The Top 10 Gifts for Backpackers

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Gifts for BackpackersWhether you’re giving someone a gift for their birthday, Christmas or other events, the best gifts for backpackers are something they are likely to use.

Backpacking is fun and relaxing but you need to be prepared in order to make the journey worthwhile. Below are some of our favorite gift ideas for friends and loved ones who love to backpack.

Best Gifts for Backpackers

1. Backpacking Pillow

One of the things anyone who spends time in the outdoors appreciates well is good sleep. Being away from your own bed means that you need to adjust to the surface you’re sleeping on along with the surroundings.

So having something familiar not only makes it more comfortable but also easier to sleep. Along with a cozy sleeping pad, a good backpacking pillow are among the best ways to get a good night’s rest while on any trip.

Because of weight and space constraints, something that’s compact and lightweight are better than something that’s more comfortable but a pain to bring along. Our favorite is the Exped Air Pillow. It is an inflatable pillow that saves a lot of space when not in use, and very comfortable to rest our heads on. Here’s our review on it.

See more backpacking pillows available on

2. Solar Recharging Kit

This is one of the most innovative things a packer can get to make life a lot more convenient. One great example is the Goal Zero Sherpa 50 Solar Recharging Kit. It is made up of a set of 3 folding solar panels to collect energy from the sun along with a battery charger.

All you need to do is allow the solar panels to collect energy then store it into the battery. From there it can charge electronic gadgets like laptops, tables and mobile phones.

For me this is one of the best things you can get if you spend days away from anywhere with electricity. With it you don’t need to sacrifice not being able to enjoy the techie gadgets we’re used to.

3. Water Filtration/Purification System

There are many different water treatment systems for campers and backpackers. You can go with the full blow filtration system or the bottle filter. One of the coolest inventions around is the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter.

This is an 8 inch “straw” that’s a few ounces in weight and about an inch or so thick in diameter. What makes it great is that it has the ability to filter water making it safe to drink. For a backpacker who’s in the wilderness or on a trail this allows us to sip from bodies of what that could otherwise make us ill without any risk of getting any bacteria.

The filtration system filters 99.9999% of bacteria and particles up to 0.2 microns in size allowing the person sipping from the straw to sip safe drinking water. When it reaches the maximum 1000 liters (per stick), its safety feature automatically stops the LifeStraw from working so users don’t accidentally sip contaminated water.

4. Sleeping Bag

Our next backpacker gift idea is a good sleeping bag. Before getting this as a gift, you’ll want to be knowledgeable about who you’re giving it to. Depending on their travel style they may or may not use sleeping bags.

Some backpackers make hostel or bed and breakfast sleeping arrangements. If this is the case, they don’t spend the nights under the sky and the stars but inside rooms. So sleeping bags may not be as useful for them and something they may not use at all.

For backpackers, choosing a lightweight sleeping bag is crucial. It has be easy to roll up and light enough to pack without making travel more difficult. Down sleeping bags are the best choice if you can afford them since they are lighter and also warmer than synthetic ones, which are better for value.

Read our sleeping bag guide for more information.

5. Sleeping pad

One other sleeping accessory that is very valuable for backpackers are sleeping pads. We particularly like inflatable pads. A good choice would be the Klymit Static V air pad. It’s a nice 2.5” thick and very light at 20 ounces.

This gives it enough comfort and insulation from the ground, yet light enough not to be a bother during the trek.

Before running out to get one be sure to check the length and width of the pad relative to the height and girth of the person you plan to give it to. I remember us laughing at one of our group mates who was 6’6” sleeping on a sleeping pad that was made for a regular person. For more about sleeping pads see this article.

6. Travel locks

Another very useful accessory for any backpacker are travel locks. They provide security for backpacks and belongings. Because of all the travel rules, regulations and restrictions, choosing a good travel lock not only means picking out something that isn’t easily picked or opened, it also means using one that fits the guidelines of the TSA (Transport Security Administration).

TSA accepted locks are those that the TSA can open in case they need to make further inspections after going through machines. They use a “master key” that can open all TSA acceptable locks. This way they don’t need to bolt cut the lock during these situations. The one we use is the Lewis N. Clark TSA Cable Lock. Get the 2 lock pack which offers better value.

7. Swiss army knife

We all know they’re cool and very handy. But for someone who’s away from home and often on their own these are essentials. We’ve gotten used to calling them Swiss army knives, but in reality there are a number of brands available. The most known is Victorinox, which is the red colored one.

Victorinox makes a lot of different variations of this multi-tool knife so choosing one really depends on your budget and the interests of the person whom you’re giving it to.

The the outdoorsman, you can choose from the Camper, Hiker, Huntsman, Climber, Fisherman or Sportsman models. Or, if you want to play safe, the Classic always works well.

Look here at Amazon’s collection of Victorinox pocket knives.

8. Kindle E-Reader

Backpacking, like hiking isn’t always travel. There’s a lot of downtime too. That’s one of the main reasons why we like doing them, because they allow us to soak in the nature and everything around us. Not to sound cliché, but it really is about the journey and not just the destination.

Technology has been great for backpackers, hikers and trekkers simply because it cuts through a lot of the boredom. Let’s face it there are just so many things you can do on the road away from everyone else. Among our favorite tech gadgets is the Kindle E-Reader.

It makes for a great gift because it you can pretty much read anything you want with it. They get to choose what to load it with and enjoy the things they like to read. Amazon offers a number of Kindle versions ranging from those below $100 to those over $200, so it’s up to you if you want to give them the basic E-reader or go for the one with all the extra HD features.

Look here at’s Kindle E-readers.

9. Universal Adapter

One of the least expensive but most useful gifts any traveler will get is the universal adapter. We all know the headache of not being able to plug our own devices when we get to other countries because their wall plugs use different receptacles.

A universal adapter like the Ceptics GP-5PK International Travel Worldwide Plug Adapter Set makes life a lot easier since we can just choose the right adapter for the hotel or home we’re staying in, in whatever country.

Multi-adapters cost around $10 at most depending on how many are included in the set. Get the worldwide versions so it covers all the different types of plugs.

10. Mini-speakers or Headphones

Apart from the E-reader or tablet, the other main entertainment gadget for travelers are our music devices. A nice set of Bluetooth mini-speakers would be a great gift, just as would a good pair of noise canceling headphones.

I prefer using headphones because you get to listen in private. It doesn’t bother anyone else and no one else gets to bother you. Plus is also doubles as noise blockers during train, plane or bus rides when you just want to get extra shut eye time.

The Bose QuietComfort 20i Noise Cancelling Headphones not only offer excellent sound quality and noise blocking ability but also look really stylish making them among my favorites.

More Gift Ideas

What are Your Ideas?

We’d love to hear what your top gift ideas for backpackers are. These are ours and I’m sure that there are many more that we’ve missed and aren’t aware of. Or, for more ideas, try our camping gifts and hiking gifts. Happy gift giving.


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