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Getting gifts for backpackers, hikers, and campers can be hard especially when you have no idea what to buy.
Whether you’re looking for birthday gifts, going-away presents or Christmas gifts, the time of good tidings presents itself with family and friends all with their own unique preferences and interests.
You’d agree with me that one of the hardest niches to plan for is the family member or friend who just can’t seem to stay still! The holiday season is just about the only time they’re stagnant. And choosing thoughtful gifts that you’re known for can prove challenging with how often their scenery changes.
If they’re experienced travelers, then they probably have some preferences on brand or items, but across the board, it’s hard to get very far without the essentials.
Here are 3 things to consider when buying a gift for backpackers (or anyone) when you don’t know what to buy (source):
- It should be useful
- It should be a surprise
- It should be of good quality
With backpackers, it’s not about how big and luxurious the gift is but how practical, lightweight and compact the item is for their outdoor adventure. Gifting the latest in new technology doesn’t guarantee that your gift would ever be used if it doesn’t meet this criteria or their need.
As a matter of fact, these gifts for backpackers are not exclusive to Christmas as they make for unique presents after the holiday season has passed. Below are the best, most practical, lightweight and compact gifts for backpackers and that friend who is in a constant state of wanderlust.
45+ Best Gifts for Backpackers in 2018 and Beyond
- Eno hammock – Easily transportable, durable, and relatively lightweight, Eno hammocks make great gifts for backpackers and travelers.
For the quality of what you get, it is relatively cheap and makes for a great, thoughtful gift for friends who enjoy being surrounded by trees and nature.
Especially for those warmer climates, what could be better than sleeping comfortably under the stars!
- Moleskin Traveler’s Notebooks – This is the gift that keeps on giving. If your travel buddy is one of those always on the go, a notebook or diary is a great place to put down their wandering thoughts or to release some of that creativity bottled inside.
Ideally, I recommend the moleskin notebook with the added map inside as travelers can check off the places they’ve been to or aspire to see. While not entirely life-proof, they are fairly weather resistant which means they can travel to as many places as your friend does.
- Reusable Water Bottle – This is one of those ‘essentials’ gifts for people who travel that are often forgotten. Every traveler—- and especially every hiker should include a water bottle in their travels as hydration is absolutely key to health.
And instead of buying plastic water bottles at every stop (which can rack up some serious $), they can travel with a nifty, environmentally-conscious water bottle that reminds them of the friend that bought it.
Hydro Flask items are ideal as they are also insulated and can act as a thermos if need be.
- Scratch Maps – One of the easiest ways to spot a frequent traveler is by the number of map-themed gear they own.
Maps are a reminder of the world that’s out there, and scratch maps provide a clear distinction between ‘have been’ and ‘want to go.’
- Guide Books – If you know where they’re going next, or want to get to then travel books are the way to go! Even if your friend is more of an ‘off the beaten path’ traveler, a guide book provides some necessary insight on the place that is useful to study up on beforehand.
- Headphones – A sturdy pair of headphones can act as a lifeline on long plane rides or simple jogs. Not every day will be a thrill ride, so it’s also smart to gift the simple pleasures in life.
For any travel items, waterproof gear is recommended just to satisfy that ‘in case’ situation.
- Padlock – Perfect for the couch surfing/hostel staying friend! Living the bohemian, shared living space life is great, but if you want your possessions to remain yours, then a padlock is a smart investment.
TSA-approved padlocks are ideal and make airport travel convenient, but there are also some simple travel locks available on Amazon.
- Travel Headband – As a vagabond trademark, headwear is increasingly an essential part of the traveler’s kit.
Protect your face in the hot sun, tie your hair up during the hike, or just complete the look: headwear is a great gift for someone who needs a small accessory with a wide variety of uses.
Some travel-specific items even come with UV resistant technology which is a nice skin-saving bonus!
- First Aid Kit – Practical and essential! A proper first aid kit can literally be a lifesaver in a sticky situation and most offer products from Band-Aids to tick brushes.
First Aid kits come with a plethora of important safety items, so if your traveler doesn’t already own this medical necessity, then help the process and invest in their safety!
Even if your friend already has one, often they have been used and thus may not include all the proper instruments necessary so re-stock with this compact First Aid Kit.
- Solar Lantern – It might be hard to find a power plug while deep in the forests, so prepare accordingly and consider a solar lantern!
Leave it out during the day, and reap the benefits all night making this solar-powered gadget ideal for camping.
- Tenacious Tape – Does your friend have those tried and true items they’ve taken to every expedition? Well with the wear, comes the tear and to save their favorites from replacement use adhesive tape to fix any holes or tears.
Help salvage their favorite pieces with this nifty stocking stuffer.
- Compact Tent – Surprisingly enough, there aren’t a whole lot of 5-star hotels in the wilderness. However, a five-star tent is the next best alternative.
Lightweight, water-proof, and relatively spacious a compact tent is one of the best gifts for backpackers and hikers that will be used often.
- Climbing Backpack – If you know what activity your friend is most interested in, invest specifically in that gear.
A backpacking gear like this climbing bag is typically more spacious and have a greater width whereas climbing backpacks are lean and relatively smaller.
They’re great for housing the necessary equipment to get up that rock wall while not providing any uncomfortable blocks in an already challenging feat.
- Worldwide Travel Adapter – Keeping up with what country uses which plug can be confusing and tedious, so skip all the hassle and get one that works across the globe.
These are relatively compact and inexpensive and make for great stocking stuffers!
- GoPro Sports & Action Camera – GoPros are the best cameras for the adventurer. These pocket-sized recording devices can go from land to sea and back again however many times you do.
It can turn those everlasting memories into tangible pictures and videos to take home.
- Money Belt – Safely secure any valuables in a place you know you cannot lose it; around yourself! A money belt is essentially a wallet designed for frequent traveling that you wear around your person.
This is especially useful as one cannot typically tell when someone is wearing a money belt making pickpocket worries a thing of the past.
RFID belts are preferable as modern day theft has vastly improved, as has the technology to prevent it.
- Kindle Reader – Instead of packing the whole library make reading on the go easy with a Kindle. Kindle Paperwhite is lightweight, waterproof and don’t take up a lot of space.
This makes the Kindle Paperwhite the perfect present for those who love both reading and traveling.
- Water Filter – If the gift receiver is someone who takes the road less traveled, a water filter is absolutely necessary.
Not all countries (or even states) provide drinkable water from all faucets, so a water filter is a good investment for comfort and hydration.
Two birds, one stone would be a water bottle that comes with a filter such as this, but it is entirely based on preference.
- Head Torch – The best explanation for this is to expect the unexpected. A head torch may be low on the list of initial travel items, but it can be a lifesaver in sticky situations.
- Passport Holder – If you plan on getting home, keep your passport safe! A passport holder/passport wallet is great for organization and to keep tabs on one of the most important documents to travel.
- Power Bank – Give the gift of power without the hassle of finding a plug. For those long excursions or expeditions where your “hotel” is more of a tent in the wilderness, a power bank can save your phone from deserting you when you need it most.
Power Banks also work for a wide variety of devices such as a Kindle or a GoPro. As usual, waterproof is recommended for backpackers, and some even offer more applications such as a built-in flashlight.
- Waterproof Phone Case – When it rains, it pours so be prepared with a waterproof phone case. These cases can even go underwater and snorkel with their owner, meaning that amazing below the water line shot is yours for the taking!
These also protect from fall damage and keep your phone safe regardless of what track you’re on.
- Waterproof Speaker – Fun and useful a waterproof speaker is a great holiday gift! These are great for spontaneous get-togethers, and their waterproof properties mean there are no worries about damage no matter where the music takes you.
- Inflatable Neck Pillow – Trains, planes, and cars aren’t exactly the pinnacle of comfort. So make travel more comfortable with a travel-sized neck pillow.
- Quick Dry Towel – Perfect for a hostel or the great outdoors, a quick dry towel is a nifty insider item.
Instead of packing your towel back up and having that damp smell infect everything in your backpack, elect for a quick-dry towel and escape the hassle.
- Waterproof Dry Bag – The wrong bag in the rain can mean the end of everything you own, so a waterproof dry sack is a good investment.
A proper bag is air-tight and can snorkel with you (if need be) without facing water damage to your items.
- Selfie Stick – Getting to the top of the mountain is a prize in and of itself, but what better way to celebrate that than a selfie?
Selfie sticks are great for that wide view shot that can include both you and the background you’ve hiked all day for.
Don’t rely on timers for that perfect pic, and add a selfie stick in this year’s stocking.
- Lightweight Rain Jacket – A proper rain jacket is a necessity virtually anywhere in the world and can come in handy in a rainy situation. Whether their interests lie in hiking, climbing, cycling, or camping a lightweight rain jacket is the jack of all travel.
- Hiker Boots Socks – Durable and comfortable these are the socks straight from heaven. Even if they wear out or tear, Darn Tough provides a lifetime warranty which means a brand new pair of socks when you need them. Give the gift of warmth!
- Swiss Army Knife – As a compact handyman, a Swiss army knife is an essential. Pocket-sized and the definition of nifty, this tools kit makes a fantastic stocking stuffer for any of your wandering friends!
- Tech Compatible Gloves – Save your fingers from freezing, and keep them safely in these finger-print gloves. These are cute to boot, so if you’re looking to provide a new winter fashion trend look no further.
- Portable Coffee Maker – Unfortunately, there is no Starbucks in the wild. So a portable coffee maker makes a thoughtful gift for the friend that loves the world but hates mornings.
Go eco-friendly and choose a design with a permanent filter.
- Ultra Light Stove – These stoves are ideal for hot meals on the go. Although they’re not perfect and often don’t offer a simmer setting or anything complex a standard oven would, this gift is a great relatively light item to bring on extended camping trips.
- Freeze-dried Backpack Meals – Small, easy to make, and tasty to boot freeze dried meals make fantastic gifts for backpackers and campers. There are breakfast, lunch, and dinner options as well as variety and bulk packs.
- Maps and Trail Guides – Bonus points if you know where they’re going next! These are like collectibles for travelers.
You cannot go wrong with a product that helps them plan their next excursion.
- Travel Vouchers / Travel Gift Cards – Traveling gets expensive, so help take some of the weight off with vouchers or gift cards. A night or two stay at a place that feels like home can be a nice reprieve from the wilderness.
Contrary to popular belief, gift cards are great as you offer the freedom of choice to your wandering buddy.
- Hiking Backpack – What better item to get for a backpacker than their namesake?
Whether they’re new to the exploration game and an honorary first backpack is in order, or their current model has faced incredible wear and tear, a backpack is a good option for your shopping list.
Just make sure to get one that is of high quality, weather resistant, and has lots of space for the essentials.
- Travel Scarf – Looking for a gift for your traveling fashionista friend? The travel scarf is practical and can hide the essentials while looking absolutely adorable as a bonus!
This is an infinity scarf with a secret pocket, meaning all of your valuables are kept safely on your person.
- 20-Piece Necessities Travel Kit – Amazon is a godsend for these, and most come with all the essential toiletries one will need on the road in a small, compact box.
This isn’t the most glamorous gift, but it’ll be a lifeline on the road.
- Multipurpose Compass – An ideal stocking stuffer for that friend who never seems to follow the paved path.
A compass is a symbol of adventure and wanderlust, and in a sticky situation where technology fails this compass will always lead due North.
- Pocket Blanket – The best items for travelers are the ones that can fit comfortably in the smallest spaces.
An ultra compact and lightweight pocket blanket that is water and sand proof, perfect for hiking, camping, festivals, and sports events, and durable for many years of adventure.
- Jewelry Organizer – The easiest things to lose, especially in a tightly packed bag need their own case for organization.
These cases fit an assortment of earrings, necklaces, bracelets that the holder chooses, and fits in nearly any crevice or allotted space in a bag.
- Waterproof Cards – Unfortunately, not every day will be around the clock excitement. There will be rainy days, and lazy days, and especially in backpack or hostel culture a stack of cards can turn your neighbor for the night into a lifetime friend.
Waterproof cards are necessary if they’re carried in the typical backpack to ensure no damage comes when your friend moves from civilization to nature.
- Sleeping Bag – Sleeping bags provide some much-needed comfort on camping trips, and the right one can feel like you never left the luxuries of a bed.
For long excursions, or trips spent under the stars consider gifting a sleeping bag for a good night’s rest.
- Insect Repellent – Not the most glamorous of gifts, but this gift can literally be a lifesaver.
One of the biggest buzzkills on excursions is the unwanted bugs and insects, so insect repellant is a definite thumbs up in the mind of an adventurer.
If you want to get trendy with it, try these mosquito repellent bracelets that are practical and cute to boot!
- Hiking Pants – Clothes are the way to go! Odds are your traveling friend has more of the minimalist approach to new clothes so take the hassle out of shopping and go for cute, trendy, and quick dry hiking pants.
- Snow Stake – Multifunctional as a digging trowel! Strong and sturdy this instrument has a wide variety of uses, especially for rock climbers or winter time explorers.
- Camping Utensils – Depending on their degree of minimalism, a single spork might do, but an entire pack of camping utensils goes a long way.
This comes with a water-resistant case, a cutting board, rice paddle, tongs, scissors, a knife, and a bottle opener.
This is the variety pack of everything a camper will need in the wild fitted into a small, compact case perfect for traveling.
- Hiking Trails of The World Book – Not every place comes in the form of an epiphany, so help the selection process along with a book of the greats!
This book details the best hiking trails and paths around the world, taking the traveler across 6 continents, 38 countries, 80 trails, and 75,000 miles.
Even if they’re already planning on hitting the trails after the holidays, this book makes for a great travel read.
- Eno hammock – Easily transportable, durable, and relatively lightweight, Eno hammocks make great gifts for backpackers and travelers.
Bonus: If all fails, you can buy the travel-obsessed family or friend a travel insurance to keep them safe and protected whenever or wherever their exploration takes them.
Some items or gifts for backpackers, hikers and adventure-seekers are best modeled around seasonal items. For instance, if you know your friend is big on winter traveling and sports, look into things like ski poles or heavy-duty snow appliances. If your friend is more of a tropical climate, sun, surf, and beach kind of traveler sandals, sunglasses, bathing suits, and other beach ready items are always a good way to go.
Whether it’s Christmas, birthday, or any gift-giving occasion, you can’t go wrong with these essentials. When it comes to backpackers, stay on the track of thoughtful, practical, lightweight and compact.
Backpacker items can range from high-end GoPro cameras to capture the action to a low-cost navigational compass’ and yet they’re all still integral to the experience. Some travelers are sporty, and always looking for new hiking pants or climbing gear, and some are serene and comfortable with just a tent and the night sky.
Refer to this gifts for backpackers, hikers and campers to help you decide where on the spectrum your friend or family falls, and own the gift giving game this year and beyond!
The next step? Wrap the perfect gift you just bought or request gift-wrapping service via Amazon while placing your order. Make your shopping experience as stress free as possible.
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