Hikers Gift Guide

There are a lot of reasons to hike. It’s a great activity that almost anyone can do. It’s good for your body and mind, you get to see some incredible sights, and it’s a good way to escape the hustle and bustle everyone now and then. Speaking of hustling and bustling, you’re probably starting to put together gift lists with Christmas right around the corner, but how are you supposed to shop for a hiker? We’re here to help with this hikers gift guide!

Before we get into the guide it’s important to note that all hiking is not created equal. There is a huge difference in hiking a three-mile loop in an afternoon and backpacking the 2,000+ miles of the Appalachian Trail. You don’t want to buy a day-hiker an 80-liter backpack in the same way that you don’t want to buy an AT thru-hiker a pair of low top walking shoes.

So, we’re going to break this guide into general hiking gifts and gifts specific to backpacking.

Hiking:

  • Socks – You never really notice wearing socks until you put on a nice pair of wool ones. Good socks are nearly necessary when it comes to hiking, and wool socks are hard to beat. Wool is super comfortable, regulates temperature extremely well, and adds much needed padding for long hikes. Socks are a classic Christmas gift for a reason.
  • Lip balm – When you’re out in the sun all day with the wind blowing in your face, your lips will get chapped, especially around this time of year. Chapped lips can go from a minor annoyance to a time ruiner in no time. A little lip balm with SPF will keep the fun going!
  • Water bottle – What is one of those things that you just can’t go without. Literally. Hiking without a water bottle isn’t only unpleasant, it can be downright dangerous. Hiking burns a lot of calories and your body can get dehydrated very quickly. Nalgene has become the go to water bottle, but insulated bottles from Klean Kanteen and Hydro Flask can keep your water cold for hours, which will be great for the summer.
  • Sunglasses – Sun blindness is a thing, and over exposure to sunlight can permanently damage your eyes. Polarized sunglasses are the way to go for the most protection and the most clarity. Chroma Pop from Smith Optics is not only polarized, but it filters out light to enhance the colors around you!
  • Base layer – If you know a hiker who will keep hitting the trail all through winter, be sure to get them a good base layer.
  • Rain jacket – You never know when there’s a dark little storm cloud lurking behind a mountain. Sometimes weather predictions just get it all wrong. Be prepared for sudden showers with a rain jacket. Go for lightweight and compact. Look for a rain jacket that will fit well in a day pack.
  • Headlamp – Even the most veteran hiker can misjudge the amount of time it will take to get back to the car. Maybe you stopped to smell the roses, or you took a wrong turn. Don’t get stuck in the dark. Headlamps are always good to bring along, just in case.

Backpacking

  • Hiking Boots – When you are doing long hikes, you really need a solid hiking boot. You want a boot with a good think sole and high ankle support. You don’t want to risk rolling an ankle when you’re 50 miles away from the nearest trail head.
  • Backpack – Your Jansport might be fine for a day hike, but it just won’t cut it on distance hikes. The size of backpack that a hiker needs depends on how light they pack and how many days they look to be out at a time. The best way to pick a pack is to come in and see us at the store!
  • Sleeping pad – We’re not all cowboys. Most of us need more than a slug of bourbon and a thin wool blanket to sleep on the cold hard ground. A good sleeping pad will help you sleep like a bear, even in the middle of the woods. Try and get a pad that packs small, but still has a high R-value. Thermarest’s NeoAir line is great for backpacking.
  • Sleeping bag – It’s down all the way for backpacking sleeping bags. Down kills synthetic bags, in packability, weight, and warmth-to-weight ratio. Keep in mind that the warmth rating alone isn’t going to be enough to choose a bag for your hiker.
  • Tent – Weight is the main concern for most backpackers. You want to choose a tent that is light and compact. Go for a one-person tent if they travel solo, and two-person tent if they like to have a partner. The MSR Hubba and Hubba Hubba are backpacker classics.
  • Stove – There’s nothing like a warm meal to make you feel human again. After trudging 20 miles in the woods, even freeze-dried, instant food taste like a gourmet meal prepared for the gods if it’s hot. There are so many different types of stoves, but again, packability and weight are key. The MSR Pocket Rocket, and Optimus Crux are two of the tried and true classics, but the Jetboil Flash cook system is a new crowd favorite.
  • Water filter – How does a nice refreshing glass of cryptosporidum and giardia sound? Water filters are necessary for long backpacking trips unless you plan on hauling a 5 gallon water jug on your back. The Katadyn Hiker Pro is one of the most popular filters out there.

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