Jeffrey H. Ryan Hiker Author Photographer Speaker Podcaster Director

Have a hiker on your holiday list? Here are seven gifts sure to bring lasting joy — each under $30!

1. Gaiters

Photo of Ragged Mountain GaitersIf they already use gaiters, they can probably use a new pair, because the trail is tough on them. If they don’t use gaiters already, they’ll thank you! Not just for winter, gaiters keep sticks, stones and pine needles out of boots, thus helping to prevent blisters and keeping socks clean. I’ve also found that fewer ticks seem to hitch rides on the relatively smooth surface of nylon gaiters vs beefy socks. Ragged Mountain makes two styles of gaiters in the USA:  Uncoated (which are most breathable and a good choice for warm weather) and Coated (preferable for use in wet weather and/or snow).

Ragged Mountain Equipment
Uncoated gaiters – $15.75    Coated gaiters – $23.75

2. Warm Hat

Photo of Helly Hansen BeanieHelly Hansen Brand Beanie – $22.00
Like gaiters, an all-purpose Beanie hat isn’t just for winter. I’ve been carrying a Helly Hansen Lifa hat in my pack for decades. The only time I don’t bring it is in midsummer, but in every other season it’s my go-to hat when I start chilling down on a mountain summit, for sleeping on cold nights or when I’m out for a winter jaunt.

3. Hiking Socks

Photo of Smart Wool Hiking SocksSmartWool Medium Crew Hiking Socks – $18.95
I’ve tried dozens of different hiking socks over the years and I can’t knock SmartWool off the top of the mountain. They strike the perfect balance between toughness and comfort, something you appreciate if you are out for days on end. You can find them in a lot of stores, but I get ‘em from L.L. Bean because the shipping is free.

4. Endless Film Adventures


2017 Mountain & Adventure Film Festival Subscription – $29.99
Every avid hiker I’ve ever met has an ever expanding list of dream hikes. Exploring new trails is in our DNA. So is finding out about other people’s adventures. I recently discovered Film Festival Flix — it’s like rocket fuel for every adventurer! A $29.99 subscription will give them online access to the 2017 Mountain & Adventure Film Festival.

5. An adventure book

If reading a book is more their cup of tea than watching films, a few recent publications come to mind.

Current Books

The Last Great Walk: The True Story of a 1909 Walk from New York to San Francisco, and Why it Matters Today by Wayne Curtis.
$20.29 Hardcover

Between the Civil War and the early 1900s, long distance walking was a phenomenon in the U.S. and Europe. The best known walker was Edward Payson Weston. Wayne Curtis’s terrific book chronicles Weston’s 1909 walk from New York to San Francisco — a remarkable feat at any age, but when Weston did it, he was 70 years old!

classichikesClassic Hikes of North America: 25 Breathtaking Treks in the United States and Canada by Peter Potterfield.
$28.76 Hardcover

Beautiful photos and dream machine inspiring descriptions of North America’s epic trails.

Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America's trail book coverAppalachian Odyssey: A 28-year hike on America’s trail by Jeffrey H. Ryan.
$13.57 Paperback
$9.49 Kindle

Like a well prepared meal shared with friends, this three decade adventure is a fun read for people who have hiked the AT, people who want to or those who wonder what it’s like. (Disclaimer: I know the author.)

The All Time Greatest Adventure Story

touchingthevoidTouching the Void: The True Story of One Man’s Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson.
$9.72 Paperback

Hands down, the greatest survival tale I’ve ever read. You can’t put it down.

6. Softshell Gloves

blackdiamondglovesBack Diamond Softshell Gloves  – Retail $59.95
On sale now at backcountry.com – $26.98

I love mid-weight gloves. They really fit the bill for keeping you warm for active winter sports and provide more dexterity than heavier weight styles. These fleece lined gloves also have  touchscreen friendly forefingers and thumbs, so you can take photos without taking your gloves off.

7. A donation to or membership with a trail organization 

While the major trails get a lot of airplay, lesser known regional trails could often use every cent they can raise to keep guidebooks current and to maintain trails. Here are just a few organizations that would be grateful to receive a donation.

Midstate Trail Committee
Wapack Trail
Monadnock-Sunapee Greenway
Taconic Crest Trail
Horse-Shoe Trail
Finger Lakes Trail
Tuscarora Trail
Pine Mountain Trail
Benton MacKaye Trail
Florida Trail
Mid State Trail (PA)

Pinhoti Trail
Standing Stone Trail

5 Responses

  1. Jeff,
    You had me until #3. Smart Wool are OK but Darn Tough rule. Super comfortable, super durable. Two pairs only for the John Muir Trail, one for day one for night, and not even a hot spot. And, made in Vermont, with a lifetime guarantee.
    See you on the trail?

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