The Best Gifts for Backpackers Over $150

We polled thru-hikers, our gear review team, and our writer crew to find out what they’d most want to find neatly wrapped and ready to throw into the pack. These are the items long-distance hikers couldn’t live without this past season, recommended straight from their packs.

Here are the gifts thru-hikers, gear reviewers, and The Trek team recommend, all over $150.


NeoAir XLite
MSRP: $159

This thru-hiker fave packs down to the size of a Nalgene, has an R-value of 3.2, and weighs 12 ounces. Last year, Therm-a-Rest debuted the NeoAir UberLite, which weighs 8.8 ounces and has an R-value of 2.0 with a somewhat demonstrated durability thanks to a thinner face fabric. Current models are on sale here, as Therm-a-Rest updated their inflation valves to WingLock or TwinLock Valves for faster inflation and deflating.

Maggie Slepian, Managing Editor 

Patagonia R1 Hoody
MSRP: $159

This classic mid-layer covers your ears, neck, and forehead so that you don’t need a hat or buff. Very versatile. Light but keeps you warm.

Garden State, AT

Nemo Tensor Sleeping Pad
MSRP: $159

Great, comfortable sleeping pad that doesn’t make a ton of noise. The newest version has a reworked valve that cured the biggest complaint about the older version.

Bacon, AT

Sierra Designs Nitro Quilt
MSRP: $250

By combining the best aspects from both quilt and mummy camping, this bag is exceptionally versatile and the perfect quilt for thru-hikers to use throughout different temperatures and climates on trail. The footbox, Hide-A-Way Hood, arm / hand pockets, and oversized design will keep you bundled up similar to a mummy bag. However, all these mummy-like features are streamlined and virtually invisible when not being used, so you can switch into a more traditional quilt camping style at any point. It’s warm, comfy, and nonconstricting, which means the thru-hiker on your list will get better sleep and more miles the next day.

Spot, Trek Gear Reviewer

REI Magma 30
MSRP: $319+

With a weight of 20 ounces, this 850-fill down bag can be carried all summer, but it really shines when conditions degrade. A curved zipper allows easy access while huddled in the bag. Neck and zipper baffles, along with high-quality construction, provide warmth without cold spots all the way to its 30-degree temperature limit. In addition, the down is treated to resist moisture.

-Simba, Colorado Trail, JMT and Long Trail, Tahoe Rim Trail, Sheltowee Trace

InReach Mini
MSRP: $350

It is something that allows friends and family of backpackers to know where they are, and that they are probably safe. It’s also an item most backpackers don’t want to buy for themselves, or will talk themselves out of when trying to save money. The Mini is the smallest one so hopefully won’t mess up their base weight too much! –SOS, PCT

Feathered Friends Swallow UL 20
MSRP: $529

When it comes to a good sleeping bag, you don’t need any flashy features. Just a reputable manufacturer and enough high-fill power down to keep you warm enough for your conditions. The Feathered Friends Swallow UL 20 was exactly that through all of Vermont during my September Long Trail thru-hike.  Due to the denier of the Pertex shell, it’s not the most compressible bag on the market, but you can also rest easy knowing that you’re not going to rip the bag if / when it gets caught in a zipper.  Less than two pounds for a bona fide 20-degree mummy bag, it’s hard to go wrong with this bag.  – Zach Davis, Editor-in-Chief

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