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The best outdoor gift ideas for dad

Upgrade his outdoor haven with any of these gadgets.

Engadget

Father’s Day is right before summer’s official arrival, so it’s a great time to get your dad some gear for the great outdoors. Whether your dad is a beach bum, hiker, aspiring pitmaster, amateur pizzaiolo or just likes to spend time outside, I’ve selected the best gear for all of those hobbies and more. A new smart grill, a high-tech food thermometer, a durable Bluetooth speaker or even a new go-to cup for summer bevies, there’s a whole range of options to enhance the time in the sand, at the park or just on the patio – and at a range of prices too.

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When it comes to portable mosquito repellers, Thermacell’s gear is a favorite amongst the Engadget staff. The company’s newest model, the EL55, is much like the E55 we previously selected. The main difference is the addition of a dimmable light for use after dark. The EL55 will last up to nine hours on a charge with the light off, or up to five and a half hours with it on. Like other recent Thermacell products, the EL55 uses liquid cartridges to offer scentless protection for a 20-foot radius.

$43 at Amazon

There are all kinds of food thermometers out there that will help your dad ensure grilled items are perfectly cooked this summer. Most of them use wired probes that can get in the way when he goes to flip a steak or wrap a brisket. Meater’s probes are wireless and the Meater 2 Plus is also more accurate and more durable than previous versions.

Specifically, the Meater 2 Plus has five internal temperature sensors that give you the true lowest reading of your food so that you don’t undercook them. There’s still an ambient temperature sensor on the other end to help you monitor grill temps, too. The Meater 2 Plus can also withstand high-heat searing and it’s waterproof. This means you can still use it to sous vide or deep fry, and when you’re done you can just toss it in the dishwasher. This model also offers up to 250 feet of Bluetooth range, so dad can venture inside and watch things from his phone for longer cooks. Meater’s app will keep him updated and provide estimated completion times along the way.

$130 at Amazon

Every dad can use a way to keep canned beverages cold on a hot day, and Brumate’s Hopsulator Trio functions as a koozie and a travel mug. There are a few different models, but I prefer the Trio’s 3-in-1 abilities. For 16 ounce cans, it’s an insulated aluminum holder. For 12 ounce cans, the Hopsulator comes with a reusable cold puck for even more efficient cooling. And as I mentioned, it comes with a lid so you can use it as a cup if you want. I use mine year round, but it gets the most work during the warmer months when I’m out at the grill or sitting on the deck.

$30 at Amazon
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$30 at Ace Hardware

What do you get the dad that has seemingly everything already? Something to make his life easier. TP-Link’s Kasa line offers a range of smart home products, including smart outdoor plugs. These work well for things like patio string lights and other items you’d rather not venture outside to simply plug in. You can control the outlets via the Kasa app or with your voice via Alexa and Google Assistant. The app gives you the ability to set timers to automate things and the IP64 rating means you won’t have to worry about dust or rain.

$19 at Amazon

Stanley’s Ice Flow Tumblers are some of the most popular cups on the planet, but the company makes a number of other options that are great for dads too. The AeroLight Transit Bottle is certainly a more compact everyday travel mug, keeping beverages hot for eight hours and cold for 12. This lightweight, insulated bottle can retain ice for up to 40 hours, too, which is way more than dad will need to get through a work day. The locking, drink-through lid is leakproof and the AeroLight fits in a cup holder. Perhaps most importantly, it’s dishwasher safe, so your dad can easily clean it for the next trip to the office.

$35 at REI
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$35 at Target$35 at Tillys
Ultimate Ears

I’ve tested a number of small Bluetooth speakers over the years and my current go-to option is the UE Wonderboom 3. For well under $100, you’ll be giving dad the biggest sound I’ve heard in a speaker this size. Up to 14 hours of battery life will give him more than enough for a day at the beach or on the trail, with IP67- and five-foot-drop-rated durability to withstand all of those adventures. Audio quality is bright and punchy, and there’s an outdoor mode button that boosts mids and highs so they’ll travel further.

$100 at Verizon
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$112 at antonline$66 at Amazon

Ooni’s pizza ovens are outstanding and Solo Stove’s Pi is a solid second option, but when it comes to ease of use, the latter company’s Pi Prime is where it’s at. This is the best outdoor pizza oven for people, dads included, combining the ease of a propane burner with a wide curved opening for unrestricted access when rotating pies. The Pi Prime has a similar circular dome design to the Pi, which is an aesthetic the company borrowed from its fire pits. That big opening on the front also allows you to monitor progress without opening a door. Front-mounted temperature controls make for easy adjustments and the gas-burning setup means your dad can focus on making great pizza rather than feeding wood to the flame. Plus, the Pi Prime can get hot — up to 950 degrees Fahrenheit — making it a great option for Neapolitan-style pizzas that bake in as little as 90 seconds.

$350 at Solo Stove
Photo by Billy Steele / Engadget

Traeger redesigned its Ironwood grills earlier this year, adding touchscreen controls and a host of design improvements. There’s a lot to like about the new changes, even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the latest Timberline – namely the side-mounted induction burner. The cooking chamber was reconfigured for better efficiency and the company made cleanup easier with a new ash and grease keg system. The Ironwood also utilizes Traeger’s “Pop-and-Lock” rail for tricking out your grill with a range of handy accessories. Most importantly, dad can monitor long cooks from the couch with the company’s app, which also houses a ton of recipes – complete with step-by-step guidance.

$1,800 at Traeger

Thanks to brands like Blackstone, flat-top griddles are some of the most popular backyard cooking devices right now. Weber has put its decades of grilling expertise to use designing them too, and the company’s second griddle model, the Slate, offers some unique features most of the competition doesn’t. First, the cooking surface is rust resistant, which addresses one of the biggest headaches for griddle owners. Weber the carbon-steel cooktop is made using “extreme heat and pressure” in a process that reduces the ability for rust to form.

Next, Weber included a digital temperature gauge on two versions of the Slate, giving you a reading from underneath the cooktop and taking the guesswork out of when the griddle is ready for action. Lastly, the company developed a collection of accessories called the Weber Works system that includes a versatile caddy, clip-on condiment holder and more. Plus, the Slate already comes with two big side tables and the pricer models include two slide out storage bins instead of the typical open grill cabinet.

$649 at Weber

I’ve had several fire pits since I bought a house in 2014, and none of them can compete with Solo Stove. The company’s products are designed to channel smoke upward, keeping you from being choked out while you’re trying to enjoy some time outdoors. The pits come in various sizes, so you have options if dad goes camping often or just needs a place to chill in the backyard. The interior design of the Solo Stove pits also facilitates proper airflow, so fires always burn nicely.

$300 at Solo Stove
Shibumi Shade

Do your dad a favor and get one of the easiest beach shades to put up he’ll ever use. I’ve chased blown away cabanas. I’ve wrestled umbrellas turned inside out. Trust me, the Shibumi Shade is worth the investment. It uses the wind off the water to stay up, giving you ample shade throughout the day. One person can put it up and take it down by themselves and it’s easily anchored by a single sand bag. Even in the lightest of breezes at the beach, the Shibumi will stay up, although it thrives in the typical windy conditions you’d find at the shore.

$270 at DICK'S Sporting Goods
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$270 at Amazon

Sometimes dads want to fix things – or simply hang out – where power outlets don’t reach. BioLite’s BaseCharge 600 combines a 622 watt-hour battery with a slew of ports and an informative display panel. When I tested it out, it easily powered a drill and hand sander long enough to finish a simple woodworking project, with plenty of charge left over. And when I pretended to be in a power outage, it kept my laptop, monitor, gateway and lights running for one and a half work days. It recharges from the wall in just over three hours or, for a fully off-grid experience, BioLite’s portable 100-watt solar panels can refill the station to about 75 percent with eight hours of unobstructed sunlight. Combined, the battery and panels cost an epic $1,000, but they are just the sort of cleverly designed gadgets dads tend to love. — Amy Skorheim, Reporter, Buying Advice

$699 at BioLite