The SteriPEN Ultra is one of the most useful items I've picked up all year. It uses UV light to purify 1L of water in 90 seconds without any pumping, squeezing, or chemicals, which is really nice. It’s light, compact, and it has a USB rechargeable battery that will filter 50L of water per charge (that’s about 4-5 days worth of water for two people). All in all, it’s one of the easiest and most convenient water purifiers I’ve ever used.
Camp Chef Everest Stove
The Camp Chef Everest 2-Burner Stove is a great cooker for car camping. It has a push button igniter, simmer control, each burner kicks out a ton of heat, it’s easy to clean, and it packs away nicely. That’s pretty much everything you want for a great cookout in the backcountry.
KAHTOOLA MICROSPIKES TRACTION SYSTEM
Microspikes are the best tools around for adding traction on icy winter trails. They fit nearly any type of hiking footwear (even my trail running shoes) and they’re tough enough to withstand years of heavy use.
CAMP USA CORSA ICE AXE
At only 7.2 ounces, the CAMP Corsa is one of the lightest ice axes on the market. For serious mountaineering, this is probably isn’t the right tool, but for early season snow crossings on backpacking trips, this ice axe is excellent. It’s light, it’s effective, and it’s my go-to ice axe when there’s snow on the trail.
Therm-a-Rest Compack Chair Kit
If you like the idea of kicking back in a comfortable chair after a long day on the trail, you’ll love the Therm-a-Rest Compack Chair Kit. At only 7oz, the Compack is one of the lightest chair kits on the market, and keeping weight down is critical for enjoying any hiking trip.
GOAL ZERO LIGHTHOUSE MINI LANTERN
The new Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini rechargeable lantern is one of the lightest and most versatile lanterns on the market. Weighing only 8 ounces, it still gives off a mighty 210 lumens of brightness. It can last for 500 hours on the lowest setting and has a USB port to charge your handheld devices.
OSPREY TALON 22 & TEMPEST 20
The Osprey Talon 22 for men and Tempest 20 for women are great lightweight daypacks. They have a simple design, but still get the details right. Hip belt pockets, water bottle holsters, a hydration pouch sleeve, back mesh pocket, trekking pole attachment loops, and a comfortable back pad make this pack a winner for day hikes and around town.
Cotopaxi Luzon Daypack
The Luzon Del Dia is a cool little daypack that’s full of style and function. I really like the story behind this pack and I love Cotopaxi’s mission to reduce global poverty. I would recommend this pack to anyone looking for a simple, stylish, and fun daypack.
REI FLEX LITe TABLE
The Flex Lite Table is a surprisingly light and convenient backcountry accessory. It pairs well with the REI Flex Light Chairs for a luxury setup when you really want to put out the vibe. I usually backpack pretty light, so I don’t generally take accessories like this into the field, but this table is surprisingly light enough to make most pack lists.
REI FLEX LITE CHAIR
I don’t bring a chair with me on most backpacking trips, but I do love using them while car camping or on short jaunts with friends. I also find them useful for park chilling, BBQs, and rec sports. The Flex Lite Chair is comfortable, sturdy, and packs down very small, making it an excellent gift for those on the go.
ALITE MONARCH BUTTERFLY CHAIR
If you’re looking for a chair light and compact enough to take on backpacking trips, the Monarch just might be your jam. It utilizes a two leg design, requiring a bit of balance from the user, but it’s quite comfortable and a lot of fun.
THE LEATHERMAN WAVE
The Leatherman Wave is a bit overkill for ultralight backpacking trips, but it does make an excellent gift for general backpacking, camping, and use around the house. This heavy duty multi-tool has all the common gadgets you’ll want and it’ll withstand many years of heavy use.
NATIONAL PARKS PASS
Why not give a gift that will inspire outdoor travel and support a good cause? More than 80% of the proceeds for the National Parks Pass go straight into protecting and improving our national parks. And if you purchase your pass through REI, they’ll donate 10% of sale proceeds directly to the national park foundation as well.
URSACK S29 BEAR BAG
The Ursack gets my vote for best food protection container on the market. It’s much easier to pack in a backpack than a bear canister and it’s heck of a lot lighter too. It’s bulletproof fabric will keep your food away from bears, but it will also keep out small critters, which is a more common annoyance.
RAY-BAN POLARIZED SUNGLASSES
Ray-Ban Polarized sunglasses were the best gear upgrade I made all year. You’re going into nature to see pretty things right? Then why wear crappy $10 gas station sunglasses that distort your vision? That’s what I had been doing for years, so these polarized lenses literally changed my world.
Hummingbird Single Hammock
The Hummingbird Single is incredibly light and small (5.2oz), making it an excellent choice for anyone with an active lifestyle. Hummingbird Hammocks utilize the lightest materials and designs to keep their hammocks as portable, packable, and comfortable as possible. Hummingbird Ultralight Tree Straps are also the lightest straps I've found.
GRAND TRUNK NANO 7 HAMMOCK
Few things feel better than kicking back in a hammock after a long day of hiking. But most hammocks are too bulky and heavy to take on multi-day treks. That’s why I like the tiny, durable, and lightweight Nano. The Nano weighs only 7.4oz and packs up to the size of a baseball.
ENO DOUBLENEST HAMMOCK
The spacious and durable ENO DoubleNest Hammock makes an excellent gift for outdoor lovers. It’s perfect for camping trips, is large and strong enough to fit two people, and it comes in a variety of cool colors.
SNOW PEAK TI MINI SOLO COOK SET
The Solo Mini is a durable titanium cook set that's ideal for lightweight backpacking trips. You can combine your pot, lid, cup, stove, and fuel into one small and convenient package. Pair it with a small canister stove to complete your cooking system. HotLips lip protectors make another good addition.
Snow Peak Litemax Stove
If you’re looking for a light, durable, and compact canister stove to feed 1-2 people, the Snow Peak LiteMax stove is a great choice. The LiteMax is built with titanium to keep weight to a minimum. It has great simmer control and a slim shape that makes it easy to pack away.
MSR POCKETROCKET STOVE
The MSR PocketRocket is a dependable, durable, and effective backcountry stove. It has simmer control to make backcountry cooking easier and it pairs well any lightweight cook pot. This backcountry classic makes an excellent gift.
LEATHERMAN JUICE S2
The Juice S2 is a great multi-tool for backpackers looking for maximum functionality while keeping weight to a minimum. The pliers, scissors, and knife come in handy in the field for general use and gear repair.
REI FLASH PACK 22 & 18
These minimal, versatile, and stowable daypacks are great for nearly any excursion and they make excellent gifts. They’re good for carrying light loads and can easily be stuffed into a larger bag on longer trips. I prefer the Flash 22 over the Flash 18 because of the lid pocket and water bottle holsters, but both packs work well.
NIKE DRI-FIT SHORTS
Nike Dri-Fit running shorts make excellent hiking shorts. They’re super comfortable and they dry very quickly. They have built in liners - so you won’t need extra underwear on the trail - and pockets, which come in handy as well.
SAUCONY PEREGRINE 6 RUNNING SHOES
I wear trail running shoes for most of my backcountry hiking trips (except winter treks). Check out my article 5 reasons to ditch your hiking boots to learn why. I'm currently rocking the Saucony Peregrine 6 shoes and I absolutely love them. They have comfortable padding, fantastic traction, and a soft sole.
SUUNTO M-3 D LEADER COMPASS
The Suunto M-3 D Leader is my top pick compass for reliable navigation in the field. One handy feature of this compass is adjustable declination correction, which is a calculation that trips up many backpackers in the field. The luminous markings are a nice touch as well for nighttime use.
PETZL E+LITE HEADLAMP
The Petzl e+LITE headlamp is a tiny headlamp that weighs only one ounce. It’s an excellent tool for ultralight backpackers and its cost effective too. If you do a lot of night hiking, you'll probably want something brighter, but for most tasks around camp, this little guy does great.
HYDRO FLASK BOTTLEs
Hydro Flask vacuum bottles are great for keeping cold beverages cold (24 hours) and hot drinks hot (12 hours). They come in a range of sizes and colors, are great for packing beer, coffee, tea, and soup. They make excellent gifts for anyone with an active lifestyle.
SNOW PEAK TI HOTLIPS MUG
Titanium coffee mugs are durable, light, functional, and stylish. But they’re also a bit on the spendy side, which is why they make a great gift for nature lovers. The HotLips accessory on this Snow Peak Ti Mug is nice for keeping your lips off the hot metal.
SWISS ARMY HUNTSMAN KNIFE
The light and compact Swiss Army Huntsman knife boasts an impressive array of thirteen tools. The most useful are its two blades, saw, scissors, can opener, screwdriver, and tweezers. It’s a great multi-tool for any adventurer.
REI TECH-COMPATIBLE GLOVES
The REI Tech-Compatible gloves are good for cold weather use around town and on short jaunts into nature. They work great with smartphones, which can come in handy when taking pictures and using your phone on the go.
PORLEX MINI COFFEE GRINDER
Grinding coffee beans just before you brew is one of the most important steps to making great coffee. The Porlex Mini hand grinder is a portable and effective way to grind beans on the go. I use this little guy with my AeroPress or JavaDrip on camping trips and around the house. It’s fantastic.
AEROPRESS COFFEE & ESPRESSO MAKER
The AeroPress is one of my all-time favorite coffee makers. The key with the AeroPress is that the grounds don’t soak in hot water too long. That makes the coffee tastes smooth, not bitter. I use it to make coffee on camping trips, but I also use it most mornings at home.
POPULAR CLEVERHIKER CONTENT
- 10 BEST TENTS 2016
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Disclosure: The trust of my audience is of the utmost importance to me. That’s why I only recommend equipment I love from companies I trust. I have not been paid to review any of the products listed above. A couple of items were provided to me for free to review, but I purchased most of this equipment myself. Also, I am under no obligation to give positive reviews to any of the products listed above. This gear just rocks. This page contains affiliate links. Check out my terms page for more info.