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Do you have a military, tactical, and/or inquisitive leader in your life? Are you stumped on possible Christmas or holiday gift ideas for them? 3×5 Leadership is here to help. Below are 15 gift ideas that I believe in and feel the leader in your life can benefit from. Happy shopping, Merry Christmas, and happy holidays!

For Tactical-Focused Leaders

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Darn Tough boot socks. As an ultramarathon runner, Darn Tough socks are the only brand I wear. They are merino wool socks that are both incredibly comfortable and durable; they take care of my feet over thousands of miles every year. Thankfully, Darn Tough makes boot socks too, which of course are the only brand of boot socks I wear. You can check out Darn Tough’s main website here.. To check out their military boot socks specifically, go here. At this website, you can look at their boot sock guide and find the best retailer to find them at. Socks generally cost around $20/pair.

Stanley Mountain Vacuum Coffee System. This is a french press and thermos made for the field. My wife declares me a “coffee snob;” I need French press coffee, even in the field. This is the greatest field coffee contraption I’ve ever seen and used. This all-in-one system includes a boiling pot, French press, and 1.1qt thermos to store brewed coffee. The cap includes two cups and a compartment to store coffee grounds. All of these capabilities store into a singular thermos shape for super convenient storage and transport. Check out the $60 all-in-one coffee system here.

Battle Board. Map boards are necessities for any tactical military leader. Battle tracking is truly an art. While standard plexiglass and 100mph tape can make a cheap, but acceptable product, that doesn’t capitalize on the “art” aspect. Enter Battle Board company. Their map board-style products are sleek and versatile. Based on the model you choose, Battle Boards can cost $100-150. Check out Battle Board here.

Garmin Fortrex watches. A durable watch with extensive features can make a tactical leader’s life much easier. Critical capabilities should include long battery life, GPS capability, compass function, and so on. The Garmin Foretrex 601 will be every military leader’s best friend with its slim design, being powered by AA batteries to enable use in austere environments, and use of 10-digit MGRS points. Check out the Foretrex 601 here. With the 601 having a $250 price tag, there is a cheaper model in the 401 at $140. Find the Foretrex 401 here.

Tactical Notebook Covers. The Tactical Notebook Covers company makes a variety of creative covers for the traditional Army green notebooks. They also make binder-sized covers and other specialty cases. I have used their “TAM Field Book Cover” for two years now. This green notebook cover includes storage and a unique “smart card” reference system while all maintaining a thin and simple design. Check out Tactical Notebook Covers here.

For Growing and Inquisitive Leaders

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The below gifts are not tied to military leadership, but more toward holistic leadership. All leaders, military and civilian alike, can benefit from these items.

Michael Hyatt’s LeaderBox. In the culture of specialized box delivery service subscriptions for anything you can think of, naturally there is one for leadership now. Pop-leader Michael Hyatt created LeaderBox, which is advertised as “a monthly reading experience curated by leaders, for leaders.” Each monthly box includes two books with a 21-day reading plan, related resources, a plan to enact the lessons gleaned from the reading, a note-taking framework, and insightful executive summaries. Included in the subscription is access to the LeaderBox Learning Circle online network as well. This service is just taking off with the first box shipping in December 2017. Learn more and subscribe to LeaderBox here. Monthly subscriptions are $79/month plus shipping; there is also an annual plan at a lower rate.

Journals & Planners. I have recently began testing out “self-improvement” style specialty planners to help time management and to improve reflection through journaling. Leveraging a defined framework can improve time and task management, and bring purpose to reflective journaling. One planner-journal I recommend is the Best Self journal, which is advertised as a “daily planner to help optimize your day, tackle your goals, and be happier.” The journal is $35 and you can check it out here. Additionally, Michael Hyatt makes the Full Focus Planner which emphasizes annual goal-setting and daily productivity. A Full Focus Planner spans three months and costs $37; check it out here.

HBR subscription. Harvard Business Review (HBR) is a general management magazine from Harvard Business Publishing, a subsidiary of Harvard University. The magazine includes six annual hard-copy magazine publications as well as a robust online article inventory with daily article publications. Content is relevant to a variety of industries and management functions, and topics include leadership, management, organizational change, negotiation, strategy, organizational operations, marketing, diversity, and many human aspects of the workplace. Through my subscription, I learn a vast array of lessons that influence my leadership and management style beyond the scope of the military; it has expanded my “leader horizon” to become of aware of topics, methods, and ideas that I never considered before. Annual subscription costs $99; you can learn more and subscribe here.

Audible subscription. Reading is critical for personal and professional development, period. However, I know finding routine time to commit to reading can be a struggle for many leaders. This is where audiobooks can help. With audiobooks, you can use time through your day such as driving, running, or completing other “mindless” tasks to continue your leadership learning through “reading.” Audible is a great audiobook resource. You build an account through your Amazon profile and purchase books on their website. Through their phone app, you can listen with ease anywhere and anytime. A subscription cost $14.95/month. With a subscription, you get one “free” book a month and all additional books are 30% off regular price. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks.


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As mentioned above for an Audible subscription, reading is a cornerstone personal development program for every quality leader. Below are three books that I highly recommend for military leaders.

Turn the Ship Around! Capt. David Marquet tells a compelling story of his command of the USS Santa Fe submarine and how he improved the crew’s performance and culture. Throughout his story, he discusses specific actions he took to address particular issues and how readers can apply them to their organization. This is my favorite leadership development book I’ve read so far. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Gates of Fire. A classic historical fiction novel of the Spartans at Thermopylae to inspire military leaders while educating about military discipline, honor, duty, and esprit de corps. You can find the book on Amazon here.

Once an Eagle. Another classic historical fiction novel, this one following a “Soldier’s Soldier” from WWI through a fictionalized Vietnam. The book addresses duty and honor while warning against personal ambition without principle. Author Anton Myrer pits two leadership examples against one another showcasing honor, character, and care-for-Soldiers versus self-centered lust for power. The story forces readers to reflect on their own leadership styles and to even spend their following years in the military asking “what would Sam Damon do?” You can find the book on Amazon here

Bonus Items

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Three additional items that I recommend.

Carved from Granite. I believe this book is a must-read for every graduate of the United States Military Academy. Written by Lance Betros, a previous history department head, this book covers the Academy’s history over the 20th and 21st century. Chapters are divided into categories such as academics, athletics, military training, academy governance, and so on. Personally, this book has opened my eyes to the complexity of my alma mater and why many things are the way they are now. It is an interesting and engaging read, not a dry historical account. Betros is not afraid to take sides to controversial issues throughout either, though still shedding light on both sides of thought. After reading this book, I appreciate the Academy so much more. Find the book on Amazon here.

Extending Pointer. Laser pointers are meant for the conference room, not austere combat environments. Tactical leaders use pointers – not their finger, a tent stake, stick, or laser pointer (that violates light discipline). I believe a junior military leader or any staff officer is “top tier” when he or she employs an extending pointer for any military brief. Just kidding…but seriously… Here is the pointer I use.

3×5 index cards. 3×5 Leadership’s gift giving guide would not be complete without recommending this foundational leadership tool. I receive 3×5 index cards in my stocking almost every year.

List Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. All monetary gain is in order to operate the blog. Beyond Amazon, I am not an affiliate with any of the other products listed. I do not own the rights to any of the items above. I am only recommending products that I use and/or genuinely believe in.  

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