If money’s tighter than a hairpin bend, but for some inexplicable reason you feel a sense of obligation to give your hiker/mountain biker buddies something for Christmas, consider the following items:
1. A Box of Ziplocs – Pretty much everyone takes Ziplocs backpacking. But let’s be honest, nothing says, “I don’t give a damn about you” like plastic bags for Christmas.
2. Socks – For less than R 50 you will have to go synthetic or even cotton. No Merino Wool or any of those other fancy blends. If possible try to make your choice seasonally appropriate. You know the ones with littlChristmasas trees and snowmen on them……..maybe some reindeer as well.
3. Bandana – You can often find these multi-purpose gems at the bottom of outdoor store bargain bins. Potential uses include: towel, water filter, neck protection, pot cleaner, tent drier, hanky, useful to wear on your face during rain storms, handy if you are low on funds and decide to rob a convenience store.
4. A Six Pack of Ramen – A culinary staple for backpackers. If you really want to make an effort, select singles with a variety of flavours. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.
5. Toilet Paper – If they aren’t too picky in regards to softness/quality, R 5 worth of "white gold" can potentially last the giftee most of a multi-month thru hike…………at least when supplemented with the stuff they won't pinch from hotels, restaurants, and classier public restrooms.
6. Soap – Not only is it cheap, but it’s a none-too-subtle way of saying, “mate, you really need to work on your hygiene next year.”
7. Crazy/Super Glue – Useful for sleeping mat repairs, small holes in tents and at a pinch, even cuts and blisters.
8. Plastic Disposable Kitchen Gloves – You can purchase 100 count packs (or more) of these. They can be used as part of a layering system for your hands when hiking in extreme cold and wet conditions.
9. Baking Soda – Another excellent multi-purpose item that more hikers should know about. Potential uses include: toothpaste, deodorant substitute, cleaning pots & drink bottles, helps to remove foot odour from shoes, antacid for tummy rumblings, and; assists in relieving itching associated with insect bites, bee stings and poison ivy/oak.
10. 3M Micropore Tape – Breathable paper medical tape. Adheres well. I’ve used it for years instead of band-aids and other adhesive strips.
11. Hand Sanitizer – I haven’t had a case of the trots in the backcountry (so to speak) since 1999. I suspect that diligent use of hand sanitizer is part of the reason. I always keep a small bottle handy in one of the shoulder strap pockets on my backpack.
12. Groundsheet – This might actually cost you nothing if you can find a piece in a construction site dumpster. Customize the size for the giftee. It’s the little things that count.
13. Mini Dropper Bottles (2 Pack) – Another long time favourite. I repackage my hand sanitizer and Aquamira in these tiny bottles for all of my backcountry trips.
14. Ibuprofen – Vitamin “I”. A hurting hiker’s best friend. Can be found in many (if not most) hikers First-Aid kits. Forget about the name brands such as Advil and go generic. For R 50 you can usually pick up a 20 count bottle. Sourced & Adapted from: www.thehikinglife.com