Most hikers and backpackers want to carry as little as possible, but also want to be reasonably safe and comfy. Consider these practical gifts a way to show you want them to return home safely from their treks!
#1. Headlamp: A headlamp offers light weight and hands free operation for anyone out, or caught out, after dark. Black Diamond and Petzl are among the manufacturers offering LED headlamps. $20 and up.
#2. Trail food & energy bars: Hikers (like athletes in general) favor food in moderate amounts throughout the day rather than three meals per day. Although your gift recipient may have his or her favorite snacks, you can always supplement their “fuel” supply with Snickers, granola bars, energy gels, and energy bars. Hint: long-distance hikers look for maximum calories per ounce.
#3. Knife: While there are tons of multi-purpose tools and knives available, the small Swiss Army Classic Pocket Knife is hard to beat. It’s 2.4 ounces, has a knife blade, scissors, nail file with screwdriver tip, toothpick and tweezers. $12 and up.
#4. Water bottle: If the hiker on your list has not replaced old water bottles, shop for a new container that is BPA-free. Day hikers might prefer the Low-density Polyethylene (LDPE) bottles because they are flexible, low in weight, and relatively inexpensive. Click here to read REI’s, “How to choose a water bottle.”
#5. Sunblock: Most people use too little sunblock when outdoors. Although we all need Vitamin D is some form, spending hours in the sun without protection from the sun is unsafe. Select a product that offers protection against both UVA and UVB . Experts generally agree that a product rated “30” is adequate, higher ratings aren’t necessary. Note: wearing sunscreen does not negate the need for protective clothing and a hat when in the sun for extended periods.
#6. Bodyglide: If the person on your list has ever mentioned developing a rash when exercising, look for one of the Bodyglide products. The continual rubbing of clothing against sweaty body often causes an irritation. These products offer protective soothing lubrication. $7 and up.
#7. Raingear: For most people, top notch raingear doesn’t fall into the stock stuffer category, but some emergency protection can be had for minimal bucks. A Space Emergency blanket, at $3.95, can be part of a first aid kit.
#8. Firestarter/matches: You can buy small kits of emergency supplies with fire-starting materials, or you can assemble a minimal one yourself with a couple of cotton balls soaked in Vaseline, a small box of waterproof matches and/or a magnesium firestarter. Purchase a $14 kit, click here.
#9. Liner gloves: Although gloves can be pricey, liner gloves (a light weight pair of gloves worn under outer gloves) are inexpensive, offer mobility when worn alone (for taking photos for example), and offer added insulation. Smartwool liner gloves $18.
#10. Bandanna: Although this is the least expensive item on the list, it probably is the most versatile one – can be used as a handkerchief; to wipe your brow; as a head or neck covering; an emergency bandage or to secure a splint; a towel; a preliminary water filter; and over the mouth and nose as dust filter. On top of that, you can use it to wrap another present! $1.95 and up.
Look for products at outdoor supply stores such as REI, Any Mountain, and Marmot Mountain Works.
Happy holidays and great hiking!