Yes Virginia, it’s that time of year again. Here you go.
2. We think everyone skiing “real” backcountry should use a 2-way radio. Basic “talkabouts” such as the Motorola brand (our favorite of those) can work, but the BCA Link has everything you need for full function in the winter backcountry. We’ve got them all hyperlinked in this blog post.
3. Want to go all out for that techie guy in your life who never has everything? I’d suggest a pair of Dynafit TLT-7-P ski touring boots. These things have so many high-tech features you’d think an iPhone 12 was built into one of the buckles. I’d suggest shopping for these from a shop who can customize the fit, such as our website supporter Cripple Creek Backcountry, but the DIY enabled individual could probably go generic and grab a pair from Backcountry.com.
4. Apologies for leading off with a trio of gear so expensive you could trade for one of Mr T’s hotels. Let’s walk it back. Socks. Stuff one with chocolate truffles if it’s too mundane. We keep trying socks, and we keep getting bored because we always end up returning to Darn Tough, though trying to find the darn basic Ultralight Ski version is a grind. To help with that, direct linkage. No other sock need apply.
(Tip for those of you new to skiing. Don’t get seduced by “padded!” ski socks. All the padding you should need is in your (hopefully) custom fitted boot liner. More, if you do go with padded socks, you’ll need to wear those same socks when you fit your boots, but, heat molding liners is best done without any sock thickness. In other words, no, nada, nix, to the padded! socks.)
5. Let us go out of gamut. Help your giftee show up at their favorite trailhead with a new brand of jacket that’ll keep everyone wondering how they got so hip. Get strafed, my friend, with the Strafe Temerity Jacket. Neoshell with pit zips? Can you say everdry no matter how max your VO2max? Pockets big enough for climbing skins? Can you say, designed by some of the best ski mountaineers in the world?
6. Helmets wear out or get damaged. New ones make good gifts. We think helmets marketed for skiing make the best ski helmets overall, but for skimo racing in lesser regulated environments, our research indicates that the latest bicycle helmets can be as good or better than those sold specifically for skimo racing. For the basic ski helmet, we’re liking Giro these days. The Giro Nine MIPS would is a good bet.
For that bicycle skimo helm, something like the Giro Feature MIPS is an idea, it has a little less in the way of vent holes, removable visor, good coverage at the back of your head. MIPS is a bit over hyped but can’t hurt. What we’d actually like to see in all helmets are stricter industry standards. Simply adding a half a centimeter to helmet lining thickness can have a huge effect on injury prevention, but nobody is going to do that until everyone must.
7. Let’s talk baggage for a moment. No, not you or your partner’s emotional luggage, but rather the items you use to lug around all the junk it takes to enjoy a modern adventure lifestyle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my gear soaked during transport. It’s been rained on while aircraft loading. It’s been infused with melted snow on countless snowmobile sled rides. Once, hut keepers even dropped my bags under a dripping roof. The 100% solution, use a drybag duffel. This one from Filson is nice, but just about anything made “drybag” style will fit the bill. Just make sure it’s not too gussied up with appendages and gewgaws that’ll make a meal for airport conveyors.
8. Whoops, I forgot I was getting back to more budget stuff. To that end, there is no other gift as useful and perpetual as “Voile” straps. Yes, Voile did invent PU strapology. As they are the masters, they have their own website for this lash happy stitcher of the universe. Get there, and git sum. The really long ones are cool.
9. Another safety gift. If a person ski tours in situations where obtaining help would be difficult, due to poor cell phone connectivity and other factors, some sort of satellite connectivity is rather useful. The SPOT units are your best budget option, but the 2-way texting and worldwide operability of the Delorme inReach can’t be beat. They’re basic model is fine, check it out. Remember if you gift an inReach it requires an activation plan. Basic is around $12 a month.
10. For the person who already has all the gear they need, giftwrap a ticket to a spectacular adventure. We recommend the Hokkaido of North America: Cooke City, Montana. Beau Fredlund operates Yellowstone Ski Tours and offers tours in one of the most fabulous national parks of the U.S. Ski legendary deep powder, see bison and wolves in their natural habitat and enjoy Beau’s extensive knowledge of the fascinating Yellowstone region. For ladies, Yellowstone Ski Tours offers a women’s backcountry course.
Our other gift lists can be amusing and useful this time of year.
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