Christmas gifts for hikers under $50 that are actually useful

Couple wearing Santa hats standing on mountain
(Image credit: Getty)

Buying a gift for a keen hiker is no easy task – a lot of outdoor gear is very expensive, but you don't want to let them down by giving them something poor quality that'll let them down on the trail. Nobody wants socks that rub, or a leaky water bottle.

That's where this guide comes in. All the items below have been tested and recommended by the experts at Advnture, and are under $50. We've put every piece of gear here through its paces in the wild, and we're confident the hiker in your life will be delighted with any of them.

Hiking hat

Sealskinz Salle Cap

(Image credit: Future)

1. Sealskinz Salle Waterproof Cap

This is the ultimate all-weather hiking hat. It has a waterproof membrane to keep you nice and dry (I've tested it in some seriously heavy rain and my hair was the only part of that didn't get soaked), it can be thrown in the washing machine when it's dirty, its long brim gives great protection from the sun, and its brim folds in half so you can shove it in a jacket pocket.

Some stores suggest there are separate men's and women's versions, but it's actually unisex and all colors are available in all sizes.

Hiking flask

Thermos Stainless King Food Jar

(Image credit: Thermos)

2. Thermos Stainless King Food Jar

There's nothing like a flask full of hot soup or stew during a long hike, and it definitely beats squashed peanut butter sandwiches. This insulated jar, which ranks highly in our guide to the best hiking flasks, will keep meals hot and tasty for up to nine hours, and is specially designed for chowing down on the move.

"At only 14.2cm tall it squeezes inside a pack with no trouble," said our reviewer. "The lid conceals a handy, full-size folding spoon and you could use the insulated lid as a bowl if you’re sharing your meal, although most walkers should be able to manage the full contents on their own."

Water bottle

Sigg Traveller Water Bottle

(Image credit: Sigg)

3. Sigg Traveller Water Bottle

The aluminum Sigg is the classic hiker's water bottle, and for good reason. It's made of lightweight aluminum, it never makes your water taste funky, it's easy to drink from while you're moving, and thanks to its unfussy design, it's practically indestructible. I've owned one for over 10 years, and it's still going strong despite having gained its share of dents (they just add character).

It's earned a place in our guide to the best hiking water bottles, and in New York's Museum of Modern Art. It's a gift hikers will really appreciate, and super affordable too.

Hiking socks

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks

(Image credit: Darn Tough)

4. Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Socks

These cushioned socks have been worn and loved by generations of hikers, and would make a perfect Christmas gift. They offer an excellent fit, and are made from a durable, odor-resistant combination of nylon, Lycra, and warm merino wool. In fact, the company offers a lifetime satisfaction guarantee, which is impressive for a piece of gear that's going to get this much wear.

"Darn Tough can make a promise like that without breaking a sweat because they know that their socks have a very high loop stitch count, which not only provides sublime under-foot cushioning, it also makes them resistant to flattening, shearing and holing, even after repetitive use," explained our reviewer.

Hydration bladder

Woman drinking from Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir

(Image credit: Osprey)

5. Osprey Hydraulics Reservoir 3L

I use the two-liter version of this hydration bladder for hiking and running, and it's never let me down. The top folds over and is secured with a sliding fastener, which is easy to undo when it's time to fill up, but will never leak. The bladder itself is seriously tough, and cleverly designed with a rigid panel on the back that stops it collapsing on itself. Osprey's own hiking and running backpacks come with a little clasp so you can hang the bladder inside, but that's not essential and its design means it works just fine with other bag brands too.

The hose is long enough to make drinking easy, but not so long it gets in the way, and comes with a magnet kit so it can be secured to the chest strap of your backpack. It's all very carefully planned, and available for under $50 at Amazon.

Neck warmer

Woman wearing Buff Polar Neck Warmer

(Image credit: Buff)

6. Buff Polar Neck Warmer

Buff neck warmers are always a welcome gift, and this fleece one earned a place in our roundup of the best balaclavas. OK, it's not actually a balaclava, but it can be used in much the same way, rolling down around your neck or pulling up over your mouth and nose when the temperature really drops.

Our reviewer said: "It’s itch-free, and easy to get on and off. And you can feel good about buying Buff’s Polar Neck Warmer. It keeps two plastic bottles out of the landfill."

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.