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Dec 08 2020

2020 Montana Holiday Gift Guide

9 ways to shop local and support Montana's wildlands this holiday season

To help you navigate this holiday season, we’ve put together this gift guide highlighting Montana-based businesses and artisans that are supporters of MWA and Montana’s wild places. Hopefully, it’ll make it a little bit easier to shop for the folks on your list. 

More important, now is an especially important time to shop local. The Covid-19 pandemic has made it tough on many of the small businesses and artists that are part of the fabric of our towns, and making an effort to support them can make a big difference to the folks who’ve built businesses from the ground up and poured their hearts into creative endeavors. So use this list as a starting point (and of course we encourage you to support these great Montana businesses) and do what you can to shop local this holiday season. 

Great Montana (and world) maps

For the cartography buffs out there, Missoula-based Xplorer Maps creates one-of-a-kind hand-drawn and hand-lettered maps of national parks and wild places. You can pick up one of their Montana products, including maps of Glacier and Yellowstone National Park, or choose from dozens of other wild and scenic spots around the globe.

Best of all, Xplorer Maps is donating 25% of the sales of all Montana products to MWA this holiday season, so you can support a great local business and help protect the wildlife and wild places that make Montana special. Shop online at xplorermaps.com.

And if you’re looking for maps that’ll help you out in the field, check out the great lineup from our friends at Missoula-based Cairn Cartographics. They make meticulous maps of wilderness areas and wild places in western Montana, and even have some wall maps that are great for showing off your love for Montana’s wildlands. Shop online at cairncarto.com

Great Montana books

There’s no better time than winter to cozy up by the fire with a great book. Check out our list of 15 books about Montana’s wild places, history, and people, along with local shops where you can buy or order them in time for the holidays.

We also put together a list of 12 great kids books, if you’re looking for something for the pint-sized wilderness adventurers in your life.  

Montana art

There are a ton of wonderful Montana artists and photographers out there, and the holidays are a great time to support them while adding some new art for your walls. There are far too many talented folks to list here, but here are a few of our favorite, all of whom have supported MWA and helped spread the joy of Montana’s wild places and wild creatures.

Kevin League, Helena
Brian Christianson, Missoula
Tony Bynum, East Glacier
Karen Savory, Darby

Montana trips for the future

Now’s not a great time for traveling, but there are lots of local outfitters, guides, and tour operators that are ready to start offering trips when it’s safe to do so. Booking a trip now, or buying a gift certificate for a future trip, can help these companies make it through this rough patch so they’ll still be able to offer great trips in the future. Having a trip on the horizon is also a great thing to look forward to! 

Dropstone Outfitting, Choteau. Dropstone offers stock-supporter backpacking trips in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and along the Rocky Mountain Front
Wild River Adventures, West Glacier. Wild River takes visitors on rafting, fishing, and horseback trips in and around Glacier National Park. 
Swan Mountain Outfitters, Swan Lake. Swan Mountain offers paddling and horseback adventures in Glacier National Park
Missouri River Outfitters, Fort Benton. Missouri River Outfitters is the premier outfitter for guided or self-supported canoe trips through the spectacular Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument.

Indigenous-owned businesses

There are far too many artists, craftspeople, and companies to list here, but supporting Indigenous-owned businesses is a great use of your holiday shopping dollars. Tribal communities, underserved for years, have been hit especially hard by Covid-19, and supporting Indigenous-owned businesses is a small way to help these businesses through difficult times. 

American Indian Business Alliance. An online directory of Native and tribal-owned businesses nationwide.
Made in Montana Indigenous businesses. A small selection of Indigenous-owned businesses across Montana. 
. An online marketplace of Indigenous art, sold by the creators themselves. 

Local outdoor gear

A longtime supporter of MWA and Montana’s wild places, Bozeman-based Mystery Ranch makes high-quality backpacks for hiking and backpacking, skiing, hunting, everyday use, and a lot more. Whatever adventure is on your list (or the list of someone you love), you can find a great pack that’ll check all the boxes and last forever. Shop online at mysteryranch.com.

Oboz Footwear is another Bozeman-based company that’s been making great hiking shoes and supporting MWA’s work for years. Whether you’re looking for some new winter boots for you or some hiking shoes for someone special, you can find an Oboz product that fits the bill. Shop online at obozfootwear.com.

There are also plenty of great local gear shops where you can pick up everything from stocking stuffers to big-ticket items like boats, skis, and tents. A few of our favorites are The Base Camp in Helena and Billings, The Trail Head in Missoula, Bighorn Outdoor Specialists in Great Falls, and REI in Kalispell and Bozeman. 

Montana food and drink

There are lots of ways to support local restaurants, breweries, and other food producers, even if you’re not eating out a lot. Takeout is always a great option, as is grabbing a coffee, growler, or backpacking meal from one of these companies, which are some of the best around. 

Gastro Gnome Meals, Bozeman. Gastro Gnome makes delicious backcountry meals using real ingredients, so the backpackers, paddlers, or travelers in your life can enjoy a great meal on their wilderness adventures. 
Black Coffee Roasting Company, Missoula and Treeline Coffee Roasters, Bozeman. Most great days start with a great cup of coffee, and Black Coffee and Treeline’s locally roasted beans are some of the tastiest around. 
Gracious Table, Libby. The Gracious Table is creating delicious take-home meals and freshly baked bread, and also offers cooking classes and catering. 
Blackfoot River Brewing, Helena. Blackfoot is a Helena staple, and a fresh growler of delicious local beer is a great gift for hard-to-shop-for wildlands lovers.  

Donate to MWA in honor of a loved one

Making a donation in someone’s name is a great gift for a friend or family member who loves wild places. It’s an easy and effective way to give the gift of wild places, and you know that gift will keep on giving for generations who will continue to love and enjoy Montana’s wild places, wildlife, and stunning scenery.

Make a donation in honor of a friend or family member here.

Winter Wildlands Backcountry Film Festival tickets

Yes, the Backcountry Film Festival will be virtual this year, but a ticket is a great gift for an adventurer who wants to get excited from winter from the comfort and safety of their couch. 

The film lineup is packed full of stellar films featuring athletic pursuits in the mountains, gorgeous cinematography, stories of the snowsports community adapting to a changing environment, and more. A portion of the proceeds from every ticket sold will support MWA’s local chapters. 

You can buy tickets and watch the trailer here.

Alex Blackmer
Communications Manager

Alex supports MWA's communications strategy, campaigns, and programs across the state. You can find him exploring Montana's best skiing, biking, climbing, and backpacking.
Email Alex