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Gift Guide – A gift guide for hikers

Gear, good reads and great ideas for kids

By Dan Szczesny

While the cold season and its wind chills, frost and snow will certainly not be slowing down the winter hiker in your family or that crazy friend who takes midnight hikes up Mt. Washington, you can make their lives easier and maybe safer by stuffing their ragg wool stockings with some hiker gear over the holiday.

From books and maps to help navigate the White Mountains, to tough and warm gear to take on a frigid overnighter, to starter gifts for the tiny hiker in your croo, what follows is a brief overview of some (mostly) locally sourced gift items the John Muir in your family will enjoy.

Books: Because the first step is not getting lost

New Hampshire’s 52 With a View: A Hiker’s Guideby Ken MacGray ($23.95, Longtime hiker and guidebook writer Ken MacGray recently published the quintessential guidebook to what’s becoming one of the state’s most popular hiking lists, the “52 with a view.” The list is a collection of hikes to mountains around the state under 4,000 feet that offer spectacular views somewhere along the way. Some of the hikes on the list are family-friendly, others very difficult. But all of them get thoroughly analyzed in this guidebook that includes directions, mileage and a bit of history on each mountain.

The 4,000-Footers of New Hampshire’s White Mountains by Steven D. Smith and Mike Dickerman ($24.95, Mike Dickerman, the owner of Bondcliff Books in Littleton and a well-known mountain writer and hiker, just released a unique and beautiful photographic history of the White Mountains that any hiker would love to unwrap under their tree. The book features 200 vintage photos, historical background about the mountains and tourist sites and even an elevation list of the high mountains in our state.

NH Rocks That Rock: An Adventure Guide to 25 Famous Boulders of the Granite State by Uma and Dan Szczesny ($12, Looking for some shorter hikes kids of all ages will enjoy? Six-year-old Uma Szczesny and her dad (full disclosure: that’s me!) have written an adventure guide to more than two dozen famous boulders scattered across New Hampshire. The book includes directions to all of these interesting glacial erratics, along with photographs, their history and GPS coordinates.

Family hikes

Hiking field journals / mountain passports What better way to involve the kids in your family’s hikes and adventures than through journals and logbooks? From White Mountain passport books where you can stamp your adventures to simple blank field guides, your littlest hiker can draw and color about their hike like a mini Jane Goodall. Go for a blank field guide with a brightly colored cover from Elan Publishing (, or, if you want some prompts for drawing and writing, the Nature Journal and Sketchbook for Kids from River Breeze ( The handy pocket-size White Mountain 4000-Footers Passport from The Mountain Wanderer (, $20) has a peel-off stamp for each peak.

White Mountain Cut Your Own Christmas Tree Program($5, Want to bring part of the White Mountains into your living room for the holidays? For a $5 permit, the state will let you cut down and bring home your own Christmas tree from the Whites. They only offer one per family and as you can imagine there are rules about where you can go and how you can cut them, but there’s nothing like a family hike to bring back a tree.

Keen Greta Waterproof Boots, plus Snowline Kids’ Traction Spikes (Approximately $80 for boots, $40 for spikes, most local retailers, prices vary) If your little hiker is going to help you find a tree, they need to protect their feet. We like the Keen Greta boots for comfort and ease to slip on. Over the top of that, pick up a pair of XXS Micro-Spikes and your mini hiker will have warm feet and sturdy footing!

Heavy-duty winter gear

Burgeon Outdoors Flume Base Layer ($89 to $100, Hardcore hikers know warmth and safety start with a solid base layer. Lincoln, N.H., outdoor company Bergeon Outdoors is offering a Tencel and Spandex base layer top that was named best hiking shirt by Field and Stream. The company specializes in sustainable outdoor wear inspired by and designed in the White Mountains.

The Nemo Quasar 3D Sleeping Pad ($129 to $249, If you’re overnighting on snowpack, you’re going to need a tough and warm pad. We’re recommending Dover outfitter NEMO’s Quasar #D Sleeping Pad. Low weight, easy inflation completes the package. Rest easy!

Miscellaneous hiking gifts you didn’t know you needed

Artwork from Kat Maus Haus Illustration and Design ( Artist Kat Maus has been illustrating amazing and unique scenes and landscapes from around New England for posters, book covers, stickers and greeting cards for years. One of her specialties is White Mountain scenes, everything from Mount Washington to the Cog Railway to mountaintop fire towers. Pick up a pack of White Mountain postcards for your favorite hiker’s stocking.

New Hampshire State Park ornaments ( The state has teamed up with artist Lyn Collins of White Mountain Smile Makers to create a series of Christmas tree ornaments that commemorate several state parks, including Mt. Washington, Bear Brook and Franconia Notch. You may want to grab one now, though, so it’s on the tree when you’re opening your presents.

Featured photo: Field guide, hiking journal and the White Mountains 4000 Footer Passport. Courtesy photo.

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