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41 Best Travel Gifts for Backpackers

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One of the best things about having a backpacker in your life is that it’s easy to buy them the perfect gift. These are the best travel gifts for backpackers.

There’s always something we need. Something we need more of. Something that could be upgraded. Something we’ve managed to drop off a cliff edge while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Something we’ve lost while roaming the streets of Budapest.

We’re constantly on the lookout for the hottest travel accessories. The best travel gadgets and gizmos. The latest lightweight travel gear. Or to replace something that’s past its prime and done its duty.

Best travel gifts for backpackers

And that makes your gift-giving job a whole lot easier. Never fear fast-approaching birthdays again with our guide to the best travel gifts for backpackers. Compiled with experience, thought, care, a dash of love, and more than a little envy (I hope my family is reading this), there is something here to suit every taste and budget.

From pocket-friendly tools to top-quality clothing and apparel. It’s all here, from products designed to keep us safe to luxury glamping extras.

And even if you’re a seasoned backpacker yourself, you might find a few interesting and practical additions to your loadout for your next adventure. Feel free to share this link far and wide, so your loved ones will take the hint.

I hope you will enjoy our backpacking gift guide, but do reach out if you think there’s some essential travel gear we might have missed.


Best Backpack Osprey Atmus AG65
Best Travel Essential Grayl GeoPress Water Filter
Best Gadget Anker Portable Charger
Best Practical Gift Black Diamond Headlamp
The Author backpacking the Inca Trail in Peru
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

What We Cover

How to Use This Guide to Backpacking Gift Ideas

Before we begin, this article will cover two types of backpackers. While many of the gift ideas are universal, sometimes, it’s not “one size fits all.”

For our list, we’ve divided the products into two sections: one for hiking backpacking trips and one for travel backpacking trips.

Hiking backpackers are to be found enjoying the great outdoors. Also known as camping backpackers, they’re the kind of people who strap on an ultralight backpack and take to hiking trails across the country.

Like the humble snail, they typically carry their homes on their backs – in the shape of a tent. They love being up close and personal with nature, often getting off-grid, eating, sleeping, and exploring the wilderness.

Travel backpackers are people who like to collect passport stamps rather than stuff. They will stare longingly out of windows, yearning to visit a new destination or dreaming of a previous one.

You’ll find them taking off for longer adventures, perhaps traveling around the world or to several locations on one trip. They tend to stay in budget-friendly accommodations, travel as cheaply as possible, and will never shut up about the time they backpacked through Europe.

Or Asia. Or South America…

Bear in mind that the two are not mutually exclusive. Hiking and travel backpackers can be the same, and some gifts can be multi-functional travel items that suit both practices. They share many similarities, including an aversion to wheeled luggage.

After each product, blurb details “Who is it for?” This is to help you finalize the perfect gift for the potential recipient. Finally, for those who like to add gifts that complement each other (or if you’re looking for a great stocking stuffer), I’ve included a “pair it with” suggestion for products that go well together.

Author backpacking. Taken in the Czech Republic, around eight years apart
Stuart Jameson / ViaTravelers

Best Gifts for Hiking Backpackers

1. REI Gift Card

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REI Gift Card / REI

Alright, this might be a bit of a cop-out, but I’ve lost count of the times I wished a friend or relative had given me a gift card. Even with the best will in the world, purchasing the ideal backpacking gift can be a minefield.

Is it the right color? Does it fit? Is it compatible with the other gear? Is it a good brand? Is it the best quality? Is it going to be of actual use?

You can take all these questions and concerns away with an REI gift card. REI (or Recreational Equipment Inc.) is one of the best camping and backpacking gear suppliers.

They stock everything from sleeping bags to hiking boots, trekking poles, and stuff sacks. A recipient of an REI gift card will be eternally grateful and will be able to choose the perfect gift for their outdoor adventures.

Who’s it for?

If you’re genuinely unsure what to buy, or you’re worried that you’ll get the wrong thing, an REI gift card will do you right. You can also try this complete backpacking checklist for more ideas.

Pair it with An REI Co-op Membership.

2. Grayl GeoPress Water Filter and Purifier Bottle

Grayl GeoPress Water Filter and Purifier Bottle-green
Grayl GeoPress Water Filter and Purifier Bottle / REI

Ask any hiking backpacker about their number-one essential item and I’ll bet my bottom dollar they will say a water filter. And of the hundreds available, the award-winning Grayl GeoPressis head and shoulders above the competition.

This is the first and last water filter a backpacker will ever need. It can be used on all seven continents, is a filter and bottle in one, and protects the user from a myriad of viruses, bacteria, and other water-borne unpleasantries.

With thousands of five-star reviews, it’s a top-rated backpacking gift that no outdoor enthusiast can do without. This will give your loved one the confidence to stay hydrated from any water source available.

Who’s it for?

Backpackers. Period. When it comes to backpacking essentials, this is number one.

Pair it with A replacement purifier cartridge.

3. Marmot Crane Creek Backpacking Tent

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Marmot Crane Creek Backpacking Tent / Amazon

Good backpacking tents aren’t cheap, and cheap backpacking tents aren’t good. You can learn that the hard way, or you can trust us. Sometimes, when buying the best gifts for backpackers, you must dip more into your pocket.

I could have included any $300+ backpacking tent options here, but I’ve toned it down with the Marmot Crane Creek. This is an excellent lower mid-range backpacking tent from a quality outdoor company.

Specially designed for hiking and camping trips, it’s compact, lightweight, and durable. Two and three-person options are available, and the waterproof rainfly will keep campers sheltered and protected across three seasons.

See Related: Best Camping Spots in the World

Who’s it For?

This super lightweight tent is an excellent gift for anyone who loves backpacking and camping trips. It will delight any outdoor enthusiast. It’s an ideal choice for a relatively new backpacker looking to up their game and move away from budget tents.

Pair it with This set of unbreakable tent pegs.

4. Osprey Atmos AG65 Hiking Backpack

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Osprey Atmos AG65 Hiking Backpack / REI

Ahhh Osprey. A stunningly beautiful bird of prey and the manufacturer of the world’s best backpacks. I never leave home without mine. (The backpack, not the bird.) Is there anything better than the backpack itself for the ultimate backpacking gift?

Osprey has a huge selection that caters to all kinds of trips. The Nebula is my go-to travel carry-on, for example. But for thru-hiking or distance walking, you need something a bit more substantial.

The Atmos AG65 is among the finest hiking backpacks ever made. Highly rated in the hiking community, it’s packed with features designed to improve your experience.

From the internal sleeping bag divider to the trekking pole attachment, from the hydration sleeve to the Antigravity technology, this is the last backpack most backpackers will ever need.

Who’s it for?

Serious hikers looking for a next-level backpack. Or just anyone who wants a quality piece of kit built to last. The Atmos AG65 is also ideal for anyone who struggles with carrying weight on their back, and you can watch the miles will fly by.

Pair it with The Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir – 2 Liters

5. TETON Sports Leef Mummy Sleeping Bag

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TETON Sports Leef Mummy Sleeping Bag / Amazon

Like tents and backpacks, sleeping bags come in a wide range of options and potentially eye-watering prices. And while I would recommend not scrimping on the two former products, I don’t believe you need to spend upwards of $300 to find something suitable to sleep in.

As such, I’m suggesting my sleeping bag, the Teton Sports Leef. A mummy design, it wraps you up as snug as a bug in a rug. I’ve used this baby for three seasons of camping, and I’ve never been uncomfortable.

Suitable for use down to zero degrees Fahrenheit, it has a super-soft lining that’s highly breathable. I particularly enjoy the foot box, which has additional fill for warmth.

The first time I broke this out, my wife gave me the jealous side-eye as I snuggled for a blissfully uninterrupted snooze. That’s what sleeping bag envy does to you.

Who’s it for?

One of the best affordable sleeping bags available, this is ideal for casual campers who aren’t regularly venturing into regions with extreme weather conditions.

Pair it with REI Co-op Packmod Bungees.

6. Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro Sleeping Pad

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Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro Sleeping Pad / REI

These days I tend to do more car camping than big hikes, which is why I have this outstanding sleeping pad (seriously, it’s better than a bed). But given its bulky size, I realize it’s not the best gift for backpackers.

With that in mind, I’ve chosen the super light Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro sleeping pad. It features a special technology that provides an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio called StrataCore™ construction.

I do no know what that means or how it works, but I’ll trust the camping boffins who made it. The sleeping pad is mummy shaped (making it ideal for use with the Teton sleeping bag), available in multiple sizes, and includes a stuff sack.

Who’s it for?

A low-profile, lightweight sleeping pad makes an ideal gift for backpackers who enjoy longer hiking trips with overnight camping.

Pair it with A tenacious tape patch kit.

7. Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow

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Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow / REI

Ultralight backpacking requires ultralight gifts. And if you want to purchase something a little more budget-friendly, look no further than an inflatable pillow.

The Aeros from Sea to Summit is one of the best inflatable pillows on the market, with curved internal baffles that cradle the user’s head. The bottom edge is scalloped, so it can center over your shoulders for a more comfortable sleep.

Made with 20-denier laminated polyester stretch-knit fabric and durable RF-welded seams, its tough construction remains lightweight. And the pillow inflates with a couple of breaths, so you don’t need to worry about passing out early.

Who’s it for?

Travelers and backpackers who want a good night’s sleep, all while keeping their carry weight down.

Pair it with Sea to Summit wilderness wipes.

8. Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Sun Hat

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Columbia Bora Bora II Booney Sun Hat / Columbia

I don’t suit hats. Fellow travelers wasted no time labeling me “tourist Stu” whenever I would don one. And yes, it can be tricky for some people to achieve that desirable balance of aesthetic cool with practical functionality.

Of all the hat styles and shapes I’ve tried, I think the Columbia Bora Bora II booney has been with me the longest. UPF 50 sun protection, a moisture-wicking sweatband, and a mesh vent keep you cool and dry on those hot hiking days.

I’ve used mine for fishing, horseback riding, jungle trekking, kayaking, and more. Sun hats make great gifts for backpackers, and you can do a lot worse than the travel-friendly Bora Bora.

Who’s it for?

Anyone spending any length of time in the sun, no matter the activity.

Pair it with any of these awesome travel sunglasses.

9. Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp

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Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp / REI

There are hundreds of headlamps on the market, from baseball caps with built-in LEDs to giant forehead beacons that make you look like a lighthouse. They all have their uses, but choosing compact outdoor equipment for backpacking is better.

The ultra-light Black Diamond Astro 300 Headlamp is one of the best hiking tools and accessories you can buy. Weighing just 2.65 ounces, it’s still capable of an impressive 300 lumens. And there’s a clever memory function so you can always return to your preferred brightness without cycling through the options.

Offering dual-power options, you can use standard AAA batteries or a rechargeable battery and charger (sold separately). This is a great backpacking gift for anyone who likes their practical camping gear to be small, light, and powerful.

Who’s it for?

Overnight campers and hikers who want to see what they’re doing in the dark without wasting too much space in their backpacks.

Pair it with the black diamond rechargeable battery and charger.

10. Leatherman Signal Topo Multi-Tool

Leatherman Signal Topo Multi-Tool/ REI

I wasn’t allowed a Victorinox Swiss Army Knife as a kid. I think my mother thought I would accidentally cut myself more than anything else. These days, I’ve built up a collection.

And while the iconic Swiss knives are world-class, I don’t know where I’d be without my Leatherman. Probably the finest multi-tool ever invented, this an indispensable piece of kit that a backpacker will use time and again.

Of all the versions available, I think the Leatherman Signal is the best multi-tool for backpacking. It has just about everything you’ll ever need in the wild when it comes to useful tools. Enough said.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who straps on a backpack and sets foot on a trail.

Pair it with The tentlab deuce backpacking potty trowel.

11. Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles

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Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles / REI

As a hiking backpacker, you don’t realize how useful you’ll find a set of trekking poles until you use them. Coincidentally, they are regarded as something of a luxury and not an “essential backpacking item.” As my wife said: “it’s not something I’d buy for myself.”

But just because a hiker doesn’t strictly need trekking poles doesn’t make them a great gift. Quite the opposite. Aside from significantly improving efficiency, they can also help immensely when traversing tricky terrain, keeping you sure of foot and upright. And in a pinch, they can be used as a deterrent or defensive weapon.

There are several great options on the market, but these trekking poles by Black Diamond are up there with the best. Made from aluminum, they have EVA foam grip handles, are easy to adjust, and come with replaceable trekking baskets.

Who’s it for?

For any outdoor lovers who have not yet seen the light, many backpackers have yet to learn just how useful trekking poles can be.

Pair it with black diamond snow baskets.

12. Columbia Rain Jacket

Columbia Watertight Jacket

A rain jacket is a must-have item in every backpacker’s arsenal, and this is one of the very best. The Colombia Men’s Watertight II is a highly-rated piece of kit that won’t let you down in a deluge. And I believe the Colombia Arcadia II is the women’s version.

This fully seam-sealed, waterproof jacket, made of premium nylon and polyester, features breathable technology so the wearer won’t overheat. It is highly portable, packing down into one of the hand pockets and being incredibly lightweight, so you can take it anywhere.

One of the best-rated backpacking garments on the market, it’s available in great colors. Whoever wears this rain jacket is not only going to be protected from the elements, but they’re also going to look good, too.

Who’s it for?

Ideal for wet and humid climates or anywhere there’s a chance of rain, this jacket is for anyone who spends time hiking outside. After all, there’s no such thing as bad weather—just bad preparation.

Pair it with A waterproof phone case.

13. Salomon OUTpulse GORE-TEX Low Hiking Shoes

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Salomon OUTpulse GORE-TEX Low Hiking Shoes / REI

While some hikers prefer using more lightweight trail running footwear, it’s better to go with a dedicated hiking shoe for a backpacking trip. With a more robust design, they’re better suited to supporting a backpacker’s weight.

I’m a big fan of the French outdoor brand Salomon, which makes some of the best hiking shoes and boots on the planet. Their OUTpulse low hiking shoes feature GORE-TEX technology, keeping the wearer’s feet cool and dry.

Rubber toe caps protect feet from trail hazards, and the curved midsole provides excellent cushioning for comfortable, efficient hiking. Perfect for day hikes or longer expeditions, it’s also available in a men’s version.

Who’s it for?

While a trail running shoe is great if you’re an ultralight backpacker, a pair of top-quality hiking shoes make the best gift for anyone who enjoys hiking longer distances with more weight. And they work just as well if you’re pounding the pavements of cities, too.

Pair it with A footwear cleaning and maintenance kit.

14. Timberland Hiking Boots

Timberland Men's Waterproof Boot

T boots provide better ankle coverage, support, and overall protection than hiking shoes. If you want to go extra, consider giving your friend or loved one this pair of Timberland hiking boots.

The uppers are made with premium water-resistant leather, making them easy to clean. The seam-sealed construction helps in blocking moisture and keeping feet dry. Rustproof hardware ensures secure and accurate lacing.

The rubber sole provides excellent grip on rocks and wet, muddy terrain, and there’s a choice of shades so you can find the best backpacking boot to suit their style. Timberland also manufactures a similar model that’s designed for women.

Who’s it for?

Backpackers and hikers who like to tackle more challenging routes will benefit from heavy-duty footwear designed to be more robust and offer increased protection and support.

Pair it with a timberland boot care kit.

15. Darn Tough Merino Wool Boot Socks

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It’s all very well and good having a decent pair of hiking shoes, but it’ll be all for nothing if they’re not paired with some quality socks. Keep your feet comfortable, supported, and protected; everything else will follow.

Made by legendary textile company Darn Tough, these Merino wool boot socks are as good as they come. Constructed with high-density cushioning, these Darn Tough socks offer next-level breathable comfort for day-long wear.

Available in a choice of attractive colors, they can pair nicely with a variety of hiking boots, and they’re one of the best gifts for backpackers who like to march.

Who’s it for?

Anyone wearing hiking boots, shoes, or other footwear while long-distance backpacking.

Pair it with An Anti-chafing foot protectant.

16. The North Face Corefire Down Jacket

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North Face Corefire Down Jacket / REI

Backpacking doesn’t always take place in the summer, nor is it always at low altitudes. A lightweight down jacket makes an awesome gift for more adventurous outdoor enthusiasts.

The North Face is a byword for outdoor gear excellence, and this stunning Corefire Down Jacket is no exception. Utilizing the latest breathable waterproof protection, this will keep the wearer warm and dry without ever overheating. Head to this link for the men’s version.

Packed with useful features and thoughtful touches, this down jacket features a fixed hood, underarm vents, secure chest pockets, internal pockets for media and goggles, and much more. Ideally suited to winter sports, there’s no reason this can’t be used for hiking and backpacking when the temperature drops.

Who’s it for?

For winter hikers and campers, this down jacket makes an excellent gift for anyone venturing out in colder climates.

Pair it with The North Face Salty Bae Beanie.

17. Freeze-Dried Backpacking Food

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Freeze-Dried Backpacking Food / REI

Being able to sustain oneself while hiking the trails is a vitally important part of backpacking. Planning meals and organizing the amount and type of food to carry isn’t the most fun part of the experience. It can also be quite expensive,

Buying your favorite backpacker a selection of freeze-dried, ready-made meals is a great gift. There’s a wide range available to suit all tastes and appetites, and you can even buy large selection buckets with an assortment of meal options.

Peak Refuel and Mountain House are the two most well-known companies making some of the best backpacking meals. Pick up a selection for your loved one; it’ll be like buying them dinner on the trail.

Who’s it for?

This is ideal for anyone who eats food. I imagine that is quite a lot of people, but it is particularly suitable for people who eat food while hiking.

Pair it with organic energy chews.

18. Garmin Compact InReach Mini

Garmin Mini, Lightweight and Compact Satellite Communicator

It might be a little more expensive than more budget-friendly backpacking gifts, but you can’t put a price on safety. The Garmin Inreach Mini is a small satellite device that can help hikers maintain off-the-grid contact.

One of the best gadgets for backpacking, it works as a GPS device, two-way communicator, and emergency locator. Since this model is so lightweight and compact, it makes a perfect gift for any backpacker, camper, hiker, climber, or skier.

The Garmin Inreach Mini lets backpackers track and share their hikes, send and receive texts off-grid, and send SOS alerts in emergencies. The optional weather forecast service sends detailed weather reports directly to this device or other paired devices, keeping hikers updated with upcoming conditions. 

Who’s it for?

Backcountry outdoor enthusiasts who like to get off the beaten path. If your loved one intends to spend days in the remote wilderness, this will give you peace of mind.

Pair it with A Garmin Inreach subscription plan.

19. Rainleaf Microfiber Super Absorbent Towel

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If memory serves, I was nearly two years into my round-the-world backpacking adventure before I realized I didn’t need to carry a bath towel. And while some hostels and most hotels will provide such an item, it sometimes comes with an additional fee.

Useful for hiking backpackers and travel backpacking trips, a highly portable, compact microfiber towel is now one of the first things I pack. Available in a wide range of colors, it can absorb five times its weight and dries super-fast.

Different sizes are available, so you can choose the perfect towel for your needs – or the needs of your loved one. The larger sizes are great for a day at the beach, for example, but I’d suggest the medium for ultralight backpackers.

Who’s it for

Anyone who enjoys camping, hiking, trail running, traveling, playing sports, hitting the gym, beach days…you can even use this as a tea towel. When you get one for your friend, you might as well pick up one yourself. You’re going to use it.

pair it with the smaller washcloth version.

20. AeroPress Portable Coffee and Espresso Maker

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AeroPress Portable Coffee and Espresso Maker / Amazon

Something of a luxury backpacking item now, but I know there are many backpackers out there who need a morning cup of joe to kickstart their day. And woe betide you if you cross them before they’ve had their fix.

There are several on-the-go coffee makers available for backpackers, campers, and hikers. I’ve chosen the highly-rated, award-winning AeroPress Portable Coffee and Espresso Maker. This new version is smaller than the groundbreaking original and is a must-have for bean-loving backpackers.

This unit can make eight ounces of regular coffee, or up to three espresso shots, giving your backpacker the jump leads they need. Alternatively, you can check out this article on the best travel French presses for wandering coffee addicts.

Who’s it for

A fun gift for anyone who struggles to function without coffee while on the road.

Pair it with Chocolate dipped espresso beans.

21. MSR PocketRocket Backpacking Stove

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MSR PocketRocket Backpacking Stove / Amazon

MSR (or Mountain Safety Research) makes some of the most portable gear for backpackers worldwide. There are portable backpacking stoves and the MSR PocketRocket.

Capable of boiling water in just 3.5 minutes, you can experience home cooking when you’re miles from home with this awesome device. It weighs just 2.6 ounces and fits into a small pocket.

The serrated pot-supports are designed to accommodate a wide variety of cookware options and come with a protective carry case. My wife swears by hers, and even as I write this it’s sitting on the dining room table, ready to be taken on our next backpacking adventure.

Who’s it for?

Campers, hikers, and backpackers who would like to eat more than granola when they’re in the field.

Pair it with a compatible camping gas canister.

22. GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset

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GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset / REI

Backpacking cookware sets come in all shapes and sizes. For some of them, you’d think you weren’t already carrying everything, including the kitchen sink on your back. Be careful when choosing the best gift for backpackers that you don’t select something more suitable for car camping.

The GSI Outdoors Pinnacle Backpacker Cookset has been specifically designed for people on the go. Suitable for up to two backpackers, it includes compact bowls, mugs, lids, and pans with a gripper.

The pan technology is far superior to your average camping cookware set, as it transfers heat more evenly for a more efficient experience. And a stuff sack is included so it can be packed down to a small profile.

Who’s it for?

Up to two backpackers who want a top-quality cookware set for efficient gourmet cooking in the wilderness.

Pair it with A sea to summit camping cutlery set.

23. Protect Life First Aid Travel Kit

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Do you want to know how to make friends while traveling, camping, hiking, or backpacking? Carry a first aid kit. The number of times I was handing out band-aids was insane.

Or dashing to the aid of someone with a splinter. Or wrapping a sprained ankle with a bandage.

For some reason, people overlook travel first aid kits when setting off on a journey. Perhaps they think themselves invincible or that nothing is going to happen. And that’s exactly why a compact kit like this makes a great gift for backpackers.

And although it already comes with a good selection of items, I would highly advise you to encourage some customization. Depending on where the recipient is backpacking, you might want to add a snake bite kit. Maybe some emergency thermal blankets.

Who’s it for?

Safety-conscious backpackers who understand that accidents can and do occur.

Pair it with A fox 40 classic safety whistle.

24. Bear Deterrent Spray

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Bear Deterrent Spray / REI

My wife is made of sterner stuff than I, and she loves to hike the backcountry. Me being me, I’m constantly freaking out at the kind of critters she’s likely to come across. Although she is an animal lover, not all such encounters will result in a scene from a Disney movie.

If your loved one is planning a hiking or camping trip in bear country, then a can of bear spray is a thoughtful backpacking gift. And it’s not just useful against bears. If it can put a 600 lbs grizzly down, imagine what it can do to a human.

Top tip – if you or the gift recipient is backpacking bear country, please don’t bury the bear spray at the bottom of a bag. As I always say – I’d rather have it and not need it than not have it. But that only works if you have easy access to the repellant should Baloo suddenly turn nasty.

Who’s it for?

This is a genuinely special backpacking gift for hiking, camping, fishing, or even cycling through regions where bears are known to be active. Even if they repeatedly insist, “I’ll be fine,” it shows YOU care.

Pair it with A bear spray holster.

25. An Annual National Parks Pass

An Annual National Parks Pass
Annual National Parks Pass / REI

Sometimes, the best gift for a backpacker isn’t a “thing.” It’s not a physical product or something they might have already. Perfect for outdoor lovers with all they need – give the unique gift of memories instead. Buy them an annual national parks pass.

Of the choices offered, the America the Beautiful Pass seems to be the most popular. It grants holders to over 2000 federal recreational sites in the country. And this includes all the national parks.

And while this particular selection of national park passes is for residents or visitors to the US, there’s no reason you can’t purchase something similar if you live elsewhere.

Who’s it for?

If you’d rather gift experiences than stuff, a national park pass is as satisfying for the giver as it is for the receiver. And if they’ve already come back from their trip, try this article on the best vintage travel posters for the perfect gift.

Pair it with Fodor’s complete guide to the national parks of the USA.

The Best Gifts for Travel Backpackers

1. SafetyWing Travel Insurance

Safetywing Homepage
SafetyWing / SafetyWing

Okay, travel insurance isn’t for everyone. I’ll admit that for much of my long-term trip, I didn’t have coverage. Only when undertaking something particularly risky (such as horseriding, snowboarding, or remote trekking) did I force myself to get protected.

Perhaps youthful exuberance or hubris allowed me to play fast and loose for so long. Either way, I got lucky. There was never a moment when I needed financial aid – but that’s not to say it won’t ever happen, especially for adventurous backpackers who like to throw caution to the wind.

Giving a long-term traveler or nomad the gift of SafetyWing travel insurance is extremely thoughtful. I didn’t want to dip into my ever-depleting travel fund to pay for it myself, but if someone had bought it for me, such a heartwarming gesture would have been much appreciated. If you’re looking for a unique gift for a traveling backpacker, this might be it.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who is traveling outside their home country for any length of time. Having your loved one covered for any eventuality is another way of showing how much you care.

Pair it with The Worst Case scenario survival handbook.

2. Patagonia Atom Sling Bag

Atom Sling Bag 8L
Patagonia Atom Sling Bag / Patagonia

Having a large main backpack is one thing, but that’s no good if you want to decant some of your belongings for day trips and traveling light. I used to carry a secondary backpack on my front, but I wish there had been something like this Patagonia Atom Sling Bag back when I first set off.

The Atom is made from 100% recycled polyester and is fair-trade sewn, which makes it some awesome eco-friendly travel gear. It offers eight liters of room, so there’s plenty of space for whatever you bring during the day.

The durable water-repellent finish will help keep the contents dry, and a large zippered front pocket keeps valuables close to hand. Available in smart colors, this is a stylish and practical bag for short excursions from home base.

Who’s it for?

Travelers who have their main backpack sorted but are looking for something for day hikes, trips, and city exploration.

Pair it with this super compact travel umbrella.

3. Herschel Chapter Toiletry Kit

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Herschel Chapter Toiletry Kit / Amazon

More essential backpacking gear now with the humble toiletry bag. Now, hear me out because this is a hill I will die on. You want a tough, durable, solid, and dependable workhorse here.

Don’t be tempted by flimsy, lightweight travel bags. These things are going to get wet and thrown around like a hyperactive rag doll on a sugar high.

I use a Jack Wolfskin version, but the Herschel Chapter has a very similar design and is every bit as rugged. Available in a choice of two sizes, the carry-on version should be ideal for most globetrotters.

Built to last with that textured Oxford weave, they offer a wide range of fun, unisex designs, so there will be something for everyone. Sometimes, I want the TSA to inspect my toilet bag so that everyone going through security can see how awesome it is shortly before I get arrested.

Who’s it for?

It’s time to throw away that ripped, stinky, 15-year-old bathroom bag. If you or someone you know is going traveling – backpack or not – this is a top choice.

Pair it with LiquiSnugs Leak Proof Silicone Travel Bottles.

4. Sea to Summit Packing Cubes

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Sea to Summit Packing Cubes / Amazon

Have you joined the packing cube revolution yet? Several of our writers here at Viatravelers swear by these things, and I’m happy to join them.

I used to be greeted by a riot of clothing every time I opened my backpack. To find anything, I must dump it all on the floor. These Sea to Summit Packing Cubes would have saved me a serious headache.

The set includes three bags in small, medium, and large sizes. For modern-day travel packing, this is a game-changer. And for more information, you can check out our complete review of these Sea to Summit Packing Cubes.

Who’s it for

Travelers and backpackers who can’t help but make a mess in their luggage.

Pair it with the extra-large luggage bag to complete the set.

5. Wise Owl Outfitters Portable Hammock

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During my hitchhike from Germany to Cambodia, there was more than one occasion where I thought I would end up sleeping in a bush. While I managed to avoid that unenticing experience for the most part, carrying my bed would have made it a less daunting prospect.

Wise Owl Outfitters makes the best portable hammocks around. Just as useful for hiking backpackers as they are for travelers, they have next to no profile and weigh just 28.5 ounces.

Tough and durable, they’re available in a huge choice of color combinations and come with straps and carabiners included. Double hammocks are also available if you’re buying for a couple who likes snuggling.

Who’s it for?

Adventurous types who like to sleep under the stars. Or for anyone unsure where the next bed is coming from.

Pair it with a hammock bug net.

6. DAITET Travel Money Belt

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DAITET Travel Money Belt / Amazon

The DAITET money belt features a waterproof exterior and a durable nylon build, making it one of the most essential items for a travel backpacking trip. I’m pretty sure a bear isn’t interested in your wallet when hiking through national parks.

It’s capable of holding everything from credit cards and passports to hotel room keys and mobile phones. The elastic belt is fully adjustable and suitable for humans of all shapes and sizes.

With RFID-blocking technology, you can wear it hidden under your garments, so even digital thieves won’t know it’s there. I wish I were using one when I suddenly discovered I was trying to purchase a TV from Best Buy thousands of miles away.

Who’s it for?

Security-conscious backpackers who might be venturing into crowded areas. Think bustling markets, festivals, public transport hubs, and busy city centers.

Pair it with A personal attack alarm.

7. Samsung Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds

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Samsung Noise Cancelling Wireless Earbuds / Amazon

One of the best gadgets for backpacking trips, hands down. This is non-negotiable. I would be utterly lost without my noise-canceling earbuds whenever I fly anywhere.

My wife has the funky “mystic bronze” Samsung ones, but I have the rival Bose Quiet Comfort. Whichever model you gift, you’ll be in your backpacker’s good books forever.

They’re especially good for nervous fliers who like to shut out the world around them. While the noise-canceling won’t block out everything, it does a wonderful job of toning it down – especially if you’re listening to music or watching a movie simultaneously.

Both types offer long battery life, and the cases double as wireless chargers. And aside from letting you zone out when you’re on the move, they’re indispensable when used to avoid talking to people you don’t want to.

Who’s it for?

Everyone, everywhere. Backpacking or otherwise. They also make a great gift for couples who love to travel. It’s nice to take a break from each other sometimes…

Pair it with A subscription to Amazon Music.

8. SublimeWare Universal Multi Port Travel Adapter

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I’ve lost count of how many travel adaptors I’ve lost, broken, or “misplaced.” Or how many times I’ve brought the wrong tool for the job. As a professional traveler, it’s embarrassing to ask the front desk if they have one you can borrow. They’ve got better things to do.

This all-in-one adapter is the best solution. It’s a good-quality kit and compatible with power outlets in over 150 countries. It can charge a camera, a tablet, and two phones simultaneously. There’s a pin-locking mechanism to ensure a secure plugin. It even comes in a small selection of colors to make it stand out.

Weighing just 2.32 ounces, this universal travel adapter is incredibly light, and its compact size won’t take up too much room in a backpack. Help your loved one stay charged up in countries with unfamiliar holes in the walls.

Who’s it for

Travel backpackers heading to foreign countries. Providing, of course, they intend to carry electrical devices with them.

Pair it with a travel extension cord.

9. YETI Rambler Bottle

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Two words – chug cap. Staying hydrated while exploring cities is just as important as it is when you’re on the trails. And if you give a water bottle as an essential backpacking gift, you might as well get the best money can buy.

The YETI Rambler is exactly that. It’s probably the finest water bottle ever created; it’s built like a tank, completely leak-proof, and so highly rated in the community it’s simply unfair to anything else.

Suitable for cold and hot drinks, the rambler comes with an interchangeable cap design. But there’s no way I’m replacing that chug cap with anything else. It’s the perfect size to deliver just the right amount of water when parched. Perfect for wandering a European city, or when you’re hungover in a party hostel.

Who’s it for?


Pair it with the Yeti rambler bottle sling.

10. Promptly Journals Compact Travel Journal

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Promptly Journals Compact Travel Journal / Amazon

For those that don’t want to pour time, effort, and money into setting up an online travel blog, there’s something called “pen and paper.” And sometimes, travelers don’t want to hang their laundry out there for all to see and just keep their adventures to themselves.

A travel journal makes a beautiful gift for backpackers. If you’re looking for something a little more personal than a padlock, or a shade more thoughtful than a travel adaptor, this is the way to go.

The Promptly Journals Travel Planner is a compact notebook that contains interesting travel-related prompts to get the creative juices flowing. This is designed as a one-trip version, so if your intended recipient takes numerous backpacking trips, you might need something a little larger.

Who’s it for?

For anyone who likes to jot down their thoughts or record their experiences, this a charming gift for backpackers. And if they like to draw, this traveler’s sketchbook is a wonderful addition.

Pair it with this key chain telescopic pen is perfect for traveling.

11. Combination Padlock

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Combination Padlock / Amazon

 Staying in hostels is one of the most fun and exciting experiences when backpacking around the world. And the main hosteling hotspots of Central and South America, Europe, and Asia are filled with travelers who wish they have brought along a good combination padlock.

When staying in shared accommodation, keeping your gear safe and secure is important. Every hostel will provide lockers, but it’s up to the guest to bring a lock. One of the best I’ve ever used is this Master Combination Padlock, because not only is it rock solid, every time I use it, I feel like I’m cracking a safe.

Just make sure the gift recipient understands the importance of remembering the combination. While working in a European hostel, I once spent the best part of an hour sawing through the padlock of a guest who had forgotten her code.

Who’s it for?

Hosteling backpackers who need to keep their gear protected from opportunistic light fingers.

Pair it with A set of travel security cables.

12. Tallgo Travel Pillow

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Tallgo Travel Pillow / Amazon

I was lucky enough to find my neck pillow in a hostel lost-property box, but if I hadn’t, I would have wanted someone to buy one for me. Getting comfortable on a long-distance coach isn’t easy, especially if traveling on a budget carrier. And/or there are kids/snoring dudes/chickens on the seat beside you.

Perfect for trains, planes, automobiles, and anywhere you can snatch an hour or two of shut-eye, a travel neck pillow is a backpacker’s best friend. They come with a nice travel pouch that can be clipped to a loop on a backpack.

A great gift for sleep-conscious travelers, this will help you avoid a crick in the neck. Or if you don’t want to wake up drooling slobber on the poor passenger sitting next to you. Which I may or may not have done.

Who’s it for?

This is one of the best gifts for backpackers taking multiple public transport trips.

Pair it with a sleep mask and earplugs set.

13. Tile Pro Luggage Tracker

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Tile Pro Luggage Tracker / Amazon

There was always a lump in my throat whenever I watched my beautiful backpack disappear on a luggage conveyor belt. Will I ever see you again, my love?!

I’ve been lucky, and I’ve not yet had an issue with my belongings going missing in transit (touch wood). But if I had a dollar for every time I’ve met a fellow traveler who has arrived at a hostel without their backpack, I’d be able to buy them a new one.

And I imagine that going without clothes and personal belongings for days is no fun. As such, one of the best backpacking gadgets you can buy is a luggage locator. Useful for keys, wallets, bags, suitcases, backpacks, and more; it will pinpoint the last location of your belongings even when you’re far away.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who is particularly concerned about their luggage going walkabout.

Pair it with A set of funky luggage tags.

14. SISMA Travel Cords Organizer

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SISMA Travel Cords Organizer / Amazon

I love this thing. It’s durable, well-built, and tiny, yet it can hold all the cords, devices, and electrical doohickies I need when I’m on the road.

Electronic organizers come in all shapes and sizes. Sure, they might be able to fit in several hard drives, phone chargers, and plugs, but you need to slim things down for backpacking trips. That’s why I think this compact organizer is one of the very best.

The handy dividers help keep items in place, and there are plenty of elasticated bands with mesh to hold cables, dongles, and whatever else you fancy. Remember, it doesn’t always need to be electronic, and these bags are a great place to stash items you must keep close to hand.

Who’s it for?

Travelers who don’t want to see a tangle of wires at the bottom of their bags.

Pair it with A SanDisk portable flash drive.

15. SteriPen Adventurer Opti UV Personal Water Purifier

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This SteriPen purifier is a thoughtful gift for helping care for your backpacker’s health. Small enough to fit into a pocket, it can purify up to 8000 liters of water on the go.

Capable of killing up to 99.9% of microorganisms lurking in H2o, including viruses, protozoa, and bacteria. It uses UV light to alter their DNA so they can’t reproduce in your stomach. It takes just 90 seconds to purify one liter.

Moreover, this device purifies without changing the taste or pH of water. And since it comes with a belt loop and neoprene storage pouch, it’s easy to transport and store. The water sensor even doubles as a handy flashlight. For more of the best travel water purifiers, check out that link.

Who’s it for?

Backpackers who intend on traveling to locations where the tap water is known to invoke Montezuma’s revenge.

Pair it with this Lifestraw water filter bottle.

16. Passport Holder with RFID Technology

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Passport Holder with RFID Technology / Amazon

Passport holders can be one of the best backpacking gifts for travelers venturing further afield. I’ve had several throughout my global adventures, and they’ve kept my passport safe and in readable condition.

Multi-trip backpackers will be taking their passports out all the time. From crossing borders to checking into accommodation, it’s a vitally important document that is going to see a lot of wear and tear. I could tell you several horror stories about fellow backpackers whose passports have been damaged and defaced. And several borders I’ve crossed where this would be a real problem.

A good-quality passport holder is an inexpensive backpacking gift that will help keep a passport protected. And it’s also a great place to keep boarding passes or other ticket stubs in one organized place.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who owns a passport will use it with any regularity. Pro tip – when crossing borders, be sure to remove the passport from the holder before handing it to officials. And don’t keep money or receipts inside – border guards might think you’re offering them a bribe.

Pair it with A flight ticket!


What are some practical gifts for backpackers?

Practical gifts get a bad rep. They might not appear to be heartfelt or thoughtful initially, but they give me something I can use rather than something on my shelf any day. Good practical gifts for backpackers include flashlights, water bottles, multitools, gear repair tape and kits, microfiber towels, a first aid kit, security devices, and even travel insurance.

What are some tech gadgets that backpackers would love?

The best gadgets for backpacking include power banks, GPS locators, noise-canceling earbuds, water purifiers, and travel coffee makers. But that’s barely scratching the surface of the top travel tech available.

What are some unique hiking gifts for backpackers?

The more unique backpacking gifts include food supplies, bear spray repellant, a water purifier, blister balm, and a national park pass.

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