SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER (2OZ)
The Sawyer Mini is definitely one of the most useful backcountry holiday gifts around. It’s guaranteed to filter up to 100,000 gallons of water, it can be used in a variety of different ways, and it weighs only 2oz. It’s an ideal tool for ultralight backpacking, quick trips, and trail running. For a filter with a slightly better flow rate, check out the Mini’s big brother the Squeeze (3oz).
THE DEUCE OF SPADES (.6OZ)
Many backpackers don’t own or use a trowel in the backcountry, which leads to improper human waste disposal – one of the biggest problems in wilderness areas. The Deuce of Spades is an excellent solution to this issue and a great gift. Not only does it have the perfect name, it’s also incredibly light and effective.
SEA TO SUMMIT EVAC DRY SACK (2OZ)
The eVAC Dry Sack has a genius design that allows air to get out but won’t let water in. This allows for maximum compression in your pack, but will keep important items bone dry. These stuff sacks are well worth the price as soon as the weather turns bad. I find the 8L and the 13L sizes to be most useful for my needs.
NIKWAX HARD-SHELL OUTERWEAR CLEANER AND WATERPROOFING
Cleaning and waterproofing rain jackets is an important step for any adventurer. That’s why this Nikwax Hard-Shell Kit makes an excellent small gift.
THE ULTIMATE HIKER’S GEAR GUIDE
The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide, written by National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Andrew Skurka, is an excellent read for backpackers of all kinds. Skurka gives great gear and technique tips, covering a range of important topics. It’s a solid gift for beginners and experts alike.
VARGO TITANIUM TENT STAKES (1.5OZ)
Going ultralight starts with replacing the heaviest items in your pack, but there’s often room to cut weight in overlooked places as well - like your tent stakes. The Vargo Titanium Stakes (.25oz per stake) are a solid buy and my choice for best value stakes. For top-of-the-line ultralight stakes, check out the MSR Carbon Core Stakes (.2oz per stake). And for the most economical option, go with the REI Aluminum Hook Stakes (.35oz per stake).
STANLEY ADVENTURE STAINLESS STEEL FLASK (5.3OZ)
Good whiskey should be considered a near-essential item for backcountry treks. That’s why flasks can make great gifts for outdoor adventurers. This Stanley Adventure Flask is a rugged and stylish favorite for outdoor use.
DARN TOUGH SOCK
If you give the gift of Darn Tough Socks, you’re giving someone a pair of socks for life. Which is rad. Darn Tough has an unconditional lifetime guarantee on their socks, no strings attached. So if you wear them out, you get a new pair. Also, it doesn’t hurt that they’re super comfortable and highly functional as well.
JOBY GORILLAPOD CAMERA TRIPOD (1.6oz)
This handy little Joby Tripod is great for securing smaller cameras on uneven terrain. It’s also light and compact enough to take on any outdoor adventure. The one downside is that the top ball joint can wear out over lots of time and heavy use, but for the price and weight, this little guy is tough to beat.
OUTSIDE MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION (YEAR)
Outside Magazine is one of my favorite mags. It has excellent articles and makes a great gift for anyone with an active lifestyle. For trips, gear, and fitness tips, it’s a solid read.
SEA TO SUMMIT ULTRA-SIL DRY SACK (1.1OZ)
The Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks are lighter and more cost effective than the eVAC sacks. They won’t compress like the eVAC sacks, but still do an excellent job of keeping gear dry and they come in a range of sizes. I use a combination of eVAC and Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks on my trips. I find the 2L and 4L sizes to be most useful for my needs.
ULTRALIGHT & WATERTIGHT .5 FIRST-AID KIT (3.7OZ)
Strike the right balance between comfort and preparedness with this .5 Ultralight Adventure Medical Kit. The .5 is ideal for short treks and day trips of all kinds. The .5 is my choice for most treks, but the .7 kit is worth consideration for longer trips.
Cheryl Strayed’s bestseller Wild is a great book about hiking and life. Cheryl tells the story of her life unraveling and her impulsive, yet brave decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s not strictly a story about hiking, but it is an excellent read on the power of healing through nature.
MPOWERD LUCI OUTDOOR INFLATABLE SOLAR LANTERN
The Luci is a lightweight, solar-powered, waterproof lantern that makes an excellent gift for nature lovers of all kinds. It’s functional enough to use while car camping and light enough to take on the trail.
SWISS ARMY CLASSIC KNIFE (1.3OZ)
This simple and classic keychain Swiss Army knife is light and useful both on the trail and around town. This is my knife of choice for thru-hiking and ultralight adventure. It makes a great little gift too.
Permethrin is a chemical that you spray on clothing and gear before heading into the woods for bug protection. It works wonders and it’s much more effective and safe than using bug spray on clothing. Use a combination of Permethrin on clothing and a small amount of 30% DEET on skin for maximum bug protection.
RITE IN THE RAIN ALL WEATHER NOTEPADS 3-PACK
These all-weather notepads are the best pocket pads to take into the field or use around town. High quality, waterproof and durable, these notepads are worth every penny.
GSI OUTDOORS COLLAPSIBLE JAVADRIP COFFEE MAKER (4.8OZ)
For coffee lovers looking for a portable pour-over coffee maker, the JavaDrip is an excellent choice. It’s a lightweight way to make a first-class cup of joe in the field.
REI LIGHTWEIGHT STUFF SACK (.9OZ)
Simple, lightweight stuff sacks can help organize loose gear in your pack. While these stuff sacks aren’t waterproof, they are lightweight, cost effective, and useful. I find the 5L and 10L sizes to be most useful for my needs.
NALGENE TRAVEL KIT (1OZ)
This might not be the sexiest gift on the list, but little plastic containers (and Ziplocs bags) are a huge part of any backpacker’s game plan. The Nalgene Travel Kit helps save space and cut down on unnecessary weight for toiletries, camp soap, and cooking accessories like olive oil and hot sauce.
BALEGA HIDDEN COMFORT RUNNING SOCKS
I prefer low-cut running socks for my hiking trips (I wear trail running shoes, not boots) and these Balega socks are the best I’ve found yet. They breathe well, are durable, and have a good amount of padding. They also have a thick lip on the heel of the sock so they won’t slip down under your shoe.
BACKPACKER MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTION
A magazine gift subscription to Backpacker is an excellent gift for any hiking nut. They’ll get to drool over epic nature pictures, learn about new hikes, and key in on new gear releases.
THE BACKPACKER'S FIELD MANUAL
The Backpacker's Field Manual is the most comprehensive and trusted backpacking book on the market. It was first published in the 90s, but it’s been updated several times since to include critical new developments in the backpacking world, like ultralight techniques. This is a great book for beginners and experts alike.
PACKTOWL NANO LIGHT TOWEL (.6OZ)
When I go on backcountry trips I try to keep weight to an absolute minimum. A Nano Towel makes a perfect accessory for drying off after washing up or a swim. They’re super absorbent, crazy light, and they dry off very quickly. They make a great small gift for any backpacker.
A WALK IN THE WOODS
Bill Bryson’s bestseller A Walk In The Woods is a must-read classic for anyone that enjoys backpacking. It’s a witty and fun read about setting out to hike the Appalachian Trail and the trials that ensue.
TENACIOUS REPAIR TAPE
Clear Tenacious Tape is fantastic for repairing rips and holes in most outdoor gear. It’s a really great all-purpose solution for outdoor lovers, because eventually everybody needs to repair burns, holes, and cuts in their well-worn gear.
REI CAMPWARE SOUP SPOON (.3OZ)
For most backpackers, a lightweight spoon is the only piece silverware needed for backcountry trips. And sometimes the simplest tools work the best. This REI Camp Spoon is sturdy, affordable, and light. It’s the ideal backcountry cooking companion.
REGIONAL PERMITS & PASSES
Regional passes and permits are another great way to give the gift of nature to friends and family. In Oregon and Washington, for example, we have the Northwest Forest Pass. This pass gives free entry and parking to some of the most iconic national forests of the Pacific Northwest. It’s well worth the small investment and makes an excellent gift.
MAPS & BOOKS
Every hiker loves books/maps that describe great hikes around an area. For example, I find the Backpacking Washington & Backpacking Oregon books to be very useful for planning backcountry trips. I also love the books: 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland/Seattle. Those types of books and maps can make excellent gifts.
REI GIFT CARD
If all else fails, you can't go wrong with an REI gift card. Any outdoor gear junkie will salivate over a free trip to REI. So no matter what, you've always got this great option in your back pocket.
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.