Hiking is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. More and more people are taking to the beaten – and not so beaten – track, in search of adventure, exercise or a way to relax. While hiking really only requires a working pair of legs, there are many great products available for hikers.
The majority of these products improve comfort while hiking or offer practical solutions to common problems. There are thousands of great items a hiker can add to their kit. If there is a special hiker in your life, it’s worth looking at hiking gifts for the next special occasion.
With so many fantastic items available, however, it can be difficult to know where to start. Read on for gift ideas and reviews of several popular hiking gifts on the market at the moment. First of all, however, there are certain gifts to avoid.
Gifts to avoid
While there are hundreds of great hiking gear gift ideas, there are certain items that should generally be avoided. If you don’t hike yourself, it’s worth knowing what not to get for the special hiker in your life. Certain items are very personal and most hikers prefer to choose them in person. Other items simply aren’t suitable for hiking.
Cotton clothes and jeans
In general, cotton base layers and socks are to be avoided. While cotton is an excellent, comfortable material for day to day life, it makes poor hiking wear. Cotton, unfortunately, retains any moisture that it absorbs. This is not good for hiking, as sweating will inevitably occur, even in cold weather.
Sweat is then absorbed into cotton clothes, where it stays. Once the activity has ceased, this retained moisture will soon turn cold against the skin. Not only is this uncomfortable and can encourage chafing, but it can also lead to you feeling extremely cold and unable to warm up. Merino wool makes an excellent substitute, but synthetic materials are also good.
It may seem as if a nice, shiny new pair of hiking boots is the ideal gift for a hiker. However, boots are one of those personal items. Anyone who is serious about hiking will be serious about their boots. They’ll ensure that the fit is exactly right and that the boots are capable of handling everything thrown at them.
While it’s not a good idea to surprise someone with a new pair of boots, you could, of course, accompany them to the store. This way they’re free to choose their ideal boots and you can be sure that you’ve bought a fantastic gift.
There are some great products out there aimed at hiking and camping. Sadly some of them are huge and are more suited to car camping. Avoid things like large gas stoves, huge tents, and bulky air mattresses. Most hikers try their best to avoid overfilling their pack and taking too much.
There are many fantastic niche items out there. Specialized equipment for the experts is not easy to buy if you’re not an expert yourself. Mountaineering tents, for example, require much pondering and there are many features to consider.
Now that you have a better idea of what not to buy, read on for some of the most popular gifts on the market at the moment.
A review of nine great hiking gifts
Gift Type: Water bottle
Size: 9 x 3 x 3 inches
Temperature Range: -40℉ – 212℉
Specific Features: Wide mouth to fit most filters, dishwasher safe, impact resistant, BPA free
Best Use: An excellent piece of kit for any hiker
Water is essential for every hiker and the type of water bottle you carry can be important. The Nalgene Everyday Travel Water Bottle is a very popular choice. It’s made from sturdy, BPA free plastic and doesn’t give the water a plastic taste. The wide mouth is fantastic for fitting with a water filter for those hikers who are filling up from the river.
With this design, ice cubes or fruit can easily be added to the bottle and it’s easily cleaned. The plastic is extremely tough and these bottles are able to withstand hard use. The product enjoys excellent reviews online, with very few criticisms. The biggest negative is that the bottle can be difficult to drink from and spillages are common.
There is an attachment that can be bought to aid with this, however. Some few users have had problems with the bottle cracking when dropped on concrete. This does not appear to be a common issue, rather these isolated incidents are the exceptions that prove the rule.
The same can be said for those few who have experienced a stale water, or plastic taste. On the whole, the feedback is fantastic and many people have been using these bottles for years. They’re great to use instead of bottled water and as such are very ecological.
Related Products: Available in a variety of colors and a 16oz version. Guyot Designs Universal SplashGuard – to help avoid spillages.
Gift Type: Book
Specific Features: Guide to outdoor gear and maintenance, step by step techniques
Best Use: An invaluable resource for anyone who spends time outdoors
This Outdoor Gear Maintenance and Repair Book is the gift that keeps on giving. It promises to save anyone who is keen on the great outdoors hundreds of dollars over the years. With clear and concise step by step guides on how to repair broken gear, backed up by real life case studies, it’s an easy to use a book that can help you after just a few pages.
It’s written by Kristin Hotsetter, the gear editor of Backpacker magazine. Readers are shown what is necessary to make a small but invaluable repair and maintenance kit that can be taken on any hike. The book enjoys fantastic feedback, with readers impressed at just how useful the book has been.
It’s packed full of practical remedies for almost any problem that you may run into. There are also maintenance and cleaning routines that will keep your gear in top shape year after year. Some more experienced hikers have commented that the information is more suited to beginners.
This generally boils down to personal experience, as some seasoned hikers have found this book to be worth its weight in gold. If you already repair a lot of your gear, you may not learn anything new from the book. On the whole, it’s well received and makes for excellent reading for all but the most crafty hikers.
Gift Type: Tumbler
Size: 4 ⅛” high, 3 ½” in diameter
Specific Features: Double wall insulation, no sweat design, shatter-resistant lid, BPA free, dishwasher safe
Best Use: Ideal for hot and cold beverages and soups, an excellent choice for campers
The YETI brand is synonymous with high quality. The Yeti Stainless Steel Insulated Tumbler is made from food grade stainless steel with a clear BPA free, plastic lid. The overwhelming majority of reviews are positive with users having very little criticism of the product. A genuine YETI tumbler will do all it claims.
Morning coffee will be kept hot for hours, while ice will remain unmelted all day. It’s an ideal tumbler to have around camp, or to take hunting. The double-walled insulation ensures that the tumbler will not breathe, i.e. condensation will not form on the outside.
You can be sure that you’ll never lose your grip on it, but if it does happen to fall, the construction is solid. There may be a few scratches and dents, but otherwise it will last many years. The lid is held in place with a rubber gasket and the vacuum caused. It’s secure and unlikely to come off, although it has a sipping hole that cannot be closed.
This prevents hikers from carrying it in a backpack when it is full, unless a different lid is bought. It’s easy to clean and performs well, especially in comparison with similar products. Of late, there have been alleged fake YETI tumblers. These are of inferior quality and do not perform so well. Ensure that you get the real deal.
Greenlight Portable Solar USB Lamp
Gift Type: Solar lamp
Specific Features: Up to 45 hours of light, three modes, USB charger included, portable, solar powered
Best Use: An excellent lamp to take on longer camping
The sun king is an exceptional gift that anyone outdoorsy will appreciate. This Greenlight Portable Solar USB Lamp is easy to use and extremely effective. It’s an excellent piece of kit to take camping and offers many benefits. The lamp receives overwhelmingly positive reviews, with hikers happy with its ease of use, practicality, and efficiency.
The lamp comes complete with solar panels and a five meter cable, allowing plenty of freedom when placing the lamp. A display lets you know how well the unit is charging on a scale of one to five and advises on how many hours of light you have remaining. The lamp can be hand held or used with the included stand.
It doesn’t need to be plugged into work. A USB charger is included, with a variety of adaptors, allowing campers to charge mobile devices at the same time. There are three light modes, low, medium and high. All of these are more than capable of providing enough light to see by in camp.
This lamp can pay for itself time and time again, as you will no longer require batteries for torches. There really is very little to criticize. Apple phones cannot be charged from this device, although an adaptor can be bought for a very reasonable price.
Related Products:Sun King Pico Portable Solar Lantern – compact lamp with longer life
Gift Type: Pack
Volume: 65l + 10l
Weight: 4 lb 6oz
Specific Features: Compatible with hydration system, internal valuables pocket, adjustable straps
Best Use: This excellent, lightweight backpack is ideal for multi-day treks
Every hiker needs a backpack and the Deuter ACT Lite 65+10 Backpack is a gift that is sure to please. Enjoying glowing reviews, this backpack is lightweight, strong and practical. Its 65 liters can be stretched to 75 by using the lid pocket, allowing hikers to carry all they need on a multi-day trek.
Happy campers have managed to pack a tent, sleeping bag, change of clothes, food and cooking equipment into this pack, with room to spare for a hydration system. The straps are adjustable, ensuring that this pack can fit anyone. It’s packed full of useful pockets, including an internal valuables pocket.
Side pockets are ideal for tools and there are many loops and straps to attach other gear. It’s a well-made backpack that is built to last. Many hikers have been happy with it year after year, through rain, snow, and sunshine. There are very few negative comments, though some believe it’s a little heavy for a lightweight backpack.
Gift Type: Water filter
Specific Features: 16oz squeeze pouch, straw and cleaning kit included, removes 99.99% of all bacteria and protozoa, easy to clean
Best Use: A perfect gift for those hiking in more remote areas
The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is a useful piece of kit to have in an emergency. It’s also an invaluable piece of kit to take on long hikes. More often than not, it’s not feasible to carry several bottles of water, so one must rely on streams to drink from. With a water filtration system, you can be sure that whatever you’re drinking is free from bacteria.
This filtration system receives high praise in reviews. It’s small and lightweight, ensuring it takes up no additional space. It’s remarkably easy to use as well and there are several options. A straw is included allowing hikers to drink directly from the source if water is hard to reach. Otherwise, the squeeze pouch can be filled.
The filter is also sized to screw onto most normal water bottles. It’s easy to clean this filter, simply by backwashing and tests show that it will remain usable after thousands of gallons of water have passed through it. The product has its critics, however. A small percentage of users have had issues with the O-ring breaking, causing leaks.
Others have had no success with sucking water through the filter. It’s well worth testing any water filter system in advance, rather than waiting until you’re relying on it in the field. Over all, people are very impressed with this little filter.
Related Products: Sawyer PointOne Personal – this is the larger (32oz) version of the same filter
Gift Type: Jacket
Weight: Midweight (18oz)
Specific Features: Wind and water resistant, no draft flap, hand warming pockets, thumb holes.
Best Use: This is an excellent midweight jacket best suited to cooler weather hiking
Unless hiking in the blazing sun, it’s inevitable that a jacket will be required when hiking. The weather cannot always be predicted. The Big Agnes Hooded Jacket is a great all rounder. Being wind and water resistant, it can be used as a standalone jacket. For more extreme weather, it doubles up as an excellent insulating layer.
The vertical baffles ensure that the jacket gives a snug, comfortable, athletic fit. It includes several pockets, including a large internal stuff sack style pocket. Zippered hand warmers can be found on the side of the jacket, ensuring your fingers stay warm if the weather turns.
It doesn’t feel too heavy and doesn’t soak up water, making it ideal for all but the most extreme conditions. The feedback is largely positive, with many happy hikers agreeing that it’s like wearing a sleeping bag. The only criticism is that for those with longer arms, it may be a little tight. It’s perhaps worth ordering a size up. A size guide is available on their website, however.
Related Products: Big Agnes Men’s Ways Gulch Vest – a body warmer in the same style
Gift Type: Pack
Size: 10 x 7 x 3 inches
Specific Features: Shoulder and side straps, tool sheath, 420 denier nylon
Best Use: This is a great pack for long distance hikes
This excellent Umpqua Rock Creek Chest Pack allows the long distance hiker to keep additional or valuable gear close. It’s also useful for short hikes where you don’t need to carry much. There is a surprising amount of space in this small, but well-organized pack. Several pockets allow additional items to be carried both inside and out.
While originally marketed to the fishing community, hikers can certainly put this pack to good use. It enjoys good reviews, with users happy with the comfort offered. Unlike most chest packs, the Umpqua pack utilizes four straps, two on the shoulders and two at the side. This vastly improves comfort and makes adjustments easy.
It also prevents the pack from moving while in use. It uses high quality, durable and breathable materials. The mesh padding prevents clamminess and is thick enough to prevent any objects inside from poking you. The pack is water resistant, but won’t hold up against heavy rain or submersion. On the whole, it’s an excellent piece of kit to have, especially if you need a little extra space.
Related Products: Umpqua Surveyor 2000 ZS Backpack – compatible with this chest pack
Gift Type: Camping chair
Size: 18 x 16 x 17 inches (packs up to 3” x 18”)
Weight: 1.6 pounds
Specific Features: Comfortable, lightweight, compact, 250 pound capacity
Best Use: An excellent chair to take on longer hikes and camping trips
Hiking can be hard going at times and some days you just need a comfy seat at the end of it all. If you want to spoil the hiker in your life, the Crazy Creek Air Camp Chair is perfect. It packs up small enough to fit in most backpacks and offers extreme comfort at the end of the day. It can also double up as a sleeping mat, helping to save space.
It’s such a simple concept, but one that many multi-day hikers will enjoy. The firmness of the chair is dictated by how much it is inflated. The sitting position can be changed by adjusting the side straps. It receives great feedback for its ease of use and durability.
It’s made from high quality materials that feel like they will withstand most of what is thrown at them. It is a great chair but it does have its drawbacks. After all, nothing is perfect. The main criticism is that it’s very difficult to pack the chair up to the advertised 3” diameter.
This is particularly true in cold weather, as the compression straps are small and fiddly. Numb fingers will certainly struggle to negotiate the intricate workings. Bearing this in mind, the chair may take up more space than initially thought. Otherwise, this is a great chair that can double up as a three quarter sized sleeping pad if needs be.
Related Products: Air Chair Plus – folds out into a full-length sleeping pad, slightly bigger
Having looked at several hiking gift ideas, the hard part is working out which to get first for the hiker in your life. There are several bits of kit that are sure to please every kind of hiker, whereas other gear is more niche.
Think of items they don’t already have and ask yourself why? Is it because they don’t need this kit, or because they don’t know they need it? Think on, or simply ask them!
Perhaps there is a certain piece of kit that they’ve had their eye on but haven’t got round to buying it yet. Fortunately, most hikers are happy to play with new toys, so even if you’re stuck, take a gamble. It’s unlikely you’ll get something that they cannot find a use for!