Official Hiker Trash Gift Guide: 35 Things Thru-Hikers Actually Want!

Bennett Fisher
Hiker Trash Gift Guide Thru Hikers

Alright, so you are tasked with finding a gift for someone who is planning an incredibly spectacular adventure where every ounce counts; as my mom would say, hikers aren't picky but simply know what they like ...
what could go wrong?

Here’s the deal, skip the Big Three (pack, shelter, sleep system) unless your thru-hiker gave you a list with specifics and details; instead, present them with what will turn out to be surprisingly thoughtful and downright practical gifts ... ya know, the things they'll actually take, use, continue to carry, and really come to appreciate.  


  1. McDonald’s Gift Card - Starting out strong with number one. No matter the thru-hike, there will be a Golden Arches in town — with a cheap quantity-over-quality meal to be had. When you gift $20, you’re really gifting 20 cheeseburgers! And, heck, you may even end up funding a Mcdonald’s Challenge, where a hiker does an entire resupply on Mcdonald's menu items alone.

  2. Wool Socks - We honestly absolutely love socks. The fancy kind that lasts forever. A new pair of socks during a thru-hike is like a hug from our loved ones we are missing back home. Crowd favorites include Darn Tough, Point6, Injinji and Cloudline.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  3. Tiny Pocket Knife - After around 8,000 miles of backpacking, this 0.27oz Derma-Safe folding knife is now my favorite trail knife, and at such an affordable price tag ($2.25), it's easy to order and let them try it out.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  4. Absolutely Nothing - When in doubt don't just get them something out of the blue, nothing is a lot lighter than something that your hiker would feel guilty for not taking. Ask your thru-hiker and see if they have any wish list items you could score for them. 

  5. A 1oz sauce bottle - It's super light, it's very affordable, and there are so many uses. This bottle will enable your hiker to carry their favorite hot sauce, Dr. Bronner's soap, olive oil, or hand sanitizer. It really is a do it all piece of gear that your hiker can find the perfect use for. There are several size options but smaller is lighter so start with a 1oz or 2oz bottle.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  6. A Rawlogy Massage Ball - This is an incredible piece of gear that can relieve tight muscles after a long day. Trust me, these will be all over the trails in the years to come. Super light, very practical, and easily shareable.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  7. A Year's Worth of Trail Shoes - Want to win gift of the year? Write this down on a handmade card with photos of Altras, Topos and Salomons all over it, and they may actually jump up and cheer out loud for joy even perhaps tearing up. Trail shoes add up and really hurt a thru-hike budget. This gift will probably run you $550 to $850 due to most hikes requiring 4 to 6 pairs of shoes. Let them pick out the shoes themselves and purchase them as they go. Then you can take pride knowing you supported them literally every single step of their journey.

  8. Offer to Store All of their Belongings for Free!!! - If they are moving out of their apartment or selling their house for the hike and you have the space, the relief this gift will give your hiker is huge.

  9. A Garage Grown Gear Gift Card - The gift that keeps on giving, you get to support a small business that supports small business, and then your hiker gets to represent small businesses on the trail. Win, win, win!

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  10. A Shoulder Strap Water Bottle Pocket - Few things are worse than not being able to reach your water without taking off your pack. Water bottle pockets can also double as storage for phones, snacks, and sun creams.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  11. The Commitment to Ship Them Resupply Boxes - These boxes will mostly be full of gushers, those fancy socks mentioned earlier, mini shampoo and conditioners, single Tide pods for town day laundry, and baked goods.Including little notes of encouragement is also highly recommended. Taking on this task isn’t for the faint of heart, which is also what makes it such an incredibly appreciated gift.

  12. A Post-Trail Tattoo - This trip will change their life and they will probably want to visually be reminded of it forever. 

  13. Framed Photo - If they just finished a thru-hike, giving them a high-quality framed photo of them accomplishing their dream will mean a lot. Including their trail name and start and finish dates are also good ideas.

  14. Hiker Trash Vogue - What better way to prepare them for a hike than diving headfirst into the pages of HTV and drowning in the beauty that is hiker trash.

  15. A Kula Cloth - For the folks that squat by a tree, a technical pee cloth is a necessity. (Writer’s note: re-read the previous sentence as a rhyme. This will make the Kula Cloth team laugh. Very on-brand for them.)

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  16. The Deuce of Spades - Number 2 in the bathroom section for a reason, this ultralight trowel will make short work of any cathole.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  17. Sea to Summit Aeros pillow - Best pillow I have used backpacking and it's incredibly lightweight.

  18. Enlightened Equipment Mittens - These mittens have a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than any other gloves I have experienced, and at one point or another they will be useful on a thru-hike.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  19. A Portable Power Bank - Because when a phone doubles as a camera, navigation system and entertainment device, something has to keep the juice flowing. Your hiker might also use it to light up their rechargeable headlamp. 

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  20. Your 100% Support - Even if it sounds absolutely crazy that your loved one wants to pursue this dream, supporting them is the best way to show how much you care.

  21. The Jolly Gear Triple Crown Button Down Sun Hoodie -  A full button down sun shirt with a hood in fun patterns and colors. AKA the greatest sun shirt ever made by a thru-hiker for other thru-hikers to enjoy. (wink, wink … writer’s full disclosure: this is my very own small business!)

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  22. An Audible and/ or Spotify Subscription - Spending months walking in the woods allows for a lot of down time, and while being stuck in your own head is nice and all, it's good to have a distraction from time to time. Funding a way to listen to new music, podcasts and audiobooks is a wonderful way to support your hiker on a tough climb or long day.

  23. A List of your Favorite Podcasts - On that note, sharing podcasts that you enjoy is a simple gift that will provide hours of entertainment.

  24. Chafing Cream - Even though we all hope they won’t need it ... they will. And when they do they will be grateful for you. 

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  25. Any normal item, but in the smallest size - For example, toenail clippers, tweezers, toothbrush, sharpie for postcards, floss, hand sanitizer, Neosporin, watch, thermometer, lighter, etc.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  26. A Good Hair Tie. An often overlooked item, but a good hair tie that lasts a long time is special. Try the Goody Athletique Sweat Stretch Elastics.

  27. FarOut App - Formerly Guthook, this app has every major thru-hiking map on it and is very useful while out on trail.

  28. Insoles - A great addition to any trail shoe, I recommend the Superfeet Trailblazer Insole myself.  

  29. Ursack - This is a bear-resistant bag that is perfect for CDT hikers, and a good addition to other trails as well. If not for the grizzlies in Montana, then use it for the mice in an AT shelter.

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  30. A Bottle of Olive Oil - Highest calorie-to-weight ratio out there and olive oil can be added to any dinner on trail. We don't want them to come home all skin and bones after all, right?!? Also consider dropping some surprise olive oil packets in their resupply boxes. 

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  31. Ultralight Wallet - An improvement from the classic plastic baggie, a good hiker wallet lasts the entire trail and looks sharp.

  32. A Trash Compactor Bag - Less expensive than a rain cover for their pack, a trash bag does a surprisingly good job at keeping gear dry. Want to get fancy? Nylofume bags are a popular upgrade weighing in at the whopping price of $2.24 for one.  

    Thru-Hiker Gift Guide

  33. Ziploc Bags - A few high-quality Ziploc bags will make your thru-hiker very excited. Similar to how kids end up loving the cardboard box a gift came in, to a thru-hiker Ziploc bags represent endless possibilities. It can be a lighter version of a dry bag, an organizer, a bag for all your candy, a ditty bag, or used for anything else that needs to be contained. We actually are easy to please, come to think of it!

  34. Gift Card for a Post-Trail Massage - After months of physical exercise and thousands of miles on the body, it's time for an oil change and tire rotation, and golly do they deserve it.

  35. Bath and Body Works Hand Sanitizer - Your thru-hiker will smell like a day hiker and all the other thru-hikers will turn their heads... I recommend midnight pomegranate if that is still a scent they sell... It's been awhile since my bottle was full on the PCT in 2017, but I remember when it was. Trust me, it is something your hiker will enjoy but would never spend money on themselves. I mean look at me, I’m still talking about it 4 years later. 

I hope that this guide helps you narrow down the best gifts for your thru-hiker. Have fun and be creative! Any gift given with thoughtful love and a smile will mean a lot to your hiker. Don't be afraid to ask them what they want, to try and find the perfect item to help them achieve their hike!

-Bennett Fisher

Thru Hiker and Founder of Jolly Gear

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