Gear Reviews

The 10 Best Gifts for Beginner Backpackers and Campers

Make a novice hiker's day with one of these products.

With the pandemic limiting indoor activities, the ranks of new hikers swelled this year; chances are you know someone with a newfound love for the trail.Every beginner can use a running start, gear-wise, and these products will help ease their transition into the backpacking life.

Granite Gear Dagger Pack — $100

Granite Gear Dagger Pack

This pack’s dialed suspension evenly distributes dayhike-size loads, so you can carry moderate weight in comfort for miles on end. The Dagger has stretch side and front pockets that improve on its 22-liter volume, as well as an internal hydration sleeve and a port to thread a drinking hose through. Buy the Granite Gear Dagger Pack Now

MSR Thru-Link In-Line Microfilter — $40

MSR Thru-Link In-Line Microfilter

This ultralight filter pulls double duty. The Thru-Link weighs only 2.5 ounces, but hikers can use it in-line with a reservoir hose or on a gravity filter in camp. The two-stage filter uses activated carbon to reduce chemicals and odors, as well as remove bacteria and protozoa. Buy the MSR Thru-Link In-Line Microfilter now

Sierra Designs Granby Insulated Sleeping Pad — $100

Sierra Designs Granby Insulated Sleeping Pad

Entice beginners into the backcountry with the prospect of 3 inches of comfort between them and the ground. This pad has an R-value of 2.1, so it’s made for three-season use, and weighs just over a pound. Bonus: A one-way valve means you can take a break between breaths while blowing it up. Buy the Sierra Designs Granby Insulated Sleeping Pad now

Sierra Designs Granby Insulated Sleeping Pad — $200

Fjällräven Expedition Lätt Hoodie

You can’t put a price on warmth, but this snazzy puffy seals in heat without breaking the bank. Its synthetic fill works even in wet conditions, and the jacket packs into its own pocket for easy storage. Plus, the minimalist look and will fit right in at the brewery post-hike. Buy the Sierra Designs Granby Insulated Sleeping Pad now (men’s and women’s)

Quechua 2 Second Easy Fresh & Black — $199

Quechua 2 Second Easy Fresh & Black

One of the most common frustrations for beginner campers is tent setup. A solution: This budget-friendly, freestanding car camping shelter from Decathlon, which users can set up by merely pulling a cord at either end. The interior is plenty roomy for two sleepers, and the whole thing packs away just as easily as it goes up. Buy the Quechua 2 Second Easy Fresh & Black now

Tread Labs Ramble Insole Kit — $75

Tread Labs Ramble Insole Kit

Beginner hikers should take advantage of all the comfort they can, and aftermarket insoles are a good place to start. This kit lets wearers choose between three different insoles, plus a removable arch support that can be swapped between each of them, so dialing in the perfect fit is easy. Buy the Tread Labs Ramble Insole Kit now

PackTowl Original — $10-$24

PackTowl Original

Every hiker needs a good stocking-stuffer. These towels are ultrapackable, ultrabsorbent, and useful for drying everything from dishes to tent floors to bodies. Eco bonus: The rayon/polypropylene fibers are also compostable. Buy the PackTowl Origina now

Kelty Kush 30 Sleeping Bag — $90

Kelty Kush 30 Sleeping Bag

The ultracomfy, synthetic Kush feels more like your bed at home than a sleeping bag. Its rectangular shape and 31-inch width leaves plenty of room for spreading out, and the top layer peels back just like a comforter. A handy pocket can hold a phone or a headlamp. Buy the Kelty Kush 30 Sleeping Bag now

Swiftwick VISION Six Impression National Parks Collection Socks — $20

Swiftwick VISION Six Impression National Parks Collection Socks

Show your love for public lands with these socks, which offer five different national park prints to choose from: Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion, Yellowstone, and Great Smoky. The VISIONs also perform well on the trail, thanks to a nylon/polyester/spandex blend that wicks away sweat and regulates temperature, and they boast a medium cushion. Buy the Swiftwick VISION Six Impression National Parks Collection Socks now

Next Mile Sampler Pack — $84

Next Mile Sampler Pack

Deciding what to eat on the trail can be tough, but not with this kit: Beginners will love the choices offered in this sample pack of six different dehydrated chicken, beef, and pork dinners. They each contain plenty of protein and calories so you can recharge after a long day on the trail. Tester favorite: Buffalo Ranch Chicken. Buy the Next Mile Sampler Pack now