20 Gifts for a Dad Who Wants Nothing

April 11, 2020

pelican consumer blog 20 gifts for dad

Got a dad who insists he needs nothing and has everything? We don’t want to make any assumptions, but we’re willing to bet that there are a few things he could in fact use, even if he won’t admit it. Sure, a six-pack or a nice cigar would do, but nothing beats giving your dad a gift he’ll rely on well into the future. Think: a rugged tactical flashlight or a hard cooler that will last for the next dozen seasons of tailgating.

This year, finding that perfect gift for dad is harder than normal. Seats for ball games, tickets to bucket-list concerts and big family cookouts are off the table, at least for the foreseeable future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still nail it. At Pelican, we’re all about outfitting you with durable, practical products that you can toss through the wringer, and our catalog is a goldmine for dad gifts. Here are some of our favorite gifts for the dad who wants nothing.

1. A Cooler Filled with His Favorite Beverages — If your dad doesn’t already have a go-to cooler that keeps everything ice-cold for actual days, your search stops here. He needs one of our wheeled coolers. These amazing products of cooling innovation offer up to 10 days of ice retention and have heavy-duty wheels so pops can roll his straight onto the beach, the boat or the parking lot before the big game. Is he more of a one-day-at-a-time kind of guy? He may prefer a soft cooler backpack so he can take some cold ones wherever he goes. Of course, regardless of which kind you choose, you can’t just give the cooler. You’ve also gotta give some contents to test. Fill it to the brim with all his favorite cold drinks and snacks.

wheeled beverage ice cooler

2. Anything Cast Iron for Cooking Over Real Fire — Here at Pelican, we’re huge on the buy it for life philosophy (it’s why we make gear that’s guaranteed for life). We know that, no matter what kind of dad you’ve got — chef, outdoorsman, eco-dad — one of the best pieces of gear to put in his arsenal is a good-quality, properly seasoned cast iron skillet. Whether for camping, backyard grilling or whipping up gourmet stuff in the kitchen, there is no denying the rugged practicality of cast iron. You can toss it on the grill over coal or an open campfire for some amazing meals.
3. Something He Can Plant Outside — If your dad loves tinkering in the yard, surprise him with something cool he can plant in his garden. Some fun ideas include tropical plants, greenery walls and unique vegetables — purple sweet potatoes, garlic scapes, ramps, black radishes, gooseberries. They’re all fun and unusual things dad will love to watch grow. A decorative fruit tree or shrub may be a good option, too.
4. A Custom Emergency Preparedness Kit — Forget a fruit basket. How about an emergency basket? Create a custom emergency preparedness kit to help ensure that dad’s always ready for whatever comes his way, whether it be a natural disaster, a stay-at-home order or a power failure. You’ll want to make sure your custom kit includes a reliable flashlight or headlamp, spare batteries, first-aid supplies, an emergency blanket, a weather radio and any other supplies he may need based on his age, health and geographical location. Make sure to pack it all in a crush-proof, waterproof case that’ll keep everything safe.

emergency preparedness kit

5. A Camera Backpack for All His Adventures — If your dad is still traveling, hiking and going on big adventures with a standard camera bag, you’ve got a great gift-giving opportunity on your hands. Surprise him with a roomy camera backpack that includes extra cargo space for all his cameras, lenses and accessories. These backpacks also shield dad’s gear with a layer of crush-proof material and are completely watertight, so they never need to be babied.
6. Anything That Helps Him Stay Organized — If there’s anything dads love more than gear, it’s organizing said gear in the basement or garage. The key to picking out organizational extras that he’ll actually want to use is to choose ones he probably wouldn’t buy himself. (As in, something more legit than tattered, old moving boxes and coffee cans). Pick up a few sturdy, dustproof and watertight storage cases in different sizes to help him organize all of his stuff, whether it be music gear and cables, collectible books or essentials for camping and fishing.
7. A Monthly Subscription Because He Hates Shopping — Anything you can do to make dad’s life more convenient, more fun and less stressful is an all-around win. A monthly subscription box is a great way to do that, especially if it involves delivering fun or practical stuff to your dad’s door every month. Some ideas include monthly boxes of razors, craft beer, wine, meat, ties, socks, candy and beef jerky. There’s pretty much a monthly gift delivery for every kind of dad these days.

18oz water bottle in black

8. A Water Bottle That’s Guaranteed for Life — Make sure your dad is well-hydrated no matter where he goes with a super-durable Pelican water bottle that comes guaranteed for life. These aren’t your standard plastic beverage vessels either. They’re made with BPA-free stainless steel and feature a leak-proof carry handle lid so dad can take his with him wherever he goes, work or play. Because they ensure extreme heat and cold retention, they’re excellent for everything from mid-summer campouts to tailgating at the big game in the middle of winter.
9. A Travel Duffel He Can Take on Long Trips — If your dad occasionally travels or heads out for weekend trips in rugged environments, he’d probably love a travel duffel bag. These luggage essentials are an amazing choice in environments where suitcases just seem out of place (like in the bed of his pickup truck or a tent). They offer plenty of room for clothing and gear when he goes camping, fishing, hunting and hiking or heads out for weekends away at the cabin.

large sport duffel bag

10. A Drone to Help Him See All the Bird’s-Eye Views — Even dads who aren’t particularly into photography or gadgetry will love to play with a remote-controlled drone. How could you not? These flying wonders can capture sky-high photos and HD videos that dad can use to satisfy his creative side. The great thing is that, since exploding in popularity a few years ago, drone cameras have become quite affordable, with some introductory models starting at under $50.
11. A Phone Case He Can Take Hiking and Fishing — Helping your parents with their technology is just part of being their child. One of the ways you can help dad with his devices is by giving him a virtually indestructible phone or tablet case. Choose one that’s shock- and drop-proof if you’ve got a dad who spends his spare time climbing, riding, camping, paddling or doing anything where dropping is a risk.
12. A Basket Full of Car Cleaning Supplies Because Why Not — If dad’s a car guy, why not create a gift basket full of stuff he can use to spiff and shine the fleet? It sounds a bit mundane, but the truth is that he will probably be delighted to have some new and improved options. With some new cloths, brushes, wax and cleaning solutions, he’ll finally be able to toss out those old ripped up, grease-stained T-shirt rags in his car-washing bucket in the garage and start anew.
13. Fancy Self-Care Stuff He’d Never Buy Himself — Dads of a certain generation may be embarrassed or ashamed to spend more than $1 in the self-care aisle, but — as their more evolved children — we know that having high-quality shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream and cologne is a luxury every person should experience in their lifetime. Consider starting your dad off with a complete set of some beard and hair care products or a nice skincare set.

black dayventure steel tumbler

14. A Next-Level Coffee Tumbler — If pops is still rocking a free travel mug he got at a trade show once, it’s time to help him upgrade with something sturdy and high-tech, like a Pelican Dayventure Tumbler. These durable, sweat-free tumblers keep cold and hot drinks at the ideal temperature, so he can use it all year round, from morning coffee to jogs at the park. They come in a variety of different colors, with 10-ounce, 16-ounce and 22-ounce options.
15. A Framed Photo of the Two of You

Bonus: Gifts for Dad That Don’t Cost a Thing

If your dad is one of those dads who really insists on not getting any gifts under any circumstances, you can still make him feel extra-special by planning some quality time or making something with things you already have around the house. Here are some of our favorite free gifts for dads that you can give from the heart. Oh, and don’t forget the card!

1. A Family Camping Trip — Camping is one of the best ways to encourage family bonding across multiple generations. For a whole weekend, you get to enjoy fun activities like making s’mores, telling stories and playing games. Bring the Spikeball set or a frisbee and a deck of cards to keep everyone thoroughly entertained.
2. A Day Doing His Favorite Thing — Fishing, hunting, gardening, shooting, hiking, hanging out at the beach, watching sports, biking, volunteering, whatever. One of the best things you can do to honor any family member is to spend time with them doing something they really want to do. Give him a full day of fun — his choice!

family travel trip

3. A Scavenger Hunt — Want to get really creative? Work with the rest of your family to send dad off on an all-day scavenger hunt that takes him all around the yard, the neighborhood or — if you’re feeling extra ambitious — the whole town. Get creative with punny clues and clever prizes to make him laugh along the way.
4. A Home-Cooked Meal — And we’re not talking about throwing some burgers or hot dogs on the grill! Go all-out with a full dinner and don’t forget the dessert. Make sure to tailor the meal to your dad by including all his favorite foods.
5. Help with a Big Project — Dads are always in the middle of big projects. It’s just in their nature. Cleaning out the garage, fixing up old cars, organizing old photos. Whatever it may be, we’re sure your dad would be giddy over the idea of having some help along the way. Offer to give him a day or two of your time to help knock some of those big jobs off his to-do list.

Thoughtful, Practical Gifts

father son fishing trip

What makes a good gift for the guy who has it all and genuinely wants nothing? It all depends on one thing, and one thing only: your dad. Not all fathers are the same. Some love the outdoors and sports while others shred on the guitar or spend their free time surfing. The first thing you need to do when trying to find a special gift for your dad — even if he says he wants nothing — is to think about his unique style and personality. From there, we’re sure you’ll find something amazing.

shop pelican cases


Sign up for our newsletter and get exclusive access to new product launches, special offers and much more.