Post Summary: Best Gifts For Backpackers
It’s not a secret that we love backpacking. The fresh mountain air, epic sunsets, and good company make summer in the Pacific Northwest hard to beat!
During the holiday season when we’re yearning to be back on the trails, backpacking gifts are always top of our Christmas lists!
If you’ve got a a backpacking lover in your life too, we’ve rounded up the best gifts for backpackers right here. This is a solid combination of things we love, highly reviewed products, and some essential staples for practically everyone!
The Best Gifts For Backpackers in 2023
How To Choose Backpacking Gifts
Before buying gifts for your adventure-loving person, it’s important to ask a few questions before hitting “add to cart.” Here are some things to consider when purchasing gifts for backpackers:
What is their preferred type of adventure? Are they traveling the world? Backpacking through cities? Strictly doing backcountry, remote adventures? It’s not practical to buy a warm jacket for someone going to southeast Asia, or vice versa.
What is your gift budget? Determine how much you want to spend. Are they close to you? An acquaintance? Keep scrolling, because we also share the best budget gifts for backpackers below!
What gear do they already own? Before purchasing, make note of items they already have. It doesn’t make much sense to purchase a water filter or backpack if they already have one they love!
Where in the world do they backpack? Are they backpacking int the desert? The rainforest of the Pacific Northwest? Alpine environments? Some places require very specific gear – it’s important to know where they are going before purchasing any gifts!
Best Gifts For Backpackers (Most Popular)
There comes a time in every backpacking journey that they venture from cotton tee, to merino wool…and never look back.
Ibex Merino wool tees are superior in every way, from the color selection to durability. They even keep you smelling fresh, even after a week in the backcountry!
Every backpacker should have a reliable head torch. The Black Diamond Spot 400 Headlamp is award-winning, and one of the best selling headlamps at REI.
The long battery life, powerful beam, and great value make it an easy gift to add to your shopping cart!
The number one complaint from backpackers? Not having a comfy place to sit during meals! The Helinox Chair Zero is one of the top rated backpacking chairs at REI, because its durable, lightweight, and weighs just one pound!
We recently went on a camping trip with one of these chairs, and all of us fought over one chair that whole time!
The Katadyn BeFree water filter has easily become our go-to water filtration system. It’s easy to use, packs down really small, and can double as an extra water bottle in a pinch.
Nowadays, cell phones are used in the outdoors for all kinds of practical reasons. From navigating via GPS, using a compass, to snapping photos on the trail, it’s important to have power in the backcountry.
A power bank is one of the most useful gifts for backpackers. The Goal Zero Flip 36 has enough juice to charge a phone 3 times, which can last for a 1-week backpacking trip.
Do you have a national park lover in your life? The American the Beautiful Pass gives an entire vehicle access for 1 year to all the national parks in the United States. It also gives access to national forests, and other federal lands.
National park entrance averages about $25-$30 per visit, so if you plan to visit at least 3 parks within the year, the pass already pays for itself!
For the avid backpacker, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xtherm sleeping pad is the perfect gift. It packs down to roughly the size of a Nalgene water bottle, and weighs less than a pound.
This sleeping pad has an R-Value of 6.9 meaning it can handle winter camping trips and keep you warm with its radiant heat technology.
Want something a little cheaper? The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite is about $50 cheaper and not as warm, but that’s fine if you’re not planning to camp in the snow anyway.
One of the most highly reviewed and rated trekking poles for backpackers are the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork trekking poles.
They have an extremely durable carbon shaft, comfy cork grips, and pack down super small. You can even use them for backcountry ski poles and snowshoeing poles for winter sports.
During backpacking trips, there can be a lot of downtime. Instead of packing a bulky and heavy book, get a Kindle Paperwhite eReader instead!
The newest versions of the kindle have up to 10 weeks of battery life (!!!), are waterproof, and can hold thousands of books.
This is a super versatile gift for all travelers too.
Of everything on this list, the Garmin inReach Mini is probably one of the best gifts for backpackers. It’s a satellite communicator that they can use to keep in touch with their loved ones, even in the most remote locations.
It’s on the pricier side we know, however the peace of mind that comes with knowing they are safe it with the investment for years to come.
Sure, you can construct a bear hang in a tree with rope, but that method can be time consuming and tricky. Use a bear canister instead!
Yes, not only is it one of the best budget tents on the market, it’s also our all-time favorite! The REI Half Dome SL2+ tent is the perfect roomy tent for 2 people plus gear. It’s also one of the best selling tents at REI, with great reviews!
We love the bright orange color because it stands out against the evergreen hues of our beloved Pacific Northwest.
Give the gift that keeps on giving. The Patagonia Down Sweater is a staple favorite among the backpacking community.
This lightweight, windproof, and sustainably sourced down material will keep you warm during those shoulder season backpacking trips.
Looking for a cheaper option? The REI 650 down jackets are highly rated, come in tons of colors, and are more budget-friendly jackets for backpackers.
Practical and Useful Gifts For Backpackers
Know a backpacker who has everything already? Chances are, they have some gear that periodically needs replacing. Here are some backpacking essentials gifts for usefulness!
Gone are the days of bulky, chunky gloves. The Smartwool Tech Compatible liner gloves are lightweight for nimble fingers, but warm enough for long-term wear.
I’ve personally had my own pair for over 5 years, so they definitely stand the test of time in everyday winter wear!
Are they an avid photographer when out on the trails? The Peak Design Capture Camera Clip is one of the most unique gifts for backpackers!
This useful piece of gear makes it easy to hook your camera onto your backpack strap. It means their camera will be accessible in a split second for those unexpected circumstances!
This is one of the those essential backpacking items that every adventurer should carry.
This classic design has a ton of tools in one – a blade, screwdriver, scissors, and even tweezers to name a few!
Yes, we know that socks sound like a gift your grandma would give, but these socks are actually SO useful! Wool socks can take a ton of wear and tear, so gifting your backpacker friend a pair of these Darn Tough socks will be much appreciated!
Sure, they can sleep with clothes underneath their head, but why suffer when you can get them a Sea To Summit ultralight pillow instead?
These pack to smaller than a fist size, and basically weight almost nothing (2 ounces) so you can add tons of comfort without sacrificing pack weight.
Is it magic or simply good gear design? Ever since I started hiking with Injinji sock liners, blisters have been few and far between.
The toe sock design looks a little funny, but you’re friends won’t be laughing for long when you’re the only one without blisters post-hike!
For the avid and frequent backpacker, pick them up a tub of backpacking meals! Our favorite are by Mountain House for easy to make backpacking dinners. Buy a variety tub to last them all season long!
Dry bags are so useful for backpacking trips in a variety of ways. Use them to store things like electronics from getting wet, pack food, or keeping clothes organized on the trail.
These Sea To Summit dry bags come in multiple sizes and the clear window helps you easily see what’s inside.
Day packs are essential for backpacking trips – especially if you want to leave times at camp but still have a bag to hold some day hiking items.
Yeah right, underwear for Christmas? Yes it might seen unconventional, but this is the best underwear for backpackers on the market!
Merino wool is breathable, naturally anti-microbial, and super soft for comfortable wear. Trust us, the backpacker in your life with thank you for these Ibex natural boxer briefs!
This multifunction cover from Buff serves as a headband, mask, balaclava, neck gaiter, and more! The possibilities are endless, making it one of the most useful clothing gifts for backpackers.
It seems that Carhartt is getting popular with a larger crowd these days, especially among the outdoor community!
These beanies are warm, functional, and practical. They also come in TONS of colors, perfect for customizing your gift!
Raise your hand if you hate wet socks. (literally everyone)
These low gaiters by Outdoor Research keep snow, mud, and rain off your boots in wet climates. The 420 nylon packcloth makes them durable, and the sleek design makes them easy to take on and off.
Best gifts for Ultralight Backpackers
A sun shade, sweat wicking layer, and light layer all in one! No need to pack a ton of bulky clothing items. Save space and bring the Ibex Men’s Indie Hoodie.
This jacket has a scuba hood that can be worn under helmets, and there’s quarter zip for easy ventilation too.
The Luci light by MPOWERD is a solar lantern that packs down super small.
It’s functional enough for regular camping trips, but shines best (get it? haha) on backpacking trips because it’s lightweight and rechargeable!
Weighing only 3 ounces, this is one of the best gifts for ultralight backpackers that will help keep them safe in the backcountry!
The Sawyer Squeeze water filter removes 99.99999% (yes, that’s a real percentage) which means you don’t have to worry about getting sick from bacteria or protozoa!
The adapter allows you to attach it to a water bottle, squeeze pouch, or even your water reservoir for a simple, no-wait method for water filtration.
The Ultralight 0.5 Adventure Medical Kit provides the perfect balance of safety, weight, and functionality.
We find it funny that this lightweight mug is actually a luxury gift for backpackers!
The Snow Peak 450 Cup is made of titanium, meaning it retains heat for a long time and is extremely light.
The handles can fold too, to easily hook on the outside of your pack or shove into a small space.
Of all the backpacking stoves you can buy, the MSR PocketRocket 2 Stove is by far one of the best gifts for ultralight backpackers.
It’s easy to use, small enough to fit in a mug, and has a pressure regulator for a consistent and reliable flame.
Microfiber towels are lightweight, fast-drying, and perfect gifts for ultralight backpackers.
These ones by Packtowl are multipurpose too and can be used as a shower towel, yoga mat, camp mat, and even a shade cover in a pinch!
We’ve owned this backpacking sleeping pad for years and still absolutely love it!
The construction of this pad means it pack down SUPER small, making it an excellent sleeping pad for ultralight backpackers.
It’s heat reflective, has an R-value of 4.5, and comes with a stuff sack for easy inflating.
Don’t bother with bulky, leak-prone bottles anymore. These shampoo and conditioner bars smell nice, are eco-friendly, and get smaller and small over time.
New to showering outside? Read our camping hygiene guide to find the right source of water for the most sustainable outdoor shower!
These super-lightweight sandals make the perfect gift for ultralight backpacking!
The Xero Genesis sandals replicate a barefoot-like feel, giving you loads of natural comfort.
Best Gifts for Backpackers Under $25
Looking for some easy backpacking stocking stuffers? We made an entire blog post dedicated to outdoor gifts under $25, but these ones here are backpacking specific.
Whether you are on a budget or just want some small items to give, here are inexpensive backpacking gifts to give the intrepid traveler in your life.
Sometimes, those dehydrated meals bags are deep, meaning you have to work hard to get a regular spoon at the bottom!
The Sea To Summit Long Spoon is a simple, yet highly coveted piece of backpacking gear.
We know people who guard their spoon as if it were the most valuable item they own, and we agree. There’s not way we go on any backpacking trips without it!
In our opinion, this is one of the best backpacking coffee mugs on the market. YETI’s double-walled vacuum insulated body keeps your hot thing hot and cold things cold!
Its larger size means it can actually serve many purposes, like doubling as a bowl! Use for things like coffee and tea, to morning oatmeal, and even soup!
The filters anchor on to any size coffee mug, and you can enjoy high quality coffee in even the most remote locations.
We buy these buy the boxes for the summer season!
No one knows what they need better than themselves, so if you are stumped as to what backpacking gifts to give, just get an REI card instead!
A trail chair is often overlooked, but highly valued when actually on the trail! We’ve used the Therm-a-Rest Z Seat for years, and it’s been a staple in every backpacking trip.
The seat version (version the full sleeping pad version) folds up super small, provides ample protection on rough surfaces, and can be used for more than backpacking too.Think concerts, festivals, skiing, camping, and more!
This is such a simple tool that makes a HUGE difference on a backpacking trip. A sturdy backcountry trowel is essential on any overnight trek to practice proper Leave No Trace practices.
The Tent Lab’s The Deuce Trowel is made of aluminum so it digs better than its flimsy plastic counterparts. It also weighs practically nothing (0.6 oz).
We love a good piece of multi-functional backpacking gear! This whistle also includes a compass, magnifier, and two-scale thermometer for tons of function in one little tool.
It clips easily onto any backpack, and comes in bright colors for easy locating in an emergency.
know someone who loves journaling on the trail? Rite in the Rain top spiral notebooks are tough enough to survive the most terrible backpacking conditions.
Rain, mud, and sweat won’t bother this extra tough paper. You can write in this notebook rain or shine, so you can keep your trail notes safe and sound!
It can be difficult to find a pair of good, affordable sunglasses that can take a beating in the outdoors. Goodr OG sunglasses come with polarized lenses with UV protection, and are great for everyday and trail wear.
They are especially great for trail runners, because they stay on your face better than most pairs!
We are HUGE on environmental sustainability, and the Kula Cloth is a great addition to any collection of eco-friendly backpacking gifts! It’s a reusable pee cloth for women, so you don’t have to use (and pack out) as much toilet paper.
One side is anti-microbial and the other is waterproof. Snap it on the outside of your pack to let it dry in the sun. You can also snap-fold it in half so the dirty side doesn’t touch anything else.
Small, cheap, but highly important when your gear rips on the trail! Gear Aid Tenacious Tape rolls are the perfect inexpensive gifts for backpackers. No matter how accident prone they are, it’s nice to have this easy repair tool on-hand.
With this tape, you can repair tents, down jackets, sleeping bags and more. This tape is highly durable and waterproof, so it can easily go through the wash without deteriorating.
Psst: These fun sticker repair patches make great outdoor gifts for kids too!
Make coffee brewing as easy as possible with the Sea To Summit X Brew Coffee Dripper.
It’s collapsible, easy to clean, and comes with its own built in filter so you can skip the paper ones.
The most Unique Gifts For Backpackers (Unexpected Surprises)
49. Rocky Talkie Radios
Climbers and mountaineers swear by Rocky Talkies. These two-way radios are perfect for an adventurous backpacking group, to keep lines of communication open at all times.
The battery life last 3-5 days on one single charge, and they have a range of anywhere between 1-5 miles depending on the terrain.
When looking for a camera to gift a backpacker, the GoPro Hero 10 should be your first choice. This compact camera takes impressive footage, has a long batter life, durable, and is easy to pack.
You can also add accessories to fit your filming needs. From extreme sports to daily travel vlogs, this camera can do it all and sync to your phone with ease!
When gourmet meals and sustainably sourced food come together, you get Patagonia Provisions! These delicious meal packets make it easy to enjoy luxury food in the backcountry.
From locally sourced jerky, fresh mussels, wild sockeye, salmon, and organic dried fruit, these gift sets are an absolute treat on any backpacking trip.
52. A Subscriptions to Hiking Apps
There are tons of incredible hiking apps on the market, and they each have their own unique features and tools.
Gaia GPS is one of the most popular ones for backpackers because it gives access to detailed maps, with layers like topography, territories, navigation, slope, and more.
Get your backpacking lover a yearly subscription for safe and secure hiking for the year! (And also check out even more epic hiking gifts!)
If they are a fan of the great outdoors, Backpacker Magazine has been a wealth of knowledge for enthusiasts since 1973. From gear reviews, helpful info, detailed guides, short stories, and more, it’s an issue they’ll look forward to every time.
Conveniently, you can subscribe on Kindle! Get an easy, paperless copy subscription on Amazon so they can read it on the go.
Taking photos in the backcountry has never been easier! This portable and flexible tripod comes with a remote, so you can finally take a picture of yourself with than epic backdrop!
You might also like: The 25 best gifts for photographers
Sometimes a long hiking day can be made a little better with a dash of whiskey. The Stanley Classic Flasks are an iconic style, perfect for backpacking trips or honestly any rugged outdoor adventure.
With an 800ml capacity, this air tight container can easily fit an entire bottle of wine! This makes it easy to pack some celebratory drinks for your next backpacking trip.
If you are wine lovers like us, you’re going to definitely need this wine preservation system for backcountry adventures!
Looking for a more luxury gifts for backpackers? This portable espresso maker fits easily in a backpack with its sleek and small vessel.
No batteries needed with this set. It’s all manual so you can pull some delicious coffee shots in the most remote of locations!
Did you like these gifts for backpackers? You might like these other outdoor gift guides too!