Got someone on your list who is a hiker? These are 10 simple, practical, and useful items that are bound to get used by anyone who is thinking about going on a long backpacking trip. I’ve used everything here and keep buying them over and over again because they really spruce up a backpacking trip. Many of these items are things that hikers have to buy anyway (like hand sanitizer), but for gift giving, these particular items add a special touch that will help your loved ones remember you when they’re hundreds of miles away from home. Throw a couple of these goodies into a stocking with some chocolate, and you’ll literally have a happy camper.
1) Dr. Bronner’s Organic Lavender hand sanitizer: I am a STRONG advocate for using hand sanitizer during backpacking trips and believe it can significantly reduce trail-borne illnesses like Norovirus and Giardia. The Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Hand Sani smells so good that I use it on trail during the tough part of the day just to boost my mood. Now that’s a multi-use item everyone can love.
2) Mini dice: If you’ve got a lot of hikers to give presents to this year, dice makes a great cheap novelty gift for hikers. Five mini-dice weigh in at grams and provide hours of entertainment for hikers trapped in a tent or shelter on a rainy or snowy day. Good for Yahtzee, Farkel, and anything else you can make up. Weighing in at 2 g, I can count the times I wish I had this in my pack and never am sad to have carried them.
3) Wet Ones Single Packs: Nothing will elicit a cry like “Thank you!!” than a stinky hiker opening a resupply package and finding some Wet Ones singles. Weighing in at less than 0.5 oz, one of these can really spruce up a hiker’s mood (and smell) at the end of a backpacking day. I like the singles since they maintain their moisture until I need them. With a box of the singles (as in the link), I can put a few in every resupply box or have a fresh one every day at less weight than the bigger packs.
4) Photon Freedom: The lightest light on the market, this version of the Freedom can be attached to your hat to use as a headlamp or be worn around your neck for easy-to-find-at-night convenience or as a backup light to use in camp. I use the Photon exclusively on trips where I won’t be doing a lot of nighthiking, but I have friends who have nighthiked hundreds of miles with nothing but the Photon. It can also be used as a keychain so is a great backup light when I head out into the woods and realize at the last minute that I forgot to pack a headlamp.
5) Rite in the Rain Waterproof Notebooks: Some of my most treasured memories in my life were hiking journals written in these notebooks. Give the hiker in your life a private place to write about his or her adventures
6) Mini bottles: Hikers can never have enough of mini-bottles and it is HARD to find the really tiny ones. In the past, I’ve used these bottles for Dr. Bronner’s soaps, toothpowder, Aqua Mira, and have hiked with people that use them for contact lens solution. I love the bottles sold at Gossamer Gear and Mountain Laurel Designs online stores.
7) Animal-Shaped Gear Aid Patches! After piercing a down jacket and lancing a cuben fiber tent in the field, I never go on a trip without Gear Aid patches. These badboys have saved me in the woods multiple times. With these insta-fixes, I patched my holes and spent the rest of the day focusing on my hike instead of worrying about my gear. They stick better than duct tape and look a lot cooler, too.
8) WetFire: Every backpacker has had a night where she really wants a fire…NOW. Wetfire won’t let wind or water prevent you from making your fire. This works great for making campfires and for making sure that your fuel to cook dinner doesn’t go out.
9) Down cleaner: There’s a lot of power behind a present that is actually a backhanded commentary on a person’s odor. If you’ve ever asked to borrow a friend’s sleeping bag, and then immediately regretted it, Nikwax Downwash or Gearaid Down Cleaner will make a perfect gift for that friend. That hiker should get the message.
10) Food items! Anything from this list of best treat food stocking stuffers for hikers and backpackers
Anything I missed? What would you include?