The 2023 Task & Purpose ultimate holiday gift guide for veterans

Everything you didn’t know you needed, in one convenient holiday gift guide.
Joshua Skovlund Avatar
Task and Purpose 2023 holiday gift guide
(Task & Purpose composite image).

The holidays are here, along with last-minute gift shopping. The staff at Task & Purpose has you covered with a gift guide for anyone looking to buy their favorite veteran a Christmas gift. 

But what makes a good gift for a veteran in 2023?

According to Task & Purpose senior staff writer Jeff Schogol: dip, Country Captain Chicken MREs (though, Medal of Honor recipient Ryan Pitts hates it), or a free consult with an attorney who can tell you how to file a claim for the 3M earplugs settlement.

If Schogol’s recommendations don’t catch your fancy, here are a few more options presented by the rest of the T&P team. 

A Super Soaker

Patty Nieberg is new to the team but nailed her recommendation: a Super Soaker.

What’s better than an all-out water fight on a hot summer day? Water guns are clutch when the temperature is climbing and you’re stationed somewhere in the deep south. 

And, fun fact, U.S. Air Force veteran Lonnie Johnson is the mastermind behind the Super Soaker. So when you pick up one of his creations, you support a veteran and further his mission to design and build the best water guns to hit the streets. Bonus: the ammo is cheap and readily available.

Books from veteran authors

Andrew Biggio with a WW II veteran holding the M1 Garand with 300 signatures on it. The Rifle 2 book.
“The Rifle 2” is Andrew Biggio’s latest book and concludes his WWII research. (Andrew Biggio/courtesy photos)

If you love good books, history, veteran culture, or all of the above, check out the titles below. Each is written by, for, or about service members and their stories. 

Foxhole takes you from George Mullins’ childhood in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia to Normandy during the Allied invasion and, later, a glider crash landing during the liberation of Holland. Mullins unpacks his thoughts and memories from his time fighting in WWII. 

Rifle 2 is the second installment in Boston police officer Andrew Biggio’s Rifle series. In his first book, he highlighted heroic soldiers fighting across Europe via memories brought to the surface by holding an M1 Garand rifle for the first time since WWII. He makes the effort to find heroes often forgotten because of their post-war experiences, including gangsters, drunks, and many others rejected by society after the war.

Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick

Does the first sergeant have you rucking all day and night? Are you chafed, hungry, and tired? Wet wipes won’t cure your chafed legs, so get yourself a Gold Bond Friction Defense Stick. At just over $5, you can’t find a better chafing preventative.  

I’ve personally put this stuff to the test while hiking in the New Hampshire mountains in July on a hot day with over 80% humidity. This stuff will last you hours and is compact and easy to throw in your ruck. Apply first thing in the morning, and you’ll be covered all day. 

L3 Harris GPNVG-18 Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggle

GPNVG-18 quad tub night vision
(Task & Purpose composite image using U.S. Army photo, L3 Harris product image).

The L3 Harris GPNVG-18 Ground Panoramic Night Vision Goggle will run you around $40,000, but we guarantee they are probably worth the money 60% of the time, every time. Maybe you want to get after some feral pigs on your property or just want to have the upper hand in the Nerf gun ambush you have planned for New Year’s Eve with your unsuspecting kids. 

Either way, if you can swing it, pick up some of the best panoramic night vision goggles out there. I know, I know. Night vision goggles are expensive, but can you put a price on having a superpower? 

Timex Expedition North Tide-Temp-Compass watch

(Photo via Timex).

Every veteran knows a good watch is hard to beat. You want one that looks good but can take a beating in any environment. Look no further, editor-in-chief Marty Skovlund, Jr. has you covered with the Expedition North Tide-Temp-Compass 43mm Eco-Friendly Leather Strap Watch. If you know Skovlund, you know he has an eye for good, quality watches.

It’s not the cheaper Timex Ironman that you see a lot of infantrymen wearing to this day, rather it’s a modern-day masterpiece from the same company. Stylish and rugged, this watch has a water resistance rating of 100m. You can set your watch to the local tide conditions, read air or water temperatures, or use its built-in analog compass. 

This timepiece can go from the mountains of Colorado to the beaches of Coronado without breaking a sweat. The more you wear it, the more it will become an extension of your wrist, helping you to never miss a time hack or pick up the kids from school. 

Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank

The Leopard 1A5 Main Battle Tank was designed by Porsche and manufactured by Krauss-Maffei in West Germany, first entering service in 1965. We found one in Texas, fully functional and within legal parameters, but you’ll need to contact the sellers for the price. 

The Leopard 1A5 is big, fast, and easy to drive. It’s the final and most advanced version of the Leopard 1 family with an integrated commander’s stabilized panoramic telescope and a gunner’s primary sight with a stereoscopic rangefinder. 

It requires a crew of four, so get your buddies or your family together for some good, clean fun. Bonus: you’ll be able to defend your land from anyone or anything … except a more advanced tank. Or a drone. Or… well, it looks cool, isn’t that enough? Though the main gun is disabled, you can still recreate your favorite battle scenes from “Fury.” But seriously, who doesn’t want a tank? 

Original Pilot sunglasses

U.S. astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. (right) and Charles Conrad Jr. walk across the deck of the recovery aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39) following splashdown and recovery from the ocean, 29 August 1965. (NASA photo).

Anyone who’s watched Top Gun or met any pilots or astronauts already knows how awe-striking the Original Pilot sunglasses are. Worn by American space explorers and commanders of some of the best fighter jets in the world, these aviator sunglasses have been around since 1958. 

They’ve been worn by Slash, Michael Jackson, George Michael, Tom Cruise, Freddie Mercury, Jeff Lynne, Roger Waters, and Elvis Presley. They aren’t the cheapest sunglasses, but they are heirloom quality, and though there are many look-alikes, the Original Pilot is the O.G. in the sunglasses game and is the perfect gift. 

You can wear them in training or while enjoying a day at the beach. These bad boys have 100% UAV/UAB protection and are anti-reflective, smudge-resistant, scratch-resistant, and distortion-free. 

Rip It Energy Drink Variety Pack: Tribute Edition

( photo).

Last but not least, a case of Tribute Edition Rip It energy drinks will surely tap into your favorite veteran’s memory bank. Rip It used to be the go-to shot of caffeine for units deployed all over the Middle East, and these cans of pure fury probably definitely most likely didn’t cause any cardiac arrests. 

For just over $30, you can get 192 fluid ounces of freedom packaged as a gift. The minute you take a sip, Rip It surges through your veins and pumps up your heart rate. Has it been a 100-plus-degree day in the desert? Throw a Rip It down, and you won’t even notice you’re dehydrated because you’re distracted by hearing your own heartbeat. 

If Rip It doesn’t fit your needs, maybe step it up with Panera’s alleged killer drink, Charged Lemonade; our weekend editor Nicholas Slayton says you won’t do it.

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