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You’ve got a holiday or occasion coming up and want to get that special backpacker in your life a great gift.
I hear you. (And it’s truly appreciated).
Excited to find just the right item, you start searching “gifts for backpackers”, but all you find are suggestions on the greatest winter jackets and tents.
Now, you know your backpacker. They’re picky. Heck, all of us are picky, especially when it comes to clothing and our staple gear.
You know better than to get your special outdoors person a tent, jacket, rain gear, or even socks without a direct link to the specific item.
Well, I’ve got you covered with my list of the top gifts for backpackers. All items were chosen for their versatility and usability.
Best of all, while I’ve got an “under $25” section, almost all of the gifts listed are affordable.
- Before You Shop
- Gifts for Backpackers Under $25
- Gifts For Backpackers to Keep Them Safe
- Backpacking Essentials Gifts
- Unique Backpacking Gift Ideas
- When All Else Fails – Gift Certificates
Before You Shop
While these are great gifts that a lot of backpackers will love, you just never know. We’re a fickle, picky bunch.
I always recommend verifying the return and exchange policies before purchasing and making sure to hold onto that receipt.
Gifts for Backpackers Under $25
There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of the backcountry and something rips, tears, splits, or deflates. Luckily, most repairs are easy as long as you have a good repair kit. This is one of those things every backpacker needs but most don’t think to purchase.
Deuce of Spades Backcountry Trowel
If your backpacker has been grumbling about a heavy metal trowel, or a giant plastic one being difficult to manage, surprise them with the deuce of spades. This is “The” backcountry trowel. Lightweight at only 0.6 ounces, it’s efficient, easy to pack, and does the job.
Deuce of Spades Trowel $19.95
No one wants to talk about blisters, but they do happen. Leukotape helps get in front of a blister by protecting areas of your foot where rubbing may occur, or if you’re starting to get a hot spot. Moleskin is a velvety soft patch that also helps prevent rubbing, and protect blisters that have already formed.
This is for the ladies. A Kula Cloth is a washable pee cloth that helps minimize the amount of toilet paper you need to carry in and out when backpacking. It’s lightweight, has a snap to attach to your pack, dries quickly, and is infused with silver to help prevent bacterial buildup.
While it may not replace toilet paper altogether, it can help cut down on how much you need.
Kula Kloth $20.00
Long or Retractable Spork
It’s an unspoken problem in the backpacking world. Pre-packaged freeze-dried meals come in tall bags. Short utensils just don’t cut it. At some point, your hand, wrist, and part of your arm are heading into the bag.
A great solution is a folding spoon or spork, like these from MSR. Grab one soon though, it looks like they may be discontinued. I have one and love it. It packs down easily and, when extended, holds tight.
Another option is this long titanium spoon from TOAKS. It’s a little more awkward to pack, but the low weight is a huge plus. A fellow backpacker has this spork and it’s one of their favorite pieces of gear.
MSR Folding Spork $2.96
GSI Infinity Mug
I love coffee. And tea. And I love this mug. Fairly lightweight, it keeps my coffee and tea hot so I can enjoy it longer.
Even better is the hidden feature. When you remove the sleeve, you’ll see that the mug has measurements on it. This is huge. So many meals say, “add 2/3 cup of water”. Not so easy when you’re in the middle of the woods. But this mug ensures you don’t wind up with soupy eggs while keeping your coffee hot.
GSI Infinity Mug $12.95
Pop Up Bowl
For anyone that doesn’t want to cook in their pot, or eat out of a plastic bag, this is a great option. The bowls push down flat for easy storage, yet provide room for a huge meal when extended.
I bring mine when I’m base camping or car camping.
Sea to Summit X-Bowl $16.95
Rite in the Rain Notebooks
These have gained popularity in the past few years. Camping alone can be a good time to meditate and jot down your thoughts. But when it rains, things are wet. Rite in the rain allows you to write even when the notebook and pen get damp.
Rite in the Rain Notebooks $10.95
Lightweight Pocket Knife
I’ve seen a ton of knives recommended on other sites, but my favorite is a $3 gem. My little Ozark has been a steady companion for over 6 years and still cuts everything I need, is relatively lightweight, and doesn’t make me fear for my fingers when opening or closing.
It’s a little larger than other knives, but that comes in handy when you’re shorter and need to cut a stuck rope over your head. You really can’t go wrong with the Ozark.
Gifts For Backpackers to Keep Them Safe
No hiker or backpacker should be without a headlamp. A good headlamp should have a red light, and produce at least 300 lumens. While less light is fine wandering around camp, when you’re hiking in the dark, the extra brightness is noticeable and appreciated.
I like both the Petzl Tikka Core headlamp and the Black Diamond Spot. Both provide at least 400 lumens of light and have a red light option.
Petzl Tikka Core Headlamp $59.95
Black Diamond Spot $49.95
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter
This is probably the number one used water filter in the backcountry. It’s fast, lightweight, and easy to use, but it tends to get clogged over time. I’m on my third in six years which is a bit frustrating, but given how much use it’s had, I can’t complain.
These can be picked up at most outfitters, on amazon, and at Walmart. Make sure you get the Squeeze and not the Mini.
Sawyer Squeeze Filter $29.08
Upgrade Their Favorite GPS App to Pro
Whether they prefer Gaia, AllTrails, or another GPS app, consider updating them to the Pro version. The additional features aren’t just fun, they can be essential. Being able to download a map before a trip means they can safely navigate without cell signal.
Gaia Pro Plan $39.99.year
AllTrails Pro Plan $35.99/year
Ursack, OPSAK, Bear Canister
More and more backpacking locations are requiring a bear canister. On top of that, good branches for bear hangs are becoming more elusive. Ursacks and Bear Canisters solve the issue, but they’re not perfect.
If you’re in an area that does not require bear canisters Ursacks are a good option. They’re lighter weight and easier to pack than a canister. They should always be used in conjunction with the scent-proof OPSAKs.
In some areas, Ursacks are allowed to be substituted where canisters are required, however, this isn’t universal. If you’re in an area that requires bear canisters and does not allow the substitution, then here’s a good option.
Ursack Major XL Bear Sack $109.95
Backpacking Essentials Gifts
Check to see what socks your backpacker likes. Make sure to get the brand and the style. I wear Smartwool, Farm to Feet, and Darn Tough and almost exclusively crew or hiking versions.
If you want to take a stab at buying some socks without talking to your backpacker first, check out my post on the best hiking socks.
Smartwool Hiking Socks $24.00
Farm to Feet Hiking Socks $24.00
Darn Tough Hiking Socks $23.00
A warm hat helps you regulate your body temperature more easily in cold weather. It also keeps you warm at camp and in your tent at night. But you want a hat that stays on your head. There’s nothing worse than a hat that rides up.
I like my Minus33 wool beanie. It’s lightweight and stays on my head. There are also 20 color options. If you don’t like wool, Carhartt is another good option with their acrylic hats.
Minus33 Beanie $22.99
Carhartt Knit Cuffed Beanie $19.99
TOAKS Titanium Pot
Titanium pots are a great way to save some weight in your pack. They’re particularly efficient if you just boil water.
Friends have TOAKS pots and I am enamored. I want one but can’t bring myself to make the purchase while I have another working pot. It’s a perfect size, keeps their coffee warm, and is super lightweight.
Even better, these are some of the most affordable titanium pots on the market.
TOAKS 650 mL Titanium Pot $36.95
TOAKS Wind Screen
You’re wondering what a windscreen is. When you’re cooking in the woods and the wind kicks up, the flame on the burner starts shifting everywhere but under the pot. This means it takes longer and uses more fuel to boil your water. A windscreen shields the flame so it stays directly under the pot.
TOAKS makes a great, lightweight screen that packs down easily and works exactly like it’s supposed to.
TOAKS Titanium Windscreen $10.95
When you’re backpacking, keeping certain gear dry isn’t just a “nice to have”, it can mean the difference between a great trip and having to come home early.
Dry sacks are a great way to protect gear that absolutely can’t get wet like clothes or a sleeping bag. They also come in handy as a homemade pillow.
You’ve got options when it comes to dry sacks. There are compression dry sacks which will cost more but are perfect for sleeping bags, different sizes, and different materials.
Sea to Summit is the standard. And for the ultralight fanatics, there are the Dyneema bags by Hyperlite Mountain Gear.
Seat to Summit Compression Dry Bags $43.95 – $53.95
Sea to Summit 13 L Dry Bag $25.95
Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema Storage Bags $29.00 – $55.00
CNOC Dirty Water Bag
When you filter water, you fill up a dirty bag from a stream, then attach the filter and pour clean water into your drinking bottles. Once unfiltered water is in a dirty bag, it’s always a dirty bag. The CNOC silicone bags are a favorite with the backpacking crew.
The large end makes it easier to fill from non-moving water sources, they fold down into nothing, and they are available in different sizes. There’s a lot to love about these bags.
CNOC 2L Hydration Bag $22.99
Unique Backpacking Gift Ideas
BruTek Pour Over Coffee Stand
I recently came across the BruTrek products and love them. If you like coffee and are tired of the instant options, this may be for you. They have a collapsible pour over device with a reusable filter.
It works perfectly and is sustainable. There’s nothing that speaks more to a backpacker than sustainable options.
BruTek Collapsible Pour Over with Coffee Sock $45.00 (Use code “explorationsolo” for 10% off)
Food and Food Supplies
Backpackers have to eat and there are tons of options out there. Personally, I like the Patagonia Provisions but always hesitate to buy them for myself. That makes them perfect for trips.
Don’t forget fuel. It seems to be one of those things everyone needs, and we all have semi-used containers lying around, and we all find ourselves making a last-minute run to get a canister before a trip. Save your backpacker some time (and stress) and wrap up a canister or two of fuel.
Patagonia Provisions $7.50
Fuel Canister 3.9 oz $5.95
While this is technically Food Stuff, I gave it a category to itself. More and more backpackers are making their own food these days. Tired of expensive, high-salt, heavy meals, prepping your own food starts looking like a good idea. It’s also surprisingly easy. Once they find a couple of recipes that work, they’ll be a dehydrating fool.
Best of all, dehydrators don’t have to be expensive. One of the best is under $100.
Anker Portable Charger
Electronic devices have a habit of dying in the woods. The cold weather, constant signal searching when you forget to put it in airplane mode, and general use for videos and photos, take a toll.
Also, on longer trips, devices just need power. I’ve used a lot of chargers and the Anker is the best. It holds its charge for days, powers devices quickly, and the 10,000 mAh, which is enough power for a week, weighs 6.38 ounces.
Anker PowerCore 10K mAh $24.99
National Park Pass
This is applicable if you know the receiver either lives near a lot of National Parks, is a traveling fool that will be visiting several parks, or is on a mission to visit as many parks as possible this year.
If your traveler falls into one of those categories, this is a perfect gift that will save them time and money. There are several options so read through the different passes carefully. The price below is for the standard Annual Pass.
National Park Annual Pass $80.00
When All Else Fails – Gift Certificates
If you’re stuck and just don’t know what to do, a gift certificate from a company you know your backpacker frequently visits is always appreciated. This could be a local outfitter, an online brand they love, or even a trip.
In a pinch, REI always works. They’re great for clothing and basics.