The best holiday gifts for the US military veteran in your life

Here's how to shop for the U.S. military veteran in your life, according to a Marine Corps vet.

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Ahh, it’s that magical time of the year when the world gets ready to be a little less ugly to each other. Christmas and Hanukkah are around the corner, bellies will still be full from Thanksgiving, and it’s time to start shopping.

If you’ve got a U.S. military veteran in your life and you’re feeling a little stumped on what gifts to get them, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve done the legwork for you and gathered the best gifts for veterans worth shopping for this year. What makes me an authority?

Well, I’m a veteran myself, so that helps. I interact with a pretty diverse group of veterans almost daily, and I’m also one of the gear review dudes at Task & Purpose. Also, I give good gifts. I’m not exaggerating. It’s something I’m naturally good at. I think this makes me pretty dang qualified to help you find the best gifts for your veteran.

Getting equipped 

If there is a group of people who can appreciate good gear, it’s people who’ve fielded bad gear. Trust me. It’s a military tradition that you’ll have to use bad gear, so the experience is universal. Obviously, once you reach the First Civ Div, things get a little less intense, so I’ve picked a few options that are dang near-universal.

Danner Tachyon Boots

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Benchmade Griptilian

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5.11 Tactical Rush 24 2.0

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Streamlight Wedge

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Other recommendations from our team of active-duty and veteran gear reviewers here at Task & Purpose:

Keeping sharp 

Vets get lots of unique skills and a unique mindset from their very unusual former job. This training can often slip away, and as such, it’s important to keep sharp. Lots of vets might find themselves losing practice with these skills, and a little encouragement can go a long way.

Vertx COF range bag

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Mantis Blackbeard Trigger System

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We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder With the Marines Who Took Fallujah

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Other recommendations from our team of active-duty and veteran gear reviewers here at Task & Purpose:

  • The best range bags for your next trip to the firing line
  • The best military books we read last year

Shedding pounds 

Four out of every five veterans are overweight. I get it — you get out, and 5:30 a.m. PT time just ain’t happening no more. With that in mind, working out should be a priority, and equipment can help and inspire your veteran to get after it.

Century BOB Punching Bag

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Intex Challenger K-1 Kayak

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5.11 PTR Sandbags

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Other recommendations from our team of active-duty and veteran gear reviewers here at Task & Purpose:

The gun stuff 

Well, duh. Vets tend to like guns. They also tend to know how to use them. These products are on my own personal list. This is what I would want from Santa.

Crimson Trace Laser Saddle

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Rein WML Light

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AXIL Trackr Bluetooth Hearing Protection

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Other recommendations from our team of active-duty and veteran gear reviewers here at Task & Purpose:

The easy stuff

Everything above seems a little specialized. Obviously, everyone has their hobbies and my own bias might be evident. Let’s close with some basic lifestyle goodies anyone could love. Like everything on the list, I either have or enjoy this stuff, or want it under my tree.

DD-214 Blanket

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Basil Hayden’s Bourbon

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Sam Adams Sweater Weather Variety Pack

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Trade Coffee subscription

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Quest protein chips

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Other recommendations from our team of active-duty and veteran gear reviewers here at Task & Purpose:

Gifted 

I wrote this guide with two guiding principles. This would be stuff I own or stuff I want. It’s a mix of both, and no manufacturer on this list has ever sent me a dime. It’s the gear I want, gear I use, and it’s the stuff the veteran in your life will love. Since this is a community, what ideas do you have? Comment below if you have any additions to this gift guide! 

Travis Pike is a former Marine machine gunner who served with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines for five years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He plays in the great outdoors of Northwest Florida and enjoys good beer, sharp knives, and long walks in the woods.

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Travis Pike

Contributing Writer

Travis Pike is a former infantry Marine and current proud member of the 2nd Civ Div. He covers guns, holsters, knives, and other fun gear for Task & Purpose and has written for The Truth About Guns, Pew Pew Tactical, Recoil, The Mag Life, and many other publications.