Best Gifts to Give in 2012: Outfitting Your Skier, Snowboarder, Biker, or Mountaineer

    Time to buy gifts for the mountain sports lovers in you world–skiers, snowboarders, climbers, bikers, and all other cliff, trail, and slope addicts. Consider the following this holiday season:

    Rescue Bands ($8-35)

    They’re a colorful and functional curiosity. Made of durable parachute cord, Rescue Bands are bracelets, key chains, necklaces and pet collars that when unraveled to lengths of up to 200 feet transform them from hip accessories into a practical piece of safety gear. Use them as a rescue line, barebones tourniquet, leash, tow rope and to affix pesky luggage to the car. Capable of supporting some 550 pounds of weight, Rescue Bands can only be used once, but the manufacturer promises to replace it free if you send it in to them. The bands can also be used as fundraising items for school and organizational functions. They’re an inexpensive stocking stuffer with priceless possibilities.

    Darn Tough Socks ($12.80+)

    Socks tend to be the afterthought gift, the one you get that brother-in-law you’d like to forget. But if you like him—or any other in-law—think Darn Tough. With Yankee ruggedness in mind, the family-owned company starting churning out socks more than 30 years ago at their central Vermont mill. The socks for skiers, climbers, runners, bikers, hikers and others are made of a Merino Wool blend for warmth and dryness. The Standard Issue Crew sock is a mid-calf length sock for everyday use. And if your bro-in-law—the one you like— is hanging ’round the house for the holidays, at least it won’t be in socks with holes.

    Kahtoola MICROspikes ($59)

    Get where you need to go with Kahtoola’s MICROspikes. From the tricky driveway to the icy trails, the chain-like grips provide much-needed and -appreciated traction when winter weather rules the land. Wear them while ice fishing, hiking, running, and walking the dog. The spikes slip on winter boots and shoes, stretching over them. No straps. No buckles. Available in red and black, they’re made to travel over terrain like concrete, wet rocks, ice and packed snow. The beauty is they easily fit into a pack so that they can be affixed to the fit out in the field whether you start with them from the trailhead or put them on when conditions warrant.

    Liquid Image Model 339 Apex HD+ ($399.99)

    How many gigs in your goggles? The Model 339 Apex HD+ by Liquid Image is a goggle camera for skiers, snowboarders and snowmobilers capable of recording high action video, continuous snapshots and sound. As if that isn’t cool enough, the lens tilts, is wide angle and a built-in microphone is heralded as providing wind protection. Still making a McKayla Maroney face? Control the camera through WiFi on a smart phone app. The sleek goggles come with a 4G Micro SDHC card, rechargeable battery and USB cable for downloading. Charge the lithium battery and when you’re ready for action, push the button on the strap. Bet you’re impressed now.

    Black Diamond Mercury 65 Backpack ($249.95)

    The Black Diamond Mercury 65 backpack contains an imaginative suspension system that makes a hiker feel a bit like a marionette at times. Adjustable shoulder straps, a cushiony hip belt (with zippered pockets) and a swivel system team up to make the hike comfortable. The system does require adjustments while moving along the trail and there are a number of straps to get used to, but the shifts in weight make it all worthwhile. The sturdy pack has lots of room, and a zipper that allows it to open like a piece of luggage making it a nice bag for air and land travel too. Wrap it in a huge plastic bag or duffle bag for the flight though.

    Detours Fremonster Flap Panniers ($72)

    Borrowing a lyric from singer David Johansen of the iconic 70s rockers New York Dolls, Detours Fremonster Flap Panniers are funky, funky but chic. The panniers are named for Seattle’s quirky neighborhood with noted nightlife and growing tech companies. Fine for urban commuters, the panniers are also good for mountain town residents and bicycle touring through the highlands. Each bag holds about 20 pounds and comes with a neoprene cover to keep the pesky rain at bay from the precious cargo inside stored in pockets and key fob areas. Secure your stuff with a magnetic flap and zip closure. Done riding and want to take it with you? Use the shoulder strap. One design even comes in bright orange with a poppies on the cover. Ride, latte, ride some more.

    GSI Outdoors Halulite MicroDualist ($54.95)

    Less is more on the trail, especially when you’re the mule. And the donkey’s gotta eat. Keep it simple, but keep it warm with GSI Outdoors’ super light Halulite MicroDualist. It’s a backcountry kitchen weighing under 18 ounces that includes a boiler with see-through lid and nifty fused strainer so you don’t have to worry about spilling the ramen noodles on the ground. The handle folds up for convenient transport. Eat from the pot or the two bowls using the foons that come with it. Have hot chocolate in the two insulated mugs. Everything fits into the pot and there’s room in the stuff sack for a small stove and canister.

    Hobie Mirage Oasis ($2,799)

    Be so happy together while paddling and pedaling. Though it might be hard to wrap (perhaps a big bow will do), the Hobie Mirage Oasis will make his or her day. A tandem kayak is the perfect equalizer, assuring that those inside get to the same place at the same time—key to the longevity of any couple hooked on the outdoors. This versatile craft also has pedals and rudder to propel couples through mountain lakes and ponds, and steering is done with fingertip dual steering handles. The Oasis can also be sailed. Talk about multi-tasking. From a relationship standpoint, she’ll appreciate knowing he’s with her, and he, unlike on a tandem bicycle, can steer from the stern. So if she’s happy, he’s happy and that makes for a happy holiday.

    Images courtesy respective manufacturers

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