For people who love travel, photography, and spending time outdoors, quality gear can make the difference between an amazing journey and a trip you’d rather forget. That also makes finding travel gifts a bit of a chore, because “good enough” won’t cut it; you need to get the best. Before you spend the next month researching, take a few tips from an accomplished globetrotter and outdoorsman: Clint Johnston, founder of the Triphackr travel blog. He’s visited over 120 countries, hiked to Everest base camp, loves photography and drones, and he knows a thing or two about gear that can go the distance.
From an aviation-inspired watch to a powerful digital camera and more, Johnston has travel gifts for every taste and personality. Check out his picks below, and cross a few more names off your list while you’re at it.
Citizen Promaster Nighthawk
A good watch is an essential travel companion, and Citizen’s Promaster collection—a lineup of professional-grade sport watches—offers many worthy options. Johnston likes the Nighthawk: It combines sleek aesthetics inspired by stealth helicopters and it’s packed with travel-friendly features. A slide rule bezel allows for quick calculations and luminous hands and markers make it easy to read, even after dark. The dual time zone display is especially handy for long-haul flights, Johnston says (it helps you adjust to a new time zone while keeping track of loved ones back home), and the water-resistant 42mm three-piece stainless steel case is tough enough to handle even the wildest adventures. Overall, it’s designed to be highly functional and easy to use, and since it utilizes Citizen’s proprietary Eco-Drive technology, it can be powered by any light source—no replacement batteries necessary.
Peak Design Travel Tripod
A tripod makes capturing crisp landscape shots or long exposures a cinch—but for the traveling photographer, it also needs to be lightweight, strong, and not too bulky. Johnston likes gear from Peak Design, which “has been paving the way for camera accessories and packs for years,” he says, and the company’s Travel Tripod lives up to that sterling reputation. It’s a snap to set up, packs down to the size of a water bottle, and is built to last (it even comes with a lifetime warranty).
Sony α7 III
Choosing a camera is a highly personal decision, but for those who spend most of their days (and their time shooting photos) outside, the Sony Alpha is hard to beat. Johnston particularly loves its high-speed continuous shooting and 4K video capability, and with its low weight and compact size, it’s easy to stow in a pack or carry-on bag.
DJI Mavic 2
Drone photography gives you the chance to see landscapes in a whole new way, and once you get started, it can be addicting. Just ask Johnston, who got hooked on drone photography a few years ago and now brings his drone wherever he travels. He calls the Mavic 2 “the best all around drone for pro-quality video and photos,” which comes as no surprise: It’s DJI’s top-of-the-line model. From the built-in Hasselblad camera to the omnidirectional obstacle sensing, it offers a long list of premium features for those who want the ultimate drone experience.
DJI Mavic Mini
“The Mavic Mini is the best option if you’re looking for a bird’s eye view of your surroundings and don’t need pro-quality photos and video,” says Johnston. It’s also an affordable entry point into drone photography and videography, but it doesn’t compromise on build quality. At just 249 grams, its featherlight weight makes it perfect for bringing along on a hike.
Hummingbird Hammocks Single Hammock
This unique packable hammock (the lightest and smallest one on the market) lets you take a snooze just about anywhere you go. And don’t let its minuscule weight and small size fool you: It’s constructed according to FAA parachute standards for top-notch durability, so whoever unwraps it can look forward to many great naps in beautiful places.
LaCie Rugged SSD
It’s always important to save your work, especially when you’re traveling and putting your gear to the test in difficult conditions. To protect files, Johnston likes the Rugged line of solid-state hard drives from LaCie. They’re IP67-rated to resist water, dust, and drops, they come in a wide range of storage sizes, and they’re even available with 256-bit encryption to keep your data secure.
Wacaco Minipresso GR Portable Espresso Machine
Espresso in the backcountry? Just because you’re off the grid, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a good cup of coffee. The Wacaco Minipresso is ideal for whipping up your favorite brew on the trail or at a campsite. “I love espresso,” says Johnston, “and this is the easiest way to take it with me on the go.”
Anker PowerCore II 20000
“There are countless portable chargers on the market,” says Johnston, “but I’ve found Anker’s chargers to be affordable and reliable.” The PowerCore II is a great introduction to the Anker lineup—it packs enough juice (20000mAh of power) to recharge an iPhone six and a half times, features twin USB ports to charge multiple devices at once, and offers up to 18W of output for lightning-fast charge times.
Sunski Treeline Sunglasses
Don’t leave home without a pair of shades. Johnston likes the Treeline sunglasses from Sunski, and with their polarized lenses and removable magnetic sun shields, they’re designed to block out even the harshest glare. Added bonus: Their stylish frames are made from recycled plastic, so they’re better for the environment, too.