Gear Institute Expert Test Menu

Gifts For Campers & Hikers

By: Kassondra Cloos - November 07, 2017

Gifts For Campers & Hikers

Whether you’re shopping for a seasoned backpacker or a high schooler who’s just starting to venture outdoors and get into camping, we’ve got gift ideas to make everyone on your list psyched to head out on the trail before they’ve even finished opening the box.

Oru Beach LT, $1,299

Oru Beach Kayak

Photo by Kassondra Cloos

Oru’s foldable Beach LT kayak brings paddling to the next level for the hiker who
loves solitude. With practice, you can set up this boat in just a few minutes – no roof racks, storage units, garages or SUVs required. The hollow design provides ample room to store gear for an island camping trip. Splurge for the Kayak Pack, $195, to make it easier to hike into alpine lakes.

Chaco Sandals, $105

Image courtesy of Chaco

I’ve easily walked hundreds of miles in my Chacos, and I’ll walk hundreds more. For anyone who needs a versatile shoe that will go from the river to the trail to the town while passing for Boulder business casual, Chaco’s Z line of sandals are a staple. And with an immense number of strap patterns and designs, there’s a style for everyone on your shopping list.

Helinox Chair Zero, $120

Image courtesy of Helinox

Helinox’s Chair Zero packs so much comfort for 16 ounces, it’s hard to justify not bringing it. It’s the ultimate backpacking chair for even the most serious ultralight purists. It snaps together in an instant and will fit in the water bottle pouch on the side of your pack.

Yeti Hopper Flip, $200-$300 and Yeti Ice $15 – $30

Image courtesy of Yeti

Yeti’s Hopper Flip line of soft-sided coolers doesn’t perform well “for a soft-sided
cooler.” It just performs well, period. I’ve clipped this thing to the back of a tube and dragged it behind me on a shallow river, and it didn’t get a scratch. It’s waterproof, it floats, and just like its burlier siblings, it keeps ice for days–especially with Yeti Ice, which freezes faster and stays frozen longer than other ice packs–in a much lighter package. The Hopper 8 and Hopper 12 are ideal for the comfort camper who just needs a few beers or burgers, and the 18 is perfect for frequent roadtrippers. A handle on the top of the lid makes it easy to grab from any angle.

Stanley Master Vacuum Bottle, 18 oz., $45

Image courtesy of Stanley

It might look like a pretty standard insulated bottle, but Stanley’s Master Series is the real deal, perfect for someone who loves creature comforts in the backcountry. I once backpacked with ice cream in this bottle, and it stayed frozen for a full 24 hours. In the larger sizes, coffee will stay piping hot for days.

HydraPak Reversible Reservoir, $31+

Image courtesy of HydraPak

One of the downsides with many reservoirs is that they’re hard to clean. Not so with HydraPak’s reversible reservoirs. You can turn the whole reservoir inside-out to make sure it dries thoroughly before you store it between adventures, and a baffle locks and unlocks to change the capacity of the bladder. A clip at the top ensures the wide mouth stays shut tight when you’re out on the trail.

Arc'teryx Bora AR, $499-$549

Image courtesy of Arc'teryx

With a hip belt that both rotates with your hips and glides up and down, this pack is wildly stable. It’s the kind of experience you want your significant other to have in their early stages of backpacking, so they don’t shy away from long trips because of chafing or poor fit. Plus, the exterior of the pack is made with waterproof fabric, so you don’t have to worry about digging through it for a rain cover when it starts to pour.

MSR DromLite, $27-$33

Image courtesy of MSR

They might not look it, but MSR’s DromLite Bags are heavy-duty. They’re also ultralight, hang easily with a sturdy strap and pack down to the size of the cap. A water carrier is a must-have for any new camper’s kit, and this one checks all the boxes.

Glerups, $135


Image courtesy of Glerups

Glerups are the ultimate indoor, outdoor, travel, and camp shoe, and they’re the coziest
gift you could possibly give. They’re made of soft wool felt that forms to your feet almost immediately, and they’re intended to be worn without socks. Even on warmer days, they regulate your temperature so well you’ll never feel like you need to take them off.

Yakima SkyRise 3 Rooftop Tent, $1,350

Yakima Skyrise

Image courtesy of Yakima

If your partner’s 2018 New Year’s Resolution is to camp more, Yakima’s SkyRise 3 will
eliminate all the excuses not to. It has a built-in foam mattress and enough room to leave your sleeping bags inside, so all you need to do is roll up to a flat campsite, open the tent and crawl in.

Cotopaxi Teca Half-Zip Windbreaker, $79

Photo by Kassondra Cloos

Aside from packing down to the size of a deck of cards and weighing just 5 ounces, Cotopaxi’s unisex Teca windbreakers are mind-blowingly colorful. They block the wind yet keep you comfortable –not clammy – in warmer temps, and they’ll help your loved one stand out in a crowd. Bonus for eco-warriors: They’re made from upcycled remnants from making Cotopaxi’s Sueño sleeping bags.

Kari Traa Rose baselayers, $110

Image courtesy of Kari Traa

For the woman who needs a baselayer designed specifically for her, Kari Traa’s Rose
baselayer is as good as it gets. Instead of a single seam that runs under the arm and over the elbow, the Rose has two on either side of the elbow, to increase range of motion and cut down on discomfort. Since they’re made of merino, they also don’t stink – even with days of wear.

Good To-Go Pad Thai, $12.50

Image courtesy of Good To-Go

Yes, you can eat good food on the trail. Stuff stockings with Good To-Go’s Pad Thai,
which is one of the most flavorful dehydrated meals you can buy. You might not believe it came out of a package if you didn’t rehydrate it yourself.

The North Face Campforter 20, $249-$259

Image courtesy of The North Face

The Campforter is intended to be a single sleeping bag, but the beauty is in its
versatility: More often than not, I unfold this bag completely flat and use it like an actual comforter. Two people can easily stay warm and sleep comfortably with just one of these bags, and as an added bonus they unzip into two pieces for campfire comfort.

Backpacker's Pantry Chicken Piccata with Tagliatelle Pasta, $13.50

Image courtesy of Backpacker's Pantry

Backpacker’s Pantry Chicken Piccata with Tagliatelle Pasta stands out. With capers, olive oil and lemon, you’re almost tempted to scarf it down before you even hit the trail.

Katadyn BeFree Collapsible Water Filter, $40-$60

Image courtesy of Katadyn

Katadyn’s BeFree collection makes filtering water faster and easier than ever. For the
ultralight backpacker or hiker, it’s a must-have. It packs down tiny thanks to its HydraPak bottle, and filters water as quickly as you can drink it – no need for squeezing, suction or pumping. All you need is a tree branch for the ultrafast gravity filter version ($60), which filters 3 liters in seconds.

Vapur Element Water Bottle, $12-$14

Photo by Kassondra Cloos

For anyone who’s constantly on the go, or who just likes to stay hydrated, Vapur’s Element
water bottle will quickly become an essential part of their everyday kit. Unlike other flatpack water bottles that have sporty squeeze tops or can’t stand on their own, Vapur bottles have a free-flowing spout for effortless sipping. When the bottle is empty, it rolls up into its attached carabiner for stowing.

LEKI Micro Vario trekking poles, $200

Photo by Christoph Schoech

You never think you need hiking poles until you use them for the first time. For any hiker or backpacker who wants to take some pressure off their knees (and especially your friend who’s recovering from last season’s ski injuries), LEKI’s Micro Vario poles are the gift they need but would never think to ask for. Their carbide tips are nearly indestructible and the poles collapse down to almost nothing, making it hard to justify not bringing them along.

UCO Titan Stormproof Match Kit, $10

Image courtesy of UCO

These matches produce a serious flame that lasts long enough to light a fire in the worst of conditions. UCO’s Stormproof Match Kit comes in a floating waterproof case, a perfect stocking stuffer for the backpacker who’s not exactly a fair-weather adventurer.

Adventure Medical Kits Mountain Series Backpacker Medical Kit, $39

Photo by Kassondra Cloos

Instead of playing helicopter parent and asking your kids repeatedly to please be careful, let a super-useful first aid kit say that for you instead. Adventure Medical Kits takes a hyper-organized approach to first aid, with pockets labeled by injury that will help hikers and backpackers treat wounds quickly.

Kuju Coffee Pocket PourOver Coffee, $2.50

Kuju Coffee

Photo courtesy of Kuju Coffee

For the ultralight backpacker who won’t drink instant coffee and refuses to pack in a coffee press, Kuju Coffee is the perfect stocking stuffer. These pocket-sized pods are mini filters with just the right amount of grounds for a solid cuppa, and it doesn’t just taste like the real thing, it is the real thing.

Goal Zero Yeti Generator, $200 to $3,000

Photo by Andy Earl

For the #vanlife type (or wannabe), portable power is a necessity for life on the road. Goal Zero’s Yeti line of generators will keep you juiced up on the road for hours or days, depending on how much power you need. Pair the charger with a Goal Zero solar panel to work on reducing that carbon footprint.

Lodge Cast Iron Pans $6.50–$136

Photo by Pat Spinney

OK, sure, cast iron is pretty old-school. But it’s also the best way to cook when you’re
car camping. Giving a cast iron pan is like the outdoor equivalent of gifting a diamond: It’ll last forever, and it’ll be in the background of some pretty great memories.

Sea to Summit X-Set 31 Cookset, $110

Image courtesy of Sea to Summit

This ingenious cookset packs down flat, ideal for the ultralight backpacker who does more than just boil water on the trail. The X-Set 31 comes with bowls and cups for two, and the X-Set 21 ($75) is ideal for an individual. Thanks to sturdy silicon sides that collapse with ease, this set makes more room in your pack to splurge on a comfort item or two.

Farm to Feet No Fly Zone socks, $21

Image courtesy of Farm to Feet.

There’s nothing like the sound of mosquitoes buzzing near your ears to ruin a good time around the campfire. With Farm to Feet’s No Fly Zone socks, you can at least keep them away from your toes. Insect repellant is built right into the fibers of these socks, but you’d never guess if you didn’t know. There’s no odor, and they’re just as cozy as any other wool socks. Go ahead: Wear them with sandals

goTenna Mesh Text and Location Communicator, $179

Photo by Kraig Becker

GoTenna keeps wandering duos connected and in the loop even when they don’t keep the same pace. These wireless smartphone antennas create their own network for texting when you’re completely off the grid, making it possible to stay in touch with hiking buddies up the trail. The set comes with two messengers, but you can connect an unlimited number for an extended mesh network.

Yeti Rambler Colster, $25-$35

Photo by Nick Cote

For the nitpicky camper (and the slow sipper) who won’t drink beer a degree warmer than solid ice, Yeti’s Rambler Colster is a must-have. Thanks to double-wall vacuum insulation and a gasket that seals your beer into this high-tech koozie, beer stays cold for hours after you first crack it open. For someone who already has the classic steel Colster, upgrade them to a set for two with new colors and designs featuring national parks.

Snow Peak Camp Couch, $750

Image courtesy of Snow Peak

For the glamper who seems to have it all, Snow Peak’s Camp Couch is camp furniture so versatile it will fit into their current kit with ease. This collapsible futon offers the whole nine yards: It reconfigures as a couch, a bed, two individual chairs and a table (with a bamboo insert sold separately), and a shelving unit.

GSI Pinnacle Dualist Cookset, $65

Image courtesy of GSI

For the hiker who wants to break into backpacking, GSI’s Pinnacle Dualist cookset has it all in a neat little package: A durable pot that will last for years, nesting bowls and cups for two, and utensils. Pair it with MSR’s Pocket Rocket 2 stove ($45) to gift the whole kitchen package.

Jetboil Flash Java Cooking System, $110

Photo courtesy of Jetboil

Not only is Jetboil’s Flash a lightning-fast water boiler, it’s the ultimate backcountry coffee maker when you pair it with the Jetboil Coffee Press, which brews coffee right in the pot. If you’re looking for coffee-related stocking stuffers for someone who already has a Jetboil, the press is sold separately for $10-$13.

Kammok Roo Hammock, $99, and Python Straps, $29

Image courtesy of Kammok

Thanks to a slightly stretchy edge that runs along the outer edges of Kammok’s two-person Roo, this hammock is far more comfortable against the backs of your knees than a standard hammock. The Python Straps are 10-foot daisy chains that make it easy to rig up the hammock in the backcountry or the backyard, no knot tying required.

Danner Mountain Light Cascade Boots, $360

Image courtesy of Danner

If Danner’s women’s Cascade Mountain Lights look familiar, it’s because Reese Witherspoon wore them in the movie Wild. These leather boots are crafted after Danner’s original Mountain Lights, introduced in the early ‘70s, which have carried countless hikers through decades of backpacking. Gift them to a woman who needs a pair of boots as tough as she is.

Icebreaker Zone Half-Zip Long Underwear Top, $120

Image courtesy of Icebreaker

A merino wool baselayer is a must-have for any outdoor lover. And for the guy who’s always traveling and switching between sports, Icebreaker’s Zone Half-Zip is the perfect, versatile baselayer. It keeps you cool and out of the sun on warm days, and it insulates you against the cold when it’s chilly.

United By Blue Murray Plaid Dress, $63 - $98

For the woman who can’t stop wearing plaid, the Murray Plaid Dress from United By Blue is a dream. The soft flannel is ultra-comfy, and a tie around the waist gives it shape. The hem hits at just the right spot above the knees to pair nicely with leggings on cool days.

Forsake Clyde Boots, $130

Image courtesy of Forsake

For the guy who wants one versatile pair of footwear to take everywhere, Forsake’s Clyde Boots is it: From backpacking to traveling to walking to the grocery store, these boots are endlessly comfortable right out of the box, not to mention they match everything.

Hults Bruke Almike Hatchet, $128

Photo by Nick Cote

This attractive hatchet isn’t just all good looks. The hatchet’s head is just the right weight, and the blade is razor-sharp for quick splitting. A rich, deep brown leather cover slides easily over the blade to protect it.

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 mtnGLO Tent, $500

Image courtesy of Big Agnes

Forget fumbling around in the dark for headlamps or lanterns. Big Agnes’ line of mtnGLO tents lights up your night with a simple switch. Integrated strings of LEDs cast even light throughout your tent, making it easy to play a game with the kids or read a book without accidentally shining lamps into anyone’s eyes.

Leatherman Wave Multi-Tool, $90

Image courtesy of Leatherman

For the camper, DIY-er, or outdoorsperson who’s always fixing things, Leatherman’s Wave is a must-have. This 17-in-1 package includes blades, screwdriver (including one for eyeglasses), a diamond-covered file, a can opener, and scissors that can cut through seat belts.

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow Ultra Light, $40

Image courtesy of Sea to Summit

Sea to Summit’s ultralight Aeros Pillow is a perfect stocking stuffer for the constant traveler. It fits in your pocket and inflates with just a couple of breaths. At just 2.5 oz, even the most ultralight of backpackers can afford to bring it along.

Grayl Ultralight Water Purifier Bottle, $60

Photo by Kassondra Cloos

For the world traveler, Grayl's Ultralight Water Purifier Bottle is indispensable. Rest assured that you won't get sick from the water when you travel if you filter it from the Grayl: it cuts out 99.9999 percent of viruses and disease-causing bacteria, and 99.999 percent of protozoan cysts, plus chemicals and most heavy metals.

ExOfficio’s Give & Go Underwear, $18+

Photo courtesy of ExOfficio

ExOfficio often jokes in its marketing that you only need one pair of their underwear – OK, maybe two – no matter where you’re going. It’s not far from the truth. Their Give & Go underwear, with men’s and women’s styles, is a perfect stocking stuffer for the backpacker or jetsetter. Easily wash these undies with camp soap and a quick rinse or in the hotel sink, then wring them out in a towel and they’ll be dry before you know it. I never travel without them.


comments powered by Disqus