Shopping for a hiker? You’re in luck. There is a seemingly endless array of equipment designed for the hiking set. From shirts and pants and hats to more technical gear like boots and backpacks and headlamps, options abound — at a wide range of price points, no less. Best of all, a lot of this gear is equally at home in the concrete jungle, so even if the recipient isn’t hitting the trails anytime soon, they’ll be stoked.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody
One of Mountain Hardwear’s best selling pieces of kit, the Ghost Whisperer/2 Down Hoody, is as light as a feather at only eight ounces — but don’t let that fool you, it’s a heavy hitter. Made with a 100 percent recycled water-resistant shell and packed with RDS-certified 800-fill down, this versatile jacket should never leave your side.
1. Le Bent Le Sock Outdoor Light Crew
At the Outdoor Retailer trade show last summer, the Le Bent people borderline forced us to doff our footwear and try their socks. That’s how confident they were in this blend of bamboo, merino wool, nylon and elastane, which, truth be told, adds up to some of the most comfortable socks we’ve ever worn.
2. Mountain House Simple Sensations Chicken Fajita Bowl
Price: $24 for 6
Not everyone is a culinary wizard, especially out on the trail. But you don’t need to be with dehydrated meals like this one. Just add hot water and in less than 10 minutes, a feast of seasoned chicken with rice, black beans, corn, fire-roasted peppers and onions comes to life.
3. BLDG Active Repair Spray
Hypochlorous is a molecule naturally produced by white blood cells to aid healing. Isolated into the active ingredient in this 3-ounce spray bottle, it becomes a medical-grade treatment for all kinds of skin-based hiking woes, including cuts, scrapes, sunburns, chafing, rashes and insect bites.
4. Knog Quokka Rechargeable Headlamp
It’s tough to beat this headlamp’s combo of convenience, utility and price. Charge it up via USB and it’ll provide light for up to 3 hours at max output or, in dimmed red mode, nearly 70. It’s also dustproof and waterproof, and the comfy, durable silicone strap adjusts to fit just about any noggin.
5. Sunday Afternoons Sun Tripper Cap
There’s much more to this cadet cap than meets the eye. The subtle side ventilation panels double as sunglass holders, the adjustable cord in back ensures the perfect fit, and the clamshell brim lets you fold the hat up till you need it. There’s even a hidden pocket for stashing holiday cash.
Gear Patrol Magazine Subscription
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6. Kate’s Real Food Grizzly Bar Dozen
Trail snacks don’t have to taste like crap, and these hand-rolled bars out of Jackson Hole are delicious proof. The Grizzly combines dark chocolate, honey, chewy dried fruit and creamy peanut butter for 260 calories of flavorful energy to fuel that push to the summit — or serve as a reward once it’s reached.
7. Gaia GPS Premium Membership
Price: $36 for the first year (renews annually at $40)
Gaia’s loaded with topo, satellite and road maps of more than 35,000 trails and 32,000 parks and forests — and the premium version of the app lets users download them to their phones, so no matter how far off the grid they go, they’ll never be truly lost.
8. Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottle
This conveniently sized stainless steel bottle employs TempShield insulation to keep beverages cold for up to 24 hours. Paired with the included easy-drinking sport cap and slotted into a backpack’s side pocket, the 21-ouncer stands at the ready to provide cool, refreshing hydration when a hiker needs it most.
9. Leatherman Free T2
The Free series boasts an awesome innovation: thanks to clever nubs and magnets, all implements can be accessed with one hand. This compact and affordable offering packs eight handy implements — including a 2.2-inch knife, screwdrivers and a bottle opener — for tackling a host of outdoor hangups.
10. Patagonia Quandary Shorts
You shouldn’t face a quandary about whether to snag these lightweight shorts for a hiking friend. With a gusseted crotch, contoured fit and 95 percent nylon/five percent spandex fabric, they’re about as motion friendly as shorts can get. A DWR finish keeps them nice and dry too.
11. National Parks Annual Pass
“Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” So wrote the great philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau in 1762’s The Social Contract — and he didn’t even know you have to pay to access America’s glorious National Parks. Re-free the hiker in your life with this pass, which grants its holder entry to all federal lands.
12. Arc’teryx Elaho Shirt
Like so many of the items on this list, the Elaho performs as good as it looks. Thanks to Alatorre, a lightweight, breathable fabric, articulated sleeves and a handy zippered pocket on the arm, this shirt lends itself equally to hefting a pack on the trail and knocking back a beer at the bar post-hike.
13. The North Face Chimera 18 Backpack
We dubbed this pack “most innovative” in our summer roundup of the best hiking daypacks, and for good reason: one pull of the handy ripcord balances the entire load on the fly, so no matter how awkwardly gear is stashed, the lugging is easy.
14. Helinox Chair Zero
Does one need a chair for a day hike? Perhaps not. But when that chair weighs just over a pound, packs down to the size of a water bottle and quickly folds out into a soothing relaxation situation for five minutes or five hours, perhaps the better question is, why not?
15. Spy Discord 5050
Out on the trail, no one wants some chunky frame slowing them down. Enter the Discord 5050, which brightens your eye health and your outlook with the clarity-enhancing, 100-percent UV-protecting Happy Lens while keeping things light and fresh with the low-profile half-frame.
16. Danner Trail 2650 GTX
Featuring a leather-and-mesh upper and a Vibram outsole, the 2650 weighs in at just 12 ounces per shoe — some of the lightest we’ve come across — yet it’s tough enough for aggressive climbing. No wonder the non-GTX version made our roundup of the year’s best hikers.
17. Lululemon X Wilderness Escape and Explore Pant
Lululemon’s designers put a lot of thought into its impressive new Wilderness line of adventurous outerwear. The care and consideration shows in these rugged yet streamlined pants, which feature reinforced knees, strategic pockets and magnetic closures for easy access on the go.
18. Adidas Terrex Free Hiker GTX
The Free Hiker’s combo of style and performance (including Boost cushioning and Continental rubber outsoles) made it an easy pick for our annual GP100 — and the addition of waterproof/breathable Gore-Tex makes it that much better.
VSSL Compact First Aid Kit
This isn’t your typical first aid kit; the compact 9-inch military grade aluminum cylinder is completely waterproof and houses a set of outdoor specific first aid components. Useful additions like an emergency light and whistle make VSSL a great piece of gear, whether you’re a thru-hiker or a day hiker.
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