We had such a good time nailing down the 10 Best Gifts for Backpackers we just couldn’t stop. Here’s 11 more great backpacking gifts that will help you find something perfect for your hard-to-shop-for backpacker. Of course, some of these backpacking gifts are perfect for hikers, too. Either way, here’s something to remember about backpacking gifts: Backpackers love to try new gear, so even if they already have, say, a headlamp, they’ll appreciate another one. Seriously. Backpackers are like that.
If you’re looking for a small gift, check out 10 Stocking Stuffers for Backpackers.
One more thing: Most of the clothing comes in versions for women, too, even if the links go to a men’s version. You get the same great technology and overall design, just a different size and fit.
11 More Best Gifts for Backpackers:
1. Rain Jacket
A good rain jacket is a must-have item for trekking into the backcountry where temperatures can plummet. Staying dry can save your life, and layering clothes underneath a waterproof layer can get you through some seriously cold weather. Try the Marmot PreCip (one of our favorites) or the Columbia Sportswear Men’s Evapouration Jacket. An entry-level rain jacket is always better than no rain jacket — we appreciate the cost-effective White Sierra Men’s Trabagon Jacket or the Sierra Designs Men’s Hurricane HP Jacket. If you can find and/or afford some pants, get those, too, but the jacket is most important.
2. Fleece Jacket
A good light fleece jacket or shirt is perfect for cool mornings — and layering under rain gear, which makes it a versatile backpacking gift. Plus, the synthetic polar-type fleece is mildly water-resistant and much better than cotton. Most any brand will do, but we like the fit, finish, and cost of the Marmot Reactor Fleece Jacket. The Arc’teryx Fortrez Hoodie Fleece Jacket is spendy — but wickedly good with four-way stretch.
3. Wool Base Layers
Previously known as long underwear, wool base layers simply provide the best warmth and heat regulation, in addition to naturally fighting funky smells when worn a day too long. Every backpacker would love to have a set wool base layers — bottoms and a crew top — plus they’re great for winter sports. Wool is a can’t-go-wrong material for backpacking, especially for long trips, which makes it a great backpacking gift. Check out IceBreaker, SmartWool, or Minus33.
4. Rugged Waterproof Camera
Smartphone cameras are fantastic, but battery life in the backcountry can be a challenge. Not to mention durability or needing a bit of juice left to call for emergency help. Enter the rugged waterproof camera. These little cameras take great photos, can shoot excellent video of baby mountain goats (we wish we had one on hand for this video), and have batteries that will last an entire trip, letting your backpacker capture the photos of a lifetime — as well as pause for some close-ups of wildflowers. Oh, one more thing: These dedicated cameras have 4 or 5x optical zoom lenses, which let you take photos of wildlife that you can actually see when you get home. Our current favorite is the Olympus TG-870 for its wide-angle lens and handy flip screen for selfies and low-angle photos.
5. Fly Fishing Rod or Spinning Outfit
A packable lightweight fishing rod can bring a great diversion to a hike into a mountain lake, which often have trout — and sometimes very large trout. After leaving a rod behind, we always have at least one rod on all trips. Get the best-buy Cabela’s Three Forks Combo in the 8-foot, 4-weight model in four pieces, or the Cabela’s Stowaway 6 for ultra-packable excellence. For spin fishing, we like the super light Shakespeare Travel Mate Telescopic Rod & Reel Combo. While a packable fishing rod can be coveted backpacking gifts, they make great backup rods for any fisher.
6. Solar Panel
For the gadget lover — or trekker who goes off the grid for days at a time — you can’t beat a portable solar panel for juicing up your gadgets. Plus, a smartphone charge could save a life. The Anker 21W PowerPort Solar Charger offers one of the best values available right now. And, as backpacking gifts go, a solar charger is particularly apt since so many people take their smartphones backpacking these days. Oh, here’s one more option because the company that makes it is so darn cool: check out the BioLite SolarPanel 5+.
7. Cooking Pot with Charger
Speaking of smartphones, when the sun won’t shine, you can turn to fire for energy, so maybe there is something that can beat a portable solar panel: The PowerPot V Backpacker Bundle will make any gadget geek grin. Bonus: If you’re caught in a natural disaster with the power grid down, you’ll want this pot. Just pay attention to the flames and keep it full of water and you’ll be fine.
Your backpacker probably already has a headlamp, but upgrades are always welcome. The Black Diamond Storm is waterproof and puts out a whopping 250 lumens. It is an all-purpose wonder with night vision modes and strobe settings for maximum battery life.
9. Satellite Tracking
If your backpacker goes solo, a SPOT Generation 3 Satellite Messenger can ease your mind — or the DeLorme inReach SE 2-Way Satellite Communicator, which lets you send text messages, too. These trackers and communicators are some of the best backpacking gifts ever invented because, even with today’s cell phone towers, sometimes you just can’t get a regular mobile phone signal. If your backpacker goes solo, make one of these a priority gift.
10. Water Shoes
The hot summer sun might seem far away, but lightweight water shoes make surprisingly good backpacking gifts. Why? After a long day on the trail, mesh water shoes offer ultimate breathability for tired feet. Plus, you can fish in them or use them to cross a creek without getting your leather backpacking boots wet. They’re fantastic. You could settle for something like Crocs, of course, but the most versatile water shoe going today is the Saloman Techamphibian 3.
While backpackers don’t want extra weight, sometimes they ache for a set of binoculars to watch a mountain goat frolic on the side of a cliff. The compromise? A monocular. Get the Alpen BAK4 LE Rubber Covered Monocular . . . it has the best blend of optical quality (BAK4 lenses) in a small size at a fantastic price. It also has a no-questions-asked replacement warranty if you drop it down a rocky trail and break it. All-in-all, monoculars are thoughtful-but-different backpacking gifts for backpackers who have everything.
Bonus: Backpacking Boots
Backpacking boots are tough to buy for someone else, but one way to figure it out is to pay attention to praise for a buddy’s boots or simply replace the boots your backpacker already has with the same or newer model from the same boot maker. If that fails, the Vasque St. Elias has gotten astoundingly good reviews for a traditional boot, while the Vasque Breeze 2.0 gets great reviews for those in warmer climates. The Vasque Talus Ultradry is a good lightweight hiking boot for those who want to go lighter. One of the best traditional backpacking boots is the L.L.Bean Gore-Tex Cresta Hiking Boots. Their all-leather design forms to the shape of your foot over time, resulting in a fit that just feels like home. Can’t go wrong, especially with L.L.Bean’s legendary customer satisfaction guarantee. Also, you can get them in narrow, medium, and wide for both men or women.
Your backpacker might need to return the boots, but it’s the thought that counts here!
One last thing: If you arrived here first, be sure to check out our first backpacking gift guide that started it all as well as our backpacking stocking stuffer guides:
- 10 Best Gifts for Backpackers
- 10 Stocking Stuffers for Backpackers
- 25 Gifts for Backpackers Who Have Everything
See also, Gear Guide: Best Lightweight Down Jackets.