You’ve been through everything under the Christmas Tree and by Jove, you’re not impressed. Those ski socks will be useful – ski socks are always useful – but the rest is going to rot in the closet until you can manage to do some serious re-gifting next season. Fear not, there’s a better plan. Return that blender, those corduroy slacks and the new DVD player. Take the pile of money you get, and buy yourself something that you’ll really dig. Here are some things that I’ve really enjoyed this year. Give yourself the gift of a gift for yourself. You’ve been nice. You deserve it.
MSR Windboiler Stove – If you move around a lot in the outdoors you know that feeling. You want a hot soup or a cup of coffee, you want it all to yourself, and you want it NOW. The MSR Windboiler Stove, released earlier this year is designed to cook your personal food and beverages fast and in any weather conditions. It’s glorious!
Suunto Ambit3 Peak Watch – I’ve had a number of mountain watches in my day. Most of them have been pretty neat and have done a nice job of dealing with time and date as well as altitude, barometric pressure, compass direction, temperature, etc. The Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch takes things to a whole new level. It has an amazing internal GPS and accessory heart rate monitor, the data from which can travel bluetooth to the iPhone where it automatically creates awesome route maps, charts, graphs and even animations on an interface similar to Google Earth. And, if that weren’t enough, your watch will even let you know when you get a stoked comment on Facebook or get a text from the boss. This is a next level timepiece.
K2 Route Helmet – Helmets…stupid looking, heavy and uncomfortable, right? Not anymore. The K2 Route helmet is crazy light, super comfortable due to the BOA adjustment system and generous venting, and is the first ski helmet I’ve owned that doesn’t make me look like I’m itching to be shot out of a cannon. When weight and safety both matter, this helmet is the business.
Sony RX100 III – If you like taking pictures outside, you may be sick of two things: the crappy quality of your phone pictures or the ridiculous bulk and weight of your ‘real’ camera. Enter the Sony RX100 III, small enough for a coat or cargo pocket, tough as nails and delivering super legit image quality and speed. This is the most impressive point-and-shoot ever made. You can even send the photos to your phone via built in wifi so that your Instagram posts will go on sans delay.
Moment iPhone Lenses – “Screw that, I don’t need another camera, my phone takes great photos.” OK, but what about when you want to zoom in, or need a super wide angle? Adhere the lightweight metal mounting plate to the back of your phone and twist on the Moment Lens 60mm zoom or 18mm wide angle lenses. These things have incredible optical quality and will take your mobile photography to a whole new level.
Bellroy Elements Pocket Wallet – For those who venture outdoors, the standard wallet is far from up to the task, leaving your money and receipts soggy and gritty after any decent adventure. Enter the Bellroy Elements Pocket Wallet, made of weather resistant leather and sporting a waterproof zipper, this wallet protects your goods and will have your accountant thanking you for finally submitting legible receipts.
Scarpa Crux Shoes – If you made me choose one pair of shoes to wear every day for the rest of my life, the Scarpa Crux would be those shoes. Sturdy enough for rugged hiking and scrambling, stylish enough to wear out on the town, and featuring sticky rubber for technical approaches, these shoes do it all.
Black Diamond Whippet – Aside from avalanches, backcountry skiing has another inherent danger. An accidental slip in the wrong place can change a quick traverse into a fight for life. The Black Diamond Whippet is a telescoping ski pole with an ice axe head on top of the grip. This glorious hybrid gives you just enough power to arrest a fall, and is an amazing tool for climbing those steep lines when the snow is a little bit less than soft. If you’re stepping to ski mountaineering terrain, this is an essential tool.
Revant Sunglass Lenses – Are you a sunglass destroyer? I am. I lose them too, but sometimes when I’m lucky I’ll hang on to a pair long enough to destroy the lenses beyond recognition. Thanks to Revant Lenses, you can order super reasonably priced high quality polarized replacement lenses for your favorite frames. Less waste, fresh glass. Win, win.
The Calling, A Life Rocked by Mountains – I like to adventure, probably more than the next guy, but I keep a level of moderation in play that keeps me from truly outlandish missions. Alpine Climber, Barry Blanchard, who was at the top of the game in the 80’s and 90’s entertained no such moderation, putting up incredible first ascents in the Rockies and Himalayas. His recently completed memoir, The Calling, is a no holds barred account of an life filled with incredible adventure, devastating tragedy and astonishing focus. Another spectacular release from Patagonia Books.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket – Ask anyone who owns as Patagonia Houdini about their jacket. I guarantee you will hear this exact phrase: “I LOVE this jacket!!!!” It’s featherlight, packs down smaller than a hacky sack, and changes the game when you’re exercising heavily but still need a layer against wind or light precip. This is the only jacket I can wear when going uphill in the backcountry. It’s epic, it’s irreplaceable, it’s my religion.
Funny Shit in the Woods – But what about if you only have $15 and you just want to laugh your ass off? Brendan Leonard’s latest book, Funny Shit in the Woods is just what you need. This is an anthology from the world’s most amusing outdoor humor blog, Semi-Rad.com. If you’ve ever been stoked by the outdoors, broken by the outdoors, or otherwise touched by stepping beyond the urban threshold, these stories will hit close to home, hammer on your funny bone and leave you inspired to find a new adventure or to find a reason to laugh at the one you’re currently on. Especially if it’s all gone sideways.
Wishing everyone a joyful holiday season and a happy new year!