Ten Crappy (but practical) Christmas Gifts for Hikers

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that quite a few hiking blogs are coming out with “Great Ideas for affordable Christmas Gifts” posts.


From Walmart with love.

You know the ones I’m talking about.

Useful items that you can pick up for $25, $50, etc. Many of them have affiliate
links so the blogger can make some extra cash via commissions (Note: I’ll be doing one of these myself next week. Watch out for it 😉 ).

Anyway, it got me thinking……………….

What if you want to go “Ebenezer Scrooge / it’s either this or I have to cancel my subscription to Netflix cheap”; but at the same time feel an inexplicable sense of obligation to give the giftee something that they will actually use out in the field?

With that objective in mind, here’s my list of:

10 Practical Hiker Gifts that cost under $5

1.  A box of Zip-locs – Pretty much everyone takes ziplocs backpacking. But let’s be honest, nothing says, “I don’t give a shit about you” like plastic bags for Christmas.

2.  Socks – For less than $5 you will have to go synthetic or even cotton. No Merino Wool or any of those other fancy blends. If possible try to make your choice seasonal appropriate. You know the ones with little christmas trees and snowmen on them……..maybe some reindeer as well.


Bandana………..7-Eleven mode.

3.  Bandana –  You can often find these multi-purpose backcountry gems at the bottom of outdoor store bargain bins.

Potential uses include: towel, water filter, neck protection, pot cleaner, tent drier, hanky, useful to wear on your face during sand storms, and; they can be very handy (so I’ve been told) if you are low on funds and decide to rob a convenience store.

4.  A six pack of Ramen A culinary staple for backpackers. If you really want to make an effort, select singles with a variety of flavours. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

5.  Toilet Paper – If they aren’t too picky in regards to softness/quality, $5 worth of bog roll can potentially last the giftee most of a multi-month thru hike…………at least when supplemented with the stuff they will pinch from hotels, restaurants, gas stations and classier public restrooms.

6.  Dr.Bronner’s Soap – Not only is it cheap, but it’s a none-too-subtle way of saying, “mate, you really need to work on your hygiene next year.”

7.  Tent Pegs – If you want to go fancy, for a fiver you can probably pick up one or two titanium stakes. Alternatively you can buy 6 to 8 of the Army Disposal Store variety.

8. Crazy/Super Glue – Useful for sleeping mat repairs, small holes in tents and at a pinch, even cuts and blisters.

9.  Baking Soda – Another excellent multi-purpose item that more hikers should know about. Potential uses include: toothpaste & deodorant substitute; cleaning pots & drink bottles; helps to remove foot odour from shoes; antacid for tummy rumblings, and; assists in relieving itching associated with insect bites, bee stings and poison ivy/oak.

10.  $5 Goodwill Gift card – Polyester Hawaiian-style shirts, sun dresses, baggy shorts………..the list of bargain basement hiker options are almost endless. Avoid socks, undies and bandanas. There’s cheap and there’s just plain tacky.

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Ten Crappy (but practical) Christmas Gifts for Hikers — 9 Comments

  1. #11…that I bought this week for myself as well as my nephew going to Philmont next year….a four-pack box of trash compactor bags for $3.89!

  2. My additions to this Most Awesome List: 3 Bic lighters (chosen by colour, favourite Sports Team, alma mater…)
    parachute cord (likewise in nifty colours)
    Stove fuel (kinda need to know what their chosen cooking product is, though. Canister? White gas? Methanol!)
    new ACE bandage (see: nifty colours)
    More Food! (especially Justin’s nut butters)

  3. Forget the ramen. A box of little Debbie’s Cosmic Brownies are the perfect stocking stuffer. I heard they are great for energy especially when climbing a mountain in crappy weather!

  4. Boy howdy thanks for a plethora of ingenious stocking stuffer ideas for my very active and funny family. Okay, I am going to add one to the list, my favorite water bottle, Smart Water. Fits great in the pack, mates with a Sawyer water filter, durable, and so lightweight. Yaaaaaay.

  5. This is great! Everybody thinks we are do difficult to shop for, but really we aren’t. I should add that Ziplocs are an american thing…I moved to Germany and married a German, and I am the only one carrying around ziplocs everywhere I go. But, I am still dependent on them and stock up on them in the U.S. (they are cheaper). Thanks for the brilliant post!

    BTW…I tried to post your link on my Facebook business page, but Facebook wouldn’t let me (I was responding to a comment), so I referenced it and told them to google it. I figured you might want to know about the mention, since it won’t show up in any of your tracking.

    • Hey Brittany,

      Thanks for the kind words. I used Ziplocs as an eponym for re-sealable plastic bags (like Kleenex for facial tissues), which to the best of my knowledge are pretty popular in quite a few places. .

      Not sure about the Facebook problem you mention, but thanks for the shout out.



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