From cool little gadgets and gizmos to survival training through experiences and classes, there’s a gift on this list for every level of hiker out there.
We end the post with a few important considerations that will have a hiking gift leveling up from “just good” to GREAT.
Clothing and Wearables
Hiking socks (Injinji)
Price: about $20
Quality hiking socks are one of the most important items a hiker will need. Those feet need to stay protected! A durable pair starts their thru-hiking trip off on the right foot, while a pair with a lifetime guarantee ensures hassle-free replacement when (not if) they begin to wear out.See Injinji
Sock Liners (Smartwool)
Price: about $10
Meant to be worn beneath your hiking socks, liners are thin socks made from nylon, silk, polyester, or wool that fit tightly to the foot. They keep feet dry by wicking away moisture, and they reduce the chance for hot spots and blisters by preventing friction.
See Best Sock LinersSee Smartwool
Able to be worn as a bandana, scrunchie, scarf, headband, sun/dust protector, and even a hat, neck gaiters are a small clothing item with a lot of versatility. They come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and designs, and use for one can be found through every climate and season.See BUFF
Merino camp clothes top and/or bottom (Minus 33)
Price: $50 to $225
In the hiking world, Merino wool is considered the “top dog” of active fabrics. It’s breathable, odor-resistant, moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and comfortable. A set of merino camp clothes to wear at night is vital to any camper to stay warm and insulated in colder temps, or dry and comfortable in hot conditions.
See Best Merino Wool BaselayersSee Minus33
Mesh Crusher Hat (Montbell)
This hat can fold up and fit right in your pocket. But don’t let its compactness fool you. It’s wide-brim protects from the sun while the mesh panels offer plenty of breathability. It’s a perfect gift to keep the neck and face protected for any hiker braving the desert.
See Best Hiking HatsSee Montbell
Thru-hikers are all about cutting out unnecessary weight, and Ombraz sunglasses armless design does just that. They weigh less than 1oz, yet are surprisingly durable. The lenses are scratch-proof, polarized, and offer 100% UV protection. They’re comfortable and stay in place, even during extreme activities like kayaking or trail running.See Ombraz
Wool beanie (Arc'Teryx)
Around 45% of heat gets lost through the top of our head. A wool beanie helps. It’s the perfect addition for chilly nights around the fire, to wear hiking through the winter months, or to provide extra warmth while sleeping at night. It’s a hiking must-have—but no cotton, please!See Arc'teryx
Down jacket (Montbell)
A 3-season, insulated jacket that every hiker should have. A “puffy" (or down jacket) is a favorite on the trail for a reason. It’s lightweight, warm, and wonderfully compressible. You can buy lined or non-lined options, or a style with or without a hood. Those details are all personal preference.
See Best Ultralight Down JacketsSee Montbell
Down Booties(Feathered Friends)
Down booties are super warm, extra fluffy foot coverings that come in weighing less than a pair of wool socks. They’re a favorite ultralight gear item for winter hikes or for anyone who suffers from cold feet. They have a soft-shelled design like other down products that can roughly add up to 5-10 degrees of warmth. Many hikers use them in temps that fall below the 40F mark. They're suited for gentle wear like hanging around the inside of a tent or curling up for a night in a sleeping bag, but protective outer shells can be purchased for hikers that wish to wear them outside while walking around camp (around $30). The Feathered Friends down booties come with removable outer shells.See Feathered Friends
Minimalist Sandals (Xero Shoes Z-Trail)
Sandals come in handy when a hiker has to forge through a stream, or at night when they’ve taken off their boots to meander around camp. Durability and comfort are key factors here, and a good weight range is a pair that comes in under 12 oz.See Xero Shoes
Rain Jacket (frogg toggs)
A rain jacket is by far the most popular piece of waterproof gear for keeping dry on the trail. Whether they're hiking in the rain, sleet, snow, or navigating an overgrown trail with wet vegetation, a rain jacket will outperform an umbrella in terms of weight, durability, and protection. A lot of technology and testing goes into the design of these jackets. When shopping, you'll encounter waterproof ratings, breathability ratings, DWR, and sealed seams.See Frogg Toggs
Gaiters (dirty girl)
On established trails or gentle terrain, gaiters may be overkill to their needs. However, there are plenty of conditions that demand more protection than their pants and shoes can offer. Gaiters will help keep their legs safe and help them enjoy your time outdoors in these more extreme conditions. Gaiters are used to block debris, shield shins, channel runoff, and insulate. High gaiters are best for extreme and rough conditions. Low gaiters are best for most backpacking and trail running.See Dirty Girl
Stuff Sacks (Sea to Summit)
Price: $13 - $19
These are key in keeping clothing and gear dry and protected. Sacks come in all different shapes, sizes, and weights, and they’re used to store anything from small devices to sleeping bags. Roll-top designs are best for water protection, while drawstrings are functionally easier to use.
See Best Stuff Sacks and Compression BagsSee Sea To Summit
Sawyer Squeeze Mini
This complete water filtration system is the size of a hand and weighs just 3 oz. It has a 32-oz water pouch and the filter’s good up to 100,000 gallons. It comes with adapters for faucets or buckets for filtering water for larger groups, and the model's covered under warranty.See Sawyer
Considered to be an ultimate survival tool, this personalized water filter protects against 99.99% of bacteria, parasites, and other bad stuff. It’s durable, light, and its filter is good for up to 1,000 gallons of water. It’s an excellent emergency item for any hiker to add in their pack.See Lifestraw
Water Purification Tablets (Aquamira)
Water purification tablets are a valuable survival item for hikers to have in their pack in case they find themselves low on drinkable water, or in an emergency situation. Tablets are the most common form that water purification chemicals come in, but they are also available in powders or drops. They can be used on all kinds of biologically contaminated water whether it’s collected from swamps, rivers, lakes, etc. Tablets are ultralight, simple to use, and have a long shelf-life.
See Best Water Purification TabletsSee Aquamira
A cork ball made for recovery relief against tight or sore muscles, there’s nothing quite like the Rawlogy mini. Its compact design is specifically made for hikers to use as a self-massaging tool while out on the trail. It works wonders for tired feet, sore backs, or soothing shin splints.See Rawlogy
We’ll cut to the chase here—KULA is a reusable, anti-bacterial pee cloth. It’s the only product of its kind, and it’s the greenest way to “go #1” out in the backcountry. No toilet paper necessary. It’s sanitary, convenient (snaps to your backpack), and is a game-changer for women adventurers.See KULA
There comes a time in every hiker’s life where they’ll have to squat in the woods. And with a deuce trowel, you can help them do so responsibly. A trowel is a perfect tool to properly bury waste. Most important factor here: make sure the handle is good and strong.See Deuce Trowel
This titanium constructed container doubles as a water bottle and a pot. It comes with a screw-top lid with a heat resistant seal, and it can hold up to around 34 oz of water. You can sip from it or cook with it right over an open flame or gas stove.
See Best Ultralight Backpacking CookwareSee Vargo Bot 700
Tent Stakes (Zpacks)
Hikers not staking down their tent—even if it's freestanding—could make an amazing campsite much less comfortable. All varieties of tent stakes have some kind of advantage: some are lighter, some hold onto the ground better, some are stronger, while some are a compromised blending of weight, strength, and grip. In general, the bigger the stake, the stronger it'll be.
See Best Tent StakesSee Zpacks
Price: $19 to $69
The best item to have around camp at night, a headlamp is essentially a hands-free flashlight. Campers use headlamps for walking around camp, gathering water or firewood, or if they’re hiking past dark. Beam distance, light output (lumens), battery run time, and headlamp weight are important considerations when comparing options.
See Best Ultralight Backpacking HeadlampsSee Petzl
Water Storage (CNOC)
You can pick up this collapsible 2L water container for just $19.99. It's durable and BPA, BPS, and BPF free. Its design features a unique, user-friendly (patent pending) dual opening system. One opening works as a water bottle, the other is wide enough for easy filling and cleaning.See CNOC
Dog Backpack (Mountainsmith)
For those people that have a dog, a dog pack is a great way to shave pack weight. Hiking with a dog usually requires packing extra gear—water, food, bowl and treats. Why not give their pup the chance to carry their own gear?See Mountainsmith
Toilet Paper (adventure wipes)
Price: $33.13 per pack
All hikers should have a backpacking toilet kit in an accessible part of their pack and of course Toilet paper is the most important item in that pack. When it comes to biodegradability, toilet paper is preferred over biodegradable wet wipes as it can be buried and won't need to be carried along with them. Other things to consider are packability, material, resistance, and eco-friendliness.
See Best Biodegradable Toilet PaperSee Adventure Wipes
Spork (sea to summit long AlphaLight)
Sporks combine the traits of a spoon and a fork into one utensil - they are the superior utensil. They are a popular choice for many backpackers because of their versatility for both eating and cooking on the trail. Sporks need to be functional, heat resistant, durable, and lightweight. They should be long handled, have sharp tines, and have a large enough bowl to pick up liquids. Titanium is the premium spork material, but high-temp nylon and steel are good options, too.
See Best SporksSee Sea To Summit
Waist Pack (Hyperlite Mountain Gear)
Waist packs are becoming an increasingly popular item with thru-hikers who use them in combination with their backpacks for easy access to items while hiking. Ensure the waist pack is waterproof and weighs under 4 ounces with some pockets and waterproof zippers.
See Best Waist PacksSee Hyperlite Mountain Gear
Ultralight Portable Bidet (CuloClean)
Instead of toilet paper, it's becoming increasingly popular for hikers to carry a bidet. According to the Leave No Trace principles, hikers should carry their used toilet paper with them. While some hikers still bury their toilet paper, a bidet can eliminate the need to carry or bury their toilet paper.See CuloClean
Backpack (Gossamer Gear Mariposa)
Backpacks aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. There’s a lot to consider when picking one out. It’s best that a hiker get professionally fitted for their own backpack to ensure it fits comfortably. The carrying capacity is another important part. For most trips, bags between 40-65 liters will do.See Gossamer Gear
Tent (Big Agnes FlyCreek)
Price: $330 to $390
A tent is one of the most important investments on a hiker’s gear list. It should be easy to set up, durable, have mesh ventilation panels, be climate-focused (i.e. 3-season vs. 4-season vs. winter specific), and come in as compact and lightweight as possible. Less than 3lbs, preferably.See Big Agnes
Sleeping Pad (Thermarest NeoAir)
Sleeping pads are either foam or inflatable. Foam one’s roll up and get stored on the outside of a backpack, while inflatable ones (the more popular option) compress down to the size of a water bottle. Whichever you choose, just make sure it’s comfortable and properly sized for the person.
See Best Ultralight Sleeping PadsSee Thermarest NeoAir
Backpacking quilts are lightweight, versatile, and affordable, which is why many hikers now favor them over sleeping bags. A quilt with a 20F temperature rating is a safe bet as this depends on the temperatures they are hiking in. A 700-900 fill power is ideal for most three-season hikers. When considering the material, a 10-20D ripstop nylon is a minimum for durability, but keep it under 30D to ensure it's lightweight.See Rumpl
Sleeping Bag (Feathered Friends)
Bags come in all lengths, designs, and temperature ratings and each are important features to consider. For many hikes a 3-Season bag will do, while winter bags are more suited for activities like mountaineering. Since bags are generally heavy and bulky, be conscious of weight and compressibility. Note that a lot of ultralight backpackers prefer quilts to sleeping bags.
See Best Ultralight Sleeping BagsSee Feathered Friends
Trekking Poles (Gossamer Gear)
These aren’t for everybody, but some hikers love them. Especially those that have joint problems. Poles help with balance and they will lessen stress on legs and knees—especially during downhill climbs. Many manufacturers offer guides so that users can choose the right length based on their height.
See Best Ultralight Trekking PolesSee Gossamer Gear
Sleeping bag liner (Sea to Summit)
Price: $62 to $67
This is a thin piece of silk, microfiber, or fleece that protects the inside of a sleeping bag from dirt. It also adds insulation when temperatures drop, or can be worn as a thin covering on the warmer nights. Like a sleeping bag, be sure to buy the right size!See Sea To Summit
Some hikers sleep more in their hammocks than they do their tents. Because frankly, setting up a tent every night gets pretty old. With a hammock, you’ll not just be giving the gift of an instant-bed, but also an instant place to lounge anywhere that sturdy trees are readily accessible.See Hennessy
Stove (snow peak gigapower)
These are a necessity for hikers that enjoy cooking in the backcountry. You can find stove systems sold separately or as all-in-one sets. Things to consider in your purchase are what fuel they want to use, weight, packability, simmer control, stability, fuel consumption/efficiency, and more.See Snow Peak
pillow (sea to summit aeros)
Price: $42 to $48
Lots of ultralight hikers consider backpacking pillows a luxury gear item. But because they weigh just a few ounces and occupy minimal space, they can make a world of difference in how they sleep in the backcountry. Pillows can be inflatable (lightweight and packable), compressible (comfortable but bulky), or a combination of both. Look for a pillow that’s lightweight (3 oz or less), takes up minimal space in their pack, and easy to inflate (different valve systems).See Sea To Summit
Some ultralight thru-hikers can't imagine not bringing some comfy option to rest their legs in after a long day of hiking. Not every camping chair is suitable for the backcountry, though. Chairs need to be well under 2 pounds, small enough to fit inside their pack, and comfortable.See Helinox
Stoveless complete meals that can be consumed on the go. Greenbelly Meals pack a punch of nutrition, macros, and fresh ingredients, all wrapped in an easy-to-go pouch weighing about 5.5 oz. These tasty, energy-filled meals come in a variety of flavors and keep hikers crushing miles.See Greenbelly
Good to Go
Price: $14 to $154
Made with clean ingredients and no additives or preservatives, these dehydrated meals are a great addition to any hiker’s pack. They have a variety of options including individual meals, 5-day emergency kits which include 5 breakfasts and 10 entrees, or weekender packs with one breakfast and two entrees.See Good To-Go
Coffee (Starbucks Instant)
Price: $5 to $37
The abundance of instant coffee options has really skyrocketed over recent years. It’s no longer a one-packet-of-coffee-fits-all kind of world. Here are a few popular choices available today: crystals (eg. Starbucks Via), pour-over packets (eg. KUJU) and filters (eg. MSR Mugmate).
Check out this post for more trail-friendly instant coffee options.
Justin’s Nut Butter
Available in easy-squeeze, single-serving pouches, Justin’s nut butter is a great backcountry snack. It’s nourishing, cheap, and full of good stuff like fiber, protein, and healthy fats. With flavors like maple, honey, chocolate, and more, the packets are great eaten alone or added to meals, like morning oatmeal.See Justin's
beef jerky (New Primal)
Beef jerky’s a terrific snack for hikers. It’s high-protein, easy to carry, and it doesn’t spoil easily. New Primal offers a variety of flavors that are all grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic-free, and non-GMO. You can buy the jerky in sticks, single-serving bags, or in an 8-bag bulk option.See The New Primal
Dried Veggies: Kale chips, seaweed, etc. (Mother Earth Products)
Price: $5 to $450
Hikers aren’t always getting enough greens in their diet, as fresh veggies are just too perishable. But dried veggies are a practical alternative. With options like dried bell peppers, peas, and even broccoli offered through companies such as Mother Earth, veggies can now be an excellent lightweight, nutritious meal addition.See Mother Earth Products
Fruit leather or squeeze (like applesauce packets)
Since fresh fruit isn’t a common food hikers pack either (partially because it’s heavy, partially because it goes bad so fast), snacks like fruit leather or single-serving packages of fruit are viable substitutes. They’re tasty, easy to eat while on the move, and, best of all, they stay good forever.
For additional trail-friendly food ideas, check out 76 Backpacking Food Ideas from the Appalachian TrailSee Fruit Leather
Guided tour with Andrew Skurka
A perfect gift for those looking to improve their backpacking skills and learn tips from the pros, a guided-backpacking course with Andrew Skurka and his world-class team is just the ticket. Programs run from 3-7 days with a variety of rates and destinations. Tours are available for all skill levels.Apply at andrewskurka.com
Show your loved one you care about their safety by giving them the gift of knowledge they can use for a lifetime with an immersive Navigation course. These courses can be found worldwide, and they teach survival skills like trip planning, map reading, and much more by guided professionals.See Basic Land Navigation (Udemy)
Price: $69 to $392
Help your friend or family member prepare for their hike with a thorough versing in backcountry survival skills. Classes offer training in common hazards like weather, wildlife encounters, loss of gear, correcting navigational errors, and other valuable knowledge for how to address common problems or dangers.See REI
Price: $12 for 1-year subscription
A gift that keeps on giving, a subscription to this popular hiking magazine provides survival tips, skills, gear reviews, trip reports, adventure tales, local hikes, and more. It’s also STOCKED full of glowing photos that will amaze the eyes and inspire exploration. Get a 1-year subscription for just $12.See Backpacker.com
Backcountry Fuel Box
This is a monthly subscription box that’s full of outdoor snacks and meals that are lightweight and filled with energy-packed, nutritious foods. Each box is unique, so you get to try all kinds of new products, and there are exclusive discounts included in each shipment. Sign up is just $33.30/month.See Backcountry Fuel Box
Another monthly subscription box, yet this one focuses on sending you the best, expertly tested outdoor products. Each box includes items like gear, apparel, food, skincare, medical supplies, and more. All-together, the items add up to around a total value of $50 retail. A subscription costs under $30/month.See GetCairn.com
Price: $29.99/month for Basic selection
This monthly subscription box is great for scoping out the latest survival and EDC gear. There’re four box selections to choose from: Basic, Advanced, Pro, or Pro Plus (all at varying rates.) Boxes may include items like camp tools, beanies, fire starters, hatchets, and tons of other useful gear.See Battlbox
REI Co-Op Membership
Price: $20 for lifetime membership
By signing up for an REI Co-Op membership, each member is given access to member-only offers on items, access to REI Garage Sales, a 10% annual member dividend and special prices for REI outdoor-focused classes, adventure trips, rentals and services at the bike/ski shop. Lifetime memberships are only $20.See REI Co-Op
HBO or Netflix
There’s nothing like learning some tricks and tips from the pros by watching them in action. Get your loved one all geared up to hit the wild with a survival show or hiking documentary. Appalachian Impressions or Mile… Mile and a half are two good ones to get started with.
Audible or Blinkist
Listening to an audiobook can pass the time on those extended hours of hiking. Whether it’s a book for fun, a guide that teaches about the forest, or one written by a fellow hiker who’s traveled the same path, books on tape are excellent sources of lightweight entertainment and knowledge.
Solar Charger (Goertek)
Give your hiking loved one the power to recharge their electronic devices from anywhere. Solar-chargers are the preferred power source by hikers to refuel GPS devices and smartphones. The bigger the panels are, the faster they will work, but as always—compact and lightweight is best for long-distance travel.See Goertek
If your hiker is also a bookworm, why not give them a lightweight way to store countless books while out on the trail? A Kindle Paperwhite, for example, is waterproof, lightweight and can store up to 8GB of reading material. A single battery charge lasts weeks.See Kindle Paperwhite
External USB Battery (Anker)
External USB batteries charge devices faster than a solar-charger, and with some, you’re able to get multiple charges out of a single round of battery life. Another plus is, with an external USB battery, weather and sunlight won’t need to be a factor, as they do with solar-chargers.See Anker
Waterproof and shockproof phone case
There’s no question that a hiker’s phone is going to get wet and take some tumbles in the backcountry. But you can help keep their phone—and their primary connection to the rest of the world—working with durable cases like Lifeproof, OtterBox Defender, or UAG.See ORDTBY for iPhone
GPS watch (Garmin)
With a GPS watch, a hiker can keep track of the date and time, and monitor their pace, distance and even set waypoints. They can rely on using GPS that works off of satellites rather than cell service, and some GPS watches even have the option to preload maps.See Garmin
To listen to their favorite playlist or latest audiobook, a pair of lightweight earphones are required. Jaybird headphones are comfortable, sweatproof, and micro-sized, while an option like the Aftershokz Bone Conduction gives impressive sound while still having an “open” design to allow hearing one’s surroundings for situational awareness.See Aftershokz
A Fitbit does more than just count your steps. It’s a durable watch that can keep track of your heart rate, distance traveled, altitude changes, and act as a GPS. There are even models that let you store music and connect your phone to receive notifications right on your wrist.See Fitbit
This app lets you download maps and use them offline. The maps act as guides, noting important trail features like points of interest and elevation profiles. The app also has a feature where fellow hikers can leave comments to share important trail updates, like if a water source is down. The app is free, but the maps aren't.See FarOut
Perfect for the astrology-enthused stargazers out there, this app turns the night sky of a current location into a live map of stars, planets, and constellations. Just hold your phone up, and a collection of clickable facts and information about the night sky in front of you will appear. Sky Guide is available on the Apple Store for a one-time fee of $2.99.See Sky Guide
Ultralight First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is a must have on every hiker's packing list. They come in all shapes and sizes. Buy a ready-to-use kit at your local outdoor store or, to save some ounces, make your friend or partner an ultralight first aid kit from scratch.
Joshua Tree Healing Salve
This salve is an organic lifesaver that works in treating and speeding up healing for scrapes, cuts, rashes, dry skin, and more. It’s also a great defense against blisters and hotspots. It comes in a compact and durable case that’s the perfect packable size for any hiker’s bag.See Joshua Tree
Insect repellent (Sawyer)
Mosquitoes, gnats, ticks—you name it. They’re out there. Help keep your loved one protected and enjoying the wild rather than spending their nights swatting away at it. There are lotions and sprays available, just be sure to skip any products heavy on the DEET, as it can harm gear.See Sawyer
Sun Screen (sun Bum)
This is such an important item for anyone hiking through the desert or area where high-sun exposure is likely. Think lower half of the PCT, CDT, or trails blazing through the Southwest region of the U.S. Sweatproof sticks or lotions with a rating of at least SPF30 are best. Check out Sun Bum.See Sun Bum
Price: about $10
For light sleepers or others who aren’t yet used to the sounds of a nighttime forest, this can be quite the thing to get used to. A pair of silicone or foam earplugs will drown out any noises that are brought on by nature, or a fellow camper who’s snoring like the dickens. One pair will last up to 5-6 days.See Mack's
Fire Starter (Fire-Fast)
This is a waterproof emergency fire starter that can be a real lifesaver. It’s made with a durable hardwood handle that can be scraped to create tinder, and a magnesium rod that releases a surge of intense heat. This little tool gets a fire going in even the toughest conditions.See Fire-Fast
Pocket Knife (Spyderco)
No hiker should ever be without some kind of knife, as they’ll use it for things like fire-starting, food-prepping, and everything in-between. Foldable pocket knives or fixed blades with a sheath work well. The knife should be reliable and able to hold up in every condition imaginable.
See Smallest Pocket Knives for BackpackingSee Spyderco
Having a multi-tool is like having a gadget that does it all. With scissors, wire cutters, pliers and more it’s like the “fix-it” tool. There’s plenty of fancy (and heavy) options, but many ultralight designs have everything a hiker will need, while still being compact and plenty sturdy.See Leatherman Micra
Personal Locator Beacon (Spot)
Price: $200 to $250
Hopefully this only has to be bought as a “just in case” measure, but still. It’s important. A beacon locator is a lifesaver if things unexpectedly turn south. With the touch of a button, a PBL (personal beacon locator) will send out a rescue signal to emergency personnel.
See Best Personal Locator BeaconsSee Spot
Gear Maintenance and Renewal
Tent Seam Sealer
Holes, rips, leaks, or busted seams happen. So, it’s always good to have a backup plan for when they do. A compact bottle of waterproof seam sealer can get things patched up in a jiffy. And, a versatile kind that works for backpacks, tents, gloves and clothing is ideal.See Gear Aid
Gear Conditioning Products
It's inevitable. Over time, hikers need to re-waterproof their rain gear and wash their sleeping bags. But typical detergents shouldn’t be used on such items. Instead, specially designed products like Nixwax offer washes that are made to re-waterproof, revitalize, and can even preserve gear’s breathability.See Nikwax
Has your friend just bought a brand new down sleeping bag? Help them increase its longevity by gifting them a bottle of Nikwax Down Wash Direct. Down is a fantastic material for hiking because of its warmth-to-weight ratio. It is fragile though and cannot be washed the same way as cotton or synthetic fabrics.See Nikwax Down Wash Direct
Remember these from the 90s?! We do, too. And they’re making a comeback… kind of. Not only will this gift put a sentimental smile on your loved one’s face, but it’ll give them something fun to stay entertained with throughout their travels on the trail.See on Amazon
Mini Deck of Cards
A great way to spend an evening, pass time around camp, or extend the olive branch of friendship to fellow hikers, a mini-deck of cards (that comes in weighing right around an ounce or less) is sure to be a fun addition to any hiker’s pack.See on Amazon
Have a musical friend who digs folk or the blues? You could get them a gift that lets them create their own music while out in the backcountry. A Harmonica is simple to play, small enough to fit in a pocket, and it’s a fun way to make some tunes.See Fender
Matching bracelet/trail talisman
A talisman is a small object that’s believed to hold magic and act as a good luck charm while granting its wearer strength and power. It can be an inscribed rock, bracelet, or really any small sentimental item. It’s meant to be worn on packs or around the hiker’s neck.See on Amazon
Rite in the Rain Journal
Who wouldn't want to document what's probably going to be one of the most exciting trips of their entire lives? Rite in the Rain sells a compact journal that’s perfect for capturing such adventures. Their journals are designed with weatherproof paper that holds up against rain, spills and even mud.See Rite in the Rain
Heather (trail name "Anish") is a thru-hiker who’s walked over 30,000 miles and completed 14-thru hikes (walking 8,000 miles in a single year). She's a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Thirst recounts her 2013 record-breaking PCT thru-hike. A great gift filled with thru-hiking inspiration.See Thirst
The Pursuit of Endurance
The Pursuit of Endurance provides insights, tips, and motivation for becoming the best hiker you can be. It was written by Jennipher Pharr Davis, a world-renown thru-hiker who’s hiked the AT trail in a soul-crushing 46 days (the average thru-hiker takes anywhere between 5 and 7 months to complete the trail).See The Pursuit of Endurance
An inspiring read for any adventurous soul, Free Outside is a nail-biting memoir written by Jeff Garmire (trail name “Legend”). It narrates his journey of leaving the corporate world behind to tackle the AT, PCT, and CDT all in a single calendar year. Unlike most authors, Legend signs his books with his feet. You can order a signed copy of the book on his site, freeoutside.com.See Free Outside
A Walk in the Woods
Written by travel writer Bill Bryson recapping his attempt to hike the AT (with his incredibly out of shape friend, Stephen Katz), this best-seller is a heart-warming stroke of comic genius. It’s filled with quirky characters, a grand adventure, and narrates perfectly the wildly beautiful side of America.See A Walk in the Woods
This powerful best-seller is a story of 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed, a woman plagued by divorce, reckless choices, and the death of her mother. Looking for redemption and meaning, she heads out to hike the PCT where she finds strength and persistence to keep putting in mile-after-mile. (Also available in video.)See Wild
AWOL is a straight-forward and entertaining true-story written by a 41-year-old Engineer who decided to quit his job and hike the AT. It describes the trail in detail, from trail towns to the tough mental and physical challenges thru-hikers often go through on the trail.See AWOL
If You Still Don’t Know
Amazon gift card
Price: from $25
Can’t decide which gift is best? Sometimes it’s hard to know what item someone needs or what might benefit them most. Since Amazon sells just about everything imaginable nowadays, you can take the guessing game out of shopping and put the power in your loved-one’s hands.See Amazon
REI gift card
Price: $10 to $1000
Maybe the person you’re shopping for needs to get fitted for a new pack? Or maybe they want to scope out the latest rollout of hiking gear? With an REI gift card, they can head in to a nearby store (or head online) and talk with the experts.See REI
Hiking mixtape (or Spotify playlist)
Get your hiking pal started on the right beat by creating a personalized playlist that will keep them jamming for miles. Spotify’s a good option for this. With a paid subscription, users can download playlists right on their phone ahead of time and then listen to them while offline.
Lightweight: Since the person you’re going to be buying this gift for is likely going to be carrying it a heck of a lot of miles, the lighter it is, the better. After all, there’s a reason “Ultralight Gear” (UL) accounts for a giant sector of the Outdoor Industry market. Many notoriously heavy camping items have become refined, scaled-down versions of themselves with advances using specialized fabrics and designs. When searching for a gift, check and compare the ounces on various products, and try to stick to anything labeled “Ultralight” or at the low end of the weight bracket.
Compact: The smaller the item packs down, the better. Compact-ability is key since hikers are always fighting the good fight of trying to fit all of their necessary items into their packs. They’re working with limited room and there’s no room for overly bulk items. Just like how there're tons of UL equipment available today, outdoor gear designers are finding new ways each year to make items fold, compress, bend and shape-shift into packable, compact wonders. The smaller the item can become, the better it (usually) is for a long-distance hiker.
Durable: There’s nothing worse than having an important item (like one that’s used every day) break half-way through a trip. If the item doesn’t have a warranty, that’s going to cost money out of the hiker’s very-detailed, pre-planned budget. If it has a warranty, great! But getting a replacement still involves time and effort that could take days or even weeks. Sure, item’s break. It happens! But by reading through reviews of the item or chatting with hikers who have first-hand experience using it, you can better gauge how well it’ll really hold up in mother nature.
Useful and/or memorable: Hiking gifts don’t have to be pretty. They just need to be useful or valuable. Gifts like socks, a UL knife, a survival class, or a patch commemorating a hikers first thru-hike are all beneficial and/or special. But even the seemingly smallest items can go a long way for a hiker. For example, items like travel tubes of hand sanitizer, a bandana from the dollar store, or a bar or container of biodegradable soap might not seem like much, but each of those items are ones that are going to get put to use.
Classic vs. novel: This more depends on the particular person you’re buying the gift for and what their personality is like. Are they the kind that’s always on pulse with the newest, hottest items? Or are they more of the old soul, classic-does-it kind? Some hikers prefer to base their buys off items that have racked up hundreds of solid reviews and years of reliable use. While there are others—usually the same people that go racing out to be the first to buy the new iPhone—who like to be paving the way on testing out the newest gear.