Buying for hikers can sometimes be challenging. They can get very particular about some of their gear. Unless you hike with them often, you probably don’t know what they already have in the hiking arsenal. But there are a few things that people can never have too much of. These gifts for hikers are all under $30, making them affordable for everyone.
Gifts for Hikers Everyone Always Needs
Darn Tough Socks
Ask any hiker what type of sock they wear and they will tell you Darn Tough Socks. These are the gold standard of socks because of their seamless construction and cushioned bottom. They are made with a mix of wool, nylon, and spandex for fast drying, and all-weather performance.
Darn Tough has a famous guarantee – if these socks wear, tear, or develop holes, Darn Tough will replace them no questions asked.
I’ve been a fan of hiking with buffs for some time now. The simple piece of stretchy material is worn in a million different ways. As a headband for your hair, as a cover for your ears so you don’t have to listen to bugs buzzing by.
You can keep it around your neck and face in the winter to keep snow off your face. During the summer dip the buff in water and cool yourself off. And when you are on your way to your hike and you forget your face shield, the buff has you covered.
A solid set of trekking poles is a must-have for hikers. There are many options, but the most common is an aluminum set. They are lightweight and provide extra support when the trail gets uneven.
During the Winter season, they help define if the ground is solid or ankle-deep. This adjustable set comes with all the accessories needed for hiking any time of year.
When on longer hikes, if your hands haven’t been conditioned for it yet it can cause blisters. I’ve run into this problem paddling too. That’s why I bring a pair of biking gloves with me. They are a great addition to my adventures and keep hands safe.
Nalgene Water bottle
The Nalgene Water Bottle is the what all hikers carry for hydration on the trail. The reason why everyone chooses it is because it’s virtually indestructible. The top had a loop on it so you can clip it onto any bag with the addition of a carabineer. And it’s large enough to get you through the most grueling hikes.
Having a good set of hiking clothing makes a big difference. Starting off with a lightweight Dri Fit shirt is something everyone can use. Add in SPF and you’ve got yourself your next go to hiking shirt. 32 Degrees makes them that cool you off too.
State Park Pass
Chances are your hiker probably has hit up a few State Parks already. Getting them a State Park Pass will fuel their habit a little more. If they are hiking already, they probably already have a pass that’s good for a year.
In Minnesota, the permit is issued the month it’s purchased. Unless you know when your hiker’s permit is set to expire, get them a gift card to the State Park. This way when it expires they can redeem it for a new one.
Passport Club Membership
In Minnesota, we have a great MN State Parks Hiking Club Membership and Passport Program. Each program cost $15 and is a great way to motivate people to see all the state parks. Even if they’ve already completed the program, they can always do it again. If you are not from Minnesota, check out the hiker’s State Park to see if they offer any similar programs.
SHT Guidebook (Or a local equivalent)
Hikers are always looking for new hikes to do. There are guidebooks for cities, states, waterfalls seekers, thru-hikers and so much more. In Minnesota, the number one hiking bible everyone has is the Superior Hiking Trail Guide.
The one thing that every hiker should have in their pack is a compass. Unfortunately, most don’t throw it in, relying on the phone and other navigation skills. It doesn’t matter how experienced of a hiker you are, you can still get turned around.
One thing every hiker could use more of is Carabineer Clips. You can pick them up almost everywhere for pennies. Instead, invest in a few lightweight heavy duty ones.
I love using Locking Carabineer Clips because they have locking capabilities and don’t catch on my straps when I try and remove something. These are lightweight and lock in place. It can double as hammock camping carabiner if your hiker is looking to upgrade their clips.
On long hikes, or backpacking trips consider bringing a hammock instead of a tent. They are lightweight and super comfortable. Or throw a small one in your daypack to relax midway through the long journey.
The best thing I’ve ever purchased is a solid set of Hammock Straps. Hikers can always use an extra set to throw in the car. They make setting up your hammock incredibly fast and take the stress off the tree.
Binoculars are great to have on hand for more than just bird-watching. The compact lightweight binoculars are great for exploring during daylight hours, and low-light night time activities too. These should be in everyone’s gear bags.
Even on shorter hikes, everyone has necessities they bring along. Be it bug spray, sunblock and water. Having it on your back makes the hike so much easier. There are plenty to choose from but my favorite is the Mubasel Gear because it’s got easy access pockets for attaching stuff quickly. And best of all, it’s waterproof.
Curious what the best backpack for your next adventure? Check out: The Best Backpack for Day Trips in 2023
First Aid Kit
All hikers at a minimum should have a first aid kit. Getting your hiker a small kit that contains all the basics is really all they need. The compact First Aid kit is designed specifically for backcountry injuries. It includes CPR Mask, Band-Aids, Blanket, Tourniquet, emergency blanket and more. The best part is, it’s compact and lightweight so you won’t hesitate to throw it in the pack.
Consider upgrading their headlamp. The EverBrite Headlamp is for active people. It uses replaceable batteries and has 7 different light modes. Unlike other headlamps, this one is water resistant ad impact resistant up to 1-meater. It even has a flashing light in the back designed specifically for night runners. Headlamps are great for those night hikers!
If you are not a headlamp type of person, consider getting a flashlight! Best Flashlight for Backpacking and Night Hikes: Why you need one
Summer Time Favorites Gifts for Hikers
During summertime keeping the sun off your face is important. In most cases, a ballcap does the trick. But in especially sunny area a wide-brimmed hat is necessary. It also helps in buggy hiking areas if they are used in conjunction with a bug net. It keeps the net far away from your face.
Consider upgrading your hiker to a more lasting bug spray next summer. Get a container of Sawyer Bug Spray. This is a permethrin-based spray that stays on your clothing for 6 weeks or 6 washes. Most people only have to apply it once a season and never pickup a bottle again. If you really want to seal the deal, you can throw in a bug net so they are completely covered.
It sounds silly but bug nets are worth every penny. There always seems to be a few places where the bugs don’t care how much spray you apply, they still get all up in your business. With a bug net, you can ditch the spray and not worry about giving them their next meal. What I love about the Benvo brand nets is that they come with a bag to store them in.
With all the ways to cool off, a towel is one of my favorites. Even when you do everything right, sometimes having a self-cooling towel around your neck becomes the fastest way to get the job done. All you have to do is get the towel wet, wring it out and put it wherever you want.
Sunblock is something should have around. Why not upgrade your hiker from a liquid to a solid form. A sunblock stick is a great way to reduce weight and keep your skin safe.
Winter Hiker Favorites
During winter a great warm hat can transform your hike. For women with long hair this can be challenging. It needs to be tied back, otherwise, it’s a knotted mess. Without hair poking out from the hat, it looks silly. That’s why I love the CC Ponytail hat. It’s got a spot to pull your hair through, letting you still have the messy bun look or tail.
If you want to do something unique, think about picking up some Shinesty wears. They have a lot of retro ski clothing that makes great base layers. They also have some hat’s that are going to get some attention on the trails!
Winter Gloves always seem to disappear in my house. A lightweight pair of waterproof gloves would be welcomed by any hiker.
In winter, never leave home without a set of Yacktracks. I keep a pair in my car and use them going into the office. If you live in a colder climate, black ice sneaks’ up on you and can have you on your back faster than you’d ever think. Based on the conditions there are a few levels of ice cleats you can get. For most people, a traditional pare of tracks is sufficient.
Need more options for ice cleats? There are great options out there: The 10 Best Ice Cleats for Hiking You Need This Winter
Gifts Backpackers Will Love
Next to smore’s having a drink around the campfire is the next best thing. It relaxes you, sets the mood and so much more. The BellFlask is a great way to bring your extra drinks with you in a reusable lightweight container. It’s designed to even fit in pockets.
Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker
Nothing starts off a day better than fresh-pressed coffee made right into your cup. The Aeropress Coffee Press brews a 1-3 cups of coffee in about one minute. It’s lightweight and easily packable into your bag. It beats instant coffee anymore.
A multitool is something you never want to leave home without. These are great for getting a pot off the stove, cutting ropes, food and almost everything else you haven’t thought of yet until you run across it. Gerber has a great compact tool that comes in at an impressive 0.14 pounds making.
Gaiters are something that were introduced me to this year and have me wondering where they have been all my life. Gators are worn when you are hiking in wetter areas and give a little extra layer of protection for your socks and legs.
They go over the hiker’s boot, preventing dirt and debris from getting in. They are waterproof, saving your boot from getting soaked if the waterline is above the boot. These are great to have in your arsenal of hiking supplies.
Sawyer Mini Filter
Having a good reliable water filter while hiking can be a godsend. I recommend taking these with you anytime you are on a hiking trip during hot weather.
This summer I was hiking in the Whitewater State Park and couldn’t believe that trailheads didn’t have running water available to hikers and had to start rationing water. That wouldn’t have been a problem if I had brought my Sawyer Drip Filter with me. Now I keep one in my daypack always.
Light Weight Power (Solar)
Even though most people unplug to get away from technology, we still want it available at a moment’s notice. It also helps that most people on the trail use their phones for photographs.
The most common statement I’d hear on the Superior Hiking Trail is how much juice was left on their phones. With a Solar Power Bank, Qi Portable Charger weighing 9oz, it doesn’t have to be a stress anymore.
I dare you not to get anything for yourself!
These items are all things any hiker wouldn’t mind having a second set of. I’ve personally tested out all these items and can attest to how much better they make the trail.