There’s still time to get holiday gifts for the hikers in your life. I went through all of my newer clothing, gear and accessories and came up with my top picks for 2021, along with a short description of what I love about each item. Everything on this list is something I’ve purchased myself, other than one hat which was sent to me for a trial. Hope you find the perfect gifts for your loved ones!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links (among regular links) to products I own and like, or which I think you might like. This means that, at no extra cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Holiday Gifts: Clothing
Lily Trotters Compression Socks and Sleeves
I’m a big fan of compression socks and sleeves. I first used them while running, as they are billed as items that increase blood oxygen and circulation, support your muscles, and hasten recovery. Not sure they helped me run faster or recover more quickly, but they did keep my legs warm! So then I tried them during some summer hikes a few years ago, and found they protected my legs against all of the scratches and scrapes you can get on the trail. Soon I was using them on every hike.
There was just one problem. Compression socks and sleeves, as their name implies, compress. They’re tight. They’re a little hard to pull on and pull off. Enter Lily Trotters. They’re crafted so that they’re much easier to get on and off than standard compression socks. They’re also far more stylish, coming in different colors and patterns, plus in a softer material than typical compression socks. The only downside, and it’s a small one, is that they should be washed on delicate and you can’t put them in the dryer. If you’re on a long backpacking trip and using laundromats, that can be a little problematic. On the other hand, if you hike with two pairs, you should be fine!
TrailHeads Fleece Ponytail Hat
I have a small head, so you’d think that hats would easily stay on my head. Nope! They’re always inching their way up, exposing my ears. Even headbands do this. I’d given up on finding anything good. And then I was asked to try TrailHeads’ ponytail hat, which has become my absolute favorite.
First, there’s a slit in back for your ponytail. But that’s actually a minor consideration. This hat is thick and warm, and features drop-down ear flaps for more protection. It also has a brim, which is a brilliant addition, as most winter hats don’t have them. And while it does inch up a little bit – I’m not gonna lie – it’s nowhere near as much as all of the other hats I have. The hat even comes with four ponytail holders, an extra bonus.
I hope one day they’ll make a lighter version. This hat is amazing in cold weather – perfect for those of us living in the Upper Midwest. But it’s a little too warm to wear in the spring and fall.
Seirus Windproof and Weatherproof Gloves
I have Raynaud’s phenomenon, a circulatory condition where my fingers and toes turn white and numb with the slightest exposure to the cold. It can take ages for them to thaw out, especially my fingers. I carry handwarmers with me most of the year, and often wear two pairs of mittens, or a pair of gloves with mittens over them (and the handwarmers).
A few weeks ago, I bought a pair of Seirus gloves. They’re billed as windproof and weatherproof. Now, I’ve only worn them a handful (no pun intended) of times. Yet I’m liking what I’m seeing (or should I say feeling!). They’re definitely warmer than any other pair of gloves I’ve owned. While my Raynaud’s has still flared up while wearing them, it’s been much less intense than in any of my other gloves or mittens. The downside: They’re snug-fitting and harder to get on/off than the others. Still, they’re definitely worth it! A huge thumbs up.
Holiday Gifts: Gear + Equipment
Sea-to-Summit Sleeping Bag Liner
I thru-hiked the Potomac Heritage Trail (PHT) in September, then did a week on the Kekekabic Trail in October. It was often muggy and in the 70s F (21.1+ C) overnight on the PHT, but cold (30-40 F / -1.1-4.4 C) during my nights on the Kek. I sweat through far too many nights on the PHT, with my warm sleeping quilt. But then, while packing for the Kek, I found this Sea-to-Summit sleeping bag liner that I’d forgotten I’d purchased.
The liner would have been a perfect substitute for the quilt during my PHT trek. On the Kek, I added it to my quilt and was toasty warm every night. The liner adds up to 20 F of warmth in your sleeping bag, and as a stand-alone is light and cozy. The only downside is that it’s somewhat heavy at 9.3 oz (263 g). And while it has its own stuff sack, it’s rather bulky. Still, I’d jettison something else before this.
Sea-to-Summit Collapsible Plate
Backpacking with a plate seemed silly to me. After all, I mostly eat freeze-dried backpacker meals, which you eat out of the pouch. But I bought this plate on a whim and found it’s actually quite useful. I first used it while hiking the Natchez Trace. I was car-camping, not backpacking, so the extra weight wasn’t an issue. Since I love to have salads with dinner – something I can do while car-camping – I used this plate for my salads, then ate my freeze-dried meals from the pouch.
While backpacking on the PHT and Kek, I didn’t have salads. But I’ve started dehydrating some of my own meals, and used the plate for those. It also came in handy in the mornings. I could set my Pop Tarts and coffee mug in the plate, which has a firm bottom, and not worry about my coffee spilling.
Anker Portable Battery Charger
I’ve tried various battery chargers over the years for my phones, and the best by far come from Anker. The model I’m linking to here is the closest to the (older) one I have, that can fully charge my iPhone 12 five times. That’s enough to allow me several days of backpacking before I need to hit a town to recharge it. There are newer chargers out that that are cordless and attach to the back of your phone. If they’re Anker, they’re probably great quality. And they may be lighter than the one I have. But I’m only recommending products I’ve tried. And this one is great.
Excalibur Food Dehydrator
Never say never. I swore I’d never backpack or camp, and now I do (and love) both. I swore I’d never start dehydrating my own meals, but I’ve started doing just that. I received this Excalibur dehydrator for Christmas 2020 and so far it works like a charm. I’m not that experienced yet; so far I’ve only dehydrated some fruit, veggies, pasta and yogurt. But I love it.
Excalibur is a top name in dehydrators. I was afraid that if I tried a small, cheap version that wasn’t awesome from the start, I’d be discouraged. So I splurged on one of the better Excalibur models that comes with a timer and nine trays. It’s been super easy (and fun) to use, and I look forward to experimenting with many more foods in 2022.
Check Out These Items, Too
Here’s a list of some of my other favorite hiking items in case you need more ideas.
Enlightened Equipment sleeping quilt