Inspired by Maine Outdoor Brands, we asked the Down East team about outdoorsy holiday gifts that have knocked their boots off. Here are a few ideas for the adventurers on your list.
Photographs courtesy of Threlkeld Outdoor
A ski getaway. Before kids, Down East editor in chief Brian Kevin and his wife, Elsa, used to gift each other an annual holiday cross-country skiing weekend. “Just a couple of nights in a lodge or B&B in some snowy corner of Maine,” Kevin says. “It’s not a huge splurge, and because you get to enjoy it together, it’s way better than when couples roll the dice on traditional wrapped gifts and inevitably disappoint each other.” Members of the Maine Outdoor Brands network include full-service adventure resorts, classic sporting camps, and other rustic lodging options, many of which are open in winter and offer groomed ski trails right out the back door. Maine is a cross-country skier’s Shangri-la, with generous snowfall, hundreds of miles of serene trails, and multiple outfitters offering multiday lodge-to-lodge excursions.
The gift of gear. Since Leon Leonwood Bean introduced his duck boots in 1912, the phrase “made in Maine” has been synonymous with durable and finely crafted outdoor goods. Just ask the more than 30 outdoor-products manufacturers in the Maine Outdoor Brands network, turning out everything from ultralight tents to backpacks to handcrafted skis to fishing flies. Or ask branded content editor Jennifer Van Allen, who once wowed her husband, Peter, at the holidays by enrolling him in a surfboard-making fantasy camp with a southern Maine board builder. “He shaped his own wooden board out of white cedar, and that one gift has created so many amazing memories,” Van Allen says. “It’s been the same when I’ve gifted wetsuits, a mountain bike, hand warmers, a fleece-lined balaclava — I always say a good piece of gear is a passport for adventure.”
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An island escape. Sometimes the best holiday gifts look ahead to summer. Maine has some 2,400 ruggedly beautiful islands, many of which are reachable by kayak and have hiking trails, oceanside campsites, and beaches where the only folks you’ll spot are waving at you from passing lobsterboats. Staff photographer Benjamin Williamson’s first-ever paddling lesson was a gift from his dad, and island-hopping has since become a favorite escape. “It’s amazing how easily you can get to a place that feels so remote,” he says. “Who doesn’t appreciate that kind of time out?” The guides and outfitters of Maine Outdoor Brands rent gear, offer lessons, and lead overnight trips everywhere from Casco Bay to Muscongus Bay to MDI. Plus, there’s an excursion for every budget, with lessons starting around $30 and guided trips running anywhere from $65 for the afternoon to $500 for a few days.
And a whole lot more. Lessons with a fly-fishing guide. Climbing-gym memberships. Whitewater rafting trips. Glamping reservations. At maineoutdoorbrands.com, you can surf more than 100 member companies and organizations helping to drive Maine’s four-season, $3 billion outdoor-rec economy. Book trips, buy Maine-made gear, and find deals and discounts to leave a little of Maine’s wild landscape under the tree this year.