Looking for gifts for the hikers in your life?

What better way to make a decision about the best gifts for hikers than to ask a hiker what they consider essential?

We surveyed a group of hikers to find out what they considered essential gear, then we put together this list of more than 100 Gift Ideas for Hikers based on their answers and the “Ten Essentials” list for hiking.  

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Navigational Tools

The first thing to consider on the list of Ten Essentials are your navigational tools.  This includes both paper and electronic maps, compasses, altimeters, and hiking watches.  


Every hiker knows that out on the trail, we can’t always rely on “google maps” to get us through.  It is important to have good old fashioned paper maps in addition to any downloaded maps from apps and other programs.  Of course, these maps would need to be purchased if you know the exact hiking trail your hiker is planning to hike.  You can find various maps here on Amazon.

However, it is also important to protect the maps with a cover.  If you are looking for a gift for hikers under $25, then consider purchasing them a nice map case to protect their maps on the trail.

The highest rated and actually most economical map case we reviewed, is the  SealLine map case.   Osprey also makes a map wrap which rolls up nicely with convenient attachment points.  The Aqua Quest  map case is 100% Waterproof with a clear window and Lanyard for convenience and is great for larger sized maps. 

Name Image Description Reviews Budget Price
Waterproof welded seams Clear window attachment points
100% Waterproof Document Dry Bag Holder with Clear Window & Lanyard
Built Tough: 12 oz. vinyl stands up to heavy abuse. Versatile: D-rings for easy attachment to kayak, canoe, handlebars or backpack.

Handheld GPS For Hiking

An invaluable gift for a hiker is a handheld GPS.  Of course, who knows GPS better than Garmin?  The Garmin GPSMAP 64st has overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon.  However, a few reviewers did prefer the older model (Garmin 60csx) siting complaints that the topographical map and the battery life are not as good. The more economical Garmin eTrex 30x Handheld Navigator received high marks as a replacement for the older Garmin 60CSX with the ability to add a larger micro SD card and a battery life of almost 24 hours.  Finally, if you want a handheld GPS that does it all, consider getting the hiker in your life the new Garmin Inreach Explorer+.  One reviewer says it all about this all in one two way texting and handheld GPS device,

“In a single device you have the ability to accurately locate yourself on a topo map, move to any other location on the map and drop a waypoint and the inReach will draw a straight line route to follow via the map or the built in compass. All the while you are aware of the terrain over which you must travel.”

Name Image Description Reviews Budget Price
TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver Expanded Internal Memory 8GB.
Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight readable display Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps
100% global iridium satellite coverage enables 2-way text Messaging from anywhere (satellite subscription required) Inreach Explorer+ Device adds preloaded delorme topo maps with onscreen GPS routing Plus built-in digital compass

Best Compasses for hiking

Just as it’s still important to have a paper map despite all the technological gadgets a hiker can take with him, it’s still important to carry a good compass.  The adage goes, “never trust your life to a battery”.   There are some basic features that every trail compass should have.  After the basics, there are a few other features to consider adding depending on the trail’s location in the world.

Every compass should have

  • Magnetized needle
  • Rotating bezel
  • Baseplate
  • Orienting arrows and lines

Extra and advanced features include:

  • Magnifying lens
  • Luminescent indicators
  • Declination adjustment
  • Sighting mirror
  • Clinometer
  • Global needle

Price ranges vary due to features and sometimes build of the compass.  Keep in mind that a true compass doesn’t need to be fancy or cute, it needs to function!  Here are the top compasses for hiking that we found based on recommendations from REI and reviews on Amazon.

The Suunto A30 Compass is the most basic beginner compass.  Complaints from reviewers included that the declination is fixed and that the compass easily breaks if dropped.  This compass may be a good option for a child or a beginner, but is probably not the best choice for the more experienced hiker.

The next level up would be the Suunto M-3 D/G models.  Moving up to this level adds the adjustable declination.  The D model needle is only for hiking in the northern hemisphere and is slightly less expensive.  The G model also has adjustable declension and same basic features of the A30 and M-3 D models, but has the added benefit of having a globally balanced needle allowing hikers to navigate any trail in the world.

Finally, the top of the line mirrored Suunto MC2-G compass, has all of the features of the above models including the globally balanced needle, but has the addition of a mirror for complete accuracy when taking your bearings.

Name Image Description Reviews Budget Price
Good for beginners, but fixed declination correction not best for more technical or longer hiking
The Suunto M-3 series comes in D or G. Both have adjustable declension, but G has a global needle to hike anywhere. The slightly cheaper D version is only set for hiking in Northern hemisphere
Mirrored top of the line compass features adjustable declination and global needle so you can hike anywhere in the world

Best Hiking Watches with Altimeters

If you really want to give the serious hiker in your life an amazing gift, consider getting them one of these hiking watches with altimeters.  Having a hiking watch with an altimeter adds that extra layer to navigation and enables the hiker to traverse both on and off trail with certainty.  Using a topographical map and an altimeter watch, the hiker can determine their exact location by checking their elevation and comparing that to the elevation point on the map. It can also help a hiker who leaves a trail to navigate along  a compass bearing.  Utilizing the altimeter watch, a hiker can quickly assess whether they have lost too much elevation and thereby are off course and can quickly make the necessary corrections. The Suunto Traverse comes in 1st place for packing the best punch for the value. It is highly rated for it’s rapid GPS connectivity, battery life, accuracy, and price tag.  The Garmin Fenix 5 is everything you expect from Garmin in terms of navigation and GPS complete with breadcrumb tracking and ability to add in up to 1000 points of interest.  It is very customizable and great for those also into fitness with it’s heart rate technology.  The Casio Smart Watch WSD-F20 Android Wear 2.0 smart watch is a comparable option to the Garmin in the same price point.  The Casio is only compatible with Android devices and the battery life is only about 2 days compared to 2 weeks with the Garmin. However, both watches battery life goes to around 24 hours with GPS turned on.
Name Image Description Reviews Budget Price
Best Value Excellent Battery Life Great GPS for both speed and accuracy (with breadcrumb trail) Rechargeable ion battery
GPS Enabled with bread crumbs and up to 1000 points of interest Customizable Wi-fi enabled and syncs with smart phone Rated well for battery life
Adroid Wear 2.0 smart watch. Touch screen, dual layer LCD screen. NOT COMPATIBLE WITH iOS/Apple products

Sun Protection

This essential is a perfect place to find a gift for hikers.  Everyone needs a good sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen when they are going to be out of doors for extended periods of time.  Here are a few of our suggestions for sun protective gifts for hikers. 

Best Hiking Sun Hat

A good hiking sun hat is an invaluable tool for a hiker.  It’s important to find a sun hat that is comfortable, not too hot, and provides adequate protection from the sun and other outdoor elements.  If the hiking hat chosen doesn’t meet these requirements, it won’t be worn and the hiker won’t be protected.  Here are a few of the best hiking hats on the market. The Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo hat is one of the best rated sun hats on the market.  It receives high marks for durability, air flow, and fit.  We can recommend no better hiking hat. The Sunday Afternoons Unisex Ultra-Adventure Hat gets high marks for being lightweight and comfortable, however, a few reviewers found it wasn’t great for high wind conditions. The Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hats is the least expensive of our three hiking sun hat recommendations, however, the Columbia has an overwhelming number of positive reviews and would be an excellent choice if you are in the market for a hiking sun hat that is under $30.

Name Image Description Reviews Budget Price
Made in USA Certified UPF 50+, 98% blockage of harmful UVA/UVB radiation Lifetime guarantee
UPF 50+ sun Rating Ventilation Sunglass lock keeps glasses in place Wicking sweatband
Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection Omni-wick sweatband and mesh adjustable chin strap