Shopping for the avid tent-sleeper on your list doesn’t need to be complicated with this list of the best backpacking gifts of the season. Take the guesswork out of shopping this year with expert gear advice from a pro.
Seriously, I professionally review backpacking gear for Backpacker Magazine. Yup, it’s a total dream gig, but that aside, it also means I’m a complete gear nerd.
Having insider knowledge on the latest pieces of backpacking gear means that you can get top-notch recommendations for backpacking gifts that you simply won’t find anywhere else.
These gifts for backpackers are items that all backpackers want, but may not buy for themselves. You’ll find many handy backpacking essentials on here too. But this guide to the best backpacking gifts is designed to give them something extra special this year.
I’m lucky enough to be able to test and try every piece of gear on this list. Each of these backpacking gifts went through rigorous testing that matches the same criteria I use for reviewing gear for magazines.
As an avid backpacker, I’m well-versed in what is and isn’t useful as a backpacking gift. So use this backpacking gift guide as your personal shopping list.
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About This Guide to The Best Backpacking Gifts
This backpacking gift guide is designed to help anyone choose the perfect, mega-cool backpacking gift for the adventurer on their list. Here’s what you’ll find:
- How to choose the perfect gift for backpackers
- The best backpacking gifts
- Gifts for backpackers organized by spending budget
- Additional gift guides for every type of outdoor adventurer
If you’re feeling stressed about buying gifts for backpackers on your list. Don’t sweat it. We are a simple bunch. In fact, we often love times like a cozy pair of socks just as much as the hot new tent. You don’t need a huge budget to find the perfect gift for the loved one who enjoys sleeping in the dirt.
How to Choose Gifts for Backpackers
If you don’t backpack, camp or hike, choosing the perfect gift for the backcountry camping lover on your list might seem a little daunting. Don’t fret, there are a few simple things to keep in mind when looking for backpacking gifts.
First, simple is best. You’re looking for a handy tool that serves multiple functions but isn’t too complicated. You’re tired when you backpack so you don’t want a stove with a 6-part setup. Think quick and easy.
Next, consider weight. Most backpackers fret over ounces, so try to aim for a lightweight item that packs down easily.
Lastly, consider durability. Backpacking is a rugged sport and the best backpacking gifts can take a beating. Read reviews when purchasing gifts and note any durability issues.
The Best Backpacking Gifts
Alright, so now it’s time to dive into the best backpacking gifts for this season. From beginner backpackers to expert thru-hikers there is an array of awesome gifts that any backpacker would love.
Budget-Friendly Backpacking Gifts Under $50
The little things that backpackers can’t live without. These budget-friendly backpacking gifts keep on giving!
1. Sea to Summit X-Mug
An awesome camping mug for any beverage, from coffee to campfire cocktails, the Sea to Summit X-Mug is especially handy for backpackers. It collapses flat and takes up almost no space in a pack.
The ridges on the mug also can be used as a measuring cup and they are labeled for easy reading. Not to mention, it’s super easy to pour from this mug into another vessel, like a pot or a thermos.
Best For: Any backpacker, especially those that love to indulge in drinking teas, coffee, or even their favorite cocktail while out and about.
2. Ruffwear Quencher Dog Bowl
While backpacking with a dog, you’ll need something the quench their thirst. The Ruffwear Quencher Dog Bowl is the perfect packable way to provide water for your canine companion.
When your dog is ready to drink, just fill up the fabric bowl, then empty it out and collapse it to fit in your pack when they’re done. If you want to bring dog food along as well, there is a cinch-top version of the bowl to keep the kibble contained.
Best For: Backpackers who have 4-legged friends!
3. Petzl Tikkina Headlamp
The Petzl Tikkina Headlamp is a great headlamp at a great value. The Tikkina is easy to use, with just three levels (low, medium, high) to cycle through (so you don’t accidentally end up blinding your tentmate with an unexpected strobe). The 250 lumens provide plenty of light for most backpacking tasks.
MSRP: $20 plus $30 for the Core rechargeable battery.
Best For: All backpackers, especially those who are eco-conscious
4. Smartwool Trekking Socks
While socks might not seem like the most exciting gift, no one appreciates a good pair of socks more than a backpacker. Smartwool Trekking Heavy Crew Socks are designed for a long hike on the trail, with extra cushioning for support and thick insulation for comfort.
Best For: Any backpacker
Lightweight dry sacks are an essential backpacking gift. The Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack holds up to years of abuse and keeps moisture away. Holding everything from food to creating a makeshift pillow, these multi-use bags are indispensable. 20L is a great size since you can easily fit a weekend’s worth of food in there or create a cozy camp pillow by stuffing your clothing in the bag at night.
Best For: All backpackers.
5. Sawyer Mini Water Filter
A water filter is an essential piece of backpacking equipment. The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is one of the smallest and most lightweight filters you can find. It makes it easy to stay hydrated by drinking straight from a stream or filling a water bottle to continue on the trail. Perfect for anyone from thru-hikers to beginners
Best For: Lightweight backpackers that typically go on solo trips or trips with one other person.
6. Freshette Pee Funnel
This one is for the squatting backpackers in your life! The Freshette Pee Funnel makes it easy for people who squat to take care of business when nature calls without having to pull down their pants and pop a squat.
This pee funnel features a wide opening and an extension tube. While figuring out how to use a pee funnel can involve some trial and error, the Freshette has a lower learning curve than some others.
Best for: Those who squat to pee.
7. AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press
The camp coffee connoisseur will adore the AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press. This coffee maker allows you to quickly brew an excellent cup of coffee in the backcountry thanks to the simple plunger-like design.
The whole system includes the plunger, a mug, paper filters, a travel case for the filters, a spoon, and a stirrer. Everything packs down into the mug, so it takes up only a tiny amount of space in a pack.
Pssst…combine this with a Sea to Summit X-Mug for the ultimate backpacking gift!
Best For: The person that can’t go without their morning brew.
8. Big Agnes TwisterCane Seat
Most backpackers don’t carry chairs, but having a cozy seat to park your bum after a long day on the trail is a real treat. The uber lightweight (2 ounces) TwisterCane seat by Big Agnes is a worthy alternative to hauling a camp chair. With an R-value of 1.7, you also get protection from the cool ground on a chilly morning too.
What makes this seat so special is it’s made from 60% sugar cane resin, meaning it’s sustainable too!
Best For: Backpackers who want a little cushion. Ultra-lighter backpackers who still value some creature comforts.
9. Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol
Every backpacker needs a comfy place to rest their head at night. The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol provides that in a lightweight package.
The egg-carton grid pattern traps heat underneath for extra insulation while the shiny surface on top reflects heat back to your body for a warmer night’s sleep. When it’s time to break down camp, the Z Lite Sol pad folds up accordion-style to easily strap on to a pack.
Bonus: I actually use my Z Lite for a doggy sleeping pad. It weighs nothing and my 13-year-old dog appreciates the extra cushion.
Best For: Lightweight backpackers, those that backpack with their dog friends!
10. Gear Aid Tenacious Tape
Tents, jackets, stuff sacks, and packs sometimes spring a rip. Instead of throwing away a coveted piece of gear, why not give the backpacking gift that allows your adventurous friend to mend their favorite puffy jacket? Tenacious Tape is an absolute must in any backpacker’s pack.
Perfect for quick fixes and easy repairs, this gift keeps their favorite pieces of backpacking gear lasting for years to come.
Best for: All backpackers
11. Gregory 3D Hydro 2L Reservoir
Every backpacker needs a water bladder to keep hydrated during hikes, and the Gregory 3D Hydro 2L Reservoir stands out. The 3D design keeps the sides of the reservoir from touching. This makes it dry faster and prevents bacteria growth, and the wide opening and handle make it extra easy to fill.
Best for: Any backpacker
12. Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow
A pillow is often considered a luxury for a backpacker, which is what makes it a perfect backpacking gift! The Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow is curved to provide excellent head and neck support. Plus, the soft outer layer is super cozy against the skin.
Since it’s inflatable, it packs down small, and it can be inflated with just a couple of breaths when you’re exhausted at the end of a long day of hiking. Bonus points for also being an excellent travel and camping pillow.
Best For: The backpacker that likes to keep it cozy!
13. MSR Ceramic Solo Pot
Camp chefs will love the MSR Ceramic Solo Pot for cooking in the backcountry. This lightweight 1.3-liter pot is made of ceramic, which prevents food from sticking but is better for the environment and health than traditional non-stick coatings. The lid includes a handy strainer and the handle folds up to fit compactly in a backpack.
Best for: Camp chefs
14. Kula Cloth Technical Pee Cloth
Does your backpacker have to squat when they pee? Then they NEED a Kula Cloth. This technical cloth is made from anti-microbial fabric that cleans itself in the sun. Simply squat, tinkle, and wipe. Clip the Kula to your pack for easy drying. This must-have backpacking gift is an absolute lifesaver. Not to mention, the fun colors and designs bring a bit of personal flair to the situation.
Best for: Those who squat to pee.
15. Joshua Tree Lip Balm
All backpackers need an SPF lip balm. Joshua Tree uses natural ingredients to create a scent and taste-free lip balm that protects against the elements. Suitable for every environment, from the beach to the desert, Joshua Tree Lip Balm is a must-have. Not to mention, it’s one of the best budget-friendly backpacking gifts.
MSRP: $15 for a 3 pack
Best for: All backpackers.
16. REI Sahara Sun Hoody
Sun hoodies are a hot backpacking gear item this season (pun intended). Backpackers hiking in the heat of the sun definitely need some protection. The REI Sahara Sun Hoody provides a UPF 30 shield. Also, the stretchy fabric allows for full freedom of movement.
Not to mention, the material is breathable and wicks away sweat, keeping you cool in even the hottest desert environment.
Best For: Backpackers in sunny environments such as mountains, deserts, rivers, lakes, or beaches.
Backpacking Gifts Under $100
These backpacking gifts may have a higher price tag, but they are certainly sought-after items. These amazing gifts for backpackers certainly say you care and deliver plenty of adventures!
17. America the Beautiful Parks Pass
This year, choose the best backpacking gif that keeps on giving – an annual national parks pass! The America the Beautiful Pass is good for 12 consecutive months (it doesn’t matter when you bought it). With this pass, you get free access to all of America’s national parks, national recreation areas, and more. So why not give a gift that brings them what they love, more adventure!
Best For: Avid backpackers who love to go on classic backpacking trips.
18. BearVault Food Canister
If you’re backpacking in bear country, you’ll need proper bear protection. In fact, many backpacking routes require you to use hard-sided bear safety storage devices. BearVault specialized canisters are the gold standard when it comes to protecting your food from unwanted animals.
Best For: Backpackers who travel in bear country, those that adventure in national parks.
19. REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack
An extremely well-designed day pack, the REI Co-op Flash 22 Pack is a great addition to any backpacker’s arsenal. It’s comfortable to wear when carrying small loads, and it can easily be stuffed in a larger pack and then pulled out for day hikes. Also, a friendly price point makes it one of the best budget-friendly hiking bags on the market.
With a couple of zippered pockets, stretchy mesh pockets on the sides, plus several exterior loops, you can easily organize all your gear. And it comes in lots of fun colors and prints to suit every style!
Best for: Backpackers that like to go on side hikes or summit peaks.
20. Phoenix Pleat Back Tank Top by Title Nine
The Title Nine Phoenix Tank is a must-have for any backpacker that likes to look good while they hike. The moisture-wicking technical fabric keeps stink at bay while also looking on-point. This shirt is so soft, they’ll never want to take it off. The best part? It’s suitable for other outdoor activities too – making it one of the most versatile backpacking gifts on the list.
Best For: Backpackers who have a sense of fashion.
Backpacking Gifts Under $150
A lineup of special splurges that make backpacking better.
21. Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles
Trekking poles are invaluable for long hikes with lots of elevation gain. The Black Diamond Trail Ergo Cork Trekking Poles handle steep uphills and tough descents with ease.
These poles have natural cork grips that absorb sweat. Not to mention, they are angled in the most ergonomic position, so you won’t get wrist fatigue. Plus, the lever flip locks make it a snap to adjust the pole length on the fly.
Related: Do I Really Need Trekking Poles?
Best for: All backpackers, especially those with bad knees!
22. Big Agnes Mica Basin Camp Chair
Okay, so carrying a chair sounds like a luxury, but hear me out. I tried carrying a backpacking chair once and was instantly hooked. No more back pain!
Nothing beats the moment of taking your pack off and finally sitting down after an epic day of hiking. The Big Agnes Mica Basin Camp Chair is the ideal place to rest your tired body.
Because the Mica Basin chair only weighs 2 lbs, it’s worth the weight for backpacking and can also be used for car camping or even in your backyard. While it sits low to the ground, it’s designed with a wide seat in order to be comfortable and stable.
Best for: The backpacker with a sensitive back or someone who wants a little extra luxury.
Backpacking Gifts Over $150
Crucial pieces of trusty gear that will get used for years. These backpacking gifts may cost more, but they are built to last.
23. Osprey Renn 65 Pack
You can’t go backpacking without a pack, and the Osprey Renn 65 Pack is an all-around awesome backpack at an excellent value.
The Osprey Renn 65 is designed specifically for women with shoulder straps and hip belt specially contoured for a better fit. The customizable suspension system easily adjusts to your torso length.
What sets this pack apart is its weight distribution. Instead of going up, it puts the weight around your body. This makes this pack ideal for people with shorter torsos, allowing the weight to sit properly on your hips.
Lots of thoughtful features, including a zippered sleeping bag compartment, sleeping pad straps, and an integrated rain cover, make it easy to pack your gear and stay organized on the trail.
Best for: Shorter backpackers.
24. Big Agnes Sidewinder Sleeping Bag
The Sidewinder is a serious game-changer! This sleeping bag has revolutionized the game for side sleepers. Its wider hip area, re-inforced side insulation, and innovative hood make this a must-have for any side sleeper. There’s enough room to wiggle and turn at night without sacrificing weight or comfort.
Best for: Side sleepers
25. Garmin inReach Mini
For an extra measure of safety in the backcountry, your favorite backpacker needs a Garmin inReach. This two-way satellite communicator fits a lot of features into a truly tiny package for traveling anywhere.
The inReach <ini allows you to transmit an SOS in case of emergency (and text with rescuers – which speeds up the process quite a bit). It also offers two-way texting capabilities and location sharing to receive important updates and ease the minds of friends and family.
The device always provides access to detailed weather forecasts so you can be prepared for whatever’s ahead on your adventure. Keep in mind, you’ll need to pay for a subscription.
Best for: All backpackers.
26. Sea to Summit Telos TR2 Tent
What backpacker wouldn’t love the ultimate gift of a brand new ultralight tent? The Sea to Summit Telos TR2 Tent is a spacious tent with tons of features to make a fantastic base camp in the backcountry. It has two doors and two vestibules, which can be converted to awnings that provide shelter from sun or rain.
The tent is super quick to set up, and the door zippers provide easy access without a struggle. With lots of pockets and even a bin inside, you’ll have plenty of interior storage for all of your gear.
Best for: Ultra-lightweight backpackers
What to Get Someone Who Love Backpacking?
Choosing the right backpacking gifts doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, simple is always best. The best gifts for backpackers are functioning, lightweight gifts that have practical uses. Think of things like socks, lip balm, lightweight pots, and more. A few key ideas include
- Lightweight ceramic pot by MSR
- Garmin InReach Mini
- National Parks Pass
- Smartwool Trekking Socks
What Should I Get My Outdoorsy Sister?
If your sister loves the outdoors, then you wan to get gift items that fuel her adventures. Think about practical things that have many different uses regardless if she’s camping, hiking, or on an adventurous overseas vacation. A few ideas include:
- America the Beautiful Parks Pass
- A Freshette Pee Funnel
- A Kula Cloth
- REI Flash 22 bag
This incredible lineup of gifts for backpackers caters to every budget. With options ranging from an amazing collapsable mug to a brand new ultralight tent, these backpacking gifts are sure to put a smile on anyone’s face.
Additional Gift Guides
Looking for the perfect outdoor gift? Find it with these carefully curated gift guides: