So, it’s the holidays. That means for many, it’s gift-giving season. An outdoors lover seems to have a never-ending quiver of gear, so it can be intimidating to contribute meaningfully to their collection. The key is to hone in on quality, quirkiness, and applicability in one fell swoop.
Here are some of our favorite finds on Amazon — we’ve focused on items tailored for hikers, campers, and backpackers. But we’ve also provided some pro tips on how to find other choice outdoor gear through Amazon at the bottom. And, we provided options for beginners as well as people who have “all the gear” already.
The Best Backpacking Gear Available on Amazon
I own two pairs of the Tifosi Swank sunglasses (30 bucks) and they float perpetually throughout my gear bags. Their quality and durability for their price are pretty stellar, although I have noticed some delam of the tortoiseshell graphic on the arms over time. Their polycarbonate lenses and Grilamid TR-90 keep the frames light, and they provide ample coverage of the eyes for spring skiing or a quick rip on a mountain bike.
Best for: The Perpetual Sunglasses-Misplacer
Canned seafood. Yep. These smoked mussels had a viral moment on TikTok last year, but outside of the limelight they hold their own for every foodie and camp cook out there. They swing in at a great price point. They require no hassle, no cooking.
As far as a small gift is concerned, they’re definitely a little weird to gift, which makes them an even better choice. Not a fan of mussels? Patagonia has a full pantry stock of great food gifts for your favorite camp kitchen hero — from soup to snacks to wine.
Best for: Camp Kitchen Aficionado
I never thought I would actually like a backpacking pillow. They seem like an extravagant purchase, but the NEMO Fillo changed my mind. The Fillo combines a layer of foam with an inflatable sleeping-pad-style sack, which means that your head is cradled in against the inflated piece, instead of bouncing off of it. I have taken this pillow on airplanes and conveniently stuffed it in my carry-on. Light enough for a short backpacking trip and convenient enough to take with you for train, plane, or bus travel, this gift is a no-brainer for someone frequently on the move.
Best for: World Traveler
Really? Crocs? Yes. Crocs. Like it or not, Crocs are a staple camp shoe, and glitter clogs are an obvious choice (for some). Crocs are very lightweight, durable, breathable, easy to clean, and easy to slip on and off. Does your adventure buddy already have a pair of Crocs (likely worn down and chewed up)? No worries, I bet they don’t have glitter Crocs.
Best for: The Fashion Police
OK, I’ll admit that this isn’t a sexy gift. But, a sleeping bag liner is a stellar addition to add some warmth and potentially increase the life of your sleeping bag. I’ve had my Reactor Insulated liner ($75) for years. It is my go-to for chillier nights and is also great for hostel and plane travel as an extra, small blanket.
Best for: The Practical Adventurer
Another tried-and-true companion. Gifting a PocketRocket ($85) is an especially great choice for folks who are building out their first backpacking kit. This MSR stove is the OG: small, simple to use, and reliable. Stick with the MSR for their repairability and warranty package. And if you want to add something on, try MSR’s uber-helpful side tools: a strike igniter or piezo igniter, pot lifter, or my favorite, the tool spoon.
Best for: Those still building their go-to kit
Leatherman Signal 19-in-1 Multitool
And for the survivalist or handyman, gifting a Leatherman is a no-brainer. Go for the Signal model ($140) multitool if you are looking for attachments like a tent-stake hammer and firestarter. For a more ultralight alternative, the Skeletool packs in pliers, a bit driver, knife, and more in a 5-ounce package.
Best for: The Tinkerer
Mini tofu pieces, seaweed, and green onion — this soup mix has taken my camping meals (particularly my ramen) to the next level. If you don’t have an Asian market in your town, buying from Amazon is the next best option.
The mix lasts for countless meals and makes a ramen or rice meal feel and taste significantly heartier. With a bulk mix, you can combine with just water for a traditional cup of miso soup, or our preference, add to other build-your-own backpacking dishes.
Best for: DIY Budget Backpacker
The Deuter Aircontact Core ($250) is a great pack for backpackers and travelers alike. It’s the type of pack that has thoughtful inclusions like a removable hip belt, and versatile adjustment points to increase or decrease total volume, hence the 60 + 10L. You’ll find an option of the original 50+10L, 60+10: women’s-specific, and even a 65+10L size. When it comes to backpacking backpacks, this pack is on the heavier side, but it makes up for that in their sturdy build and versatility. Deuter is reliable (we’ve recently retested this pack to confirm) and it shows.
Best for: The Overseas Backpacker
For the special person on your gift list, either of these ultralight tent options will complete their backpacking kit. The NEMO Dragonfly ($420) and Big Agnes Tiger Wall ($450) tents are both popular, free-standing tent models best for the ultralight backpacker or bikepacker. For me, the NEMO Dragonfly has held up well to wet weather and wind along the Oregon Coast, and, while lightweight, still provides ample durability for knocking back the miles.
Best for: Big Spenders
How to Find Great Backpacking Gear on Amazon
All in all, picking out backpacking gear online can be difficult. If you can, opt for big-name brands with warranties. In this list, I decided to include the staple pieces of gear I use — and see frequently — on the trail.
If you are shopping for yourself, you may always go to the same place out of habit (a brand website, or maybe your local REI). But it’s worth keeping Amazon in mind if an item is harder to find elsewhere, sold out, and especially if Amazon has it on sale.
If you are shopping for someone else, opt for a staple piece of gear (think sunglasses and BUFFs) instead of novelty items. Having extra staple pieces is better than something that never gets unwrapped.
For beginner backpackers and campers, don’t get too hung up on specific brands, but do pay attention to material, weight, and weather ratings. If you are shopping on Amazon, read reviews and give the item a search online to see if it has been reviewed elsewhere — like on GearJunkie.
My biggest suggestion: gifting a thoughtful DIY camping meal kit for $15 is a lot nicer than a $50 tent that might break after one use. Use your budget to decide what to give. The small items matter just as much.
Outdoor Brands You Can Find on Amazon
Our favorite and quirky gear suggestions above are only a sliver of what’s offered. Believe it or not, Amazon is host to a ton of outdoor brands — hundreds! Whether you are frantically scouring the ‘net to find a beloved piece of gear that’s out of stock elsewhere, or just want to shop what’s on sale from brands you trust, Amazon can be a great resource.
Here are just a few of the outdoor brands available on Amazon:
- ALPS Mountaineering
- Camp Chef
- Gerber Gear
- Gregory Mountain Products
- GSI Outdoors
- Helly Hansen
- KEEN Footwear
- Kershaw Sporting Goods
- Mountain Hardwear
- Nite Ize
- Sea to Summit
- Sierra Designs
- SOG Knives
- The North Face
- UCO Outdoor