As summer quickly approaches, some dads are itching to get outside. Even if the number of places we can go has been reduced due to the pandemic, many will spend hours in their backyards tinkering with home projects, training for a nonexistent triathlon and grilling every chance they get. As Father’s Day approaches, here are the best gifts for all the DIY-, camping-, grilling- and sport-loving dads in our lives.
BioLite HeadLamp 200
A good head lamp is an easy to way upgrade Dad’s camping kit. We’ve recommended BioLite head lamps in the past, and the new HeadLamp 200 is a winner too, not to mention quite affordable. This model’s USB rechargeable battery makes it more convenient than traditional head lamps because your dad won’t have to worry about having a few AAA batteries on hand: Just plug it in and charge it up. It’ll last for 40 hours on a single charge or three hours on high mode, and you can change the angle of the light with one hand by pushing the front panel downward. It has all the necessary light modes too: white strobe, white spot and dim, red strobe, and red flood and dim. Once Dad starts using this head lamp instead of his old flashlight, he’ll never want to go back.
Blink XT2 - outdoor/indoor smart security camera
Blink’s latest cameras watch over everything that your dad wants to protect inside and outside of his home. There are plenty of things to love about the XT2 cameras, but Dad will like that they’re easy to set up and can be placed anywhere, thanks to their weatherproof design and lack of pesky cords. He can also monitor feeds directly from his smartphone or tablet. As security cameras, the XT2s record 1080p video with day and night vision and have motion sensors that will trigger smartphone alerts if you want to know when there’s been a disturbance around the house. They also have two-way audio, allowing Dad to speak to whomever (or whatever) is on the other side of the camera.
DJI Mavic Mini
A drone can take Dad’s outdoor adventures to the next level, and DJI’s Mavic Mini is arguably the easiest to use and one of the most affordable options. Fathers who are first-time drone fliers will like the Mavic Mini’s friendly controls (both on the included controller and in the DJI mobile app) and the machine’s small, lightweight body, the latter of which will make it quickly become a road trip or beach essential. We gave the Mavic Mini a score of 84 for its impressive 2.4K video at 30 fps, its small design that withstands strong wind gusts and its stellar battery life. It may not have some of the advanced features that more expensive DJI drones do, but it’s likely that your dad won’t care about that when he’s using it to shoot video of a backyard party or capture breathtaking landscape footage on a camping trip.
Garmin Fenix 6 Pro
If your dad is an avid outdoor athlete, the Garmin Fenix Pro 6 smartwatch is one of the best tools he could use to track progress and make his outdoor training easier. The Fenix family is packed with pro features including PacePro for runners, ClimbPro for climbers, turn-by-turn navigation for hikers, on-watch golf course maps, Power Manager to extend battery life and a base battery life of 14 days.
On top of that, the Fenix 6 Pro series does everything more-affordable Garmin wearables do, including track daily activity, sleep and workouts; make NFC payments; and store and play music. These are some of Garmin’s most expensive wearables for a reason: They leave no stone unturned when it comes to tracking outdoor workout data, and that’s something the most active dads will appreciate.
JetBoil MiniMo cooking system
Jetboil’s MiniMo cooking system makes preparing a meal or a cup of coffee much easier when Dad’s on a long hike or a secluded camping trip. This model is newer and larger than ones we’ve used in the past, but it retains a small, packable design that makes it an easy addition to your backpack. It’ll come to a boil in only two minutes, and it has incremental heat adjustments that make it possible to not only boil liquids but also sauté and simmer food. We particularly appreciate its stabilizing feet, because they prevent the system from toppling over if it’s perched on an uneven surface.
Kasa outdoor smart plug
It’s a hassle for your dad to run around the house trying to turn on the systems necessary to power his backyard. The Kasa outdoor smart plug (KP400) by TP-Link can make it easier by letting him control things like patio lights remotely. This particular plug has two outlets, and each is individually controllable, so you can plug two totally different things into it and turn one on while the other remains off. The plug itself is IP64-rated, so it will hold up well against different weather conditions and temperatures, and it has a WiFi range of more than 300 feet. With voice controls through Alexa and the Google Assistant, Dad will spend a lot less time running extension cords and plugging things in and more time actually enjoying his outdoor space.
Leatherman Free P4 multitool
There’s nothing more convenient than having everything you need in one place — bonus points if it can all fit in your pocket. Few gadgets fulfill this purpose like the Leatherman Free P4. Measuring 4.5 inches when closed and weighing 8.6 ounces, it manages to include 21 tools in a relatively lightweight and slim package. Like the Free P2, you can open it up and get to all the tools with one hand, and you don’t have to open one tool to get to another. Any dad will get some use out of the P4, but those who are often camping, dabbling in DIY projects or fixing things around the house will find it indispensable.
Otterbox Defender series
There are a slew of outdoor threats that could damage or break your father’s phone. Otterbox’s Defender case series is one of the best forms of protection: While the cases may be too bulky for some people’s taste, they’re designed to take a beating. The polycarbonate outer shell and silicone rubber slipcover encase a smartphone so well that dust, dings and drops are nothing to worry about. Port covers also protect the openings in the device but are flexible enough to allow easy access. Many come with holsters as well, which Dad may discover is his new favorite way of keeping his phone on him at all times. But the best part is that Otterbox has cases for all kinds of smartphones — even Dad’s cracked and ancient iPhone or Galaxy.
Sonos’ speaker designed for the outdoors could end up being Dad’s all-purpose, entire-household speaker. The Move works well indoors and outdoors, but its IP56 water-and-dust rating means it won’t be threatened by inclement weather. It’s also easy to pick up off its charging-ring base and tote outside while barbecuing or relaxing by the pool. It’ll get at least 10 hours of playtime on a single charge too, so Dad shouldn’t have to bring it back inside until the sun is going down. In terms of sound quality, the Move is up there with other Sonos speakers, and it’s noticeably louder than the One (a detail that means more when using it outside). While on the expensive side, it’s an investment in quality audio and convenience that’s hard to beat.
Traeger Ironwood Series 885 pellet grill
If you really want to splurge on your dad and he just so happens to love outdoor cooking, Traeger’s Ironwood 885 pellet grill is a great option. This is one model in the midrange series of Traeger’s grills that use its Wi-Fire technology, which lets you control and monitor cooking remotely over WiFi.
You’re not limited to low and slow though. With a max temperature of 500 degrees, you can grill and smoke everything from burgers to pork butts and maybe even make a decent pizza. WiFi monitoring will come in handy, especially when slowly barbecuing something for many hours. The Ironwood 885 also has all of Traeger’s newest grilling features, including D2 Direct Drive, which powers the grill, and Turbo Temp, which helps it come to temperature more quickly and recover faster when you open the lid.
Weber iGrill 2
Grill master dads can take their cooking to the next level with the Weber iGrill 2. It’s designed to take the mystery out of grilling meat: Set the probe at the start, choose the type of meat you’re cooking and the desired doneness, and the iGrill 2 does all the hard work. It’ll let you know via an app alert when your meat is done, so you don’t have to waste time hovering over it.
Engadget’s Billy Steele has used the mini version of the iGrill for both New York-style strip steaks and low-and-slow recipes like pork shoulder. The iGrill 2 can monitor up to four cooks at once: You’ll just have to buy two additional probes, as the gadget only comes with two in the box. It’s a great gift for any dad who’s ready to upgrade from their old instant-read thermometer to something more high tech.