We understand the pain: a desire to buy for loved ones in your life on a dirtbag climber’s budget. To help remedy this challenge, we’ve created a guide of our favorite holiday gifts for rock climbers … all under $20. Note: this article contains affiliate links; your purchases support our daily content. Be sure to check out our guide to the 20 Best Gifts for Rock Climbers.
Rock climbing gifts under $20
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
It’s tough to pack enough water for a long day of crushing routes, at least without wearing yourself out before you actually get to the good stuff. With the LifeStraw personal water filter, that’s a concern no more. With this simple pocket-sized tube, climbers can have access to unlimited clean and safe drinking water, no matter how deep in the backcountry they are.
Nothing can ruin a climbing day more than an unfortunate bout of giardia, which is why this small-but-mighty- straw is rated to remove 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of protozoa for up to 3,000 liters.
Inflatable Camp Pillow
The only thing better than crash pad naps are crash pad naps with a pillow. This pocket-sized inflatable pillow weighs an incredibly 3.4 oz but expands in only a few breaths to a half size pillow large enough for even the most big-headed climbers. With a soft almost suede-like exterior and supple fabric, it won’t feel like laying on plastic either.
When nap time turns to climb time, just deflate with the press of a button located internally in the valve and roll it away in its tiny stuff sack.
The Push, by Tommy Caldwell
“Life is all about risk and reward. Better to have struggled, to have tried, than to not have seized an opportunity at all.” If that’s not a dirtbag motto, we don’t know what is. That’s only one of many insightful little gems Tommy Caldwell presents in his inspiring memoir detailing his life from his hilariously awkward childhood through his monumental first free ascent of the Dawn Wall. You may find yourself impulsively reading it yourself before giving it as a gift.
Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold
By now just about everyone in the climbing community (and a horrifying number out it) have seen the documentary Freesolo. Sadly, most of those people have only experienced part of the story. The rest remains in the words of Alex Honnold himself.
Written in collaboration with legendary David Roberts (an absolute poet of modern climbing and mountaineering literature), Alone on the Wall really gets into the nitty-gritty of Alex’s life and achievements. Sure the book lacks the visual appeal of Jimmy Chin and Chai Vasarhelyi’s masterful camerawork, but it provides next-level insight into the incredible and fearless mind of Alex Honnold.
Petzl Tikkina Headlamp
Headlamps are essential to both main components of dirtbag life: vanlife and climbing. That’s why every dirtbag needs to have a few on hand (or head, rather). The Petzl Tikkina is an excellent headlamp option that won’t break the bank but will still sufficiently light up the trail to the crag. With a brightness range between 100 and 250 lumens and a maximum beam distance of 55m, it’s powerful despite its small and lightweight design.
Don’t forget to get them a set of AAA batteries to go with it, or if you really feeling like being nice to your dirtbag and the planet, upgrade the headlamp with a compatible Petzl CORE rechargeable battery.
ExOfficio Sport Mesh Men’s Brief
The untold secret to becoming a total climbing legend? Lucky sending undies! If any undies are designed to bring that little something special to the dirtbag’s climbing ensemble, it’s ExOfficio’s Give-N-Go Sport Mesh boxer briefs. Moisture-wicking and ultra-fast drying, this underwear will never dampen the day. They also feature other extra comfort-providing elements like a chafe-free waistband and flatlock seams.
They’re also treated with Silvadur odor-resistant treatment just in case the dirtbag in question superstitiously believes washing their sending-undies will wash away the good luck.
Platypus Collapsible Bladder
If climbers could subsist on a liquid diet of coffee and beer, they probably would. Alas, even climbers aren’t exempt from the rules of human physiology: Hydrate or die-drate! Getting the recommended daily dose of water will never be easier than it is with the Platypus BPA and BPS-free collapsible bladder. The semi-rigid bottom stands up on its own when filled and rolls away into a pocket-sized package when empty, making it perfect for cragging.
Show your favorite dirtbag how you care by ensuring they stay hydrated.
Zippo Refillable 12-Hour Hand Warmer
Dirbags have a love/hate relationship with the cold. On one hand, sending temps. On the other, numbed out fingers. The solution to this age-old battle is simple: a reusable hand warmer! Sure pockets and armpits work alright, but the human body doesn’t have half the heat output as this slim, pocket-sized device. Plus you don’t want your beloved dirtbag sticking their hands into the potential biohazard of their unwashed armpits… especially if you plan on getting anywhere near those hands.
Clean-burning and capable of outputting 2.5 times more heat than disposable hand-warmers, this handy tool will keep your dirtbag’s fingers warm for years and years.
Airisland Finger Resistance Bands
Fingerboard training is great and all, but sometimes the climber’s tendons need a little counter-resistance therapy. Think about it: our fingers are so used to pulling down but we rarely ever apply force in the opposite direction. These BPA-free silicone resistance bands, available in three weights, are a great solution and should be a part of every climber’s self-care kit. They’re not designed to improve actual grip strength, but they work wonders for climbers who are battling tender pulleys, joint capsule displacement, or tennis elbow.
Alpine Start Instant Coffee
When it comes right down to do, the only thing a dirtbag needs is climbing and coffee. Preferably copious amounts of both. Coffee can sometimes be a hassle to make out in the woods, on the wall, or even just on a cold alpine start morning. As the name implies, that’s where Alpine Start comes in, providing easy to make instant coffee that actually tastes good (we promise from personal experience!). With flavors like dirty chai, coconut creamer, or the classic original blend to choose from, there’s something to suit every palate.
The Rock Warrior’s Way
Sure, the physical side of climbing is important, but what about the mental side? That’s exactly what Arno Ilgner tackles in this book. It’s filled with so much insight on the mental side of climbing, in addition to providing step-by-step guidance on things like risk assessment, motivation, and more. Truly fascinating to reread over and over again.
Besides, anything that has the Chris Sharma stamp of approval is a winner in our book!
Climbing Magazine Subscription
Every climber loves to stay up to date on the latest gear, training techniques, and big news in climbing (or maybe we’re just biased because obviously that’s what we do!). Either way, a subscription to Climbing Magazine is a great way to stay in the know and entertained on rainy rest days.
You may be thinking, “But dirtbags often don’t have mailing addresses!” You can just as easily buy them a Kindle subscription to they can access their zines right from their phone, without sacrificing any space in the van.
YETI Wall Mount Bottle Opener
We all know you should never get between a mother and her cubs. Same goes for dirtbags and their post-crag beer. Luckily this wall or van mountable bottle opener resistants misplacement even in the messiest of climber vans.
Trango Piranha Knife
Dirtbags use knives for everything: cleaning the dirt from under their fingernails, picking their teeth, opening cans, and every so often to remedy a hopefully tangled rope or knotted anchor corselette. Luckily the Trango Piranha not only has a handy carabiner hole and one-handed opening function but bears a surgical-grade stainless steel blade that maintains a sharp edge even when abused.
The Trango Piranha Knife even has an integrated bottle opener for those celebratory summit brews (when your YETI Wall Mount bottle opener is far below).
Rite in the Rain Weatherproof Notebooks
For the nomadic wordsmith, give them the gift of being able to write whenever, wherever, in whatever weather (but first try saying all that three times fast!). These handy ruled notebooks aren’t just water-resistant when the Polydura cover is closed. The actual paper is water-resistant, too, which ensures its contents stay safe from rain, sweat, mud, and whatever might get spilled on it while cooking in a van’s right quarters.
Fully recyclable with normal paper and markable by either pencil or pen, these make for the perfect little crag journal or climbing log.
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