Backpacker gift guide 2016

Family and friends of adventurers, we understand shopping for us for the holidays is difficult. We get it that our alternative lifestyle of living out of cars and rucksacks makes us seem foreign to normal people. We don’t wear jewelry or fancy clothes; our gear is honed for very specific purposes; and what you know about us is based on hair-raising stories and Facebook pictures. So I want to help you on what to shop for that special family member who shows up with a ratty beard and uncombed hair for the holidays. I put together a gift list that may help guide your shopping.

I have a few recommendations before we get started. Firstly, don’t buy anything too expensive without knowing the person well. People tend to be very opinionated about their gear and usually have solid preferences. The more experienced someone is, the more likely they are to already own everything they need. But for a beginner or someone who is pressed for cash and still using their dad’s external frame pack, this guide could come in handy. But for the person looking to summit Denali next summer, you may want to just save your money and take out some life insurance on them. In all seriousness though, hardcore adventurers can always use another pair of warm and fuzzy Darn Tough socks! No joke, we friggin love our warm socks.

Black diamond Ion headlamp

This tiny headlamp weighs in at a miniscule 1.9oz but blasts an amazing 100 lumens. It’s waterproof, durable, and compact and at only $25, is great for a stocking stuffer. Backpackers never have enough headlamps. They get lost, they break, they wear down. So you can rest assured that the person you get this for will love having a spare for when their headlamp bites the dust. And this one size fits all item is nice to not have to worry about sizing.

External battery

21st century backpackers run through some juice out in the wilderness. And especially this time of year when the cold kills battery life, an external battery is a godsend. I recommend going with RAVPower 6700mAh Power Bank because it has great power:weight ratio vital for a backpacker and only costs $15. It’ll charge a phone 2-4 times giving the hiker the security to leave their phone on to take pictures and be assured they’ll still have battery in case of an emergency.

ThermaRest NeoAir Xlite

If you’re looking for a more expensive gift, look no further than the NeoAir Xlite. At this point in time, I’m honestly not really sure why anyone would use any other sleeping pad. It truly has almost no trade offs. It’s light, relatively durable, comfortable, and warm. At $160 the cost may be it’s only pitfall. But if you’re looking for an amazing gift for a special someone, this mattress will surely get them excited for their next trip out.

Sleeping bag liner

All backpackers commit and invest in a puffy sleeping bag but rarely spend the extra money to protect it. A sleeping bag liner not only can add a few degrees of warmth for security in these colder winter months, but also protects the vital insulation from the destructive dirt and oil on our skin. I personally recommend the Sea to Summit Reactor Compact Plus liner. At 9.3oz, it provides up to 20 degrees of warmth on top of the sleeping bag’s temperature rating. It’s $63 so it won’t break the bank. For someone who may hate the cold and won’t be sleeping out until spring, Cocoon’s silk liner may be a better option.

I hope this helps direct your shopping and as always feel free to contact me in the comments below if you have any specific questions! Also, please consider subscribing to stay up to date on my adventures and other posts!

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Grayson Cobb

Grayson Cobb

I am a long distance backpacker, triathlete, adventurer, climber, kayaker, and lowly medical student currently living in Norfolk, VA attending Eastern Virginia Medical School and getting out for adventures on weekends.
Grayson Cobb

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