Camping requires so much gear that it can be hard to know where you start if you’re looking for gifts, especially if you don’t do a whole lot of sleeping wild yourself. A quick google search may well reveal that you cannot afford a new sleeping bag and would have no idea where to begin with a tent. You want something more personal than a roll of duct tape (though that will definitely come in handy) and more useful and less naff than an “I love camping” T-shirt, but how do you know what’s practical, affordable and packable? We’ve spent a lot of nights under the stars here at Advnture, so we’ve put our heads together to come up with some of the best stocking stuffers for campers to make your gift buying experience as painless as possible.
1. Camping mug
For cozy nights around the fire, the camper in your life needs a great camping mug to wrap their hands around. These days, insulated camping mugs keep a tasty brew hot or cold for hours and protect paws from piping hot beverages. A classy affair like the Yeti Rambler 10oz Lowball is sure to impress, or go for something a little different with the Casstrom Kuksa Birch Mug which is traditionally carved in one piece from a birch tree bole by Arctic Circle Sami reindeer herders and made our list of the best camping mugs out there.
2. Camping coffee maker
If you’re shopping for someone who can’t face the day without a cup of joe, there are some really lightweight and packable camping coffee makers out there that turn out some surprisingly tasty coffee. For a super lightweight, affordable option for drip coffee, the Hario V60 coffee dripper is the preferred pour over used by baristas around the world due it’s reliably great coffee, and the plastic version is light enough that you can take it backpacking. If you’re looking to spend a little more and impress with espresso, yes espresso, the Aeropress Go comes in a compact package that’s around the size of a travel mug and can be taken on the road, even fitting in a backpack.
3. Camping meals
Tasty treats make ideal stocking stuffers for anyone, and campers are no exception. Try a couple of different freeze-dried camping meals to bring a taste of home with them on their next adventure. These days, there are dozens of varieties of featherweight dehydrated and freeze-dried meal packets that come to life with a small amount of boiling water, making them ideal for both backpacking and car camping excursions. We’ve tested the best freeze-dried camping meals and there are loads to choose from, from Patagonia Provisions Organic Red Bean Chili for the health conscious, to Backpacker’s Pantry Dark Chocolate Cheesecake Mix for a spot of backcountry decadence.
4. Sporks and foons
No we didn’t spell that wrong. For chowing down on some tasty camping nosh, multi-purpose, foldable camping utensils make a great gift. Various mongrel ‘spork’ and ‘foon’ designs combine the working benefits of both forks and spoons into one piece of cutlery such as the Quechua Folding Spoon and Fork.
5. Multitool or camping knife
What with their plenitude of uses, buying someone who loves camping a multitool is a bit like giving them 10 or more gifts in one tiny package. Whether they need to trim or fix gear on the trail or prepare food or even open a bottle of wine at their campsite, a multitool like the affordable Gerber Truss, which made our list of the best multitools, could save the day time and time again. If what you really want to buy your special someone is a good knife, we do recommend foregoing the versatility and going for a camping knife instead as the blade will be superior.
6. Water filter
It doesn’t really matter if your person prefers frontcountry camping with all the facilities included or rugged backcountry wilderness camping, they shouldn’t be venturing into the outdoors without something to purify water. A nifty gift for any outdoors person is the Lifestraw, which is the size of a magic marker and filters out harmful bacteria and viruses.
For hanging out during the day at camp, nothing says relaxing better than a comfy hammock slung between two trees. Camping hammocks have got pretty high tech (and often pricey) in recent years, but you can still find budget-friendly options that will easily fit inside a stocking. Check out our list of the best hammocks and consider the Snugpak Tropical for a simple, easy-to-adjust design great for those newer to hammock camping.
8. Camping pillow
If you’re shopping for a thrifty camper, there’s a decent chance they’re rolling up a fleece jacket to use as a pillow at night. It works, but you can help them do better with a camping pillow. Designed to be lightweight, packable and – most importantly – comfortable, the best camping pillows work harder than your average pillow to provide a good night’s sleep. At just $20, the Fjällräven Travel Pillow stuffs down to about the size of a mango and provides a soft and comfortable place to lay your head after a long day on the trails.
9. Headlamp or flashlight
From rummaging through the camping cooler to reading in the tent at night, your special someone needs a good, hands-free light source. Chances are that they’ll already own a headlamp, but this essential piece of gear is easily lost and it’s always good to have a backup, so hook them up with a model like the Lifesystems Intensity 235, one of the best headlamps we’ve tested, that’s affordable, waterproof and lights up the night for over 300ft.
For a more heavy duty and wide beam option, go for a good old fashioned flashlight, or torch, such as the Maglite XL 50 which is low cost, simple to use and punches well above its weight in terms of illumination.
10. Camping towel
A bit like multi-tools, camping towels are no longer just for drying off after a wild swim. The best camping towels can double up as blankets, provide privacy when you’re getting changed, supply protection from hot sand and rough undergrowth when laid on the ground, and from the heat or wind when strategically strung up in a tree. Oh and they come at a great price, such as the Sea to Summit Airlite Towel which lives up to its name and is incredible lightweight and light on the wallet too at only $15.
11. Camping games
Help the camper in your life liven things up round the campfire or during rainy camping days with a fun camping game – a simple pack of cards, Yahtzee or UNO Wilderness all make fun gifts for campers of all ages.
12. Biodegradable soap
Scented soap is a classic stocking stuffer, and you can add a camping twist with a nice bottle of biodegradable soap so that your camping buddy can wash up in the wild without causing any harm to the environment. Dr Bronners sells travel-sized soaps in peppermint and almond that are all-natural and can be used to wash bodies, dishes and even teeth!
A carabiner – commonly referred to as a “biner” – is a D-shaped piece of safety equipment made from aluminium alloy that has a spring-loaded gate and is used to connect pieces of gear. It's not the sexiest stocking stuffer, but they come in super handy for camping, for clipping cups and pots onto backpacks for example, and they usually come in fun, bright colors that will add a nice sparkle.
All the latest inspiration, tips and guides to help you plan your next Advnture!
Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.