A Different Kind of Hiker Gift Guide

A Different Kind of Hiker Gift Guide

It seems like everyone is putting out a list of things to buy that special hiker in your life for the holidays and I’m sure they help out a lot of folks. It’s a great opportunity to talk about your favorite gear, get some kick back from affiliates and make some plugs for companies who sponsor you.

Just couldn’t do it.

I thought I’d put out a list of the things I think you and everyone should be thinking about for your favorite hiker. Or maybe just anyone this season. Or in life in general. There’s a lot to learn from those of us who spend a lot of time on the trails and I’m sure most would agree with me that less is more.

Make a hiker happy. We are easy to please. Free usually weighs less. We have learned to live with what we can carry on our back and appreciate the little things.  These are just a few of the common practices and habits we see on the trail that are the reason hikers are such a happy bunch.

Recycle: Reusing items for the trail is one of the things I love most about backpacking.  Those little containers you have of food coloring, eye drops, contact lens cases, etc. all make great ways to store small amounts of things like biodegradable soap on the trail.

Divide the Load: I am all about the solo hiking but there is definitely a benefit to having a hiking partner.  Dividing up the weight means less for both.  Do you know a friend who could use help with a task? Offer to help do someone’s laundry or cook a meal.

Be a Listening Ear: Sometimes after many miles on the trail in solitude, it’s nice to have someone to share your day with.  Can you think of someone who might need some company and a friend to share their story with?

Make a Fast Friend:  The beauty of the trail is the community. We leave the skepticism and wariness behind and everyone is quickly family.  This holiday season, strive to do the same.

Leave Some Trail Magic: Complete strangers will park themselves at trailheads and offer delicious treats to hikers coming through on their journeys without any expectation of reciprocation (okay, maybe that karma thing I mentioned above).  Shouldn’t it be like that with every thing?  Look for ways to leave “trail magic” (it can be an action, too) for loved ones this season. That whole random acts of kindness thing…

Share a Meal: Food is king on the trail. Sometimes, it seems like that is all you are thinking about.  That and maybe how much you stink.  But no matter how hungry you are, there is always enough to share with those who join you.  Invite a hiker (anyone) over for a meal and share hiking stories!

Share Your Favorite Waterfall, Viewpoint, Path:  TAKE SOMEONE HIKING WITH YOU!

Give Some Advice:  We hikers have learned A LOT from experience and want to pass that on.  Take time to mentor or share your skills with another, possibly a child without both parents.

Encourage Someone: For the most part, we hikers are an encouraging bunch.  I think it is because hiking makes you happy and happy is contagious.  We want YOU to feel the same way.  Don’t be stingy with the encouragement this season, you never know when you might make a real difference in someone’s life.  Write them a note!

Tell Someone They Inspire You:  Most of us out having these big outdoor adventures gained our motivation from someone who inspired us to do so.  But often, our heroes don’t know they played such an important role in our life.  Write or spend time with someone who inspires YOU and let them know they make a difference to you.

Okay, so if you REALLY want to buy a hiker something they can use, here are my suggestions for things that are cheap or nearly there:

  • Trash Compactor Bags (for lining your pack, rain skirts, ground cloths, etc.)
  • Quart Size Freezer Bags (great waterproof storage)
  • Dime store pill bags (for vitamins, spices, etc.)
  • First Aid Kits Supplies like Band-Aids, etc.
  • The “Minis”: anything mini.  Even travel items can be too big.  Itty, bitty is the way to go!
  • Non-perishable food like Lara Bars or Zora Bars (You might want to hint around to their favorite ones, sometimes we grow tired of a brand and even free ones can go uneaten.  Even when hiker hunger hits.)
  • Ear plugs

If feeling like supporting a hiker with money but wanting to avoid consumerism, considering donating to a national trail or advocacy group in the name of your favorite hiker!

Pacific Crest Trail Association

Pacific Northwest Trail Association

Washington Trails Association

Sierra Club

National Park Foundation

American Hiking Society

Leave No Trace


I hope this helps you this season when deciding on that perfect gift for your favorite hiker (or others) and let me know if there is anything I forgot to mention along these lines!  What are you getting your favorite hiker?

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