Three Great Gifts for Backpackers

Backpacking into the backcountry is a thrill, and it’s a lot easier if someone has the right gear.

Backpack lead
A backcountry camp isn’t going to feel like a five-star resort, but it can come close if someone has comfortable and reliable gear.Aqua Quest

When it comes to buying gifts for a backpacker, trying to make a selection can be a little daunting. After all, backpacking is a fairly gear-intensive sport, and many of the things needed for a successful backpacking trip are quite specialized in nature. But, don’t let that deter you from getting the best gift possible. When shopping for a gift for someone who loves to venture off the grid, you won’t go wrong with these three ideas.

Lightweight Tarp

Aqua Quest Guide Tarp
This 100-percent waterproof ripstop tarp is very light and a handy item to have along on any backpacking trip.Aqua Quest

For backpacking equipment, the key word is always “lightweight.” Since a packer has to carry everything they need for the duration of an adventure the old-fashioned way—on their back—they need to be sure that all the equipment is as light and versatile as possible. Probably the most versatile piece of gear to take along is a lightweight tarp since it can be used for a variety of different purposes while on the trail and in camp. Whether it covers equipment in a downpour, its a ground mat to set a tent up, or its rigged up like a tent for sleeping under so there’s no need to take a tent along, a lightweight tarp is a gift that can make the difference between comfort and discomfort.

Lightweight Tent

Marmot Crane Creek 2-Person Ultra Lightweight Backpacking and Camping Tent
This two-man backpacking tent weighs less than 5 pounds, making it easy to carry on long excursions.Marmot

Again, keeping with the lightweight theme, a lightweight backpacking tent makes an excellent gift. Be aware, however, that one person’s “lightweight” might mean something completely different than another person’s definition of the word. Good backpacking tents will weigh under three pounds for a one-person tent and under 5 pounds for a two-person tent. In addition to being light, a good backpacking tent needs to pack down to a small enough size that it can easily be packed without taking up too much room. If you’re buying for someone who normally backpacks alone or with a partner who has their own tent, a one-person tent will likely do the job. If you’re shopping for someone who backpacks with a partner who shares his tent, getting a two-person tent will better fit his or her needs.

Ultralight Sleeping Pad

Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad
This sleeping pad weighs less than a pound and compresses into a very small package for easy packing.Sleepingo

A good sleeping pad is where many backpackers tend to skimp on their purchases. But the importance of a sleeping pad can’t be overstated. If someone can’t get comfortable because they’re sleeping on some rocks that are poking through the sleeping bag, he or she is not going to get the sleep needed to have a good time backpacking the next day. Look for a lightweight sleeping pad that airs up to two- or three-inches thick, then packs back down into a tiny package after being deflated. Many good sleeping pads pack down into a bag about the size of a soda can.