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The Best Eco-friendly Gifts for Hikers

The Best Eco-friendly Gifts for Hikers

If you’re buying presents, please consider choosing eco-friendly gifts for hikers. The hiker in your life will appreciate it and Mother Nature will too.

You may not know this, but I used to work in the outdoor industry. I actually wrote product descriptions for a large outdoor retailer. As a result, I know a LOT about hiking gear.

And I know that lately the buzzwords for hiking and camping gear have been “eco-friendly”, “sustainable” and “recycled”. Unfortunately some of the time it’s just marketing – basically, it’s greenwashing.

BUT… lots of the time it’s great companies trying to make a more sustainable product and/or helping their customers replace disposable items in their lives with more eco-friendly ones. Many of those companies also give back to environmental or sustainable non-profits too. And that’s so great to see! 

Here’s my list of eco-friendly gifts for hikers and campers. I already own a lot of the items on this list and can vouch for their awesomeness. Each of these items has its own sustainability story and many will help us move towards a zero-waste lifestyle. Progress, not perfection, right?

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

Cotopaxi Tarak Del Dia 20L Backpack

Cotopaxi Tarak Del Dia backpack

Cotopaxi’s Del Dia collection uses left-over fabric scraps that would otherwise go into the garbage to make their backpacks. Their team of sewers gets to choose which fabric goes where, so each pack is totally unique.

And while the Tarak backpack looks fun, it’s also totally functional. External loops let you carry an ice axe or other gear and there’s a hydration sleeve inside. Another thing to feel good about: Cotopaxi also donates 1% of profits to alleviating world poverty.

Darn Tough Hiking Socks

Darn Tough Treeline Hiking Socks. A sustainable gift for hikers

I’ve had a few pairs of Darn Tough hiking socks for about 3 years now, and honestly, they look almost brand new. Which is great for Darn Tough, since they offer a lifetime guarantee on their socks. I love a company that makes durable products!

Darn Tough has also pledged to source all of the merino wool in their socks from farms that meet the Responsible Wool Standard for animal welfare, sustainable land management, and supply chain traceability. Another plus: Darn Tough makes all their socks at their small factory in Vermont.

Humangear GoBites Reusable Utensil Set

Humangear GoBites Reusable Cutlery Set. A zero-waste gift for hikers

On road trips, my husband and I end up eating take-out food more than we’d like. And that means we use a lot of plastic forks and spoons.

That didn’t sit right with me, so we picked up a couple of GoBites reusable utensil sets. We keep them in our car so they are ready to use when we’re on the road. I can’t believe we didn’t get them sooner and I think they’re a great option for eco-friendly gifts for hikers.

Kula Pee Cloth

Kula pee cloth for women. A Leave No Trace bathroom solution.

My Kula Cloth has definitely changed the way I pee outdoors. It’s a reusable and hygienic pee cloth for women. One side is absorbent and anti-microbial while the other side 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.

Some of the versions even have original prints from female artists! Using a pee cloth takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s so much easier than packing out dirty toilet paper all the time. As a Leave No Trace Master Educator, I recommend the Kula Cloth to women in every workshop I teach.

Hydro Flask Water Bottle

Hydro Flask Water Bottle. One of the best environmentally-friendly gifts for hikers.

Single-use plastics are a huge problem. Skip the throw-away water bottle and carry a reusable one instead.

Hydro Flask makes the Cadillac of water bottles. They’re made of high end stainless steel that won’t absorb flavours or odours. And the double-walled construction is vacuum sealed so your water stays cold (or your coffee stays hot) for hours. I carry mine around everywhere and joke that it’s my emotional support water bottle.

Through their Parks for All initiative, Hydro Flask supports non-profit organizations focused on providing better access to parks for everyone. These bottles last forEVER so they are great environmentally-friendly gifts for hikers.

Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Fleece Pullover

Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Fleece Pullover. One of the best eco-friendly gifts for hikers

Patagonia is pretty much setting the gold standard when it comes to eco-friendly apparel for hikers. Their Re-Tool Snap-T fleece is a great example of their commitment to sustainability: it’s made of recycled polyester, it’s sewn in a Fair Trade factory, and the fabric is bluesign approved. (Bluesign is a textile standard that seeks to remove harmful chemicals from the manufacturing process.)

This cozy pullover is my go-to for chilly nights at the campsite or fall hikes. Honestly, I wear it all the time for working from my home office or casual beers with friends too. The stand-out feature for me is the hidden kangaroo pocket. It holds my phone and keeps my hands warm. I actually own two of these… and I kinda want to get another one.

Sunski Sunglasses

Sunski sunglasses

I’ve been wearing Sunski sunglasses for years. I love that they come with polarized lenses, a must for snow or water trips. And for polarized glasses, they are surprisingly affordable.

I also love their commitment to sustainability: The glasses are made of recycled plastic. The packaging uses no plastics or glues. They give 1% of profits to the planet. And they offer a lifetime warranty. It doesn’t hurt that they look pretty cool too.

Tent Lab The Deuce Trowel

TentLab the Deuce trowel for going to the bathroom the Leave No Trace way

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 Deuce 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.

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hoody

Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hoody

For years, Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperer Jackets have been the favourite puffy jacket for ultralight hikers and backpackers. They’re feather-light, pack down really small, and are super warm.

Recently, Mountain Hardwear gave them an eco-friendly overhaul. The exterior fabric is now 100% recycled. And the 800-fill down interior meets the Responsible Down Standard for animal welfare. That means the geese were never force-fed or live-plucked, both practices that are shockingly common in the poultry industry. The whole jacket is still staggeringly light at just 250g (8.8 oz).

Stasher Reusable Silicone Bags

Stasher Reusable Silicone Bag, a zero-waste alternative to plastic

I used to use a LOT of ziploc bags for hiking and backpacking. I used them to carry snacks and to keep gear dry and organized.

A few years ago I got a few of the Stasher Reusable Silicone Bags. They’re a bit beefier than Ziploc bags, but they’re totally dishwasher safe so they’re easy to re-use over and over and OVER. They come in a bunch of sizes too, making them awesome eco-friendly gifts for hikers and backpackers.

YETI Rambler Tumbler Reusable Mug

YETI Rambler tumbler mug with custom art work
My YETI Rambler has custom art from Jessa Gilbert on it. I took it on a road trip with MEC’s vintage VW bus!

Sadly, paper coffee cups are one of the main sources of litter found on our trails, beaches, and streets. And it takes a lot of trees to make all those cups. Pick up a reusable coffee mug and be part of the solution.

I’ve been using my YETI Rambler mug for the last few years and I can’t believe how well it insulates! I’ve picked up iced coffee in it in the morning, then still had a bit of ice in it 12 hours later! It’s made of double-walled 18/8 stainless steel with a vacuum seal that keeps hot things hot and cold things cold for hours!

The magnetic sliding lid is easy to use and the lid is made of BPA-free plastic. And thankfully, the whole thing can go in the dishwasher.

Organic and Fair Trade Chocolate

Theo chocolate is organic and fair trade

Chocolate is one of my favourite hiking snacks. But the chocolate industry has been plagued with unethical labour practices and unsustainable farming.

A few companies are aiming to change that. Theo Chocolate and Cocoa Camino make chocolate that is certified Fair Trade, organic and non-GMO. It’s also amazingly delicious.

Klean Kanteen Reusable Straws

Kleen Kanteen stainless steel reusable straws with silicone tips

I’m sure you’ve heard rumblings online about a straw-ban since they are one of the worst single-use plastic offenders.

I got a set of these reusable Kleen Kanteen straws last year. They are made of food-grade stainless steel but they have silicone tips, which feel nicer to drink out of than metal. They’re dishwasher safe too.

Humangear GoToob Refillable Squeeze Bottles

Humangear GoToob silicone squeeze bottles

I used to buy travel-sized toiletries to take camping, but then I discovered GoToobs.

They are refillable silicone squeeze bottles that come in a bunch of sizes. They even have a folding loop that locks the cap in place so it can’t leak. Originally I bought them for sunscreen, but I realized they are great for using in my camp kitchen too. Hot sauce anyone?

Buff Multifunctional Headwear

Buff multifunctional headwear - one of the best eco-friendly gifts for hikers

It’s no secret that I love Buffs. I bring one on pretty much every hike since you can wear it as an ear warmer, neck gaiter, headband, beanie, and lots more options. A buff is one of my picks for the best stocking stuffers for hikers.

Buffs are made with recycled polyester from single-use plastic bottles, which helps reduce the amount of plastic trash in our world. They come in a seemingly infinite number of colours and patterns too.

Bees Wax Food Wraps

Bee's wax reusable food wraps by Bee's Wrap

These reusable bees wax food wraps are another way to avoid using plastic. They’re made of organically grown cotton with a beeswax coating. I’ve seen lots of different sets out there, but the print on these is super-cute!

Tenacious Tape

Gear Aid Tenacious Tape is great for patching hiking gear so it makes an excellent eco-friendly gift

It’s easy to get tears and rips in your hiking jackets, tents, and sleeping bags. Instead of throwing them away, repair your hiking gear instead. I always carry a small roll of Tenacious Tape. It sticks to all kinds of high-tech outdoor fabrics (even better than duct tape) and lasts a long time. Its a great way to give old gear new life.

Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Sum Bum Mineral sunscreen stick - this reef safe sunscreen is a great eco-friendly gift for hikers

Old-school sunscreens are full of things that we now know are not great for our bodies and are pretty terrible for the planet. Lately I’ve been loving Sun Bum sunscreens, especially the easy-to-use face sticks.

They are water-resistant so they stand-up to sweat and swimming. And they also don’t contain oxybenzone and octinoxate, the two ingredients banned under Hawaii’s Bill 2571 since they damage fragile coral reefs.

Hiking App Subscriptions

Help keep them on track with a subscription to a hiking app – they are great no-waste gifts. AllTrails+ has tons of trail options all over the world. With a subscription, you get access to offline maps and can get alerts when you make a wrong turn. For navigation, you can’t beat Gaia GPS. It’s my go-to app for easy-to-read maps with tons of overlays like satellite photos, slope angle, and more.

Psst! Want to save 20% off a premium Gaia GPS annual membership, which includes the maps I use on my trips? Use this link.

Outdoorsy Books

Book cover for Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia by Taryn Eyton

Books are always a great gift. (And if you want to avoid giving paper, you can always get them an ebook.) One of my favourite book genres adventure memoir. If you’re looking for recommendations, check out my list of the best Canadian adventure books or my list of the best adventure books by female authors.

I’ll also take a minute to plug my book, Backpacking in Southwestern British Columbia. It has details for 40 backpacking trips within a few hours of Vancouver. I might be biased, but I think it’s an awesome book.

Plan an Adventure Together

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Collect memories, not things”. (Soooo many Instagram captions, right?) It’s easy to get caught up in a shopping frenzy during the holidays.

Give the gift of an adventure rather than a thing. Plan a hike together. Make a camping reservation. Sign up for that rock climbing course you’ve both always wanted to take. Register for a photography class. There are tons of options! If you’re not sure where to start, check out REI’s course listings.

Make a Donation

Give back this holiday. Many non-profit organizations rely on donations to keep doing their important work. Find an organization with a cause that matters to the person you’re shopping for.

Here are some great outdoor-related non-profits to support: Leave No Trace (or Leave No Trace Canada), the American Avalanche Association (or Avalanche Canada), Protect Our Winters, She Jumps, the Sierra Club, and the Nature Conservancy. As well, consider donating to local organizations such as your regional search and rescue team or the advocacy group for your local park.

I hope you found some great gift ideas for the hiker on your list. I’m sure they’ll enjoy one of these eco-friendly gifts for hikers. Do you have any sustainable outdoor gift ideas? Leave them in the comments.

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Taryn Eyton
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