Updated: Dec 23, 2020
This post is not sponsored by any of the products, brands, or websites mentioned. We just love sharing our favorite finds with you!
It’s time for part 5 of An Adventure Gift Guide, and we’ve got some awesome finds for ya! These tried-and-true picks from our MW Ambassadors are $25 and under, and guarantee that you and your trail-loving friends and family are sure to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry (and safe!) on all your adventures. Hope ya came hungry for this one!
The Ten Essentials
As a refresher, we’re running through our gift guide with a 10 Essentials theme. The 10 Essentials ensure that we're prepared for emergency situations in the outdoors, so we can have the safest and most fun outdoor adventures! To recap, the 10 Essential systems are:
It's no secret that you'll need good food and hydration while on the trail, but have you put much thought into having extra? While it may feel silly at first to carry a meal packet on a day hike or an extra bladder of water, taking time (and pack space) to throw in backups can make all the difference if ya really need it.
Beyond the safety aspect, we also believe pretty strongly in treatin' yo self on the trail, and that means packing great food. From personal experience, we guarantee that Herbed Mushroom Risotto tastes a whole lot better after a ten mile hike into camp than some rehydrated carrots and textured vegetable product. Keep your body and your morale fueled with our food and bev favorites!
Eat – Extra Food
Whether you’re on a quick afternoon adventure, a weekend campout, or a multi-week thru hike, trail food can really make or break an experience. You’ll need to make sure you’re packing in enough calories to keep you fueled, while also enjoying your snacks and meals.
When it comes to being prepared, you’ll also want to make sure you have some extras. There is such a thing as overpacking, so keep those extras calorie-dense and compact. Extra granola and protein bars and a backpacking meal or two can go a long way if you find yourself spending a little longer on the trail than you planned.
Finding the balance between hefty calories and taste variety can be tough, especially in the ultralight world. Outdoor retailers like REI offer a great selection of individually packaged camp style food, so you can try out a range of brands, flavors, and more to find your favorites. Most 2-serving meals will cost you $7-15.
If you don’t have time to taste test em all, we’ve thrown together a few of our favorites. These brands focus on backpacker-style meals, so they’re lightweight, compact, and pretty darn good when it comes to trail food! For a few of our favorite bars and snacks, be sure to check out An Adventure Stocking Stuffer Guide.
From Granola with Milk and Organic Blueberries, to Pad Thai, and Crème Brulee, Backpacker’s Pantry offers a wide range of international cuisine, veggie-based meals, and traditional favorites. Like most freeze-dried and dehydrated backpacker-style meals, all they require is hot water and a little time.
Up next with all your hearty favorites is Mountain House. If you’re crazy Beef Stroganoff, Biscuits and Gravy, or Lasagna with Meat Sauce, look no farther. Mountain House also offers large canisters of meals in bulk – perfect for car camping or your home preparedness kit!
Last but certainly not least is Good To-Go. While these packs may cost you a little more per serving, they’re well worth it. After a week on trail, you DESERVE that Herbed Mushroom Risotto and a little trail angel magic in the form of a Bota Box Mini Chardonnay. Good To-Go is your one stop shop for all things backpacker gourmet.
Drink – Extra Water
It’s no secret that water is an absolute must-have for every outdoor adventure. Knowing how much water to have may be a little trickier. Here are a couple of great rules of thumb to start with:
For hiking, factor in 2 cups or .5 liters of water for every hour of hiking.
For overnight and multi-day trips where you may need to pack in several days’ worth, factor at least 1 gallon of water per person per day.
As you become more experienced in your adventures, you may learn that you tend to drink a little more than average. If you live in a particularly hot environment (hey Guam, Hawaii, Texas, Alabama), you may need as much as 1 liter per hour of hiking.
Packing extra water is so important, both in terms of immediate comfort and survival practices. If a hike takes a little longer, the sun beats down a little harder, or your trail bud runs out a little early, you’ll be happy you have that extra bottle.
In case of more dangerous trail scenarios, you should also consider packing tools to get more water should you run out. In a day-hike-turned-3-day-rescue, one extra bottle won’t be enough. Be sure to read up on ways to filter, clean, and purify water, and choose options that are best for your activities and environment.
First up, we’re starting with that easy-peasy extra bottle. There are tons of water carrying options from bottles to bladders and beyond. Your choice will probably be determined by how much extra you want to carry, the size/shape of your pack, and how much you care about saving ounces. If you’re looking for a great water bottle both on and off the trail, Nalgene is one of our favorites, and we happen to love this rad 32 oz Nalgene design, $12.
Moving on up in survivability-mode, we’re bringing ya two options: water treatment and a water filter. Remember, choosing to carry one, the other, or both will be determined by your environment and activity needs, so be sure to do adequate research well ahead of time!
We’ll also note here that these products are NOT just for survival – if you’re planning a multi-day or longer thru hike, water treatment and filters are often the primary way to restock your everyday water throughout your trip!
First up are these easy-to-use Potable Aqua Iodine Tablets, $8. Iodine tablets kill bacteria, viruses, and giardia without the weight and bulk of a water filter. If your water source runs fairly “clean” looking and you don’t mind a few floaters, tablets are an easy, compact, and lightweight method to purify water. This 3oz bottle holds enough tablets to treat 25 liters (6.6 gallons) of water!
Another great water treatment option is Aquamira Water Treatment, $15. These droplets treat water with chlorine dioxide – used by municipal water treatment facilities for decades. Aquamira uses an two-step process, and while you’ll need to carry both the Part A and Part B bottles with you, this treatment is powerful. This pack, which contains a 1oz bottle of Part A and B each can treat a whopping 113 liters (30 gallons) of water!
Lastly, we’re taking on this LifeStraw Water Filter, $14. Weighing in at just 2oz, LifeStraws are easy to pack, easy to use, and a life-saver in a pinch. The tiny filter inside removes over 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa, so you can drink straight from that murky lake if ya really have to. One LifeStraw is effective for up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons). Best used to drink directly from your bottle or water source, LifeStraws aren’t a great solution for bulk water purification, but perfect for solo adventures and survival needs!
And Be Merry – Bonus Goodies
If you’ve ever attempted a multi-day hike without the fuel of a cuppa, there’s a godo chance ya didn’t make the same mistake twice. No one wants to hike to with a grumpy bear. Enter Black Rifle Coffee Company. If we said we weren’t a little biased, we’d be lying – Black Rifle is owned and operated by America-loving veterans, and gives back to veterans, law enforcement, and first responders with every purchase. If you’re headed out on the trail, hanging at camp, or need a quick pick-me-up on your way to the water, grap a pack of Black Rifle Coffee Steep Bags, $15. These individual coffee bags that “steep like tea, taste like freedom” are the perfect solution when you’re out in the wild and don’t want to pack in a full coffee brew setup.
And of course we can't talk about trail bevs without acknowledging our love for a good wine-and-hike. If you haven't lugged savignon blanc down a beach, you may not be adventuring correctly ;) AND if you're lugging that in a bottle, you deserve to live better! Pop that cork and pour your grape-y goodness into a Platypus PlatyPreserve Portable Wine Bottle, $10. Collapsible and holds a full bottle of your favorite wine!
Rounding out Part 5 of the series, we’re sharing a product that’s great both on the trail and at home. If you’re tired of sending plastic baggies to the landfill, you need some Bee’s Wrap Re-usable Beeswax Wrap in your life, $11. These wraps are made from organic cotton, beeswax, and a few other natural products, and are re-usable after a little soap and water. Since they unwrap as a square sheet, they also make a perfect plate when you’re snackin’ on the trail! At the end of its life, a beeswax wrap is compostable or makes a great firestarter.
Head back tomorrow for our final series post, when we’ll round out your gifting guide and the 10 Essentials with Extra Clothes!
PS: Did you know that your online shopping can also support rad nonprofit organizations like Military Wild? If you're stocking up for that holiday feast or ordering gifts for family and friends, check out AmazonSmile! When you shop through AmazonSmile, 0.5% of your purchase is donated to a registered charity of your choice, at no extra cost to you.
Be sure to shop through the AmazonSmile site rather than the traditional Amazon site. At login or checkout, search for and select Military Wild (or a number of other incredible organizations) to receive your donation. We're so thankful to be a part of this military family and it brings us so much joy to continue supporting you through this wild ride with the help of donations!