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Backpacking Gear Gift Guide: 50 Gifts Under $50

Backpacking Gear Gift Guide
Backpacking Gear Gift Guide

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 Backpack. Ultralight day pack and carryall.
  2. Tenacious Tape. The ultimate gear repair tape. A perfect stocking stuffer.
  3. MSR Pocket Rocket. Hands-down, the most popular canister stove ever made. A classic!
  4. The Backpacker’s Field Guide. The best, most comprehensive backpacking guide, ever.
  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. Minature ultralight headlamp. Another backpacker classic.
  8. GSI Collapsible Javadrip Coffer Maker. Cone-based coffee maker. Folds up flat.
  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. Easy to use compass with declination adjustment.
  11. GSI Outdoors Pouch Spoon. Perfect for eating freezer bag meals. Only $2!
  12. REI Minimalist Rain Mitten. Protection from the elements when you need to hike in rain.
  13. Swiss Army Spartan Knife. You can never go wrong giving someone a Swiss Army Knife..
  14. Therm-a-Rest Z-lite Sleeping Pad. 15 oz. Accordion style foam pad.
  15. Leatherman Style CS with Scissors.  The TSA took mine away. Need a replacement!
  16. Byer Easy Traveller Hammock: Weighing just 13 oz., you can bring it on every trip.
  17. The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. A ribald, outrageous, wilderness, counterculture romp.
  18. MSR Stowaway Cook Pot. High-quality cookware for family camping and backpacking with scouts.
  19. GSI Outdoors Halulite 1,1 Liter Cook Pot. Locking handle and top so you can store your stove and fuel in the pot.
  20. MPowered Solar Lantern. Outdoors or in, light up the night with this rechargeable solar lantern.
  21. Fisher Space Pen. Write anywhere, on anything.
  22. Ursack Minor. Critter proof kevlar food bag, especially good for food storage in AT shelters.
  23. REI Gift Card. It you’re clueless, give them a gift card. You can’t go wrong.
  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. Recipes for Adventure. Ultimate guide to dehydrating your own food and backpacking meals.
  27. Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter: Ultralight, fast flowing water purifier. (This is not the Sawyer mini)
  28. Nalgene Travel Kit (Plastic Bottles). Great for repackaging small quantities of liquids to save pack weight.
  29. X-Shot Selfie Stick. Light and compact design. Includes iPhone and Android phone holders.
  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 Kirkconnell. 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. GoPro Chest Mount Harness. Ideal for skiing, paddling, and mountain biking.
  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. Jetboil Coffee Kit. French press. Super fast.
  41. SOL Emergency Bivy. Tough enough to reuse. Extend the range of your sleeping pag in a pinch.
  42. How to Shit in the Woods. Step by step instructions for Leave No Trace elimination.
  43. Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot: Perfect for the noodle lover.
  44. Aqua Mira Water Purification drops: Lightweight and effective water purification
  45. Outdoor Star Guide. Identify the constellations when camping.
  46. Esbit 3-Piece Camping Cookset: Nice little cookset for cooking with solid esbit fuel cubes.
  47. Coleman Two Burner Camping Stove: For family camping. A classic.
  48. Snow Peak Mini Hozuki LED Lantern: Long burning camping lantern
  49. Mini UNO Playing Card Deck. Ultralight fun for zero days.
  50. Martha Bars. Yummy, high calorie chocolate snack bars packed with flavor and raw foods.

Written 2009. Updated 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015.

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  1. Three items in the list that are indispensable for me:

    REI Flash 18 – my go-to daypack!
    Tenacious Tape – incredible stuff!
    Kahoola Microspikes – keep me hiking through the winter!

  2. I like to trim the top right and bottom left corners off my uno cards to save even more weight on top of the mini-ones.

  3. Absolutely love the Anker batteries. While the slim design of the one you selected is very nice, I did a quick comparison of advertised mAh/oz across a number of popular models before I purchased, and the one that came out on top was the Anker 2nd Gen Astro 6400mAh. It’s not as slim as yours, but at only 4.8 oz (confirmed w/my scale), it packs a whopping 1333mAh per oz, compared to 735 on the slim version.

  4. REI now has a Flash 22, slightly larger than Flash 18. Flash 22 has water bottle pockets and an external zip pocket for small gear. I was quite impressed with it and am thinking of replacing my granddaughter’s Flash 18 with the 22. The price is $49.95.

    • Although its not the lightest or cheapest bag the Osprey Talon 22 is a great pack for that size. I’ve been very happy with its performance, it has a nice waist belt for a pack so small.

  5. Great selection of Stocking Fillers

  6. Nice list, especially No. 42 – “how to Shit in the Woods” that’s a must have! I’d have put the LifeStraw on that list though.

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. Fun post and can’t wait to read all the comments coming in.

  11. Disappointed to see the Abbey book on the list.

  12. Another Idea for a great, lightweight game is Pocket sized Farkle. Super fun dice game. The pocket version comes in essentially a 35mm film canister. It goes on every backpacking trip with me. Weighs a couple ounces and is about $9 on Amazon.

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