Perfect Christmas Gifts for Campers who Love/Live to Hike
This blog is written by Ross Butcher who has been a counselor and LifeWorks Leadership Development staff at Camp Westminster for 3 summers. Ross joined us from Camp America, a program that enables international staff to experience a cultural exchange at camps in the U.S.
Beyond clothes and shoes, this is the foremost essential for any hiker to have on the trails. For younger campers 10-20 liters will probably suffice, for teenagers 20-30 liters will be more appropriate. A good backpack will have chest and hip straps for longer hikes, water bottle holders, a rain cover and most importantly, will be super lightweight. More high-end bags will have back ventilation systems to make long hikes more comfortable, as well as space for a water bladder. Pick a good bag and soon enough, your backpack will become an extension of your body.
Some Choices (Price ascending to descending): Patagonia Nine Trails 28L, North Face Litus 22L, Osprey Hikelite 26L, Gregory Inertia 25L, North Face Borealis 28L, Mammut Creon Tour 28L, Kelty Redtail 27L, Deuter Speedlite 20L, REI Flash 22L
Wide Brimmed Hat
Wide brimmed hats offer not only the best aesthetic for your hike but also the best sun protection for your head and neck. Making for ultra-practical headwear as well as a much more comfortable pillow than a baseball cap during mid-afternoon hikes.
Some good brands who offer wide brimmed hats: The North Face, Outdoor Research, Columbia, Kuhl, REI
This offers up our young hikers an opportunity to make nature their own. A place for them to write thoughts, memories, ideas; a place to draw, sketch and to create; a place to talk to God; a place to externalize their inner experience of nature and to return to on cold winter nights in which hiking isn’t an option.
Rhodia do a great line of relatively hardy and varied notepads but any notepad will work as a nature journal, although some are advertised as specifically for this purpose. Campers can also purchase a journal in our Camp Store while they are at camp.
I bet my bottom dollar that you, or a close friend has once returned from an outdoor experience soaked to the bone with a valuable electronic device/paper item (probably money) which was rendered useless by the water. Dry bags are your solution to this. A lightweight essential for the clumsy hiker who has been prone to dropping their bag or falling into rivers/lakes. Being cheap and a source of regret instantly when accidents do happen as well as useful for lots of other things, our young hikers won’t mention them until they save a full nature journal and their expensive phone and camera!
Seatosummit do a huge range of dry bags, reasonably priced too, buying a set with multiple sizes is best practically and price wise.
This, as well as a backpack, is an on trail essential. Carrying at least 2 liters of water for each day of hiking is a requirement to be healthy. Bottles are good as they are light, Nalgene is the choice of CW staff, they are durable and come in a variety of designs, colors and bottlenecks (some even have our logo on them!!). Flasks are heavier however keep the drink inside colder, especially on baking hot Michigan Summer days, Hydro Flask products are light, and work well however aren’t super durable. Yeti products are very expensive however are almost bulletproof.
Spinoffs from water bottles – water bladders are good for longer hikes if your backpack is large enough to hold them, often getting the brand of bladder that your backpack is made by is the wisest choice.
‘Lifestraw’ produce a water bottle which will filter any water to standards cleaner than water which comes out of the tap, this could be a good choice if the routes you hike often follow rivers or go over lots of stream, so you can refill often. They’re also good as water from the ground tastes better than that out of the tap!
The jewel of anybody’s hiking equipment and the perfect lightweight, packable and comfy companion for your hikes. Hammocks are incredibly useful in forest, woods or any area in which two trees are nearby. Hammocks are also far more appealing prospect than a quick nap on the ground. Hammocks are also great for staying in scenic spots. On cold Northern nights though you may want to consider an under quilt however!
Good brands of Hammock are Grand Trunk and ENO – most CW staff opt for double nest!
Failing all other options, no hiker would complain with an enormous box of Clif bars, they have been known to sustain hikers in sticky situations for many hours, a couple never go amiss! Of course, the gift any camper would love to receive is the gift of camp! Consider giving the gift of a week or two this summer (or even a gift certificate to the camp store!) to your lifelong camper!