Backpacking gear has gotten really expensive. Here are 25 backpacking gifts for $25 or less, that any backpacker would love to receive.
1. Arlette Laan’s Backpacking Buddies
Arlette Laan is the first woman to hike all 11 National Scenic Trails. She’s also a talented artist known for her adorable sock dolls. These backpack buddies might look small, but they pack an enormous amount of cheer for their small size. They are made with baby socks and measure about 2 to 3 inches. They include a mini carabiner, making them easy to clip to your backpack so you’re never alone. They’re very popular in New Hampshire’s White Mountains hiking community and are an instant conversation starter on the trail.
You can’t help but smile when you see a string of colored LED lights in camp. Weighing just 1.6 oz, this thirty-foot light string comes with 100 high-efficiency LEDs and is so small it can fit in your pockets. It can plug into any USB outlet or battery and generates up to 350 lumens of light in six different lighting modes so you can enjoy sitting outside or in your tent without a headlamp.
Come to the rescue of drink-deprived friends with a handy six-pack beer cooler you can wear on your back. This insulated tube is made from durable ripstop polyester so it can handle all the bumps and bruises of your next hiking adventure, while a seam-sealed lining and foam insulation help keep your cargo cool and protected. It makes a decent case for a fishing rod too.
Solar-powered, the ultralight Luci Lantern is a great way to light up a campsite when you’re by yourself or with friends. The built-in rechargeable 1,000 mAh lithium-ion battery lasts up to 24 hrs on a single charge and an indicator shows the remaining battery life. Each lantern contains 10 LEDs which emit 75 lumens through the lantern’s clear finish. The lantern folds down to a compact 1″ thickness making it easy to carry inside a pack or to attach to the exterior. This is a great lantern for emergency use around the home, for car camping, or for backpacking with a friend.
Winter campers and backpackers like to dig out tent platforms and benches in snow to sit on while melting snow and cooking dinner. But carrying an avalanche shovel is heavy and awkward. A 5 oz. Snow Claw is much lighter in weight, easier to pack, and remarkably effective. Also makes a great sled or seat in a pinch.
A Kula is a reusable antimicrobial pee cloth for anybody that squats when they pee. It’s self-sterilizing and dries when clipped to the outside of your backpack, eliminating the need to bury toilet paper in the wilderness. Female hikers swear by it.
The Gossamer Gear Shoulder Strap Pocket has a three-way velcro attachment system that is compatible with just about any backpack under the sun. It’s available in a medium size that is compatible with most Smartphones and a large size if you want still more storage. Made with water-resistant Robic Nylon, these pockets have a second mesh sleeve on the outside which is great for stashing sunglasses or snacks for easy access. This pocket works well with all backpacks, especially those that don’t have daisy chains on their shoulder straps like packs from Osprey and Gregory.
Yes, REI now sells dog food. Available in three different flavors, these meal packets are designed for camping and backpacking with your dog. Fully cooked and ready to eat, these gluten and wheat-free meals have no added supplements, preservatives, or meat byproducts. Designed for picky dogs, serve directly from the package or heat in a microwave.
The Thermarest Z-Seat Folding Sit Pad keeps your bum warm and dry during hiking rest stops. With its accordion-style design and closed-cell foam construction, this camping seat is an ounce counters solution to on-the-spot comfort. It’s virtually indestructible and superlight, making it ideal for backpacking, ski touring, and relaxing on rough terrain. Bottle shown for scale and not included.
The Swiss Army Classic pocket knife is a longtime hiker favorite because it’s super lightweight but packs many of the tools that hikers need on a daily basis, ranging from a small pair of sharp scissors and a knife to a nail file, toothpick, and tweezers. Weighing just 0.7 ounces, it’s easy to clip to the outside of your backpack with a mini-biner for easy access. Replacement toothpicks and tweezers are also available since they’re usually the first thing you lose.
Cross Bands are heat-resistant, UV-resistant, cooking-grade silicone bands that are ideal for packing gear and cooking supplies. You can use them to keep your inflatable sleeping pad rolled up, stop your cook system from rattling when you hike, for stacking plastic food containers, organizing permits and passes, packing resupply boxes, compressing food and clothing bags, and on and on. Each pack of 20 includes multiple sizes and colors
Lightweight fleece gloves are great for hiking because they’re durable, highly breathable, and dry quickly. As an added bonus, these $10/pair gloves are inexpensive, running 1/2 to 1/3 of what you’d pay at REI for the same quality. Buy multiple pairs at once in the same color, so if you lose one, you can replace it with a glove from another pair. Size up a size for a good fit.
Hikers and backpackers share wilderness areas with hunters and it helps when hikers wear highly visible blaze orange clothing during hunting season so hunters can see them more easily. This lightweight Minus 33 Merino beanie is super warm and can be used for hiking or sleeping in cool weather. One size fits most. It’s also available in a wide range of colors.
These ultralight Vargo Titanium tent stakes combine the classic Shepherds Hook design with the lightness and durability of titanium. Weighing just 8 grams each, they have a florescent orange head which makes them hard to lose. These tent pegs add almost no weight to your backpack but their titanium construction assured they’ll hold up to hard use.
Reduce the amount of toilet paper used in the backcountry while preventing the dreaded chafing and “monkey butt” that results when your crack isn’t clean. This handy bidet attachment screws onto regular plastic water/soda bottles so you can clean up anywhere, even at the office. Very popular with thru-hikers!
If you’re tired of eating out of a cookpot or having your dog drink out of yours, upgrade your camping kitchen with this ultralight titanium bowl. Weighing 1.6 oz and holding 20 fluid oz, it’s easy to pack and weighs virtually nothing. Ramen tastes much better when slurped from a bowl and Fido would love to have his own bowl too.
Can’t remember your knots? This handy ultralight titanium clip attaches to the end of a tarp ridgeline, so you can loop the cord around a tree and clip it to itself without tying a knot. It’s super handy when you need to get out of the rain fast. I use them on all of my hammock and backpacking tarps (which have a line loc on the other end of the cord) Hint: buy 2.
These ultralight tent platform anchors make it a snap to set up a tent on a wooden tent site platform. They slide in between the boards and provide a secure anchor to tie down a tent. The highly visible red color also makes them hard to lose.
This 5′ x 9′ Tyvek groundsheet is incredibly useful for protecting the bottom of a tent, as a dry landing pad next to a hammock, or under a tarp when sleeping on the ground. It will not bunch up or slide around under you like other fabrics and is very durable.
A folding spork, half spoon/half fork fits into the very small ultralight titanium cook pots that backpackers like to use. It’s also far easier to pack in a food bag since it doesn’t have a long handle like some backpacking cutlery. The bowl of this spoon is polished, which is also a lot more appealing than ones that are not smooth. The locking handle keeps it securely articulated for eating and it only weighs 0.6 oz (18g)
Some things just have to stay dry no matter what. Electronics, your passport, vaccination card, photographs, or cash. The Nite Ize Runoff Waterproof Wallet is IP67-rated (withstands immersion to 1m up to 30 min.) and waterproof, with a toothless zipper that glides smoothly and quietly. Built-in attachment points and an integrated belt loop make it easy to clip to straps or attach to your belt for security.
Small enough to be used as a pocket knife, the Opinel No. 8 knife features a sharp stainless-steel blade and a beautiful beechwood handle. It’s Sandvik 12C27 modified stainless steel blade is anti-corrosive and requires no special maintenance. Cut the cheese in style!
It’s important to maintain your dental hygiene on the trail but difficult to do so without the right tools. The Toob is a portable toothbrush that seals closed after use so it doesn’t drip all over your gear. Fill the included toothpaste tube with your favorite toothpaste and stow it in the toothbrush handle when not in use. Replacement brushes are sold separately. I’ve been using one of these toothbrushes for backpacking and travel for close to 15 years.
Protect your hands from damaging sunlight while keeping them comfortable and cool. These fingerless gloves have a UPF50+ sun protection rating and are pretreated with a cooling agent (a non-food derivative of sugar) that keeps them cool in hot weather. The palms are covered with silicone dots to help you grip trekking poles, ice axes, or bike handles. These are super handy for hot weather/desert hiking and provide good insect protection too. Now available in cool blue ice!
Hikers and backpackers benefit by adding electrolytes to their water in hot and humid weather or when exercising hard. Sourced with water from Utah’s Great Salt Lake, eLete Electrolyte Add-in is designed without sugars, flavorings, or anything artificial-just pure electrolytes that can easily be added to any beverage or food. It’s also safe for hydration packs and will not stain, leave an odor or residue. Simply add one capful (2.46 ml) for each quart of water that you want to treat or 2 drops for every ounce of liquid. Kosher, non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegetarian. Each small dropper bottle makes 10 x 32 oz servings. The dropper bottles are refillable and eLete is also sold in bulk. Works great!
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