On the eighth day, Santa said “Let there be gear!” And behold there was a plethora of Gore-tex laid before the masses and fleece grew from the trees and carbon-fiber precision welded bike frames sprang from the earth. Mankind did rejoice at 800-fill down jackets and dog-kind did rejoice at the multitude of soft-bite frisbees that rain’d down from the heavens, and it was good.
I think that’s how it happened. And who are we to break with that age-old gift-giving tradition?
Guys are pretty easy to shop for — if it’s shiny, they’ll probably like it. Note that this does not include shiny underwear, socks or ties, though if they happen to have a built-in GPS you might be on to something.
Sundance Solar is particularly tuned in to shiny things, most notably that beloved mass of incandescent gas in the sky, the sun. They offer a full array of portable solar battery chargers that can power anything from AAA batteries to laptops. The solar panel backpacks are particularly cool. Now all your favorite mountain men can head out into the wilderness without the dreadful fear of having their iPod die, forcing them to indulge the peaceful song of nature, which contains very little Metallica.
Also practical for helpful applications like recharging GPS, cell phone and camera batteries.
Freelance writer and photographer Ted Alan Stedman offers up the Nikon S1200pj digital camera as tops amongst new gadgets. “Instant digital playback has been a wonderful tool, especially during remote travel where a few shared snapshots earn you major karma,” he says. “The new Nikon S1200pj ($430) takes the concept further with a built-in projector that shows surprisingly crisp photos and videos on any flat surface, even up to 60 inches wide. The 14.1 megapixel resolution, anti-shake technology, 5X optical zoom and ability to connect to iPods, iPads and iPhones and display content make this a very versatile travel companion that fits in your pocket.”
As for women’s gifts, award-winning travel writer Jayme Moye says the stylish Marmot Montreaux Coat ($275) is a top choice.
“Not only is this the warmest, coziest coat around, insulated with 650-fill goose down, it’s also sexy chic with a body-hugging tailored fit and a jaunty fur-lined hood ruff,” Moye says.
Sherpani purses and handbags (starting at $30) have perfected the mountain chic look that is equally comfortable in the office as it is in the climbing gym. Feminine but not over-the-top girly and available in a variety of understated but trendy designs, Sherpani purses are sure to become a favorite fashion accessory.
For Hikers and Campers
For those who explore the world on foot, simplicity and functionality are high on their most-wanted list. An affordable gift that every hiker can use is Mountainsmith’s Cyber II Point and Shoot camera case ($16 to $20). It slides onto backpack straps and is especially good at staying put on Camelbak shoulder straps when biking or skiing. No excuses for missing those action shots!
Backpackers and campers can’t go wrong with the MSR Dromedary ($30 to $45) packs, available in a variety of sizes. These sleek and tough water packs are superior to the old-style collapsible water containers, and they weigh next to nothing. And as a bonus, cold-weather campers can fill them with hot water and use them to heat their sleeping bags in the night or as an extra toasty pillow.
Let’s start big: If you haven’t ridden a 29er mountain bike, what’s the deal? Designed to roll faster and climb more efficiently, the bigger wheel circumference makes for a zippy ride that is ideal for long days on the trail. Kona bikes have a range of great models, notably the affordable and worthy Kahuna and its lighter and more advanced brother, the Big Kahuna.
In addition, Lizard Skin Lock-On Grips ($30) are perfect for mountain, cruiser and commuter bikes, and you can customize the lock rings on the Lizard Skins website.