Gifts For Hikers – 2020
|In This Guide|
These hiking gifts are sure to put a smile on the face of anyone who loves hiking, backpacking, camping, or the outdoors. This isn’t just an ordinary list. Everything you see on this list has been personally used and tested by myself, a professional hiking guide. Rest assured that getting any of these gifts for a hiker will not only put a smile on their face but will also be genuinely useful. And if nothing here strikes your fancy, you can see all the other gear Iregularly use here or check out REI Outlet for other gear options at deep discounts.
And save yourself the hassle of going to the mall to find these gifts; just click on the links below to get them all from REI. REI offers free shipping on orders over $50, they have a great return policy, and you can get 10% back on everything for the rest of your life simply by purchasing an inexpensive REI membership.
FYI – Big Annual REI Co-Op Sale On Now + Free Shipping on Everything
Top 10 Gifts For Hikers
- Backpacker Hidden Gems Book – $16
- Black Diamond Moji Lantern – $19.95
- Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System – $34.95
- New Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp – $39.95
- Celestron Nature 10 x 25 Monocular – $39.95
- America the Beautiful National Parks Pass – $79.99
- Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel – $99.99
- Garmin Instinct Hiking Smartwatch – $300
- Garmin InReach Mini Backcountry Texting & SOS – $350
- Garmin Fenix 6x Pro Solar Smartwatch – $1000
Hiking Gifts Under $25
An inexpensive hiking gift doesn’t mean a cheap hiking gift. There are plenty of gifts that don’t cost much but are still very cool and useful. Here are the best hiking gifts for a limited budget.
The Gift They Didn’t Realize They Needed
Most hikers enjoy the trail without packing any kind of serious emergency kit, which 99% of the time is fine. But what happens when it’s not? That’s why I love the SOL Emergency Bivy, a minimal sleeping bag that keeps you warm and dry when the conditions are cold and wet. The bivy is small, light, and can fit in the bottom of a day pack, ready for when you need it.
Lowest Prices Here
My son and I have each carried one of these for the past five years on hikes, scrambles, mountain bike rides, kayak trips and through canyons in Zion. We finally had a need for them twice on the same day last fall in a Zion canyon! First, we had to sit out a flash flood for several hours while soaking wet. These bivys kept our spirits up. Second, a couple of hours later when on our next to last rappel of the canyon our ropes got stuck and could not continue. We gathered for the night in these bivys again (still wet from the waterfalls we rappeled through) and made it. It was not the most comfortable experience of my life, but it was greatly increased by having these bivys with us. I am stocking up for anyone that ever travels with me in the backcountry. – REI Review
A Hiker’s Solution For The Morning Fix
Making coffee or tea on the trail or campsite can be a pain, but not with the MSR MugMate. Just put your coffee or tea leaves inside, drop the MugMate in your cup, and pour hot water over it. It’s simple, light weight, effective, eco-friendly, and the winner of Backpacker Magazine Editors’ Choice Gold Award.
Lowest Prices Here
Best backpacking coffee maker! Been winter backpacking since 1985. Tried all kinds of coffee making devices. This is the best. – MSR Website Reviewer
A Spork That Works With Camping Food
The quick and dirty way to prepare freeze-dried camping meals is just dump hot water in the food bag and eat out of that. The problem is that a regular utensil can’t reach the bottom of most freeze-dried food bags, forcing you to get your hand dirty digging in. Not with this long spork, which reaches the bottom without a problem.
Lowest Prices Here
Would Buy 10x over! I love this spork. It is light, durable, and includes a clip to easily carry on your pack. This spork will last you a long time, and the extra handle makes it easy for those freeze-dried meals. Pick one up, you won’t be disappointed. – REI Review
Inspire Your Hiker!
No one likes hikes with crowds which is why this book by Backpacker Magazine is great. It has detailed instructions, color topographic maps, and pictures for 100 great hikes off the beaten path (pun!). It’s a great book to inspire bucket-list hikes and has enough detail that you can actually use it to plan. Your hiker might also like this similar book about the top 100 hikes in the National Parks.
Kindle or Paperback Here
The book is beautiful – the layout, photos, and organized chapters. Each trip suggestion is boiled down to the basic, must-know facts. The author can personally comment on each suggested trail, for she seems to have personally hiked every one of them. – Amazon Review
Tons Of Light In The Palm Of Your Hand
The Black Diamond Moji Lantern lantern packs a lot into a small package. It has 100 lumens, enough to light up an entire campsite. The built-in dimmer gives you up to 70 hours of light, and when the batteries run out, simply replace them with any old AAA batteries. It’s hard to ask more than that. And at only 3oz, it’s easy to just keep this in your backpack in case of emergencies.
Lowest Prices Here
This baseball size lantern gets 5-star rating for sure. I’ve seen other lanterns that go for twice as much and aren’t close in the quality and feature department. – REI Review
The Hiker’s Poster
This is the perfect give for the hiker who loves to dream about their next adventure. This large National Geographic United States National Parks Wall Map comes packaged in a tube (no folds) and includes 400 notable sites including 59 national parks. In these days of online maps, it’s nice to actually have a “real” map to look at and browse.
This is a VERY large map and holds to the standards that only National Geographic could provide (I love those guys)! The wife and I plan on framing this and tracking our life goal to travel to all 59 parks! I definitely recommend this map to anyone who loves the National Parks. – Amazon Review
Hospital in a Bag
No one plans on getting hurt on a hike, but accidents happen to everyone. That’s why the experts advocate carrying a small medical kit with you in case of an emergency. Having this kit allows you to do things like treat a popped blister instead of having it get infected and turn into something more serious. It’s small and light; having one is a no-brainer.
I work in emergency medicine, so have a few well-curated first-aid kits I use, but love that this had a wilderness-specific book, as well as trauma shears, a combine pad, and very small forceps, perfect for splinters! The different compartments are helpful, and I love that the packing is as compact as possible. – REI Review
Discover New Trails
There is a “60 Hikes” book for almost every city and area in the USA. The guides offer full trail and trailhead directions to sixty hikes in each area. Whenever I travel I pick one up and for most casual hikers there will be some new hikes in their home area too. Each guide includes trail lengths, hiking times, trail difficulty, hike descriptions, and detailed trailhead directions.
Kindle or Paperback
Well presented with a good rating system and easy to navigate through the book. This book has hikes for all skill levels and for all capabilities. The hikes are categorized by difficulty and time needed. My section is “Hikes Your Grandfather Can Handle” – this is a very well thought out and presented book. Well worth the price. – Amazon Review
Hiking Gifts Between $25 and $50
The New Swiss Army Knife
Everyone heading out into the backcountry should carry a blade or knife, but it really helps to have other tools at your disposal too. I used to carry a Swiss Army Knife but I’ve found that having the pliers and other tools on a Leatherman gives me more options. And this Leatherman is small and lightweight like a pocket knife, except packs more bang for the buck (and ounce).
I have just completed the John Muir Trail. I’m so glad I had this little tool along, and so are my companions. I used it to repair a stuck tent pole, and 3 or 4 trekking poles that were slipping. I used it so many times I have lost count. The pliers are so handy, and rare in the backcountry. Since you really need to carry a knife while backpacking anyway, you might as well add just a little more weight and include screwdrivers, scissors, a file and most importantly a pair of pliers. It’s almost like having a full-sized Leatherman without all the weight. – REI Review
Insurance For Getting Caught Out Past Dark
We’ve all been there. A hike runs longer than you thought and you get caught out after dusk or dark. Having a small, lightweight, powerful headlamp in your pack is a must. I like the Black Diamond Spot 325 because it can last up to 200 hours, it has strobe and red light modes, and uses AAA batteries that you can get anywhere.
The Spot 325 is perfect, only three AAA’s, very lightweight, nice white light with a great beam pattern that is plenty bright, comfortable, simple and logical controls that don’t require a manual to reference. I’ve had ten or more LED headlamps over the years, this one is the best to date. – REI Review
As Good As a Massage
I am so happy I found the trigger point foam roller; it’s my favorite thing to do after a hike. It’s pretty simple, you just roll your body (back, legs, neck, whatever) on the roller, and the trigger point foam releases the tension in your muscles. When I first saw this it looked like something from an infomercial and I had my doubts, but after using it I found that it really works. I use the roller every day, whether I hike or not.
It hurts, but it hurts so good! I feel like I’m rolling out knots that I’ve had for years and my knees and hips are starting to feel so much better. I am very satisfied with the Grid X. – REI Review
For the Perfect Photo
Here’s a hiking gift for anyone who loves taking pictures. The Joby tripod bends and twists, allowing you to use it anywhere. You can use it on uneven surfaces, attach it to branches, your backpack, almost anything. It’s small and fits easily in a pack. There are models that work with smartphones and also bigger DSLR cameras. Another piece of gear that has lasted me for years.
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Love the premium feel. It’s so easy to reposition, yet somehow manages to stay rigid. Also love the ballhead, easy clip, and level bubble. I know there are a lot of knockoffs for much less money, but this is worth every penny. – Amazon Review
Everyone Should Carry This
You can survive for weeks without food, but only days without water. This small and light Sawyer Squeeze water filter system is worth always carrying in your pack. There are no pills, drops, or pumps. You just fill a bag with water and squeeze it through the filter. It removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli; and removes 99.9999% of all protozoa, such as giardia and cryptosporidium. It’s cheaper, lighter, and easier than the hand pumps that were popular in the past.
I have used this filter for all my backpacking trips the last couple of years, its been with me for about 1000 miles, never failed me once. The filter is very reliable, I have brought it on my hardest desert trips in Southern Utah and Arizona as well as on winter trips in the Sawtooths and Sierras. I recommend this as the first and foremost filter to use for backpacking. – REI Review
For On the Trail or Off
You might not be familiar with these hammocks, but they’ve taken the outdoors world by storm over the last few years. Hammocks like this Eno SingleNest are light, pack small, hang easily, and are incredibly comfortable. You can take it on a day hike for a quick nap in the trees, use it for backpacking, or lounge around with it a home or on the trailhead. Don’t forget to get hanging straps which make it super-easy to setup.
By far the best investment I have made in camping gear. It’s versatility is beyond compare. I have taken it on more than 20 campouts and 4 week-long backpacking treks. I also string it up in the backyard and always carry it in the car so I always have it available when I leave the house. – REI Review
Binoculars Are Too Heavy, Bring This Instead
Way more compact and lightweight than binoculars, having the Celestron Nature 10 x 25 Monocular in your pocket will quickly let you spot birds, wildlife, and landmarks in the distance. Unlike other monoculars, this one is built for the outdoors; it’s rubberized, waterproof, fog-proof, and high contrast. One of the great things about hiking is all the things you can see, and having a simple piece of gear like this makes that even better.
You should have no qualms about purchasing this monocular. I use it for spotting campsites and it has a pretty good range. I see no distortion with the lens, and it’s durable. – Amazon Review
Hiking Gifts Between $50 and $100
The Best Value For the Dollar, Ever
The America the Beautiful National Parks Pass, gets you into over 2000 federal recreation areas, including National Parks and National Monuments. It works on any federal land, so you don’t have to purchase regional passes like the Adventure Pass or Northwest Forest Pass, just use this. The pass covers entrance for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per-vehicle fee areas or up to 4 adults at sites that charge per person. This thing pays for itself many times over. Buy it from REI and they donate 10% to the National Parks Foundation.
The creation and maintenance of the National Parks was simply a brilliant idea. I can’t think of a better form of entertainment for the dollar anywhere. The convenience of buying the annual pass before our visit to Utah was helpful. $80 for entrance to Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, and Lake Mead…unbelievable value for two weeks! – REI Review
For When The Trail Gets Slippery
Whenever I hike in the spring, fall, or winter, I carry the Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System in my pack. The concept is simple. If it gets slippery or icy, you pull these over your existing hiking boots or shoes. No special gear needed, nothing to tie or secure. A simple solution that saved my butt numerous times when I encountered ice on the trail.
AWD for your feet! I have owned a pair of these for at least 6 years and my wife’s are around 5 years old. We use these many times per year and they’ve never failed us. We are not gentle on these things; we don’t take them off until we’re completely off snow, so they’ve gone many miles across bare trails, scree, talus, etc. They’ve got a bit of wear on the spikes now, but they keep going strong. Highly recommended. – REI Review
For better or worse, electronic gadgets and smartphones have become part of everyone’s standard hiking gear. Most batteries can last for the entire day, but for overnight trips or potential emergency situations, having a simple solar panel that you can attach to your pack is the move. The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Plus Solar Panel is great because you can plug your device directly into it, or use it to charge a USB battery pack. It also has an LED indicator that helps you position it to get the most sun.
The Nomad 7 Plus Panel was able to keep our power station charged during a week-long trip. It was easy to tell when the panel was at the best angle to catch the sun due to the lights on the device. It allowed us to keep the phone charged without any worries. Panel was very light weight and easy to pack and carry. – REI Review
The Best Cooking System Out There
Where do I start? I’ve had my Jetboil Flash Cooking System since 2006 and I love it. It heats water very quickly, and it packs down into a compact cup. Even if you’re not hiking overnight, it’s great to have in your pack on a cool day for a quick, warm lunch. Jetfboil changed the camping stove game – it’s a great gift for hikers that will last for many years.
Finally broke down and bought a Jetboil. I should have done it sooner. It is very simple to use, packs up neatly, and boils water fast, very fast. My girlfriend thought it was faster than a microwave. She may be right. – REI Review
If you hike with a friend or in a group, you know that sometimes groups split up. One person is faster, someone wants to take a break, there’s a host of reasons why hikers don’t stay together. And nothing can be more terrifying that not being able to find your hiking partner, or not to be able to catch up with them. So that’s why a good set of 2-way radios is a smart choice for pairs and groups. The Midland GXT1000VP4 2-Way Radios (2 in a pack) are basically the best you can get without going for something on the professional level.
After testing some cruddy Motorola radios that failed, these Midland’s were a refreshing delight. We had coverage all the way up to and over the crest leading to Mt. Whitney, with excellent reception and quality. At one point, we began to get some cross chatter from other climbers, and simply enabled the Group feature and had just direct communication with no other parties for the rest of our trip. The batteries lasted for days on end, the weather alert function is very cool and the fact that it comes with a car charger is a huge help. I would hands down recommend these again and again as the best radios that REI carries. – REI Reviewer
The Hiker’s Chair
Now I don’t carry a chair when I hike, but I do carry one in my car for when I’m relaxing at the trailhead or car camping. Plopping your butt down in a comfy chair after a long hike is the best. You can easily take your boots off, have a snack, or even close your eyes for a catnap. I’ve tried a bunch of outdoors chairs and the REI Co-op Flexlite Macro Chair is the most comfortable. I even use it on my patio at home. It opens and collapses in seconds.
When my chair arrived I was skeptical that a chair that small could possibly be comfortable to sit in for an extended period of time. I’m happy to say that first impression was way off base. This chair is easily the most comfortable folding chair I’ve sat in. I took my chair on a 3 day camping/backpacking trip, a 2 hour hike, a sporting event, and a picnic. I’ve even set it up next to the fire in my own backyard. – REI Review
Hiking Gifts Over $100
Please Get This!
If I had to recommend one thing that you should get for a loved one who hikes, it’s the Garmin InReach Mini. So what is this thing? It’s a little device that fits in the palm of your hand and lets a hiker send and receive text messages where cell phones don’t work. So they can send you a message saying that they’re okay, that they’re running late, and most importantly, it’s got a built-in SOS function that lets them communicate with first responders in an emergency. I have a full deep-dive review here if you want to learn more. I’ve used the Mini thousands of miles and hours and it’s the best.
I have owned this device for over 3 months now and it’s performed excellent. Over 120 miles on this hiking through slot canyons in Zion Utah And never once has a message failed to send. I did a 18 mile solo hike and checked in with my girlfriend every night and got her replies back within minutes. – REI Reviewer
Hiker Into a Backpacker
The next logical step for most hikers is backpacking. That is, spending the night in the outdoors after hiking all day. But a lot of folks who try backpacking get turned off because the gear that you need to carry is much heavier than a normal hike. So it’s important to buy light gear, but also gear that’s durable and easy to setup. That’s where the REI Co-op Quarter Dome 1 Tent comes in. It’s roomy, packs small, weighs little, and is a no-brainer to set up. I’m a pretty experienced backpacker and I use it all the time. It’s a great gift to get someone off on the right foot for some backpacking adventures.
Amazing lightweight tent that delivers! Setup is so trivial as to be almost thoughtless, You can literally go from bag to full tent and fly in less than 5 minutes. In the 8 months I’ve been using it, it has been subjected to 25mph winds, rain, dirt, etc, and has come out of every situation like a champ. – REI Review
Like An Apple Watch But For Hikers
If you want to buy a cool watch for a hiker (and/or fitness buff), confider the affordable Garmin Instinct. Its onboard GPS can track hikes, and you can even load hikes (GPX files) onto it and make sure you’re on the right path. It’s built with military ruggedness for the outdoors. Not only does it do hikes, but also any other fitness tracking, smartphone notifications, heart rate, and sleep tracking. If you want to spend a little more money on something really special (and that has hiking maps and solar charging built in), check out the Fenix 6 Pro Solar which I use and love.
I hate smartwatches. I hate the idea of them. I hate their touchscreens. I hate to their poor battery life. I hate all the features I don’t need. But I am in love with my Instinct. Why? It’s built for hiking. It knows its job and does it incredibly well. As a bonus, it’s more than enough for run tracking, the occasional kayak session, and even a gym workout. If you’re looking for a smartwatch, this won’t be it. If you want a trail companion that tracks you mostly accurately (not the best, but certainly the best value out there) and gets you back to where you started – even after 12 hours of always on recording – then this is it. – REI Review
A Full Tent Replacement
I mentioned how comfortable a hammock was earlier, so why not take the concept further and offer a full tent experience in a lightweight and comfortable hammock? That’s what the Kammok Mantis Ultralight All-in-One Hammock Tent does. Whenever I backpack in an area where I know there will be trees, I take my Kammok Mantis instead of a tent. It has a built-in bug net and an easy to set up rain cover. You can literally set this up and break it down in a minute or two. And it has a lifetime guarantee. It’s a perfect gift for someone who has used a tent but hasn’t tried hammock camping yet.
I’ve been doing the hammock thing for well over a decade and tried a few different systems and generally liked them. By the size of the stuff sack that arrived I assumed something (straps at least) was going to be missing, but its all there, beautifully designed and executed for minimal size and weight, mind blown… well done! -Kammock.com Review
More Gift Options
I also list out my complete hiking gear list here, which is the best of the best stuff that I carry with me on every hike.
There is also a REI Staff Picks page and REI Gift guide page.
Cover photo BLM White Mountains NRA