The Best Backpacking Gifts (Useful & Unique Gift Ideas)
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Want the best backpacking gifts? These are the 35 best gifts for backpackers, useful and unique gift ideas, plus gifts under $25.
CONTENTS OF BEST GIFTS FOR A BACKPACKER
I love backpacking. It’s a great way to get around. It’s cheap, fun, and you get to see a whole lot of tranquil nature. You can go with friends or by yourself, and even meet some like-minded people along the way.
If you’re not a fan of backpacking but you know someone who is, you may want to tailor some gifts towards their favorite hobby. Maybe it’s their birthday soon? But if you know nothing about this outdoorsy activity, it can be easy to stress about what to get someone who loves backpacking.
This is where my backpacking gift guide comes into play. I’ve listed a whole bunch of awesome ideas – from conventional gifts to backpacker gadgets – to make sure you’re getting a present that’s going to be super appreciated!
What is Backpacking?
Simply put, backpacking is traveling with everything you need or desire safely stashed on your back. It can be international or domestic, but either way, it’s usually for a long time – think anywhere from a few weeks to a few years.
This means backpackers really have to consider what they pack – and how they pack it – in their handy backpack. So, if you’re thinking of gifts, lightweight is always good. Consider useful stuff that can do more than one thing and packable, collapsible backpacker items that don’t take up too much space.
Backpackers can be hardcore, on-the-road people, who take up backcountry hiking and staying in amongst nature, or they can be following more well-trodden routes, such as those in Southeast Asia, for example, staying in hostels along the way.
Basically, backpacking is a long-term experience – longer than the average tourist, anyway – so they will be packing for long-term travel. If you were thinking more along the lines of hiking, then you may want to check out my post on the best hiking gifts instead.
Our Pick: Top 10 Backpacking Gifts for Xmas 2022
Short on time and just want a super quick list of the top gifts for backpackers that money can buy. These are all unique gifts backpackers would love to have on their worldly excursions, and you’d be a legend for gifting them!
|5-in-1 Survival Bracelet Includes compass, emergency knife, whistle, a firestarter, and a military-grade paracord|
|Personal Water Filter Makes (almost) any water safe to drink|
|Compact Camping Hammock Lightweight, holds up to 400lbs, folds into it's own carry|
|Garmin Navigator Rugged, waterproof, has a reliable signal, and up to 20 hours of use|
|Collapsible Coffee Drip Well-engineered, stands up on top of your mug|
|HEETA Dry Bags Keeps important stuff dry and helps compartmentalize gear inside the backpack|
|Microfiber Camping Towel Quick drying, rolls compact, and comes in a set of three|
|Teva Sandals Lightweight and cool hiking shoes|
|CamelBak Hydration Pack Includes 2.5-liter reservoir of water that slots into the pack|
|Travel Toiletry Bag Compact design, waterproof, multiple compartments|
COOL BACKPACKING GADGETS
Garmin Navigator to Help Find the Way
Among all the best backpacker gadgets you may be wondering about, this GPS navigator from Garmin is a super-handy thing to have. It’s rugged, waterproof, has a reliable signal, and boasts up to 20 hours of use before the next recharge. Awesomely, it shows you differences in elevation, stores way-points for you along the track, and shows you distances and times between where you are and where you want to be. Not being lost is something you can easily take for granted, so this Garmin gadget can make sure you’re always on the right track.
Check the Temperature with this Thermometer Carabiner
If you’re wondering about bagging some awesome gifts for backpackers, look no further than this nifty lil’ carabiner. It’s got a mini thermometer on it, which is fun. It’s super light and acts as a great stocking stuffer if you’re stuck for ideas and your friends with a keen backpacker (or two).
A 5-in-1 Survival Bracelet
Survive with this awesome bracelet. It may not be one of those unique gifts for backpackers you think of right away (because how could you think of this unique piece of kit?), but that doesn’t make it any less cool. It’s got no less than five survival essentials included in the rugged elasticated wrist strap: a compass, an emergency knife, a whistle, a firestarter (super handy), and a military-grade paracord that stretches 12 feet. My work here is done.
Slurp on Drip Coffee in Style
Gifts for the backpacker who also happens to be a huge coffee nerd don’t get much better than this uber-cool item. Coming from hip Japanese brand Snow Peak, this stainless steel drip coffee filter holder has been amazingly well-engineered. It stands up on top of your mug, collapses flat for transportation, and looks snazzy as all heck. All your friend needs are coffee filters, hot water, and coffee (obviously), and they’ll never be without their all-important gourmet brew on the trail.
Create an Atmosphere with Inflatable Lanterns
Bring on the fun times and add some party-ish atmosphere to your camp with these inflatable lanterns. Super lightweight and very packable (since they lay flat), all you need to do is whip ‘em out and inflate them into their cuboid forms you’ll be ready to switch on the mood lighting. Coming in seven different colors and with long battery life, these puppies are even waterproof, so you can float ‘em on a hot tub (if you’re lucky enough to have one in your campsite) or just stick them in your tent.
Keep Cool with a Tent Fan
Tents can get so hot and stuffy. So, so hot. If there’s no breeze around and it’s a warm day, waking up in a tent can be like waking up in an oven. This tent fan (from Coleman, no less) works to add a bit of breeze to proceedings and is compatible with most tents. It even comes with a stand so you can position it wherever, rather than hanging it up. Not the backpacker item you were thinking of, but definitely a unique gift for any of your pals who like to hit the trail.
Storage Solutions for Your Campsite
Things can get into a big, big mess when you arrive at a campsite. You need to put the tent up, put some comfier, less sweaty clothes on, you (probably) need to eat, and that can mean your stuff gets into disarray. This portable laundry line means not only being able to dry any clothes that may be wet (or sweaty), but also that you’ll be able to hang up stuff like a torch, a water bottle, or any other necessity. Trust me; anybody you gift this backpacker item to will be forever in your debt. It is super simple but very effective.
You might not even know what cribbage is, but if you’re racking your brain for cool camping gifts, this could be a great option. This is a backpacker card game that keeps score using a roll-out board (in this camping-friendly instance) and makes for a great way to spend a night around the campfire. It’s handily packable, too, with a soft “board” that wraps around the conveniently waterproof playing cards. It’s easy to stash away in a pocket for a hiking trip and easy to take out when the campfire’s roaring.
USEFUL GIFTS FOR BACKPACKERS
This Awesome Foldable Stove
Compact and cool, this camping stove proves that you don’t need to lug around a whole grill to enjoy some well-earned grub on the go – or even a cup of coffee. The TOMSHOO camping stove is pretty stable; it’s windproof, and, weighing in at only 16.6oz, the stove collapses in on itself for some great portability credentials. It runs on good old-fashioned wood, so you don’t need to worry about bulky gas canisters. Just collect some twigs and leaves, get a fire going, stick your pot on top, and boom – your on-trail, cost-effective, environmentally-friendly kitchen. Backpacking gift ideas don’t get much more useful than this!
Crazy Miniature Expandable Wipes
Super, super cool idea here, guys. Out with the wet wipes (bad for the environment!), and in with these amazing biodegradable mini wipes. It’s definitely one of those presents for backpackers that they may not think of getting for themselves and is an excellent idea for a gift. All you need to do is add a squirt of water to a sort of papery coin thing, and they expand into wipes! Super handy for all your wipe-related needs!
Hydrate with a Personal Water Filter
WakiWaki Water Filter Straw basically makes (almost) any water safe to drink. And we all need water, right? It’s an essential item for any backpacker heading out into the wilderness and solves your problems if you’ve run out of drinking water. Just get yourself to a water source, fill up, and the water filter straw – complete with activated carbon filtering – will make that H20 safe to drink. It’s lightweight, super useful, and is definitely one of the best gift ideas for backpackers out there.
Bears. You don’t really want them near you, but on the other hand, you also need food to live. Bears like food. It’s a dilemma that brings bears to campsites time and time again. The solution? Bear-proof bags! Well, these are actually rodent-proof bags (you’ll need an odor-proof bag to keep bears at bay), and it will stop any critter from getting into your stash of food. That’s because they’re super durable, and they definitely stand up against hungry rodents – and birds, too!
This Awesome CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack
Staying hydrated is obviously important to hikers. This CamelBak Rogue Hydration Pack helps solve the eternal problem of thirst while out exploring nature. With a 2.5-liter reservoir of water that slots into the pack itself, this fantastic product allows any backpacker to maintain their hydration levels on the move. Definitely one of the best gifts for backpackers, the pack also comes with additional space for stuff like keys, wallets, whatever. You could even use this as a pack for a day-hike away from your base camp!
An Emergency Blanket (Just in Case)
Useful camping gifts don’t always have to be the obvious stuff – sometimes it can be something you can use in a pinch. I mean, this blanket literally says “DON’T DIE” on it, so that kinda vouches for its survivalist credentials. They’re extra-large, super-insulated, and double-sided. So they can cover the whole body, but they pack down into a tiny pouch – no inconvenience and little added weight. The material is NASA-designed, so you know you’re in safe hands.
Compact Camping Hammock
I think this one is one of those top gifts for backpackers. It’s something you may not get for yourself, but let’s be honest here – who doesn’t want to swing in a hammock? This particular one (from aptly named Legit Camping) is super lightweight, can take up to 400lbs, and can be easily stuffed into a pack. Find a sturdy couple of trees, secure the hammock, and you’ll be kicking back with a beer – or whatever you feel like – in no time.
Super Comfy Sleeping Pad
Actually, get a good night’s sleep with this supremely packable and ultra-comfy 2-inch thick inflatable sleeping pad. It weighs in at 14.5oz and rolls down to the size of a water bottle. You won’t have to worry about not having any room – or having somewhere comfortable to sleep. It’s sturdy, durable, and comes with a lifetime guarantee. What more could you want? If you’re searching for good gifts for backpackers, your search, my friend, has ended with this awesome idea.
Keep Your Gear Safe with Dry Bags
Wet gear is no fun. No fun at all. Dry bags are super essential, and one of the most overlooked backpacker items. No backpacker should be without at least one. Enter these bags from HEETA; not only do they keep wet stuff away from your gear, but they can keep important stuff (phone, ID, etc.) dry and help compartmentalize your gear inside your backpack itself. It’s a no-brainer.
A Very Useful Travel Toiletry Bag
This is one of those backpacker gift ideas you should follow up on. A toiletry bag will be very much appreciated by whoever you’re gifting it to. Something like this is going to become a go-to for years and years (I was gifted mine some time ago and still use it to this day). It’s a super-compact design; it’s waterproof, helpful, and has multiple compartments to keep your toothbrush away from your deodorant. The hook means you can simply hang it up – save space and have easy access to all your toiletry needs.
Get Clean and Dry with a Microfiber Camping Towel
You’ve hiked, your camp’s set up, now it’s time to take a shower or go for a swim to cool off. A typical towel just won’t cut it in a backpacking situation; they will never, ever dry on time, and they’re super bulky. Nobody wants a big, wet towel clogging up their pack. A microfiber towel is the only solution. This particular backpacker item comes in a set of two and rolls up into a compact carrying bag with its own clip. You won’t have to worry about your towel drying; it’ll take no time at all for this microfiber device to be bone dry.
Okay, so everything so far has been pretty practical. If you’re looking for gifts for someone going backpacking and want to get them something that works as advice for backpackers, this book is great. Bushcraft 101 is a New York Times bestseller packed full of tips and advice on how to survive in the wilderness. There’s a ton of information about backpacking, how to not get lost, how to forage for wild food, and a range of different topics with diagrams and explanations on how to thrive in the wild.
I love Tevas. Chances are the person you buy a pair of Tevas for will love them, too. These go-to shoes are lightweight and work not only as a good pair of shoes for hiking on less demanding trails but also can be whipped out of your pack when you arrive at camp so you can feel the breeze on your feet and not have to keep wearing your clunky hiking shoes. And let’s be honest – Tevas look cool as well.
No backpacking gear list is complete without including the world-renowned Victorinox Swiss Army Knife, a multi-purpose tool that can easily become your best companion when backpacking. However, not all Swiss Army knives are equal, and there are in fact many variations to the knife. The one we recommend is the Huntsman Pocket Knife, one with 15 tools designed to thrive in the outdoors. Whether you need to saw something, fix a loose screw, cut something, or open a nice bottle of wine the Victorinox Swiss Army Knife will have your back!
There is nothing more heart-warming than a nice hot meal when you are backpacking. Unfortunately, hot meals when backpacking (or hiking) are rare commodities, but they don’t have to be. Let me introduce you to – MSR Pocket Rocket, a super-compact stove that is perfect for even ultralight backpacking. The stove weighs in at 2.6 ounces (0.16 lbs) and folds down to 2x2x3 inches, that’s the size of a baby’s fist! Of course, you will need to bring an isobutane-propane fuel canister, but that is not expensive or too bulky to carry with you. It is one of the best gadgets for backpackers you must have!
Whether you are backpacking, hiking, or traveling to another country, rain is inevitable. Don’t let the rain stop you! Make sure you have a reliable rain jacket with you. But you don’t want any rain jacket, you want one that is lightweight and packs down small for the days that you don’t actually need it. Remember, backpacking is all about the value-to-weight ratio. You want something that is light and useful, like a good rain jacket.
One of the best things about backpacking is that it takes you through various landscapes and unforgettable experiences. If you are like me, then you probably want to capitalize on this opportunity by taking photographs from a DSLR camera. Traditional camera straps (the ones that come with the camera) are uncomfortable and get in the way frequently. That is why you need something like the Peak Design Capture, a clip that attaches to your backpack strap or belt. You can then attach your camera to your camera clip so not only is it more comfortable to carry, but you can also access it at any time you want.
AWESOME BACKPACKING GIFTS UNDER $25
Eco Travel Toothbrush
Your backpacking pal may not just be into getting into the wilderness; they may also be eco-minded, conscious travelers who are most definitely not into animal products. So, this eco-friendly travel toothbrush pack is a great idea. It’s a very cool gift for a backpacker. It’s made of bamboo and comes with soft, unique, nylon bristles. No animal products here. Plus, it looks cool, coming with its own bamboo case that can slot easily into any pack.
A Very Handy Buff
Buffs are great gifts for backpackers. These things are super versatile, as well as pretty cool, too – as you can see from the pastel colors and design of this particular buff. You can use them to keep your hair out of your face, you can use them to keep your neck warm. And in these weird times, it’s also pretty handy to have something that can easily cover your nose and mouth like a mask, too!
Sleeping Bag Straps to Keep Things Compact
Advice for backpackers: take straps. And if you know a backpacker, get these for them. They really, really help keep things compact. When it’s just you, the trail, and your pack, space-saving solutions are a godsend. These compression straps are the way forward. Sliders clip down into place to keep the straps secure, and there’s a buckle for tightening. You can use them for a sleeping bag, or for any piece of kit that needs compression in your pack.
Not every backpacker wants to get up at the crack of dawn. Actually, a good night’s sleep is essential for a good hike the next day – not one where you’re cranky the whole way. If you’re looking for presents for backpackers, an eye mask is a good idea. Coming in a bunch of designs and colors, this eye mask blocks out light effectively and has padding to keep things nice and soft as you slumber. The strap is also adjustable, which is handy. To top things off, it’s breathable, too.
Organic DEET-Free Insect Repellent
We all love nature, but sometimes nature doesn’t love us. Or maybe nature does love us – too much and wants to eat us. Not fun. So a bit of insect repellent is one of those essential backpacker items to keep those bugs at bay. But then again, you want to keep it natural. That’s where this particular repellent comes in. Even though there’s no DEET used, the all-natural ingredients in this repellent have been lab-tested to work against mosquitoes and other flying nasties. It’s even got a pleasant herbal scent. (Oh, the lack of DEET also makes it safe for kids).
Even More Carabiners!
You can never have too many carabiners, right? These metal D-shaped loop clips will keep things surprisingly organized and streamlined for your friend’s backpacking trip. They’re not strong enough for climbing (do not use them for climbing!), but they’re durable and so darn handy for just… so much stuff! Hang your keys off ‘em inside your pack, hang up a torch, a lamp, a water bottle, your cap – anything. And you get six of them!
Enjoy a Yummy Meal
Okay, so if you bought this for me, I’d be super happy. If you want to include these awesome meals from Mountain House on your list of gifts for someone going backpacking, I highly recommend it. I’ve linked to mac ‘n’ cheese (a clear winner), but there are a load of other delicious flavors and meals on offer – from pasta to Thai curries and all sorts of other goodness.
Keep the Rub at Bay with Anti-Chafe Balm
Small enough to rank among the best backpacking stocking stuffers, but also very useful, this anti-chafe balm is a must for any backpacker. It rolls on like an old-school deodorant and prevents rubbing from clothes or inner thighs (even your butt), and means you won’t get that soreness and pain that comes from chafing. When you’re spending days on end hiking, walking, and potentially making that chafing worse, Body Glide can make that problem a thing of the past.
If you liked any of these cool backpacking gifts you can easily grab any of them from Amazon. You can expect them to arrive within days with Amazon Prime, too, making them great for isolation.
Or, consider buying them as birthday gifts for backpackers, so it’s one less thing you have to think about!
If you have any questions about any of the items on this list, feel free to ask them in the comments section of this post!
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