Gifts For Hikers – 2021
|In This Guide|
Choosing the right gift for a hiker can be challenging, especially if you are not a hardcore hiker yourself. But don’t worry. I’m a professional hiking guide, and I’ve picked out genuinely useful and exciting hiking gifts at each price point. Every time your gift recipient uses one of these hiking gifts, they’ll think about how thoughtful you were. So you got that going for you! And if you don’t see something here, you can also check out the gear that I use in the field every day, or even some great bargains at REI Outlet.
INSIDER TIP: Shop at REI.com when it’s an option. They offer free shipping on orders over $50, have a great return policy, and give 10% back on with an inexpensive REI membership.
Top 5 Gifts For Hikers
- Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
- America the Beautiful Pass
- ZOLEO Satellite Communicator
- Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle
- National Geographic Paper Maps
Best Hiking Gifts Under $100
Fire Lite Fuel Free Lighter
The Best New Tool of the Year
I carry the Fire Lite with me on every hike. It’s a small, lightweight survival tool that includes a high-temperature lighter, a flashlight, and fire-starting tinder. It all works by USB charging, no lighter fuel is needed. It’s a powerful tool to have in your emergency kit.
About $25 – Amazon – REI
What a great little lighter! I got this as a stocking stuffer for my husband and he loves it.Amazon Review
National Geographic Paper Maps
Let Their Imagination Go Wild
Most hikers are map geeks, and there’s nothing that’s better than planning your next adventure while pouring over a map. The National Geographic “Trails Illustrated” maps are great because (most) have distances listed on each trail segment, so you can easily look at the map and figure out how long a hike will be. Buy a map for their favorite park or bucket-list destination.
From $15 – Amazon – REI
Exactly what I needed as a backup to my electronic navigation system. Backcountry trails + topo + gridlines + waterproof + tear-resistant.Amazon Review
Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System
Unrivaled Traction on Icy and Snowy Surfaces
When the trails start to get icy or snowy, a nice stroll in the woods can become a treacherous endeavor. That’s why I carry a pair of these micro-spikes, which are light, roll up into a small ball, and fit over any shoe or boot that I’m wearing. They’re dead simple, highly effective and have saved my butt many times. Awarded Backpacker Magazine’s “Gear Hall of Fame” honor.
About $70 – Amazon – REI
I’ve used these for six years and they’re still going strong.REI Review
REI Co-op Trail 2 Waistpack
Fanny Packs Are a Thing Again
But now they’re called “waist packs” because “fanny pack” isn’t cool anymore. Regardless of their past, these carriers are immensely helpful on the trail for keeping the essentials handy. Most people use them to quickly access a camera (especially if you see wildlife), a phone, or a GPS unit. This model has been evolved by REI after lots of feedback and is about perfect. And it’s made from recycled materials.
$30 at REI
Made me into a fanny pack convert!REI Review
GCI Outdoor Kickback Rocker Chair
Best Way to Chill-ax After a Hike
This isn’t a piece of gear that I lug around with me, but I do carry one (folded) in my car. Many times when I finish a hike and just want to chill out, or if I’m waiting for a friend before I hike, I’ll pop out this super-comfortable rocking chair. It’s got a spring-action rocker in the back, a beverage holder, and a phone pocket. And when I go car camping with the family, this is the chair that everyone tries to get to first.
About $65 – Amazon – REI
We full time in our RV and over the last 15 years have gone through a LOT of types of chairs! These are the most comfortable chairs we’ve ever owned.Amazon Review
Subpar Parks: America’s Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors
Guaranteed to Make Them Smile
Designer Amber Share has beautifully illustrated iconic scenes from National Parks, combined with reviews from unimpressed visitors, to create some hilarious illustrations. This hardbound book, featuring some of the best illustrations, is always fun to open for a quick laugh. You can check out Amber’s work on the Instagram account, and you might have also seen her illustrations in the LA Times, Wall Street Journal, and other big-time publications.
Hardcover About $19 at Amazon
This is my favorite coffee table book and surprisingly, also super educational. The perfect combination of sassy and informative while poking fun at one-star reviews of some amazing national parks.Amazon Review
BioLite Light Diffusing Stuff Sack
An Ingenious Way to Light a Tent
Most headlamps are harsh and directional when you’re in a tent at night. But if you have this clever little stuff sack, it’s not a problem. By day you can carry gear in the stuff sack, but at night, drop your harsh headlamp into it and it becomes a mellow, diffused lamp to keep your tent cozy. Each purchase helps support clean energy for off-grid families in developing nations.
About $15 – REI
Best lighting upgrade you can make.REI Review
The Landmark Project Apparel & Art
Cool Gear That Gives Back
Made by hikers, bikers, and paddlers who are also talented designers, the Landmark Project creates very stylish posters and apparel featuring National Parks and other natural areas. They’re also a company that gives back, contributing to the communities of their supply chain, and also donating over $500,000 to US Forest Service Wildfire Prevention Education. You can’t go wrong with the Landmark Project.
Shop the Collection at REI
We’re dedicated to sustaining a healthy company culture, forging supply chains that live up to good ethical and environmental practices, and learning as much as we can about the challenges we face in being responsible and inclusive outdoor enthusiasts.The Landmark Project
Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter Bottle
Water Is Key When Hiking
Being caught out on a hike without water is, at the least, not comfortable, at worst, deadly. So that’s why I carry a water filter bottle with me whenever I hit the trail. It’s very simple: fill the bag, screw the top on, and drink. And if you hike in spots with lots of water, this is really all you need.
About $45 – Amazon – REI
Buy this–worth it. One of the greatest things I bought for my Yosemite + King’s Canyon Trip.REI Review
NRS HydroSkin 0.5 Wet Socks
A Wetsuit For Your Feet
Most hikers have ditched the idea of waterproof boots and today go with a breathable trail runner or hiking shoe (here’s why). And they’re great, I do thousands of miles in shoes like that. But what happens when it gets wet and cold? That’s when you slip on the ultra-comfy and warm wet socks. Your feet get wet, but they don’t chafe and stay nice and toasty. I didn’t always know about these, but when I found out, it was a game-changer.
About $30 – REI – Amazon
I recently used these for river crossings on a late fall hike in New Brunswick, Canada. The water crossings were freezing cold, but having these on under the water shoes made standing in cold water completely tolerable. Added bonus that they dry out quick and are very comfortable.REI Review
America the Beautiful Pass
Ultimate Access to (Nearly) Everywhere
I’ll go out and say that this is the best gift you can get for under $100. This pass gets you (and your entire car for auto entries) into every National Park, National Forest, National Monument, Historic Site, and more. It’ll get you into Yosemite, Alcatraz, the Smokies, Cape Hatteras, and the list goes on and on. As an extra bonus, REI will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.
About $80 at REI
This is flat-out the best entertainment value in America, and America is beautiful!REI Review
Best Hiking Gifts Over $100
ZOLEO Satellite Communicator
911 When You Have No Phone Reception
I’m a big advocate of satellite communicators as a safety tool for all hikers. They save lives when things don’t go as planned. If you’re not familiar with them, they allow you to send and receive text messages outside of cell phone range, including sending an SOS to search and rescue. There are a few options, but I think the ZOLEO, which works with or without a smartphone connection, offers the best balance of price, subscription cost, and flexibility (full review here).
$200 – Amazon and REI
I love my Zoleo. It allows effective and simple communication with the outside world, even in the remotest settings. The app interface is simple, minimal, and efficient – exactly what I want. The plans are affordable and competitively priced.REI Review
Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
The Secret Weapon For the Trails
Well, I guess technically you could use these as weapons, but that’s not what I meant. I meant that trekking poles are what most experienced hikers use to help claw up mountains, and then prevent slipping when they’re going back down. These Trail Ergo poles are a great balance of sturdiness, lightweight, ease of adjustment, and comfort.
About $140 – REI
I love these trekking poles! They are ergonomic and the cork handles make them easy to hold for miles. They offer a lot of stability on tough terrain without throwing you off like heavy poles. Definitely a must have! REI Review
Kammok Firebelly 30 Trail Quilt
Quilts Beat Sleeping Bags
Most of the experienced outdoors folks have moved away from sleeping bags to trail quilts. They work like a blanket, which keeps you just as warm as a bag (you need a sleeping pad though) and are much easier to sleep in. I love the Kammock Firebelly because it’s warm, very light, works in hammocks, and also doubles as a poncho! I keep mine in the car and use it for catnaps too.
About $290 at REI
Looked at many weatherproof down and synthetic camp blankets. This one wins hands down.REI Review
Jetboil Flash Cooking System
There’s Nothing Like a Hot Meal
I’ve used a Jetboil since 2006, and they’re great. It’s a simple cooking system that compactly packs, boils water quickly, and is exceptionally durable. I use it when I go camping and on cold winter hikes when eating a hot meal in the middle of the wilderness is a real treat. It only takes about 3 minutes to boil water, so it’s never a big deal.
About $110 – REI – Amazon
I’ve used rocket stoves plenty. This was the fastest, hottest stove I’ve ever used. I really didn’t give much thought to the heat gauge on the pot wrap, but having used it in the dark, during storms, and half asleep, it’s not just a gimmick.Amazon Reviewer
Nikon Prostaff 3S 10 x 42 Binoculars
Great For Wildlife Spotting & Navigation
One of the nice things about being outdoors is enjoying all the sights and sounds, some of which are not always close. These Nikon binoculars are built for the outdoors. They’ve got a rubber-armored exterior, are waterproof and fog-proof, and offer a wide field of view to take it all in.
About $140 – Amazon – REI
This is probably the best bang for your buck as far as binoculars are concerned. If you don’t want to break the bank but have a solid set of binos then these are the best choice on the marketNikon Reviewer
MSR Evo Snowshoes
Expand Your Hiking Horizons
Don’t let the hiking season end when the trails get covered with snow. Hiking with snowshoes and trekking poles opens up a whole new season to hit the trails. It doesn’t require any special skills, just easily attach the snowshoes to your existing hiking boots and go. You don’t have to break the bank with these MSR Evo Snowshoes, which are solid and dependable. And they’re easy to put on with winter gloves.
About $140 – Amazon – REI
I bought these after trying a cheaper snow shoe, they are far superior in every way. I would expect that as they were twice the price. They use these for rental snow shoes at my local alpine resort so that in itself is a good sign.Amazon Review
Hiking Gifts for Kids
REI Co-op Tarn 12 Pack
Built To Withstand a Kid + Nature
Normally when I buy a backpack for my son, it’s not made for the rigors of the outdoors. But the REI Tarn is different. It’s rugged, durable, fits a water bladder (fun for kids), and is very well thought out. I have one for my son and he wears it even when he’s not on the trails.
About $40 – REI
My son LOVES that the chest strap is a whistle and, as a parent, I like that he can call to me if he’s out of sight.REI Review
Junior Ranger Activity Book: Puzzles, Games, Facts, and Tons More Fun Inspired by the U.S. National Parks!
The Perfect “Boredom Buster”
When I take my son for a hike, he’s in heaven when surrounded by the wonders of nature. But it’s in the car, on the drive there, where there’s a problem. And that’s where this activity book comes in handy (I keep it in his seat pocket). It’s full of puzzles, fill-in-the-blanks, quizzes, and games.
About $12 – Amazon
We got it for our 7 year old for Christmas and he’s loved all the activities! The funny fill-ins are his favorite!Amazon Review
MSR Tyker Snowshoes
Hours of Fun
Kids love snow, and anything lets them enjoy it more. These children’s snowshoes, made by (real outdoors company) MSR, are solid, work well, and can be put on when wearing mittens. And trust me, your kid will sleep well after a day out in these. For the price, they’re well worth it.
About $60 – REI
They were phenomenal! I was very impressed with them.5-Year Old REI Reviewer
Black Diamond Wiz Headlamp
What Kid Doesn’t Love a Flashlight?
We all know how much fun a kid has with a flashlight, right? So take that and multiply it by ten when the light goes onto their head. The Wiz is designed for kids. It works both right side up and upside down, it has an automatic power-off, is child-safe, and has multiple colors. It’s a great gift that’s guaranteed to be used at home as well as on the trail.
From $25 – Amazon – REI
Great little light, my 5 year old and 2.5 year old use them all the time. Looks like I will be buying more batteries!Black Diamond Review
Hiking Dog Gear
Ruffwear Highlands Dog Sleeping Bag
5-Star Sleep For Your Dog
Yup, it’s a sleeping bag for your dogs. At first, my buddy’s dog didn’t want it on top of him. Now he refuses to sleep in anything else, whether out camping or even at home. For the trail, it stuffs into a small compression sack that’s easy to carry. And it’s machine-washable. Any dog will love this sleeping bag.
From $100 – Amazon – REI
Our dog doesn’t typically enjoy being under blankets at home, but he curled right up in this.REI Review
Ruffwear Grip Trex Dog Boots
Important Protection For Dog Paws
If you’re new to hiking with your pup, you might not know that a paw can get hurt on the extreme terrain (like sharp rocks) that we encounter out on the trail. And most dogs aren’t used to putting in the distances that we sometimes do on a long hike. That’s where these grip boots come in. It’s an easy way to ensure that your dog is safe and having as much fun as you are.
About $38 – Amazon – REI
The vet said these were the best product ever, and I have to agree.Ruffwear Review
Garmin PRO 550 Plus Dog Tracker
Keep Tabs On Your Dog Up to 9 Miles
GPS dog trackers aren’t cheap, especially those that work in the backcountry where there is no cellphone signal, but these Garmin units do the trick. The easy-to-use Pro 550 shows you how far away your dog is and allows you to send them a humane tone or vibration through the collar (in addition to 18 levels of traditional collar stimulation). The system is rugged and built for the outdoors. You can even use it with an app that shows the pup’s position on a topographic map
Collar $150 – Amazon
Tracker $400 – Amazon
Top of Line $800 – Amazon
I wish I had bought these Garmin collars right off the bat instead of wasting 2x the money on cheap poorly made collars for years before I broke down and switched to Garmin.Amazon Review
Have an idea on how to make these guides better? Leave me your thoughts here..