CleverHiker Gift Guide 2018

Outdoor adventure gifts are the best kind around. The items listed below are can’t miss recommendations for anyone that enjoys backpacking, hiking, and camping. We have stocking stuffers, mid-range gifts, and big ticket gifts to choose from. So give a gift that gets someone outdoors this year!

Also, save yourself the hassle of mall shopping during the holidays and order your gifts online. Then pour yourself a glass of nog and kick back. The retailers we recommend have free shipping options (use Amazon Prime for unlimited free two-day shipping) and make returns easy.



POPULAR CONTENT: Need a new tentbackpacksleeping bag/pad, etc? Find our favorites in the CleverHiker Gear Guide

Stocking Stuffers


Buff Headwear

The highly versatile and functional Buff headwear can be used as a hat, scarf, headband, sun protection and bandana. We consider this a must-have item for anyone with an active lifestyle. Buffs come in a wide variety of colors and styles.

America’s Great Hiking Trails Book

This award-winning book will not only be inspiring and informational, but also look great on your end-table. It highlights the eleven long routes in the National Scenic Trails System and offers breathtaking photography.

Petzl Actik Headlamp

The Petzl Actik headlamp is a comfortable and lightweight option without sacrificing brightness. Offering 300 lumens and multiple modes, this reliable headlamp is our go-to and should accompany any adventure.  

Qalo Silicone Wedding Band

Those with an active lifestyle, a job that won’t allow a traditional metal ring, or anyone who travels frequently, may find the Qalo Silicone Band to be a good substitute. We like the simplicity and comfort of the Qalo Band and it’s available in both men’s and women’s style.

Walnut Travel Cribbage Board

Ramp up your backcountry leisure game. Weighing in just over an ounce and only 4 inches long, this travel cribbage board is light enough to bring on any backpacking or camping trip. It’s well-constructed, compact, and just plain sexy.

YETI Rambler Tumbler

We’re convinced that this is the best tumbler on the market. The Yeti Rambler will keep your beverages hot or cold for a shockingly long time, beating out competitors by a landslide. This is an absolute no brainer for anyone with an on-the-go lifestyle.

Platypus PlatyPreserve Wine Flask

We generally focus on lightweight backpacking, however we make some concessions for backcountry pleasures, such as a well-deserved glass of wine after a day on the trail. The PlatyPreserve will hold a full bottle of wine and is easily compactable when you’re done.

Backcountry Bocce Set

This lightweight backcountry bocce set is a plastic replica set and weighs in at only 12 ounces. The amount of entertainment this will bring to your camp crew is immeasurable. It’s a great gift for the gamer in your life.

Read This If You Want To Take Good Photographs Book

Have someone in your life who recently bought a fancy DSLR camera and doesn’t know how to use it yet? This is a fantastic book that teaches complicated aspects of DSLR photography in an incredibly straightforward manner.

Universal Camera Lens Kit

More than ever before, people are using their smartphone cameras to take most of their pictures. But sometimes your smartphone lense just won’t cut it. Upgrade your phone’s camera with this compact and convenient lens kit, which offers a macro and wide angle lens. It’s compatible with most phones and makes a world of a difference in photo quality.

Katadyn BeFree Water Filter Bottle

The lightweight (2 oz) and compact Katadyn BeFree Water Filter Bottle is a convenient and compact upgrade in the water filtration world. It’s quite fast as well, filtering around one liter per minute. These have been known to pop a leak, so make sure you pack some Tenacious Tape.

Justin’s Nut Butter Packets

It can be hard to eat real food when backpacking, but these little packets of goodness come along with us on every trip. They’re calorically dense, nutritious, and versatile. We mix it in our oatmeal, spread it on our apple, or just eat it out of the package. Buy in bulk and you’ll save some moolah.

LARABAR Variety Box

LARABAR makes delicious, natural energy bars using a few simple and recognizable ingredients. They’re healthy, minimally processed, and GMO-free. Introduce your favorite hiker to these bars and they’ll love you forever.

Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack

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, while keeping important items dry. These stuff sacks are worth the price tag when the weather turns bad. We find the 8L and the 13L sizes to be most useful for our needs. For a lighter and more cost effective alternative, try the Ultra-Sil Dry Sacks.

Nikwax Hardshell Cleaner and Waterproofing

Cleaning and waterproofing your quality rain shells will help you get the most out of them for the long run. That’s why this Nikwax Hardshell Kit makes an excellent small gift for adventurers. Also, Nikwax Down Wash is a great product for revitalizing stinky down jackets and sleeping bags. Get the soft fluff back!

60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Book

The 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles books series is a great hiking resource and has many books based on cities scattered across the US. We love how the author organizes the content based on the type of hike you’re looking for, distances, seasons, etc. Check to see if they have your city and you won't be disappointed.

The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide

The second edition Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide, written by National Geographic 2007 Adventurer of the Year Andrew Skurka, is an excellent read for backpackers of all kinds. Skurka gives gear and technique tips, covering a range of important topics. It’s a solid gift for beginners and experts alike.

Diva Cup

The Diva Cup is one of our favorite backcountry feminine products. Nobody wants to get their period while backpacking, but we’re surely not going to let it stop us from getting outside. The Diva cup is convenient, inexpensive, and frankly one of the best tools to manage the situation.

Kungix Aluminum Reflective Stakes

A lot of tents come with low quality stakes and many ultralight shelters require strong stakes and guylines for a good pitch. The Kungix Aluminum Reflective Stakes are durable, lightweight, affordable, and have great holding power. They’re not the lightest on the market, but they are much tougher than expensive carbon fiber stakes.

Stanley Stainless Steel Flask

Good whiskey should be considered a near-essential item on backcountry treks. That’s why flasks can make great gifts for outdoor adventurers. The classic Stanley Adventure Flask is a rugged and stylish favorite for outdoor use.

Darn Tough Socks

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. If you order directly through Darn Tough, you'll get free shipping through the end of the year. 

Balega Running Socks

We prefer low-cut running socks for our hiking trips (We wear trail running shoes, not boots) and these Balega socks are the best we’ve found yet. They breathe well, last a long time, 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 into your shoe.

ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs and Women's Briefs 

Because every stocking needs some underwear. ExOfficio Give-N-Go Boxer Briefs and ExOfficio Women’s Briefs are great for day-to-day use, but they’re also amazing on the trail. They are moisture-wicking, made from quick-dry material, and they’re the most comfortable underwear we’ve ever worn. Period.

Outside Magazine Subscription

Outside Magazine is one of our favorite magazines. It has interesting articles and will surely inspire you to plan your next adventure. A subscription makes a great gift for anyone with an active lifestyle. For trips, gear, and fitness tips, it’s a solid read.

Ultralight First Aid Kit

Strike the right balance between comfort and preparedness with the .5 Ultralight Adventure Medical Kit. The .5 is good for short treks and day trips. The .7 Kit is worth consideration for longer trips.


JetBoil Coffee Press

The JetBoil Coffee Press makes an excellent gift for coffee lovers looking to brew first-class backcountry java. The grande size fits the MiniMo and Sumo cooking systems. The classic size fits the Sol, Zip, and Flash cooking systems.

Starbucks Via Coffee Packs

We have spent years trying to perfect our backcountry coffee game and this is by far the most lightweight option. At under $1 a cup, the VIA coffee pack offers a really decent and convenient cup of coffee with no spent grounds or additional gear needed.

Luci 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

This simple and classic keychain Swiss Army knife is light and useful, both on the trail and around town. This is our knife of choice for thru-hiking and ultralight adventure. It makes a great little gift too. If you’re looking for a more heavy duty multi-tool, you may want to try the Leatherman Wave.

Black Diamond Tech-Compatible Gloves

These Black Diamond gloves are made with a lightweight stretchy fabric with tech-compatible fingers and palm. They are light enough to take on any backpacking trip and convenient enough to use around town.

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. We use this little guy with our AeroPress or JavaDrip on camping trips and around the house and love it!

AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

The AeroPress is one of our 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. We use it to make coffee on camping trips, but we also use it for single cup coffee at home. 

Collapsible Coffee Maker

For coffee lovers looking for a portable pour over coffee maker in the backcountry, the JavaDrip is a good choice. It’s a lightweight way to make a first-class cup of joe in the field.

Permethrin Spray

Permethrin is a chemical that you spray on clothing before heading into the woods for bug protection. It works well and it’s much more effective 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.

All-Weather Notepads

These Rite in the Rain all-weather notepads are great pocket pads to take into the field or use around town. High quality, waterproof and durable, these notepads are a solid buy.

Nalgene Travel Kit

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, bio soap, and cooking accessories like olive oil and hot sauce.

Backpacker Magazine Subscription

A gift subscription to Backpacker Magazine is a good gift for any hiking nut. They’ll get to drool over epic nature pictures, learn about new hikes, key in on gear releases, and brush up on trail skills.


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 90’s, but it’s been updated several times to include new developments in the backpacking world, like ultralight techniques.

Packtowl Camping Towel

When we go on backcountry trips we try to keep weight to a minimum, but we also want to stay fresh and clean. A Packtowl 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.

Tenacious 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 will need to repair burns, holes, and cuts in their well-worn gear.

BRS Ultralight Stove

The BRS Ultralight Stove is so cheap and light (1 oz) that it’s almost certainly within every backpacker’s budget. It's not the highest quality stove on the market and has downsides (no simmer control, not terribly fuel efficient), but if you're looking for a budget ultralight option, this is a good pick.

Freeze Dried Backpacking Meals

Dehydrated food packages make excellent gifts for outdoor lovers. They’re light, easy to cook, and tasty, especially after a long day on the trail. Here's a list of our favorite freeze dried meals.

Snow Peak Long Spoon

The functionality of Snow Peak’s Long Folding Spoon is fantastic. It’s long enough to scrape the bottom of deep rehydrated dinner bags, it folds up small enough to fit in our Mini Solo Cookset, and it’s strong enough that it won’t snap in half in the peanut butter jar like cheap plastic alternatives.

Therm-a-Rest Z Seat

The Therm-a-Rest’s Z-Seat is a low-cost, low-weight upgrade that can pay huge dividends in the comfort department on your next trip. The Z-Seat is affordable, durable, weighs next to nothing (2 oz.), and stows easily in your pack when not in use.

REI Snow Stake (Trowel)

This lightweight, cheap Snow Stake functions great as a digging trowel. It only weighs one ounce, but it’s strong enough and long enough to dig a proper cathole. It also costs far less than most backpacking trowels, many of which are too short to get the job done properly.

LifeProof Fre Phone Case

We trek through wet, muddy, and rugged trail conditions all year, which can take a massive toll on our devices. The LifeProof Fre phone case is trustworthy and waterproof, ensuring that your device is protected while still allowing for full functionality in poor conditions. We rarely hit the trail without ours.

Regional Permits and 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.

Maps and Guidebooks

Every hiker loves books and maps that describe great hikes around an area. For example, we find the Backpacking Washington & Backpacking Oregon books to be very useful for planning backcountry trips in the PNW.  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.


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