Blister’s Holiday Gift Guide 2020 — In the Garage

Blister's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide
Jonathan Ellsworth skiing at Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Intro

Tis the season to do some nice things, say some nice things, and maybe give one or two nice things to the people you care about, so we’re once again sharing a few of our favorite gift ideas.

We’ve posted our recommendations for stocking stuffers, gifts that’d be great under the tree, and those aimed at kids and parents, and now it’s time for the bigger-ticket items you might need to hide in the garage.

And if you have any gift ideas, please feel free to share them in the Comments section below.

A Ski They Might Not Buy Themselves

Luke Koppa on the Line Blade, Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Luke Koppa: Having a quiver of skis is great, but not everyone can afford to, or feels the need to purchase multiple pairs of skis. So if you know a passionate skier and you want to buy them an awesome gift, check out our Buyer’s Guide and reviews to see what might be a good fit. Or if your giftee is a gear nerd, get them a Blister Membership and we can help them find the best product for them.

Personally, the skis that come to mind are the Line Blade, Line Sakana, and Rossignol BLACKOPS Gamer. They’re not great for everything and I wouldn’t blame someone for not being able to justify what’s basically an all-mountain slalom ski (Blade & Sakana) or heavy chop-destroyer (Gamer). But man, they are fun in the right conditions, and if you read our reviews and they seem like something your giftee would enjoy, they’d make for excellent gifts.

Suspension Service

MSRP: Varies, ~$150-400 or so

Blister's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide
photo by Fox

David Golay: Shiny new parts are great, but just servicing the suspension they’ve already got can be a huge improvement for the negligent mountain biker in your life, and make those parts last longer. The slow degradation of performance as seals wear and oil breaks down and gets contaminated isn’t always so noticeable from one ride to the next, but freshening all that up will go a long way if those services have been put off for a while. Depending on the forks and shocks in question, a bit of custom valving work while you’re at it can have them working even better than new, and keeping the parts your favorite mountain biker has working better for longer beats having them wind up in a landfill.

A Bootfitting Appointment

Bent Gate Mountaineering - Blister Recommended Shop
Blister Recommended Shop, Bentgate's COVID-friendly bootfitting station

Luke Koppa: Going off David’s suggestion, for the negligent skier in your life, a trip to a bootfitter might literally change their life. If you know someone who is always complaining about their boots or who is trying to progress but still in poorly fitting boots from many years ago, setting them up with a bootfitter and / or paying for the new boots the fitter recommends could make every one of their days on the mountain far, far better.

Blister's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide
Gear Dryer Freestanding 12

Luke Koppa: This is something that we use in Blister HQ every single day during ski season. You can read our full take in our review, but long story short, the Freestanding 12 is excellent for families, folks with several roommates, or those who like to host groups at their place when skiing. Or if you’re looking for a smaller gift for an individual, especially one who travels to ski, we’re still big fans of the Dry Guy Travel Dry DX ($45).

A No-Board

MSRP: $150–$1000+

Blister's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide
Pow surfing near Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado.

Luke Koppa: If your giftee lives in a somewhat snowy place with even mellow hills, a no-board / pow-surfer is an absurdly fun thing to own. Whether skier or snowboarder, I think everyone could have a blast on one of these, and you really only need a few inches of snow and a slope that’s more than ~20° steep to enjoy them. If you or your giftee are more of a DIY person, building one from some plywood, epoxy, and fiberglass is an option, but there are also loads of pre-made options on the market. Shark’s boards look really cool and aren’t wildly expensive at $450 for the board, and I’ve heard great things about Asmo’s (very pricey) boards. Also, one of our reviewers, Andrew Forward, recently let me know that a friend of his is hand-making pow surfers for sale via the @freebooter.mtn.surf Instagram account. Alternatively, you could just do what I did and find an old snowboard (ideally something pretty pow-oriented) and slap a pad on it. I love skiing, but it really can’t compare to the feeling of a pow surfer in fresh snow.

Blister's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide
AIARE Course in Crested Butte, Colorado.

Luke Koppa: A lot of people are venturing into the backcountry for the first time this year, and no one should do so without taking the necessary precautionary steps. One of those is taking an AIARE Avalanche Education Course, which could make for a great gift. Another gift idea: the Mammut Barryvox S avalanche transceiver, which is our current favorite.

Wahoo KICKR

MSRP: $1,199

Blister's 2020 Holiday Gift Guide
Simon Stewart's Wahoo KICKR

Jonathan Ellsworth: We actually dedicated a Bikes & Big Ideas podcast episode to the general category of indoor trainers — and to this product in particular. Long and short, I’ve never ever been interested in the idea of riding a bike inside. But Simon made a pretty compelling use case, and had me intrigued. And then I actually rode his — as you can see from this terrible-but-very-cinema-verite photo (complete with Simon’s legs in the background on the couch) and I can say that the execution of the idea of this thing is excellent. And so for those times where the bike trails aren’t ready to ride, or the temps or conditions are too nasty to ride or run, and / or the backcountry isn’t ready to skin (or avy conditions won’t permit it) … this is a fantastic way to maintain cardio. (Especially since every time I see Simon, he hands me a box of crack waffles from his bike shop, which I then devour.)

Anyway, listen to my conversation with Simon to see what you think. But I can now also vouch that this is an impressive product for any cardio-inclined bike person in your life.

Now, one thing: this item is currently out of stock on the Wahoo website (blame COVID), so check to see if your local bike shop might have one. But this can also be a blessing in disguise. You can give your special person a card with an I.O.U., blame corona, and save yourself from a frenzied shipping / gift wrapping experience. #silverlining

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