As it turns out, Americans really like to hike. In 2016 the Pew Research Center found that half of Americans had gone on at least one hike the year before.
And it’s not just hyperactive 20-somethings. Another study revealed that nearly every age group likes hiking the same amount.
With numbers that widespread, it’s likely that you’ve got someone in your life that finds peace while trekking through the outdoors.
So whether it’s your active teenage niece, your spiritual, 30-something friend, or your walk-loving grandparent, a gift that shows them how well you know them is the perfect way to put a smile on their face this holiday season.
Skip the shoes and backpacks — hikers tend to be really selective when it comes to their favorite gear — and instead get them a book they’ll love.
For the person who laughs in the face of a 14-mile day
Into Thin Air is a detailed account of a storm atop Mount Everest that claimed eight lives. Krakauer’s novel is hailed by many as one of the greatest adventure books of all time. And rightly so. He was on the mountain during the disastrous season on the highest mountain on Earth.
Some might say this horror story isn’t the best to read while hiking, a tale cautioning against blind ambition in the outdoors seems perfect under any circumstances.
Following Atticus is an inspirational true story about a man and a dog climbing all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000-foot-peaks while raising money for charity — which we think would be a perfect travel companion.
Tracks is a detailed retelling of author Robyn Davidson’s solo journey across Australia with four camels and her dog.
That particular adventure may not be the perfect experience for everyone, but it’s at least the kind of thing that everyone will love reading about.
For the hiker who especially loves a perfect, bluebird day
When Leaves of Grass was released in 1855, critics did not like it… at all, something about finding yourself in nature was unsettling to them.
Now the collection of poems is heralded as an American classic and the ultimate guide to seeking spirituality in nature.
Like a clean breath of fresh air, poet Wendell Berry’s attempt to create peace and tranquility with prose in A Timbered Choir is a must read in the outdoors. Berry’s poetry reads like a lesson in spirituality.
This may seem like a strange choice considering that The Odyssey reads like an adventure novel, but it’s actually a really long poem. Odysseus’s long journey home makes nature seem a little more mysterious.
For the thrill-seeker
Markus Zusak’s I Am The Messenger is an unforgettable story about self-pity turned into self-sufficiency.
Sometimes it takes a little push to get motivated and Zusak’s main character gets a kick in the ass — something to motivate the lazy hiker to keep going.
If there’s one thing we know about Jack Kerouac, it’s that his wanderlust seeps into his writing. The Dharma Bums, much like On The Road, takes the main character on a journey around America where he muses on the state of the country.
However, in The Dharma Bums, the main character does stop for a moment to appreciate his surroundings, a good lesson for every hiker to bring on their journey.
Wild is sold to many as a tale of reinvention, but reinvention comes last. First comes loss, adventure, fear, and pain.
This New York Times best-seller has gotten enough critical acclaim that even if you’re not a hiker, you just need to read it.
For the technical, ‘thru hikers’ in your life
Admittedly, a book about long distance running doesn’t seem like it would be all that interesting.
But McDougall’s Born To Run is a layered recounting of his own quest to figure out how to run without pain, a widely unknown tribe of indigenous peoples from Mexico, and the longest races you’ve never heard of — it’s bound to remind any hiker why they love exercising and the great outdoors.
Yuval Harari’s Sapiens reads less like a straight history textbook and more like a souped-up spark notes version of human existence, equipped with all the fun of revolutions and some future forecasts which would keep even the pickiest reader entertained.
Also, former President Barack Obama included this on his summer reading list, so if all that other stuff doesn’t convince you…
Many hail this Dean King work of non-fiction as one of the most harrowing tales of survival on the market.
The true story chronicles the survival of a crew of American sailors and their captain who are beaten, starved, and sold into slavery when their ship wrecks off the coast of Africa in 1815.