Outdoor adventure gifts are the best kind around. Below we highlight some can’t miss recommendations for anyone that enjoys backpacking, hiking, and camping. We have stocking stuffers, mid-range gifts, and big ticket items for a range of budgets. 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. Most of the online retailers we recommend have free shipping options (use Amazon Prime for unlimited free two-day shipping) and make returns easy.
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.
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.
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.
Roll it up, stash it in your backpack, and get ready for some backcountry fun! Weighing less than 1/2 pound, this beautifully designed and compact travel backgammon set is built leather-tough and ready to accompany any adventure.
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 stashed when you’re done.
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.
Take your phone photography to the next level with this great entry level set of lenses! The Xenvo Pro Lens Kit for iPhone and Android includes a macro and wide angle lens with LED light and a travel case. The lenses are compatible with a wide range of smartphones. There are other higher quality (and more expensive) options on the market, but for price of the Xenvo kit, it’s tough to beat the quality.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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!
The 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles books series is a great hiking resource and has many versions for 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Balega offers an ultralight version, though we find they wear out quicker than the originals.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 Picaridin on skin for maximum bug protection.
Ditch your DEET, cuz there’s a new player in the game that’ll make you feel less radioactive. Picaridin Insect Repellent from Sawyer is our new go-to bug dope. It’s a no-odor, non-greasy lotion that you apply to skin to repel mosquitoes, ticks, flies, gnats, and chiggers. And unlike DEET, it won’t harm your gear or equipment.
You love your plush sleeping bag, right? Well shouldn’t your favorite beverage get the same treatment? We love these unique Puffin bottle koozies and we think they make great gifts for the outdoorsy type. They’re the perfect partner for a beverage, a campfire, and some close friends.
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.
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 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.
Time to elevate your outdoor adventure grub! Brought to you by three badass woman who biked across Canada together, this outdoor-focused cookbook features over 120 delicious and easy-to-follow recipes for camping and backcountry adventures.
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.
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.
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.
Although this pillow is a bit heavy to pack for lightweight backpacking trips, the NEMO Fillo is one of the most comfortable camping pillows we’ve used. It’s an inflatable pillow, but has an inch of foam on top, which means more head stability and comfort. It’s also covered with a super soft microfiber.
The Therm-a-Rest’s Z-Seat is a low-cost upgrade that can pay huge dividends in the comfort department on your next trip. Pull it out for a quick trail break or comfy seat in camp. The Z-Seat is affordable, durable, weighs next to nothing (2 oz.), and stows easily in your pack when not in use.
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 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.
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.
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 Plus.
One of our favorite backpacking writers, Cam “Swami” Honan from The Hiking Life collaborated with Gestaltan to produce this beautiful and inspiring adventure book that cover some of the most stunning trails in the world. His first hardcover book, Wanderlust, is also drool-worthy and worth a look.
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.
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 our go-to ice axe when there’s snow on the trail.
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.
The SteriPEN Ultra 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). It's great for the backcountry, but also international travel.
No more squeezing, pumping, or ingesting funky tasting chemicals. This 2-liter filtration system is a lighter and faster version of Platypus’ gravity system, adapted for those fast and light backpackers. For camping, you may consider the more robust 4-liter Platypus gravity system.
Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s Large DCF8 Stuff Sack Pillow is one of our favorite backpacking tools of the year. This stuff sack pillow weighs almost nothing (1.4 oz), feels soft against the skin, and has a rectangular shape like the pillow you use at home.
The Snow Peak Titanium Cup is durable, extremely lightweight, and functional. They’re also a bit on the spendy side, which is why they make a great gift for nature lovers. We love Snow Peak’s products and their Titanium Cup is no exception.
We love the mission of Cotopaxi, but we also really love their gear. The Teca Windbreaker Half-Zip is comfortable, super stylish, and just loads of fun. It’s a great light jacket for days when all you need is to break the wind.
We love Pendleton products for their focus on high quality materials and stylish design. The company totes this wool blanket as their “most luxurious throw their mill has ever made.” It’s ultra soft, lightweight, and will keep you toasty warm on cool nights.
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.
The Osprey Talon 22 for men and Tempest 20 for women are great daypacks and are at the top of our Best Daypacks list. 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.
This 3rd generation camera clip from Peak Design allows you to carry your camera in a comfortable, secure, and easy to access manner for any outdoor adventure. It easily attaches to your backpack strap and is compatible with any camera. For the hiker in your life who always travels with a camera, this is a great gift!
The Luzon Del Dia is a cool little daypack that’s full of style and function. We love Cotopaxi’s mission to reduce global poverty and the story behind this pack. You can choose from their existing styles or have them surprise you with one-of-a-kind pack.
The Helinox Table One is a surprisingly light and convenient backcountry accessory. It pairs well with the Helinox Chair Zero for a luxury setup when you really want to put out the vibe. We usually backpack pretty light, so we don’t generally take accessories like this into the field, but this table is light enough to consider.
While we don't often take chairs on backpacking trips, we do love using them while car camping or on short jaunts with friends. We pair it with our Helinox Table One and we’re set. The Helinox Chair Zero is comfortable, sturdy, and packs down very small, making it an excellent gift for those on the go.
The Leatherman Wave Plus 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.
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.
The Ursack gets our 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.
We wear trail running shoes for most of our backcountry hiking trips (except winter treks). Check out our article 5 reasons to ditch your hiking boots to learn why. We’re currently rocking the Saucony Peregrine 8 (men’s and women’s) shoes and we absolutely love them. They have comfortable padding, fantastic traction, and our CleverHiker top pick for Best Hiking Shoe.
The Hummingbird Single is incredibly light (5.2 oz.) and small, 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 (2.1 oz) are also the lightest straps we've found and they work great.
The ENO Sub6 is another hammock that falls into the rare category of "insanely light and highly packable." This hammock is a fantastic companion for any trip where saving space and keeping weight down is important.
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.
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. We prefer the Flash 22 over the Flash 18 because of the lid pocket and water bottle holsters, but both packs work well.
The Suunto M-3 D Leader is our 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.
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.
The new Micro filter from Sawyer is one of the most compact, lightest (2 oz.), and affordable water filtration systems on the market. Highly versatile, you can either attach the filter directly to a water bottle, attach it to a hydration pack, or squeeze into a bottle for later consumption. If you’re a lightweight backpacker, this should be in your gear rotation.
Big Ticket Items
The Copper Spur HV UL2 is an excellent lightweight tent with great features for backpackers of all levels. It has all the features for maximizing comfort - freestanding, double-wall, near-vertical sidewalls, two large doors/vestibules, interior pockets - and it's still somehow under 3lbs. The Copper Spur HV UL2 is at at the top of our Best Backpacking Tents list.
The ZPacks Duplex & Triplex are an ultralight backpackers dream come true. They’re our top choice for long distance backpacking and thru-hiking. The Duplex and Triplex are built out of unbelievably light Dyneema Composite Fabric, which is a completely waterproof material that won’t sag like silnylon in the rain. This tent would make an excellent gift for an ultralight backpacker or thru-hiker.
The REI Quarter Dome 2 has an excellent lightweight design with nearly vertical sidewalls for increased interior space. It’s solid in nasty weather and has convenient features like sidewall pockets and hang loops. It’s an excellent value buy for lightweight backpackers.
REI’s new Magma 10 (men's) and Magma 17 (women's) sleeping bags have a combination of weight, warmth, and cost that is hard to beat. This bag is at the top of our Best Sleeping Bags list for good reason. If someone in your world needs a new sleep sack, you can’t go wrong with this one.
The Revelation Quilt is one of our favorite lightweight quilts. We hate feeling constricted by tight fitting bags and the Revelation gives us the flexibility to spread out and sleep comfortably in the backcountry. It can be cinched up tight on chilly nights or used as a blanket in more temperate weather.
Western Mountaineering makes some of the highest quality, lightest, and warmest sleeping bags we've ever tested and the UltraLite is one of their most popular designs. They also offer the Alpinlite (a wider version of the UltraLite) and Versalite (a slightly wider and warmer version of the UltraLite) are also both excellent choices.
The women's-specific Egret UL 20 sleeping bag is our new favorite sleep sack for women. It’s incredibly light (1lb 12oz), filled with responsibly-sourced 950+ goose down, and feels soft against the skin. As a women’s bag, it has more space in the chest and hips, which provides a more comfortable night’s sleep than traditional mummy bags.
The NeoAir XLite sleeping pad is just about the perfect mattress for any 3-season outdoor adventure. It’s incredibly light, comfortable, and compactable. It also has great insulation properties (R-value: 3.2), so it keeps the cold ground at bay. You really can’t miss with this pad. For other great sleeping pad options, check out our Best Sleeping Pads list.
We love the lightweight, stretchy, and comfortable Stretch Rainshadow (men's and women's). Patagonia uses their breathable H2No Performance Standard shell fabric to create a jacket that moves with you. The material is so lightweight it can stuff into it's own chest pocket for easy packing and saving space. It makes our list of Best Backpacking Jackets.
The Micro Puff® Hoody (men’s and women’s) provides the best warmth-to-weight ratio Patagonia has ever created in a jacket. Replacing our long-time favorite Ultralight Down Hoody, the Micro Puff uses down-like PlumaFill synthetic insulation, which provides lightweight warmth, great compressibility, and performs slightly better when wet compared to down. It makes our list of Best Backpacking Jackets.
The Hyperlite Mountain Gear 2400 and 3400 Southwest strike an exceptional balance between weight, weather resistance, and durability. These burly ultralight backpacks have a minimal design, but their frames are highly effective and feel sturdier than most lightweight packs. It’s our top pick for Best Lightweight Backpacks.
The relatively new to the scene Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor offers a unique, comfortable, and highly versatile design. The key strength of the Flex Capacitor is its ability to compress or expand its main compartment to carry between 40 and 60 liters. It’s an affordable, durable, well-designed pack and makes our Best Lightweight Backpacks list.
The MSR Lightning Ascents (men’s and women’s sizes) are best-in-class snowshoes that will make any winter trekker swoon. Along with solid overall construction, they have excellent traction, which is critical on icy surfaces. They also come with televators, which are advantageous on hilly terrain. I prefer the smaller 22 in. size for maneuverability with the option to add 5 inch flotation tails when there’s a lot of deep powder.
With YETI’s ridiculous “ice for days” standard, they bring you a cooler you can wear. Strap on the BackFlip 24 for a hike to your campsite and ensure your crew has some icy cold beverages. It’s tough to beat the quality and performance of a YETI.
The Yeti Tundra 45 is one of the most durable and highest quality coolers on the market. Yeti Coolers are nearly indestructible, they stay cold for a preposterously long time, and they come in a range of sizes. That quality does come at a cost, but if you’re looking for the best cooler out there, this is your guy. For a more compact and on-the-go cooler, check out the Yeti Hopper.
We love nature photography, but we also don't want to lug ten pounds of photo equipment with us on backpacking trips. That's why we hike with the Sony RX100 III. The digital sensor in this camera is much larger than most point-and-shoot models, which means we get fantastic photos from a compact, lightweight camera.
The GoPro camera series is well-known for its ability to capture photo and video in rugged and harsh conditions. The updated HERO7 still has all the loved features of past cameras with some increased performance in the areas of stabilization and overall image quality.
We absolutely love our Kindle Paperwhite for downtimes on a camping or backpacking trip. It’s gentle on the eyes, has a backlight for nighttime reading, and makes finding great books simple. We take ours out on most trips, especially solo jaunts in the backcountry. it’s now available in a waterproof version with more storage!
The Goal Zero 10 Plus Solar Charger is a highly convenient, reliable, and packable solar charger to juice up your devices in the field. It's a bit too heavy for lightweight backpacking, but it's still a really handy tool for backcountry travel.
This heavy duty water purifier may just be the most reliable and effective water filtration system. It physically removes viruses, bacteria, protozoa and dirt quickly and easily on backpacking trips and international travel. The MSR Guardian is not cheap, nor is it lightweight, but if reliability and safety are your top priorities, this is the filter you want.
We hope this guide was helpful in finding the perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiast in your life! For more information on our trail-tested recommendations, check out the following:
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