Holiday Backpacking Gear: 50 Gifts Under $50

Gale River Trail

Gale River Trail

Tis the season where we need to start thinking about holiday gifts for our hiking and backpacking friends and family. It’s tough to find great gifts that these picky fanatics will appreciate and since I fall into that target category, I thought I’d help you out with a few suggestions.

Finding good gifts for outdoor lovers that cost under $50 is actually rather difficult, but you’ll find something for everyone in this list including: dog owners, beginners, dreamers, foodies, greens, ultralight backpacking fanatics and day hikers.

  1. REI Flash 18 Urban Backpack. Great daytime carryall.
  2. Snowpeak Chopsticks. Cool camping utensils. Ultralight. Makes you eat slower.
  3. Photon Freedom Microlight. Ultralight and compact. Available with a red light.
  4. The Backpacker’s Handbook by Chris Townsend. A comprehensive classic.
  5. Dr. Bronner’s Soap. A revelation if you’ve never tried it.
  6. The Ultimate Hang: An Illustrated Guide To Hammock Camping. Amusing and informative.
  7. Petzl e+Lite. 1 oz. Another backpacker classic.
  8. Black Diamond ATC. Still the best all-round belay device.
  9. The AT Guide by David Miller. Detailed mile-by-mile guide to the Appalachian Trail, hostels and trail towns.
  10. Suunto M-3D Compass. Great compass with declination adjustment.
  11. REI Chefware Long Spoon. Perfect for eating freezer bag meals.
  12. Ultimate Survival Technologies Sparkie Fire Starter. 0.85 oz. Don’t leave home without it.
  13. Swiss Army Spartan Knife. You can never go wrong giving this present.
  14. Therm-a-rest Z-lite Sleeping Pad. 15 oz. Accordion style foam pad.
  15. Leatherman Micra with Scissors.  The TSA took mine away. Need a replacement!
  16. Goal Zero Rechargeable Battery Pack. Recharge your devices multiple times.
  17. The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. A ribald, outrageous, wilderness, counterculture romp.
  18. Women & Thru-Hiking on the Appalachian Trail by Beverly Hugo. Practical advice from hundreds of women long distance hikers.
  19. Snow Peak Titanium Double Walled Mug. Keeps hot drinks warm a long time.
  20. SAM Splint. Portable moldable first aid splint.
  21. Black Diamond Windweight Gloves. Good windproof winter gloves.
  22. Colorado Trail: The Official Guidebook. Definitive guide to this 468 mile trail.
  23. Backcountry.com Gift Certificate. It you’re clueless, give them a gift card.
  24. Leukotape P Sportstape. Great blister prevention tape.
  25. Chico Marsupial keychain Wallet. Keep your keys and wallet organized when backpacking. Clip to the inside of your pack.
  26. Golite Dome Umbrella. Keep sun and rain off your face when hiking.
  27. Sawyer Mini Water Filter: Ultralight water purifier
  28. Nalgene Travel Kit (Plastic Bottles). Great for repackaging small quantities of liquids to save pack weight.
  29. Eye-Fi 8GB Mobile X2 Wireless SDHC Memory Card. Transmits photos to your iPad or the web over wireless networks. Simply amazing.
  30. Freeze Dried Fruit. Quick to re-hydrate. Antioxidant power.
  31. Sea-to-Summit X Bowl.Folds flat for camping and backpacking.
  32. Freezer Bag Cooking: Trail Food Made Simple by Sarah Kirconnell. The freezer bag cooking bible and recipe book, written by a foodie goddess.
  33. John Muir Trail Map-Pack: Shaded Relief Topo Maps by Tom Harrison. The preferred maps for JMT thru-hikers.
  34. Folding Camp Bucket.  Great for ferrying water to camp, and washing your face and clothes.
  35. Olicamp XTS Aluminum Pot. Very fuel efficient ultralight pot.
  36. PACKRAFTING! An Introduction and How-To Guide by Roman Dial. Hike and float, the new thing.
  37. Digital Postal and Kitchen Food Scale. Take the first step in lightweight backpacking and weigh your gear.
  38. Black Diamond Spot LED Headlamp.  Great headlamp for short days and less sunlight.
  39. Patagonia Capilene 1 Long Sleeve Jersey. Silky and warm. The perfect winter base layer.
  40. Optimus Crux Canister Stove. Lightweight powerhouse canister stove.
  41. Steripen Emergency Water Purifier. Be prepared at home too.
  42. Gossamer Gear Minimalist Daypack: Chick urban backpack and bicycle pack
  43. Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot: Perfect for the noodle lover.
  44. Aqua Mira Water Purification drops: Lightweight and effective  water purificaton
  45. Exped Air Pillow: Awesome lightweight pillow
  46. Esbit 3-Piece Camping Cookset: Nice little cookset for cooking with esbit fuel
  47. Coleman Two Burner Camping Stove: For family camping. A classic.
  48. Snow Peak Mini Hozuki LED Lantern: Long burning camping lantern
  49. Long Titanium Spoon: Great for eating freezer bag camping meals
  50. Section Hiker T-Shirt. Be a fashionista and get your section on!

Published 2009. Revised 2012 and 2013.

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7 Responses to Holiday Backpacking Gear: 50 Gifts Under $50

  1. Chris Jennings November 1, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    1 week of backpacking. Would be a good gift from a significant other.

  2. Earlylite November 1, 2009 at 7:02 pm #

    Awesome suggestion although something like that would cost me a $100+ dinner out (bribe) for the wife, but it'd be worth it.

  3. new old backpckr November 2, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    Great list!

    Number 50 a few times over….

    SmartWool Hiking Socks OR subscription to Backpacker Magazine OR Dr Bronner's liquid soap OR (with a little labor and little to no cost) a penny alcohol stove and a Heinekin pot.

  4. Walter Underwood December 3, 2012 at 1:57 am #

    Wow, I already have 18 of these, if you count some reasonable equivalents, like my old Polarguard booties. I guess that means it is a great list.

    I’d suggest a slightly more capable compass, though.

    And consider the Petzl Zipka headlamp. It is $35, 69g, and fits in your pocket. Super handy.

    How about some Aqua Mira in your stocking?

    Gossamer Gear’s new titanium V-stakes would be nice, too. I’m always up for new kinds of stakes.

    • Earlylite December 3, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      That is high praise, especially coming from you Walter. I live those items you mentioned and will add them anon.

  5. romney December 4, 2012 at 9:51 am #

    Great list. The only problem is I want to buy it all for myself.

  6. LikeAPuma October 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Awesome list! Its actually perfect ideas to tell my family, who does “secret Santa” with a $50 limit.

    I think a week away camping would cost more than a dinner out!

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