To a lot of people, drones are those scary things that kill people in Afghanistan. To others, though, they’re a super-fun hobby and even a valuable tool.
With the right device, you can take spectacular aerial photos and video, and, with the right accessories, you can look pretty badass while you’re doing it. The right drone gift should win the heart of anyone from remote control enthusiasts to camera nerds even if they haven’t flown before. While many drones are expensive and sophisticated pieces of equipment, you don’t need to spend $1000 to have fun. There are plenty of cheap models on the market today, and we’ve done our best to give you the best from each price range.
This entry-level quadcopter comes with everything you need to learn how to fly. Despite its low price, it comes with a sophisticated controller that allows for stable flight and great manoeuvrability. In fact, it’s so cheap, you might just want to get two.
Fat Shark Predator FPV Headset System with Camera
This is where things get really fun. First person view (FPV) has become a popular way to turn drone flying into a virtual reality-like experience. You just need some sort of display—either goggles that you were or a screen that you watch—and a camera with a radio transmitter. This kit makes it easy to turn any drone into an FPV-ready drone.
GoPro HD Hero 3+
Not all drones come equipped with cameras, and without one, you’re definitely missing out on one of the best parts about flying. Because drones fly sky high and sometimes run into things or fall to the ground, you’ll want a tough camera that can take a beating, and the GoPro HERO 3+ is one of the best out there.
DJI Phantom 2 Vision
This is the Cadillac of hobby drones. Though it costs as much as a used car, the easy-to-master controls mean you can go from novice to pro in record time. For extra stable shots, it even has little shock absorbers to hold the 14MP video camera on the bottom of the device that streams images to a smartphone over a private WiFi network. In a word, it’s awesome.
Army Air Corp Leather Flight Jacket
There are plenty of bomber jackets out there, but if you’re going to buy a good one, you might as well buy it from the same folks who make them for the Air Force. Made by Cockpit USA, this distressed leather jacket with wool cuffs is lined in gold with patriotic imagery embroidered on the inside. It’ll really bring out the pilot in any drone enthusiast.
Ray-Ban Aviators with Flash Lenses
These classic sunglasses come with a modern twist in the form of colorful mirrored lenses, though any style will do. They’re also a pretty important thing to have when you’re flying drones, since you’ll be looking up at the sky and would be squinting in the sunlight otherwise. Plus, they look pretty badass.
Parrot AR.Drone Quadricoptor Power Edition
You’ve probably heard of Parrot’s flagship aircraft, as it’s one of the more popular ones on the market. It records video in 720p making it excellent for shooting dramatic aerial footage and can be controlled from pretty much any smartphone or tablet. It also now comes with re-engineered battery tech, as well as an additional power pack to keep you flying for longer. Plus it won’t break the bank.
Estes Pro X Nano
This is a drone for all ages. The Estes Pro X Nano is just a little bit bigger than a quarter but can zip around in the air like drones ten times its size. While it’s a bit fragile and takes some practice to fly right, this little guy makes for a great stocking stuffer.