by Alex Palmer | March 18, 2013

As spring gets into gear and summer waits just around the corner, incentive winners are going to be on the lookout for merchandise that gets them outside and into the great outdoors. Whether they choose items that their program participants can use for family camping trips, for daily exercise, or to upgrade their golfing and fishing equipment, incentive planners will want to have a solid menu of sports and recreation merchandise available this season. Here are just a few of the exciting and active new offerings that planners can consider.

When it comes to what recipients are looking for in their outdoor gear, Christopher Cavallari, national sales manager for Wilson Sporting Goods, sums it up in one word: value. "In today's market, we need to give people more for their money. We are all asked to do more with less, so why not offer product that does more for less," Cavallari says. He points to Wilson's popular and affordable Killer Whale Three-Piece Utility Set as an example of this. The golf clubs have a low center of gravity, which gives the player a better trajectory and a swing that goes a longer distance. The clubs' white anti-glare finish and firestick graphite shafts make them stylish as well as practical. $199.99, email: [email protected]

Additional high-value sports offerings come from LL Bean, such as the $25 soft pack cooler (pictured). Available in five colors, the cooler is lightweight and easy to pack, carry, and store, making it a favorite for company picnics and other outings. For something at a slightly higher price point, the waterproof outdoor blanket retails for $39.95 and ensures that wet grass or a spilled drink won't ruin a picnic. "Of course, each of these items can be embroidered with a company logo," adds Sean Tabb, marketing manager for LL Bean's Direct to Business division.

Even as they embrace the outdoors these days, recipients are not about to leave all luxury behind. To appeal to the camper looking for  comfort, Cabela's offers the Zero G Padded Chaise Lounger. Operating on a bungee-cord suspension system, the lounger allows the user to feel as though he is being cradled in a hammock, providing a great place to relax or even sleep. Complete with water-resistant coating and a cup holder, it retails for $79.99 and its sturdy steel frame can handle up to 300 pounds. Of course, for outdoor rewards at any price point, planners will also want to consider Cabela's gift cards. Available in bulk, with or without co-branding, the cards come with no set-up fees or expiration dates, and can be redeemed on the company website, through its catalogs, or at its retail stores.

Outdoor merchandise also enriches health and wellness programs. LeeAnn Schumacher, director of merchandising for Hinda Incentives, recommends the new Trek 1 Series road bike, available through the company. The light aluminum frame allows for greater speed and maneuverability, while its higher head tube puts less strain on the rider's back and neck. It has a suggested price of $835.99. "Being out on your bike is good for the people around you as well," says Schumacher. "You are able to go the places you want to go and yet put one less car on the road." For more adventurous incentive winners, Schumacher suggests the Coleman Getaway Sundome Tent Set from Hinda Incentives, which offers a complete outdoor package for campers who want to be sure they have all of their camping needs covered. For a suggested retail price of $409.99, the recipient gets a nine-foot-by-seven-foot nylon tent, two cotton/polyester-blend sleeping bags, two comfy quad chairs, a multipurpose lantern, a 48-can stacker cooler, a two-burner propane stove, and even a deck of waterproof playing cards. "There is a lot of value for the money," says Schumacher. "You'll save a small fortune and make the most out of every summer weekend or school holiday."

For the recipient looking for comfort and quality on their camping trips, Top Brands offers the new Vortex AirPitch Tent from Wenzel. The AirPitch technology built into the tent, using inflatable poles instead of the traditional fiberglass ones, allows for setup in less than one minute. It comes with a dual-action manual pump to speed things up, costs $169.99, and sleeps four. "Recognize your employees with a gift that allows them to get outside and enjoy nature by camping with Wenzel's new Vortex AirPitch," says Jody Running, vice president of sales for Top Brands. "What better way to say 'thank you' for a job well done during the spring and summer time?" Running also suggests the Huffy Good Vibrations Bike, also available through Top Brands. The bike is equipped with unicrown fork, coaster brakes, and 38-millimeter steel rims, as well as a quick-release seat for easy adjustment.