The Best Gifts for Hikers (& All the Other Outdoorsy Folks on Your List)
With most indoor activities put on pause and travel limited due to COVID-19, many people are discovering, rediscovering or furthering their love of the great outdoors. For some, this has meant finding new bike routes through the city, for others it’s meant finally taking notice of the variety of songbirds that populate their backyards. Whatever type of outdoor activities your loved ones are into, we’ve put together a list of the 35 best gifts for hikers, cyclists, backpackers, runners and yes, even armchair adventurers. Now, who’s up for a walk in the park?
1. Matador Pocket Blanket
For anyone who’s ever been on a hike and suddenly found themselves wanting to sit down, relax and enjoy the view, this pint-size waterproof blanket will definitely come in handy. Now they won’t have to worry about finding a suitable log or risk plopping themselves down in some wet sand.
2. Darn Tough Hiker Boot Full-Cushion Socks
These comfy wool socks have been consistently rated by REI, Backcountry, Amazon reviewers and GearLab as some of the absolute best for hiking, whether you’re doing a short afternoon loop or heading out for a multi-day backpacking trek.
4. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering American on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
This book weaves together fascinating historical anecdotes with Bill Bryson’s personal narrative as he attempts to hike the Appalachian Trail. It’ll make your sister laugh, learn and finish with a desire to get out and explore this 2,190-mile-long trail that snakes up and down the east coast.
5. Eureka Ignite Plus 2-Burner Camp Stove
Tailgating, camping, beach trips, road trips—whatever their travel plans are, this portable stove will make cooking up delicious meals outdoors significantly more enjoyable. Not to mention easier. Simply hook it up to a standard 16.4 oz. propane canister ($8) and they’ve got room for two 12-inch pans and 90 minutes of cook time available.
6. REI Co-op Traverse Trekking Poles
Trekking poles can make it much easier to handle steep trails, on the way up and down. It’s important to look for a pair that’s simple to adjust, durable and lightweight, and this set from REI checks all those boxes.
7. SheWee Extreme Funnel
This reusable funnel (which comes in a compact carrying case to keep everything sanitary) makes peeing the in great outdoors a little bit easier and eliminates the need to fully expose oneself on the side of a mountain. To be honest, it’s more of a game changer than we ever thought possible.
8. PEARL iZUMi AmFIB Shoe Covers
Don’t let cold or wet weather keep your sister from getting her daily ride in. These cozy, water-repellant shoe covers fit snugly over her cycling shoes to keep feet warm and dry without impeding her ability to clip into her bike pedals.
9. Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit Mini Bike Lock
According to Wirecutter, the only things that are going to successfully break this lock and expose his bike to potential theft are power tools. And even then, it took the publication’s testers almost two minutes to make the necessary cuts. Which means this will keep his bike safe, even if it’s left overnight on a city street. Plus, unlike most other Kryptonite products (which are also highly-rated), the free year of anti-theft coverage that’s included with purchase also extends to residents of New York City.
10. 66 North Vík Polartec WindPro Stretch Touchscreen Gloves
This high-tech Icelandic brand is well-known and beloved by the professional mountaineering set. It’s okay if he just uses them as winter gloves for his three-mile jog around the neighborhood because they’ll make him feel particularly adventurous. Plus, the fingertips of the two pointer fingers are touchscreen-friendly, so he won’t have to expose his hands to the elements to capture a post-run selfie.
11. Conquistadors of the Useless by Lionel Terray
Besides having one of the greatest book titles of all time, Conquistadors of the Useless is also considered a classic climbing memoir and recounts the accomplishments of Frenchman Lionel Terray, one of history’s greatest alpinists. It is an absolute must-have for your cousin’s mountaineering book collection…even if you secretly consider them to be an armchair explorer.
12. PrAna Kanab Pants
For the gal who doesn’t love climbing in skin-tight leggings, these cotton-blend pants will easily bend with and adjust to her every move. The knees are also double layered to prevent snagging on a rock and there are plenty of pockets for stowing additional gear. (Psst, she might also appreciate a new chalk bag to go with her cool new pants.)
Available in sizes XS to XL
13. Teva Ember Moc Slippers
These cozy, sleeping bag-inspired slippers are incredibly lightweight and feature a rubber sole so he can wear them around his backpacking campsite without fear of tearing them on a rock. The backs also fold down so they can be worn as a backless slide, as well.
14. Athleta Everyday Non-Medical Masks, 5 Pack
The risks associated with not wearing a face mask are lessened for those who are outdoors but there’s always the possibility of coming across another trail runner or early-morning bird watcher, so it helps to be prepared. Athleta’s five-pack of masks aren’t just cute, they’re also particularly breathable, making them an excellent choice for safer runs, bike rides or any other activity where they might break a sweat.
15. Solar Power Bank
True, a handy portable charger means your uncle will never have to worry about missing the perfect photo op because his phone is dead. But more importantly, it means he’ll never be caught in a situation where he needs to call or text for help only to find he’s at four percent battery.
16. Saucony Peregrine 10 Trail Running Shoe
Runner’s World has consistently rated these sneakers as one of the best trail running shoes out there. The design features superior traction (a must when running over leaves, logs and potentially slippery rocks), a lightweight sole and a unique lacing system that fits feet better than many other styles.
17. She Explores: Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild by Gale Straub
A combination of stunning photography and short stories, this book recounts the tales of 40 women from all different backgrounds and their excursions into the wilderness. Expect plenty of practical advice (with tips on how to prep for a solo backpacking trip and must-haves for a camp kitchen), in addition to intriguing personal stories that are inspiring, entertaining and, above all else, encouraging.
18. The North Face Kaiju 6-Person Tent
Whether your brother is hoping to go camping with a large group of friends or bring his whole family along, this six-person tent has plenty of room for everyone. For added fun, he can slip the raincover over the top to create a spacious front patio for extra lounging room.
19. Outdoor Research Sombriolet Sun Hat
Moisture-wicking, UPF 50+ fabric and strategically placed air vents will keep their head, face and neck cool, dry and protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Yup, this sun hat is so much better than a regular baseball cap.
20. Stasher 100% Silicone Food Grade Reusable Storage Bag
Stasher’s eco-friendly, dishwasher-friendly bags can be used to pack snacks, lunches, toiletries, extra flashlight batteries and just about anything else your partner wants to keep separated, organized and protected from water on an outdoor adventure.
21. North American Warbler Fold-out Guide: Folding Pocket Guide by Scott Whittle and Tom Stephenson
The Audubon Society recommends this pocket-size birdwatching guide for anyone interested in learning more about warblers. It even includes QR codes, so the reader can listen to various birdsongs and vocalizations on their phone every time they spot a new bird.
22. Nikon Prostaff 3S Binoculars, 10x42
Of course, every new birder also needs a good pair of binoculars. Or perhaps your mom’s go-to pair could stand to be replaced. Either way, these binoculars from Nikon offer ten-times magnification and are made of a super-durable but lightweight material that will last her for years to come.
23. Homesick Seattle Candle
Not every nature lover is lucky enough to live close to sweeping forests or winding mountain trails. For those stuck at home, a scented candle that reminds them of their favorite destinations might have to do the trick for now. For fans of Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park, try this Seattle-theme candle with notes of coffee, pine needles, cedarwood and, of course, rain.
24. Outerknown Blanket Shirt
Professional surfer Kelly Slater started his own sustainable and eco-friendly fashion label, Outerknown, after being frustrated with the lack of transparency from his sponsors. This cozy blanket shirt quickly became one of the brand’s signatures and comes in a whopping 46 color options. (Psst, there’s also a women’s version if you find yourself constantly stealing your partner’s.)
Available in sizes XS to XXL
25. Osprey Aether 55
This 55-liter backpacking pack is one of Osprey’s most technologically advanced models to date, particularly in regards to the new AirSpeed back panel which has improved breathability and stability—in addition to being more sustainably made. The Aether pack also features a highly customizable fit along the torso, hips and shoulders, making wearers significantly more comfortable as they trek along during a multi-day hike.
26. Garmin inReach Mini 2-Way Satellite Communicator
No, this super-lightweight satellite communicator isn’t cheap. But the peace of mind it affords an outdoor adventurer’s loved ones is priceless. Users can text or email from anywhere in the world, even if they’re way out of cell phone range. It keeps track of their GPS coordinates and has an emergency signal setting that automatically alerts responders in the area that someone is in need of help.
27. Rite in the Rain All-Weather Side-Spiral Notebook
No matter what type of outdoorsy activity your nephew is into, there’s a high chance they’ve gotten caught in the rain more than once (and will do so again soon). This handy little notebook is made of weatherproof paper that can withstand water, grease, sweat and even mud. The cover and wire binding are equally durable and, as a green cherry on top, the entire thing can be recycled.
28. Minute Dome Pro. Air 1 Tent
Snow Peak, a Japanese outdoor company, designed this tent specifically so it could be built in under 60 seconds. As any experienced outdoorsman knows, the weather can change on a dime and it helps to be prepared to act fast. While this tent does come with a hefty price tag, it will come in handy (and could possibly even be lifesaving) in treacherous conditions.
29. Patagonia Nano-Air Hoody
Patagonia’s Nano-Air collection is incredibly soft, super lightweight and provides ample warmth without being bulky. Naturally, that makes this zip-front sweatshirt an ideal layering piece. It is perhaps my absolute favorite piece of hiking/backpacking clothing for its ease and comfort, which explains why I now own both the hooded and crew-neck versions.
Available in sizes XXS to XL
Available in sizes XS to XXL
30. Julbo Cham Sunglasses
These retro mountaineering sunnies aren’t just a fun fashion piece. They’re also made with polycarbonate Spectron 3+ lenses that block 88 percent of visible light and 100 percent of the sun’s UV rays. The Julbo frames will provide ample protection for your eyes and surrounding skin while on a snow-covered trek or skiing trail.
31. A Wanderlust Inducing Print
Photographer Gray Malin is perhaps best known for his stunning aerial beach shots. But he also has a wide selection of prints from all over the globe, including some jaw-dropping vistas of New Zealand (like the above valley photo) that will have your dad dreaming of hiking those green hills and exploring the winding ice-blue river.
32. RUFFWEAR Approach Dog Pack
This pooch-friendly bag is made for the hiker who never goes anywhere without their trusty pup, but is tired of filling their pockets with extra treats and snacks—not to mention, clipping a water bowl to their backpack. Now, Oakley can have a pack of her own, just like her human.
33. Sierra Club x Parks Project Unisex Tie-Dye Long-Sleeve Tee
Tie dye continues to be one of the biggest fashion trends of 2020, but this stylish long-sleeve tee has the added bonus of giving back to the environment. A portion of every purchase made from the Parks Project goes toward a handful of park-preservation and environmentally-minded charities including Outdoor Afro, the National Park Foundation, the Yosemite Conservancy and the Ron Finely Project, just to name a few.
Available in sizes S to XXL
34. Dead Lucky: Life After Death on Mount Everest by Lincoln Hall
Australian mountaineer Lincoln Hall was attempting to summit Everest in 2006 during one of the mountain’s deadliest seasons when he briefly joined the list of those who perished…and was then taken back off of it. Reports of his death began circulating online and even made it back to his family before an American guide discovered Hall alive, sitting crossed legged on the edge of the mountain. Hall’s retelling of the harrowing experience is an intense mix of tragedy, joy and heart-racing adventure.
35. GoPro HERO8 Black Camera Bundle
This set comes with everything mom needs to capture the best moments of her next trip—a collapsible tripod, a head strap, two rechargeable batteries, a 32GB SD card and mounting accessories.