Top 10 Best Gifts For Hikers & Backpackers – 2020

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We all know that time of the year will be upon us all too soon. You’ve got hikers on your holiday shopping list and you’re just not sure what to get for them.

Maybe you’re looking for the perfect hiking gift because they just won’t decide on what they want for the holidays. It happens all the time.

Fortunately you don’t need to worry about it. I’ve got you covered with this year’s best hiking gift ideas. These hiking presents will make perfect gifts that actually end up on the trail instead of being left in the closet.

With 8 seasons of guiding hiking and backpacking trips, I’ve learned what hikers love and what they leave.

Here are some of the best gift ideas for hikers & backpackers!

By far one of my all time favorite hiking gifts is the Platypus SoftBottle. For some reason many hikers still don’t use them and they’ll genuinely change the way you hike.


Because they weigh a fraction of what a traditional hard sided water bottle does (like a Nalgene). They can be folded up flat when not in use. Unlike hard sided water bottles they can also conform to fit the space they’re in.

I started using these years ago when my Nalgene water bottle wouldn’t fit in my backpack because of its shape. Now I’ve learned all the great reasons why a Platypus SoftBottle belongs in any hiker’s backpack.

Perfect gifts for the hiker who seems to have everything.

Going hand in hand with a brand new Platy Bottle is a new way to purify hiking water.

Aquamira has been around for a while, but still few hikers use it. It’s time to ditch the bulky, heavy, and time consuming mechanical pump filters and opt for chemical water treatment on the trail.

Aquamira is a chloride dioxide water treatment that kills any nasty organisms that might be swimming around in your water. Simply mix the two fluids in a small cap, pour it into your Platy Bottle, shake it, and let it sit for 20-30 minutes while you hike.

These two little bottles of water treatment will last for up to 60 gallons of water treatment. That’s about 40 days of trail time if you’re drinking 6L of water per day.

They’re also much smaller and lighter weight than a mechanical filter pump.

Perfect stocking stuffers!

Sea to Summit always seems to surprise by bringing some high quality gear to the market at a price that’s astounding. I personally own and use several of these dry bags and I love them.

They’re available in tons of sizes that can fit everything from a small sleeping bag to an entire bag liner. The bottom of each dry sack is made with eVent which is a waterproof breathable fabric.

This is key because it allows air to escape as you compress the sack, but no water is allowed back in.

If you’ve ever experienced the very real and annoying problem of dry bags turning into balloons when improperly sealed, you won’t have to worry about it again!

These dry bags are effective, affordable, and durable. They still accompany me on the trail quite regularly.

Great for hikers dealing with wet gear problems!

MSR is a company I trust to make some solid backpacking and hiking gear. If the hiker on your shopping list likes to camp overnight, they need to replace those crappy old tent stakes with new ones.

Luckily you can help them with these affordable, advanced tent stakes from MSR.

The Mini Groundhog stakes are my favorite choice for holding down my tarps, tents, and hammocks. They feature a recurved Y-shaped cross section that twists into the dirt.

This helps the stakes create a secure positive hold in the soil that has never pulled out on me, even in the worst weather.

They also come with reflective pull tab cords that are easy to find and retrieve. Setting these stakes is easy because they’re strong and durable so they sink easily into even dry dirt.

A good surprise gift for any hiker.

Hiking in bear territory means always being prepared to create a bear hang for your food. Doing a good bear hang means having a carabiner on hand to make the rope system. So what’s to be done?

Of course you’ll just grab one of these lightweight S-Biners and keep it clipped permanently to your favorite hiking backpack. These carabiners aren’t rated for climbing, but that’s okay.

They’re light and small, and perfect for rigging a pulley system that will get your food up and away from mice, raccoons, or bears.

Many hikers love having mini carabiners on hand for clipping flashlights, hats, clothes, or other gear onto the backpack. In this case you can give a gift that pull double duty in any situation!

Normally I would opt for lighter weight equipment when it comes to hiking. But when I had to buy my current headlamp I needed something powerful for guiding trips and use in potential emergency or rescue situations.

I was blown away by the quality and reliability of the Black Diamond Storm.

This year’s model now has improved blue, red, and green LED lights for night vision modes. There’s a main headlamp LED that pumps out a blazing 350 Lumens in a highly focused beam that illuminates easily for 100+ yards in my experience.

Of course the lights are dimmable in all modes so you can save batteries and avoid blinding yourself when needed.

I love the scatter beam mode which uses a lower brightness LED that sends out a white light in a broad arc in front of you.

This is great for around camp tasks where you don’t need a laser focused beam of light.

Perfect for the serious hiker.

Dr. Bronner’s is my go to all around winner for everything personal hygiene on the trail. Seriously, I haven’t even carried toothpaste in about 10 years.

Here’s what I use it for:

  • Dish soap
  • Toothpaste
  • Hand soap
  • Body wash
  • Laundry detergent

Give the hiker on your list the gift of multi-use items where nothing is more helpful than Dr. B’s as I call it. The peppermint version also leaves a refreshingly tingly feeling when you’re cleaning up. It makes the trail feel just a bit more like home.

Carry Dr. Bronner’s in a small dropper bottle. A little bit goes a long way. This 32 oz bottle should last 5-10 years for most hikers.

This makes an awesome gift for advanced hikers who are ready to change the way they clean on the trail.

There’s an odd tendency for hikers to carry ridiculously large knives on the trail. I was once that hiker as well. What I’ve found is that carrying a lightweight, small knife like the Victorinox is really all that I need.

If you want to give a gift that helps the hiker on your list lighten their pack and learn to make do with less this is the knife to give. Use the scissors for utility cutting and nail clipping on the trail.

The nail file has a flat head on the end for personal hygiene and tool maintenance. Plus there’s a small yet surprisingly sharp knife blade attached.

This knife can be kept in a small backpack pocket out of the way. It weighs far less than an ounce and takes up almost no room.

Even a hardcore survivalist can appreciate having a backup, so the hiker on your list can carry it as a second knife even if they insist on carrying a larger primary blade.

Are you shopping for the most adventuresome hiker of all?

If the hiker on your list is heading out into extremely remote or dangerous situations then a personal locator beacon is a must have. These little pieces of tech are designed to save lives in an absolute emergency situation.

Personal locator beacons are pre-programmed to contact services like the US Coast Guard. All you do is open it up, press a button, and helicopters will come looking for you. Literally.

That’s why it’s critical that these are only used in true life or limb emergency situations. On long, remote, or dangerous hiking routes they can be a critical piece of last-ditch safety gear though.

If you buy a PLB for the hiker on your list, be certain that they fully understand how it works and the potential consequences of using it. Rescue operations can be extremely pricey.

Black Diamond makes some solid gear and their hiking poles are no exception. I’ve owned a pair of the Black Diamond Z poles since nearly the day they first came out. There’s a lot to love here.

With a slide of the handle the poles snap together into a single length hiking pole that’s lightweight and sturdy. When collapsed they fold into three small segments that tuck away neatly into a backpack side pocket.

If the hiker on your list is currently using an older hiking pole or a wooden hiking stick consider this gift.

They’ll be blown away by how light these hiking poles are and how easy they are to use. Just be sure to get the correct size pole based on the height of the person you’re buying for.


There are so many fun gadgets to give the hiker on your shopping list. Whether you’re buying holiday or birthday gifts, there’s something on our list of best hiking gifts.

Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith and give any of the gifts on our list. Most are inexpensive and can revolutionize how the hiker on your list enjoys the outdoors.

Nothing beats surprising your gift recipient with a gift that changes the way they hike. They’ll be delighted that you introduced them to a great new product!

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Casey Fiedler

Casey is a qualified ski instructor, naturalist educator, hunter, and avid outdoorsman based in Mason, Michigan. He spends much of his time in the wilderness where he tests outdoor gear supplied to him by companies such as Patagonia, Smith Optics, and Wolverine. Casey has guided backpackers, kayakers, and skiers on backcountry trips all around the US. He taught Alpine skiing at Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah for several seasons before transitioning into freelance writing. When he is not working, Casey enjoys fishing and participating in adventure and orienteering races.

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