It would appear that we're going to make it through another year, and it's fast approaching the months when people begin thinking about how to best change their currency into gifts for others (or themselves).
Since many thru-hikers pride themselves on being minimalists, they can be difficult people to buy gifts for. Sure, they'll graciously accept your kindness, but whether or not they take your offering with them on their next expedition is another matter.
To really get a great gift for a thru-hiker you need to either provide them with something better than what they already have, something consumable, or something they didn't know that they needed (this is rare).
To get you started, here's a list of gear that (in many cases) will meet at least one (if not more) than those qualifications.
Awesome, but inexpensive (Under $25)
Darn Tough Socks
In case you haven't heard, Darn Tough socks are the only thing you should be putting on your feet. They're incredibly comfortable, made with merino wool, and come with an unbelievable lifetime warranty. Socks have never been so exciting.
Deuce of Spades Ultralight Trowel
Yes, we would like to believe that we all properly dispose of our poops in the wilderness, but unfortunately, we both know that isn't always possible without the proper equipment. The .6 oz / 17 g Deuce of Spades Trowel should honestly be a part of everyone's pack. And in case you're wondering, yes, I do have one (it's blue).
I know, first socks and now underwear? Yes, underwear. This year on the Continental Divide Trial I switched to ExOfficio and my only question is why I didn't switch sooner (everyone around me had this figured out already).
Bodyglide Anti-Chafe Skin Protectant
It doesn't matter if you've hiked millions of steps or if you have only dreamt of going outdoors, we are all susceptible to a common and deadly enemy, chafe. I know, it's not an attractive topic, but hopefully you won't need to talk about it if you get yourself and your loved ones some Bodyglide. The stuff works miracles.
Sea to Summit Head Net
Ever wanted to give someone a gift that says, “I care deeply about you, but I also want you to look like a doofus”? Well, that's exactly what a head net says. It's a small and easily forgettable piece of gear, but it's also something that – in the right situation – becomes its weight in diamonds (despite diamonds being worthless).
For A Good Friend (Under $100)
SmartWool MidWeight Base Layer
If someone you know completed a thru-hike, chances are it was in the summer. Now that things are getting colder (that is, north of the equator), its probably wise to equip a base layer. Right now (through November 20), SmartWool Midweight Base Layers are 30% off. Go on, give someone some expensive underwear this holiday season.
Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter
The Sawyer Squeeze has become the default thru-hiker water filter, and despite numerous competitors it's held strong near the top. The pros? It's lightweight, compact, and can screw onto most water bottles (at least those in the US). The cons? The flow rate diminishes considerably over time leading to insanity in hikers.
Ursack S29.3 Bear Bag
After the Continental Divide Trial, I decided to make an Ursack S29.3 Bear Bag a permenant addition to my pack. This bag can stop everything from mice to grizzlies from getting into your food. An oversized, overweight food bag? Maybe. Awesome at keeping food safe? Absolutely.
Sea to Summit UltraLight Sleeping Pad
At 12.5 oz / 354 g, the Sea to Summit UltraLight Sleeping Pad is one of the lightest available. I have found the egg carton construction to be incredibly confortable, and the two-way valve makes inflating and deflating the pad far easier than some I've had in the past. It's not the warmest pad (R-value 0.7), but it's worked awesomely for me.
For Your Absolute Best Friend ($100+)
Jetboil MiniMo Stove
It doesn't matter if you're on the trail, in the back of your van, or maybe even just too lazy to walk to the kitchen, a Jet Boil MiniMo will save you from having to eat cold-soaked noodles or yet another tortilla filled with whatever happens to be laying around. Cooking is a luxury, so if you're going to cook, you had might as well do it in style.
GoPro HERO6 Black
An compact, ultralight, professional quality camera that can stand up to the elements? I would be surprised to find an outdoor enthusiast of any dicipline who wouldn't be stoked to find themselves the owner of the brand new GoPro HERO6.
Disclosure: I only recommend products I love and have personally used. This page contains affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you, I may receive small commissions for purchases made via these links. This helps keep the site up and running.