It is that time of the year again! It is mid December and Christmas is around the corner. It is the season of giving, so here are 10 great holiday gifts for the backpacker, hiker and outdoors-loving person in your life. Friends and family will surely be delighted to receive any of these thoughtful holiday gifts!
A great backpack is like an old friend. The attachment grows as you use it more and more. A good backpack is a long term investment, so I recommend going to a store like REI and talking to their in-house experts about what type of a backpack would be best for you. I’ve found folks at REI to be immensely helpful, they’ve spent hours showing me different types of backpacks and letting me try them out in store, before I finally picked the Osprey Women’s Ariel 65. The men’s version is Osprey Men’s Atmos 65. Both are fabulous. I especially like the women’s Ariel 65 because it comes with a side-zipper in the front, which allows easy quick access to the backpack interior, without having to rummage through the opening at the top (used for loading). Talking to an expert like the ones at REI also teaches newbie backpackers a ton of information about how to load a backpack the right way and the correct way to strap on a backpack so that it’s comfortable. Retails for $211 – $454
I had the pleasure of trying out some of Mountain House’s freeze dried food packets on a multi-night backpacking trip. Firstly, the freeze dried vacuum sealed versions are super lightweight, weighing only a few ounces. Secondly, they are easy to prepare, requiring minimal effort after a long day of hiking. Thirdly, they taste delicious! That’s a win on all fronts in my book. Mountain House’s Granola with Milk and Blueberries makes an excellent and comforting breakfast or snack (proTip: mix with hot water instead of cold water). I also tried Mountain House’s Vegetarian Pasta Primavera and their Rice and Chicken, both of which were delicious! Just boil water, add the recommended number of cups of hot water to the food packet (proTip: use lesser water than recommended on the package instructions), leave for 4 minutes. Stir thoroughly, lock the packet and let it stand for 8-10 minutes. Voila, hot, delicious, comforting food is ready, especially when you’re craving carbs like rice and pasta with creamy alfredo sauce. A must have on any Backpacker’s list! Retails for $4 – $6
3. Selfie Stick
Yes, yes, a selfie stick straddles the gray area between good and bad. There are people who abhor it and then there are people who love it. Too much of anything can be bad but what if selfie sticks were used with caution and restraint? Especially in situations when you’re hiking by yourself on a beautiful trail, surrounded by alpine mountain ridges and cloud-kissed peaks. At such moments, don’t you wish there was a way you could take just one photo of yourself amidst such beauty, without having to resort to balancing your phone / camera on a nearby rock or risk tripping over something when setting the camera on a timer and running to pose? Bring in the selfie stick! Lightweight and compact, these selfie taking sticks are great for solo hikers and backpackers. With mobile phone cameras surpassing the quality of many point and shoot cameras, all you need is your phone and a selfie stick to capture everlasting photos of yourself on the trail. Just be careful not to overdo it. And always be aware of your surroundings and always use caution. Retails for $11
When planning for a multi-night backpacking trip, every item that you plan to take counts. Bring in the handheld luggage scale which will help with deciding what to keep and what to leave. This is very handy for weighing suitcases and backpacks before heading to the airport, especially if you want to avoid opening heavy suitcases and repacking bags due to being over the weight limit at the check-in counter. This is also especially handy for weighing those backpacks before you hit the trail. Retails for $9
5. Sports Watch
I love this watch so much that I bought a second one when my first one wore out after years of use. Any waterproof watch will do, but this one comes with several additional perks. I’ve worn this watch when snorkeling and swimming, on boat trips and in rainforest jungle hikes in pouring rain. It is a great looking stylish watch while being durable and dependable too! Additional cool features include Indiglo Night-Light, Durable and Lightweight Resin Case and Strap, 24-Hour Stopwatch, 24-Hour Chronograph, Water resistant to 165 feet (50 M): suitable for swimming and showering. Retails for $20
Most people travel with unlocked phones these days, enabling them to use a local prepaid sim card when traveling around the world. A portable battery-powered charger is handy when traveling, since you can load it up with easily available AA batteries and charge your electronics like phones and camera battery packs on the go. Especially useful in the wilderness when you’re backpacking for several days in a row and won’t have access to an electric plug point but still need to keep your phone charged and available. ProTip: Put your phone in Airplane mode when charging, and see it charge much faster! Retails for $10
Weather can be unpredictable when traveling, especially when backpacking outdoors on a trail or inside a National Park. This waterproof locker box holds 1-2 passports and additional credit cards and currency / cash and keeps everything bone dry even if it’s pouring outdoors. Great for complete peace of mind when blazing trails through downpours and thunderstorms. Retails for $11
Sleeping bags are a must when backpacking, even if you’re not planning on camping. Even with slightly more comfortable options like hut-to-hut backpacking, a system for sleeping well is required. This includes a good sleeping bag rated for the lowest temperatures you anticipate on encountering, an inflatable sleeping pad and an inner silk liner for extra warmth and comfort. After researching on synthetic versus down sleeping bags, I went with down, given the lightweight nature of the material as well as these sleeping bags having some of the best temperature ratings. Weighing in at just over 2 pounds, the REI Joule for women and REI Igneo for Men sleeping bags are the best bang for the buck. Retails for $299 – $319
9. Hiking poles
An absolute must-have for hikers and backpackers! It does not matter whether you’re hiking a flat trail or uphill / downhill, these hiking poles will save your knees! They are useful for fording small rivers and navigating slippery sections along the trail. They assist with setting a good rhythm when walking. Hiking poles help immensely with steep stairs and will save your knees, especially when hiking downhill. I’ve had my Black Diamond trekking poles for several years now and love them! You will also be thankful for them every time you’re on a trail. Retails for $139
Most of the basics are covered above, but one of the most important things for a backpacker is a good water hydration system! Bring in Platypus to the rescue. I’ve been using Platypus ever since I started hiking and swear by the quality and ease-of-use of the Platypus reservoirs and drinking hose system. They range in volume from 1L to 3L, I recommend the 3L one. Easy to fill and load up in your backpack, easy to clean and dry. Retails for $16 – $61
Do you have any other holiday gifts in mind that you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below!