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Wildlife biologist, conservationist, and “Mission Wild” host Wes Larson presents a whole Santa bag of gifts for anyone who relishes the great outdoors as much as he does.

Life is an adventure worth caring about. Great Big Guides give you the recommendations you need to live a more joyful, interesting and meaningful life. If you purchase any of the products we recommend in a Guide, Great Big Story may receive revenue. Please note that the prices in this guide were accurate at the time of publishing but are subject to change at any time.

Wildlife Biologist Wes Larson (aka “GrizKid”) on His Favorite Outdoor Gear

Wildlife Biologist Wes Larson (aka “GrizKid”) on His Favorite Outdoor Gear

Wildlife biologist, conservationist, and “Mission Wild” host Wes Larson presents a whole Santa bag of gifts for anyone who relishes the great outdoors as much as he does.

Life is an adventure worth caring about. Great Big Guides give you the recommendations you need to live a more joyful, interesting and meaningful life. If you purchase any of the products we recommend in a Guide, Great Big Story may receive revenue. Please note that the prices in this guide were accurate at the time of publishing but are subject to change at any time.

Wes Larson, Great Big Story’s resident wildlife biologist, avid conservationist and host of “Mission Wild” is on a mission to make the world a safer place for wildlife. A typical day might lead him inside a bear’s den, across the Arctic Tundra, or on an expedition through the Everglades. Needless to say, he’s well-versed in the ways of the wild and he knows exactly what kind of gear this lifestyle calls for. From waterproof cameras and fishing packs to the most rugged adventure pants on the market, you’ll definitely find what you’re looking for among the Griz Kid’s handpicked assortment of gift ideas.

Wes Larson GrizKid Favorite Outdoor Gear
Wildlife biologist Wes “GrizKid” Larson

Outdoor Essentials

A full-time adventurer knows exactly what to have in tow when setting out on an expedition.

north face tent outdoor gear

The North Face Stormbreak 3 Tent

Wes spends enough time in the great outdoors to appreciate an exceptional camping tent. This all-weather powerhouse by The North Face is his all-time favorite. “It’s easy to set up, affordable, and really comfortable,” he says of the two-door, twin-zip shelter that’s built for optimum protection and ventilation. True to Wes’s word, this sturdy piece of equipment actually has easy-pitch functionality, so it’s perfect for beginners and anyone who’s ever fumbled with traditional tent assembly and thought, “There has to be an easier way.” When it’s time to break camp, the surprisingly lightweight tent is a cinch to haul home.
$198.95

Osprey Packs Atmos AG 65 Backpack

Backpackers carry their whole world on their backs, so they need a bag that’s impeccably engineered for the job. Wes relies on this pack for its roominess, ventilation, and secure, ergonomic fit. He’s particularly impressed with its anti-gravity suspension system that makes the bag feel lighter than it actually is because the wearer’s back isn’t doing as much work. Then there are the compartments. There are so many clever pouches and pockets specifically designed to divide and store things like snacks, water bottles, smartphones, and even a sleeping bag. A handy trekking pole attachment lets backpackers easily transition to a hands-free hike. The backpack comes in both a men’s and a women’s version.
Starting at $205.26

osprey backpack outdoor gear
rayban outdoor gear

Rayban Classic Wayfarer 50mm Polarized Sunglasses

We’ve yet to meet an outdoor warrior who doesn’t love a good, classic pair of Rayban Wayfarers. There’s a reason these babies have been holding strong since 1952 without looking dated—actually, a lot of reasons. A classic design that fits any face, a nose bridge that’s nice and roomy, a sturdy resin frame that can stand up to abuse, and polarized lenses that cut even the harshest glare are just a few solid selling points. Wes says he’s been wearing his iconic Wayfarers for a decade—you’ll spot them in all of his “Mission Wild” episodes—even though he admits he’s rarely that loyal to any brand.
$203

BambooMN Camping Mess Kit

Nowadays we’re all looking for alternatives to old plastic standbys in every area of life—and convenient noshing is chief among them. When it comes to plastic pollution, single-use plates and utensils do a decent amount of damage in the U.S. and beyond. Wes finds peace of mind carrying along this reusable dining set made of renewable bamboo. It comes with a pair of handwash-only plates, forks, spoons, and knives in a non-toxic, all-natural finish. They slide neatly into a backpack and are perfect for no-fuss camping trips—but they’re so lightweight, travelers might forget they even packed them!
$22.99

bamboo dining set outdoor gear
hydroflask outdoor gear

Hydro Flask water bottle

When it comes to reusable water bottle brands, it’s hard to beat Hydro Flask. The BPA-free, food-grade stainless steel wonders have everything they’re looking for in a great water bottle: they’re leak-proof, ergonomic, have a built-in straw, and with so many powder-coated finishes to choose from, they’re just fun to carry around. Did we forget to mention this vacuum insulated bottle keeps drinks cold for a full 24 hours or hot for 12? Temperature control is the major selling point for Wes, but he also loves that it’s durable enough to withstand with his rugged lifestyle.
$39.95

Skullcandy Crusher Wireless Over-the-Ear Headphones

Anyone who lives an active lifestyle understands the importance of a great set of wireless headphones, but opinions vary on which brand is best. Wes prefers this pair by Skulllcandy, which uses Immersion35 technology to ensure that wearers are completely enveloped in silence or sound—whichever they prefer—for up to 40 hours on a single charge “They may be a bit big for hiking, but they’re great for sleeping or relaxing and have a great battery life which is important when you are off the grid,” says Wes. Snag a set in classic black or an unexpectedly cool white/gray/tan combo.
$149.99

skullcandy headphones outdoor gear
airpods charging case outdoor gear

Apple AirPod with Charging Case

Yes, AirPods live up to the hype. Wes calls his AirPods “the ultimate convenience product” and says he uses them all the time while hiking and fishing. These little wireless earphones are so comfortable, a wearer barely knows they’re there. Wes just keeps his phone in his pocket and can answer calls and even use Siri without using his hands at all. The crystal-clear audio quality “can’t be beat,” he says, and the set provides up to three hours of talk time on a single charge. Speaking of charging, even charging AirPods is ridiculously easy. Just pop them in their carrying case, and it does the job for you.
$144

Sony Alpha a6500 Mirrorless Camera with E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens

This mid-priced camera is ideal for on-the-go photography—and it’s Wes’s go-to device for longer expeditions. Thanks to its mirrorless design, the Sony Alpha is smaller and more compact (read: portable) than a DSLR but essentially behaves just like one, capturing professional-quality images or 4K video footage in just about any lighting condition. This model comes with an E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that extends from 18mm wide-angle to 135mm telephoto.
$1,398

sony camera outdoor gear
gopro outdoor gear

GoPro Hero 7

For water activities like surfing, swimming, and jet-skiing, a GoPro is, frankly, the only way to go. The palm-sized GoPro 7 is fully waterproof and built with best-in-class HyperSmooth stabilization technology—so even if the user is getting knocked around, photo and video footage will remain steady and crystal-clear. “I use it any time I’m doing anything in the water—snorkeling or looking for whale sharks or gray whales especially,” says Wes. The latest model is built with an intuitive touchscreen display that mimics smartphone screens, but it can also be controlled hands-free using 16 built-in voice controls.
$299

Lowa Men’s Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot

Wondering what Wes wears on his feet when he’s fighting to save the Everglades or watching over birds of prey. This wild child told us he straps on Lowa Renegade hiking boots—in fact, he calls them “the best hiking boots I’ve ever worn.” He likes them because they’re a trifecta of comfort, durability, and water-resistance. It’s not just Wes who worships Lowa boots. These all-terrain boots constructed with breathable, waterproof GORE-TEX were originally made for the British Special Forces and are still popular military footwear.
$229.93

iowa boots outdoor gear
patagonia outdoor gear

Patagonia Down Sweater Jacket

Patagonia is a powerhouse when it comes to outdoor clothing, and Wes lives in the brand’s puffer jackets when he’s helping to conserve wildlife in colder climates. “I wear them whenever I do polar bear work or anything Arctic,” he says. Patagonia Down Sweater Jackets deliver maximum warmth but are slim enough to fold up and slip inside a backpack. They’re also the perfect grab-and-go jacket for hikes and last-minute weekend adventures. The jacket comes in both men’s and women’s sizes and includes its own lightweight carrying case.
Starting at $229

Coalatree Trailhead Adventure Pants

Forget your jeans and pull on your adventure pants! This pair of moisture-wicking, antimicrobial pants might not sound sexy, but they sure get the job done in style. Wes says they made a splash in the outdoor world when they first emerged from a small manufacturer in Salt Lake City, Utah. “When you pour water on them, it runs off,” he pointed out. “They’re almost completely waterproof, and they’re lightweight and really airy if you’re hiking or out in the tropics.” These magic trousers even have a patent-pending four-way stretch material that will let them twist and turn any which way so you can get as adventurous as your heart desires.
$71

adventure pants outdoor gear
socks outdoor gear

Socks for Animals Brown Throated Sloth Socks

Adventurous or not, who doesn’t love a funky pair of socks? Wes’s very own brand of cozy footwear pays homage to the threatened wildlife species of the world, including polar bears, hyacinth macaws, and golden langurs. His favorite pair of socks, though, feature brown throated sloths, which are indigenous to Central and South America. Each purchase of a pair of Socks for Animals socks directly contributes to the conservation of the animal featured on that sock. Wes also adds that 10 percent of proceeds go toward animal conservation and supporting the researchers who work with endangered species. The socks themselves are stretchy and made of combed cotton with comfy cushioning, arch support, and a reinforced heel and toe.
$15

Filson Unisex Fishing Pack

Wes is a big fan of fly fishing, and while he doesn’t have this fishing pack quite yet, it’s on his holiday wish list. Fly fishing means you’re essentially standing in the river, so a waterproof pack is a must—and this one is made of rugged, oil finished Tin Cloth, so it’s pretty much perfect for the job. He also loves its copious compartments for holding all kinds of tackle. It doesn’t hurt that it looks so ridiculously cool, either.
$295

fishing bag outdoor gear

Get travelers geared up for an unforgettable adventure with this carefully curated assortment of gift ideas from a real expert in the field–pun intended.

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