Have you been naughty or nice? If you’re a backcountry skier, you’re nice. Period. So here is Santa’s list. Pass it on to that special person who’s been agonizing about what to buy that mountain guy or girl in his or her life (meaning, you, ho ho ho?). (Please note we reworked this post from a previous December, instead of just letting it go totally out of date and wasting space.)
Voile straps. The ultimate stocking stuffer. Get a few super long ones. $5.54
Lithium batteries are the best bar none for headlamps used during colder conditions. The endless stocking stuffer. With a shelf life that exceeds two years, buy a bunch and use for gifts next year as well! (Remember not to use in avy beacons, so stuff stocking with some regular alkaline AAAs as well.)
Darn Tough Socks. Period. Darn Tough’s selection is confusing. For skiing we suggest models with more wool and less padding, which they call “flat jersey construction.” Darn Tough for men and women.
A subscription to Ski Journal not only supports your loved one’s stoke, but also supports the evolution of print media to something beyond what the web can do. Our favorite here at WildSnow HQ. $39.99
Backcountry Access Shovel. Our WildSnow.com favorite these days. Size is a nice compromise, and it’s a bit flatter than some shovels so it packs better and works good for snow pits.
Avalanche safety course. Give the gift that might bring your loved one back alive. Prices vary, if you’re on a budget you can frequently find courses near or in mountain towns that cost under $100. Check with outdoor stores and community colleges, for starters.
Canon S100 camera. What might be the best point-and-shoot ever made. Used by everyone from alpinist Hayden Kennedy, WildSnow progeny Louie Dawson, and Mrs WildSnow herself. No optical viewfinder but a good LCD. Same big sensor as G series Canon cameras. Amazing video, lots of zoom. Only 194 grams. Manual mode for super control. Be sure when shopping to purchase at least one spare battery and perhaps a travel/car charger.
Spot Satellite Messenger. Our feeling here at WildSnow.com is that traveling with some sort of emergency communication device is a simple exercise in social responsibility. There was a time, long long ago, when people debated the ethics of carrying things like cell phones or 2-way radios. Did they reduce the adventure? Mitigate the power of the experience? Valid questions back then (if a bit self serving). But now, comm devices have become as ubiquitous as socks. Thus, in my view, carrying one is no different than bringing any other item of what’s considered to be essential gear. Sure, if you want a raw unfettered experience you can leave your clothing behind, but remember your Spot Messenger. $99.95 plus yearly subscription fee.
We continue as fans of avalanche airbag backpacks. American based company BCA has a good option with an excellent price point, Float 32 is around $550.00.
K2 Wayback alpine touring skis. We feel these planks offer one of the best weight/performance ratios in the industry. Not the ride of huge powder paddles, but then, you don’t know they’re on your feet while you’re climbing. $599.99
And not to leave out the WildSnow girls, we’ve always liked K2 Sidekick as well.
Pair of Dynafit FT 12 backcountry skiing bindings. We feel these are still the sweet spot in Dynafit’s line of bindings with ski brakes. They’re light, simple and the brake can be taken on and off at home. For the pro look, install without the cosmetic connector plate between toe and heel. At the top of just about any real backcountry skier’s wish list. Advantage of this gift is you don’t have to worry about your giftee already having a pair. Another set will suit him or her just fine. $549.00. Be sure to pair with Dynafit Power Plates or the front base plate from a Vertical ST model, available from Salewa NA.
Iridium 9575satellite phone package, with minutes. Still less money than a new pair of skis and bindings, an Iridium phone is the end-all be-all way to stay in touch or call out in an emergency. Forget your Spot locator, forget messing around with two-way radios, forget trying to guess if you’re in an area where your cell phone will work. Just carry an Iridium and you’re done. No monthly plan required, just buy a SIM card with minutes, stow in your pack, that’s it. Approximately $1,800 with minutes, and you’ll have to buy a few hundred dollars worth of minutes a year to roll your existing minutes, and reality is that texting may work much better than voice if you’re in a mountain valley. $1,375.00
Everyone, comment with your gift ideas!
(And yes, some of these product links may result in obscene profits for Wildsnow.com, though some of our links are simply, links.)