Great Gifts for Backpackers and Hikers

A shiny new backpack could make the difference between "thanks" and "THANKS!"  Backpackers appreciate gifts which motivate and support their passion for outdoor adventure.
A shiny new backpack could make the difference between "thanks" and "THANKS!" Backpackers appreciate gifts which motivate and support their passion for outdoor adventure. | Source

What kind of gift do you get for the backpacker on your list?

  • A specific item on their list
  • A gift card to a sporting goods retailer
  • Something that I want and I hope they let me use
  • A non-camping item
See results without voting

Choosing Presents for the Outdoors Lover

Every year backpackers awake on Christmas morning to find shiny packages full of ill-fitting western-cut shirts, celebrity holiday CDs, and decorative soaps. Though we all appreciate the thoughtfulness of the gesture, let's be honest: the Salvation Army can only use so many ill-fitting western cut shirts.

Also, to be honest, it's kind of a drag when we don't find the lightweight accoutrements we drool over throughout the year but are too cheap or too proud to buy for ourselves.

Of course, can you blame our loved ones? It took us years to appreciate the raw beauty of titanium, the pure coziness of primaloft, and the difference a few ounces can make. Hopefully this guide will help our families and friends make wise choices for holidays, birthdays, Mother's and Father's Day.

MaxxDry SD Boot, Shoe and Glove Dryer
MaxxDry SD Boot, Shoe and Glove Dryer

The MaxxDry boot dryer dries footwear silently and effectively, which preserves the lifespan of your boots.

 

Give the gift of dry feet with a boot dryer

Now the boot dryer isn't something the backpacker uses in the field, but like a home cooked meal they are nice to come home to. Yes, between sweat, snow, and creek water the backpacker's boots eventually get wet.

Boot dryers dry out boots, hats, gloves, and stuff sacks quickly and safely. The nice thing about boot dryers is that all campers, backpackers, and hikers can use one, even if they already have one. Sure, there is probably a limit to the number of boot dryers a person can have, but I have three and would like another one (hint, hint).

A knife makes a great present

I have a lot of knives, way more than most people but when people ask what I want, I tell them, "just get me a knife."

Backpackers and hikers can always use a knife. From slicing cheese for a trail lunch to carving a spindle for a bow drill in a survival situation, knives are quite handy in the wilderness. When buying a knife for a backpacker, look for something that is lightweight, multipurpose, and of course it must have the cool factor.

If you are looking for a really neat idea, pair up a knife with a first-aid kit and a copy of Between a Rock and a Hard Place.

GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press,Blue,20 fl. Oz
GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press,Blue,20 fl. Oz

You can't go wrong with one of the unbreakable coffee makers from GSI.

 

Celebrate with Eating Gear

In backpacking circles, especially on the trail, most conversations revolve around food. We are always pondering the best preparation for our freeze-dried meals and salivating over what goodies are at the convenience store by the trailhead.

I would stay away from cookware, unless you know EXACTLY what they want. However, we can always use collapsible bowls, lightweight utensils, spice containers, and the like. Those are the things I tend to break, lose, or lend to someone never to return.

You may want to even look at a specialty item like a lexan java press - its not something most backpackers would take on every trip, but every once in a while it is worth packing.

Backpacking requires a lot of gear

Backpacking gift ideas
Backpacking gift ideas | Source
High Gear Solarpod with Rechargeable Torch
High Gear Solarpod with Rechargeable Torch

Solar chargers are hot commodities for tech savvy backpackers.

 

Backpacking Electronics

Though backpackers venture into the wild to test their mettle against the elements and measure their accomplishments in physicality, sometimes it's hard to leave the 21st century behind. For better or worse, lightweight portable electronics are popular amongst many tech savvy backpackers.

Some backcountry electronics like GPS units and satellite messengers have important navigation and safety features.

However, more and more solar chargers for portable electronics are flooding the market and are much more prevalent on the trail. I know, I swapped the book I used to carry for a lighter MP3 player with audiobooks.

Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Kit [31-000701]
Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Kit [31-000701]

Help the hiker in your life overcome a potential disaster with an official Bear Grylls survival kit.

 

Give the Gift of Survival Gear

Backpackers love gadgets, especially survival gadgets. There is a great deal of bravado in claiming you can survive in the wilderness only by using one or two simple gadgets

There are two ways you can go. Either buy a complete kit or buy a part of a kit. If you are looking for what items a backpacker usually carries check out "The 10 Essentials."

You may want to even have a survival gift theme by wrapping each item in a survival kit separately and then packaging them together. If you wrap each match by itself, you have far more patience than I.

Every Hiker Wears Socks

Though socks are thought of as a generic gift (most people wear them, right), for the backpacker they are one of the best gifts a person can get. However, if you give them cotton socks with frolicking penguins on them, the thank you will be more perfunctory than joyous.

Look for a sock specifically made for backpacking and hiking; you will have to visit a specialty outdoor retailer to pick these up. Generally these trekking socks are sold singularly and will cost more than the six-pack of tube socks you buy at the local retail giant.

Though some hiking socks, Thorlo for example, make very good synthetic socks there is a merino wool revolution underway. Merino wool is a non-itch super comfy wool that has the moisture management of synthetic plus great thermo-regulation properties (keep you cooler in summer and warmer in winter). Reputable merino wool brands that I recommend include Smartwool, Darn Tough, and Wigwam.

Camping Books Make the Perfect Gift

It seems like most backpackers are readers - it surely helps to know what trail you are on, how it got there, and where it goes. There are numerous guide books for every little trail in the country available, often with nice topographic maps.

Besides guide books telling the backpacker where they are at, there are books to teach, and books to inspire. I've never hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, but I have several books on it and find adventure at every turn of the page.

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Comments 11 comments

Jaydo profile image

Jaydo 5 years ago from Manchester Uk, Europe, World, Galaxy, Universe

HI Dan, I just think this is a wonderful idea. It made me laugh, so appropriate, and the write up was excellent. I find that you can get all the family's presents at the camping shop. They have some marvellous items you didn't even know you wanted. Have fun. Jaydo. P.S. I've posted the link on my FB and Twitter. P.P.S. I have read two of the three books you have there, and they are very good indeed. Bill Bryson really makes you feel that you are there. And the kid who got his hand caught, he learned a very painful lesson about being selfish and arrogant. Glad he is ok though, what a predicament to get into.


Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 5 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY Author

Thanks Jaydo, I appreciate your comments. Camping stores are usually my number one shopping spot for the camping season. The plus side is, everyone in my family wears smart wool socks. I agree that both Bryson and Ralston's books should be required reading for those who love the outdoors.


Damselfly 5 years ago

I could use a few items listed above....


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

Dan, I enjoyed your last minute shopping hub so much I came to check out some others. My husband and I used to be avid hikers and campers. I can never let him see your stuff on hiking the whole Appalachian Trail. I swear, the NJ part is always uphill, both ways. The first time he took me on a "walk", it was in the 70's, we were just dating. I wore 4" platform sandals. I mean, a walk? I cursed him so much all the way up, and then he cut his foot when we got to the lake, or pond, whatever. He still sings "the Witch's Promise" from Jethro Tull to me 36 yrs later. You are indeed practical and funny!


Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY Author

@ Jean, 4" platform sandals aren't my choice for hiking, 3" ones are okay though. Generally I can hold my balance with those. I remember New Jersey surprising me, I never associated great forests with Jersey and thought the wildness was reserved for the ocean front; I was wrong. In fact, it was in Jersey where I saw the most bears. Heck one day, consumed in my own thoughts, I almost walked right into one. Great hiking through there. Thanks for the comment and checking out my hubs!


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

Many people believe that NJ is all strip malls and city. We have the shore area, with beautiful beaches. I've been to the Caribbean many times, but many of the areas by the sea are so rocky, there's no real "beach" area. The Delaware Water Gap is great. The Pine Barrens has miles of trails, and the NW corner of NJ is all farmland. I had a hub about NJ up, but it didn't generate much interest. I live in the woods, in an area not far from a highway. It was marketed back in the 1940s as a "bird sanctuary" and is still lovely. We have bears all over, and they are smart. We had to build a special container for our trash, because they got in every night. Sadly, the Gov let the bear hunt happen, it's a controversial issue in the state the last 7 yrs. or so. They are a nuisance, and did get into homes a few times when people were careless. They are so beautiful, and graceful, it's a shame to shoot them. They got about 467. I guess if you have young kids it's hard. We used to pitch the tent in our yard and "camp" with our son ans nephews, but the bears make all that unsafe now.


Jake 4 years ago

The biggest issue I have is that I'm picky. I spend hours researching ideal gear selection each week. So I simply keep a running list of wanted items in my notepad, along with where they can be found. When Mom asks me for a list, I simply strike the expensive items, then mail it to her. I buy those items for myself with gift cards. She (seemingly) takes the rest of the list and tells other family members what is desired. It's like magic! Less time returning gifts. BTW, the more items in the list, the easier it is for them to find something they feel is appropriate.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois

Dan - While I am not a backpacker and don't even have any backpackers on my gift list, I read this article from start to finish. Your wit/humor made me smile while reading along, as it did with the convenience store gift idea hub. But your gift-giving advice for backpackers really is applicable to anyone with a specific hobby; it's usually best to know the details of what they would appreciate instead of something sort of generically related to their hobby.

~voted up and sharing with other hubbers~


Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY Author

Thanks for sharing ktrapp!

After years of the stereotypical "reindeer sweater" I put this together for my family and the friends and families of other backpackers too. Though usually I put together a specific list, being very picky as Jake stated above, sometimes it is nice to be surprised. However, it is better when that surprise is actually a useful one and not one of those "why would anyone ever need this?" sort of things.


vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

I totally enjoyed your hub! Informative and useful for everyone. I will pass it along. Voted up!

vocalcoach~


Outbound Dan profile image

Outbound Dan 4 years ago from Niagara Falls, NY Author

Thanks for reading vocalcoach! Of course, I think everyone should try backpacking - so yes it is for everyone.

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