Great Gifts for Backpackers and Hikers
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.
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.
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
Solar chargers are hot commodities for tech savvy backpackers.
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.
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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