Ahoy amigos! It’s that time of the year once more – the time to treat your favourite traveller to something special… The only problem? You’re not quite sure what are good gifts for backpackers.
“Will they like it?”
“Will they need it?”
“Will it save their life when they come face to face with angry bears, difficult treks or Delhi belly?”
“What on earth is a good travelling gift for someone who is always on the road, scrambling up mountains, partying in Thailand and lazing upon palm-fringed beaches?”
Well, probably not a flat-screen TV…
Luckily, there are a ton of great backpacking gifts for those who travel a lot. From nifty little trinkets to essential items to an actual backpack (you know, the thing they live out of), there’s a lot to choose from.
I’ve popped together a list of some of the best things in my own bag and I think that these would make some excellent gift ideas for backpackers!
The 45 Best Gifts for Backpackers
So what do all of those security guards see when they run my bag through the X-Ray machine? Well here’s a good look. Take these as inspiration for own backpacking gift ideas when shopping for that special someone.
1. Active Roots Parachute Hammock
Hammocks make an excellent gift for travellers, campers, hikers and outdoorsy folks who want to watch the stars and save some money on accommodation costs, whilst they drift off. Hammocks are sexy, lightweight, fun to sleep in and offer you a ton of options for where to spend the night.
There’s a lot of portable hammock options out there but if you don’t want to spend so much, I recommend getting a parachute hammock; they are super light, strong and durable. Active Roots hammocks are some of the best value parachute hammocks on the market and 10% of Active Root’s profits go towards supporting noble causes such as the Elephant Sanctuary in Chiang Mai.
Yes, the backpacker in your life probably needs some sort of backpack. We don’t recommend just any old backpack though – the Nomatic Travel Bag is the absolutely best piece of kit we’ve found on the market.
We’ve been testing it for years now (not because we have to, we actually travel with it on every trip)! This bag is perfect for the minimalist backpacker who wants to fit all their travel necessities in a sleek carryon. You can read more of our thoughts in the full review.
We may as well get this one out of the way, too. We know there isn’t just one backpack to fit everyone’s travel style, so we recommend the Tortuga Outbreaker as a stylish carry-on. Ideally, it’ll make a great companion to accompany a larger bag for those who travel a little heavier, or frequent cold destinations.
Its organization is impeccable and functions well enough as a stand-alone bag if you only need a few changes of clothes at a time. We’ve written a lot more about this bag in the full review.
Keeping a journal is one of the best things to do when traveling. The Nomatic travel planner is our favorite, it works great for digital nomads and organized backpackers with it’s lay flat pages and calendar. Keep on track with your goals, travels and save those precious memories, especially the ones you do not want to share online.
5. Water Bottle
Every backpacker should hit the road with a water bottle – it’ll save you money and help reduce your plastic footprint on our amazing planet. Active Roots 25 OZ Travel Bottles are tough, lightweight and maintain the temperature of your beverage – so you can enjoy a cold red bull, or a hot coffee, no matter where you are.
For every Active Roots water bottle sold, we also donate 10% to PlasticOceans.org – an awesome initiative aimed at educating people on the risk of single use plastic and helping to clean up our oceans.
6. Foldable Hat
This crush resistant foldable hat can fit in your back pocket! Great for outdoor activites, it comes in four colors and has quick-dry, ultra-breathable material and tuck-flap brim design.
Hand’s down, this is a must-have for any nomad, backpacker, hiker, adventurer or regular traveller. You can conceal up to twenty folded notes inside the zipped inner-facing part of the security belt and, since the belt clasp is not metal, you can wear this belt through an airport scanner without setting it off.
This is my favourite travel accessory and is vital for keeping my cash and Rizla papers safe when I am backpacking. I never travel without it. Buy it for the adventurer in your life and they are sure to be pretty stoked that they have the perfect way to hide their emergency money.
8. Head Torch
I never travel without a head torch. Whether you are drunkenly rolling around your tent, descending into the depths of the earth or simply walking home in the dark, every backpacker should have a torch and this makes a great gift for travellers.
Petzl makes some of the best head torches in the business; the Petzel Tikka is my favourite as it has a red light setting meaning you can use it without insects being attracted to your forehead. One of the greatest gifts for backpackers who love adventure.
This lightweight, waterproof, super compact pocket blanket is a must for all adventures. Doubling up as an emergency poncho, this picnic blanket is worth its weight in gold when chilling, or camping, on the beach.
This tear-resistant blanket has rustproof metal ground stakes and sand pocket corners to keep blanket secure on beaches.
The ultimate in adventure sunnies, these sunglasses are pretty much bulletproof and are very affordable. Best of all, you can design your own pair online out of thousands of possible combinations making these ones of the best gifts for backpackers around! Want more info, check out our in-depth review on these epic sunglasses.
11. Scratch Map
What’s cooler than a map? A scratch map is an ideal gift for backpackers who have just returned from their adventures and want to keep track of where they have been in the world… It can also do wonders for post travel blues.
12. Vango Sabre Tent
The gold-standard of affordable adventure tents comes from Vango. If you have somebody you truly god-damn love and want to splash out on this is a great gift for travellers in your life.
This a two people tent with a part mesh inner door for better ventilation. Perfect if you feel claustrophobic in tents and it keeps the bugs out.
Check out this post on the best tents to take backpacking for more inspiration.
Slip into your adventure in style with these bohemian elephant pants, suitable for raves, yoga, chilling out on the beach and endless Instagram selfies. Best of all, a percentage of all sales goes towards supporting the endangered Asian elephant at the Laos conservation centre! 🙂
For travellers who think they are the next James Bond, this is a fun gift that can add a little class and grace to even the most bedraggled of backpackers!
Whenever you are hitting the road, pack a microfibre towel for the journey. No matter if you are camping, hitching or partying hard, you should always have a super fast drying towel to keep you clean on the road.
The Active Roots microfibre travel towel is one of the best value towels around, comes in multiple funky colours and, best of all, a percentage of all profits made by Active Roots go back to noble causes such as supporting Luang Prabang’s elephant sanctuary.
A great gift for travellers who tend to head off into the wilds, I’ve had mine for nearly ten years now and it has never broken; it’s a strong piece of kit built to last and if I had to take just one thing with me to a desert island, it would be this. The carabiner belt clip doubles up as a bottle opener which is endlessly cool.
Any backpacker will tell you that we can be a pretty spontaneous lot. But as broke backpackers, you need to have at least some of your shit sorted before you hit the road. If you’re pressed on time, the best way to explore a city is with the help of some experts.
Marco Polo are my go-to guidebook when I rock up in a city and have just a couple of days to get to grips with everything to do. Packed to bursting with practical info, travel tips, culture notes and plenty of lesser known attractions, this is the guide you want to pack.
If you’re keen to up your photo game but don’t want to splash out on (or carry around!) a massive camera, I strongly recommend Pixter Camera lenses. I’ve been messing around with mine for a couple of months now and they have turned my average photos into something a lot more special.
The best thing about these camera lenses, they are surprisingly affordable! I recommend the super fisheye lens.
19. Bose Headphones
For backpackers who love their music, a decent pair of headphones can make a world of difference when travelling the world. It’s time to toss your cheap pair of shitty headphones out (recycle them) and rock to something with a much clearer sound… The Bose Sound support headphones pack a hell of a punch for the price.
We haven’t tried this out yet so it’s hard to say if it’s as good as it looks but holy shit! – A fingerprint padlock?! The future is here!
Supposedly, once fully charged, the padlock can be used for up to two years and perform 30,000 unlocks… That’s a ton of unlocks. This is a product which every drunken backpacker will want at some point on their adventures….
Nine years of travel tested tips, tricks and know-how! Everything you need to know to ditch your desk, hit the road and earn money as you travel around the world. Actionable advice and steps on planning, finances, where to go, making friends, staying safe, picking up work and building an online income – this is the bible for long term travel.
22. Travel Guitar
Travel guitars have come a looong way in recent years. They used to be flimsy, unreliable, or very expensive. Now things have changed for the better, as the best travel guitars are well built, sound great and are super affordable (by guitar standards). Believe me, this is the best gift you could ever get for a traveling musician.
Our highest recommendation for a travel guitar is the Martin Travel Guitar (pictured above), but if you are looking for some more music inspiration, check out our awesome guide to the top travel guitars.
I spend a lot of time in the Pakistani mountains, where electricity isn’t always guarunteed. No matter how many gadgets I have to keep myself entertained on that 14 hour bus ride, they are all rendered useless as soon as their batteries die. Thankfully, there are super lightweight, compact, and powerful as hell external batteries out there.
If possible try to get an external battery with multiple USB slots – being able to charge many things at once is very convenient. Some also come with a waterproof pouch!
I usually travel with a couple of portable batteries because, if the opportunity arises, they make a truly excellent gift for people you may meet living in the mountains. A must have in any backpacker’s checklist.
I am somewhat obsessed with Buffs, having a collection of half a dozen. It’s always worth having one on your wrist; I use them to cover tattoos from the sun and keep my mouth covered from dust when in smoggy Asian cities…
If you’re looking to inspire and educate your backpacking friends on why they should hit the road in the first place, check out Mike Huxley’s book on twenty reasons to backpack around the world.
Look, at the end of the day – a tent makes a cracking gift for backpackers who hitchhike or like to travel in a remote area, buy them any of the above and they should be happy. This is one of the best budget tents on the market.
It pretty much goes without saying that any budget traveller would die for a GoPro, even if they already have a camera. For those rather accident prone travellers, a durable and waterproof camera is pretty much the best backpacker gift ever.
You can pick up GoPros relatively cheap if you simply avoid buying the latest model. Still can’t find an affordable model though? Then check out our bargain guide to the best GoPro Alternatives.
28. Portable Speaker
Powerful, lightweight, water resistant and inexpensive, this little guy is amazing for sharing tunes with new friends from around the world. A great gift idea for men who travel.
#29 Grayl Geopress
Want to save the world and stay hydrated? Single-use plastic bottles are a huge threat to the oceans and planet – Be a part of the solution and invest in a filter water bottle.
The Grayl Geopress water bottle is the ONLY all-in-one filter water bottle setup you’ll need. We use it on our own adventures to purify often nasty looking water and it does a beautiful job – we have yet to get sick! This is what the whole Broke Backpacker team uses- in mountains, cities, jungles – we love it – it’s a total game changer.
The best part about this stove is it is absolutely TINY! Worried your backpacker pal isn’t getting enough nourishment on the road? Get them this so they can cook no matter what random places they wind up at.
I’ve cooked in deserts, on the side of the road and upon towering mountains in The Himalayas; my MSR pocket rocket is hands down one of the best bits of kit in my pack. Check out this post for a full breakdown on the best stoves to take backpacking.
The bible for travellers hitting the road for the first time and in need of some adventure inspiration on how to travel with no money. Jack Kerouac is the daddy of all backpackers and he writes like a dream.
Here are some other great books for some on-the-go reading.
Imagine being able to drink a cup of hot coffee in the middle of a thick snow or a cool refreshing drink in a blazing desert. This travel mug is also a thermos which can keep hot things hot and cold things cold, an amazing gift for backpackers!
A classic but a goodie, every backpacker should have a travel money belt. This one is RFID blocking meaning your card details can’t be swiped by pesky criminals!
The ultimate gift for travellers who think they are Indiana Jones… I’ve had mine for over eight years and it’s fantastic in hot or wet environments. If you’re heading into the jungle, it’s well worth having…
36. Garmin vívoactive Smartwatch
A smartwatch is a great gift for travellers who move around constantly. It has a range of apps for health and fitness, social networking and tons of fun entertainment apps – something to keep them occupied on arduous train journeys and long haul flights!
Hands down one of the cheapest gifts for backpackers on the list; if your buddy is travelling with a companion then this makes the perfect mini gift.
Do you have any idea how much extra weight a few books add? Way, way too much. Plus, for those picky readers out there, finding an engaging book at book exchanges in foreign countries can be a tricky game to play. The first time I hit the road, I had about a dozen books on me; it was nuts.
Fortunately, there’s now Kindle. Bonus points: throw in an Amazon gift voucher so we can buy ourselves a few books. If you’re in search of travel reading inspiration, check out the ultimate list of books to read on the road.
I never hit the road without a trusty knife, or two. I own over a dozen knives but the Bushcraft is hands down the best knife in my collection. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for a male traveller, a knife is always a good choice!
This T-shirt has 5 discreet pockets where you can hide your valuables. It is also a perfect gift idea for travellers and travelling photographers – you will never lose that sneaky lens cap again!
These electronic candles are a total god-damn game changer. When you’re camping out, enjoying a cheeky smoke beneath the stars or getting cosy with your camping buddy, these candles are awesome for setting up some ambience. They flicker convincingly, don’t blow out like normal candles and won’t set fire to your tent… They are also super cheap with a whole pack of 24 costing less than $10.
42. AR Toiletry Bag
Another backpacker favorite for staying organized is a hanging toiletry bag. It’s extremely helpful to have all of your accessories neatly gathered in one bag that you can hang for easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available. A well-organized bag is worth having whether you’re tree whilst camping or a hook in the wall – it helps to have quick access to all your stuff.
Get a pair of these really cool unisex gloves. They areanti-skid, waterproof, windproof and can be used on all touchscreen devices. One of the smartest gifts for backpackers.
What possible better gift you can give to somebody than the gift of experience? With a Tinggly Bucketlist Giftset, you can give the traveller in your life the experience of a lifetime from a huge range of options. The Giftset is essentially a voucher for them to go and have the experience of a lifetime!
45. Zipper Scarf
Don’t lose your money to a pickpocket! There are tons of ways to store valuables and goods while travelling but a travel scarf has to be the least obtrusive and the most classy.
The Active Roots Zipper Scarfis your run-of-the-mill infinity scarf but with a hidden pocket that’s big and sturdy enough for a night’s cash, your phone, a passport and (hell with it) some snacks too!easy accessibility, especially when counter space isn’t plentiful or even available.
It’s always worth having a daypack with you whenever you travel but often NOT worth carrying something bulky around. The Active Roots adventure daypack is hands down the best foldable day pack around, it comes with a water bottle holder, folds down super small yet provides plenty of space for your day-venture and is tough and sturdy.
I don’t know about you, but I find it near impossible to sleep whilst seated on planes, busses or mules as I just can’t get comfy. Well, this is where Allasleep comes in! Allasleep slots into your seat and helps you sleep. How? Well, it keeps the neck in a neutral position so that the head doesn’t tip sideways or forward and it ads a penumbra effect which promotes relaxation.
It has been approved by Occupational Therapists and will vastly improve the quality of your in-transit sleep! Zzzzzzz…
An adventure compass makes the perfect gift for backpackers still in touch with the old ways of exploring and with a bit of a romantic side. This particular one is truly gorgeous and looks a lot more expensive than it is, so makes an impressive budget gift for a backpacker. Robert Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken is engraved within.
If you’re constantly on the road like myself, insurance is the gift that keeps on giving… I’ve had to claim three times on my insurance over the last nine years of travelling and each time I’ve been thankful I had it sorted. One of the best gifts for backpackers too tight to buy their own insurance!
So there you have it, the ultimate list of gifts for backpackers. Now go make their day! Check out these posts for even more inspiration.
- Gift Ideas for the Climbers in Your Life
- Epic Camping Gift Ideas for Hikers and Adventurers
- The Ultimate Backpacking Packing List
- AER Backpack Review: Introducing the Travel Pack 2
Yay for transparency! The links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you buy anything, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to stuff I’ve actually used and never endorse crap. Your support helps me keep the site going.
Writer and hustler. Adventurer and vagabond. Master of the handstand pushup. Conqueror of mountains, survivor of deserts and crusader for cheap escapades. Will has been on the road for nine years, travelling to far-flung lands on a budget. Today, he runs a number of online ventures. He is passionate about teaching others how to ditch their desks, hit the road and achieve real freedom by earning money online. Currently, Will is based in Bali where he plans to open his first Tribal Hostel in 2019.