Gadgets

The best birthday gift ideas for men: From unique to practical, these cool picks will wow

guy reaching into a box with brown filling in it

Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Searching for birthday gift ideas for men? Shopping for a man in your life—whether it’s your husband, father, son, brother, or even yourself—can sometimes feel impossible. Finding unique gift ideas that stand out and pique a man’s interest can take creativity, resourcefulness, and maybe just a little guile. And it starts with a reassessment of what appeals to men. 

There was a time when certain things were considered the “best gifts for men,” standbys that fit gender norms and played into supposedly “manly” interests and attitudes. Back in those neolithic days, marketers would have us believe that a man’s perfect gift was a bottle of whisky, some sort of power tool, or power tie, or the most macho electric razor available (I don’t know, maybe it used shark teeth instead of steel blades). But today, we know that men’s interests are often much more diverse. Sure, some men do still enjoy those things, but it’s also true that sometimes the perfect gift isn’t necessarily one that those bygone marketers would expect. 

With that in mind, we’re approaching this guide to birthday gift ideas for men by looking at the expansive width and breadth of a modern man’s experiences and interests. We’re exploring the world of tech, design and home, food, health, gaming, sports, and music. We’ve looked for unique gift ideas, as well as practical gifts for men, to surprise as much as satisfy him and, hopefully, win you a few brownie points. Hey, maybe your birthday is coming up next! 

  • Best birthday gift for tennis players: Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13 Tennis Racquet
  • Best birthday gift ideas for men who ride bikes: Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Bike Trainer
  • Best birthday present ideas for men who are artistic: Wacom One Digital Drawing Tablet
  • Best gifts for men who are musicians: STYLOPHONE GEN X-1 Portable Analog Synthesizer
  • Best birthday gift ideas for men into home fitness:  TRX Slam Ball 
  • Best birthday present ideas for men who are retrogamers: Atari Flashback 9 Gold
  • Best gifts for men who love wine: The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert: Take a Whiff of That
  • Best birthday gift ideas for men who want to relive their teenage years: Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks Gift Set
  • Best birthday gift ideas for men who want to capture the moment: DJI Pocket 2 – Handheld 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer with 4K Camera
  • Best birthday present ideas for men who are into cooking: AeroGarden Harvest Elite – Stainless Steel
  • Best gifts for men who are into camping:  REI Co-op Grand Hut 4 Tent 

Get inspired by the best birthday gift ideas for men

When selecting birthday gift ideas for him, think about the man’s interests, hobbies, and favorite activities. What does he talk about? What gets him excited and makes him smile? Consider gifts that reflect your relationship and history with him. Shared experiences—or even better, misadventures—can provide inspiration. And don’t be afraid to solicit advice from his friends and family members. Above all else, remember that the gift is for him, so don’t fall into the trap of getting something just because it appeals to you. 

We’ve dug deep to help you find unique, exciting birthday gifts for even the most impossible-to-shop-for man in your life. These are gifts that let him know you’re thinking of him on his special day, and every time he looks at them, he’ll remember you. In the end, the best birthday gift ideas for men are any gift given with honesty and genuine affection. Whatever you get him, he’ll love it. But if you follow our list, maybe he’ll love it just a little bit more.

Related: Sometimes the best gift for a guy is something for man’s best friend

Best birthday gift for tennis players: Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13 Tennis Racquet

black wilson tennis racket

Will Change Your Game

You’ll get powerful shots, a sleek design, and solid control. Amazon

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The Pro Staff 97 v13 from Wilson is the latest incarnation in a decades-long production run that sports new features including a unique 45-degree angle graphite fiber braid that allows for superior stability and an incredibly responsive feel. Along with an ergonomic endcap and a tighter, denser string bed to deliver added precision during play, the Pro Staff is finished with a sleek, glossy look and colorful pinstripes that pay homage to the original model from 1983. An exposed carbon fiber element at the tip adds extra style points, making this a clear choice for esthetically-minded players who don’t want to skimp on performance. Snag one on Amazon or on Wilson’s website.

Best birthday gift ideas for men who ride bikes:  Feedback Sports Omnium Portable Bike Trainer

stationary bike

A Great Work Out Indoors

A simple setup, just add your favorite bike. Amazon

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Bike riding is a fantastic way to keep in shape, but sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate. That’s no reason to break your routine when you can use a portable bike trainer like this one from Feedback Sports. Basically, you attach your favorite bike (assuming it has quick-release tires) to the front of the unit and let the back wheel spin on top of rollers—it’s like a more advanced and customized version of the old stationary bikes. The Omnium trainer utilizes Internal Progressive Resistance in the rollers to simulate a real-road feel…minus the potholes and any risk of road-rash from falling over. The whole system is nearly silent, which makes it a great option for apartment dwellers or people who don’t want to wake the kids when they go out on an early morning ride. The unit is portable and comes with a heavy-duty, padded tote bag. So whether you’re training for a race or just riding to stay in shape, you never have to worry about angry dogs, careless drivers, or rain and snow that makes getting out on the road impossible. 

Best birthday present ideas for men who are artistic: Wacom One Digital Drawing Tablet

wacom tablet with the word one written on it

One Screen, Endless Possibilities

This 13.3-inch tablet features natural surface friction for intuitive drawing. Amazon

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If you have an artist in your life, chances are he wants a Wacom tablet. The company has dominated the professional illustration and design worlds for years, and the entry-level Wacom One lives up to the reputation of its bigger siblings. It features a surface that feels like paper and a digital pen that can create an endless range of line and brush styles. Combined with the included two-month license for Adobe Photoshop software, it provides powerful tools for illustration and photo manipulation. The device works on its own, and can also connect to a PC or Mac via USB. You can even import photos from your phone or tablet. The relatively small screen might get in the way for anyone looking to use this in a professional environment, in which case, it’s worth looking at Wacom’s bigger, and more expensive, Cintiq models. But for others, it’s a great doorway to the world of digital art.

Best gifts for men who are musicians: STYLOPHONE GEN X-1 Portable Analog Synthesizer

retro looking synthesizer

Compact, Quirky Musical Fun

Use a stylus to play this battery-powered electronic instrument. Amazon

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Birthday present ideas can be hard to come by, but not with this list. The Stylophone Gen X-1 is an unusual electronic instrument that’s played by sliding a stylus along a smooth, keyboard-style strip. At less than 9 inches wide and weighing under 16 ounces, it’s a portable noisemaker that’s fun to play. Under the hood, it features a single oscillator to generate tone, and you can fatten up the sound nicely by activating the sub-octave switch that creates a second frequency one or two octaves below your sound source. The synth also has an envelope with attack, pitch, and decay controls, and an LFO that can switch between square and triangle waveforms. An onboard analog delay with time, feedback, and level knobs, and a resonant filter with adjustable cutoff frequency help to further shape the sound. There’s even a Pulse Width Modulation button that creates a chorus-like effect. There’s a built-in speaker, or audio can be sent to headphones or an external speaker or mixer via the line out. In addition, an audio input jack lets you use the Stylophone as an effects unit. 

Best birthday gift ideas for men into home fitness  TRX Slam Ball 

grey workout ball

Smash Your Way to Fitness

The rough-textured exercise ball comes in 10, 15, and 20-pound sizes. Amazon

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There’s just something satisfying about smashing something heavy into the ground. And the fact that it’s helping build and tone muscles doesn’t hurt, either. The Slam Ball is a textured, rubber ball filled with sand that weighs in at 10, 15, or 20 pounds. To use it, just lift it over your head and smash it into the ground—doing so helps work every muscle in your body. You can also slam it sideways into a wall for a rotational workout. Sound like fun? It is, but it’s also a terrific, unique way to feel the burn. Optional stress reliever: yelling, “Hulk smash!” every time you slam it to the ground. 

Best birthday present ideas for men who are retrogamers: Atari Flashback 9 Gold

box of atari video games

New Ways to Old School

This portable arcade includes 120 classic, ready-to-play games. Amazon

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Searching for the best gifts for gamers? Nolan Bushnell started a revolution when his company, Atari, released the 2600 back in 1977. And while video game consoles have since delivered untold technological wonders, there’s no beating the nostalgic rush that comes from firing up one of those classic 8-bit games. The Atari Flashback 9 Gold captures some of that with a black-and-orange console that’s lovingly modeled after the original 2600 and packed with 120 games, including Frogger, Pitfall, Space Invaders, Kaboom, Centipede, Asteroids, and all the other favorites. It includes two Bluetooth-connected joysticks with the single orange button that so many of us mashed for hours on end in the pursuit of video-game glory. And while it’s missing the plastic cartridges of yesteryear, it does feature an HDMI output that delivers a 720p signal to your display. Full HD would have been nice, but this is still a big step up from playing it on the old CRT TV in your basement. All you need is a six-pack of cola, a bag of chips, and your best friend and you’ll be ready to blissfully waste away your weekend. 

Best gifts for men who love wine: The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert

book on wine

The Nose Knows

Sixteen scratch-and-sniff wines help hone your skills. Amazon

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Fruity, woody, earthy—describing wine is an esoteric skill that sometimes leaves novices scratching their heads and questioning their taste. The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert is written by Master Sommelier Richard Betts, who takes a unique approach to helping fans develop their fundamentals by presenting 16 wine-related scents. Accompanied by fun illustrations and helpful text that explains how the aromas apply and relate to different types of wine, the smart and enlightening book delivers knowledge without a hint of snobbery. It even includes a useful chart that connects bouquets to different wines. Short of including a bottle of red and a corkscrew, it’s everything a man needs to up his game the next time he heads to the wine store. 

Best birthday gift ideas for men who want to relive their teenage years: Dungeons & Dragons Core Rulebooks Gift Set

three dungeon and dragons rulebooks make great birthday gift ideas for men

Dungeon Crawl With Friends

An attractive slip-case holds all the books a Dungeon Master needs. Amazon

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“As the torchlight bounces off the stone walls around you, a shadow moves in the back of the room. You hear a low growl followed by the crunch of bone. From under your helmet, a bead of sweat runs down your brow, and you grip your sword a little tighter. The growl grows louder. What do you do?” Welcome to the world of Dungeons & Dragons, the best-selling fantasy roleplaying game in the world. After more than 40 years, D&D is bigger than ever, with gamers of all ages gathering around the dining room table—or online—to spend a few hours embodying heroic adventurers who fight monsters, save kingdoms, uncover treasure, and, in the end, create fun memories. This boxed gift set includes all three of the core books needed to play the game: The Player’s Handbook, the Dungeon Master’s Guide, and the Monster Manual. They contain all the rules for everything from character creation to combat, hundreds of monster descriptions, spells, weapons, world-building tips and tricks, and full-color art by some of the top names in fantasy illustration. It’s all housed in a handsome slipcase, and even comes with a fold-out Dungeon Master’s screen. You’ll have to supply your own gaming dice, as well as pencils, paper, and, of course, a group of friends. But once you’ve assembled your party of heroes, the adventure’s only limited by your imagination. 

Best birthday gift ideas for men who want to capture the moment: DJI Pocket 2

dji pocket camera as gifts for him

All The Memories, Zero Shake

Shoot stable, 4K footage with this go-anywhere camera. Amazon

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If your guy likes filling his phone with videos when he travels, if he’s got his own YouTube channel, or throws videos up on Instagram regularly, it’s time to step up his cinematography. DJI’s Pocket 2 is a 4K camera attached to a three-axis, motorized gimbal for smooth, stabilized shooting that still fits, as the name suggests, in your pocket. It features a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and a 20mm f/1.8 lens, as well as a built-in screen. Besides delivering smooth footage, the gimbal can reverse the camera while tracking software keeps it locked on your face for walk-and-talks. The Pocket 2 pairs with both Apple and Android smartphones to provide a bigger monitor, and to open up controls for exposure, image quality, and more. Transfer footage from the camera to your phone using DJI’s free Mimo app, and then edit on the fly before uploading your footage to the web. The camera includes onboard mics for basic audio, and accessories are available to use more professional microphones. It’s too bad DJI doesn’t have a way to include built-in ND filters to help control the light on bright days, and professionals are still hoping for a wider dynamic range. But regardless of all that, the Pocket 2 is a huge leap up from shooting video on a smartphone, and the artistic opportunities it opens up are endless. 

Best birthday present ideas for men into cooking: AeroGarden Harvest Elite – Stainless Steel

smart garden with plants growing out of it is one of the best birthday gift ideas for men

Homegrown Goodness

Grow some kick in your kitchen with this inside herb garden (some exciting seeds included). Amazon

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Nothing brings flavor to a home-cooked meal like fresh herbs. If the man in your life loves spending time in the kitchen, the AeroGarden Harvest Elite lets him grow his own all year long. This countertop growing system uses energy-efficient, 20W grow lights to grow herbs and vegetables in water, with no messy soil. It features an automatic timer, customized settings for different types of plants, reminders for when you need to add water or plant food, and even a vacation mode for when the cook is out of town. The Harvest Elite can grow up to six different plants at once, providing a full bounty of flavoring. The unit includes non-GMO seed pod kits for Genovese basil, curly parsley, dill, thyme, Thai basil, and mint to start, and others can be purchased online. The system is simple enough that parents and kids can enjoy it together, and it’s a fun, educational, and tasty way to bring everyone just a bit closer to the food they’re eating. 

Best gifts for men who are into camping:  REI Co-op Grand Hut 4 Tent

white and mesh camping tent is one of the best gifts for him

Sleep Under the Stars

This tent’s near-vertical walls and rectangular floor plan maximize livable space. REI

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Vacation in nature without sacrificing comfort with REI’s Co-op Grand Hut 4 Tent. With almost 60 square feet of interior space, there’s enough room to sleep four people, and the 75-inch peak height means you can stand and stretch in the morning. The free-standing tent features ripstop panels low on the walls for privacy, and bug-proof mesh toward the top so you can enjoy the view of the night sky. A waterproof fly and dual twin-stake vestibule offer additional livable space, as well as a place to store and protect your gear. Storage also includes high and low pockets throughout the tent, while gear loops placed throughout provide convenient places to attach lights. attach lights. The tent packs up in a heavy-duty carry bag with pockets for poles and stakes, making it easy to carry with you on hikes—or just fun nights in your backyard.  

Related: Here’s what to get your man if he’s a child of the ‘90s

If those birthday gift ideas for men weren’t enough, here are some closing thoughts on picking the perfect present

It’s never easy to find the perfect birthday gift ideas for men, and we hope our list of unique gift ideas helps. But in case you’re still stuck, remember to think about his interests: Is he a video gamer or board gamer, is he a whiz in the workshop, does he want to learn something new, and does he want to work up a physical or a mental sweat? Try to find a unique way to spin his interests, and you’re sure to find cool gifts for men, that even the man who has everything will love.   

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PopSci is here to help you find the most useful and expert shopping recommendations for the best gift ideas. Searching for more unique gifts? Check out more gift guides here: best gifts for women, space-themed presents, and gifts for new parents.