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. And unlike other hiking gift lists, everything on this list has been used and tested by me, a professional hiking guide. I only include hiking gifts that will be useful for someone who loves hiking, backpacking, camping, or the outdoors. This guide has new gifts and was updated December 2020.
For more gift ideas, you can check out all of my top gear picks, or visit the REI Outlet website, which often has deeply discounted gear.
Here’s one last tip before I show you the gifts. I recommend buying 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 ➤ Huge REI Cyber-Week Sale On Now including massive discounts like $100 off InReach Mini, $100 off Instinct Solar Watch, $100s off Garmin Fenix models, and up to 50% on great hiking gear.
Top 10 Gifts For Hikers
- National Parks Posters Deluxe 2021 Wall Calendar – $10.99 at Amazon
- SOL Emergency Bivy – $16.95 at REI
- Celestron Nature 10 x 25 Monocular – $39.95 at REI
- Garmin Instinct Hiking Smartwatch – $229.99 at Amazon
- National Geographic Maps – from $12 at Amazon
- Goal Zero Crush Light Chroma Lantern – $24.95 at REI
- Garmin InReach Mini – $350 at REI
- Smokey the Bear & Other Hiking T-Shirts – from $29.95 for women and men at REI
- America the Beautiful National Parks Pass – $79.99 at REI
- Hyperlite Daybreak Backpack – $195 at the Hyperlite Store
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 Featherweight Solar Lamp
Love, love, love! This little light is genius. Takes up almost no room but expands to cast plenty of light. REI Review
The Goal Zero Crush Light Chroma Lantern ( REI | Amazon ) is a featherweight solar-charging lamp that belongs in everyone’s backpack. This model has 8 colors, with the red mode allowing backpackers to preserve their night vision when camping. When not used the light crushes down flat and can be clipped on a backpack to charge. Or if there’s no sun, just use the USB charger.
Take Hiking to the Next Level
Outstanding, easy to understand book on a very complicated subject!Amazon Review
Most beginning or intermediate hikers know their way around the trails using a GPS, hiking app, or just trail signs. But the outdoors world opens up once you learn how to use a map and compass, and Wilderness Navigation: Finding Your Way Using Map, Compass, Altimeter & GPS ( Amazon ) is the book that makes it easy. You can get anywhere you need to when the battery dies on your GPS. And as a bonus, it’s fun. You’ll be able to look at a map and plan new adventures, venture off the trail to find a secret spot, or evacuate quickly if there’s an emergency.
The “Just Right” Knife
I couldn’t be more happy with this knife. I carry it with me every day.Amazon Review
Here’s a little secret about Swiss Army Knives: us hikers don’t really need all the options. We’d rather have something that’s light and just has what we really need on the trail. That’s where the Swiss Army Spartan Knife ( REI | Amazon ) comes in. At 2.6 ounces it’s light enough not weigh us down, but still has the essential tools and Swiss quality we can depend on. It’s a gift that will last a lifetime.
Enjoy the National Parks From Home
This calendar creates its own focal point in the room. When the year is over, the pages are wonderful for framing.Amazon Review
There’s nothing that warms a hiker’s heart like seeing the iconic illustrated National Parks posters. The unique style instantly conjures up good memories and future adventure possibilities. The 17×11 inch oversized National Parks Posters Deluxe 2021 Wall Calendar ( Amazon ) does the job for under $25 bucks. As a bonus, it’s printed with soy-based inks on Forest Stewardship Council certified paper.
A Lightweight Option For a Coffee or Tea Fix
“The ultimate solution for backcountry coffee—fast, ultralight, and fuss free.”Backpacker Magazine Gold Choice Award
Most hikers and backpackers pick and choose the luxuries that they carry with them wisely. You don’t want to carry too much weight. So if you love coffee or tea, taking the MSR MugMate Coffee / Tea Filter ( REI | Amazon ) is a no brainer. It only weighs 1 ounce, you can store a small Ziplock bag of coffee or tea inside it, and it works with any mug or cup.
Hospital in a Bag
Great kit for the price. Just returned from a week long hike in camping trip and took this over my big kit to save weight. Filled all our needs from cuts, bites, pain relief and a bout of digestive distress. Thoughtful layout and easy to use. Amazon Review
No one plans on getting hurt on a hike, but accidents happen. Carrying a small, lightweight, yet comprehensive medical kit like the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Hiker Medical Kit ( REI | Amazon ) is a smart move. Even if the injury is major, this kit can help. I’ve used it to treat small things like blisters, and treating it out on the trail means that it doesn’t get infected and turn into something more serious.
A Map For The Trail and For Home
I will never give up my paper maps. When planning a hike nothing beats the overall picture than a paper map. National Geographic Maps are the best.Amazon Review
One of the funnest things that you can do when you’re not hiking is to pour over a map and plan the next trip. And that’s where the National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps ( Amazon ) are great. These topographic maps are beautifully laid out, with trail access points, points of interest, and distances for each stretch of trail. And when dreams become reality and you head out on the trail, the maps are printed on waterproof and tear-resistant material designed to withstand all weather conditions. There’s a map for almost every hiking area.
Emergency Sleeping Bag
I used it when I fell victim to hyperthermia on Mt. Whitney in 20 degree weather. This product saved my life. REI Review
Most hikers enjoy the trail without packing any kind of serious emergency kit, which is fine 99% of the time. But what happens when it’s not? That’s why I love the SOL Emergency Bivy ( REI | Amazon ). It reflects back up to 90% of your body heat, traps warm air and keeps out wind and water. I keep it in the bottom of my backpack; it stuffs down into the size of a fist and weighs just 3oz.
“The Sock Gift” For Hikers
The best pair of socks I have ever bought. Darn Tough nailed it. These things are so comfortable, I switched to only these socks for everyday use. REI Review
Ahh, getting socks for the holidays… normally this is an “oh thanks” kind of experience, but with Darn Tough Socks ( REI | Amazon ) for hikers, it’s different. Darn Tough socks are made by outdoors lovers in Vermont, and are extremely well thought out. They have extra cushion in the places that you need it; the seams are hidden where they would cause chaffing. And with a lifetime guarantee, how could you go wrong?
A Fun Way To Discover New Trails
Wonderful resource for walking and hiking in my area. A bonus is the suggestions of attractions to visit near the hikes! Amazon Review
There is a “60 Hikes” book ( Amazon ) 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. Each guide includes trail lengths, hiking times, trail difficulty, hike descriptions, and detailed trailhead directions.
Hiking Gifts Between $25 and $50
Shirts For Outdoors Lovers
Softest, high quality tee shirt I’ve purchased in decades. I can’t believe how soft the cotton fabric is. I’d purchase another. REI Review
The series of t-shirts by the Landmark Project ( for women and men ) are unique and stylish while expressing a love for the outdoors. They have the classic Smokey the Bear shirts, shirts for National Parks, and shirts for the epic hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trail. And if you get one of the officially licensed Smokey shirts, they give 10% of the sale to the Smokey Bear Fund for Wildfire Prevention Education.
The Best Way To Sip Coffee On the Way to the Trail
Threw out all our typical coffee mugs after buying this bad boy! YETI Rambler made them all useless. REI Review
Most hikes start early in the morning with a drive to the trailhead, and having a hot coffee or tea on the way is a normal part of most folks routine. That’s why I love the YETI Rambler Tumbler with MagSlider Lid – 20 fl. oz. ( REI | Amazon ), which I actually received as a gift. The mug is nice a big, keeps my drink warm, and has a clever magnetic sip to that is helpful when driving. And the legendary Yeti quality keeps the temperature stable. In the summer, I’ll do ice coffee in the morning, and when I get back from the hike, the coffee in the cup is still iced. It’s pretty amazing.
Powerful Smartphone Hiking Navigation
Best GPS and map source available, and has been for many years. iPhone App Review
You might not have realized it, but a smartphone is probably the powerful GPS navigation tool you can use when paired with a good navigation app. My favorite is Gaia GPS, which has dozens of map layers, including wildfires, air quality, and snow cover. You can save the maps and tracks on your phone to use it where cell phones have no reception (in airplane mode). A membership includes access to the web planning too, tablet apps, iPhone app, Android app, and Apple Watch app. HikingGuy readers get a discount on a premium membership which I recommend to unlock the full power of the app. Don’t forget to get a good outdoors case like an Otterbox ( Amazon ) to protect the phone from the elements.
The Super Hat
I bought the Smartwool Beanie for a backpacking trip on the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington State. All I can say is don’t leave home without this hat.REI Review
I don’t normally get too excited about winter beanies, but the Smartwool Merino 250 Beanie ( REI | Amazon ) is an exception. It’s so light that I keep it in my jacket pocket and don’t know it’s there. And for such a lightweight hat, it keeps my head remarkably warm. It’s even good in the rain. And unlike other wool products, this Smartwool beanie isn’t irritating or smelly; it’s just soft and comfortable.
A Lightweight Alternative to Binoculars for Hikers
Perfect! Literally zero weight and volume for mountain hikes. It’s perfect for looking over at the next ridge, deer a mile away, and scanning for hidden trails. No shakes, the image is large, and it’s clear enough to use into dusk.Amazon Review
Having the compact and lightweight Celestron Nature 10 x 25 Monocular ( REI | Amazon ) will quickly allow a hiker to spot trails, wildlife, and landmarks in the distance. Unlike other monoculars, the Celestron Nature 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 a monocular makes that even better.
The Post-Hike Massage
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. REI Review
The best post-hike recovery tool that I’ve found is the Trigger Point Performance GRID X Foam Roller ( REI | Amazon ). 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, and it helps me feel incredible.
The Easy Way To Stay Hydrated on the Trail
This is the easiest, lightest filter I’ve ever owned. It filters water quickly and safely. I’ve used it on many backpacking trips and it filtered water for four people in no time at all. REI Review
Water on a hike can be challenging. You can’t just drink from any mountain stream anymore, but having the small and lightweight Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter System ( REI | Amazon ) solves the problem easily. The filter screws onto any Smartwater (or similar) bottle and gets out 99.99999% of all bacteria and protozoa, including salmonella, cholera, E.coli, and giardia. All you do is fill your water bottle up in any stream, lake, or even puddle, and the filter cleans it while you drink. The system also comes with attachments to hook it up to a hydration bladder (aka a Camelback).
A Clever Tripod For the Perfect Trail Photo
Great for hikes–portable and lightweight, perfect for attaching to tree limbs, etc. Amazon Review
Today everyone is looking for the perfect photo, and that’s where the Joby GorillaPod 1K Kit ( REI | Amazon ) comes in, offering you shot options beyond the selfie. The legs twist, allowing you to use it anywhere. You can use it on uneven surfaces, attach it to branches, your backpack, almost anything. It’s light and fits easily in a side pocket of a backpack. This model is good for everything from a smartphone to a DSLR camera.
A Hammock For On Or Off the Trail
By far the best investment I have made in camping gear. Its 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
Hammocks like the ENO SingleNest Hammock ( REI | Amazon ) 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 set up.
Hiking Gifts Between $50 and $100
The Pass To All Federal Lands
It’s the best value you can possibly get to avoid paying entrance fees and cruise on into the parks when you arrive. Absolute no-brainer! REI Review
The America the Beautiful National Parks Pass ( REI ) 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.
For When The Trail Gets Slippery
These cleats have never let me down. I can climb the iciest inclines in full confidence. Amazon Review
Whenever I hike in the spring, fall, or winter, I carry the Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System ( REI | Amazon ) 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.
Insurance For Getting Caught Out After Dark
I love this headlamp. I’ve had several different headlamps and this is my favorite so far.REI Review
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 love the Petzl Actik Core Headlamp ( REI | Amazon ) because it can last up to 130 hours, is USB rechargeable but also can take AAA batteries, includes a red light mode for night vision, and is IPX4 water-resistant.
The Rocking Chair That Rocks
These chairs rock. Everyone who sees it wants to try it out. They are the envy of the party. REI Review
A rocking chair isn’t something I take out with me on the trail, but it is something that I keep in my car for relaxing after a hike or when car camping. The GCI Outdoor Freestyle Rocker Chair ( REI | Amazon ) has rocking shocks in the back that make it easy to rock and very comfortable. When I’m not hiking, I use this everywhere else: soccer games, picnics, and in the backyard.
After testing these radios out in some pretty remote areas, I was honestly shocked at how powerful the range is! I never lost signal and I can say that the range slightly exceeds that of what is advertised! REI Review
If you hike with a friend or in a group, you know that sometimes groups split up. One person is faster, or someone wants to take a break, there’s a host of reasons why hikers don’t stay together. And nothing can be more terrifying than 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) ( REI | Amazon ) are basically the best you can get without going for something on the professional level.
Hiking Gifts Over $100
Like An Apple Watch But For Hikers
Brilliant piece of equipment! I absolutely love it. It has great features, a great battery life, and the compass and altitude readings are very accurate. Great for hiking. REI Review
If you want to buy a cool watch for a hiker (and/or fitness buff), confider the affordable Garmin Instinct ( Amazon ). It’s got GPS, activity tracking, a compass, a heart rate monitor, sleep tracking, and dozens of other features. And unlike an Apple Watch, this watch is built for the rigors of the outdoors. You can even load hiking tracks onto it to make sure that you’re on the trail. 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 ( REI | Amazon ) which I use 24/7 and love.
The Best Camping Stove Ever
I finally bought a Jetboil and 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
Where do I start? I’ve been using Jetboil since 2006 because they work so well. Today I use the very light and compact Jetboil MiniMo Cooking System ( REI | Amazon), which also won Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award. It heats water very quickly, and it packs down into a compact and lightweight 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.
A Modern Hiking Must-Have
Your life is worth more than a few hundred bucks Me
If I had to recommend one item that you should get for a loved one who hikes, it’s the Garmin InReach Mini ( REI | Amazon ). The InReach Mini is a small device that fits in the palm and lets a hiker send and receive text messages where cell phones don’t work. A hiker can send 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.
The Tent Replacement
Best sleep ever! Thank you for changing camping for me. Zero pressure points, no cramping. I slept like a baby for 5 of 6 nights. The other night was in a tent. REI Review
Whenever I backpack in an area where I know there will be trees, I take my Kammok Mantis Ultralight All-in-One Hammock Tent ( REI ) instead of a tent. You can set this up and break it down in a minute or two. Every inch of this is well thought out, including the integrated bug net, internal pockets, rain cover, and stuff sack that stores everything. And with a lifetime guarantee, how can you go wrong?
The Backpack Upgrade
This day pack is a cut above. It happily swallows a 3L water bladder, spare mid layer and outer shell for 2 hikers, lunch for both of us and our 2 dogs, maps, cameras, and first aid kit. The waterproof zipper and bombproof fabric keeps everything clean and dry for the whole day, no matter the weather. Hyperlite Review
I’ve tried a lot of packs and there are a lot of great choices, but the Hyperlite Daybreak ( Hyperlite Store ) is a cut above the rest. The material is very tough, waterproof, durable, it’s very light, and it’s just the right size for my longest day hike without having too much extra space. The side pockets are perfect for storing and grabbing a water bottle, and it also takes a hydration bladder. The inside is orange so it’s easy to spot gear. Every inch of this pack is thoughtful and well-designed. If you know a hiker in need of a backpack upgrade, this is the move. (And I also attach a pouch on the shoulder strap and carry my GPS unit in.)
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.
Incredible cover photo from Michael Matti