- Osprey Atmos / Aura AG 65 ($260)
The Atmos AG 65 — or the women’s-equivalent Aura — has proven to be an extremely comfortable and versatile backpack that I’ve enjoyed using on a wide variety of trips. Its “Anti-Gravity” mesh back panel is the most comfortable, well-ventilated suspension system I’ve ever used, and the 65L size is great for someone that needs an all-around backpacking backpack for moderate loads and 1-7 day trips. I’ve recommended this pack to several of my friends and family, and the reports have all been the same: they love it, too.
Ok, so this one goes on the toy that you already have sitting in the garage. But if you’ve been contemplating a 1x upgrade, now is the time. And the GX drivetrain makes it relatively affordable, while offering most of the benefits of its more expensive 12-speed siblings.
- Heli Skiing in Alaska
[Editor’s Note: If you’d like to go skiing with Paul himself — which we can confirm is a pretty fun thing to do — check out Chugach Powder Guides in particular.]
I use a ski bag nearly 12 months out of the year, so I’m going to keep telling you about the Db ski bag ($249) until someone figures out how to make a better one.
But I’m also getting very attached to some other Db products, too, including their Little Bastard 60L roller bag ($239), and most recently, their Hugger 30L “Smart Carry-On” Backpack ($159). The 60L roller bag is a very-well-executed, standard roller bag. But the Hugger 30L is a very-well-executed non-standard backpack. It’s a great size, it’s lightweight, it has a phenomenally good built-in, zippered, padded computer pocket that is now a make-or-break feature for me — I never bother with a padded laptop cover any more. And, true story, as I’ve had to travel around the country carrying copies of our print-edition buyer’s guide with me for various meetings, etc, and I have yet to have one of those buyer’s guides get bent or torn when kept in that pocket. I don’t even know how that’s really possible. Finally, the straps and buckles are great, strong, and fast to adjust. But if you want to know what the 3 pieces of luggage are that I travel with, you are looking at them.
- A Bike Stand ($69.99)
Confession: I’ve never owned a bike stand until this year. Then I dug around on Amazon and found the cheapest one with the highest ratings. It also happened to come with a super manly apron. It’s been absolutely game changing. Before I owned this stand, I once built up a bike on my living room floor. My roommates were not happy and I kept losing washers in the carpet. Now I go out in the garage, crack a hoppy beverage, put on my apron, and pretend to know what I’m doing when I mess with my bike. There are more expensive, more stable stands out there, but for my shade-tree style of mechanic-ing, this one gets the job done very well.
- Milwaukee M18 18-Volt Cordless Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit ($299)
I’m not going to try to sell you on why you need a drill set. Just believe me, you do. I guarantee as soon as you get one you’ll see a whole world of objects that need holes in them. My set gets a lot of use on projects around the house, and, I’ve also ended up using it on a lot of skis.
This drill set makes my life easier, whether I’m building a bike rack or mounting ultralight bindings on carbon skis.
- A Good Shovel ($21.99)
Build a pump track in your yard, chip ice off your sidewalk, go help out at a local trail day. Shovels are great, everyone should own one.
- DJI Mavic Pro Platinum Drone ($1,099)
I always thought the idea of a drone was cool but nothing I needed until I spent a week back East with my brother and his DJI Mavic Pro Platinum Drone. Easy to pack (it folds into a small bag), powerful enough to maintain elevation with some wind, and a great camera make this drone ideal for adventuring. After watching him land the drone on the back of a ski boat on a windy afternoon, sending it into the side of a cliff without consequence, and seeing the quality of the photos it produced, I now really want one, and I think they’d make a great gift.
- Big Agnes Big Creek 30 ($249.95)
If you’re a fan of car camping (in a tent or the back of a car) with a significant other, then you should check out the Big Agnes Big Creek 30. Pair it with matching Big Agnes sleeping pads and say goodbye to jockeying for space in the car or tent.