Best Gifts for Hikers That Will Really Get Used

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Written By Viju V

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When it comes to shopping for the best gifts for hikers, there are plenty of options on the market. But which items are the perfect fit that the hiking enthusiast in your life will actually use? Simply put, shopping for hikers can be difficult — and it can be extra tough if you’re unsure about what a hiker wants or needs. There is a time and place for quirky hiking-themed shirts and coffee mugs, but silly gifts aside, it is absolutely possible to find a present your gift recipient will love. Sound like a challenge? Don’t fret, that’s why we’re here.

This story is part of Gift Guide, our year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Practical items are usually high on the list when it comes to the best gifts for hikers. They are pieces of gear or accessories that your family member or friend will enjoy and actually be able to use — whether they’re heading out on a multi-day backpacking trip in the national parks or embarking on a 5-mile loop near their home. You’re here to find the perfect gift for hikers, but before you read on, let’s dig into the types of presents to avoid. The gag gifts and cliches, like a random colorful walking stick you found online or at a local farmers market, will just end up being dead weight. (And yes, that’s something I’ve been given as a gift.)

While you’re on the hunt for a great gift for the hiker in your life, take into consideration a few of my suggestions, which are based on my experiences hiking over the years. There’s a solid chance you’ll find some gear on this list your hiker doesn’t already have — or which could use an upgrade before their next outdoor adventure.

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Heat It

There are about a thousand different ways you can try to repel mosquitoes, but in my experience very few of them are 100% effective and the ones that are shouldn’t live on or near your skin every day. You can’t always control when you’re going to get bit, but there are a couple of things you can do to stop those bites from driving you crazy. One I find particularly interesting is Heat It, an accessory that plugs in to the charging port on your phone and uses an app to create a hot spot you press to the bite to dissolve the chemicals causing itchiness. The app also lets you document number of bites and symptoms, to better help you determine if additional steps should be taken for your health.

Important note: The Android version of this accessory is USB-C, but it does not work with the new iPhone 15 series. An Apple-specific version will be available soon, but currently only iPhone 14 and older are supported.

Camelbak

There is nothing more important on any kind of hike than hydration, and for a very long time the gold standard in hydration on a trail or a bike has been the Camelbak. You can store loads of water in a convenient pouch on your back, with a long tube you can clip next to your shoulder for when you need a quick drink. 

You can get a lot of different kinds of backpack holsters for Camelbak reservoirs, but the Ambush is my personal favorite for hiking. The durable fabric can survive a fall, you don’t have to fully remove the bladder to refill it and there are several pockets for holding all of your essentials. It’s the perfect backpack for any kind of hike, and makes it easy to leave with just this bag on your back.

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There are few things better than sitting in a hammock at the side of a lake or the top of a mountain. This portable hammock is lightweight, packs away small and works in a ton of different environments. It’s a simple gift and comes in a ton of different colors, which is great for making this gift feel like it’s really made for them.

Smartwool Socks
Smartwool

There’s no such thing as too many socks, especially when you’re hiking. Whether it’s a day hike or a full week out on the trail, having the right socks makes a huge difference. Smartwool socks come in a variety of heights, cushion levels and designs. They’re also great for any temperature, because the primary focus is keeping moisture away from your feet and adding pressure in all of the right places to help prevent blisters. Consider buying your hiker a variety of light, medium and highly cushioned hiking socks. The lightest and thinnest (no cushion) also feel great in everyday sneakers, and the wool material has never made me itch.

Jetboil

When it comes to camp stoves, Jetboil is the champion. It works better at higher altitudes without consuming as much fuel, and it’s compact enough to fit in any pack. If you’re doing a hike for more than an afternoon, this is the cook stove every hiker loves. What we don’t love is accidentally running out of fuel in the middle of a trip, and that’s what makes the JetGauge so useful. It weighs the canister and gives a percentage of the remaining fuel for better preparation, and belongs in every hiker’s pack if they’re hiking for multiple days. 

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Ever hike to the top of a mountain only to discover it’s a lot colder up there? Not a fun feeling, especially if you’re unprepared. I’m not a fan of disposable heaters that end up in the trash or a fire pit, so I usually recommend these rechargeable hand warmers. They have multiple temperature settings, can be recharged by a solar panel if needed, and are small and light enough to not really notice in a day bag.

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Spot

While more and more phones are coming with emergency satellite functionality, not everyone wants to bring their phone on a hike and have to worry about keeping it charged. If the hiker in your life would rather leave their phone in the car but still be able to reach out and let someone know where they are, the Spot Gen4 is a great option. It’s a simple black box you can clip to a belt or toss in a bag and offer satellite location and quick message check-ins at the touch of a button, as well as emergency services should the need arise. While there are monthly service fees associated with Spot, they’re flexible enough that casual hikers would only spend a few dollars a year for safety when they’re in the wilderness.

Superfeet insoles
Superfeet

I swear by these. Not every hiking shoe or boot comes with the right arch support for your foot, and even those that do could use a boost. If you’ve got high arches like me or you’re in need of something to provide a little extra heel support, Superfeet insoles mitigate the beating your feet take over hikes of any duration. Every color in the lineup indicates a different kind of support, and once you have trimmed these to fit the right shoe, they can stay there as long as you keep the boot. You can also pull them out and transfer them to any other shoe. Prices vary depending on size and support, but pick the right one and it’ll last years. 

Russell Holly

Most kayaks take up a lot of room, and they aren’t all that portable. If you wanted to go to a lake at the top of a hike and get in the water, your average kayak would make that a little rough. The Oru Kayak Inlet is an origami kayak that folds up when you’re not using it. You can wear it like a backpack, making it easier to get to places. 

The whole kit weighs 20 pounds and the backpack case can fit other things on it, so you can easily take it on a hike and enjoy the water when you get to your destination. 

LightMe Solar LED Bulb
Amazon

Lights aren’t the most exciting gift in the world, but a solar-friendly light you can hang anywhere is an incredibly useful thing for any camper or hiker if they have the weight for it. If you can charge it while you’re hiking, having a light like this in the evening means never needing to worry about batteries, and that’s a big deal. 



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