Gifts For The Hikers In Your LIfe

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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.  

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.  

Maps

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
Osprey Ultralight MapWrap map case Waterproof welded seams Clear window attachment points ⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
AquaQuest Trail Map Case 100% Waterproof Document Dry Bag Holder with Clear Window & Lanyard ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check
SealLine Map Case Built Tough: 12 oz. vinyl stands up to heavy abuse. Versatile: D-rings for easy attachment to kayak, canoe, handlebars or backpack. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check

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
Garmin GPSMAP 64st TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver Expanded Internal Memory 8GB. ⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Garmin eTrex 30x 010-01508-10 Handheld Navigator Features a 2.2” 65K color sunglight readable display Large 3.7 GB of internal memory and microSD card slot lets you load a variety of maps ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check
Garmin Inreach Explorer+ 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 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check

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
Suunto A30 Compass Good for beginners, but fixed declination correction not best for more technical or longer hiking ⭐⭐⭐ $$ Check
Suunto M-3 The Suunto M-3 series comes in D or G. Both have adjustable declension, but G has a global needle to hike anywhere. The slightly cheaper D version is only set for hiking in Northern hemisphere ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check
Suunto® MC2G Navigator Compass with Global Needle Metric Mirrored top of the line compass features adjustable declination and global needle so you can hike anywhere in the world ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check

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
Suunto Traverse Best Value Excellent Battery Life Great GPS for both speed and accuracy (with breadcrumb trail) Rechargeable ion battery ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check
Garmin Fenix 5 GPS Enabled with bread crumbs and up to 1000 points of interest Customizable Wi-fi enabled and syncs with smart phone Rated well for battery life ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
CASIO Smart Watch WSD-F20 Protrek Smart Adroid Wear 2.0 smart watch. Touch screen, dual layer LCD screen. NOT COMPATIBLE WITH iOS/Apple products ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check

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
Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat Made in USA Certified UPF 50+, 98% blockage of harmful UVA/UVB radiation Lifetime guarantee ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Sunday Afternoons Unisex Ultra-Adventure Hat UPF 50+ sun Rating Ventilation Sunglass lock keeps glasses in place Wicking sweatband ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hats Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection Omni-wick sweatband and mesh adjustable chin strap ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check

Best Hiking Sunglasses

Again, a good pair of sunglasses makes a great gift for hikers.  While it may be tempting to buy just any pair of sunglasses, trust us when we say not all sunglasses are created equally.   I have the privilege of being married to an  eye doctor so I have heard a thing or two about protecting your eyes from the sun.  Our favorite sunglasses for hiking are Maui Jim and Costa.  These brands offer full UV coverage, comfort, and excellent polarized lenses for maximum visibility.  A third option that we love for their unique ability to float in the water if dropped are the Amphibia Floating Sunglasses.  If you are interested in purchasing any of these frame lines directly from us, we can offer free shipping.  You can contact our office directly at (423) 323-3799 or visit Blountville Family Eyecare for more information.

Sunscreen

We have tried so many different brands of sunscreen due to the skin sensitivities and allergies in our family.  There is only ONE BRAND that has passed the test: Badger 

We love this stuff!  It does go on thick so use sparingly, but it works very well and no one in our house has had an adverse reaction to it as it’s natural and organic.

We also love their other products and recommend them as excellent gifts for the hiker in your life.

Hiking Clothes

Choosing comfortable hiking clothes is a must!  A hiker needs clothes that fit the trail, weather, and length of the hike.  Here are some great options for the base layer (the layer that touches the skin), outer layer, under garments, and hiking boots and shoes. 

Base Layer

The base layer is probably the most important layer to get right!  This is the layer that is touching the skin and may or may not have additional layers on top depending on weather.  A hiker needs this layer to wick moisture well, be cooling, durable, and if at all possible resist odors.  Avoid cotton for the base layer.

The one material that meets all of these requirements is Merino Wool.  This wool is nothing like the wool you probably remember as a kid!  It is non-itchy, very soft and flexible, and extremely odor resistant.

We recently switched our socks over to merino wool brand and love them even for daily wear!  I am pretty certain I will never go back to cotton.  We like both Smartwool brand and Farm to Feet.

Middle Layer

The middle layer is worn when the base layer isn’t sufficient and can consist of hoodies, fleece jackets, sweat pants, or other comfortable materials.  Again, wool is still also a good choice here. 

Outer Layer

Finally, for the truly dedicated rain or shine hiker, these outer layer options will be the perfect gift.  Layering is truly the key to a successful backpacking experience.  A great pair of snow pants, a coat, and gloves make wonderful gifts for hikers. 

Best Hiking Boots and Shoes

On to a crucial component in a hiker’s gear: The Best Hiking Boots!  Again, the choice here has to do with the type of hike and it can be difficult to purchase a hiking shoe or boot for a friend, but if you know your hiker well, here are a few of our favorite brands.  If you happen to have a hiker with a wide foot and in need of a hiking shoe with a wide toe box, check out our complete review of Wide Toe Box Shoes and Boots.

Name Image Type Our Rating Budget Price
Salomon Women's Quest 4D 3 GTX Hiking Boot Waterproof Backpacking Boot/ *Consistently rated high by those with wide feet ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check
Salomon Men's Quest 4D 3 GTX Hiking Boot Waterproof Backpacking Boot ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check
Salomon Women's X Ultra Prime CS Waterproof W Hiking Shoe Low Top Trail Shoe ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$ Check
Salomon Men's XA Pro 3D Wide Trail-Runners Low Top Trail Shoe ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check
Vasque Women's Breeze III GTX Waterproof Hiking Boot Backpacking Boot ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check
VASQUE Men's Breeze III GTX Hiking Boots Backpacking Boot ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check
KEEN Women's Targhee Mid WP Hiking Boot Hiking Hight Top Boot ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check
KEEN Men's Targhee Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot Hiking Hight Top Boot ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check
Merrell Women's Moab 2 Mid GTX Hiking Boot Mid Top Hiking Boot ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Merrell Men's Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Hiking Boot Mid Top Hiking Boot ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Xero Shoes Daylite Hiker- Women's Minimalist Zero-Drop Lightweight Barefoot-Inspired ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Xero Shoes Daylite Hiker- Men's Minimalist Zero-Drop Lightweight Barefoot-Inspired ⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Oboz Women's Sawtooth Low BDry Hiking Shoe Low top Trail Shoe ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
Lowa Men's Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boot Mid Waterproof Hiking Bootd ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check

Lighting

Let’s talk about lighting!  A hiker needs a few different sources for lighting. Headlamps are ideal for a backpacker as it leaves the hands free, but when setting up camp and in the case of emergencies, flashlights and portable lanterns have their place as well. 

Best and Brightest Headlamps

Headlamps are surprisingly affordable considering the improvements made with technology.  Here are three of top rated and  most reviewed headlamps on Amazon.  The MS Force Headlamp was the most expensive we reviewed, but the reviews are overwhelmingly positive especially with regard to the value of the light that it puts out.

Name Image Description Reviews Budget Price
SmarterLife | LED Headlight with CREE Technology CREE Technology 6 light modes lightweight Water resistent Good light, but a few complaints with regard to comfort ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$ Check
MS Force 6000 Lumen LED Rechargeable headlight 6000 Lumens rated well for brightness! Extremely bright according to some reviewers. Battery life a bit short and some reviews question the "waterproof" claim ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check
Lighting EVER LE Headlamp LED Very affordable Takes AAA batteries Over 6000 reviews and still rated 4 star ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $ Check

Best Tactical Flashlights

Tactical flashlights are great for camping and hiking.  No one wants to think about being in a dangerous situation on the trail, but it is a necessary part of preparing for overnight hiking and backpacking. Having a tactical flashlight can be extremely helpful in a potentially dangerous situation, not to mention, they are well built and handy flashlights to own.  They  have a tail activated switch making them easy to turn on, the extremely bright LED light can aid in momentarily blinding an aggressor, and helping you find anything else you might need in the pitch dark of the night.  One of these tactical flashlights should make a great gift for the hikers and campers in your life. 

Name Image Description Reviews Budget Price
Nitecore MH25GT Tactical Flashlight 1000 Lumens Long Range Rechargeable ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$ Check
ThruNite TN12 2016 XP-L Cool White EDC LED Flashlight 1100 lumens Compact and easy to carry Affordable ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check
Fenix PD35TAC (PD35 Tactical) 1000 Lumens XP-L LED Flashlight 1000 Lumens USB Rechargeable Battery Lightweight and Compact ⭐⭐⭐⭐ $$$$$ Check