The Best Hiking & Camping Gifts

September 22, 2017

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  • Active Junky

While hiking and camping gear can enter the investment-grade level, there’s no substitute for the right piece of equipment. When you're outdoors, comfort, safety and convenience can make or break the trip, and the recipient of the perfect outdoor gift will be grateful every time it’s used.

Have a look at some of our favorite pieces of gear for hiking and camping, and check out the other activity-specific gift guides from Active Junky, or gift ideas from our sister site, Tom’s Guide, with over 250 techy gift ideas. And don’t forget to sign up for Active Junky for the best deals and cash back on your gear and gift purchases.

Best Hiking & Camping Gifts


Photo Credit: everst/Shutterstock

Brands Included

 Basin and Range  Goal Zero  Kelty  Sea to Summit
 Big Agnes  Gregory  LifeStraw    The North Face
 Black Diamond  Hoka One One  Marmot  Vasque
 Deuter  Jetboil  Optimus  Yeti
 EnerPlex  Katadyn  Osprey  

Osprey Volt 75 Backpack – Men’s

Osprey volt 75 1 Osprey Volt 75 Backpack $180.00 - $184.00

In the backcountry, the men's Osprey Volt 75 backpack was a top performer. On the march, Osprey’s attention to design details was obvious when travelling for multiple days with a full pack (including heavy camera gear) across technical desert terrain. Only after returning home did testers discover Volt’s reasonable pricing. While the hip belt isn’t as generous as some Osprey backpacks, the firm yet form-fitting hip belt performed with the pack fully loaded. The rest of the harness – from shoulder straps to sternum straps – matched Osprey’s customizable back panels so that both a 5’10” tester and a 6’5” tester used the same backpack, so this gift will fit average-sized to taller men.

Best for: Beginners to experienced backpackers alike, thanks to Osprey’s intuitive design, simple features and comfortable harness

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Deuter Aircontact Pro 65+15 SL – Women’s

Deuteraircontactpro65 Deuter Aircontact Pro 65+15 SL $314.10 - $321.08

Deuter Aircontact Pro 65 women's backpack features the brand’s VariFlex suspension system that is easily adjusted and completely customizable to dial in a perfect fit. The Aircontact Pro is full of features and room for storage, starting at the top with three separate zipping pockets in the brain alone, to the bottom with a sleeping bag compartment that’s larger than average, and zips separate the compartment from the rest of the pack rather than having a simple partition that’s asking to lose items in the depth of the bag. Rain fly, 15L day pack, zippered front access, ice tool loops, trekking pole tie downs: this backpack is stacked.

Best For: Multi-day backpacking and technical treks to basecamp

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Black Diamond Bolt 24 – Men’s

Bd bolt 24 3 Black Diamond Bolt 24 Starting at: $128.76

When 24L acts like 48L capacity-wise, the company is on to something. With Black Diamond Bolt, external storage options (namely the enormous front stretch pocket) seem to double up space. When morning rain turned to sun, testers shed two wet rain jackets and hats before stashing them in Bolt’s outer pocket; side stretch panels open wide for accessories or water storage. Back panel, waist belt and strap ventilation were impressive and practical for testers trekking beneath New Mexico’s relentless desert sun. Tough, durable and stylish to boot, Bolt men's backpack is an electrifying offering from one of the most trusted names in the industry.

Best for: Day hiking; carrying everyday hiking gear up to technical gear

Gregory Juno 25 – Women’s

Greagoryjuno25 Gregory Juno 25 $119.56 - $123.46

The Gregory Juno 25 feels like more than just a daypack with all its technical features; in fact, it’s more of a scaled-down backpacking model than a typical daypack. The Vaporspan Ventilation suspension system keeps the pack off your back to keep you cool and remove pressure from your back and keep weight on your hips. The hipbelts, though seemingly flimsy, work great for the pack size and are designed specifically for women, as is the whole backpack. For all-day hikes, 25 liters is just about the perfect size to carry all the essentials: extra layers, snacks and water still leave room to spare. Juno also comes with the brand’s 3D Hydro Reservoir so there’s no need to pack a water bottle. And if she's commuting to work or school, the hydration pocket easily accommodates a 15” laptop.

Best for: Day hikes with plenty of water capacity; commuting and urban exploring

Big Agnes Copper Spur 2-Person Tent

Bigangescopperspur2p Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 $303.72 - $404.96

Sometimes, lightest and mightiest aren’t the same thing. Here’s a case where a few more ounces meant repelling Moab sleet- and sand-laden winds. Then popping off the fly to enjoy watching the moon trek slowly across the sky. Big Agnes MTNglo saved many an eyeball from the scarring blaze of a headlamp with dual lines of LED lights following the ceiling of the tent. Loved by testers for a million reasons, this tent is a top pick, and the recipient of this tent as a gift is sure to love it too. 

Best for: Lightweight backpacking to car camping; trips from 1-7 nights

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Basin and Range Escalante 4-Person Tent

Basin range tent 1 Basin and Range Escalante 4 Tent Starting at: $193.17

This 4-person tent has a simple yet effective design. A 2-pole system meant easy setup as testers arrived at camp at 2AM after driving through the night. Three people and one dog occupied the tent for a few hours with room to spare for an additional person to squeeze in. Two roomy vestibules have plenty of room to keep gear organized and out of the elements, while keeping the interior of the tent tidy for card games while waiting out storms. Overall the Escalante 4 is a solid car camping tent at this price point and a weight of 8lbs 11oz. Be sure to also check out the 2-person and 3-person versions of this tent as well.

Best for: Car camping; sleeping three people and gear comfortably

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Basin and Range Uinta 30 Synthetic – Men’s

Basin range bag 1 Basin and Range Uinta Sleeping Bag: 30 Degree Synthetic Starting at: $78.17

The Uinta Sleeping Bag from Backcountry’s exclusive brand is the perfect car camping companion and gift for the outdoorsy man. This mummy style bag is sure to keep him warm and comfy when he wants to venture out for a night under the stars. Testers appreciated the micro-fleece material in the head and shoulders area as well as in the foot box for an added touch of softness and comfort. The draft tube in the Uinta ensures no air will seep into the bag and ruin your REM cycle. The stuff sack has built in compression straps to help pack the bag down even smaller if you want to venture into the backcountry. After a few nights use we had no issues with the zipper, which was a pleasant surprise as that is a common issue most sleeping bags face.

Best for: Car camping and hike-in camping in moderate temperatures

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Marmot Helium 15 Down – Men’s

Marmothelium15 Marmot Helium 15 $269.29 - $275.27

Your average 3-season sleeping bag hangs right around that 20-degree mark, so the Helium’s 5-degree advantage is key, particularly when sliding into the lofty, 800-fill sleeping bag’s warmth on frigid desert nights. The baffles are curved and contoured to prevent the down from shifting and testers felt absolutely no cold spots over multiple nights. The zippers operated smoothly and consistently, a perpetual problem with some other models. Hip and foot box volume are sensibly allocated so testers never felt claustrophobic in this mummy sleeping bag design. Also, the 20-denier Pertex Microlight nylon fabric easily brushes off moisture and defies potential snags, and at 2lbs 1oz for the regular length, this is a great option for backpacking.

Best for: Light and fast 3-season backpacking or car camping

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The North Face Blue Kazoo 15 Down – Women’s

The north face blue kazoo 15 1 The North Face Blue Kazoo 15 $192.52 - $267.84

When forecasts predicted dropping temperatures, testers were relieved that TNF’s Blue Kazoo was in the mix. Over the initial two-week testing trip, this 650-fill sleeping bag was a favorite from backpacking trips to car camping scenarios and proved to be a solid choice in cold weather sleeping bags. With the best cinching hood of women’s sleeping bags tested, it socked in warmth and allowed for a minimal yet comfortable breathing channel. The women’s-specific shape offered plenty of room in the hips while it narrowed in the shoulders and feet to maximize heat retention, and weighs under 3 1/2 lbs to keep her warm without weighing her down.

Best for: Keeping toasting in 3-season backpacking or car camping scenarios

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Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core SLX

Bigagnes%20qcore Big Agnes Insulated Q-core SLX $125.96 - $152.96

At 4.5 inches thick, the Big Agnes Q-core SLX provides plenty of airy cushioning, almost a luxurious amount, and an inch more than its predecessor, the SL. This Big Agnes sleeping pad is filled with WRM HL synthetic insulation with an R-Value of 4.5, featuring a durable, high loft boost of warmth without adding a lot of weight or bulk at only 1 lb. for the regular length. The quilted construction is better than regular baffles, as they increase sleeping stability and spread out weight more evenly. The outer rails are slightly taller than the inner baffles, keeping you in place, and it’s made of a durable ripstop nylon with a PU coating so this three season pad could go all winter if it had to.

Best for: Three-season camping and backpacking with plenty of insulation and padding

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Sea to Summit UltraLight Mat

Seatosummitmat Sea to Summit UltraLight Mat Starting at: $94.96

In the backpacking world where smaller and more compact design is a challenge accepted, Sea to Summit offers the UltraLight Mat. While this pad has been on the market for a few years, it’s still a top purchasing choice for many the minimalist backpacker, and any camper looking to cut down on ounces and save space. It weighs in at under 14 ounces and packs down smaller than the size of a soda can. If this sleeping pad is a gift for an ultralight backpacker, there’s little more to say. But there is, because it’s also comfortable for how little support there is thanks to Air Sprung Cell design. The one-way valve worked splendidly with inflation and deflation, and there were zero issues packing this lightweight sleeping pad back down to its original size.

Best for: Light and fast packing, minimalist trekking, summer camping and hammocking

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Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hiking Boot – Men’s

Hokaoneonetorbox Hoka One One Tor Ultra Hi WP Hiking Boot - Men's $206.96 - $229.95

The Hoka One One Tor men's hiking boot has one of the best gripping soles we tested (a Vibram MegaGrip outsole with 5mm lugs) for scaling nearly vertical walls of slickrock with ease. The lightweight, 17oz boot is surprisingly supportive. Ankle support mimics that of an athletic brace as the wearer cinches the laces and seals the side walls against the minimally padded tongue. The eVent fabric is waterproof, and the meta-rocker geometry (the unusual curvature of the outsole) allowed hikers with bad knees to make the most of technical trails. The thick midsole (EVA and RMAT) made for one of the most comfortable boots tested as well. If your gift recipient needs a burly but lightweight hiking boot, this one's a great choice.

Best for: Dedicated trail runners, thru hikers and fastpackers

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Vasque Breeze III GTX – Women’s

Vasquewomensbreeze Vasque Breeze III GTX $165.56 - $171.00

We took these Vasque women’s hiking boots to Arches National Park. The eight-mile loop around Devil’s Garden provided varying terrain to test them out: red dirt, slick rock, steep trails and sandy washes—these boots tackled them all with confidence. The toe and heel ventilation and breathable upper were great for desert hiking. Vasque claims out-of-the-box comfort, and we purposefully didn’t put these boots on until the morning of an all-day hiking adventure. At the end of the day after miles and hours, there was no foot fatigue or soreness. Our female tester made these her primary hiking boots after, and we think the mountain lady in your life would be stoked to receive them as a gift, too.

Best for: Day hikes, overnight backpacking, mixed trails and especially rocky condition

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Jetboil Genesis Camp Stove

Jetboil genesis Jetboil Genesis Camp Stove $220.76 - $230.36

No camp stove was as clear a winner as the Jetboil Genesis, makings testers reconsider our preconceived notions about what a car camping stove could be. For a road trip, a journey into the backcountry with packhorses, or an extended foray into the wilderness via ATV, this is your camp kitchen. It’s quick to set up as you unleash a few fasteners, unfold the contraption, screw on the fuel intake piping, and spin a bottle of propane onto the metal teeth. Dual burners provide ample cooking space, and an aftermarket attachment allows you to add a third smaller burner. If you'll be camping with your giftee, you may also enjoy the quality meals this camp stove can produce. Win, win.

Best for: Car camping; fast gourmet cooking for groups of 2-8

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Optimus Elektra Fe Cook System

Optimus electra main Optimus Elektra Fe Cook System $89.96 - $94.96

Testers took this Optimus stove high on a windswept ridge in southwest Colorado for its big moment. The Cook System is well-conceived and integrates essential heating and cooking elements into a reliable package that chooses durability over ultra-light carrying. Burner adjustment and pot handles are two key advantages of the Optimus approach. By offering fast heating with durability superior to aluminum, the Elektra Fe Cook Systems effectively mimics the performance characteristics of titanium at an advantageous price.

Best for: Backpacking; moderate elevations in less turbulent weather conditions

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Yeti Hopper Two 20

Yetihoppertwo Yeti Hopper Two 20 $270.00 - $288.00

Testers loved the Yeti Hopper Two 20 with the brand’s famous cold-holding power in a portable package that is comfortable to pack around. It’s leak-proof to keep water out and your ice in. The Hopper Two 20 is large enough to carry the beer necessary for a day of fishing and tote back your catches. Plus, it was just the right carry-on size for a flight. And, if your giftee is covered in muscles or in need of more beverages, take a look at the 30 or 40. The Two series has some new handles on the top that make it easier to fully zip open and close or maneuver around.

Best for: Keeping beverages and food cold with Yeti's superior cooling technology 

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Katadyn Hiker Pro

Katadynhikerpro Katadyn Hiker Pro $66.47 - $76.46

The Katadyn Hiker Pro is dependable, easy to clean and long lasting. At 11 ounces, it’s not the lightest on the market, but it’s not made to be the lightest—it’s made to be the best. Simply attach the hoses to the appropriate end, throw the filter with floater in your water source (avoid stagnant sources), and pump. You’ll get over 1,100 liters of purified water over the lifetime of one filter, and the system—when properly used —is foolproof: if water comes out, you’re good to go. Pumping just becomes more difficult as the filter ages, so pay attention and replace the filter as needed.

Best for: Safe drinking water in the backcountry or on long hikes to avoid packing in water weight

Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System

Katadynbefree Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System $36.76 - $38.40

For quicker and pump-free water filtration from Katadyn, the BeFree filtration systems is a great option. Simply fill the collapsible bottle from a water source (again, avoid stagnant sources; the clearer the water the better) and you’re good to drink directly from the bottle thanks to the built-in filter, though make sure to avoid wetting the mouth piece in the source. Lightweight and packable, BeFree 0.6L weighs 2oz. empty and measures 9in. when full. Its EZ-Clean Membrane filter simply needs a shake or swish to clean. Tested to filter 1,000 liters, the BeFree will be a solid companion for seasons of filtration needs. Available in 0.6L (20oz.) or the newer 1.0L (33.8oz.).

Best for: Clean drinking water while hiking, mountain biking or international travel

LifeStraw Water Filter

Lifestraw water filter 1 2 Lifestraw Water Filter Starting at: $18.36

Few products have more universal, international application than this proven essential from LifeStraw. A great backup, or primary water purifier for hikes if you have reliable water sources as a single straw can filter up to 264 gallons, or 1,000 liters. At only 2 oz., the LifeStraw can sooth your back and give you peace of mind. You might want to plug your nose as you sip from some of the pools in the desert, but at least your GI tract with stay intact.

Best for: Quick drinks from suitable water sources while on the trail or in the backcountry

Kelty Low Loveseat Chair

Kelty low loveseat chair main Kelty Low Loveseat Chair $92.00 - $96.96

Twice as nice with a loveseat design, this Kelty camping chair suits occupants of all sizes from children to adults. With quilted, 600D poly construction to survive the elements, the 16lb packable chair ended up smaller than testers anticipated and with a 500lb capacity that suits nearly every duo. Impressive comfort and support came with the Loveseat, as did the Roll-Tote carry bag that made for easy rock and wood gathering for evening fires. A perfect gift for couples or an excuse to cuddle up with your SO.

Best for: Car camping, resort vacations, big-time road trips

Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit

Goal zero venture 30 03 Goal Zero Venture 30 Solar Kit $152.96 - $161.46

Goal Zero is a leader in portable and solar power sources, which can be invaluable in the backcountry when relying on rechargeable devices like headlamps and GPSs. The Solar Kit includes the Venture 7,800mAh weatherproof recharger paired with the reliable Nomad 7 solar panel, which testers used to capitalize on sunny days by setting the kit out on a rock or stump. The Nomad 7 can fully charge the Venture in 9 hours, and with a full battery, the Venture provides up to 5 full smartphone or GoPro charges, or 5 to 10 headlamp charges, making this solar kit great for backcountry use, especially at only 1.5lbs that can easily be divided between two people.

Best For: Trips over five days to charge phones, headlamps or cameras

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Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit

Goalzerosherpa Goal Zero Sherpa 100 Solar Kit $496.76 - $522.50

When you are completely off the grid, you might think that your energy needs are minimal. However, how are you going to power the devices that record your memories, light your way and map your location? Testers selected Goal Zero’s big daddy Sherpa 100 to keep powered up. The Sherpa can charge via wall outlet (fully in 3 hours) before heading out or using the Nomad 20 Solar Panel (fully charged in 10 to 20 hours of sunlight). With the Sherap fully charged, you won’t have to worry about dead batteries: recharge your smart phones a dozen times or headlamps two dozen, or a laptop once or twice if you decide to lug it along. The Solar Kit weighs 4.4lbs, so it’s a great car camping and road trip companion.

Best for: Harnessing and storing sunlight power to recharge all your devices

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EnerPlex Generatr Y1200

Enerplae 1200 main EnerPlex Generatr Y1200 $1,260.00 - $1,524.10

The EnerPlex Generatr 1200 features 1,200Wh of charging capacity, and capably powers personal electronic devices likes headlamps, phones, cameras and tablets to small appliances at the campsite. Testers even charged a couple of mountain e-bike batteries off this burly solar generator. Enerplex uses lithium-ion batteries instead of lead-acid, which saves nearly 60 percent of weight compared to similar models, though the Y1200 still tips the scales at 40lbs. It also has outputs for just about anything: USB (3), 110V (3), 19V (2), 12V (2) and an AC inverter.

Best for: Serious recharging power at camp or even backup power at home or the cabin

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