Gift Guide for the Backpacker

Backcountry backpacking and hiking is our favorite hobby. From multi-day treks through snow or desert, high altitude or at sea level, we’re always game for a hike. Throughout our many hikes on several continents, we’ve learned which gear is essential and adds flavor to our backpacking trips. Any friend of yours who loves hitting the trails will enjoy this GIFT GUIDE FOR THE BACKPACKER.

backpacker gifts for your favorite trekker

ready your body

FREE

Ryan and I put together a 2-week fitness program that can be done in less than 30-minutes a day. Works all the body groups needed for a multi-day trek. All at home without equipment. Comes with a fitness calendar, workout videos, and our best backpacking tips.

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track every detail with mapout

$5

This is our favorite phone app for our hikes (or any trip for that matter). You can record your daily mileage, access everything offline and off-the-grid, see your altitude, star places in advance, see hiking trails, and send/receive any trips between friends and family. Worth the $5.

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ryan’s favorite backpack

$260

Ryan and I both wear Osprey AG (anti-gravity) packs while we trek. Ryan’s bag is a 65L backpack which, when packed with our tent, sleeping bag, mats, cook gear, etc., sets us up for a comfortable 7-day hike. At 6’1″ Ryan wears a size Medium.

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alex’s favorite backpack

$240

Alex carries a 50L Osprey backpack while trekking. This size, when paired with Ryan’s 65L, allows us to trek for around a week unsupported. For longer treks, you can upgrade to a 65L. Comfortable, light, and easy to clean. At 5’4″ Alex wears a size Extra Small.

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light and quality

$250

Ryan and I have camped with this test everywhere from the desert to snowy passes, through sun and torrential downpour. We like Big Agnes products and chose this tent because (for 2-people) because it is lightweight, with quality hardware, and is weather-proof. Love it!

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community for outdoor lovers

$20

Both Ryan and I are REI Co-op members. For a onetime $20 purchase, you are members for life. Besides getting special discounts, there is a 1-year return policy on all gear, no matter if used every day. They even accepted Ryan’s smelly hiking boots! Best service, great value.

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for unpredictable weather

$200

Ryan and I love the North Face Thermoball Jacket over all others. We prefer it over the similar Patagonia Nano Puff because of its slimmer and shaped fit. We have worn this jacket anywhere between 30F to 65F. It always somehow seems to work and is very easy to clean.

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nothing beats toasty

$100

I am a huge fan of the Marmot Precip Lightweight Rain Jacket. It packs small and is light enough to wear in a summer rain or over our warmer jackets. We tested this jacket side-by-side with Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket and the Marmot Precip held up best in the Andes.

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our favorite backpack

$135

This Patagonia backpack is 28L and can be brought on hikes as a day pack and also doubles as a laptop bag. There is chest strap, padded shoulder straps, and a slot to slip in your water bladder hose. It’s also waterproof and has a front zip pocket perfect for sneakers.

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the life saver

$20

This small, portable charger keeps several charges for our cell phones and GoPro in a go. It’s small and easy and we bring it on our multi-day backpacking treks to always stay charged. We’ve used many portable chargers over the years and this one surpasses them all.

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full kitchen in a pot

$75

Perfect for any camping couple. This cook set comes with two sporks, two mugs (with measurements), two bowls, a sponge, burner and a pot (also with measurements). Fuel isn’t included, but this burner top is universal and has fit several fuel brands we’ve purchased abroad.

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world-class workouts

$8-$12 Monthly

We’ve worked out at home, in our apartment gym, in our hotel rooms, in Argentina, in Peru, in Morocco… The list goes on. All workouts come with nutrition plans, fitness calendars, and us as coaches! This is the perfect way to get fit for your trip. Make the most of it!

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gopro with lcd screen

$240

Our GoPro brings our adventures alive in a way that photos haven’t seemed to do. We prefer the GoPro with the LCD screen on the back because it helps with filming (particularly when scuba diving). Check out our free, handy tutorial on creating your own GoPro videos.

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selfie with style

$69

This accessory is our favorite GoPro handle that doubles as an arm and tripod with a gripped handle. It has been key in all of our travels from skiing to scuba diving to horseback riding. Easy to clean and easy to pack, it is an essential accessory to any GoPro. 

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byop – bring your own pillow

$25

We love these pillows from a local Minnesota company. They roll up to pack easy (and we take them on our hiking trips!) The pillows are machine-washable and come in various sizes and fluff levels. They double as airplane pillows but are later good for the hotel room.

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no interruptions

$10

If you know anything about us, it’s that we prioritize a full night’s sleep above all else. Whether you’re on a plane or in a city where the sun rises at 5:00 AM (hola, Cusco), this eye mask is the most comfortable and gentle, without putting any pressure on your eyes.

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more important than a workout

$130

We bring the portable, single-serving packets with us as an easy, light, and nutritious meal while backpacking. These shakes give us energy, improve our immune system, help our muscles recover from a workout, and all with natural, superfood ingredients. Perfect for any trip!

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filtered water on-the-go

$30

We use these filters and put them in-line into our water bladder hoses to drink filtered water on all of our treks. These filters are proven to remove viruses and the best we have found on the market. We’ve had drinks out of mud pits and these filters worked like a dream.

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alex’s favorite hiking boot

$100

Alex has had two different hiking boots from Ahnu (specifically for women) and they are her brand of choice. Dry through even the wettest Amazon hikes, these boots are comfortable and warm – but without being too hot. Order a half-size up. Various colors available.

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ryan’s favorite hiking boot

$130

Ryan used several hiking boots over the years. This Vasque boot is his favorite since Timberland (and no, he doesn’t prefer Merrell – not waterproof enough.) These boots are heavy duty without being heavy. Full leather coverage and perfect fit, typical of the Red Wing brand.

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a good night’s sleep is possible

$100

We have tried too many sleeping mats to count, and this one is the best. These mats roll up small and light. It takes just a few minutes to blow them up at night and you have several inches of padding. Extra long and wide mats are available, all of which fit well in our tent.

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hydrate like a pro

$45

We can’t say enough good things about this water bottle. It’s insulated to keep your drink cool or hot for hours. We bring it with us on our hikes, often filled with hot soup or chili, and also to refill at the airport. We don’t mess with hydration! Various lids to choose from.

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get lit

$20

Ryan and I are huge fans of this little solar-powered lantern. You blow it up and can set it to any of four illumination settings. It gives off a warm, yellow light that’s perfect to set up in the tent to play cards for the night. Very portable, small, light, and bright.

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outdoor luxury

$25

This towel has come in handy so many times. An impromptu swim or an accidental fall in the mud, we opted for one “body” sized towel to share on our treks. Fast-drying and comes out perfectly clean in the washing machine. We bring it along because it’s there when we need it.

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stay comfortable

$65

Choosing the correct hiking pants is critical. Alex has been through at least 3 pairs until settling on the same pair as Ryan. We like this classic pant with a single button clasp. Avoid hiking pants with any waist ties or extra buckles – they may cut into your hips under a heavy pack.

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a well-earned meal for two

$9

Ryan and I have tried nearly every brand and type of dehydrated camping food. We really like Backpacker’s Pantry because they come in servings for two and have many vegetarian options. Several favorites are the Pad Thai, Chana Masala, Lasagna, and Chili.

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merino wool socks

$18

These are our trekking socks of choice. We go with Merino wool because they’re warm, fast-wicking, and dry incredibly fast. I (Alex) go with a size Small for my women’s size 6 shoe while Ryan goes with a Medium for a men’s size 9 shoe. Comes in multiple colors so we don’t mix them up! BUY NOW

ryan’s favorite ball cap

$29

Solid hat with full coverage (no mesh) to protect against sun and rain. He also likes that this cap is more “incognito” so people don’t quite know where he’s from – and it was extra fun to wear while we were living in Patagonia! We love the black but there are many colors. BUY NOW

from hiking to marathons

$85

After reading the book Born to Run, we went minimalist. We love our toe shoes because they create a different experience. You can FEEL the ground. We love these because they’re super light, non-slip, great in the water, and yes, Alex has run multiple marathons in them.

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our back-up’s back-up

$60

This is the fastest solar charger we’ve ever worked with. We clip it onto the back of our packs with carabiners while hiking and it charges our phones, GoPro, and portable charger extremely fast. Of course, it only works on sunny days but we’ve always had good luck there!

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Note: Ryan and Alex Duo Life believes in transparency on the web so we are disclosing that there are product links in this document that will earn us affiliate commissions for purchases you make. All products are the exact same products that we purchased after careful review and use regularly. We have not been given any free products by companies in exchange for mentioning them. They are just products we love and use. Enjoy!

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