21 of the Best Gifts for Backpackers
We recently updated our epic list of best gifts for hikers in a previous post, but I thought it might be worth separating out some of the best gifts for backpackers as well. While many of the gifts that hikers would like are similar to some of the gifts that backpackers would like, there are some additional items that the backpacker in your life may love in addition to what we have on our hiking list. This list could be a beast, in fact, backpacking is one of those things I pride myself in knowing a lot about, but I’d like to keep this list a bit shorter for now… to really hone in on those extra special gift items. You’ll be pleased to know, that it is actually really easy to shop for the outdoor adventurerin your life. We are pretty rough on our gear, taking it out into the elements and pushing it to the limits, that eventually we need new gear, and we are never sad about testing out things we haven’t tried before. Perhaps it might be our next favorite item in our backpack.
So let me help you out. If you’ve got a friend, relative, or partner who really loves backpacking and you are feeling stumped on what to get them, I’m going to break out my backpacking gift ideas into a 4 different sections:
Gifts for backpackers under $25 (for those of you on a budget)
Best gifts for backpackers to keep them safe
Best backpacking essential gifts
Best “just for fun” backpacking gifts
In the end, don’t stress out too much. If your backpacking friend or family member is anything like me, we are easily pleased. We enjoy the simple things in life. We only want this kind of stuff to help our journey be a little bit more comfortable, and in the end we just want to spend more time outside. Heck, buy us a new set of wool socks and some larabars. We will still love you. Better yet, come backpacking with us. Let’s go on an adventure together…
That would be MY ultimate gift. :)
If you’ve read my best gifts for hikers posts, you may see a few repeats here, but only when they are truly great gifts for both the hiker and the backpacker.
gifts for Backpackers under $25
Please note: The below post contains affiliate links.
This stuff is the bomb, and such a simple, easy gift idea that is sure to please any outdoor enthusiast, AND it’s super affordable. Sometimes it's hard to let go of that perfect down jacket or hardshell that you love, but rips are inevitable in the outdoor world. I love this tape for patching up my favorite gear so that I can keep on wearing it. Also, I think it's great if people continue to try re-using their gear instead of automatically buying something new. This tape works great, and comes in some fun shapes too. I've patched up my mountaineering hardshell pants in several areas with this tape when I've gotten rips from my crampons, and fixed up my beloved down jacket when I accidentally burnt a small hole in it from my backpacking stove.
Nobody likes to talk about it, but to be a responsible backpacker you need to bury your human waste. The Deuce of Spades Trowel is a fantastic lightweight option, and inevitably a great gift idea for any responsible backpacker… and sort of a funny stocking stuffer I might add. When I went backpacking with my friends in Tuolumne a couple of months ago, all of my friend's trowel handles broke except for mine! Deuce of Spades backcountry trowel for the win!
I originally bought these glasses when I got into trail running. I couldn't find a pair of glasses that were comfortable and would stay on my face when I was running. These finally did the trick, and now I love wearing them backpacking too! They come in a bunch of great color options and the best part... they are only $25!
Ever backpacker needs lip balm, and I love this stuff. This makes a great stocking stuffer or add on to any backpacking gift. The Joshua Tree Lip Balm is organic with SPF 15.
Looking for a unique gift? This Piranha knife is super cool! In hiking and backpacking (and pretty much all outdoor sports) weight matters! Having lighter gear is better than heavier gear. The Trango Piranha Knife weighs almost nothing, but can cut through just about anything. It’s an awesome knife for adventures. It’s the only one I bring with me on backpacking trips, and its strong enough to cut through rope.
If you really can’t determine what gift ideas for backpackers might be best, it’s always safe to get them an REI Gift Card as backup. You can choose the amount and can even go as low as $10. It’s a great option if you really don’t know what to get them, or if they are the kind of person that seems like they “already own everything”. Trust me, I’ve never heard of any backpacker being sad about getting a gift card too REI. You can’t go wrong.
best gifts for Backpackers to keep them safe
I’m putting this in there for the mom or dad out there who wants to feel like their kid is safe when they venture into the backcountry. It’s a pricey item, I JUST bought one myself, but not because I didn’t need one earlier (I was just too cheap to invest in one). This, in my opinion, would be the ULTIMATE gift for any backpacker (or hiker or rock climber for that matter). I’ve loved having this thing with me when I hit the trails. In an emergency you can trigger an SOS for 24/7 search and rescue, if something horribly wrong happens while you are on the trail, but what is even cooler about this tiny device is that you can also have 2-way communication with the ones you love and send and receive messages while you are in the “dead" zone for cell service. The Garmin inReach mini also has the ability to send a constant tracking signal while you are on the trail, so you could actually have your family members check up on you while you are backpacking. Pretty rad.
Headlamps are essential to backpacking, and Petzl makes pretty much the best one’s I’ve tested so far to date. I pretty much don’t go anywhere without a headlamp. My Petzl headlamp has been going strong for over 3 years now. I was recently backpacking near Half Dome, and I ran into some hikers who looked lost. It was getting close to sunset, so I asked them if they needed any help. They told me they had just gotten down the cables from Half Dome and weren’t sure which way to head back to the trailhead. They didn’t have anything with them. No water filter, no jackets, and no headlamp. All they had was their phone flashlight, which definitely wouldn’t last them on the way back down. Don’t be this person, and don’t let your friends be them either. Make sure they have essentials like light!
Now This one is a new favorite of mine! I’ve been testing out some GPS Apps to find a more affordable GPS solution for my readers, and I’m LOVING the GAIA GPS App. Handheld GPS’s are up there on one of the most expensive items a hiker or backpacker can get for the backpacking gear arsenal, but what’s really cool is that there are a lot of great alternatives these days that can be pair up to your phone and used offline even at a fraction of the price. So far my favorite phone GPS app solution is the premium version of the GAIA GPS, which allows you to download maps in advance and take them offline into the backcountry. You can record your tracks, upload prior tracks, and so much more with this nifty phone App, and GAIA is offering a special discount to those who subscribe online through my link above, 20% off their normal prices. This is a great gift option for any backpacker.
The Sawyer Squeeze water filter is all the rage these days it seems with backpackers, particularly the ultralight community. Compared to pump filters, the sawyer squeeze is much lighter and more compact. This would make a great backpacking gift, particularly if your backpacking friend is new to the scene or is wanting to get into backpacking more.
Best Backpacking Essentials Gifts
11. DARN TOUGH SOCKS
You thought I was joking about the socks thing didn’t you? Socks may not be the sexiest gift out there, but man are they practical! Why are socks important? Having dry feet is one of the key ways to prevent getting blisters on a hike. So I guarantee you any backpacker will appreciate a good set of wool socks! I am a big fan of the Darn Tough Wool Socks, but you could also go for Smart Wool Socks. I like them both.
The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Stove is an awesome little ultralight backpacking stove and this kit with the camping stove pot, bowls, and utensils would make an awesome little backpacking gift set. I’m pretty much a fan of everything MSR, so you can’t go wrong with this brand. They make my favorite backpacking stove, the MSR reactor, and they make awesome snowshoes as well!
Patagonia is one of the best companies out there for outdoor gear. So if you are looking for good gifts for backpackers then this jacket is one that any friend or family member will be stoked to get! The down sweater jacket is the perfect down jacket for most summer, fall and spring backpacking trips, something every backpacker should have in their arsenal. I highlighted this as one of my “favorite” items as a backpacker, because I literally take this thing everywhere. A good down jacket is an essential piece to every backpackers layering system, something I highlight in my Outdoor Adventure Starter Kit Freebie, which you can grab below.
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Your backpacking friend might already have a sleeping pad, but the Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xtherm is one of those “upgrade” gifts. Its not a sleeping bag most backpackers will start with, simply due to the cost, but if you’re looking to give something extra special to your backpacker friend or family member, I highly recommend the XTherm. I've gone through a lot of sleeping pads in my day, and this one is by far my favorite. It meets all of my criteria. It's light weight and easy to pack. Its super comfortable (no body parts touch the ground), and it keep you super warm! When camping in the cold, this sleeping pad does great to keep you warm. It’s my go-to sleeping pad these days.
I love the black diamond trail pro shock trekking poles. Michael and I both have these. They have a set for women (blue) and men (red). I've owned a pair of cheaper trekking poles in the past and they break fairly easily. These are almost indestructible. I've been using the same pair for almost 5 years now, and still going strong. These would make an awesome gift!
I have a whole post that goes over essential day hiking gear. You can find it here if you want too get even more ideas.
Best “Just for Fun” Gifts for BACKPACKERS
This is a relatively new backpacking pillow out there, and I tested and reviewed it not too long ago in my PackPillow Gear Review post. Out of all the backpacking pillows I’ve tried in the past, I like this one the most. It is not only a backpacking pillow, but it also can be used as a daypack and a stuff sack, so it has multiple uses which is cool. This would be a pretty unique gift to get your backpacking friend, because its still fairly new to the market!
You guys already know by now that I’m a big fan of Patagonia, and I love everything over there at Patagonia Provisions too. These packable salmon packets are really delicious, and one of my new favorite items. They make several different flavors, and they now even have mussels. Best part though is they don’t need refrigeration (as long as you haven’t opened the package). They can be eaten as is or cooked. These are a bit more on the expensive side so I bet this would make a really unique gift for a hiker because it’s not something they may typically splurge on (as long as they like fish that is!). Patagonia provisions also has some other items as well such as jerky and soups, but I haven’t tried those yet!
It seems like we can do almost everything with our cell phone these days, including taking great photos on the trail. This is great because we can cut down the gear we need and get multiple uses from one item. This would make a fun gift or stocking stuffer for any backpacker who wants to up there iPhone photography game just a little bit more.
I use this little iPhone tripod all the time, and it’s great for hiking and backpacking. It has moldable legs so it can adapt to a variety of surfaces or even wrap around a tree or trekking pole. It’s been really handy for me, so I’m guessing your backpacking friends might love it too!
This book is awesome for teaching the principles of become and ultralight backpacker! I highly recommend it to any backpacker who is looking to bring his overall pack weight down and taking his or her backpacking game to the next level.
Last but definitely not least, a US National Parks Pass would be a REALLY AWESOME gift. The passes cost about $80, but they give you access to all sites managed by the Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation for a whole year. It’s worth the price if you or the backpacker you’re shopping for does a lot of outdoor backpacking and exploring in these areas. Otherwise entrance fees run about $20 per visit. After 4 visits, the pass has paid for itself. We buy one every year.
I hope this backpacking gift guide has sparked some ideas for your backpacking friends and family members (or maybe yourself)! If you have any questions or want any other suggestions, reach out to me in the comments below, and be sure to check out some of our other gear resources!
Other Gear Guide Resources:
Allison- She Dreams of Alpine
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