Holiday Gifts for the Aspiring or New Hiker

A beautiful and memorable Christmas Morning somewhere in Oregon.

What is the perfect gift for the new or aspiring hiker in your life?

Before we dive into gift ideas, let me describe a bit of gift giving (and receiving) ethos. I’m a huge fan of gifts that achieve three key functions: (1) the gift is something I probably wouldn’t get for myself, (2) the gift is not something that I probably should get for myself (ie: shoes, or my first backpacking backpack), and (3) the gift encourages me to try something new. It is, therefore, through this lens that I propose gifts that would suit either never-been-on-a-walk-on-a-dirt-trail-before hikers or have-been-doing-some-local-adventures-and-are-ready-to-start-exploring hikers.

Gifts for brand-spanking-new hikers

We all have that friend who says ‘man, I’d really like to try hiking’ or ‘hiking looks like lots of fun’ or else. Why not encourage them towards it with something fun and inspiring!

  • Socks: Sure, giving socks to your best friend for Christmas feels kinda lame…and it’s not lame when they’re hiking socks! A good pair of socks can make or break your hike, and it’s also something new hikers might be hesitant to shell out for. Be a great friend and get that aspiring hiker in you life socks.
  • Buff / Tubular Headwear: Tubular headwear (sometimes called neckwear) is one of the best things I have ever bought myself for hiking. Tubular headwear is a circular band of cloth that you can wear around your neck, up over your mouth, as a headband to keep your sweaty bangs out of your face, or as an ear muff to keep your ears cozy in the cold. I’ve soaked mine in a lake or river periodically during a trip and kept my temples and scalp cool with the water dripping down my neck. It was magical.
  • Headlamp: Headlamps are small, light weight, and you usually don’t need one…until you do. Smaller, lighter, and more convenient than most flashlights, a headlamp can boost confidence that extra little bit when heading out somewhere new.
  • Trail books: I love trail books! Sure, you can find a lot of the information on the internet, and yet a trail book for your area is extra inspiring. Rather than containing every possible hike that exists, trail books will guide you to well-worth-it highlights and help a timid adventurer feel a bit more bold.

Gifts for hikers who are ready to start exploring

Your friend has gotten their ‘feet wet’ hiking, and is ready to take it to the next level. Maybe they want to try a few overnight hikes, or explore the backroads and logging roads to find that more-remote trail.

  • Jet Boil: My little jet boil is my #1 most favourite and magical piece of hiking equipment. Ever. Like, I’m so obsessed. It boils water in less than two minutes and is light and compact, making it perfect for a mid-hike cup of tea or coffee (a winter must-have), or to leave in the car for when you return from your adventure.
  • Backroads Mapbook (BRMB): Before there were Google Maps or Garmin, there was Backroads Mapbooks. The BRMB is a detailed map of all logging and backroads in a region and it’s so valuable to have a paper copy when you’re off on the logging roads where cellphone reception is questionable. And the regions are pretty big! My BRMB covers Vancouver Island and some of the Sunshine Coast, which is enough terrain to keep me occupied for a very long time.
  • Tire repair kit: If your friend or loved one is going to be exploring the backroads by car or truck, they probably will need a tire repair kit sooner or later! Getting stuck without a tire repair kit royally sucks, and is often something you don’t think of until you’re sitting on a logging road on a Saturday morning wondering what you’re going to do until Monday when loggers are working again.
  • Platypus/Camelbak Reservoir: I am a devotee of water bladders and recommend them to anybody who is going hiking routinely or for longer distances. Most modern backpacks have a pocket to hold a reservoir and a straw outlet. Water is easiest carried in a bag, especially for longer hiking trips, because as you consume the water the bag takes up less space in your bag. Secondly, having a handle straw in your face as you meander along means you’ll drink more consistently during the trip and stay hydrated!
  • First Aid Course: It’s all well and good to have a first aid kit…but do you know how to use it? First Aid in the wilderness is not the same as First Aid in the city, because help is not necessarily readily available. You need to be able to handle immediate traumatic events (think dramatic bleeding), as well as potentially immobilizing an injured joint or bone, and keep somebody alive for possibly days on end. It’s no small feat or responsibility and setting your loved ones up for success means they can adventure feeling more confident and prepared.

Good luck in picking the best expression of love and support to your friends and family. I hope some of the ideas presented here have piqued your interest. If you have other great ideas not mentioned above, leave them in the comments!

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