Editor’s note: This year’s a bit different—shop early to avoid lines in-store and get your gifts delivered with plenty of time to spare. Shopping in-store? There might be a line. Join the waitlist from anywhere to save time.
Shopping for the sort of person who prefers an inflatable pad and stars to a memory-foam mattress and a roof can be tricky. That’s why we rounded up the 12 products that top our own lists. Perfect for hikers, backpackers and campers, these picks are sure to complete your favorite adventurer’s gear closet.
Warm, cozy sleepers make the best tentmates, so do yourself a solid by gifting your camping partner this bag from Kelty. It’s filled with 600-fill-power DriDown, which helps it achieve a 26°F comfort rating for women and 30°F for men. The down is also highly compressible, so the Cosmic 20 can stuff down to basketball size—small enough for backpacking. No smoke and mirrors here: Our editors love this sleep sack. $179.95-$189.95
Upgrade your pal’s cooler situation with this portable option from YETI. It’s watertight and leakproof with a giant clamshell opening for easy loading, unloading and cleaning. The high-density exterior is tough enough to withstand mildew, UV rays and scrapes, but the Hopper Flip 18 is still soft-sided, so it weighs less than the alternative and you won’t take your hiking partner out at the knees if you accidentally bump them. It fits about 20 tinnies with ice. $299.98
For the friend who steals your camp chair, gift the Flexlite and a hint. This portable seat from REI Co-op is sturdy and comfortable enough for campfire lounging at a car campground or in the backyard but just small enough for backpacking service. It folds down into a neat bundle that’s 15 by 4.5 inches (or about the size of a loaf of bread) and weighs less than 2 pounds. (Or go all out with the 1-pound Flexlite Air for the hardcore backpacker in your life.) $59.95
You don’t need to be a techie to appreciate a nearly unlimited battery life, which is essentially what this watch offers, thanks to solar-charging capabilities. The Instinct Solar from Garmin boasts three global navigation satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS and Galileo, aka the best available), a compass and an altimeter like a standard GPS unit, but it’s all in a tiny smartwatch that can charge up to 54 days via solar. That means your gadget-loving pal can ditch heavy power packs and solar panels on longer treks, as well as a clunky GPS unit. $400
Give the gift of light this holiday season with this super-versatile ’lamp, which is great for hiking, camping, climbing, running, commuting, dog walking, car fixing, shed searching and pretty much any activity where hands-free illumination is key. Its 350-lumen bright setting is enough for meticulous work at night, but it’s dimmable. It has proximity and spot modes (plus a red light), as well as Black Diamond’s locking function. We love this intuitive light so much that we gave it an Editors’ Choice Award and feel confident that your giftee will feel the same. $39.95
The uses for this portable string light almost outnumber its five-star reviews: Turn your campsite into a twinkly fairyland, illuminate your patio hangout, show the way to the cathole, stage a backcountry rave, decorate your tree, make yourself visible on nighttime rides, the list goes on. The 30-foot strand from REVEL GEAR has 100 dimmable LEDs and six modes. Plug it into a power pack or USB-compatible device and light the night up. $24.95
The coffee drinker in your life deserves a good cuppa, no matter where they start their morning. The AeroPress Go delivers the goods in a compact design that’s small enough to go backpacking with. Some of our editors even use it daily at home. (True story: We really like this thing.) It’s quick to learn, too: Put grounds into the chamber, add boiling water and stir, then affix the top and press down. $31.95
Here’s a gift that keeps on giving: The Grayl Geopress water bottle has a built-in purifier system so your friend can drink straight from the source, wherever they end up. It removes junk like viruses, bacteria, protozoa, microplastics and sediment, and the activated carbon absorbs chemicals and heavy metals, leaving you with crystal-clear water. You simply fill the canteen from the water source, then insert the inner bottle like a coffee press. $89.95
Help the backpacker in your life spice up their life and their freeze-dried mush with the gift of hot sauce. This set from Yellowbird includes serrano, sriracha, habanero and ghost pepper flavors, each in a hipbelt pocket-size squeezy bottle. They’re all organic, paleo and vegan. $24.95
Looking to gift a family tent this year? You cannot go wrong with our favorite for the occasion: the REI Co-op Kingdom 6. This car-camping palace serves up more than 80 square feet of space (not including the vestibule) and has a divider, so your giftee can create two rooms in the floor plan. It’s also part of a modular system, so you won’t have to stress about what to gift your friend next year or the year after. It fits up to six sleepers. $499
What you see: a backpacking tent. What the backpacker in your life sees: a lot of space for a little weight. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 fits two sleepers easily and tips the scale at just over 3 pounds, making it a can’t-go-wrong shelter for three-season backpacking. At the weight, you don’t make many sacrifices, either; you still get double doors and vestibules, organization pockets and double zippers, plus Big Agnes’s beloved color-coded pole system for a more intuitive setup. $449.95
Nimble enough for day trips and scrambles and supportive enough for multiday epics under a heavy load, the Nucleo High GTX from La Sportiva is a do-it-all workhorse of a boot for the hiker on your list. It’s armored for protection and has a waterproof membrane, but this boot is surprisingly light and comfortable out of the box. $199
All photography by Andrew Bydlon.
Need more inspiration? Check out our Best Holiday Gifts for Less Than $50, Best Holiday Gifts for Outdoorsy Kids, Best Holiday Gifts for Runners, Best Holiday Gifts for Outdoorsy Dogs (and Their Humans) and more product roundups in our Trail Mix series.