There is no place I would rather be than on a backpacking trip. I’ve been backpacking for over 15 years and used to work for a large outdoor retailer, so I know a lot about backpacking gear. In this post, I’ve got my recommendations for the best gifts for backpackers.
No matter whether the person on you are buying for is a beginner or an experienced hiker, you’ll find something on this list of backpacking gifts for them. All of these items are things I have personally used and recommend. It’s all quality gear – no gimmicks or stupid gadgets.
My list of over 40 gifts for backpackers includes:
- Budget gifts for backpackers (under $50)
- Gifts for backpackers under $100
- Gifts for backpackers under $200
- Splurge gifts for backpackers (over $200)
Hey there: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support. -Taryn
READ NEXT: 25 Stocking Stuffers for Hikers Under $25
Budget Gifts for Backpackers (Under $50)
Sea to Summit X-Brew Coffee Dripper
Morning coffee is a must for many backpackers. Skip the instant coffee and brew up a cup using this collapsible silicone drip coffee maker. It uses a reusable mesh filter so you don’t have to remember to bring paper filters.
Give them the gift of more adventure ideas. Backpacking guidebooks are a great way to learn about new destinations and they have lots of info on permits, campsites, and recommended itineraries.
If you’re buying for someone in Canada, make sure you get them my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. (Sorry for the shameless plug – I can’t help it!)
Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow
I used to sleep with my extra clothes bunched under my head. I splurged on a lightweight inflatable pillow a few years ago and I don’t know why I waited so long to get one. It weighs almost nothing (2.1 oz/60g) and packs down super small.
Kula Cloth has definitely changed the way I pee outdoors. As a Leave No Trace Master Educator, I recommend the Kula Cloth in every workshop I teach. It’s a reusable and hygienic pee cloth for women so you don’t have to use so much toilet paper.
One side is absorbent and anti-microbial for wiping and the other is waterproof. Fold it in half and close it with a snap to keep the dirty side from touching anything else, then clip it onto the outside of your pack to let it dry out in the sun.
Smartwool Hiking Socks
Quality hiking socks can be the difference between happy feet and horrible blister-covered feet. (Trust me. I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.) Durable, wool-blend hiking socks are the answer. My favourites are the Smartwool Approach Socks. They are thin so they don’t get too hot.
Sea to Summit XBowl
These collapsible silicone bowls are perfect for your morning oatmeal (or noodles in my case) or your share of the evening’s dehydrated feast. They fold flat for easy transport.
Fabric tube scarves, often known as buffs are pretty awesome. You can wear them as a scarf, a hat, an ear warmer, a headband, a balaclava, and more.
Tent Lab The Deuce Trowel
I’m pretty passionate about Leave No Trace. Unfortunately, one of the ways that people leave a trace in the outdoors is human waste. Yup, poop. However, it’s a really simple problem to solve if you’re prepared. (Here’s more info about how to go to the bathroom in the woods if you’re curious.)
I carry this tiny and lightweight trowel on most hiking trips so I can dig a quick cat hole when I have to go to the bathroom. At only 17g (0.6oz) it’s practically weightless. And since it’s made of aluminum, it digs waaay better than plastic shovels.
Opinel Pocket Knife
Every backpacker needs a good knife. It doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated. Opinel makes quality knives with a classic design. They’re compact, lightweight, and fairly inexpensive too.
Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat
I never go on a backpacking trip without a hat. I want one that provides shade from the sun and has a brim to help keep the rain off on wet days.
The Sunday Afternoons Ultra Adventure Hat is my go-to hat for backpacking trips. It has a wide curved brim in front and a neck shield in the back. My favourite feature: slots in the brim hold my sunglasses so I don’t drop them!
AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press
Snobby drinkers can’t stomach drip coffee, even on a backpacking trip. That’s where this travel-sized AeroPress coffee maker comes in. It makes delicious espresso or cold-brew-style coffee. The entire set-up nests together inside the included mug. My husband brings his travel-sized Aeropress on most backpacking trips.
Gaia GPS Premium Subscription
My favourite hiking app is Gaia GPS. I have a premium subscription that gives you access to all kinds of detailed maps. You can also use layers to see things like slope angle, snow depth, indigenous territory, and more. This is the app I rely on most for navigation.
Dehydrated and freeze-dried meals are a quick and easy way to make dinner on a backpacking trip. There are lots of delicious options out there, but I like the ones from Mountain House, Peak Refuel, and Good-to-Go best.
Jetboil Crunchit Fuel Canister Recycling Tool
Canister stoves are easy to use, but the downside is finding a way to dispose of the empty canisters. In many places they are recyclable, but you have to puncture them first. This tool makes that easy.
Goal Zero Flip 36 Power Bank
This little power bank has enough juice to charge my iPhone three times. Combined with the power-save mode on my phone, that means my phone can last for a week-long backpacking trip where I use it for photos and to run Gaia GPS for navigation. It’s pretty light too.
Sea to Summit Lightweight View Dry Sack
I always bring a few of these lightweight dry bags on a backpacking trip. They are great for protecting my camera and other electronics, storing my food, and keeping clothing organized. I love the clear window on the front since it’s easy to see what’s inside.
Leatherman Squirt PS4 Multi-Tool
Sometimes your backcountry repair job needs a few more tools than a basic knife can provide. I like the little Leatherman Squirt because it has both scissors and pliers, the two tools I use the most after a knife.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Trail Shirt
This is by far my favourite hiking shirt – I own it in three colours! It feels soft and comfortable like cotton, but it’s made of 100% recycled polyester that wicks sweat and dries quickly. It also has a built-in anti-odor treatment that means it won’t get stinky on long trips.
Gifts for Backpackers Under $100
National Parks Pass
An annual national parks pass makes a great gift. In the USA, the America the Beautiful Pass gets a vehicle’s worth of people into over 2000 federation recreation sites and all the national parks. In Canada, the Parks Canada Discovery Pass is valid at all national parks and historic sites.
Petzl Bindi Headlamp
I take this tiny headlamp on every backpacking trip. It’s not the brightest one out there, but it’s plenty bright enough for tent chores and finding the outhouse in the middle of the night. It only weighs 1.2 oz (35g) too!
BearVault BV500 Bear Resistant Food Container
Constructing a proper bear-proof food hang in a tree can be tricky and time-consuming. And in some areas, it’s just impossible since the trees are too small or there aren’t any trees. I use my BearVault canister whenever I backpack above treeline.
Its locking lid requires thumbs to open, which thankfully, bears don’t have. I like the see-through design since it makes organization easier.
MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe Stove
This is my favourite stove. (My husband loves backpacking stoves so I’ve tried tons of them.) It’s really easy to use and the built-in piezo igniter makes lighting it easy. It also has a built-in pressure regulator so it puts out a consistent flame. It’s also really tiny – it fits inside a mug!
Snow Peak Titanium Double Wall Mug
This mug is definitely a splurge, but I love it. It’s made of titanium, which makes it super light. And the double-wall construction keeps my morning tea warm for a long time – I like to sip it slowly while I pack up. The folding handles make it easy to shove in my backpack.
Prana Halle or Stretch Zion Hiking Pants
Prana’s Halle pants are my favourite hiking pants. They’re made with a slightly stretchy fabric that moves well but stands up to abrasion. They have a DWR coating to resist moisture and dry quickly. And they have lots of functional pockets. They come in plus-sizes too, which is great.
The Stretch Zion pants are the men’s version. One of my guy friends likes them so much he owns four pairs!
Peak Design Capture Camera Clip
If you backpack with a camera, you know it can be tough to figure out how to carry it. I got a Peak Design Capture Clip to hold my Sony mirrorless camera a few years ago and it has made backcountry photography soooo much easier.
The clip clamps onto your backpack’s shoulder strap, and then a spring-loaded, lockable mechanism secures your camera to the clip using your tripod plate.
Nesco Snackmaster Food Dehydrator
Pre-packed dehydrated backpacking meals can be expensive. But it’s really easy to make your own meals at home, then dehydrate them. I’ve had a basic Nesco dehydrator for over 10 years. It’s really easy to use.
Gifts for Backpackers Under $200
Ursack AllMitey Bear-Resistant Food Sack
This food storage bag is made with Kevlar fibres that stand up to the teeth and claws of bears, raccoons, mice, and other food-stealing critters. If you put your food inside a smell-proof inner bag, you can tie it securely to the trunk of a tree and don’t have to worry about constructing a tricky bear hang. They weigh a lot less than a bear canister too!
Platypus GravityWorks Filter
This simple gravity-fed water filter is my pick for backpacking trips. Simply fill up the dirty bag and let gravity do the work of filtering your water while you attend to other camp chores (or just chill out). No annoying pumping or squeezing needed.
The 2L version is great for couples and I recommend the 4L version for groups.
Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket
This lightweight puffy jacket adds lots of warmth but packs down small. It uses down-free PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation which keeps you warm even when it gets wet. My husband loves this jacket.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad
If you value a good night’s sleep and a light pack, this sleeping pad is the perfect compromise. With 2.5″ of thickness, it keeps even side sleepers off the cold, hard ground. And it has an R-value of 4.2, which is enough insulation for everything but winter trips.
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork Trekking Poles
These are the Cadillac of trekking poles: lightweight carbon shafts, comfy cork grips, and easy-to-use FlickLock Pro telescopic adjustments. I love the rubber extension grips for even more hand positions in tricky terrain.
In the winter, add powder baskets (sold separately) and use them for snowshoeing or backcountry skiing.
Kindle Paperwhite eReader
I love reading in the tent on a backpacking trip. I got my first Kindle over a decade ago since I was tired of hauling books into the backcountry. The newest version has up to 10 weeks of battery life, holds thousands of books, and is waterproof – perfect for backpacking.
Helinox Chair One
A few years ago I couldn’t imagine taking a chair on a backpacking trip. They were just too heavy. But then I tried out the Helinox Chair One. It folds down super small but is still super comfortable to sit in.
At 2 pounds, it’s light enough to bring on chill backpacking trips. (Although my husband brings his on every trip. He says it’s much easier on his back compared to sitting on the ground.)
Fjallraven Abisko Trail Fleece Jacket
This lightweight fleece jacket is one of my favourite layering pieces. It uses grid-knit fleece to trap warm air next to your body without adding bulk. I also love the Scandi-styling.
On longer trips, we always bring an ultralight tarp. That way we can rig up a kitchen shelter or have a dry place to eat lunch in a rainstorm. There are lots of options out there, but most weigh less than a pound and pack down to the size of a burrito.
Splurge Gifts for Backpackers
Helly Hansen Verglas Infinity Shell Jacket
If you’re looking for serious wet-weather protection, the Helly Hansen Verglas Infinity Shell Jacket delivers. I’ve worn mine on lots of rainy hikes. It also came in handy on my week-long Bowron Lakes canoe trip where we had some HEAVY rain on a few days.
I also find that it breathes really well, which is great for high-output activities like hiking (or canoe-portaging).
Garmin inReach Mini
Being able to call for help in the wilderness is important. I’ve had a Garmin inReach satellite messenger for a few years. It lets you send text messengers via satellite to loved ones at home. And it also has an SOS button so you can summon search and rescue in an emergency.
It’s not cheap, and you need to pair it with a monthly service plan, but it’s a great piece of safety kit
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2-Person Tent
Over the years I’ve had two versions of this tent. In my opinion, it’s the best backpacking tent for most people. It’s lightweight, easy to set up, and great in bad weather. I’ve used mine all over Canada and the USA, as well as in Iceland and Australia.
If the Hubba Hubba NX is a bit out of budget, the MSR Elixir is a good alternative, although it isn’t quite as light.
GoPro Hero9 Black
GoPros have changed the way backpackers shoot video. Actually, I didn’t make videos of backpacking trips at all until I got a GoPro. These tiny and rugged cameras are easy to use, and their app makes putting together a short video really quick.
The latest and greatest GoPro is the Hero10 Black. However, the previous version, the Hero9 Black has almost all the same features and is much less expensive.
Therm-a-Rest Parsec Down Sleeping Bag
I’m a picky sleeper, so I’ve tried lots of different sleeping bags. My favourites are the ones made by Therm-a-Rest since they have a slightly wider cut that doesn’t feel claustrophobic.
They also use premium materials that make them super warm for their weight. Another feature I love is the detachable pad straps – that way my sleeping bag stays in place on my sleeping pad.
The Therm-a-Rest Parsec is rated -6°C (20°F), which is great for three-season backpacking in the mountains. It also has Therm-a-Rests’s ThermaCapture lining which traps body heat and reflects it back at you. My favourite feature – the extra pocket of insulation to keep your chilly toes warm.
Gregory Amber 65/Stout 70 Backpack
I’ve had this backpack for a few years now, and I think it’s a great option for most backpackers. It’s neither ultralight nor ultra-burly but it is comfortable to carry. It has a few features that I really like, such as the stretchy mesh outside pocket and a hipbelt pocket that’s big enough to fit my phone.
I have the women’s version called the Amber. The men’s is called the Stout. The 65L and 70L sizes are perfect for week-long trips. On shorter trips, I just cinch down the top of the bag.
So those are all my picks for the best gifts for backpackers. Do you have any other suggestions for backpacking gifts? Leave them in the comments.
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