Searching for the perfect gift for campers and hikers can be quite challenging. There is a seemingly infinite amount of equipment and gadgets tailor-made for outdoor enthusiasts.
But which camping and hiking products are worth it? And, what camping and hiking equipment can make the great outdoors more enjoyable?
Well, here’s my list of the 22 gifts campers and hikers are wishing for all-year round. I’ve purchased a majority of these items for myself and as gift so I can let you know why they’re fantastic!
1. Trekking Poles
Trekking poles are a game-changer that many hikers swear by. And whether it’s used on flat terrain, or over steep, rocky terrain, walking poles enhance the overall hiking experience.
Trekking poles, when used correctly, gives your body more points of contact with the ground:
- When you’re climbing up or down steep, slippery terrain, you’ll feel a lot more anchored. Therefore, the chances for slipping and falling are minimized.
- Walking poles activate your arms more when hiking, and if you’re carrying a heavy pack, can lighten the load on your lower back.
As far as which trekking poles are the best, I would highly suggest purchasing ones that fully collapse instead of the telescoping ones. I find the fully collapsible poles can fit into my pack a lot easier, so I’m more likely to take them on a hike or pack it away when I don’t need them.
I have a pair of Black Diamond trekking poles. They pop together in an instant, and the top section can be lengthened to fit hikers of different heights. The poles have a textured grip, and, since they’re made from aluminum, only weigh 510 grams!
As an avid hiker, I would definitely consider trekking poles as a practical and functional gift. It’ll get used frequently, and they’ll make your time on the trail a lot more enjoyable.
2. Wool Socks
Outdoor shoes specifically designed for camping and hiking aren’t usually the most comfortable. Rugged hiking boots are typically stiff being made from durable materials. These same materials sometimes don’t maximize airflow, or support, leading to foot fatigue and potentially blisters.
But, paired with the right socks and those shoes can transform. A high quality pair of Merino wool socks can keep your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
They can wick away moisture, and can help keep the funk out of your shoe because they have natural anti-microbial properties!
So, for a very small price, you can give the gift of foot comfort to someone who might desperately need it.
3. Tilley Hat
Sun protection is key while camping and hiking. A wide-brimmed hat can definitely help keep those harsh summer-time sun-rays from roasting your head, face, and neck.
My wife and I started out camping and hiking using baseball caps to keep our heads cool, and the sun out of our eyes. But after constantly suffering from sunburns to our face, neck, and shoulders, we decided to looking into alternatives.
A friend suggested we look into Tilley hats, and we’re so happy with them!
Tilley hats come in a wide variety of models, fabrics, and colours. Some models are waterproof, while others are lightweight and breathable. They seem to never loose their shape, even when packed in a suitcase or backpack.
Campers and hikers will love getting a Tilley hat as a gift – they’ll look as good as Indiana Jones, and ready for as much adventure!
4. Two-Way Radios
Sometimes, the best hiking trails and campsites are located far off the beating path, in areas of little to no cell phone reception.
It’s true that cell phone reception is fairly extensive these days. Many hikers and campers generally don’t stray too far from areas of service, and can usually call for help without any issues.
But, in more remote parts of the world, cell phone service might be spotty or non-existent. It’s recommended that before you leave for a hike or camping adventure, you always double check to see if you have cell phone coverage in the area.
And, if you plan on going into an area with little to no service, it’s best to pack two-way radios with you, like these Motorola USB rechargeable radios, so you can:
- Contact authorities if you need help during an emergency
- Check-in with other members of your party if you need to separate
- Monitor radio chatter if areas that are prone to fires, and hunting
Personally, I’ve been guilty of trekking into an area of no cellphone reception and no way of contacting the outside world in an emergency situation.
A two-way radio would be an excellent device to keep for peace of mind and safety, as well as makes for a great practical gift!
5. Lightweight Tarp
As a Canadian, I’m used to roughing it in all sorts of weather conditions. Sun, rain, sleet, and snow. Sometimes all in the same day!
But, when it comes to keeping you and your camping equipment shielded from whatever mother nature throws your way, a lightweight tarp is a phenomenally useful tool.
For me, it’s a no-brainer. I’m bringing my trusty silicone coated nylon tarp on every single camping trip. It’s completely waterproof and does a fantastic job at deflecting torrential downpours as well as blocking intense heat from the sun on hot summer days.
A normal heavy duty polypropylene tarp is great for car camping. But, it’s too big and bulky for hiking or backcountry adventures. A good quality silicone or polyurethane-coated nylon tarp is compact, lightweight, durable, and versatile.
But, since they’re made from more premium materials, and the manufacturing process is a bit more intense than polypropylene, these tarps are a bit more expensive. But they’re totally worth it, and would be a beloved gift for any hard-core camper.
6. Insulated Cup
Let’s face it; nobody wants to drink cold coffee or warm beer while camping. In fact, you might end up with a grouchy group of campers if this is allowed to happen.
So, what’s the solution? Well, insulated cups are the best way to keep hot things hot and cold things cold.
A metal double-walled insulated cup like the 10 oz. Yeti Rambler is perfectly made for any camping adventure. Its superb construction is ideal for car camping, backcountry camping, cottage trips, and RV life.
The removable lid keeps the contents from spilling out, as well as keeps bugs and debris from contaminating your drink. Just remember that the Yeti Rambler isn’t 100% leak proof.
My wife and I each have a Yeti Rambler. We use it at home as much as we use it outdoors. It’s such a great gift for individuals who are constantly outside.
7. Travel Pillow
In the past, I used to stuff my clothes into a dry-bag and use that as my pillow. I did that because I didn’t want to bring a large pillow from home with me because it took up so much space in my pack.
I spent several years just accepting that fact that my head and neck were unsupported while sleeping in a tent.
Fast forward a few years, and after meeting my now wife, I no longer suffer from a sore neck while camping.
Why? Because miracles happen… Also, travel pillows were invented and I was living under a rock.
My wife actually bought a Therm-a-Rest travel pillow for a super long flight to Seychelles (for our honeymoon albeit). Then it dawned on us. WE CAN USE THIS FOR CAMPING! And for picnics or in the hammock…
Ever since then, my wife and I sleep a whole lot more comfortably while outdoors. The foam-filled pillow compresses down when packed, and fluffs up when unpacked. It’s machine washable too, which makes cleaning it a breeze!
My recommendation – get a travel pillow! Even if it’s not a gift for someone, you’ll find it super useful for yourself.
8. Battery Bank
Access to power in remote areas is a challenge campers and hikers regularly face. The standard procedure for charging electronic devices is to bring extra batteries.
However, if your electronics are USB rechargeable, a large capacity battery bank can be a fantastic, portable option.
Battery banks come in a variety of sizes and capacities, which are indicated by the “amp-hour”. The higher the rating, the longer the charge lasts when powering-up phones, camera gear, head lamps, and radios.
Personally, I carry an Aukey 30,000 mAh battery bank. Its got plenty of capacity to recharge my phone, camera equipment, and more. And, if it needs a recharge, I can easily plug it into my solar charger (see #9 below), and top it up!
For those campers and hikers who always need to have access to power, this is a great gift idea!
9. Solar Charger
As mentioned previously, carrying a bunch of extra batteries might not make sense, especially if you’ll be trekking into the backcountry, or off the grid for any lengthy period of time.
This is where a solar charger comes in handy. A solar charger can convert sunlight into electrical energy and charge your electronic devices.
They’re easy to use and don’t take up much space in a backpack since they fold flat. I carry my Anker 21W portable solar charger on all my backcountry camping adventures. It can easily replenish the charge in my battery bank throughout the day.
Opening bottles, tightening screws, cutting rope, and wood whittling are common camping and hiking activities. And a versatile multi-tool can make handling these task fun and easy.
Some multi-tools have a gizmo for every job under the sun, but the essentials include a sharp blade, pliers, a bottle opener and a screw driver. That’s pretty much all you need to tackle 99% of issues you’ll face outdoors!
For me, there’s no better multi-tool than the Leatherman Skeletool. It’s got all of the important tools built-in, plus a sleek, minimalist design that you can carry and use everyday.
My wife and I have bought this tool as a gift for friends and family and they absolutely love it.
11. Head Lamp
Some of the best headlamps on the market these days are so versatile and practical that they have become an essential part of certain recreational activities and sports.
From camping and cycling, to hiking and hunting, headlamps offer compact, hands-free illumination.
So, if you’re looking to step-up your own lighting game, or get a head lamp for someone else as a gift, you might want to consider one of these top 3 sport headlamps!
12. Folding Saw
A compact folding saw is a light-weight and efficient cutting tool for all sorts of outdoor adventures – from camping and hunting, to bushcraft and survival.
But, if you don’t already have a folding saw, how do you know which one to get? Well, in my experience, a great folding saw balances 4 key aspects – efficiency, transportability, ergonomics, and safety.
Just like most outdoor equipment, there are plenty of options to choose from. However, by a landslide, the most popular compact saw used is the Bahco Laplander folding saw.
For the past 10 years, I’ve used it constantly while camping. I carry it into the bush on my custom-made utility belt, and use it to fell small trees, cut logs, and trim make-shift wooden poles.
You’ll quickly find that the folding saw will become your favourite tool while camping or hiking!
There’s no better way to kick back and relax than spending an afternoon swaying in the wind in a hammock.
Most camping hammocks are small and light-weight enough to be stuffed into a pack. And, they can be set up by a single person pretty quickly – usually under 5 minutes.
Personally, I bring my Therm-a-rest Slacker hammock on all my camping adventures. It’s the perfect way to relax. You can read a book, listen to nature, or just take a nap.
Getting someone a good quality hammock as a gift will surely elevate their outdoor experiences!
14. Tactical Belt
A high quality tactical belt goes a long way while camping or hiking. All your important tools are securely attached to your hips and ready to use at a moments notice.
A tactical belt allows you to more easily carry equipment with you, as well as frees up your hands for other tasks.
Recently, I made myself a utility belt for camping to carry my axe, saw, knife, bear spray, and other tools. I ended up using an old nylon belt but it’s cumbersome and a bit flimsy.
A better option would be to use a heavy duty military style tactical belt with a quick release buckle. Its military grade components make it ideal for the outdoors and great for campers, hikers, and hunters.
So, the next time you think a belt is a lame gift, why not get a tactical belt instead!
15. Hydration Pack
One of the biggest mistakes you can make while camping or hiking is not drinking enough water. And, depending on the weather conditions and the level of activity, dehydration can occur fairly rapidly.
But, carrying a water bottle everywhere you go can be challenging. This is especially true if you’re hiking with walking poles, or paddling in a canoe. And the easier it is to access water, the more likely you are to drink it.
Well, a hydration pack solves that issue! It’s essentially a backpack with a built-in water bladder with a tube that allows you to sip on water on-the-go, as you walk, run, peddle, or paddle.
There are lots of hydration packs to choose from. A common bladder capacity is 2 litres. This gives you access to plenty of fluids before having to refill. The Teton Sports Oasis 2 litre hydration pack is a great, low-cost option!
I use my hydration pack mostly for cycling, but it comes in super handy when hiking in the middle of our hot Ontario summers.
16. Outdoor Knife
A dedicated outdoor knife is a prized possession for most outdoor enthusiasts. They are a essential tool used around campsites and in the forest.
Whether it’s cutting rope to length, processing animals, or prepping wood for a fire, having a good quality knife is extremely important.
Simply speaking, there are two kinds of outdoor knives – fixed blade knives and folding knives. But, there are so many knives to choose from. Each has their own unique qualities and drawbacks.
So, to help make the decision making process a bit easier, check out my guide on How to Pick the Best Knife. Included are my recommendations for knives for all sorts of activities, as well as my top picks for the best overall, multi-purpose knives!
17. Rope (You’ll Always Need it!)
I say this so often before, during, and after camping… Rope is so useful, and you can never have enough.
Case-in-point, whenever I go camping I make sure I bring enough rope to fulfill all my rope needs, plus a little more (just in case!).
Rope is used for setting up tarps, hanging clothes to dry, lifting bear barrels into trees, anchoring canoes and kayaks to shore, and so much more.
I typically bring 100 feet of reflective paracord as my universal rope. It’s thin but super strong and can be cut up and used around your campsite.
I also like to carry around 100 feet of 3/16 inch nylon static rope. I use this rope for more intense activities such as the main rope for my tarp set up or lifting food storage containers into trees.
Rope, you’ll always need it! And anyone who gets it as a gift will definitely use it!
18. Bear Spray / Air Horn
Camping and hiking in areas frequented by large wild animals can be quite dangerous. A chance encounter with a bull moose, hungry cougar, or predatory bear can turn deadly in an instant.
An air horn can be used as a preliminary line of defence if you spot a potentially life-threating animal near by. The loud noise can spook them enough to leave the area immediately.
However, if that doesn’t work, or if they get too close for comfort or charge, you can deploy bear spray. Its powerful cocktail of concentrated capsaicin can stop a bear dead in its tracks without permanently injuring it.
Who knows, this excellent gift for campers and hikers can one day save their life!
19. BBQ Grate
Cooking over a roaring fire is everyone’s ideal image of camping. But, actually doing it can be difficult, especially if you don’t have the right set up.
You can easily burn your food or damage your cookware if done incorrectly.
So, to make it a lot easier to cook over an open flame, make sure you use a portable BBQ grate. A BBQ grate allows you to have a relatively flat and even cooking surface.
You can cook directly over the flames, or support pots and pans over the fire to better manage heating.
Trekking through certain types of terrain exposes your lower legs and shins to unseen hazards such as prickly bushes and even blood-sucking leeches!
So, to prevent yourself from bleeding excessively thanks to mother nature, you can wear a pair of all-terrain gaitors while hiking.
If you don’t know, gaitors are essentially reinforced fabric that you strap onto your boots and around your lower legs. They shield any exposed skin from debris and keep water from entering your boots.
For campers and hikers that frequent areas that are prone to thorns, ticks, or other harmful things, gaitors would make a great gift.
21. Ground Stakes
Most tents come with ground stakes included which help to anchor your tent in windy conditions. But, these included stakes are usually too flimsy or too heavy to carry around and use.
I’ve bent and broken countless ground stakes attempting to hammer them into rocky terrain.
A set of heavy duty ground stakes can last a lifetime and offer improved anchoring for tents, tarps, and anything else that needs a secure anchor point.
Carabineers are incredibly useful. They can be clipped onto your belt or backpack and used for a variety of tasks around camp. If fact, here are 5 practical ways to use a carabiner while camping.
Carabiners come in wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some are locking, while others are meant for more extreme load bearing situations.
For me, some of the most useful carabiners are the smaller kind. I use these small locking carabineers to connect keys to lanyards, and clip small items to my daypack.
I typically carry a few larger carabiners as well for lifting and hanging bear barrels in trees, or clipping larger tools to my utility belt.
A pack of carabiners would make for a functional and practical gift any camper or hiker will appreciate.
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