What to Get The Hiker in Your Life For The Holidays

sockedinhikes Member, Moderator Posts: 22

The holidays can be both a magical and stressful time of year. And now that we are deep in the trenches of the holiday shopping season, I figured it would be a great time to share some of the random (and not very expensive) things that I would love to find in my Christmas stocking in a few weeks. Shopping for a hiker is extremely difficult. There are so many personal preferences to navigate that unless you are explicitly told to get someone something, it can be really hard to know what to buy. Rather than spending an arm and a leg on something that someone won’t use, here are a few of the things that most hikers would be likely to use (and the bonus is that most of them are pretty cheap). 

Bug Net - Hiking in New England, this past summer I finally decided to stop fighting with the black flies and use the bug net my friend gave me a few years prior. And once I donned that magical headwear I never wanted to hike again without it. Weighing about as much as a paper towel, this thing has been the difference between sanity and insanity for me. 

Trash Compactor Bags - This is a gift that regardless of whether or not you’re day hiking or backpacking you will most likely be happy you have it. Even if you are carrying a water resistant backpack, there is still a chance that your things could get wet. I started lining my backpack with a trash compactor bag a few years ago, and it saved me more than once from having sopping wet gear after 2023 became the wettest summer in decades. 

Bug Spray - I am highly sensitive to Deet bug spray, so specifically I am referring to Picardin bug spray, but once again, living and hiking in New England you are going to be carried away by the bugs if you don’t use some sort of protection. In years past I’ve suffered through the bug bites and tried really hard not to douse myself in spray, but this past summer I succumbed to the tiny, winged masses finally starting spraying myself with Picardin. 

Bandana - This can act as a part of your first aid kit, a pee rag in a pinch, sweat rag, or cute headband. The options are seemingly endless and bandanas come in such a wide variety of patterns that there is something for everyone. I have a few bandanas and they have become such a staple to my hiking routine, if I forget to attach them to my pack I find myself reaching for something that isn’t there when I’m sweating profusely all summer long.   

Small Sanitizer - Carrying a small bottle of hand sanitizer is a must when you’re hiking. It’s unlikely that you’re going to come across somewhere to wash your hands with soap after going to the bathroom when you’re in the middle of the forest, and this item can also serve an additional function as part of your emergency kit. If you need to make a fire, you can use the sanitizer as a fire starter because it contains alcohol.  

Travel Size Sunblock - As a weight-conscious hiker, there are a few things that I see as optional if I’m looking to shave a few extra ounces off my base weight, but sunblock isn’t one of them. A small travel size bottle is really all you need even on backpacking trips and especially if you’re traveling above treeline you are going to be glad that you have sun protection. 

Hand Warmers - Carrying a pack of hand warmers is almost a must in New Hampshire. The weather here is so temperamental and temperatures can be below freezing in the Presidentials even in July. Hand warmers are part of my emergency kit and I would be willing to bet that most hikers who spend time outdoors in the woods in winter carry them as well. 

Bodyglide - Something that I am all too familiar with is chafe. In a very humid environment, and being a woman, I have a lot of places that chafe can happen. Most hikers have been personally affected by chafe at some point in their hiking career and it can be incredibly painful. Bodyglide is a great product that can help to prevent chafing from starting altogether. 

Trowel - The Deuce of Spades is my go-to cat hole digger, and this almost weightless piece of metal makes digging a hole fast and sometimes you need that hole fast. Most hikers carry something to use to dig cat holes, some use their trekking poles, others carry a dedicated “hole-digger” like the Deuce of Spades. This purchase is something that I would check with your hiker about before purchasing only because not all hikers use a dedicated “hole-digger.”

I would encourage people shopping for the hikers in their lives to check before purchasing unless you are also a hiker and want to get someone something that works for you - something you are pretty sure they will also like. Things like water filters, socks, sunglasses, or hats are all fantastic small gifts to get someone, but I have a stack of hats I’ll never wear because I don’t like the fit but I was gifted them from well-meaning people over the years. Water filtration is also a very personal choice as well as socks. Some people prefer toe socks, others don’t. It’s hard to shop for a lot of the items hikers carry without getting their explicit preferences. What are some of your favorite gifts to get as a hiker? Be sure to comment below!