While some of our friends and family might be easier to shop for than others, hopefully this guide can help add a couple of new ideas to the list, and maybe provide the perfect gift for someone that they didn’t know they were missing.
This week, we start small with Stocking Stuffers and over the next couple of weeks we will work our way up to some of the larger items, though we all know that what we really want is powder days with friends, lots of snow, and a few memorable turns this season. Happy Holidays!
MSRP: $16.95 – $22.95
Kara Williard: The Sea to Summit First Aid Dry Sack is an awesome way to ensure the first aid kit is always ready to grab and go. This little dry bag can sustain harsh weather and is easily strapped to almost anything, including a backpack, bike, or fanny pack. It’s big enough for the essentials without being too big to justify not bringing with you on every adventure.
If your loved ones are resistant to carrying their first aid kit due to bulkiness, or just lack of a general organized system that can be transferred from one activity to the next, establishing a small, protected First Aid kit is a great way to ensure that you and your loved ones are always traveling prepared.
Other small dry bags from Sea to Summit are also great for travel and adventure. It’s never a bad idea to have a waterproof container to store a phone, passport, maps, and other essentials.
Luke Koppa: One of my favorite pre-ski-season traditions is throwing all my leather gloves in the oven and re-treating them with SnoSeal so they won’t get soaked during the first pow day. If you know someone who likes to ski, board, shovel, etc. in leather gloves, SnoSeal is a nice way to revive their weather resistance — and it’s pretty dang affordable, too. If you instead need to get something to condition leather gloves or boots (rather than add water resistance), then I’d recommend some mink oil.
MSRP: $119.95 (currently on sale for $89.95)
Kara Williard: Aftershokz headphones are the perfect gift for someone who wants to listen to some music or podcasts while still being alert and courteous to the world around them. Aftershokz headphones use bone conduction technology, which sends vibrations to the outside of the ear and keeps your ear open to the world going on around you, while still providing a private listening experience that others around you can’t hear. The Air headphones are a comfortable wrap-around headset, and because of the way these headphones work, they allow you to be aware of your surroundings while on the trail or bike path.
Best yet, the Aftershokz technology provides a quality sound experience while also not being harmful to your ears. They are waterproof, sweatproof, and have proven durable after a couple years of use and a lot of dirt and sweat from my recent summer on a farm.
Kara Williard: Gifting a cozy, fashionable, and functional hat for someone who loves to get outdoors is always a safe bet. The SKIDA Alpine Hat is a versatile hat that can be used for countless adventures, and is also a good option for layering beneath ski and bike helmets on cold days. Insulated with cozy midweight fleece and featured in a variety of beautiful and vibrant patterns, the outer poly-blend material is both protective against windy and bitter conditions, while also being breathable for uphill activity.
For someone who prefers a thinner hat to layer beneath a helmet, or wants something more breathable in general, the SKIDA Nordic Hat is also a great option. The fleece also makes it super soft and not itchy against the forehead. The Skida Alpine Hat is an excellent choice for someone needing a cozy, fashionable, and highly functional hat that can be well loved and utilized for anything from biking, touring, running, to après.
Luke Koppa: I’m super picky about my face mask / goggle / helmet combination, and Blackstrap’s original “The Hood” balaclava is my current favorite for a few reasons.
First, it’s a hinged design, which is a necessity in my book. This lets you easily pull the chin down when you want, without it constantly shifting back up or squishing your face. Second, I think the standard Hood’s fabric and construction make it really versatile. It features a single layer of synthetic fabric through most of the hood, but then the fabric is doubled up over the hinged area. I initially was worried that’d hamper breathability, but that has not been an issue for me and I’ve come to really appreciate it on cold, windy days.
Plus, the fabric is also nice and slippery, so it doesn’t get hung up on other layers, helmets, etc. Third is the fit — many balaclavas are basically just tubes, but the slightly more complex patterning on Blackstrap’s Hood creates a slightly slimmer fit through the neck, which means less bulk and easier fitment under jackets with slim collars.
Finally, Blackstrap’s Hoods are not only cut and sewn in the U.S., but the fabric itself is also made domestically, too. Their products are made in a huge range of colors and patterns, so if you know someone who is in need of a new balaclava, I highly recommend them.
MSRP: $299.95 (Garmin inReach Mini) $14.95-64.95/month (Subscription)
Kara Williard: When it comes to the people you care about, knowing that they are headed out on adventures with the ability to get in touch brings a sense of reassurance. Over the last several years, the feasibility of carrying a GPS communication device has become increasingly simple. With the Garmin inReach Mini, you can send SOS, have two-way communication, let your friends and family see precise location, and if you utilize it with the Garmin Earthmate app you are able to use your phone as the communication device, for easier texting. The subscription is the GPS service itself, and there are a variety of levels based on your needs.
The Garmin inReach Mini is tiny, lightweight, and intuitive to use. It’s also worth noting that fellow reviewer Paul Forward spends a significant portion of his year off the grid in Alaska, and currently the inReach and inReach Mini are his go-to GPS communication devices.
Kara Williard: No matter the extent of technological advancements, there’s always still a place for a classic, physical map. National Geographic offers almost 400 different trail maps that provide comprehensive beta, trails, and topographical insight to that next adventure you and a loved one are planning. These maps are waterproof and tear-resistant, and National Geographic is also partnered with several GPS services if you prefer the digital copy. Maybe it’s the bike guide in me, but it’s always smart to have a backup map system, and the classic paper maps are always a good way to more deeply understand the zone you’re in.
Luke Koppa: Knucklehead is a small brand based here in Crested Butte, and if you’ve spent any time skiing / riding here, you’ve probably seen their hoods out on the mountain. All their hats and hoods are cut and sewn in Colorado and made with recycled Polartec fleece, and I can confirm that they’re wildly comfortable.
Their Classic Hood is ideal for wearing under a helmet or over a hat on frigid days, while the Cletus is better for throwing over a helmet. Then their Hotdog Hat is ideal for those who don’t want a full hood but still want a really warm, fleece beanie that’s available in several great prints and colors (it’s also made from the scrap fabric left over from their hoods).
Especially for those super cold days, it’s hard to beat throwing on a thick, fleece hood, and Knucklehead makes some great ones.
Kara Williard: The Crankbrothers M10 is a well-rounded multitool that hasn’t let me down when I need to do that somewhat rare adjustment on the bike, or just need a quick fix on the go. The tool features hex wrenches #2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, so you are able to make the important adjustments when you aren’t always expecting it. It also includes a Phillips #2 and a flathead #2, and a torx-25.
From personal experience, I can say it lasts a really long time, and the length of the tools is useful for being able to access tighter spaces. It is relatively lightweight for how robust, durable, and functional it is. If someone you know is in need of one well-built multitool, the M10 is a great long-term investment.
Kara Williard: Having a tire plug kit on hand is a necessity for me — just stab a strip of bacon into your tubeless tire, plug the hole, and keep pedaling. You need to have sealant in your tire and it obviously won’t fix all punctures, but a tire plug kit like this one from Genuine Innovations is tiny, lightweight, and easy to use. I carry this little repair kit with me anytime I am on the bike, and it has saved me a couple of times.
MSRP: $13.95 (on sale for $10.50 as of publishing)
Luke Koppa: If you know someone who’s a seasoned backcountry skier / splitboarder, they’re just getting into it, or they hope to this spring, skin wax makes for an excellent gift that has the potential to save them from a great deal of discomfort.
I had a chunk of Mountain Flow’s rub-on skin wax with me every time I went out last year, and it was a god send on several hot, gloppy spring days. I’m no expert on skin waxes, but what I do know is that Mountain Flow’s skin wax did its job and kept sticky spring snow from glopping up on my skins. And the reason I really like it (and why Blister has partnered with Mountain Flow) is that their products are plant based and biodegradable.
They also make a spray-on skin wax that I would use on skins the night before a long spring day, and I think the spray-on version is particularly nice for old skins that no longer have much of a water-resistant finish on their plush. But I especially like the traditional rub-on version since I find it lasts a bit longer and you can break off a small piece to always keep in your pack for on-the-go reapplications.
Of course, Mountain Flow also makes a ton of other ski tuning waxes and products, and several of us are big fans of their biobased bike lubes, too.
Kara Williard: For as long as I can remember, my mom has been giving me chocolate in my stocking. It wasn’t until recently that I became irrevocably aware of the situation around cocoa farming and the social injustices entrenched within this industry, so I’m now paying much closer attention to where any candy comes from. Tony’s Chocolonely is dedicated to producing slave-free and fair-trade chocolate, and not only have they accomplished this goal through ethical sourcing, they have also just made a really delicious bar of chocolate. Visit their website to see the impact this mission has had, and help support this mission by giving some tasty and socially-responsible chocolate.
Jed Doane: A running belt is a way more comfortable option than carrying a phone and keys in pockets. This affordable option from Nathan is simple, lightweight, and really comfortable, in my experience. One main zip pocket and two stretch side pockets are enough for my phone and keys (though it is missing a key loop), a mask, and a bar. I like the hook-style waist closure more than the classic buckle, and the entire belt stretches to keep bouncing to a minimum. Overall, it’s a solid, pretty inexpensive piece that improves the running experience.
Jed Doane: Masks are likely not going away anytime soon, and most resorts are going to continue requiring them indoors this winter. It’s tough to find a mask that’s comfortable for resort riding and compatible with goggles for the liftline, but AVALON7’s offering is great for on-hill use since it’s very adjustable and has a comfortable neck lanyard built in. The soft polyester is comfortable on the face, and it has a slot for a filter. I found myself reaching for this mask over neck tubes while resort riding all of last year, and have used it during the summer as well.
Jed Doane: They say that socks are an easy holiday gift purchase, but for many outdoor-inclined folk, not just any socks will do, and many well-intentioned sock gifts never see the trail. The midweight version of Swiftwick’s Pursuit Hike 6 is as close to the ultimate crowd-pleaser as I’ve tested. Made of a soft merino / synthetic blend with medium cushion, they’re not too warm for the average hike, wick and breathe well, and have proven durable against an onslaught of burrs and my clumsy feet. For those who run hotter, there’s also a thinner Lightweight version.
Kara Williard: I am particular about my socks. I like something lightweight, wicking, and smooth without any bulky seams. Thankfully, I have a few pairs of Minus33 Micro Weight socks and they are really the only socks I want to wear these days. From running to hiking and just everyday wear, this collection from Minus33 provides a variety of cuts, cushion levels, and colors. I especially like how well they wick moisture, and how smooth and not-itchy their merino / nylon blend is.
Kristin Sinnott: I recently upgraded my cool-weather glove situation and I’ve been exclusively wearing the Ergo Infinium Glove for the past few months. I’d describe the gloves as substantial but lightweight — they’re windproof and water resistant but not bulky. I wore them when shoveling snow out of the Blister booth at the recent Killington World Cup races and they stayed dry and kept my hands warm despite the strong winds and cold temps. When I had to clean someone’s refrozen spilled beer off our tablecloth with hot water, I had them on and the hot water didn’t soak through. From winter running to playing in wet snow with my toddler, the Ergo Infinium gloves have kept my hands warm and dry. They are not insulated but they are windproof, water-resistant, and touch screen compatible. If you’re looking for a gift that will get a lot of use, check out the Ergo Infinium.
Yeah, we’re just a little biased on this one, but a Blister Membership is the gift that just keeps giving. It can be a small gift or a lead up to a bigger one (gifting a pair of skis — we can help). The Blister membership provides access to all our reviews, including Deep Dive comparisons and Flash Reviews, as well as discounts on a ton of great ski brands, a copy of our Winter Buyer’s Guide, and personalized gear recommendations from our reviewers. Current member deals include discounts from 14 different ski companies like Moment, Wagner, Folsom, and 4FRNT, wheels from We Are One Composites, apparel from Flylow, and in-store and online purchases from some of our recommended shops.
But perhaps the best part of the membership is the personalized gear recommendations. If you know someone who is looking to purchase a new bike, skis, or any related gear for those sports, a personalized gear recommendation will help them take the guesswork out of the process. Our reviewers are unbiased and they work hard to determine the best options for everyone.
If you’d like to give a membership, contact us and we can help walk you through the process. We can even provide you with something to print out to wrap up.
Kristin Sinnott: I purchased a pair of the Shearling Insoles for my snow boots several years ago and that purchase has been the best investment. The insoles cut the chill when sticking my foot into a cold boot and they provide additional warmth when I wear them. They are so warm that I usually go without socks when I’m heading to the hill since I don’t want my ski socks to get sweaty on the drive to the hill. The insoles are fairly thick and they work well for me because my boots are a bit big on me. Take this into consideration when purchasing these as a gift.
Fly Fishing Accessories
Luke Koppa: If you’re looking for a gift for someone who fly fishes, you’ve got a ton of options — many of which are small / affordable enough to be stocking stuffers, while still being actually useful.
My first recommendation would be to visit or call a local fishing shop and get their thoughts (and then make the purchase through them). They’ll be able to help narrow down the options, and typically provide great feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Some of the safe bets, especially for a new angler who is still building up their quiver of random fishing tools, would be a tippet holder (or maybe one pre-loaded with various tippet types); a retractor for a pair of nippers; and/or a pair of hemostats. In general, I’ve been very happy with my experiences with these sort of accessories from both Fishpond and Loon Outdoors.
And even if you’re not buying for an angler but just someone who spends time on the water and enjoys having a beverage while they do, I highly recommend the Fishpond River Rat beverage holder / lanyard. It’s super simple but makes such a big difference when you want to have a cold drink without spilling it every time you move around.