uniting voices that love the outdoors and demanding actions from Congress. It’s a little known fact that the National Wildlife Federation is home to the BEST T SHIRT STORE ON THE INTERNET. Enjoy the selection of YUGE pictures of animal faces to sport with pride on your torso. From Meerkats to Snow Leopards, it’s safe to safe they cover diverse biomes so buy-for-your-home (reader immediately closes browser out of pun disgust). They also make some pretty Loonie decorations if you’re into that sort of thing.

Wilderness Society

Wilderness is one of the best things about America, help the Dub Society fight for more!

The Wilderness Society has been defending and advocating for more Wilderness since before the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Dub Society has cranked up the anxiety to threat level Xanax with a new administration approaching like a Texas sized comet. Turns out, the Wilderness Society is pretty nervous about this new Prez. Something about an Attorney General that has made a hobby of suing the EPA being tapped to head the EPA and a Department of Interior in Rep McMorris-Rogers that has expressed interest in selling public lands like a great American yard sale (in which she attempts to sell the front and backyard).  For a short period of time your donations are being matched dollar for dollar so cut them a check and help protect our amazing country.

National Forest Foundation

Big thanks to the NFF for funding Junior Ranger Ryan.

Supporting organizations like the National Forest Federation helps other stewardship nonprofits and forests all over the country. Donate to the NFF as a gift and let your mom thank you for planting a dozen trees in her name. What’s better, giving someone a forest or a gift certificate to Bed, Bath, and Bullshit?



Continental Divide Trail Coalition

Come on baby, give some trails some love!

The wildest of America’s long trails is propped up by the smallest of the 3 long distance non profits and could use your bucks. The CDT also goes through a lot of public lands that some want to sell or open up mining/drilling rights. You can help and get some cool stuff in return. Even the CDT has a few wacky branded items to stuff stockings. In a world where hiking with a rain jacket gets you wetter from sweat than the clouds would have, holla at this CDTC Mont-Bell Umbrella. Still not sure exactly where the CDT runs? Get yourself a map of the trail and put it in front of your toilet. You’ll be an expert by Valentine’s day.

Same ol Crap

Or you can just buy this ladle that floats and looks like a swan. At least it helps bring awareness to birds and helps make for a stellar soup season. I suppose you could do worse during your holiday shopping season.


Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 4

  • Laurie Potteiger : Dec 14th

    When I clicked on this article about holiday gifts, I was not really prepared to like it. I certainly didn’t think I’d feel all gushy and happy about the generosity of hikers supporting causes they care about. But I did.

  • steven : Sep 23rd

    I usually shop at nordstrom because I get good discounts there.

  • Dote B : Dec 3rd

    Thanks for suggestions

  • shua : Dec 3rd



What Do You Think?