Do you need gift ideas for a special backpacker in your life? You’re in luck! Backpacking is a gear-intensive activity, and there are tons of items (in all budget ranges) that we backpackers would love to receive as gifts.
Here’s the thing though: backpackers are usually trying to carry less stuff, not more. Stuff is heavy! And the stuff we do carry is often specific to our personal style, gear setup, and favorite trails. If you randomly choose a backpacking gift from a list that’s just promoting the latest gear, there’s a good chance it will languish unused in their garage.
My goal with this list is to offer gift ideas that a majority of backpackers will actually want and use. It’s tough to generalize, but as an avid hiker and gear nerd I’m pretty familiar with the range of styles and preferences out there. Though it still helps to know a bit about your backpacker – are they new or experienced, lightweight or traditional, fast or leisurely – I’ve done my best to offer the tried-and-true favorites most likely to be a hit.
Read on for dozens of fun and useful gift ideas for people who love backpacking!
When you buy through affiliate links in this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks for your support! I always offer unbiased opinions based on real experience from the road and trail. Learn more.
Affordable Gifts (Under $30)
These affordable gifts for backpackers are exactly the type of thing we love most: small and useful items that pack a ton of value for their price. Gift one, stuff a stocking with several, or pair with a more expensive item further down the list.
This popular collapsible mug packs down to nothing and works great as either a bowl or a cup. Go with the X-Mug model, not the smaller X-Cup – they’ll thank you when the hiker-sized appetite kicks in! Heads up though: if your backpacker goes solo with an ultralight pack, they might prefer to just eat out of their pot.
Sooner or later, every backpacker will need to refresh the waterproofing on their rain gear. This combo pack of detergent and waterproofing treatment is perfect to use at the end of each hiking season to keep waterproof pants and jacket in top condition. If they already have some, they’ll soon need more!
Mid-Range Gifts ($30 – $100)
The backpacking gifts in this range are quality pieces of gear that most backpackers would be thrilled to receive. Pair one with a couple smaller stocking stuffers from the section above for a fun backpacking-themed gift basket.
Not every backpacker will find this worth the weight, so check with them first! But for those who like to keep electronics charged in the backcountry and aren’t counting every ounce, this is a durable portable solar charger that actually works, even in semi-cloudy weather. Read my review to learn more.
More Expensive Gifts ($100+)
These generous gifts will make a big impression and deliver big value when your favorite backpacker is out on the trail. Just make sure to check with the recipient first and/or be ready to help with a return. Experienced backpackers probably already have a version of these items that works well for them.
They might already have trekking poles, but if they don’t have these trekking poles they’ll surely appreciate the upgrade. These are top-of-the-line lightweight carbon poles that fold down small and are partially adjustable, ticking all the boxes an ideal trekking pole should tick. Make sure you choose the right length for their height. Read my review to learn more.
This generous gift will help keep your favorite backpacker safe on the trail – the perfect way to show you care! If they don’t already have a satellite messenger or if they’re using the simpler SPOT Gen 3, they’ll love the custom messaging feature in addition to the usual emergency capabilities. Though they will need to pay a recurring fee to use the service, there’s an option to freeze and restart as often as needed.
Gift Cards, Subscriptions, and Donations
There are several good apps for finding and navigating hiking trails, but I find that AllTrails often has the most recent crowdsourced comments and updates thanks to its large user base. It’s free for basic features, and the small monthly fee unlocks offline maps and navigation – a key feature for backpacking.
Donation to Their Favorite Trail Stewardship or Conservation Organization
Backpackers tend to be passionate about protecting the places and trails we love. Does your backpacker have a favorite region or long-distance trail? Make a donation to its stewardship organization in their name. For example, if they’ve hiked the Arizona Trail you could donate to the Arizona Trail Association, or the Colorado Trail Foundation for the Colorado Trail.
Surely by now you’ve found the perfect backpacking gift idea for your friend or loved one. If you’re still unsure, just ask them! They probably have their own wishlist of dream gear they’d be happy to tell you about.
Tips For Buying Gifts for Backpackers
If you feel comfortable, ask them what they need! They probably have a wishlist of coveted gear in their head or even written down.
When buying a specific piece of gear, camping equipment, or clothing without knowing if it’s needed, make sure it’s returnable. Include a gift receipt so they can exchange it themselves, or make it very clear that you’ll help them return it and they can use the money to buy something else. None of us want your expensive gift to sit unused in the garage because it doesn’t suit our setup and we feel too shy or guilty to admit it.
Generally speaking, more experienced backpackers are harder to choose gifts for than new backpackers who are still building their gear collection. Those of us who’ve been doing this a long time already have what we need and love what we have. Best to ask us first so we can tell you what cool new thing we want to try or what wore out and needs replacing.
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