Some people travel in wolf packs, while others pride themselves in the lone wolf mentality. These solo hikers thrive when exploring alone in the backcountry and relish the challenge. Many look at solo adventures as a quest, as a way to ground themselves, and as a series of personal accomplishments.
But considering solo-camping gear is built quite differently and for extremely different purposes than equipment for car camping, do you ever wonder what hiking gifts buy for the solo adventurer in your life?
Male hikers are often focused on finding gear that fits into a very particular mindset. The gear is about prestige as well as about being high function. The more indestructible, or waterproof something is, the higher the appeal is.
Like many other male centric industries, getting the best gear offers bragging rights and has a certain sex appeal. Sound strange? Ask any ultra-light focused trekker and they will all tell you about how sexy their Jetboil personal cooking system is, how much it weighs, and how quickly it cooks their dinner.
These men are definitely not looking for a Coleman stove and a 4-man family style tent, which can often weigh just as much as an entire solo multi day pack. Hiking alone requires an entirely new focus, specifically on a few key features that facilitate ease of use weight. There are many hiking gear gifts out there with the solo-male hiker in mind.
Invest in Quality
Not surprisingly, investing in quality gear actually does make a huge difference when looking for hiking gear gifts that last. The tent found at the local hardware store, or the rain jacket found at a stereotypical department store will not hold up in the face of weather, wear and time. Camping gear may just be one of the few areas where the more expensive it is, the higher the quality.
For the companies selling these high-quality items, it is their end all and be all to make the most durable and resistant products on the market. They know that their name relies on it, and one misstep will be heard across the wilderness loving community.
Recognizable names in the industry, like Patagonia, REI, and Yeti, all invest heavily in research and development. This enables them to constantly be on the cusp of new technologies, new materials, and ideas that kick their products above the pack.
For example, Yeti is in the process of patenting a variety of ideas such as T-Rex Lid Latches, PermaFrost Insulation and a NeverFail Hinge system, all aimed at making their brand the most indestructible on the market.
Another bonus to investing in quality, is the superior warranties that often come along with it. After all, you can’t call something a NeverFail Hinge, if it’s prone to failure. REI and Patagonia tend offer full refunds or exchanges on any items that happened to break on the trail, no matter how long ago it was purchased.
But What Qualities to Should you Look for?
Primarily there are three main things to look for when considering what an experienced outdoor enthusiast may require when putting together his backpacking basics kit. They focus on keeping the body warm and dry and provide comfort during long days on the trail.
When you can’t rely on another body in the tent to keep your warm, it’s extremely important to invest in high quality, durable equipment. Being cold on the trail, while making camp, or worse yet, when trying to sleep are major buzz killers even for the experienced backcountry camper.
Being cold makes life much more difficult, and can be extremely dangerous under certain circumstances. It’s important to stay warm, in every situation.
Going hand-in-hand with having heat focused equipment, it is also important to have equipment suitable to the environment. This means, that for everyone who doesn’t live in a desert (and sometimes even those people), planning ahead and expecting wet conditions is important. Nothing dampens the mood more than waking up in a puddle, with nobody to blame but yourself for not bringing waterproof and repellent equipment.
Hiking, or exploring, on your own is a powerful experience, but being weighed down by Unnecessarily heavy equipment doesn’t have to be a part of this experience. Nowadays, with advancements in technology and materials, everything is getting lighter and lighter. A multi-day hiking trip with the right equipment means fewer curse words, fewer blisters, and less focus on all the items you wish you didn’t bring with you.
Products Built Specifically for Male Bodies
Finding equipment suitable for each and every body type can drastically change the experience of a backcountry trip. Just as often as women find it difficult to fit into unisex or male specific equipment dimensions, larger men can also find it hard to source quality equipment suitable for their larger stature.
Spending every night crammed into a tiny sleeping bag, falling off a small pad, and being unable to sit up fully in a tiny one-man tent, can cause even the strongest man to start to question his solo quest.
The good news is that many well-known companies, think Patagonia, REI and others, who recognize the variety of issues being faced by larger men in the backcountry. Larger, wider and more spacious equipment has been developed to fit each and every body shape, even the linebackers among us.
A side note, but an important note, most high-valued and respected outdoor companies also invest in the future of the planet in a variety of ways. For example, REI has a slew of high goals to reach in 2020. They aim to be zero-waste, climate neutral and continue to build environmentally friendly infrastructure. They also sponsor a host of stewardship activities which focus on maintaining and protecting the environment for all the hikers to come.
Patagonia is also dedicated to the environment, in particular through their material and product sourcing. Their goose-down all comes from sustainable and ethically sourced farms. And strangely, for a clothing company, it also is working on ways to get us to purchase fewer new items.
This means repairing or repurposing all lightly worn pieces of clothing, to make sure it lasts much longer than what is now considered normal. Why throw the baby out with the bathwater, if it can all be easily mended?
These points might not relate to the gift ideas themselves, but are extremely important to consider when sourcing products from outdoor companies. After all, they’ll only continue to be profitable if there is a protected environment for everyone to enjoy.
Hiking Gift Reviews
Co-op Quarter Dome 1 Tent
Dimensions: 90 x 40/33 (L x W head/foot) inches
Specific features: Lightweight, durable and long-lasting, vestibule for extra storage, and maximum living space.
Best use: 3-Season, Backpacking
One of the best one man tents on the market, offering space, storage and room to breathe. The Co-op Quarter Dome 1 Tent holds up well under heavy weather conditions, including being buried under a deep snowfall, or surviving the winds and rains of a torrential thunderstorm.
Even after a sweaty, humid summer night, there is room to breathe and a vent specifically built to limit condensation, something which most of us can appreciate after watching streams of condensation drip down the sides of our tents every morning.
This tent, despite being a one man tent, is comfortable and considered spacious, even for people over 6ft tall. It has space to sit up comfortably! As many enthusiasts have noted, it’s extremely lightweight, packs up small, and can take a thorough beating.
Related: With every tent, there comes a footprint and we don’t mean the ecological kind. Tents should always be purchased in-sync with their size specific footprints, and additional tarp to add that extra level of water and weather proof comfort.
REI Co-op Igneo Sleeping Bag
Dimensions: Regular Left 72 inches
Specific features: Lightweight, durable and long-lasting, vestibule for extra storage, and maximum living space.
Best use: 3-Season, water repellent down, water-resistant fabric.
Ever wake up in your tent, with a river flowing underneath it and instantly start to dread the coming morning and the cold hike ahead? Waking up in a puddle, soaking wet is considered a backpacker’s initiation, but it doesn’t need to be that way.
Finding a sleeping bag that actually repels water is vital for 3-Season outdoor enthusiasts, this is especially true for those of us living in wetter climates. The duck down mummy bag is rated to a European Norm, lower limit of comfort to 19 degrees fahrenheit and comes in both regular and long sizes to fit most bodies. Rest assured that even if you forget to drag yourself into your tent at night, you’ll wake up warm and near-dry come morning in the Co-op Igneo Sleeping Bag.
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Mattress
Dimensions: Large – 77″ x 25″
Specific features: Lightweight, thermal
Best use: 4-Season, Backpacking
If you camp in the winter or in the shoulder seasons, having a warm and reliable thermal sleeping pad is an essential requirement. Shelling out a little extra money initially will save you many sleepless nights thinking about how cold it is in your tent. No matter how warm your sleeping bag is, it’s inevitable that the chill from the ground will begin to seep through the down at some point.
Plan ahead, invest in a proper thermal mattress that doesn’t compromise on warmth. On top of being incredibly warm, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Mattress is structured to maintain its shape over a long period of time and built to support even larger campers who may have struggled in the past to stay on tiny mummy shaped pads.
Related: Unfortunately, as with all brands and all types of blow up mattresses, the wear and tear inflicted on them during backcountry use can potentially lead to leaks. Nothing could be worse than being three days into a seven day trek and waking up lying flat on the ground. Always be prepared and purchase an extra Therm-A-Rest repair kit.
Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Jacket
Specific features: Windproof, goose-down, 2 zippered pockets, packs small
Best use: Middle layer, 3-season, backpacking
Layer, layer, Layer! At least that’s why the experts advise when heading into the great outdoors. This is a great farm to factory goose down layer to add below your shell, and because the goose down is ethically traced, you can feel good about it. The polyester is completely recycled as well, keeping with Patagonia’s continued commitment to save the planet.
Specifically Patagonia Men’s Down Sweater Jacket comes with a few great additions, like the way you can neatly tuck the entire think into a small compact pocket, or the zippered hand-warmer specific pockets. Because it can be used as a standalone jacket, or as a warm layer, it’s extremely versatile as needed in the backcountry; a gift for every solo hiker to enjoy.
Related: If you want to be fully protected from the rain, be sure to also carry a shell with you like the M’s Torrentshell Pullover from Patagonia. It easily keeps you dry, even on the wettest days and packs up small for the sunny ones.
Yeti Tundra Cooler
Dimensions: 35-75 Quart
Specific features: One piece and durable construction, bear proof, unmatched ice-retention
Best use: Car camping, base camp, sport-fishing, hunting
We admit that this might not be something as lightweight, and back-packable as the other gifts on this list, but trust us – every man needs the perfect cooler. The Yeti Tundra Cooler is pretty much indestructible, keeps the goods cold, and will be waiting for you when you arrive back from you multi-day backpacking trip with cold beers inside.
This brand builds all its cooler to stand up to whatever outdoor enthusiasts may throw at it, this includes attacks from grizzly bears. Because of its extreme resistance to wildlife, it makes a great addition to any base camp not to mention giving people something to show off after the end to a great trip.
Jetboil MiniMo Personal Cooking System
Dimensions: 5” x 6”
Specific features: Improved simmer control, and handle for the bowl
Best use: Ultra-light Backpacking, multi-day and extended hiking trips
Time and time again, the Jetboil continues to woo the backpacking industry with its lightweight, yet powerful cooking ability. It one the 2015 Editor’s Choice from Backpacker, and the 2016 UK Outdoor Industry award for camping equipment. The Jetboil MiniMo has continued the company tradition of innovation, which means that many of the features that the original Jetboil was lacking have been improved in the MiniMo.
For instance, the stove has added simmer control and helped improve temperature regulation down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The Jetboil is completely packable into the bowl (which also serves as a mug), making it perfect for the solo hiker to carry with him over long distances. It barely weighs anything at all, so all you’ll need to worry about is carrying your food!
Related: The Jetboil systems work so well because their components are specifically designed to fit into each other, maximizing heat and cook time. This is why, adding the Jetboil Coffee Press, or Pot Support as additional components can only serve to increase product satisfaction.
Exped Lightning 45 Pack – Men’s
Dimensions: Adjustable 28.3 × 12.6 × 9.8 in
Specific features: Lightweight, suspension system, water-resistant
Best use: Alpine, Expedition, Trekking/Backpacking
Finally, after reviewing a series of warm, waterproof and extremely package gift ideas, Exped Lightning 45 Pack is the perfect idea to fit them all inside. Its specific design using roll-top closure ensures it remains water-resistant even during the worst weather.
Despite being only 45 L, it is extremely adjustable for all body shapes and sizes, even the bodybuilders out there. Unlike many multi-day packs it conveniently includes a suspension system, and a a way to compress the contents. Seriously, why don’t other packs allow you to compress your bulky clothing after packing it up?
Related: Considering everything else on our list is focusing on keeping you warm and dry, we highly recommend also purchasing the Exped Raincover to triple-confirm your stuff stays tinder dry on the trail.
So have you found your gift?
Adding even one of these items to your gift list for the solo adventurer in your life will be sure to not only improve his camping experience, but likely make sure he invites you on the next one! Each of the items focuses on staying warm, staying dry and nearly all of them focus on being easily portable during longer expeditions.
While the Yeti Cooler may not be able to tag along on multi-day trekking experiences, it will at least stay strong as basecamp, warding off any attempts by wild animals to steal your well deserved dinner and beer.
So which hiking presents are you planning to give? Have you found our gift guide useful? Feel free to let us know in the comments.