Updated December 7th, 2020.
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We’ve all been there. It’s time to buy a gift for someone whose hobbies hold no interest to us whatsoever. Hiking can be something that people love and when they get into it, boy do they get into it. I can say this from experience as when I started hiking, I also started obsessively researching equipment, making wishlists and drooling over ultralight gear in a manner that would get me arrested across many nations. So with that in mind, I, along with the rest of the team at South America Backpacker, have put together this guide of the best gifts ideas for hikers to save you from having to stress about what to buy for the walking fanatic close to your heart!
Best Gifts for Hikers: Quick Answers!
- Best Budget Gift for Hikers: Pack Cover
- Best Midrange Gift for Hikers: Darn Tough Socks
- Best High-End Gift for Hikers: Garmin In Reach Explorer Plus
- Best Gift for New Hikers: Anti-Chafe Balm
- Best Gift for Experienced Hikers: Gift Card
- Best Gift for Day Hikers: Emergency Bivvy Shelter
- Best Gift for Cold Weather Hikers: Western Mountaineering Sleeping Bag
- Best Gift for Summer Hikers: Short Sleeve T-shirt
- Best Gift for Long Hikes: Hyke and Byke Ultralight Sleeping Bag
- Best Gifts for Short Hikes: Sit Pad
The 69 Best Gifts for Hikers 2021
To save you time, money and effort, we have arranged this list in ascending price order. If you already have a budget in mind, just swing on over to that section and you will find the most useful hiking gifts in your price range. Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone how much you spent! 😉
Best Budget Hiking Gifts ($)
1. Lip Balm
Lip balm is a godsend for outdoorsy folk. Cold nights, combined with hot sunny days can play havoc with a person’s lips. Help them out by getting some moisturising lip balm that will make their chapped lips yesterday’s problem. Make sure you choose a lip balm that includes SPF protection to stop that painful sunburn!
No one wants to think about ticks but when hiking in woodland or dense grass they are everywhere. I don’t know a single hiker that hasn’t fallen victim to a tick or two in their time so prepare your hiking friends with this cheap but effective tick removal tool.
3. Repair Tape
It’s not sexy but it sure is useful. Repair tape can fix everything from leaking tents to ripped jackets, from torn trousers to worn out backpacks. Whatever gear they are using, any hiker is sure to get through their fair share of repair tape in no time!
Yes, it may be easier just to carry a couple of lighters but there is something special about lighting a fire with matches. These storm-proof matches come in a watertight case, that will float should it be dropped in water. Even if they do get wet, they will still light and burn for up to 15 seconds before going out. If you are looking for a nice cheap stocking filler then these matches are a great choice!
Mosquitos and other small insects, at worst, can carry a multitude of diseases that are easily spread to humans via their bite and at best, can be damn irritating! When it comes to insect repellent, nothing does the job quite like DEET. Whilst there is a school of thought that says DEET is more harmful to humans than it is beneficial, there is no real evidence for anything being as effective at keeping away small critters! If the person hiking will be near water, marshes or other bug-infested locations, insect repellent makes a great gift – especially because it is something often overlooked by hikers until it is too late!
If you thought repair tape wasn’t sexy wait until you hear about the camping trowel, or as I like to call it, a sanitary trowel. When hiking in the great outdoors, especially when doing so for days on end, it is often impossible to get to a toilet. When nature calls, you have little choice but to hunker down and get on with the task at hand. Hikers tend to practice a leave no trace policy and part of that is digging a little hole to go toilet in, before covering it back up. This lightweight trowel gives them the ability to do that in a clean and hygienic manner.
7. Fire Starter
To some, a fire starter may be a bit of a toy, or a gimmick but to hikers, it can mean the difference between warmth or a freezing cold night. Lighters often break, matches don’t work when wet but a fire starter will guarantee a strong spark and get a fire lit. They weigh and cost very little so it is a small and worthwhile investment for the hiker in your life!
Sporks come in all shapes and sizes but for hikers, a lightweight, long-handled spork is something that will never go a miss. Perfect for eating ready meals or cold soaked oats, this spork is made of titanium and weighs very little. It might not seem like an exciting gift but it is sure to be one that is used over and over again!
Walking for long distances can cause a lot of friction and not the good kind. Many a hiker has had to pull off a trail because the chafing has got too bad. Ensure the hiker in your life isn’t one of them by investing a tube of anti-chafe balm. Once applied, this little beauty will keep skin protected and stop rashes or blisters appearing. Body Glide also produce Anti-Chafe Balm for Her and Body Glide Foot!
10. Dry Bags
You never know when it might rain whilst hiking and dry bags make really useful gifts for hikers. They allow them to keep all of their important gear dry. From clothes to sleeping bags, to food, there is a dry bag sized for every occasion!
11. Sit Pad
Sometimes the ground is cold or wet and a hiker is too tired to keep going. A sit pad makes a really useful gift for hikers because it provides a comfy place to sit, no matter what the weather has been doing. They are really light to carry and many long distance hikers would never be without one.
Staying clean on the trail can be a challenge and staying clean whilst still looking after the environment can be even harder still. This budget-friendly soap from Sea to Summit is highly concentrated so you only need a small amount for each wash. It can be used on clothes, bodies or even cooking equipment and is biodegradable so providing it is not used near a clean water source, it will not cause any damage to the local environment. In its smallest size, this great gift can even be taken as carry on because it does not go over the liquid limits!
Yes, they are carrying clean water and they have a water filter but a small pack of water purification tablets will take up very little room and be a wonderful back up should anything go wrong. The tablets will allow you to drink from most water sources but they do take some time to work. Make sure the hiker reads the instructions!
14. Pack Cover
Pack covers are used by hikers the world over. When the weather is good, they collapse down really small and can be stored just about anywhere. When the weather turns, however, they provide a vital way of keeping both backpacks and gear dry. Being so affordable, yet such a necessity makes them the perfect gift for any hiker!
15. Sun Cream
Sun cream is a real must-have for any outdoor activity but none more so that hiking. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that being under the hot sun for hours on end can have a nasty effect on human skin. Help keep your hiking friend protected with a high factor sun cream. This Sun Bum sun cream is available in different strengths and different sized bottles to give you plenty of choice!
16. Hand Sanitiser
Let’s face it, hiking is dirty. Whether it’s going to the toilet in the woods or wiping mud from your trousers, a hiker’s hands go through a lot of grief. Help hikers stay on top of their hygiene with a small pot of hand sanitiser. This multipack even has bottles that can be clipped onto the outside of a pack for quick access!
Realistically, fairy lights serve little practical purpose whilst hiking. However, they do make for a great way to light up a tent or if multiple people are camping together, light up a campsite. They don’t weigh a lot but the hardcore ultralight crowd will be more likely to eat them than carry them on their hikes. If the hiker in your life is the kind of person who would enjoy a small set of fairy lights in their tent, then these are a solid choice.
18. Traction Cleats
Traction cleats are ideal gifts for hikers, backpackers, and other travellers. Some hikes call for more serious measures and having extra traction on sneakers or boots can make a big difference. These will help backpackers enjoy their treks more and also increase safety. Just make sure to find out their shoe size before you order!
19. First Aid Kit
Whilst we don’t want to think of our loved ones getting hurt during their hike, sometimes it is inevitable. Set them up to succeed by giving them a small first aid kit as a gift. Weight and packability should be the main concerns when picking a first aid kit for hiking but there is no point having one that doesn’t have a good number and variety of plasters or other items that are commonly used.
For the hiker that is looking to shave as much off their base weight as possible, look no further than these ultralight, titanium, tent stakes. They weigh significantly less than your “normal” tent stake and are designed to hold your tent down even in the worst conditions.
21. Notebook and Pen
Hikers have a lot of time to think which is part of the draw of the trail. Notebooks make fantastic gifts for hikers because they give them the ability to write down thoughts, feelings and ideas. Many careers have been decided on hiking trails: don’t let your loved one’s great ideas flitter away into the ether.
These short-sleeved t-shirts are rated UPF 50, so will protect against the sun’s rays. They are also quick-dry so if a hiker is caught in a downpour or has sweat a lot on a hot day, their clothes will not be soaked for long. Providing they can find shelter of course!
23. Travel Games
Travel games make some of the most unique gifts for hikers. They are a great way to encourage camaraderie on the trail as well as making sure that the hiker is never too far from their favourite pastime. You can pick up a magnetic chess set[/easyazon_link or a compact backgammon set. A two-pack of plastic playing cards is always a good purchase and a mini checkers set is great for travelling.
24. Waterproof Spray
Waterproofing spray is used to ensure tents, shoes, backpacks and jackets remain waterproof for the entire hike. It works by creating a hydrophobic layer over the material that causes the water to just bead off. Waterproof spray makes a great gift for those hiking in wet or changeable conditions!
There will always be nights on hiking trails where it is hard to sleep. Help ease that burden by ensuring your friend is comfortable during the night. An inflatable pillow will stop hikers waking up with a sore neck and help give them a good nights’ rest. They weigh very little and once deflated, take up almost no room in a hikers pack.
In bad weather, gaiters keep water from running down into a hiker’s shoes and in good weather they prevent stones, sand or anything else getting in and rubbing or causing blisters. Cheap, lightweight and available in more designs than you thought possible, gaiters are great gifts for hikers of all abilities.
27. Blister Plasters
Personally, I will never leave for a hike without having at least two boxes of blister plasters stashed away. They are some of the most useful supplies that can be taken on a hike, especially for new or inexperienced hikers. They may seem boring but hikers will appreciate the gift and even if they don’t end up with blisters on their hike, they are sure to run into someone that will be in need. Some of the best conversations I have had on different hiking trails were started by someone asking for blister plasters.
Conditions can change rapidly when hiking and emergency bivvy shelters make great, lightweight gifts that could save a person’s life. Don’t worry about feeling like a worrier. Any hiker would be touched that you are thinking about their safety while on the trail. With a heat reflecting interior and a fully waterproof exterior, these shelters are designed to weather the toughest storms while keeping their occupants warm, safe and dry.
Packable rain jackets range in price but they all do basically the same thing. Namely, keeping the wearer dry! The more expensive options weigh less and often breathe better but for someone just starting out, this jacket from Coofandy would make a great gift.
Whilst some hikers prefer walking in short sleeve shirts, others prefer long sleeves. It is personal preference but make sure you find out what the hiker in your life likes before buying. These long sleeve t-shirts protect against the sun’s rays with their UPF 50 rating so even those hiking out in the hottest of conditions will be able to keep their skin safe. They are also great gifts for those hiking in cooler conditions and can be used as a base layer under jumpers or coats.
31. Hiking Shorts
Whether it is too hot for trousers or a hiker doesn’t really like them, hiking shorts make an excellent gift. They are lightweight, water repellent and stretchy enough for them to go unnoticed on a long walk. These shorts also look classy enough to be worn off of the trail without turning too many heads so there is no need to add extra pack weight with spares!
Whether it’s for a quick afternoon siesta or a proper overnight sleep, hammocks are a great way for hikers and campers to stay off the ground and thus, preserve valuable body heat. This hammock from OlarHike includes all the straps and clips required to set it up and even comes with its very own inflatable pillow! It makes a perfect gift for hikers who will be out in the summer months but can also be used in the winter. Just hang a large tarp over the top and the person will be protected from all the elements.
A buff is one of the most practical gifts a hiker could ask for. It can be used when it’s hot to keep the sun off a hiker’s neck or when the temperature drops, it can act as a scarf. The longer ones can also be pulled up over the head or twisted in such a way that they act as a hat. My buff is the first thing I pack whenever I head out for a hiking trip!
34. Hiking Snacks
High protein, high calorie, lightweight foods can be difficult to come by but they are the lifeblood of a successful hike. Whether it’s snacks or full meals, hikers require constant sustenance. Snacks can be anything from beef jerky or peanut butter bars to trail mix and the old faithful, chocolate chip bars. They all vary slightly in price but none will break the bank and they make great, usable gifts for hikers.
A rechargeable headlamp is one of the most useful gifts for hikers. Whether trekking through the night or just roaming around camp, this is guaranteed to be a present that will be well used! When choosing a headlamp, make sure you pick one that has various beam settings and a red light option for maximum utility.
UV rays from the sun can cause real problems if you are exposed to them for prolonged periods, especially in sensitive areas such as the eyes. Help keep hikers safe with these great polarised glasses from Cool Change. The frame is both durable and flexible, so they provide long-lasting comfort that will stand up to the rigours of the trail.
Trekking poles make a world of difference on a long hike. They take close to 25% of the strain from the legs and make it much easier to ascend or descend steep hills. These entry-level aluminium walking poles make a great gift for novice hikers, or those taking on shorter trails. They have a cork handle for added comfort and anti-slip tips to provide a strong anchor point over all manner of terrain.
Best Midrange Gifts for Hikers ($$)
Whether it’s cutting guy lines, opening tinned food of picking stones out of their shoes, hikers use multitools. This great option form Roxon has everything you could want including a fire lighter! It is lightweight and durable, so makes the perfect companion for any hiker no matter the length of their trip.
39. Travel Thermos
Nothing is better than a nice warm soup or hot drink after a long day of hiking. Having a travel thermos allows backpackers to bring along food that will stay tasty throughout many hours on the trail. There are various sizes and styles to choose from, depending on the backpacker’s preferences. Ultralight hikers will probably scoff at the idea of carrying a Thermos with them so do not buy this if your friend or loved one is of this ilk.
40. Solar Lantern
When a long day of hiking turns into a special opportunity for overnight camping, it’s good for backpackers to be prepared with lanterns. Solar lanterns made for travel can easily be hooked onto the outside of a backpack so they get their charge during the day’s hike. They’ll then be ready to light your camping spot that evening.
41. Water Filter
On the trail, there is almost nothing as important as having access to clean drinking water. In many situations, it is not realistic to expect to see a tap every few miles. Water filters, like this one from Sawyer, are the perfect gift for a hiker. They allow you to drink from any water source, no matter the quality of the water, almost instantly. No more waiting around for purification tablets to work! Fill up your bottle, screw on the filter, squeeze the water through it and drink to your heart’s content.
42. Darn Tough Socks
Socks might not always be the most appreciated gifts but for hikers, a good pair of socks is one of the most important bits of kit they take on the trail. Darn Tough makes some of the best hiking socks and for what you are getting the price tag really isn’t too bad. They are designed to last hundreds of miles and protect the feet against the blisters and bruises that are all too common when walking long distances.
43. Hiking Trousers
Some hikers, myself included, never hike wearing trousers. It’s not because we get our kicks from streaking but because we find shorts more comfortable. With that said, some folks will only ever hike in trousers and not shorts for the same reason. but others will never hike in shorts. It all depends on the hiker, so before deciding to buy them a set of lightweight, fast-drying hiking trousers, find out if they will actually use them. As well as offering protection on cold, windy days these trousers can be zipped off at the knee and turned into shorts. They make great gifts for hikers who are often out in changeable conditions!
Help your hiking friend become the life and soul of the party by getting them a set of speakers for a gift! Some people hate having music forced upon them while out hiking but others love it. Bluetooth speakers allow the user to play music from their phone for everyone to hear. They are reasonably lightweight but very durable and the battery life is good, providing they are not used constantly.
Hikers are likely to be using their phones a lot on the trail. Whether it is for navigation or photography, they are going to want an easy but safe place to store their phone. Waterproof phone pouches make amazing gifts because they allow the hiker to wear their phone around their neck and are able to see the screen without having to take it out. You can even use the touch screen through the clear plastic window in the pouch!
The most expensive isn’t always the best. This waterproof jacket from Frogg Toggs is a great example of how a small budget can go a long way when buying hiking gifts. It is thin and lightweight enough that when not being used, it can easily be stored in a hiking pack and forgotten about until the rain strikes again!
Sure, they aren’t for everyone but a harmonica is a great gift for a musical hiker. They are small, light, durable and when played well, can light up a room, or in this case, trail. Whilst some cheaper harmonicas are available, Lee Oskar are a big name in the music world and produce some of the best budget harmonicas you will find!
Sometimes a hike or trek is super intense and constantly reaching for a water bottle just isn’t convenient. With a hydration bladder, hikers can install their water source firmly into their backpack and drink from it at any time with a ready straw.
49. Sleeping Pad
A sleeping pad is the best way to retain body heat whilst camping on the trail. Just a thin layer between a hiker and the ground can make a massive difference. This sleeping pad from sleepingo weighs in at less than a pound and packs down to the size of a water bottle, making it a great practical gift for hikers!
50. Ultralight Stove
MSR produces some of the most popular stoves available on the market. It weighs very little and makes cooking on hiking trails a doddle. The size of these stoves means that they are great stocking fillers that will be used time after time! If you wanted to get a full ultralight cooking set up, check out the MSR pocket rocket mini stove kit.
51. Solar Charger
Technology is such an integral part of our day to day lives and this is still true even on the trail. If hikers want to listen to music, check their route or even keep up with friends, they will often need their phone to do this and phones need power. This solar charger can be attached to their backpack during the day so it charges the power bank, then in the evening, any phone can be plugged in and charged. They are quite heavy though so check that the hiker in your life would be interested in one before buying. Some hikers prefer just one lightweight battery pack that they can recharge every few days.
All the benefits of a water filter without having to carry an extra bottle! The Katadyn Be Free Water Filter Bottle is one of the best gifts a hiker could ask for. The filter is small enough to deal with any nasties you might come across in the backcountry and when not being used, the bottle can be folded down super small so it doesn’t take up unnecessary space!
A thin jumper that is warm but still lightweight, is a really important item in a hikers backpack. They can be worn over a base layer, as a standalone, underneath a coat or as part of a more extensive layering system so are perfect gifts for hikers tackling all sorts of terrain and climates.
As a general rule, ultralight tents are expensive. Really expensive. However, a handful of companies are producing ultralight tents for the budget hiker. This River Country Trekker Tent is one of the best budget ultralight tents available and would make a great gift for the hiker close to your heart. It is not a freestanding tent but instead requires trekking poles and guy lines to remain in place. Tents like this can be tricky to put up initially but once the technique has been learnt, it is a quick and easy job.
Larger than a harmonica but still plenty small enough to take on a trip (assuming the person isn’t going for an ultralight approach), a Ukulele is a great gift for the hiker who can’t go without their string instruments. A showstopper around the campfire, a well-played ukulele is the perfect way to bring a group together and help create those special bonds that form so strongly on hiking trails.
Spare time can be hard to fill on a hike. There will be days when the hiker has to finish early if they want a good place to camp. If they are alone, what do they do with their time? A kindle or similar e-reader makes a great gift because it allows them time to unwind and get lost in their favourite books. The battery life is great, so even after days on the trail with no electricity, there is always enough charge left to visit Bilbo for an hour!
57. Grayl Geopress
The Geopress from Grayl is a water filter and bottle combined. It is similar to the Katadyn bottle in this aspect but is not collapsible and comes in at around twice the price. The main difference between the two is the filtration technique. Just fill the bottle from any water source and press the filter down, before you can count to 20 you will have a bottle of clean drinking water! These water filter bottles make great gifts for the plastic conscious hiker who doesn’t want to carry around single-use plastic bottles.
58.Carbon Fibre Walking Poles[/easyazon_link
For the experienced or ultra distance hiker, nothing matches the utility of carbon fibre walking poles. They are strong, light and can be used for far more than just walking. A lot of ultra-lightweight tents and shelters utilise walking poles to save the hiker having to carry tent poles.
If the hiker in your life is just starting out or only taking on shorter trails, it is better to invest in a cheaper pair of aluminium walking poles as opposed to these.
Best High-End Gifts for Hikers ($$$)
59. Hyke and Byke Ultralight Sleeping Bag
A sleeping bag is super important when camping out during multiway hikes. After once forgetting to take my sleeping bag on a camping trip to the Scottish Highlands, I will never be without one again. This ultralight sleeping bag from Hyke and Byke is one of the most practical gifts for hikers. It will see them through chilly summer nights but beware if they are cold-weather camping this is not the bag for them. Check out the 4 season bag, which is for use in cold conditions.
Sunglasses are a must-have item for any hiker. Squinting your way along a trail is a surefire way to lose a certain level of enjoyment from a hike so keeping your eyes protected is important. These sunglasses from Smith Optics come with the patented ChromaPop lenses that enhance the colour and beauty of your surroundings.
61. Action Cam
Action cams are tough, versatile bits of kit with long battery life and the ability to take high-quality photos or video. As leaders in the action cam market, Go Pro’s make great gifts for hikers who want to document their adventures and allow them to easily share their photos and videos with friends and family.
This tent from MSR is not a small investment but if you have the money, it is a great choice. It is ultra-lightweight and comfortably big enough for two people, although if someone wants to keep their gear inside the tent as well, it starts to feel a little cramped. As one of the most popular tents among long distance hikers, this is a gift that is sure to impress!
It is certainly not the cheapest item on this list but the Garmin In Reach Explorer Plus is the ultimate gift for backcountry navigation. The GPS and map functions are fantastic and allow for two way satellite communication. There is even an SOS function that will get help to where it needs to be in the quickest possible time. If your loved one gets into trouble, this might just be the gadget that will save their life!
This is the Ferrari of sleeping bags and it has a price to match. I spent some time debating whether to include it on this list because its sheer price alone makes it off-putting for most hikers. However, after speaking to some PCT thru hikers earlier this year, I decided to include it. I did not hear a bad word against it and that was from folks who have been using it every night for 6 months, in varying temperatures and weather conditions. If you can afford it, then this is the best sleeping bag for hikers but if not, plenty of the cheaper options will suffice!
Best Variable Price Gifts for Hikers
65. Hiking Shoes
There are a few things that you shouldn’t really surprise a hiker with and shoes are one of them. Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to walking shoes and it can be hard to know what to buy. If you want to buy hiking shoes as a gift then check with the hiker first and take them with you to the shop so that they can show you exactly what they look for in a hiking shoe.
Just like with shoes, you should check a hiker’s preferences before buying them a backpack as I guarantee you they have a favourite brand or pack already! A good hiking pack that will last is not a cheap purchase, so make sure you get the right one! The Osprey Exos, one of the most popular packs among long distance hikers whilst the zpacks Arc Blast is another reputable high-end option.
Hikers love keeping track of daily distances as well as elevation gained and time spent moving. Smartwatches are a great way to have all of that information at hand. Or wrist if you prefer. Whilst there are cheap options such as the Fitness Tracker by Lamonke, there is also the all singing, all dancing watches such as the Garmin Vivoactive 3. The more expensive options do offer more, such as maps, wireless payments and the ability to read text messages but if it just basic distance information that the hiker wants, a cheap option will more than suffice. Be sure to check the battery life before purchasing a watch. If it only lasts a day, like the first generation of Apple watches, it will not be any good for hiking.
68. Gift Card
So you’ve made it this far and you still don’t know what gift to buy? Take all the stress out of the situation instantly and purchase a gift card. These make great gifts because they allow the recipient to choose exactly how they spend the money. Plus, you can choose how much to spend! Recommended git cards for hikers would be REI (For US readers), Amazon, Mountain Warehouse (UK readers), or even Zpacks (for Ultralight gear).
Books always make good gifts. For hikers though, there is plenty of literature out there to help them on their next adventure or inspire future ones.
Walking to the End of the World follows Beth and her husband Eric’s thousand-mile journey to Santiago de Compostela, otherwise known as the Camino de Santiago. For those hikers planning on tackling the most popular hiking route in the world, this book will give you information about the journey as well as a real insight into the struggles of the hike. This epic account of Carrot Quinn’s PCT thru hike is one that leaves no stone unturned and highlights the less glamorous aspects of hiking. From periods on the trail to sexual relations, this book dives into the nitty-gritty of female hiking that is so often left out of the accounts.
- Travelled Far – Keith Foskett
- Leave No Trace: A Guide to the New Wilderness Etiquette – Annette McGivney
Written by Keith Foskett, a veteran of the PCT, AT and Camino, this collection of hiking stories is one that is sure to inspire wanderlust in any hiker! Although it is now over 15 years old, the message and techniques taught in this book are more relevant than ever. Annette shows us how to lessen our impact on the wilderness with simple, tried and tested methods that go beyond picking up your own trash and not cutting down trees. This could be the most beneficial gift to give the eco-conscious hiker in your life.
For hikers in the UK, there can be no better gift than the gift of knowledge… Okay, that was cheesy, I apologise. The Complete Guide to Britains National Trails lists over 3000 miles of trails scattered across the UK. The author Paddy Dillion has hiked them all, twice, so has an unparalleled insight into the history, terrain and changes of each one.