The Thru-Hiker Gift Guide: Under $150

The holidays are wonderful. They’re also a consistently stressful time for many people. That’s why we created this handy thru-hiker gift guide: so you can find the perfect present for the hiker in your life, even if you know nothing about hiking yourself.

This is our guide for gifts from $50-$150, but help your loved one gear up for their next big adventure at any budget:

The Cold Case Thermal Phone Case

  • MSRP: $60
  • Weight: 3.1 oz

In this day and age of digital maps and navigation apps, it is more important than ever to keep your phone working no matter the conditions. Letting your electronic devices get cold at night is a sure way to start the day with zero power, so it’s a good idea to sleep with them as you would your water filter. For extra protection at night or for cutting the cold during the day, check out this battery-saving pouch.

“This is a great piece of kit if you like to recreate in harsh conditions, hot or cold. It’s temperature-proof, has great drop protection, is submersible, and floats. Fits my giant iPhone and extends the battery life by a ton on backpacking adventures. Great for camera batteries too!” — Deirdre Rosenberg

High Tail Designs Ultralight Fanny Pack 

  • MSRP: $63
  • Weight: 2 oz
  • Material: Dyneema Hybrid

“Need a safe and dry place to store your quick-grab items like your wallet, cell phone, and headphones? The Ultralight Fanny Pack is the perfect solution when finding a convenient place to keep items you want easily accessible. The multitude of designs allows for self-expression without sacrificing style. High Tail Designs’ use of Dyneema fabric ensures that what’s inside The Ultralight Fanny Pack stays dry and protected.” — Anna McKinney

ZPacks Bear Bagging Kit

thru-hiker gift

  • MSRP: $65
  • Weight: 3.4 oz.
  • Includes: Food bag, rock sack, and cord

This popular bear bagging kit includes everything you need to execute a proper bear bag and protect your food from critters big and small. The food bag alone is an awesome organizational addition, and the rock bag plus cordage are so lightweight and small that you won’t notice them until you need them.

Cascade Mountain Tech Carbon Fiber Quick Lock Trekking Poles

  • MSRP: $65
  • Weight: 16 oz.
  • Materials: Carbon Fiber shaft, cork grip

Cascade Mountain Tech trekking poles are a common sight on the trail, and for good reason. They’re sturdy, reliable, and comfortable to use. This pair features cork handles for a comfy, blister-free grip. You can buy them directly from the retailer or from Amazon, Walmart, or even Costco.

Enlightened Equipment Torrid Booties

These booties keep your toes toasty in your sleeping bag. According to Trek writer Madeline Newel, “These booties are my perennial favorite piece of gear. They are so lightweight and so warm. They live in the bottom of my quilt, so I don’t even have to think about them until I snuggle up at night.”

Goose Feet Gear Down Sleeping Socks

  • MSRP: $70-$97
  • Weight: 1.8-3.0 oz

“The thing I love about the down socks is how lightweight they are. I run super cold, especially at night, so these down socks are a great way to keep my feet extra warm and toasty. Depending on the size and fill type, these down socks only weigh between 2 and 3 ounces, a weight I am willing to sacrifice if it means I stay comfortable at night.” — Anna McKinney

Enlightened Equipment Torrid Hood

  • MSRP: $70
  • Weight: 2.1-2.6 oz

“I use an EE quilt and the only downside is that there is no built-in head covering. On chilly nights, my Torrid Hood has kept me warm and snuggly without feeling restrictive like a traditional mummy bag. I also like the fact that I can wear my Torrid Hood around camp if it’s still cold in the mornings. It’s so lightweight I don’t notice the 2 ounces it adds to my pack, and being warm at night is well worth it!” — Anna McKinney

Kahtoola MICROspikes

thru-hiker gift

  • MSRP: $75
  • Weight: 11 oz.
  • Material: 12 stainless steel spikes with elastomer harness

These minimalist traction devices pack up small, don’t weigh much, and are compatible with just about any hiking shoe (unlike crampons, which tend to eat trail runners for breakfast). They’re perfect for improving traction in moderately snowy/icy conditions. Every four-season hiker should own a pair.

Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Extreme Sleeping Bag Liner

thru-hiker gift

  • MSRP: $75
  • Weight: 14 oz.
  • Added Warmth: Up to 25 degrees F

A sleeping bag liner is a great way to add warmth to your sleep system without having to shell out for a brand-new bag. We’re not sure we quite believe the claimed warmth bonus of up to 25˚F, but the difference is noticeable. As a bonus, the liner will protect your sleeping bag from body oils and thru-hiker odors so that it stays cleaner longer.

Alpine Gremlins Dyneema Pack Liner

  • MSRP: $76-$100
  • Weight: 0.7-0.8 oz
  • Material: 0.51oz DCF

Pack liners are a popular alternative to traditional pack covers. They are always there to keep your stuff dry, so you never need to “wait and see” if the rain is going to stick around. While trash compactor bags are a popular liner option among thru-hikers, purpose-made options have their advantages. While this one is way more expensive than the disposable option, the DCF material is lightweight, tough, and trasnparent.

“This has finally replaced the role of trash bags in my gear list. It’s more durable, it helps eliminate single-use plastic, and it’s light as hell.” — Matthew Kok

Petzl Actik Core Headlamp

  • MSRP: $80
  • Weight: 2.8 oz.
  • Max Brightness: 450 lumens

We love this headlamp so much that we named it one of the year’s ten best headlamps for thru-hiking. Our favorite features include strong battery life, a searing 450 lumen light output at the highest setting, and flexible charging options (three AAA batteries or a USB-rechargeable Core battery from Petzl both work).

READ NEXT — The Best Headlamps for Thru-Hiking

Purple Rain Adventure Skirt

  • MSRP: $80
  • Materials: Polyester, Spandex

Purple Rain adventure skirts are popular with hikers because of their breathable comfort, durability, and versatility. They’re hand-stitched in Oregon with four generous pockets and a DWR finish to repel light rain, and nice-looking enough to wear around town as well as on the trail.

MSR PocketRocket Deluxe

  • MSRP: $85
  • Weight: 2.9 oz
  • Avg. time to boil: 3 min 18 sec.

“My go-to stove is the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe. Slightly bigger than the PocketRocket, the Deluxe provides good support for a pot and has a built-in igniter, but still weighs under three ounces. Great heat output adjustment as well,” says Trek writer Jim Rahtz.

READ NEXT — The Best Backpacking Stoves for Thru-Hiking

Smartwool Base Layers

  • MSRP: $85-$115
  • Material: 50-100% merino wool

Who wouldn’t want to receive a set of super-soft, 100% merino wool base layers? Hikers need base layers for camp wear and as a next-to-skin active layer in the colder months. Smartwool makes garments with different weights of fabric, so there’s something for all conditions. Smartwool also has a line of merino-blend Intraknit base layers for active wear. Read our review of Smartwool’s Classic merino base layers.

BearVault BV475 Trek Bear Canister

  • MSRP: $90
  • Weight: 36 oz
  • Capacity: 9.3 liters

“In a changing world where bear encounters are more common and bear hangs are less effective, Bear Vault is the way of the future — particularly, one in which we respect wildlife and alleviate our own bear-related anxieties. My Grandma is particularly fond of this one because she knows it means the bears will be too busy fiddling with it to pay my tent a visit — and I’m fond of it because I know my food will live to see my stomach.” — Oats!

Wuru Women’s Nuyarn Merino Lightweight Hoodie

  • MSRP: $100
  • Weight: 5 oz
  • Material: 85% merino, 15% nylon

“Out of all the sun shirts I’ve used — I’ve used many! — this sun shirt from Wuru is the very best. It’s very lightweight, never gets stinky, and holds up for a few years of relentless adventure, which is a super long life for such a lightweight wool garment!” — Deirdre Rosenberg

Vargo Bot

thru-hiker gift

  • MSRP: $100
  • Weight: 5.2 oz.
  • Capacity: 1 L

This ultralight titanium bottle-pot hybrid works as a cooking pot, a wide-mouthed water bottle, or a container for cold soaking food. It even has a heat-resistant O-ring to prevent leakage. Thru-hikers love the ultralight multifunctionality of this item.

Ursack Major Bear Bag

  • MSRP: $110
  • Weight: 7.6 oz.
  • Volume: 10.7 L

This tough-as-nails bag weighs a fraction of a bear canister, and the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee lists it as a bear-resistant product. (Note that not all parks/areas recognize an Ursack as an adequate substitute for a bear canister, though). It’s the best of both worlds: no need to haul a heavy, bulky, uncomfortable bear canister around, and no need to brain yourself with a poorly thrown rock bag while trying to execute a bear hang. You’ll sleep soundly knowing you’re keeping both your food and the local wildlife safe.

Senchi Designs Alpha 120 1/2 Zip Hoodie 

  • MSRP: $115
  • Weight: 7.2 oz
  • Material: Polartec Alpha Direct 120

Premium Polartec Alpha fleece, made with 63% recycled polyester, gives these hoodies lightweight softness, and industry-leading breathability. Senchi Designs fleeces are incredibly popular right now, so you have to watch the site like a hawk for when they get more garments in stock. This is a great gift for the hiker who loves to follow the latest fads (and who also likes to be warm and not clammy).

Read our review of the Alpha 120 Hoodie here.

Black Diamond Trail Trekking Poles

  • MSRP: $120
  • Weight: 17 oz per pair
  • Materials: Aluminum shaft, EVA foam grip

Black Diamond trekking poles are a common sight on the trail, and for good reason. They’re sturdy, reliable, and comfortable to use. This pair features foam handles that are durable and ergonomic.

Montbell Tachyon Wind Pantsthru-hiker gift

  • MSRP: $129
  • Weight: 1.9 oz.
  • Material: 7-denier ripstop nylon

Ultralight wind pants make a perfect gift for a thru-hiker. Many people don’t want to spend the extra money on a wind shell and opt instead to use their rain gear for wind protection, but a dedicated set of wind pants is a beautiful thing. And since many thru-hikers opt to forego rain pants altogether, an ultralight set of wind pants is a perfect compromise. They weigh a fraction of what rain pants would weigh, pack down to roughly the size of a large walnut, and still add an impressive amount of warmth to your layering system. Want to round this gift out? Check out the matching 2.5-ounce wind parka.

Katadyn Steripen Ultra UV Water Purifier

thru-hiker gift

  • MSRP: $130
  • Weight: 4.9 oz.
  • Removes: Bacteria, protozoa, viruses

The Steripen stands out from other water purifiers and filters because 1) it works even in freezing temperatures, and 2) it removes viruses (most products only get bacteria and protozoa). At less than five ounces, it’s competitive in the weight department, too. It takes about a minute and a half to purify one liter of water and should be able to treat 50 liters between charges.

Enlightened Equipment Torrid Insulated Pants (Women’s | Men’s)

  • MSRP: $140
  • Weight: 4.8-7.7 oz

EE applies their unbeatable lightweight synthetic insulation design to the humble pants. Climashield APEX will keep you toasty when the mercury falls, and custom color combinations are sure to match every hiker’s personality.

“Insulated pants are one of the best possible investments for shoulder-season trips. Not only are they lighter than thermal baselayers, but way warmer. Highly recommend!” — Brandon Chase

Jetboil Stash Cooking System

  • MSRP: $145
  • Weight: 7.1 oz
  • Avg. time to boil 1L: 5 min

Brand new in 2021, the Stash is Jetboil’s lightest backpacking stove to date. The 7.1-ounce kit includes the stove, a 0.8-liter pot (designed with JetBoil’s FluxRing technology, which increases surface area to make your water boil faster), and a fuel stabilizer tripod.

Read our review of the Jetboil Stash here.

Helinox Chair Zero

  • MSRP: $150
  • Packed Weight: 17 oz (1 lb 2 oz)
  • Capacity: 265 lb

“While I necessarily wouldn’t take it on a long hike I love bringing my Helinox on shorter sections. It’s lightweight and shockingly comfortable. It’s even my go-to chair for hanging around the fire with my friends and roommates when we’re all just hanging out, and I like to keep it in my car just in case.” — Moose Juice

SPOT Gen 4 Satellite Messenger

thru-hiker gift

  • MSRP: $150
  • Weight: 5 oz.
  • Satellite Network: Globalstar

If your loved one is gearing up for a long hike, give them (and yourself) the gift of peace of mind. This minimalist satellite messenger is perfect for thru-hikers, who typically value the ability to communicate with friends and family with or without cell service but don’t necessarily need additional bells and whistles. The SPOT allows users to send pre-programmed messages to a list of contacts and has an SOS button for emergencies.

Altra Lone Peak 7 Trail Runners (Women’s | Men’s)

  • MSRP: $150
  • Weight: 22 oz. (Pair)
  • Heel-toe drop: 0 mm

Hikers go through shoes like overexcited puppies go through chew toys. Gifting someone technical footwear can be a bit risky since everyone’s feet and preferences are different. Still, if you know your hiker’s preferred size and style, a fresh set of kicks is a thoughtful gift that’s virtually guaranteed to go over well. Not sure what type of shoe to get? If you’re shooting in the dark, aim for Altra’s iconic Lone Peak trail runners. Their zero-drop, minimalist design, and wide toebox have helped make these shoes insanely popular on America’s long trails. They’ve dominated the thru-hiking market for years.

READ NEXT — The Best Trail Runners for Thru-Hiking

Disclosure: Many of the products reviewed on this site, including some of the above, were provided for free for the purpose of review. This list was originally published on 12/1/20. It was updated on 11/17/23 by Kelly Floro, and again on 11/21/23 by Owen Eigenbrot.

Featured image: Graphic design by Chris Helm (@chris.helm).

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Comments 5

  • Shannon : Dec 3rd

    Thanks for the informative article, I’m excited to check some of these products out! My only question is, would the Katadyn Steripen be sustainable on a thru-hike since it needs to be recharged? I’ve also read reviews that say it doesn’t last very long or filter particulate matter as well as a squeeze or pump filter. I’m in the market for a new water filter since my Lifestraw will be inadequate on a thru-hike. I really appreciate your thoughts on this as there are many options out there!

    • Kelly Floro : Dec 3rd

      The Sawyer Squeeze is definitely the lowest-maintenance and easiest to use water filter, but I do know thru-hikers who successfully used the Steripen throughout their thru-hikes. If you’re concerned about freezing temperatures and/or want the extra peace of mind of a treatment that eliminates waterborne viruses, it’s def the way to go.

      As long as you top up the charge in town whenever you’re charging the rest of your electronics, you should be fine. Carrying a battery bank as a backup would also be a good idea. One of our writers, Eloise, is a Triple Crowner, and she used and liked the Steripen for her Appalachian thru-hike:

      Re: particulate matter, the Steripen Ultra doesn’t actually come with a sediment pre-filter (the Steripen Classic does have this feature though). With the Ultra you have to buy one separately or use a buff or a spare sock to remove particulate matter.

      • Shannon : Dec 4th

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful and helpful response, I really appreciate it! A battery bank is an excellent idea and solution, I hadn’t even thought of that! So if one is encountering colder/freezing temperatures and less potable water, you’d recommend the Steripen Ultra over the Sawyer Squeeze? And given that the Steripen Classic has a sediment pre-filter, would you advise potentially considering that over the Steripen Ultra? Thanks again for your time and help with this!

        • Meredith : Dec 17th

          The problem with the sawyer squeeze is related to the risk that the filter itself could freeze (so it’s the ambient air temps that should worry you, not the water temps). The sawyer squeeze filter is made up of hollow fibers that can rupture if they freeze, which could mean that pathogens are able to flow into the clean side of your filter instead of getting clean. People usually solve this problem by putting the sawyer filter in a baggie and keeping it close to their body at all times during cold temps (e.g. in an interior pocket of their jacket, or tucked inside their sleeping bag with them. If you’re expecting to see sub-freezing temps all the time, it may be better to get a different type of filter that is more reliable at those temps. That said, most folks seem to really prefer these filters for the majority of what they’re doing, and are willing to put up with the hassle of keeping it warm.


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