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15 of the Best Gifts for Hikers | Most Items $50 or Less

As regular hikers, JR and I have tried and tested a lot of outdoor gear over the years. For a while, we also managed an outdoor retail store together. It was literally our job to recommend items for hiking!

The holiday season was always a fun (and busy!) time, with family and friends visiting the store to find the best hiking gifts for their outdoorsy loved ones.

With this inspiration in mind, this post shares what we believe to be the 15 best gifts for hikers.

I’ve grouped the items in three categories – inexpensive (less than $50), midrange ($50-100) and then luxury ($150+) to provide options for all budgets. See the first item now.

Back view of JR sitting on rock looking at mountainous view on hiking trail
Monica Meadows Trail, British Columbia

Hiking gift ideas

If you really get stuck, don’t panic! A gift card for your favourite local outdoor store is always a good back-up option. In fact, some hikers would prefer that, as it may enable them to buy the backpack or hiking boots of their dreams!

Just a note that this list was written from a Canadian point of view (with CAD$ amounts in mind) but would still be useful for brainstorming gifts for hikers in many other locations.

You may also notice that merino wool is mentioned a lot, and that is because I truly believe it is one of the best clothing materials for outdoor use.

Without any further delay, here’s our list, starting with the best gifts for hikers $50 or less!

Published November 2021. This post includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Best gifts for hikers – Less than $50

MEC stock image photo of Smartwool merino socks

Merino wool socks

A new pair of hiking socks is one of my favourite things! A quality pair is so important for temperature regulation and blister prevention.

Wool is the most popular material used for hiking socks as it wicks away moisture well, to help keep feet dry and comfortable. It’s also a natural antimicrobial.

Merino is thinner and softer than regular wool and also much less itchy.

I’ve tested many different merino wool socks over the years and Smartwool are my current go-to. I’ve also been enjoying a pair from Darn Tough.

Shop merino wool socks: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of Buff neck gaiter, with image of tent and two people by campsite

Buff/neck gaiter

A neck gaiter is essentially a tubular piece of fabric that can be worn in many different ways.

The most obvious use is around the neck for warmth or sun coverage. Neck gaiters can also be used as a face mask, headscarf, sweatband, hair tie, beanie hat and more!

The most popular brand of neck gaiters is Buff, which has lead to this name being used by many people to refer to this type of item.

For winter hiking, I’d highly recommend the merino wool versions for extra warmth.

Shop neck gaiters: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of blue wool toque (beanie hat)

Toque

Heat is lost from any body part not covered, which makes wearing a toque an easy way to stay warmer in colder temperatures or at higher elevations.

I almost always bring a toque, just in case, on long hikes. You just never know how cold a mountain summit will be!

Not Canadian? A toque is also known as a beanie hat! Personally, I love merino wool toques for extra warmth.

Shop toques: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of TenTree trucker-style cap featuring mountain image on front and black brim

Sun hat or cap

A sun hat or cap is a hiker’s best friend in summer.

If maximum shade is your priority, choose a sun hat. These are designed to provide maximum shade and feature a wide brim all the way around the entire head.

Caps are usually more stylish but do not provide as much sun protection. In our store, graphic trucker-style caps like this one (pictured) were always popular.

Shop sun hats: MEC | Amazon
Shop caps: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of pair of purple coloured merino wool gloves

Lightweight gloves

When hiking in cool temperatures, lightweight gloves are indispensable.

I warm up quickly while hiking so never want to wear anything too warm on my hands. For me, the perfect solution is a pair of lightweight merino wool gloves.

Soft and breathable, these gloves are less bulky than other gloves. While not designed to be used in cold temperatures, they can be used as a liner inside a pair of warmer gloves instead.

Shop gloves: MEC | Amazon

Hiking the HBC Trail from Hope to Tulameen

Trail app subscription

Give your favourite hiker the gift of knowledge and inspiration with a subscription to a hiking trail app.

All Trails and Gaia GPS are two of the most popular hiking trail apps in Canada.

Amongst other features, the pro/premium versions allow hikers to download maps for offline use.

If your giftee also enjoys mountain biking, they may find a Trailforks subscription more helpful.

MEC stock image photo of blue inflatable seat cushion

Seat cushion

A seat is something of a luxury hiking item, which is why it makes the ideal gift!

It’s always nice to have somewhere dry and comfortable to sit on a hiking break.

This MEC inflatable seat cushion (pictured) is light to carry and also very quick to inflate. The 75 denier material is designed for rocks and uneven surfaces.

Shop seat cushions: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of silver folding knife

Pocket knife

A knife or multi-tool is tremendously useful for a range of tasks including first-aid assistance and emergency shelter construction.

For that reason, a knife one of the 10 Essentials that every hiker should carry while exploring the backcountry.

I personally have a knife for emergency reasons only and so carry this folding knife (pictured), which is both compact and lightweight.

Shop pocket knives: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of yellow zippered first aid kit

First Aid kit

Another one of the 10 Essentials, a First Aid kit is invaluable for every-day irritations (bee stings, small cuts) as well as major hiking injuries.

Gifting a pre-made First Aid kit is a good encouragement to stay safe. The giftee can always top it up with their own chosen supplies.

The pictured First Aid kit is an outdoor adventure specific version, featuring an inner leak-proof, waterproof, and airtight sealed bag.

Shop first aid kits: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of orange Hydroflask insulated bottle

Insulated drinks bottle

Keep your favourite hiker happy and hydrated with an insulated drinks bottle.

The double walled stainless steel technology enables cold and hot drinks to stay at the desired temperature for hours.

On warmer hiking days, I love leaving a Hydroflask full of icy cold water in our vehicle for our return.

Shop insulated drink bottles: MEC | Amazon

Best gifts for hikers – $50-100

MEC stock image photo of blue Petzl headlamp

Headlamp

A light source is one of the 10 Essentials that every hiker should be carrying on the trails. With hands-free usability, a headlamp fits the bill perfectly!

One of the biggest differentiators between headlamps is the amount of lumens – the higher the number, the brighter the headlamp is. I’d recommend looking for a minimum of 100 lumens.

Our favourite headlamp is Petzl’s Actik Core, which provides up to 350 lumens. The number one reason I love it though, is the flexibility to power it with either 3 x AAA batteries or one of Petzl’s USB rechargeable Core lithium ion batteries.

Shop headlamps: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of orange and grey Biolite power bank

Portable power bank

While hiking is an ideal way to get away from technology, it’s a good idea to bring a power bank for emergency charging while on the trails.

This is particularly true for hikers who use their phones to take photos or for navigational purposes. Our power bank also comes in handy to charge our headlamp (see above).

We purchased this power bank specifically for multi-day trips, but comes along with us on shorter adventures too.

Shop power banks: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of silver and red Kahtoola micro spikes on shaded hiking boots

Micro spikes

Providing better traction on icy trails, micro spikes are perfect for year round hikers or anyone wanting to get into winter hiking. These handy devices are easy to fit onto the sole of a hiking shoe when needed.

My favourite are Kahtoola Microspikes, which feature 12 stainless steel spikes. Cheaper versions do exist but these Kahtoola Microspikes have an excellent reputation for durability.

When purchasing micro spikes, be sure to check the shoe size of your giftee first.

Shop micro spikes: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of blue and purple printed hammock

Hammock

It’s fun to bring a hammock along on an occasional hike, especially when we know there is a lake waiting at the end!

We love our orange ENO DoubleNest hammock, which is suitable for use by one or two people.

Both strong and lightweight, these hammocks are produced in a variety of patterns and colour combinations.

Shop hammocks: MEC | Amazon

Best gift for hikers – More than $100

Seven Veils Falls, Lake O’Hara

Annual park pass

Give a hiker the gift of a year of endless exploration! Not only a way to save money, annual park passes are also a fantastic source of inspiration for a hiker.

An annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass provides the holder with unlimited admission to more than 80 national parks and national historic sites for 12 months. You can check the destinations here.

Depending on your giftee’s location, a provincial or territorial park pass may be a better fit. Seasonal or annual passes are available in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Quebec and Northwest Territories. Provincial parks are free for day use in Alberta, BC, PEI and Nova Scotia.

Examples of more localised annual park passes include the Kananaskis Conservation Pass (Alberta) and the Conservation Parks Membership Pass (Ontario).

MEC stock image photo, overhead image of folded up black and blue hiking poles

Hiking poles

As well as being great for stability and endurance, hiking poles also help reduce force on the knees when descending steep hills or mountains.

Although I’ve put hiking poles in the highest price category here, there are cheaper versions available. Personally though, I think you really get what you pay for in this category.

I swear by the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles. These are exceptionally light and also fold down for convenient storage.

Unlike other poles, however, they do not have any adjustability, so be sure to buy the correct length. It’s based on the hiker’s height (check the size guide on Black Diamond’s website).

Shop hiking poles: MEC | Amazon

MEC stock image photo of light coloured Smartwool base layer top

Merino wool base layers

Looking to really treat that special hiker in your life? Buy them some merino wool base layers.

Worn next to the skin, these provide a layer of warmth while wicking away sweat.

An essential part of my hiking wardrobe, base layers are ideal for winter outdoor adventures as well as higher elevation hiking in summer.

Merino wool base layers feel exceptionally luxurious to the touch, being both finer and softer than regular wool versions. Merino also offers an excellent best warmth to weight ratio and continues to insulate even when wet.

Shop merino wool base layers: MEC | Amazon

Back view of JR walking over wooden bridge looking at huge waterfall in the background. There is morning light streaming onto the trees surrounding the river below
Hiking past Takakkaw Falls on the way to the Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park, BC

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