When it comes to equipment, most backpackers and campers prefer to choose their own, especially if you’re talking about a backpack, tent, boots, shoes, sleeping bag or stove. Those items require either a certain individual fit or are used according to individual preference. But there are still plenty of backpacking and camping gifts that you can put under the tree for your favorite hiker, backpacker or camper.
Flashlight or Lantern. When I go camping, I use a battery powered and/or propane fueled lantern in the tent and a full-sized Maglite if I’m going to be walking outside in the dark to a bathroom, shower or tree; or if I just want to see what’s making that crunching sound in the underbrush. Maglites are tough and rugged enough that if you drop them they won’t break into pieces and their light is bright enough to fully light up an area or pierce a thick fog. For backpackers that find themselves still walking when the sun sets, a personal MiniMaglite offers the same rugged build and comparable (for its size) brightness at a fraction of the weight and bulk, a smart choice when loading a pack.
Sleeping Pad. No matter how thick or plush their sleeping bag might be, a sleeping pad adds an extra layer of comfort and insulation to your camper’s night. Inflatable (especially self-inflatable) pads are great for tent campers and backpackers alike, or you can opt for the foam pads that can roll up pretty tight.
Cookset. For some people this might be an item that falls under the “I’d rather pick it out myself” category, but most will probably appreciate some newer/better cooking gear. I usually take one frying pan, one pot, a tin cup, metal fork, spoon, steak knife and metal or plastic plate and bowl, along with a spatula and some hot pads. These are all cast-offs from the kitchen or BBQ grill at home. Every once in a while I think it might be fun to try a brand new cookset or perhaps a Dutch oven.
Maps on CD. Technologically savvy campers or backpackers will appreciate a practical gift like this. The CD’s can be used on a laptop or, if they have a GPS unit, downloaded directly into the hardware.
Miscellaneous Items. Things like an assortment of band-aids (great for covering blisters or cuts), a travel pack of antiseptic wipes, a set of camp rags/towels, bungee cords, bungee ties, a package of zip-ties, or a can of insect repellant all make great stocking stuffers for the camper or backpacker in your life.
Gift Certificate. When all else fails, you can’t go wrong with a gift certificate to your recipient’s favorite outdoor store so they can pick out what they need or want.
If you’re still unsure of what would make a good gift, check out gear sites like Campmor, REI, Backcountry or Altrec for more great holiday gift ideas for that special camper, hiker or backpacker.
Wilderness Camping Tips for Women – Plan Ahead and Leave No Trace
Planning an eco-friendly wilderness camping trip requires thoughtful research and organization. In her book, Babes in the Woods, Bobbi Hoadley advises backcountry campers to be keenly aware of the surrounding ecosystem and to tread lightly as they pass through. Women campers are becoming strong advocates for preserving the natural environment as they embrace an enjoyment and appreciation of wilderness areas.
Planning Tips for Successful Wilderness Camping
The Leave No Trace philosophy stresses the importance of good planning when heading into the wilderness; adequate preparation can ensure the safety and success of the expedition while minimizing impact on the land.
The first step in planning is choosing the destination and activities, which should be matched to the abilities and skills of the participants. Once the destination is known, the campers need to gather information about the area. They should contact a land manager for up-to-date reports regarding regulations, restrictions, weather, terrain, plants and animals. The Internet, maps and literature are also good research sources.
Camping Gear – Essential Outdoor Gear for Women Campers
When women trek into the backcountry, they need to opt for lightweight outdoor gear. Fortunately, there are now many choices designed with women in mind.
A comfortable backpack is essential; a woman should choose one that distributes its weight to her hips, not her back. A properly prepared backpack will weigh no more than 40 pounds and be organized for easy retrieval of items.
Best choices for a sleeping bag will be down-filled or synthetic-filled. Down bags are lightweight, warm and maintain good loft; however, they are expensive and don’t stay warm when damp. Synthetic bags are less expensive and will stay warm when damp, plus they’re washable. It’s a good idea to test a bag for size, comfort and ease of use before purchasing. A lightweight, self-inflating pad is a good investment for cushion and insulation under a sleeping bag.
When buying or renting a tent, a woman should look for a lightweight, durable one that’s roomy enough for sleeping, sitting, and changing clothes comfortably – being able to stand up in a tent is unnecessary. Ease of set-up should be tested before purchasing a tent.
A tarp is handy to take along on a camping trip: it offers versatility as a ground covering and as quick protection from the rain, snow, sun and wind. Tarps are available at sporting goods stores or may be made at home from ripstop nylon (just be sure to waterproof the seams).
Clothing and Personal Items for a Woman’s Camping Kit
A woman camping in the wilderness requires a change of clothes only every two or three days. Synthetic fabrics are best for hiking and camping because they are lightweight, water-resistant, breathable and quick-drying. Cottons and denims should be left at home – they absorb and hold moisture. Before the trip, clothing must be washed and dried with unscented products to avoid attracting unwanted critters.
Suggested clothing items for a camping trip:
Bandanna and brimmed hat
Fleece or wool shirt and t-shirts
Pants, shorts, and a sweat suit
Underwear and long undies
Lots of socks, including wool or fleece
Lightweight jacket and rain suit
Warm hat and gloves
Suggested camping supplies and personal items:
Small comb and brush
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Unscented toiletry items, stored in heavy plastic zipper bags
Flashlight, whistle, compass and pocketknife
First aid kit and manual
Small, waterproof day pack
The mantra for the environmentally friendly use of wilderness areas is well-known: Take only photographs and leave only footprints. Women hikers and campers are taking steps to keep their footprints small.