11 Gifts for Beginner Hikers

Curated expert Hannah Kaufman shares inspiration on what to gift the beginner hiker in your life.

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As the holidays approach, now is a great time to find the perfect gift for the beginner hiker in your life—or maybe even yourself! While gifts aren’t the only way to show your love, they are a great way to let someone know you think about them and appreciate them! If you have a beginner hiker in your life, or want to encourage someone to start hiking with you, check out this list for some awesome gift inspiration. These products are useful for every hiking experience and will absolutely come in handy on the trail.

1. Hiking Socks

Good hiking socks are crucial to being comfortable while moving and grooving on trails. On my first thru-hike, I forgot my good hiking socks at home and ended up hiking 22 miles in cotton socks. Cotton kills, and I got the worst blister. Good hiking socks keep you warm, will prevent blisters, and generally keep your feet happy. There are a variety of socks out there, ranging in fabrics to padding thickness. Darn Tough 1903 Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks is one of my go-to options, and I’m also a huge fan of the Darn Tough - Hiker 1/4 Socks. Darn Tough is a fan favorite brand for hiking socks. These are made of merino wool to regulate temperature, eliminate odor, and remove moisture. Plus, they have a lifetime guarantee and make products that are super durable.

2. Day Pack

A young child in a yellow jacket hiking with a small backpack
Photo by Daiga Ellaby

Beginner hikers will most likely start off with day hikes and slowly progress to overnight or multi-day trips. A well-fitting day pack with room to carry everything they need for the day is crucial in staying comfortable on trail. The Osprey HikeLite 26 Pack is a favorite for a quality day pack. It has an attached rain cover and a suspended mesh back panel to help carry the load and give some air flow to your back—aka no more sweaty backs. The Deuter Speed Lite 22 Pack is another wonderful option that has lots of pockets to organize everything you need. It is lightweight, easy to pack, and super functional. A well-fitting day pack will bring a smile to your face.

3. Water Filter

Water filters are great to carry whether you plan on using water sources to resupply your bottles or you didn’t bring enough water for the hike and need to refill at a stream. The Katadyn BeFree is my personal favorite water filter—it is super easy to use, takes about no time at all to fill up, and the water tastes like it came out of my tap at home. It comes in a 1L and a 3L option. Bringing some sort of water filter is a great safety precaution—you never know what will happen in the magical world of hiking. Here is a helpful article on how to choose a water filter for your trip. There are a bunch out there, so read up!

4. Headlamp

Headlamps are super handy. Whether you are hiking early in the morning or later at night, or the hike is taking you just a tad bit longer than you expected and the sun is starting to set, this hands-free Petzl Tikkina Headlamp will never not be useful! It is budget-friendly, comes in a few different colors, and has three different lighting modes. A headlamp isn’t only useful when hiking or camping. If the power goes out and you can’t find your flashlight or need a hands-free option, grab your headlamp instead!

5. Hand Warmers

A lady wearing mittens and covering her face up playfully with them
Photo by Dmitry Ratushny

Hand warmers are a hiking luxury item but so nice to have for colder nights or winter hikes. My hands are always cold, regardless of the temperature outside, so I keep packs of these in my car. If I start to feel a little cold, I will grab two and keep them in my hands or jacket pocket. If my hands are warm, my entire soul starts to warm up! This 10 pack is a great gift to give to the beginner hiker in your life.

Pro Tip: If I’m really cold, I will put on some gloves over the hand warmers! I also will use hand warmers on my feet or just throw them in my sleeping bag if I’m really cold. They are very versatile.

6. Lightweight Puffy

A lightweight nano puffy jacket is the ultimate hiker apparel. They pack down small, are ultralight, and keep you warm when the sun sets or temperatures drop. The Cotopaxi Fuego Down Hooded Jacket is my absolute favorite. (Here is the women’s, and here is the men’s.) Now this jacket is on the pricier side, but it is so worth it. I have not taken it off since purchasing it. The hood is a lovely added feature that will keep the back of your neck and ears warm. I always will have a puffy with me, even for those warm summer nights.

7. Trekking Poles

A woman hiking up a rocky slope with a backpack and trekking poles
Photo by Maridav

Trekking poles are somewhat controversial—people either love them or hate them. But they are so handy in keeping stress off your knees and ankle joints and help during really steep ascends or descends. The Black Diamond First Strike trekking poles are budget-friendly, lightweight, and fold down to a small size. Trekking poles are also really useful for any water crossings. I remember a hike I did with my cousin, where we encountered seven water crossings—I fell in every single time, but it was hot out so I wasn’t mad about it. However, trekking poles would’ve been really useful there.

8. Good Hiking Boots

Hiking boots are necessary to stay safe and comfortable (and happy) on a hike. The right-fitting shoe will prevent blisters, add arch support, keep your ankle safe, and help you hike farther and longer before your feet get tired. I use the Merrell Moab boots and I cannot recommend them enough. They are comfortable right out of the box and allow me to hike all day. I wore them when I hiked a mountain with a broken foot and they made all the difference. Spoiler alert: I got to the peak! For a good men’s hiking shoe I recommend the Keen Targee II Mids. They have great traction on the bottom and are excellent ankle stabilizers.

9. Hat

When I was young, my dad would always make me take a hat with me wherever I went. I hated it then but now I’m so thankful that he did. For winter hiking or hiking in cooler temperatures, the extra layer will help retain some body heat. The Turtle Fur Mr. Happy Hat is made of wool and acrylic, so you know your ears will stay toasty warm. Hats are also important to protect you from the sun. This Outdoor Research bucket hat is adorable and will get the job done. Pair your sun hut with sunscreen and sunglasses to avoid any burns.

10. A Hands-Free Dog Leash

If you plan on bringing a dog, a hands-free dog leash is a must. This one from Ruffwear is my favorite. It allows me to keep my hands free so I can grab my water or pick up my dog's waste without having to struggle with also holding the leash. Once you go hands free, holding a leash just seems like a waste of energy!

11. First Aid Kit

A green first aid kit box with a matching green lantern
Photo by Labezele

Last but definitely not least, a first aid kit. This one comes in a single, two-person, and family-size options. It is equipped with everything you may need while on a trail and helps you deal with any injury, from a simple blister to perhaps something more extreme. It is always good to be prepared, regardless of where you are going and how long you are hiking for. If you take anything away from this article, let it be that you should always have some sort of first aid kit with you whenever you head out onto a trail.

So whether you are just getting started, or have someone special in your life who is just starting to explore the great outdoors, these items will make time on trail comfortable and safer. The holidays are approaching and it is never too early to get the perfect gift for your friend, family member, special someone, or yourself. I personally love getting gifts for myself. But if you want to send any of these my way (please), I would be absolutely beside myself! Hit me up with any questions or if you want more gift suggestions!

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Written By
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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