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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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.
|Osprey Ultralight MapWrap map case||Waterproof welded seams|
|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.
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.”
|Garmin GPSMAP 64st||TOPO U.S. 100K with High-Sensitivity GPS and GLONASS Receiver|
Expanded Internal Memory 8GB.
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
|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
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
- Orienting arrows and lines
Extra and advanced features include:
- Magnifying lens
- Luminescent indicators
- Declination adjustment
- Sighting mirror
- 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.
|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.
|Suunto Traverse||Best Value|
Excellent Battery Life
Great GPS for both speed and accuracy (with breadcrumb trail)
Rechargeable ion battery
|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
|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|
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.
|Tilley Endurables LTM6 Airflo Hat||Made in USA|
Certified UPF 50+, 98% blockage of harmful UVA/UVB radiation
|Sunday Afternoons Unisex Ultra-Adventure Hat||UPF 50+ sun Rating|
Sunglass lock keeps glasses in place
|Columbia Sportswear Bora Bora Booney II Sun Hats||Omni-Shade UPF 50 sun protection|
Omni-wick sweatband and mesh
adjustable chin strap
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.
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.
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, undergarments, and hiking boots and shoes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|SmarterLife | LED Headlight with CREE Technology||CREE Technology|
6 light modes
Good light, but a few complaints with regard to comfort
|NEWEST Ultra Bright Headlamp Flashlight,3 Modes High Lumen IPX4 Waterproof Zoomable with18650 USB Rechargeable,Cree Led Head Light for Hiking Camping Hunting||Very lightweight: Weighs only 12oz Extremely suitable for women, very long battery life, zoomable and rotatable||⭐⭐⭐⭐||$$$$$||Check|
LE Headlamp LED
Takes AAA batteries
Over 6000 reviews and still rated 4 star
Best Tactical Flashlights
Tactical flashlights are great for camping and hiking. No one wants to think about being in a dangerous situation on the trail, but it is a necessary part of preparing for overnight hiking and backpacking. Having a tactical flashlight can be extremely helpful in a potentially dangerous situation, not to mention, they are well built and handy flashlights to own. They have a tail activated switch making them easy to turn on, the extremely bright LED light can aid in momentarily blinding an aggressor, and helping you find anything else you might need in the pitch dark of the night. One of these tactical flashlights should make a great gift for the hikers and campers in your life.
|Nitecore MH25GT Tactical Flashlight||1000 Lumens|
|ThruNite TN12 2016 XP-L Cool White EDC LED Flashlight||1100 lumens|
Compact and easy to carry
|Fenix PD35TAC (PD35 Tactical) 1000 Lumens XP-L LED Flashlight||1000 Lumens|
USB Rechargeable Battery
Lightweight and Compact
Best Camping Lanterns
Finding a portable (and packable) lightweight camping lantern can be a challenge, but thanks to technological advancements there are some options. Here are our picks for best camping lanterns for hikers.
Best Camping Lanterns
|BioLite BaseLantern Lantern and Power Bank||This 500 Lumen Ultra-packable lantern has Bluetooth control, rechargeable battery, and can be used to charge your gear||⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐||$$$$||Check|
|Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern and USB Power Hub||400 Lumens can be used to charge your gear. Solar rechargeable. Lightweight||⭐⭐⭐⭐||$$$||Check|
|MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 – Inflatable Solar Light||The extremely lightweight (4.4 ounces) MPowerd Luci light is solar powered and will last for up to 18 hours. Perfect for hiking and backpacking. Very affordable.||⭐⭐⭐⭐||$$$$$||Check|
First Aid Kits For Hiking
For the mac daddy of all First Aid Kits, we recommend the Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Series Grizzly First Aid Kit. This kit has everything a serious hiker needs including wound care, fracture and sprain care, and hospital quality first aid supplies for up to 14 people. If you are looking for something a little less robust, we recommend either the Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Daytripper or the Adventure Medical Kits Adventure First Aid 2.0 Kit
|Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Series Grizzly First Aid Kit.||WEIGHT: 1 LB|
Fully equipped first aid for 14 days for up to 14 people. This is for the longer through hiking scenario.
|Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Daytripper||WEIGHT: 15 oz|
Designed for fast and daylong hikes or ambitious overnights for up to 5 people has wound care supplies & same premium features as larger Mountain Series
|Adventure Medical Kits Adventure First Aid 2.0 Kit||WEIGHT: 1 LB|
Perfect day trip first aid kit for families. Supplies for up to 4 people,lightweight, organized by injury,
Fire Starters For Backpackers and Hikers
Firestarters and waterproof matches make great gifts for backpackers. Hikers and backpackers also need containers to keep their fire starters and matches dry.
Having a good camping knife or a multi-tool on the trail is very helpful. A good camping knife will be a multipurpose and should have a fold out blade, a flathead screwdriver, scissors, and for extra luxury, a can opener.
Additionally, depending on the type of gear the hiker is carrying, they may need a repair kit for their tent or air mattress. It is often recommended that a hiker put duct tape around their trekking poles and water bottles as well for “fix it” needs out on the trail.
The Leatherman multi-tool is a perfect gift for a hiker.
For a top of the line option consider the Leatherman – Charge Plus TTi Multitool, Stainless Steel with 19 tools. The hiker with this Leatherman will be the go to fix it man on the trail.
The Leatherman – Rebar Multitool, Stainless Steel with Leather Sheath with 17 tools and lightweight of only 7 oz and the Leatherman – Wingman Multitool, Stainless Steel are also great options and have everything a hiker needs.
|Leatherman – Charge Plus TTi Multitool, Stainless Steel||WEIGHT: 12.6 oz and|
The Charge TTi Plus only requires one hand to open and use all the tools, even the ones that aren’t accessible from the outside
|Leatherman – Rebar Multitool, Stainless Steel with Leather Sheath||WEIGHT: 6.7 oz|
and 17 tools
|Leatherman – Wingman Multitool, Stainless Steel||WEIGHT: 6.9 oz|
and 14 tools Stainless Steel. Has over 2300 reviews with a 4.6 star rating. This is our pick for best value and high rating
Best Hiking Snacks
Well, we finally made it to something every hiker loves and always needs in their pack! Hiking snacks!! What better gift for a hiker, than to fill up his pack with his favorite snacks.
For the serious backpacker, it is crucial to carry at least an extra day’s worth of food.
I have to say, though, my favorite snack comments were those that said they always carried Skittles and Chocolate. Of course, this wouldn’t fit my low carb lifestyle, but sometimes you deserve a reward after a difficult summit. Am I right?
In fact, in our 9 Best Tips for Hiking with Kids, our outdoor bloggers overwhelmingly mentioned Skittles as the snack of choice to motivate their kids on the trail!
Another fun option and perfect gift for your hiker might be one of these “Hangry Kits”
Water, of course is crucial! We recently purchased some CamelBak Mini-Mules for our kids and it made a huge difference in their ability to go further and hike longer.
Our Hike With CamelBak Mini Mule
Check out this article on the best water bottles for travel for more hydration gift ideas.
This last aspect of the Ten Essentials is targeted toward the day hiker. Backpackers, of course, will need shelter, but for the purposes of this article, we are listing shelter needed by a day hiker in an emergency situation.
Other Gifts Beyond the Ten Essentials
If you still need a few ideas for a gift for the hiker in your life, here are a few more items they might appreciate.
Better yet…why not buy them the whole back pack!
There are so many great gear ideas out there for the hiker in your life. This list only scratches the surface, but we hope that this list of gifts for hikers will help you find the perfect gift for the hiker in your life.
Here’s a great guide on the best camping coolers for those hikers who enjoy camping as well.
Don’t forget all those electronic devices will need charging from time to time. Here’s a great guide for the top portable chargers in 2018.
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