Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Urban Hiker SF's Hiking Lovers' Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays are fast approaching. If you're stumped on what gifts to get your favorite outdoors enthusiast, I've got a few ideas. I've put together a list of products I use personally and with Urban Hiker SF that your favorite hiker might just like too. This list is designed to spark inspiration. I can share what I own and use, but it's hard for me to recommend exact items since there are tens (and sometimes hundreds) of models to choose from. Use this list as a starting point and then do some more research on your own to find exactly what to buy. Happy shopping and happy holidays!

Bigger Ticket Items

GoPro Camera (and/or GoPro accessories)

A GoPro camera can be a great way to relive a favorite hike and share it with friends. I used the GoPro Hero 3+ Silver when I was writing my book on hiking in San Francisco. It helped me record my routes and watch them again so that I could create accurate hike writeups. There are now newer models (like this one), but they are more expensive. If your favorite hiker already has a GoPro, they might want some accessories like a head strap. I've got this one. It's pretty dorky, but it does the job!

GPS Watch
A GPS watch is great for those into data and the quantified self movement. With a GPS watch, you can record your hiking routes and know just how far you went, how high you climbed, etc. I have the Garmin Fenix 2, but there are now newer models available. Since there is so much choice out there, you may want to read this post on the best hiking watches of 2015.

Hiking Daypacks
Backpacks are a necessity for hiking. They can store your food and hydration, extra layers, sunscreen, and more. For day hikes, you probably don't need more than a 20 liter bag. (The one I use is 19 liters). Also look for hip and sternum straps to keep weight off your shoulders. One option is to buy a hydration pack with built-in liquid reservoirs, but this may feel like overkill for shorter treks. As you'd expect, REI has a great selection of daypacks. Here's their guide on selecting the right one for you.

Hiking poles
Hiking or trekking poles are great for a number of reasons, including reducing the impact of hiking on your body. They can also propel you forward and can be a big help on hills. You'll probably want adjustable-length poles that are collapsible, so you can stow them in your backpack when you're not using them. And while some people swear by anti-shock hiking poles, they can be significantly heavier than regular poles and therefore not ideal for longer routes. Again, check the REI guide for more details.

Smaller Gifts

Strava Gift Subscription
Whether your favorite hiker uses a GPS watch or just their phone to record their hikes, they probably use a program like Strava (see right) to visualize them and track yearly mileage. A basic Strava account is free, but a premium membership ($59) unlocks features like "heatmaps" and "suffer scores." Read more here.

Headlamps enable outdoor fun long after the sunset. I have this basic Petzl model, which I use for hiking and camping. (There are many others listed here.) When buying a headlamp, just make sure you get one with >50 lumens, so it's bright enough to see on the darkest nights. If you want a detailed buying guide for headlamps look no farther than this one from REI.

Hydration Reservoir
If your favorite outdoors lover already has a backpack (and they don't have hydration pack), they may want a hydration reservoir. Three-liter bags are common and there's a wide selection of them here. I've got this one and it works great for me.

According to the American Skin Association, about 85% of the population is allergic to poison ivy, oak, and sumac—and 15% are extremely allergic. Tecnu is a great product that helps remove the oily irritant of these plants from the skin. You can buy a 4-pack—or even a 50-pack. It's a great thing to throw in your backpack for any hike.

Urban Hiker SF Gift Certificates
Urban Hiker SF has gift certificates for the holidays that you can redeem for any of our tours. Gift certificates are sent to your recipient—or you—instantly, so they're great for even the most last minute of shoppers. Visit the Gifts page on our website to get yours now.

I hope you've enjoyed this holiday gift roundup for hikers. Happy Trails and Happy Holidays from Urban Hiker SF.