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Backpacking Gear Gift Guide: 50 Gifts Under $50

Christmas Day Hiking

Christmas Day Hiking

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. Great daytime carryall.
  2. Tenacious Tape. The ultimate gear repair tape. A perfect stocking stuffer.
  3. Anker Astro Slim 6000 mAh 2port extrernal battery with built-in micro-USB cable. Super convenient, slim battery charger.
  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. Another backpacker classic.
  8. Granite Gear Air Style Wallet. 0.35 oz with a mini-biner.
  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. Byer Traveller Light Hammock: Weighing just 10 oz., you can bring it on every trip.
  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. GSI Outdoors Halulite 1,1 Liter Cook Pot. Locking handle and top so you can store your stove and fuel in the pot.
  20. SAM Splint. Portable moldable first aid splint.
  21. Fisher Space Pen. Write anywhere, on anything.
  22. Colorado Trail: The Official Guidebook. Definitive guide to this 468 mile trail.
  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 Mini Water Filter: Ultralight water purifier
  28. Nalgene Travel Kit (Plastic Bottles). Great for repackaging small quantities of liquids to save pack weight.
  29. Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20: Running pack with vest-like shoulder harness system. Super stable, comfortable, and adaptable.
  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. Kahtoola NANOspikes Winter Traction System. Lightweight, durable running spikes for icy winter conditions.
  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 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. 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

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25 Responses to Backpacking Gear Gift Guide: 50 Gifts Under $50

  1. Ranches November 6, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    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. Chris G November 25, 2014 at 9:26 am #

    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. Rob S. November 25, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    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.

    • Philip Werner November 25, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      I’ll have to upgrade. :-)

    • jay m. November 30, 2014 at 6:41 pm #

      My patriot fuel+ weighs 6.6 oz for 9800 mAh

  4. TAG November 25, 2014 at 10:56 am #

    Martha Bars are yummy. Nice shout out for a small business.
    I’d also suggest Green Belly bars (

    • Philip Werner November 25, 2014 at 10:59 am #

      I’ve tried the Green Belly bars. Can’t say I’m a fan. Pretty low calorie per oz count and they don’t taste anywhere as good as the Martha bars.

      • SparkyHikes November 27, 2014 at 9:36 am #

        Greenbelly Bars have 109 calories per oz including the packaging which seems pretty ok to me and provide balanced nutrition rather than just a combo of fat, sugar and protein that most bars with higher ratios have. They also don’t melt and when I found one unwrapped at the bottom of my food bag recently a week after returning home I had it for lunch and it still tasted just fine!

        • Philip Werner November 27, 2014 at 9:45 am #

          Even Cliff Bars are more calorically dense.I’d much rather pack salted almonds. Just as healthy and much more calorically dense.

          • SparkyHikes November 28, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

            Clif bars are great, but actually have about 18% less calories per ounce. With packaging they have only 240 calories in 2.5oz. Not trying to be argumentative, just saying.

          • Philip Werner November 28, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

            I stand corrected. How about a Ritter’s Hazelnut?

  5. Grandpa November 25, 2014 at 1:53 pm #

    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.

    • Chris G November 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

      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.

  6. Kevin November 25, 2014 at 9:19 pm #

    Good list –
    I have the UD Fastpack 20 pack and love it but it is not under $50!

    • Philip Werner November 25, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

      Whoa! I have it to and you are right. It is most definitely not under $50. More like $150. I’ll fix that. Damn nice pack though!

  7. NancyP November 26, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Has anyone tried the Kahtoola Nanospikes? I was looking for reviews online, couldn’t find any. This product looks like it might work well for the freezing rain black ice we get in St. Louis – for street use and light hiking.

    I am going to put a plug in for my favorite stargazing app, SkySafari. It has a “red mode” where the screen is in dark red to preserve night vision. (no affiliation). The thing that is fun is that it has an option to use the phone gyro to show you the star field you point it at.

    • Philip Werner November 26, 2014 at 10:34 am #

      I think the Nanospikes are intended for trail runners.

    • emily December 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

      Hi Nancy! The NANOspikes would definitely be great for trekking on the compact ice or frozen over sidewalks of St. Louis. It’s an exemplary city for them since it’s so cold there in the winter haha.

      • NancyP December 3, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

        Actually, St. Louis is in the Sleet Belt – just a bit too warm to have nice snow for all of the winter precipitation. Like many other southern cities, it doesn’t handle serious snow or ice all that well. Plus, the snow, when present, melts in the daytime and freezes again at night.

  8. Alex November 26, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Great selection of Stocking Fillers

  9. Simon December 1, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    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.

  10. romney December 2, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

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

  11. Walter Underwood December 2, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

    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.

  12. LikeAPuma December 2, 2014 at 3:51 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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