Gift Guide: 17 Gift Ideas for Adventure Travelers

As the holidays approach, it’s time to start thinking about shopping for all the travelers in your life. If you know someone who loves the outdoors and adventure travel, today’s list will get you on your way to finding the perfect gift. Whether the traveler on your list is a hardcore outdoorsy type whose most at home in the wilderness or a novice hiker setting off on their first backcountry trip, these gadgets and gear ideas are sure to please the hiker, biker, climber or kayaker in your life.

The perfect tent

There are countless varieties of outdoor environments, and nearly as many options when it comes to tents.  While the sheer number of varieties can be overwhelming, it’s fairly easy to find the right tent for any trip.  Climate, size, weight and cost will be the main considerations; for hiking long distances a lightweight tent is key, while wet or windy climates require a more stable tent. A good all-around option is the MSR Hubba Hubba, one of the lightest backpacking tents on the market. The 2-person tent is lightweight, with a dry-entry vestibule, and plenty of stability in high winds.

Travel water purifier

The SteriPEN Traveler Water Purifier is perfect for purifying water from both mountain streams and the tap during your next international trip. With just one set of AA lithium batteries, you can purify 200 half-liter of servings of water during your adventure. Like other SteriPEN water filters, the Traveler uses UV light to purify water protecting you from over 99% of bacteria and viruses.

Field organizers

A field guide organizer is a great place to store all your maps, field logs, compass, and field tools, as well as your backcountry reference materials like ski safety cards and emergency reference materials. The Brooks-Range Field Organizer Package is lightweight, water resistant, and bright yellow for easy identification. With 6 internal pockets and holders for your tools, the Field Organizer will keep your maps, documents, and tools nicely organized the next time you are out on a huge expedition or weekend backpacking trip.

Hiking backpacks

A hiking backpack is one of the most important gear items for any adventure traveler. There are several different types – daypacks, multi-day packs, and extended trip packs – which range in size. Multi-day backpacks are generally 40 to 75 liters and are good for 2 to 4 days of backpacking.  If the traveler on your list will be taking longer trips, consider a pack of 80 liters or more.  One of the best multi-day packs on the market is the REI Flash 65 Pack, which was named the 2009 Editor’s Choice in Backpacker Magazine. The pack retails for less than $150 and can be configured to weigh less than two pounds.

Dry bags

I don’t think it is possible for an adventure traveler to ever have too many dry bags. With watertight seals, dry sacks protect your goods from water, plus they are great for organizing your gear and separating your clean clothes from your wet and dirty ones. Outdoor Products Ultimate Dry Sacks are perfect for backpacking, kayaking, and round-the-world traveling since they are extremely durable, come in a variety of sizes and colors, and weigh only ounces each.

Crushproof, freezeproof, & waterproof cameras

The Olympus Tough 8010 is designed specifically for the outdoor adventure traveler. These waterproof cameras are designed to be tough and perform well in extreme conditions. The Tough 8010 is built to withstand below freezing temps, 220 pounds of pressure, and falls from 6.6-feet high. With a special system of waterproof seals and gaskets, the 8010 can take photos as deep as 33-feet underwater.

Waterproof camera cases

Waterproof cameras are a bit steep, but you can still give the gift of waterproofing at a relatively inexpensive price. The Aquapac Compact Camera Case turns any digital camera (up to 8 inches in diameter) into an underwater camera. Waterproof to a depth of 15 feet, the Aquapac’s ultra-clear lens lets you take great underwater shots right through the case.

Protective electronics cases

Personal electronics and adventure travel typically don’t mix very well. Well luckily there are all sorts of cases out there that can protect your electronics from water, sand, dust, falls, and other catastrophes. LOKSAK bags are the only waterproof, sand-proof, and humidity proof re-sealable bags available. They are super light, ultra durable, and come in a variety of sizes so you can store anything you want kept dry like cash, passport, iPod, clothes, food, batteries, and more. Pelican also makes some great cases that are crushproof and water-resistant as well.

Helmet cameras

Helmet cameras are giving adventure travelers a new and easy way to record their worldwide adventures. Most wearable cameras are built to withstand recording in extreme environments like wind, rain, and snow, so they are prefect for recording skiing, mountain biking, rafting, surfing, and mountain climbing adventures. The Oregon Scientific ATC3K Action Cam is a great entry-level cam; it is easy to use and super tiny weighing it at only half a pound. The Contour HD 1080P is a high-end camera that shoots in 1080p high-definition video, but it will cost you.


Never underestimate the value of a good headlamp. Aside from more obvious uses, like keeping your hands free in the dark when outdoors, they can also come in handy indoors as well, such as when repacking in the middle of the night in a shared hostel room.  The Petzl Tikka Plus LED Headlamp offers five different lighting settings for use in any condition.

Lightweight daypacks

Every adventure traveler needs a super light hiking backpack. The REI Flash 18 is a versatile lightweight, mini daypack great for the day’s adventures, plus it doubles as a stuff sack when you turn it inside out. Best thing about the pack is that it only costs $30. On the top of my wish list this year is the built for comfort Osprey Talon 22. With plenty of pockets and a hydration compatible design, the Osprey 22 will carry everything you need for a serious day of adventure.


Surprise an adventure traveler with the latest newfangled multi-tool. The Leatherman New Wave Multi-Tool is sharper and bigger than ever before and it’s made from 100% stainless steel so it will last forever. Packed with necessary tools like a regular pliers, wirecutter, serrated knife, screwdriver, and most importantly bottle opener, the Leatherman New Wave can turn anyone into a MacGyver.


Handheld GPS

A handheld GPS is perfect for the backcountry traveler that wants to know where they are at all times. The best GPS units have a high battery life, extendable map coverage, and are small and lightweight. GPS units are a little on the spendy side, so you can always buy your adventure travel loving friend an iTunes gift card so they can just purchase a GPS iPhone App.

Adventure clothing

Gone are the heavy flannel and clunky hiking boots of outdoor gear’s past – the days of highly functional and styling outdoor clothing is upon us. Pretty much any outdoorsy person would be stoked to open up the gift of Patagonia under the tree. Patagonia makes a wide variety of durable outdoor clothing including fleece jackets, baselayers, and technical shirts for endurance sports.

Adventure medical kit

Do you worry about your adventure traveler out on the trail? Well get them a super light first aid kit so that they will never be without the survival basics. The Ultralight Adventure Medical Kit contains all the first aid basics and it is ideal for one to two day hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and climbing trips. The kit is so compact and light that it would be the perfect stocking stuffer for travelers too.

Expedition watch

Typically sports watches cost a small fortune, but the Timex Expedition WS4 Watch is affordable at just under $150. An altimeter, barometer, compass, and thermometer provide all the necessary functions and a weather condition forecast warns of upcoming storms. The watch is pretty large so it is probably not the best choice for women. Ladies might like the Suunto Lumi Sportif Multifunction Watch, it’s functional yet feminine.

Gift cards

If all else fails, you can always get your adventure traveler a gift card to their favorite outdoor store. I highly recommend gift cards from REI,, or Eastern Mountain Sports. You can find every type of outdoor gear and apparel at all these stores and use the gift cards online.

What item of adventure travel gear tops your wish list? Check out more ideas for great travel gifts this holiday season: 

Photos by a-AndresF. TronchinD’Arcy Normanlatca, size8jeans