As thru-hiking season draws to a close in the northern hemisphere, we approach the time of the year where all of us are encouraged to spend lots of money on things we may or may not need for future adventures that we may or may not have (but hopefully the former).
As someone who does not have a lot of things and who very carefully selects the things that I do end up with (aka the things that make it into my backpack), I know that buying gifts for people like me can be difficult. That said, there's no shortage of awesome gifts that I would be happy to receive (and, by extension, I assume that other's would also be equally excited about).
Consumables (i.e. things that are used up – like really soft toilet paper) are generally safe bets for thru-hikers, as are envelopes filled with cash, but in the case you're looking for some suggestions (either for yourself or for someone else), here are some suggestions to get you started.
Awesome, but inexpensive (Under $25)
Darn Tough Socks
If you come across any gift guide that doesn't include Darn Tough socks, turn and run. I've yet to come across a better pair of socks for not only thru-hiking, but also just life in general. Darn Tough socks are incredibly comfortable, made with merino wool, and come with an unbelievable lifetime warranty. They've also recently updated their styles, so even if you've already got some, now's probably a good time to get more.
REI Co-op Nalgene
If you haven't thru-hiked before or you're thinking about getting someone going on a thru-hike a nalgene, then you should probably reconsider doing so if you are expecting that it will be used on the trail. Thru-hikers like obsessing about weight and nalgenes are heavy. That said, when hikers are off the trail, they still need to drink water and show people how cool they are with their sticker-covered nalgenes.
Right now, REI Co-op Nalgenes are buy one, get one (thru November 19), so you can match with your bestie when you are off the trail.
Snow Peak Titanium Spork
You guys know what are really cool? Sporks. You know what's even cooler than just a regular spork? An ultralight titanium spork. You know what's even cooler than an ultralight titanium spork? A colored ultralight titanium spork. Not something a thru-hiker would necessairly spend $10 themselves, but also something they (probably) wouldn't be upset having should someone gift one to them, Snow Peak's titanium spork is a gift fit for a thru-hiker.
Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion
I started using Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent Lotion on the Continental Divide Trail last year and it quickly replaced DEET (which I can't stand the smell of) and long sleeves/pants as my favorite form of insect combatance. Unlike DEET, it doesn't stink, it won't melt plastics, and it won't make your tongue go numb if you accidentally get some in your mouth (but definitely don't put it in your mouth). If lotion isn't your jam, then there's also a spray available in both 0.5 oz and 3 oz varities.
For A Good Friend (Under $100)
Mountain House 4-Day Meal Kit
The Mountain House 4-Day is $88
(or $70.40 with REI's current coupon thru November 19) and comes with twelve meals (working out to $7.30 per meal). Mountain House are deilcious, but are not something that I commonly buy for myself because they're pricey – making them the perfect gift for hikers (unless your hiker friends are self-proclaimed super cool stoveless hikers). If the 4-Day is a bit steep, there's also a 3-Day for a little less monies (it works out to the same price per meal).
Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner
I've gone back and forth on sleeping bag liners for a while now, but right now I am in a pro-liner phase. The Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner is, as should be obvious by the name, a silk liner weighing 4.7 oz / 133 g that add up to 5°F / 2.8°C to a sleeping bag's rating. Liners keep sleeping bags cleaner, warmner, and lasting longer. They can also be great on warmer nights when getting into/under a sleeping bag would result in your becoming a sweaty mess.
Thrupack Summit Bum
My Summit Bum from Thru Pack has quickly become one of my favorite pieces of gear and it's something that I can't believe I didn't start using earlier. Yes, it's a fanny pack (or bum bag depending on where you're reading this from), and yes, it's awesome. It's perfect for thru-hikers since it provides easy access to anything that may be needed throughout the day and basically means you never need to stop hiking. SO MUCH EFFICIENCY! I also have and recommend getting a comfy strap as well.
For Your Absolute Best Friend ($100+)
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad
The NeoAir XTherm Sleeping Pad from Therm-a-Rest is the premier backpacking sleeping pad weighing 15 oz / 425 g and with an R-value of 5.7. If that doesn't mean anything to you, just know that it's excellent. The XTherm is suitable for year-round use (i.e. in winter conditions). It's one of the (if not the) warmest sleeping pads on the market and comes in both Regular and Large sizes.
Arc'teryx Beta SL Hybrid Jacket
I got the
GoPro HERO7 Black
The newly released
And if you get one before November 19, REI is offering a $60 gift card with your purchase (so reward yourself for buying someone, or yourself, a gift this year).
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