Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Urban Hiker SF's 2017 Holiday Gift Guide

The holidays can be fun—or stressful—if you're trying to pick out the perfect gift for a loved one. To make your job a little easier, we at Urban Hiker SF have compiled a list of gifts for your favorite urban explorers. These are my own personal recommendations and are not sponsored by these companies. I've organized this list into a few categories: fitness trackers, hiking gear, clothing, books, and misc. in case you want to scroll down to the category that's most relevant for what you're looking for.


Fitbit: I wear a Fitbit every day and love how it tracks my sleep, measures my heart rate, reminds me to move, and lets me use the Fitbit app to enter friendly competitions with friends (or solo). Though it's one of the more expensive models, I wear and recommend the Alta HR because I love seeing how my resting heart rate goes down after a few days of activity or how the amount of sleep I get affects my mood for the rest of the day.

Amazfit: If you're looking for a tracker that doesn't look like a fitness tracker, some people (including my mom!) prefer the Amazfit Equator, which looks like an design-y bracelet. It doesn't have a display, but you can always open up the Amazfit app to track your progress.


Backpack: Every hiker needs a good backpack, and I have an older version of the Deuter Speed Lite. The backpack has two easy-to-reach pockets for water bottles on each side as well as another easily-accessible top zip-up pocket where I store my wallet and phone. The pack is light enough to carry for long hikes but large enough to fit layers, snacks, and anything I'd need for a full day of hiking. Another great thing is that it has a special pocket for a hydration reservoir (see below) and a drink tube holder on one of the backpack straps for easy drinking access.

Hydration reservoir: If you're going on a longer hike, you will need a good hydration reservoir. I have a three-liter one as I know I never want to run out of water on the trail. Three-liter reservoirs are common and there's a wide selection of them here. I've got this one from Platypus and it works great for me.

Headlamps: Headlamps let you keep the urban exploring going long after sundown. I have this basic Petzl model, which I use for hiking and camping. 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, check out this one from REI. 

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. I personally like adjustable, collapsable poles, 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. I don't necessarily have a recommendation here, but here is Amazon's pick for poles.

Tecnu: According to the American Skin Association, 85% of the population is allergic to poison ivy, oak, and sumac—and 10-15% is extremely allergic. 

The great thing is that you can prevent reactions from these plants even after exposure with something called Tecnu. This product wipes away the urushiol oil that causes the reaction, and keeps you away from annoying (and potential harmful) rashes. I buy 50-packs of the stuff like this: Tecnu Oak-n-Ivy Cleanser, Box of 50 0.5 oz. Packets and throw a few packs in my bag before every hike.

Clothing is very personal, so I'm just offering two ideas here that should work for most people.

Wool arm warmers: I discovered wool arm warmers when I was more of a biker than a hiker. Now, I don't understand why more hikers don't wear these. I much prefer putting on and taking off these than wearing a long-sleeved shirt. If you live in a warmer climate, you can always opt for fleece arm warmers instead of wool ones.


Scarf with built-in insect repellent: I am lucky—when I'm in the outdoors, mosquitos leave me alone. But I know most aren't so lucky. I don't personally need this item, but received one for free, and I just love it because it's really cute! The clothing includes Insect Shield® repellant and you can even wash it up to 25 times.

Urban Hiker SF T-Shirts
We created a new line of urban hiking-themed t-shirts that help you show off  your love of SF. T-shirts either feature our logo or our favorite SF landmark, Sutro Tower. 


I love Stairway Walks in San Francisco. My dad bought me this book when I moved to San Francisco 10 years ago, so for me, this is the quintessential urban exploring book for our city. The fact that this book is in its eighth edition is a testament to its enduring success.

And of course I need to suggest my book, Urban Trails: San Francisco! If you want to explore not just stairways, but also the 70 miles of hiking trails that San Francisco has to offer, this is a great book for you. The book includes 50 different routes, 40 right in the city, 6 north of the city, and 4 south of the city.


To be fair, I do not have this book yet: 111 Places in San Francisco That You Must Not Miss, but I've been intrigued by its title and think this could be fun for  people new to the city as well as seasoned veterans who are looking for new things to do.

I'm going to stop here with the books, but could mention so many more! Maybe I'll do a whole post on books for urban explorers. :)


365 Mile Challenge: This year I joined the 365 Mile Challenge, an online community (run on facebook/over email) where the goal is for everyone to strive for 365 self-powered miles in one year. As someone who runs a hiking company, I knew I'd hit 365 miles, but I joined anyway to meet other hikers. The community is well-run and has lots of giveaways too for hiking gear. I ended up winning a swag bag with probably $200+ worth of stuff! You can sign up to be notified when 2018 registration opens. I gave this to myself this year and it was a blast to be a member. While anyone can join, I'd say 99% of the people in the group are women. For people looking for more of a challenge, it looks like there is a 1,000 mile challenge too (run by another group)!

Urban Hiker SF Gift Certificates: Gift Certificates are available on the Gifts & Merch page of our website. Gift certificates are sent to your recipient—or you—instantly, so they're great for even the most last minute of shoppers.    

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