hiking gift ideas

40 Hiking Gift Ideas Available at REI Co-op 2023

High Performance Gear For Hikers & Backpackers

Whether it’s a holiday, a birthday, or a treat-yourself, we’ve got you covered with 40 backpacking and hiking gift ideas from REI Co-op. Our team has over decades of collective experience on the trail, and we know what it’s like to receive perfectly gifted gear that matches our tastes and needs.

However, we’ve also received plenty of duplicative items and well-intentioned presents that we’d never actually take into the backcountry. The thing is, shopping for hikers is objectively difficult. Without explicitly asking, you may not know what your recipient’s gear preferences are, what they need, want, and especially what they already own. If you’re gifting a big-ticket item, we recommend checking in with your giftee. Snoop first before placing a big order!

As such, we’ve sorted our hiking gift ideas into five distinct categories based on genre, budget, and likelihood that they need or already have a particular item. We’re ultralight backpackers at heart, and all of these styles we use and love. Happy gifting, happy holidays, and happy hiking! Keep scrolling to grok the gear, or jump ahead by category.

5 Categories of Hiking Gift Ideas

  • Supplies They Always Need (↓)
  • Gadgets They May Not Have (↓)
  • Surefire Hiking Clothes (↓)
  • Winter Hiking Gift Ideas (↓)
  • Splurge-Worthy Backpacking Gift Ideas (↓)

This article is sponsored by REI Co-op. When purchasing through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Here’s why you can trust us. Now back to the hiking gift ideas.

Hiking Gift Ideas: Supplies They Always Need

This section highlights gear and supplies that hikers are frequently replacing or using up.

Darn Tough Lightweight socks as a hiking gift idea

Darn Tough Light Hiker Socks

Having good socks can make or break a hike, and the Darn Tough Light Hikers are some of the most universally popular. Frequent hikers are always in need of more socks, and these make for some of the best hiking gift ideas with a high success rate of recipient appreciation. Opt for either the micro crew or the quarter ankle heights.

the gift of Katadyn BeFree filter

Katadyn BeFree Water Filter

Squeeze-based water filters are where it’s at, and Katadyn BeFree has the best flow and the most usable shape. But like all filters, they’re prone to clogging or leak damage after a season or two of frequent use. Thus your giftee will either appreciate this as a new gear upgrade, or a necessary replacement for their kit. Either way, it’s a win-win.

peak refuel freeze dried meal as a backpacking gift idea

Peak Refuel Freeze Dried Meals

Peak Refuel Freeze Dried Meals have swept the market lately, and are proving to be a flavor and quality upgrade over the existing mass market offerings. The backpacker in your life will appreciate the sheer deliciousness of these dinners, and certainly eat it on their next trip. We think their Chicken Coconut Curry is the best flavor.

sea to summit sil-nylon dry bags as hiking gift ideas

Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Bags

Like most hiking gear, dry bags last a few years of repeated use, but must eventually be replaced due to loss of waterproofness from wear and tear. Give the gift of dry gear by replacing their dry bag or pack liner with these Sea to Summit ultralight silicone impregnated dry bags. We recommend the 20L model for backpackers, and 13L for day hikers.

Alpine Start Instant Coffee as a gift idea

Alpine Start Instant Coffee

Campers and backpackers love waking up to a hot cuppa on a cold morning. But they need not compromise on quality when using instant coffee. A true conisseur may not find it to be as good as the perfect pour over, but Alpine Start Instant Coffee is significantly better than grocery store equivalents like Folgers or Cafe Via. These are a killer stocking stuffer and among our favorite hiking gift ideas.

rei sahara shade hoodie in yellow

REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie

Sun hoodies have become the backcountry outfit du jour, and are among our top hiking gift ideas. The REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie offers full UPF-50 skin coverage in a highly breathable, stretchy, quick-drying package. Frequent hikers benefit from having multiples sun hoodies in their wardrobe, and/or may need a replacement. They’re also great for travel, and general purpose warm-weather wear to prevent sun burns.

Tifosi Swank Sunglasses

Tifosi Swank Sunglasses

Sun glasses tend to take a beating on the trail. They get dinged, squashed, damaged, lost, or forgotten. Thus we prefer good quality, value-oriented options that don’t cost an arm and a leg to replace. The Tifosi Swank have been our preferred general purpose eyewear for adventure travel, and offer a perfect mixture of performance and style.

Sawyer Picardin Insect Lotion as a hiking gift idea

Picaridin Insect Repellent

Insect repellent is extremely useful from May-July, and a hiking essential in most regions. Sawyer Picaridin lotion is the longest lasting, most effective option – far superior to spray-on. If you suspect that your giftee is still using DEET, this could be a huge level up for them as it’s non-toxic (did you know DEET can melt plastic?), yet equally as effective. If they already use Picaridin, well, they’ll eventually need more.

Hiking Gift Ideas: Gadgets They May Not Have Yet

This section highlights gear that the average hiker is less likely to already own.

Pocket Rocket Deluxe as a backpacking gift idea

Pocket Rocket Deluxe

Based on our extensive testing, the MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe is the best stand-alone backpacking stove unit. This is thanks to its optimal blend of heat output, fuel economy, weight, pressure regulation, wind resistance, quality, and user-friendliness. Nearly any backpacker would benefit from having a top of the line stove!

Snow Peak Double Wall Titanium a great hiking gift idea

Snow Peak Double-Walled Titanium Mug

The best material for a backpacking camp mug is titanium (because it’s the strongest and lightest), and the best designs are double walled (for significantly improved heat retention). While it’s probable that your giftee already has a mug of some sort, it’s unlikely to be as good as the Japanese-designed Snow Peak Double Walled Titanium Mug. This is an easy and affordable upgrade, and something most hikers won’t have yet.

guppyfriend washing bag

GuppyFriend Washing Bag

Does your hiking gift recipient care about the protecting the environment? If so, they will love a GuppyFriend Washing Bag. Load it up with fleece before running it through the laundry to prevent microplastic shedding. And while you’re at it, why not get one for yourself because we know you care too!

REI Co-op Trail 2 fanny pack for hiking

REI Co-op Trail 2 Waist Pack

Okay, it’s plausabile, perhaps even probable, that your recipient already has a fanny pack of some sort, but we really dig the REI Co-op Trail 2. It’s simple, and just the right size to wear in conjunction with a backpack to keep snacks, phone, and other knickknacks easily accessible while trekking. And check out all of these sweet prints!

Kula Cloth

Kula Cloth, Reusable Antimicrobial Pee Cloth

Upgrade that bandana to a Kula Cloth! These stylish, absorbent, reusable pee clothes are treated with anti-microbial silver-infused ions to reduce bacterial growth and smells. Use after peeing, and appreciate all of the cool graphics and print options available.

Arcade Belts are a perfect hiking gift

Arcade Belts

Sure, any belt can do the job, but few make for better hiking gift ideas than Arcade Belts. Most importantly, they are soft and slightly stretchy. This prevents the belt from biting or digging into exposed skin while offering a very secure hold. What’s more, they look incredible! This brand is still largely undiscovered, and it’s unlikely your giftee already has one.

ZOLEO satellite communicator as a safety gift

ZOLEO Satellite Communicator

Give the gift of increased safety! No single piece of gear lends friends and family more peace of mind than a satellite communicator, which can text with or alert emergency contacts or search and rescue operators to an unfolding emergency with details and location info. No cell service is required for our preferred model, ZOLEO, though a small monthly subscription is. If you aren’t sure whether your recipient has a sat comm device, you may want to snoop first before purchasing in case they already have an active subscription.

Vargo Titanium Trowel

Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool

If you’ve seen your gifttee carrying around an orange plastic Coghlan’s Trowel, it’s time for an upgrade. The Vargo Titanium Dig Dig Tool is an ultralight trowel with saw-like edges to cut through roots. The structure is strong enough to pry up rocks, and it can even double as a tent stake!

Hiking Gift Ideas: Surefire Apparel

This section highlights some of the most universally popular pieces of hiking apparel.

REI Co-op Lightweight Logo Beanie as a hiking gift idea

REI Co-op Lightweight Logo Beanie

These wool-acrylic-blend beanies are an easy win for giftee and gifter. It’s an affordable, good looking, piece of gear that is just as useful around town as it is on the trail. Rep the Co-op in style with a Lightweight Logo Beanie.

REI Magma 850 Down Jacket

REI Co-op Magma 850 Down Jacket

A good quality, lightweight, warm down jacket is a useful piece of all-purpose gear, and the REI Co-op Magma 850 gets it just right. The elegantly color-blocked down baffles hit it just right without compromising much on weight or bulk. Your giftee may already have a down jacket, but Magma 850 was redesigned for fall 2023, so it’s unlikely they have THIS jacket.

Patagonia torrentshell 3L rain jacket hiking gift idea

Patagonia TorrentShell 3L Jacket

We’ve tested and researched rain jackets extensively, and have yet to find such an effectively, well-made, high quality, universally appealing option as the Patagonia TorrentShell 3L for such a reasonable price. The namesake 3L refers to its three layers: the protective outer shell made of recycled fish nets; a waterproof breathable membrane; and a soft tricot backer. The 3L system is more commonly found in jackets costing twice as much, extends the life of the garment, and prevents the wearer from feeling clammy when the jacket touches their skin.

patagonia R1 Air pullover for hiking

Patagonia R1 Air Fleece

R1 Air Fleece is one of the comfiest, coziest, lightest weight, and most breathable fleeces money can buy. This is thanks to the wavy polyester jacquard made with hollow core yarn. The grooves vent air, while the high pile ridges insulate. The hollow core yarns create microscopic dead air pockets, improving the insulative qualities of the garment without adding weight. Oh yeah, and it’s 100% recycled and fair trade certified.

Patagonia Houdini windbreaker makes for a great hiking gift idea

Patagonia Houdini Windbreaker

The Patagonia Houdini is arguably the most popular windbreaker of all time, and makes for one of our favorite hiking gift ideas. Windbreakers are ultralight and useful during any combination of cold, dry, or windy weather. They are perfect to layer over a fleece in fall and winter, and this one is 100% recycled and comes in some seriously sweet prints.

KUHL Renegade Convertible pants

M’s Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants

The Men’s Kuhl Renegade Convertible Pants are the closest we’ve seen to the platonic ideal of cargo hiking pants. They have what is unquestionably the best suite of pockets, perfect for keeping all of your knickknacks handy while on the move. The fabric is super durable, lightly stretchy, wind-resistant, quick-drying, and breathable. This is a surefire hiking pants upgrade if your recipient likes cargo pockets.

KUHL Freeflex rollup pants are a perfect hiking gift for her

W’s Kuhl FreeFlex Roll-up Pants

If you’re gifting hiking pants to her, you will be hard pressed to find any pair more favorably reviewed than the Kuhl Freeflex Roll-Up Pants. Averaging 4.7 stars on ~450 reviews at time of publication, these duds are one of the only women’s pairs with legit dual cargo pockets. But let’s not discount the fact they’re also comfy, stretchy, durable, quick drying, breathable, and have a nifty cuffing feature.

Patagonia Multi Trail Shorts

Patagonia Multi Trails Shorts

Hiking in trail running shorts (as opposed to traditional nylon cargo shorts) is trending among thru hikers, and we like it too. They’re comfier, stretchier, more breathable, and better looking. What sets the Patagonia Multi Trails Shorts apart from the pack are the zippered pockets, which securely hold anything phone sized or smaller. And of course, they’re 100% recycled and fair trade certified.

Winter Hiking Gift Ideas

This section highlights winter-specific gear, perfect for holiday-season gifting.

The North Face Thermoball Traction Booties

The North Face ThermoBall Traction Booties

Chances are high that the hiker you’re gifting to also enjoys camping, cabins, yurts, huts, ski lodges, and other such endeavors. Staying cozy at night in the cold is arguably the best part of the experience, and for that, we recommend The North Face ThermoBall Traction Booties. Insulated footwear will drastically improve their experience, and these bad boys are like a puffy jacket version of slippers.

MSR Front Range Pyramid

MSR Front Range Ultralight Tarp Shelter

When properly pitched, a pyramid tent can become an ultralight four season shelter. Dig the snow out underneath it to create a winter base camp dining hall. Use it in summer as a palace for two, or bring the whole family. As a gift, the MSR Front Range is something your recipient is unlikely to already own, but opens up a world of possibilities for less than two pounds.

therm-a-rest neoair xtherm as a winter hiking gift idea

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm NXT

Choose the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm NXT for winter camping and we promise your giftee will be warm from underneath. This 3″ thick sleeping pad has an unprecedented R-value of 7.3, which is perfect for resting atop snow or frozen earth. A winter-grade sleeping pad is necessary for winter camping, and this pad is a great way to go about it. If you’re looking for winter hiking gift ideas, it’s hard to beat this one!

Kahtoola Microspikes the perfect winter hiking gift idea

Kahtoola MicroSpikes Traction System

If you’re looking for winter hiking gift ideas, Kahtoola MicroSpikes are the gold standard for traction on frozen surfaces. Your giftee will make great use of these in winter or spring in the mountains. And you can feel great knowing you’ve upped their safety!

Therm-a-Rest Parsec 0 Sleeping Bag

Therm-a-Rest Parsec 0 Sleeping Bag

A zero degree sleeping bag is the most useful all-around temp rating for winter, and the Therm-a-Rest Parsec 0 makes for a great gift. If they don’t yet have a winter bag, this opens up a world of possibilities for sleeping under the stars all year round.

black diamond storm 500R headlamp

Black Diamond Storm 500-R Headlamp

Just like with sleeping bags and sleeping pads, winter backpacking requires a beefier headlamp like the Black Diamond Storm 500R. This model is waterproof, has a large battery, and puts out tons of light during the darkest months of the year.

rei snow stake as a winter camping gift idea

REI Co-op Snow Stakes

Regular stakes won’t cut it for snow camping, which is why your gift recipient may need a set of REI Snow Stakes. These extra wide stakes offer a superior hold in frozen and unconsolidated powder, and do double duty in sand.

Black Diamond Wind Flip Mitts a great hiking gift idea

Black Diamond WindWeight Convertible Mittens

Winter hiking and camping requires keeping your hands warm, without sacrificing dexterity. That’s why your giftee will love the Black Diamond WindWeight Convertible Mittens. Pull back the mitt-top while rifling through a backpack, setting up a tent, or making coffee. Put it back on when the mercury drops. This wind-resistant fleece is the perfect tool for the job, and we know they’ll love this hybrid handwear.

Splurge-Worthy Backpacking Gift Ideas

This section highlights top of the line backpacking gear that would constitute a significant upgrade for most people.

HMG southwest 55 backpack

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55 Pack

An ultralight pack is an essential upgrade for any backpacker, and we strongly recommend the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest 55 Pack. This pack is made with waterproof, tough-as-nails Dyneema fabric. We’ve used it to great success from Alaska to Patagonia and everywhere in between. It’s comfier than it looks, and the external storage suite is perfection. This is a surefire backpacking gift idea.

big agnes copper spur hv ul2 as a gift

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2

A lightweight tent is the single most important piece of backpacking gear, and the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 has long been considered the gold standard. If your recipient is still using camping in some old clunker, this will be a backcountry-life changing upgrade for them. It’s got awning vestibules, internal pockets galore, near-vertical side-walls, and still weighs less than three pounds.

Therm-a-Rest Vesper Quilt

Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20 Quilt

Nudge them towards ultralight with the gift of a top-tier backpacking quilt. The Therm-a-Rest Vesper 20 is the best model stocked at REI, weighing only 19 oz – a bit more than half of the weight of an average sleeping bag with a similar temp rating. Quilts are much comfier and far less claustrophobic than sleeping bags, and adapt better to warm conditions when venting is needed. And no, quilts aren’t drafty.

Therm-a-rest neoair xlite nxt makes a for an excellent backpacking gift idea

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT

New for 2023, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite NXT is a makeover to the already iconic sleeping pad, now quieter, warmer, and thicker. This model has a super high R-value relative to its weight, making it the sleeping pad with the best stats for 3-season use. Gifting a NeoAir NXT will make sure your recipient carries less weight, and sleeps warmer.

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion as a hiking gift idea

Therm-a-Rest Hyperion Sleeping Bag

Upgrade them to the lightest weight 20 degree sleeping bag money can buy. Therm-a-Rest Hyperion achieves this by overloading the top with excess down, and underfilling the bottom. This works by preventing the upwards dissapation of heat, and relying on a warm sleeping pad to insulate from below. It’s astouning that this model weighs only 20 oz when the average sleeping bag weighs two pounds.

jetboil stash stove as a gift

Jetboil Stash Cooking System

The Jetboil Stash Cooking System is the most fuel efficient on the market. The pot, in particular, is best-in-class thanks to its heat exchanger ring which helps contain and transfer heat that may otherwise drift off or blow away. What’s more, the whole thing, including a small pot of fuel, the stove unit, and the lighter, all nest neatly in the pot.

Arc'Teryx Beta LT hiking rain jacket

Arc’Teryx Beta LT Jacket

If our lives depended on staying dry, we would probably choose the Arc’Teryx Beta LT Jacket. The quality and craftmanship of this GORE-TEX rain shell is basically flawless, down to the last inch of seam tape. It might not be the most ultralight, but it’s certainly the most effective at rain protection, and you’re giftee is guaranteed to be impressed. If you can afford the splurge, Arc’teryx rain jackets make for some of the best hiking gift ideas.

COROS APEX 2 Pro watch as a techy hiker gift

COROS APEX 2 Pro Watch

COROS APEX 2 Pro is hands down the best smartwatch for hikers and backpackers who prioritize backcountry functionality above all else. Compared to its competitors, this watch has far superior battery life, top of the line GPS, exceptional heart rate tracking, a supremely durable case, and a surprisingly useful button lock feature. This is an exceptional gift for tech-savvy hikers who care about tracking their data.

Hiking Gift Ideas Conclusion

Thank you for reading! We hope you’ve found these hiking gift ideas informative and inspirational. While no gift is 100% guaranteed to hit, we tuned this list as best we could for universal appeal for both hikers and backpackers. In the event that you chose the wrong size, the wrong color, or the wrong item, fear not! REI has a very generous return policy and will help you exchange or replace the purchase. Happy hiking!

7 replies
    • Jaeger Shaw
      Jaeger Shaw says:

      Hi Charlie – Not a bad idea! If we have time, we’ll follow this up with a cottage industry ultralight gift guide – this one is specific to just REI though. In addition to gift cards, there are so many fun UL knickknacks and accessories to choose from.

  1. Jesse
    Jesse says:

    “19 oz – a bit more than half of the weight of a good sleeping bag with a similar temp rating’ is what you say about 20 degree quilt, but the 20 degree bag on your list is 20 oz. And I challenge you to find insulated balaclava under 1 oz!

    • Jaeger Shaw
      Jaeger Shaw says:

      Fair enough – Changed that language to compare the quilt to an “average sleeping bag” rather than a good sleeping bag. The Kelty Cosmic Down, for example, weighs 2 lbs 10 oz. The Therm-a-rest hyperion – the sleeping bag on this list, which you’re comparing to, is one of the very lightest in its temp class, and achieves that with a quilt-like design in how the bottom half is underfilled. Personally, I prefer the Vesper to the Hyperion, even though they’re very similar.

      Here’s a 1.3 oz down balaclava: https://zpacks.com/products/goose-hood?aff=8

      • Jesse
        Jesse says:

        Even if not literally under 1oz, I deem myself pwned with that balaclava!

        The weight based arguments for quilts are sort of a pet peeve of mine, as these days there are bags made with equally light materials, the weight difference between a lightweight quilt and a light bag is pretty much the weight of a hood these days. Comfort and preferences are wholly another discussion, no objections to someone preferring a quilt!

        • Jaeger Shaw
          Jaeger Shaw says:

          Hah! I actually thought I could find a sub 1 oz balaclava, but close enough.

          That’s a fair perspective. For a another apples to apples to apples comparison, the weight delta between a ZPacks 20 quilt + balaclava and a Zpacks 20 sleeping bag is only 2.4 oz. The reputation of quilts is largely enhanced by the fact that nearly 100% of quilts are made by ultralight brands, whereas an overwhelming majority of sleeping bags come from mainstream outdoor brands whose customers don’t know to care much about warmth-to-weight. A quilt is much lighter than the average sleeping bag, but an ultralight top tier sleeping bag like Hyperion or Zpacks is also much lighter than a standard sleeping bag and nearly equal to a quilt. Hoping to see a sleeping bag renaissance in the future as more lightweight options come to market.

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