The Christmas season may not be the ideal time for hiking and camping, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead to next summer. Why not be proactive and gift your friends or family with awesome gadgets to kick that next outdoor adventure up a few notches?
Even if you aren’t blessed with a fat wallet, there are still plenty of affordable gift ideas that don’t sacrifice utility or novelty. These emergency survival basics can make for great starting options, but here are a few niftier ideas that won’t break your bank account.
1. Water Purification
The LifeStraw is a remarkable piece of technology that lets you to stick your face in polluted waters and drink it down safely, all without having to rely on purification techniques that take hours or days. The LifeStraw Go makes it a hundred times more convenient to use.
Fill the bottle with dirty water and drink as thirsty. The straw filters out at least 99.9% of all waterborne parasites and bacteria, and does so without using chemicals like iodine or chlorine. The activated carbon filter helps eliminate most odors and tastes. The bottle itself is BPA-free and leakproof.
It’s fast, durable, and portable, making it an essential part of any outdoor activity emergency kit. The LifeStraw Go could be a life-saver for lost hikers and injured campers.
While the LifeStraw is excellent for portability and emergencies, it’s a self-contained system that’s only good for one person. A robust filtration system may be more desirable when you have many bottles to refill, as is the case when camping or hiking as a family or in a group.
That’s when the Sawyer Mini comes in handy. This lightweight miniature filtration setup can clean up to 100,000 gallons of water on a single filter, removing 99.9999% of all waterborne parasites and bacteria. The system can be used to fill the included water pouch or regular disposable water bottles. Just fill it up, attach the system, and drink.
Every camper should have at least one LED headlamp in their arsenal. Not only is it infinitely more flexible and convenient than a handheld flashlight, but it often has longer battery life and brighter lighting. It comes out on top in almost every way.
This headlamp by Black Diamond is insanely bright, offering 350 lumens in eight different lighting modes, including dimmer and strobe settings. It’s also extremely rugged with an IPX7 rating, which withstands up to 30 minutes of immersion at a 1-meter depth. Truly the best option for hikers and campers who like to push the outdoors to the extreme.
If you’re on a tight budget, this headlamp by Vitchelo is about as good as it gets in terms of price-for-performance. The 168-lumen light shines up to 360-feet ahead at night and lasts up to 12 hours on a full charge with three AAA batteries. It also has three settings: full strength, dimmed, and strobe for emergencies.
It has an IPX6 waterproof rating, so it can be used in the rain and survives being dropped in water as long as it’s fished out within a minute or so.
This camping lantern by MalloMe is incredible for the price. It provides 146 lumens of light in 360 degrees and runs on AA batteries for maximum convenience. Perfect for camping, whether for use as a reading light, a travel light, a tent light, or even to light the campsite. The lantern also collapses to about half size, making it easy to transport when needed.
This solar lantern by MPOWERD may seem like a gimmick, but it’s so much more than that. It’s made entirely of malleable plastic so it can be collapsed down to a 1-inch thick disc.
No batteries needed. Just leave the solar side in the sun to charge it up, inflate it when it gets dark, and press the button to turn it on. Lasts up to 24 hours on a full charge, and comes with four light settings: low, medium, high, and strobe.
4. Power Bank
Some campsites have charging stations, but not all of them do. And good luck finding an outlet when you’re deep along a hiking trail. A power bank acts as a backup battery for your important devices (e.g. smartphone), and this one by EasyAcc is rugged enough to withstand whatever outdoor stresses may come its way.
Its IPX7 rating allows it to survive up to 30 minutes in water, and its robust outer casing makes it weatherproof, dustproof, and shockproof. Its massive 20,000mAh capacity is enough to fully charge any smartphone from 0-100 about five to seven times. It even has a safety mechanism to prevent overcharging of your devices.
This power bank by RAVPower is a good budget alternative to the EasyAcc. It’s similarly weatherproof, dustproof, and shockproof, but only has an IPX6 waterproof rating, which means it can’t be fully immersed but survives water exposure for up to 3 minutes.
It has safety mechanisms to detect overcharging and short-circuiting, but only half as much charging capacity as the EasyAcc — but even so, that should be more than enough for a night or two of camping and/or hiking.
5. GPS Navigator
Unlike a car navigator, the Garmin eTrex 10 is a terrain navigator that tracks elevation as well as time and distance between waypoints. You can download trail maps and load them onto the device, making it perfect for hikers. Good handheld navigators under $100 are hard to come by, and this is pretty much the only one worth getting in its price range.
With its IPX7 waterproof rating, you can accidentally drop it into water and be completely fine. Note that this navigator supports both GPS and GLONASS navigation. If you aren’t sure what that is, see our write-up on the GPS alternative you never knew existed.
6. Bluetooth Speakers
Who doesn’t like a bit of music to liven up a campsite? These hefty speakers by AOMAIS can connect to any device using Bluetooth or a 3.5mm audio cable. Its powerful drivers produce a deep and resonant sound, and the entire thing is waterproof with an IPX7 rating. At 50 percent volume, it provides up to 30 hours of playback.
One cool thing about this device is that you can actually recharge other devices by connecting them to it. It works out great in case your smartphone unexpectedly dies, for instance. But it’s big, so don’t expect to carry it along with you on a hiking trail!
This nifty speaker device by VAVA is much smaller than the AOMAIS GO, and therefore more practical for hikers versus campers. Thanks to its weatherproof, dustproof, shockproof, and IPX6 waterproof casing, you can take it with you everywhere without fear of damage.
When playing music at 80 percent volume, this device lasts up to 24 hours. It lacks the recharging capability of the AOMAIS GO, but at nearly half the price, it’s a reasonable trade-off to make. The included carabiner lets you clip it to a belt or backpack and go hands-free.
7. Portable Cooking
It’s nice being able to cook camp meals over an actual campfire, but for those times when convenience is more important than the authentic experience, the Coleman Fold N Go Grill provides exactly what you need in no time at all.
This quick-setup grill requires one 16.4-ounce propane canister to provide 3.5 hours of cooking, adjustable up to 6,000 BTUs of heat. It’s compact enough to be portable yet durable enough to handle whatever you put on it. The lid closes for faster cooking, and the cooking surface is about 13 x 15 inches.
The cherry on top: removable grill pan and grease plate make for easy cleanup!
If you’re looking for something a bit more versatile than the Fold N Go Grill, the Coleman Fold N Go Stove may impress you more. The stove about equals the grill in size and is just as portable when folded, but provides two separate open-flame cooking areas that can each accommodate 12-inch pans.
Again, all you need is a 16.4-ounce propane canister for fuel. The heat is much stronger as well, adjustable up to a whopping 10,000 BTUs. Both burners have heavy-duty grates that are easy to clean and will last you a long time.
Gift Ideas for Campers and Hikers: Final Thoughts
We’ve only scratched the surface. There are dozens of other awesome gift ideas for tech-savvy hikers and campers out there. If you aren’t happy with the above selections, at least you can use them to point you towards something you will like.
What other gift ideas do you have? If you’re an avid hiker or camper, what sorts of techy gifts would you love to receive? Share with us in the comments below!