With the holidays fast approaching, my focus shifts from pitching my tent near a sturdy tree in the woods to an evergreen tree I temporarily place in my home. Thinking of a gift to give someone whose interests differ greatly from your own can be challenging though, but thankfully places like Pinterest have gift guides for every hobby and interest under the sun!
In the vein of helping out my fellow hikers and backpackers and giving their peeps some intel on what they might like to find under their own tree, for their birthday, or whatever the heck you need to buy someone a gift for, I’m creating a series of gift guides. Let’s get started with the first one: Gift ideas for the hiker or backpacker in your life for under $20.
First up, and my own personal favorite: A donation in their honor to a favorite trail or park association (Friends of the Smokies is my personal favorite). Insider tip: Search and rescue teams are often woefully underfunded. These groups are always looking for financial sources to help buy expensive gear and equipment to aid in searches, so if you’re feeling generous, here’s the link to the one in Haywood County, NC that I’m a part of now.
But what if “your person” really wants the thrill of ripping off the wrapping paper and finding something they can use inside? Here are plenty of ideas, all under $20 (many are well under $20, so you could easily combine several of them to make a fun themed gift), and stocking stuffable as well!
I bought one of these for my 14-year-old son and it was an instant hit. A great combination to create fire in wet conditions –Magnesium flint striking tool, Baddest Bee Fire Fuses (8-pack), and a clever pocket bellows, all weighing in at 2 ounces and tucked away in its own packing tube. Yes, please!
These waterproof matches from UCO are the perfect complement to the weatherproof fire starting kit. They come in their own watertight carrying case, which makes it even more secure in the elements (and if you’re ever built a fire in the rain, you know how valuable that feature is!).
Keeping with the theme of all things fire: The first time I used one of these cubes, I felt like Tom Hanks in the movie Cast Away when he finally created fire! I had everything I needed to make one, but I was dealing with very wet wood. So when my fire ignited like someone had held a blow torch to it, I was sold! They barely weigh anything and are as small as a mint. They’re also a great item to put in your child’s or your own “survival pack” worn on your body (read this post if you’re not sure what I’m referring to).
When you gotta go in the woods, this trowel sure speeds up the process to dig a cat hole! Amazingly light but surprisingly durable and efficient. A poop shovel may seem like an odd gift, but I can assure you that the backpacker in your life will think otherwise.
Setting up your camera has never been easier when you have a lightweight and easy to use tripod in your pack. Forget the lame selfie stick, take a picture with something that will make you proud of the shot once you share it on social media later!
This 2 oz. pad may be unnoticeable in your pack since it packs up accordion style, but its is worth its weight in gold in regard to comfort! Rather than sitting on a hard log or the wet ground, your butt will thank you for the layer of cushion and dryness. Hands down, one of the most indispensable items in my pack!
Is it extravagant to spend nearly $12 on a spoon unless it’s a compliment to the fine china you received as a wedding gift? Sure, maybe so. Is it worth it? Every single time you use it. The long handle keeps your hands from getting covered in food, whether it’s from a deep Mountain House bag or a pot, which makes your dining experience both pleasant and cleaner. I absolutely love mine!
True story: One day at the gym, I forgot to bring my bath towel to dry myself off after taking a shower. This towel whose dimensions are 19″ x 19″ with a weight of less than 1 ounce was in my backpack in my car, so I decided to see if it lived up to its hype with absorbency. Amazingly, it did! It’s perfect for all sorts of uses on a trip: To wipe off condensation from a tent wall, dry yourself off after a quick dip in a lake or stream, drying cooking utensils and pots, and the list goes on and on! Weight to reward ratio is sky high!
These clever journals are perfect for the naturalist crowd who want to journal what they find on a hike. They’re also great if you just want to journal about your trip. Search and Rescue teams use them to take notes on a search. Created with weatherproof paper that won’t turn to pulp when water hits it, they’re a brilliant creation!
Just about any photo of me on a trail includes a Buff on my head, acting as a headband and sweat catcher! There are soooo many uses for them in addition to this though: Insect shield, face warmer, neck gaiter, etc. The company claims they can be worn 12 different ways, but I’ll bet the creative types out there could add to that list. They’re the bomb.
Before you look at these and scroll down, because ya know, toe socks, hear me out! If you have ever suffered from blisters between your toes, these socks are the solution to your problem. When a big name hiker I follow recommended them for this purpose, I decided to try them since my toes are susceptible to blisters. They felt weird for about 5 minutes and then I completely forgot I had gloves on my feet. ;-). They are the only socks I hike in now. P.S. If you still want a recommendation other than toe socks, Darn Tough gets my vote.
Disclosure: This company is owned by one of my besties, but that’s not why I’m recommending these products. I’m recommending them because they rock. Bug Be Gone is an all-natural lotion based insect repellent that not only smells yummy but works wonderfully. And the lip balm is just as great. Shop local and support small businesses when you can, especially when it’s a business run by some of the world’s greatest people (and they ship, if you’re not local!).
Yep, another local product from an amazing family in western North Carolina! Hands down, this is my favorite jerky to pack on a hike. No fishy flavor or weird ingredients, just an amazing blend of spices and heart healthy Sunburst Trout. It’s truly one of the best culinary highlights of my hikes! Sunburst Farms ships as well!
Obviously this isn’t something you’d take on a hike, but it sure provides good eye candy for one of the most iconic trails in the US–the John Muir Trail (JMT)! Produced by a witty blend of photographers and cinematographers who decide to hike the JMT and document the journey. They’re everyday people and not uber athletes, which is refreshing in this genre of movies. I have watched it several times (if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch it for free currently!) and it’s a visual treat as well as entertaining!
A story of redemption and parental love, it’s one of my favorite movies of all time. It will leave you reflecting on your own relationships and the power walking has on so many of us who are grieving the loss of a loved one. On a lighter note, it provides stunning scenery of the Camino de Santiago Trail which is on many a bucket list in the hiking world. It’s another freebie to stream with Amazon Prime at the time of this posting.
These little packets are a game changer on a winter hike or backpacking trip if you have difficulty keeping your hands or toes warm. They are also a valuable addition to your first aid kit too, in case you were ever lost on a hike in winter and were struggling to stay warm. They also make toe warmers to stick on your socks to keep your tootsies nice and toasty!
Knife collectors may now be completely discounting everything in my post when they see this item. I get it, it’s not a big bad knife that’s going to help you gut a fish or bushwhack through brush, but is sure comes in handy for small jobs, and I love the weight to reward ratio. I carry one in my pocket at all times on a hike. Another great choice for a lightweight but inexpensive knife whose blade is a bit more sturdy than a Swiss Army Knife is the Opinel Knife. I love this little guy so much that I use it in my kitchen at home as a paring knife when I’m not on a hike!
When I thru hiked the Tahoe Rim Trail, I treated myself to a pack of these each afternoon when my legs were feeling heavy and tired. I’m sure it was 99% placebo effect, but they always seemed to give me the extra boost I needed to make my miles. They’re organic and have vitamin C in them, for what that’s worth, but I like them because they taste great! The same company also makes “waffles” which are yummy too, and my kids enjoy them as a special treat on a hike!
From an early age, I have loved maps. I think many hikers share my affection for them. If you’re a hiker yourself and have visited a place you’d like a friend to experience, giving them a map to dream over is something they’ll appreciate (and hopefully use if they are inspired to plan a trip around it!).
I sincerely hope you found something useful to choose from on this list, and if you’re looking for more gift recommendations, check out my Outdoor and Adventure Kid’s Book Gift Guide too. It lists my favorite books for kids of any ages who enjoy reading about outdoor adventures (and lots of them sneak a good bit of outdoor education too!).
If you have a favorite item in your own pack that costs less than $20, I’d love to know about it. Chime in on the comments section below if you’d like!
Disclosure: Hope and Feather Travels is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
You certainly don’t have to use these links, but I sincerely appreciate it if you do. Using them does not increase your cost on the products whatsoever. Any revenue I earn is used for the financial upkeep of running this website (and just FYI, the cost of running the site far surpasses the proceeds I make from the affiliate program!). If my earnings one day surpass my expenses, I pledge to donate at least 10% to environmental organizations I support, such as Friends of the Smokies.
Also, any links I provide on this site are to the best deal I know of, for the particular product I’m referencing, and many of my links will send you directly to cottage industries who don’t sell their products on Amazon. Supporting small businesses is very important to me!