Gear Reviews

The 10 Best Gifts for Beginner Backpackers

Help someone you love get started backpacking with these great gifts for newbies.

Injinji Liner and Hiker Crew Sock Combo – $27

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Blisters are pretty common for beginner backpackers, and that’s where sock liners come in handy. The toe socks separate and protect each toe in sweat-wicking CoolMax/nylon/lycra material. This ultrathin liner sock comes paired with the crew sock, giving the extra cushioning needed to increase mileage. Buy Injinji Men’s Liner and Hiker Crew Sock Combo NowBuy Injinji Women’s Liner and Hiker Crew Sock Combo Now

SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger with Bluetooth – $250 (on sale for $200)

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Keep newbies safe in the backcountry with this easy-to-use satellite communicator. Thanks to Bluetooth connectivity, hikers can utilize their phones to access contacts and communicate details in dire straits, or if they just want advice while on the trail. Buy SPOT X 2-Way Satellite Messenger with Bluetooth Now

Kathmandu Aysen Hooded Jacket – $150

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Everyone loves a fleece-lined hoodie, and this one has the technical chops to shine on the trail. The separated high collar, adjustable hem and elasticized cuffs lock in the warmth, while the Polartec outer layer blocks out the wind and manages moisture. Buy Kathmandu Aysen Hooded Jacket NowBuy Kathmandu Women’s Aysen Hooded Jacket Now

Superfeet Trailblazer Comfort Insole – $50

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Key piece of advice for first-time backpackers? Take care of your feet. A good pair of insoles like these promises more miles and smiles. The moisture-wicking foam controls odor, while the deep heel cup minimizes slippage and the carbon fiber bottom improves stability. Buy Superfeet Trailblazer Comfort Insole Now

Camelbak Fourteener 20 Hydration Pack – $130 (on sale for $97)

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With side stretch storage, hipbelt pockets, and a 20-liter capacity, the only things this day pack needs before going on the hike are the 10 essentials. The structured back panel keeps it off your body for ventilation, while the three-liter reservoir with fast flow keeps you hydrated. Buy Camelbak Fourteener 20 Hydration Pack

Gear Aid Camp Line Kit — $30

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Beginners tend to bring a lot of stuff on trips. Help organize their campsite with a gear-hanging kit for drying out all the clothing, boots and towels and hanging all the lighting, speakers and whatever other accessories they. With two camp carabiners and two tensioners, there’s no tying involved, which makes for an easy setup. Buy Gear Aid Camp Line Kit Now

BlackStrap Baselayers Crew Tops and Pants – $60

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Perhaps one of the most difficult puzzle pieces of novice backpacking is figuring out the best layering system. These baselayers feature vented armpits and crotch (plus a fly for the men’s version), as well a patented stretchy antimicrobial fabric. Their vibrant patterns turn a very practical gift into something fun. Buy BlackStrap Baselayers Crew Tops and Pants Now

Patagonia Macro Puff Hoody – $399

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All the benefits of synthetic—warm while wet—and down—packability and weight—are combined in this jacket’s PlumaFill down-like alternative insulation. The Macro Puff measures just ounces on the scale. With details like water- and wind-resistant DWR nylon shell, adjustable hood and two-way zipper, this is a very quality beginner puffy. Buy Patagonia Men’s Macro Puff Hoody NowBuy Patagonia Women’s Macro Puff Hoody Now

SOL Heat Reflective Poncho – $8

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No matter how well-prepared your beginner backpacker is, accidents happen. At just 2.7 ounces, this may be one of the lightest life-saving gifts you can give. Folded and compact like a ramen noodle package, this hooded emergency poncho spreads large enough to cover you and your pack, while reflecting 90 percent of your body heat to trap in the warmth in ugly weather. Buy SOL Heat Reflective Poncho Now

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent – $450 (on sale for $337)

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A good tent will serve your beginner backpacker for years to come, but lightweight doesn’t come cheap. Save money on quality by snagging the 2019 version of Big Agnes’s Copper Spur HV UL 2, a two-person shelter that weighs in at under three pounds. Buy Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 Tent Now 

You can’t box up the trail and put it under your tree. But if you have a beginner backpacker in your life, you can do the next best thing: Get them the basic yet high-quality gear they need to go on their first hike. From a perfect puffy to a tent that will last them for years to come, these are the 10 gifts we recommend.