With the holidays coming up and some serious sales online, there's a lot of choices for the hiker on your list. Instead of resorting to a gift card, take a look at the following options both hiking newbies and experienced backpackers would be excited to get!
Clothing can be a great option as hikers can do some damage to their trail duds in no time. Any hiker would love to receive a quality jacket or base layer that they wouldn't normally spend the money on themselves.
Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer Down Jacket- 30% off through 12/2
This 800-fill Q.Shield down jacket is ultralight at only 8 ounces and that's the version with the hood! It's highly compressible and a fantastic choice for cold nights in the backcountry. You can save an ounce for going with the hoodless option, but that's a personal preference. For me, I really like having a hood to put up easily when I'm hiking, having dinner at camp, or if I'm wearing my jacket to bed.
Icebreaker baselayers- 20% off 11/28 through 12/2
Icebreaker base layers are made of 100% merino wool which is great for regulating your temperature in any season. It's also naturally antibacterial so you can spend multiple days on a trail without stinking too much. It's also very good at wicking moisture.
Marmot Expedition Mitts- 25% off through 12/1
For winter hikers, nothing is better than a really good pair of mittens. Getting a pair for the holidays will ensure their digits stay warm all winter long! I always recommend wearing mittens for the coldest winter conditions and these ones are work horses! They are the warmest gloves I've worn and the liners work to wick moisture, keeping your hands at a more comfortable temperature. They are more bulky, so if you are looking for a mitten with a better grasp, check out the Marmot Warmest Mittens with grip-tech hands and fingers.
Sawyer Mini Water Filter
At under $25, this may be one of the most useful gifts you can get a hiker, even if they already have a water filter! At a mere 2 ounces, it will virtually disappear in a pack. I guarantee any hiker will replace their slow, heavy pump filters for this bad boy!
Platypus Hydration Bladders and bags
Platypus bladders are much lighter than traditional Nalgene water bottles and can be rolled up when not in use. They come in a range of sizes, including a hydration bladder to keep your favorite hiker well hydrated.
A headlamp is an essential piece of equipment that should be in every hiker's pack, even if he or she is going on a dayhike. The Petzl E+LITE headlamp is a great ultralight headlamp that can be tossed in as a spare. I also really like the Petzl Tikka for those who are looking for a great headlamp to use in camp and hiking after the sun sets.
Therm-a-Rest Neoair XLite
I've heard more backpackers rave about this sleeping pad than any other! It has an R-value of 3.2 and a size regular weighs in at 12 ounces. It's a little more luxurious than other sleeping pads- who wouldn't want a great night's sleep?
Tenacious Tape Great for all kinds of gear repairs
Granite Gear Wallet Keep small essentials organized with this lightweight option
Suunto Compass An essential item! Every pack should have one in it
Victorinox Swiss Army Knife A great, lightweight tool for the backcountry
Rite in the Rain Trail Journal Trail maintainers, leaders, and backpackers alike will make use of this weatherproof journal
Energy Gels and Snacks
Grab a variety of gels and bars or stock up on your hiker's favorite for the upcoming hiking season
Aquamira Water Purification Some hikers use Aquamira as their main purification system while others like it as a backup. It's a great addition to any hiker's "ditty bag".
A Buff is a bandana, ponytail holder, sun guard, scarf, hat, neck gaiter or dust screen
Smartwool Socks These 100% Merino wool socks border between a splurge and a 'must have' item for hikers
Gear Ties Attach gear to a pack with a simple twist
Lipsmackin' Backpackin' Your guide to essential eating on the trail.
Lighten Up! How to pack light without sacrificing the essentials or your safety.
The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide Supreme long-distance hiker Andrew Skurka shares his hard-earned knowledge in this essential guide to backpacking gear and skills.
AWOL on the Appalachian Trail Software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to fulfill a dream and hike the Appalachian Trail.
Called Again Jennifer Pharr Davis' account of her record-breaking supported hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Delorme InReach- $50.00 rebate through 12/31/14
Maybe this gift is more for you than the person you're getting it for! I used it on my thru hike of the John Muir Trail and loved how easy it was to use and the peace of mind it gave my family 3000 miles away.
GoPro Hero4- REI members get $50 back in their refund
Capture the trail (and all of your outdoor adventures) in stunning HD with this rugged camera.
Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Fitness Monitor -Save $30 on Black Friday
This watch tracks time, distance, current pace, calories burned, run/walk intervals, and puts all the data online with Garmin Connect
Garmin eTrex 30 GPS -40% off on Black Friday
For the hiker that likes to venture off trail. This GPS features a 3-axis compass, pressured-based altimeter and wireless communication
Fitbit -25% off on Black Friday
Set new hiking goals and track your daily fitness
RAVPower External Battery Pack
Charge up those electronics on the trail with an easy to use battery pack
So what do you get the hiker who really does have all the gear they could ever need?
Get your hiker some skills! SOLO schools offer a Wilderness First Aid and a Wilderness First Responder certificate.
REI also hosts a number of outdoor classes including wilderness survival skills, map and compass courses, and winter camping basics. Check out the REI Outdoor School for a class near you.
Get a membership to their local outdoors club or a stay at a unique location. In New Hampshire, the Appalachian Mountain Club's huts would be a great rest stop for a peakbagger. Hiking guides are often revised and would make a great gift as well.
What should you avoid buying?
As a hiker, I wouldn't advise people to buy items such as packs, tents, or sleeping bags unless a specific one has been requested. These items will vary greatly by the conditions the hiker may face as well as personal preferences. Backpacks, specifically are difficult to buy for them as they should be sized correctly and bought based on the load it will be carrying.
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