If you’re buying a presents, please consider choosing eco-friendly gifts for hikers. They 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 a lot 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 extra cost to you if you make a purchase. Thanks for supporting my website! -Taryn
Cotopaxi Tarak Del Dia 20L Backpack
At first, it was the bright colours of Cotopaxi’s gear that got my attention. But the story behind the rainbow of fabrics is what is really interesting. 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 pack 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. Check prices: Cotopaxi | REI | MEC
Darn Tough Hiking Socks
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. That’s right: apparently, I can wear these socks for the rest of my life and if they ever get a hole in them, I can send them back and they’ll give me a new pair! 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. Check prices: Darn Tough | REI | MEC
Humangear GoBites Reusable Utensil Set
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 the glove compartment of our truck so they are ready to use when we’re on the go. It’s got a fork, spoon, and knife that all have their own spots in the carry case. I’ve actually slipped the whole kit into my backpack to eat salads or leftovers for hiking lunches too. I can’t believe we didn’t get them sooner and I think they’re a great option for eco-friendly gifts for hikers. Check prices: REI | MEC
Kula Pee Cloth
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. Check prices: Kula Cloth | Garage Grown Gear
Hydro Flask Water Bottle
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 18/8 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 brought mine to Australia last year and it was amazing to have cold water all day! 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. Check prices: Hydro Flask | REI | MEC
Patagonia Re-Tool Snap-T Fleece Pullover
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 kinda want to get another one… Check prices: Patagonia | Patagonia Canada | REI
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. Check prices: Sunskis | REI | MEC
United By Blue Salvaged Hemp Blend Reusable Face Masks
Love it or hate it: Wearing a face mask is the new normal. I always carry one in my hiking backpack for areas where physical distancing isn’t possible or to use in an emergency. They are also handy for post-hike coffee stops. Single-use disposable masks are so wasteful when environmentally-friendly washable and reusable masks are available. This pack of three double-layer face masks from United By Blue is made of dead stock fabric off-cuts from United By Blue’s other apparel. They are made from a hemp blend fabric that uses way less water and chemicals than conventional cotton. And for each pack purchased, United By Blue is donating a mask to a charity assisting the homeless in Philadelphia. Check prices: United by Blue
Columbia OutDry Ex Eco Rain Jacket
Columbia has been coming up with some really innovative technology lately. Their newest rain jacket might just be the most eco-friendly technical jacket I’ve ever seen! It’s also really interesting looking since they chose to go with un-dyed fabric, which saves over 13 gallons of water per jacket. The fabric itself is 100% recycled polyester. Twenty-one plastic bottles go into each jacket! Columbia even went the extra mile and ensured that all the trims (toggles, zippers, thread, etc.) are made from recycled materials too.
The waterproof breathable technology in the jacket is also really cool. It uses an OutDry membrane which is actually on the OUTSIDE of the jacket, instead of on the inside. This means that there is no outer fabric layer of the jacket to soak up water and “wet-out”. The membrane also has no toxic PFCs. Check prices: Columbia | Columbia Canada
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. Check prices: REI | MEC
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Hoody
For years, Mountain Hardwear’s Ghost Whisperers 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). Check prices: Mountain Hardwear | Mountain Hardwear Canada | REI
Stasher Reusable Silicone Bags
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 months 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. Also, apparently they are ok at high temperatures so you can even use them to reheat dehydrated meals, but I haven’t tried that yet. They come in a bunch of sizes too, making them awesome eco-friendly gifts for hikers and backpackers. Check prices: REI | MEC
YETI Rambler Tumbler Reusable Mug
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. Check prices: REI | MEC
Theo Organic and Fair Trade Chocolate
Chocolate is one of my favourite hiking snacks. But the chocolate industry has been plagued with unethical labour practices and unsustainable farming. Theo Chocolate is aiming to change that. All their chocolate is certified Fair Trade, Organic and non-GMO. It’s also amazingly delicious. My favourite is their almond butter cups. I’m allergic to peanuts so I’ve always felt I was missing out in the peanut butter cup mania. Now I can join in! Check prices: REI
Swedish FireSteel Fire Starter
Most campers start their stove with a disposable lighter made of plastic. After it’s empty, they throw it away and get another one. It creates a lot of waste. My husband introduced me to the concept of FireSteel when we first met and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s a magnesium rod that you strike to produce a spark. Each little FireSteel works for over 12,000 strikes. That would be a lot of lighters! It works when it’s wet too. Check prices: REI | MEC
Klean Kanteen Reusable Straws
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. Check prices: REI | MEC
Humangear GoToob Refillable 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? Check prices: REI | MEC
Buff Multifunctional Headwear
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. Check prices: REI | MEC
Bees Wax Food Wraps
These reusable 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 bear print on these is super-cute! I also love that they have a dedicated sandwich size that has a little button and string closure. Check prices: REI | MEC
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.
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.
More Gift Ideas for Hikers:
- 25 Stocking Stuffers for Hikers Under $25 (That are Totally Useful)
- Best Gifts for Snowshoers (20+ Ideas)
- Black Friday and Boxing Day Deals for Hikers and Backpackers
More Gear Advice
- 17 Ways to Save Money on Hiking Gear
- Which Women’s Hiking Gear is Actually Worth Buying?
- Women’s Plus Size Hiking Clothes: The Best Brands and Where to Find Them
- Gear I Use: My Gear Recommendations
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