dirtbag gift guide

After spending my last six months living out of a van, I came up with this shopping list to help anyone giving gifts to the other dirtbags out there. If you’re struggling to buy gifts for your cousin who lives out of her Subaru in remote desert climbing areas, or that weird uncle who won’t make it to Christmas if there’s more than 3” of fresh powder, I’m here to help. Below are my top ten gift picks for anyone who spends more than a dozen nights a year living out of their car, chasing adventure.

Ask to borrow their van/truck/car and take it to the mechanic. - $0
Many tire shops will do a pre-trip safety check for free, and most mechanics will check fluids and such as well. Many safety fixes are cheap, and at least knowing what's going on with the vehicle can be nice.

Babywipes - $5.
Living in a vehicle I live and die by baby wipes. I usually can't take a shower, wash my face, or wash off dirty gear they way I can at home, and wet wipes help with all those things and more. Plus there's the added advantage that your present helps everyone a dirtbag friend meets-a gift that keeps on giving!

Voille Straps - $6
Voile straps are some of the most versatile, durable, and simple tools that I carry. I've used them to work on the van, secure gear from skidding around while I drive, and to repair gear in a pinch. They come in several sizes, and I've used them all for things I didn't imagine until it came up.

Ramen - $0.50-$15
My vegan hipster dad cringes every time I hydrate some of this life-giving grey matter, it keeps many of us going. Rather than fights the MSG/Sodium addiction, why not splurge for a ramen upgrade for your dirtbag buddy. Shin Black is a favorite of mine, but supposedly there are healthy ones out there too.

Wilderness Technology Bear Paw stove - $50
This bad little stove connects to the same iso-butane fuel canisters most backpacking stoves use, but it absolutely rips! Especially as we face these colder winter adventures, having a stove with a little umph can make the difference. This stove also uses more fuel than the ultralight coffee making stove your family adventurer is probably already using, so if you're in the shop pick up some extra fuel to go with it!

A Haircut - $30
If your beloved dirtbag is living a miserly life on the road, they probably haven't ponied up for a haircut in the last year. While a few of the most die-hard among us have developed a bond with their grungy mane that even Sampson would call codependent, most of us would appreciate an annual trim. If you do a gift card, don't forget to include tip.

Luci Lights - $20
Luci Lights are probably my top holiday gift pick across the board and will get the most use from the dirtbags. At $20, with no batteries ever, these little lights are all I use. I keep four on my dash and get asked about them everywhere I go. They’re awesome!

America the Beautiful Pass - $80
Support your dirtbag and support our beautiful public lands! This inter-agency pass allows for access to national parks and lots of other fee-based public places, and even allows for discounted rates at many campgrounds across the country. I bought mine in June and it has paid for itself many times over. A perfect gift the ascetic minimalist dirtbags who would rather spend the holidays lecturing people about consumerism.

The Wilderness Technology 50l dry bag - $30
When traveling full time, there are two major concerns: organization and odor control. The Wilderness Technology dry bags help with both! I use the 50-liter ones in the van for dirty Lainey, wet gear, or anything else that needs to be quarantined and stored for a little while. They also double as pack liners and stash bags (my old car didn't lock, so I'd put my valuables in a green dry bag and hide it in the woods at every trailhead!). These dry bags are a must, especially in wet and snowy places like here!

K2 cooler. - $250
Alright, this is the big one. When I moved into my vehicle I couldn't afford a full-blown RV hookup and electric refrigerator. Instead I invested in a good cooler, and I'm so glad. I put ice in my K2 maybe once a week, often less, and I get into it multiple times a day. It is durable and convenient, and works many times better than the 1980s Coleman I used to rely on. If your dirtbag is still using a regular picnic cooler, this thing will blow their mind!

While I can't help you navigate the inevitable holiday arguments about the war on the war on the war on Christmas, I hope this helps you navigate picking gifts. And if all your family wilderness addict gets you is a hand-drawn coupon to go ice climbing with them, just smile and know they love you...

Read all of Matt's Dirtbag Adventures!