Hiking Gift Ideas Your Favorite Hiker Will Actually Use

By Alissa Bell: lover of long trails, big views, and light gear


‘Tis almost the season. No, not hiking season unfortunately, unless you’re headed to the desert or the southern hemisphere. ‘Tis almost the consumerism season. I mean the season of love and joy. Ok, maybe both.

If you’re wondering what holiday gift to get that special hiker or backpacker in your life, or if you’re doing a little Black Friday shopping for yourself (no shame in that), I have some ideas for you.

I know from experience that it can be hard to choose gifts for hikers. Most people who’ve been hiking for a while already have their favorite setup. That snazzy new sleeping pad or stove might go unused because they already have one they love or prefer a different style.

Fear not! I thought hard about what hiking gifts might be appreciated by nearly every type of hiker or backpacker, and this is the result. Read on for a list of high-quality, broadly appealing hiker gift ideas for the 2019 holidays.

Buff Headwear

These things are so darn useful, and the patterns so fun, that even a stingy shopper like me has more than one. Plus, they’re one size fits all, which always makes gift giving easier. They come in handy as hair bands, sweat bands, dust masks, sun shields, and more.

Platypus 1 Liter Soft Bottle

These light, packable soft bottles fold down to almost nothing, making them perfect as extra water capacity on a backpacking trip. I also love them for travel: fill them up for the flight after passing through airport security, then fold them up into no space at all when not needed.

Icebreaker Tech Lite Tee for Women(men’s here)

I know gifting clothes can be risky, but this shirt is versatile enough that it’s a fairly safe bet. The style and fit are both pretty forgiving and generically appealing. The biggest delight, though, is the amazing merino wool fabric. It’s breathable, lightweight, and magically stink-resistant for those long days on the trail! What hiker wouldn’t be into that?

Related: What to Wear Backpacking

Aquamira Water Treatment Drops

If the hiker in your life already has a water filter system they love, these can still be useful. On short or lightweight trips where water is mostly clear (not silty) but still needs to be purified, these can save both space and time. And if your hiker already uses them, eventually, they’re going to need more.

RumbleRoller Beastie Massage Ball

Anyone who spends a lot of hours on the trail knows that taking care of tight and sore muscles is essential. I use this wickedly effective little gadget both at home and on the trail (yes, I’ve been known to carry it backpacking) to help prevent knee pain and keep my body working in top form. What better gift is there than one that relieves pain and helps someone spend more time doing what they love?

Platypus Wine Preserver

This is a fun hiking gift that even the most well-outfitted hiker probably doesn’t already have. My husband and I received one for our wedding and have found it surprisingly useful. Just empty that wine bottle into it before you leave (no one wants to lug around a glass bottle on the trail) and enjoy at your campsite!

Smartwool PhD Outdoor Light Hiking Socks for Women (men’s here)

There are socks, and then there are socks. These are definitely high-quality socks. The merino fabric is breathable, comfortable, and resists stink even after many days on the trail. They’re always my first pick from the sock drawer when heading out on the trail.

Justin’s Nut Butter Squeeze Packs

These individually packaged servings of tasty almond butter are healthy, delicious, and so convenient as an on-trail snack. Take it from someone who’s actually tried to package almond butter into individual plastic baggies for hiking… There’s no substitute for the real deal.

Dried Vegetable Soup Mix

This one might be a little unusual, but, if you know a health-focused hiker who likes to make their own backpacking meals, this dried vegetable soup mix is a perfect gift. It’s lightweight and can be sprinkled into packaged backpacking meals to add a little extra variety, texture, and nutrition. Or, it can be incorporated into custom trail recipes.

Dude Shower Wipes

As long as you’re sure this hiking gift won’t be taken the wrong way, it makes a fantastic stocking stuffer for backpackers and other outdoorsy folks. Of course sometimes it’s nicer to wash with water after a long day on the trail, but sometimes that’s just not possible or fun (desert hiking, freezing cold weather…). In that case having one or two of these on hand is a lifesaver. They’re far superior to classic baby wipes when it comes to getting the grime off. And don’t worry ladies, there’s nothing dude-specific about them besides the marketing.

Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sacks

These lightweight dry sacks are surprisingly useful for protecting everything from sleeping bags to electronics from wet weather. A set of a few different sizes will surely find use in any hiker’s backpack. If in doubt, choose the middle sizes, like the 4, 8, and 13 liters, which are often useful for the greatest number of things.

Amazon Gift Card

I know, gift cards don’t feel personal. But what better gift is there than helping someone buy the thing they actually need and want the most? To personalize it, include a hand-written note telling the hiker in your life that you hope they spend it on something that makes them happy on the trail. I promise, they’ll appreciate it.

There you go! It’s a short list, but that’s because it’s hard to think of gifts for hikers that will actually get used, not shoved to the back of the gear closet or sold on eBay. Give the special hiker in your life something that will make them happy on the trail and it’s sure to be a hit.

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About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa, founder of Exploring Wild. I’ve had the pleasure of hiking the Arizona Trail, Colorado Trail, John Muir Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, and countless shorter amazing trails throughout the US and abroad. I love solitude, big views, and a good lightweight gear setup. Learn more here.

Excited about backpacking but need help getting started? The Backpacking Trip Planner Workbook will help you start off on the right foot.

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