Following our suggestions for Stocking Stuffers, we ramp it up this week with gifts that are a bit bigger, probably require some actual gift wrapping, and are sure to ignite the nostalgic excitement of getting to choose a mysterious gift from beneath the tree.
Kristin Sinnott: This chair has been a game changer since it arrived earlier this fall. If you know someone that spends time outside watching sports, tailgating, apres skiing, or just likes to enjoy some fresh air in cool / cold weather, consider gifting the Heated Camping Chair.
The chair is heated similar to how a car seat is heated with 2-zones and three heat settings. There is one heated panel in the seat and one in the bottom. It’s battery-operated and Gobi claims the battery lasts up to 9 hours on low heat before needing a recharge. I haven’t had a chance to fully test the battery life, but I have been impressed with it so far.
The external battery pack that is included with the Heated Camping Chair can also be used for other charging purposes. As the name suggests, the chair is built like a camp chair and it folds up and can be easily stored in its own bag for easy transport. But the chair is on the heavy side – it weighs 12lbs.
This past fall, my family used the Heated Camping Chair for our weekly pickleball dates. My son would happily sit in the chair while my husband and I played for an hour or so. It was late in the afternoon and the temperature was fairly cold, especially to be just sitting down, but my son happily ate his snacks and got some screen time in while we played (mostly) uninterrupted. With day lodges remaining closed for us this winter, we are planning to eat lunch and apres at our vehicle this season. When my son isn’t running around, or when we get cool, the Heated Camping Chair is going to be a great solution to warm us up.
Temps haven’t dropped too much yet where I live but my husband and I have started playing pickleball in the late afternoon after my son’s preschool ends. Thanks to the chair, my son is warm, comfortable, and entertained (he watches episodes of his favorite show) sitting in the chair while we play. As long as the court stays dry, we plan to keep playing throughout the winter—something we couldn’t do so easily without the chair.
Beyond our weekly pickleball sessions, we plan to use the car for some winter tailgating and during downtime at the Blister Summit. I’m not sure of any other chairs like this, but I love the idea and utility of it and if you find yourself sitting outside on cold days, I recommend checking out the Heated Camping Chair.
Jonathan Ellsworth: In our May 2021 edition of ‘Stuff We Like’, I wrote: “I promise you, when the temps start to drop again here in Crested Butte, these will be on my feet at home.” And that promise has been fulfilled. I’m wearing these as I write this.
If they don’t currently have the size of the person you’re gifting them to, then just give them an IOU. Because when Deckers x Lab gets more in stock, whoever you give these to will thank you.
Kara Williard: Somehow I lived the majority of my life without slippers. Moving to the infamously cold Gunnison Valley last year made this no longer an option. After a couple cheap slipper purchases, I received the Haflinger Wool Felt Grizzly Clogs for Christmas last year, and they have transformed the ability to stay cozy all winter long.
The Grizzly Clogs fit comfortably with or without socks, and while they are quite warm, they never feel stifling, and this avoids the sweaty foot-feel. The wool is warm, but remains wicking on the inside. Arguably, these clogs are presentable enough to wear outside of the house, though I am trying to keep my pair pristine for indoor-use only. Best yet, they are extremely durable. Even after a year of daily use, they still feel as good on the inside as the day I received them. They are also supportive, with natural foot support from a cork and latex insole. Rather than a flat and unsupportive slipper, the Grizzly Clog feels like natural arch support after long days on my feet. For someone who enjoys the fit of Birkenstocks, the Haflinger shoes are a natural choice as I look for some winter footwear. While I want to invest in a couple more pairs, I am curious to see just how long this first pair can last. Haflinger has a lineup of several different models, all featuring wool and the supportive cork footbed, including more slipper-specific options with both hard and soft insole options.
Kristin Sinnott: Glerups are another great wool slipper option. My husband and I both have the slip-on version and have been wearing them for the past 3 winters or so. They have held up well, are fairly lightweight when compared to how warm they are, and they aren’t overly tight so they work with and without socks. They also make the slippers in kids sizes.
Kara Williard: If you know someone who notoriously always shoves way too much into their backpack on shorter backcountry days (I’m guilty, here) or who isn’t utilizing the full volume of their current pack, perhaps the best move is to give them a really functional backpack that is lower volume than the average 30+ litre packs that are more ideal for the longer missions. The Fasttrack features a unique ski-carry option that allows you to put your skis on the pack without taking it off. This is ideal for quick pitches where you want to stow the skis, but don’t want to have to configure your skis in a traditional A-Frame (this pack does still offer the option to easily carry a traditional A-Frame).
The hip and chest belts are comfortable, but both the hip belts and backpack frame can be removed if you are looking to lighten the pack for a minimalist adventure. All the pockets and access points into the pack are well designed, with a lot of options for separation and organizing among different items. The 24L pack is great for storage of snacks, water, a couple layers, shovel, and probe — without being bulky or heavy.
Kara Williard: For the people who think the sleeping part of camping has to be miserable, it might be time to give them a new mat. I spent three summers living out of a tent as a mountain bike guide, and looking back, I am pretty bummed I didn’t invest in a better mat sooner, after my life was changed this summer, by the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Mat. It is not only extremely comfortable and well cushioned, but Sea to Summit also has, hands down, one of the best technologies for inflating their mats. Their Airstream™ Pumpsack utilities a built-in pump system that efficiently inflates the mat within several pumps. It also packs down to the size of a 32oz water bottle and weighs only 472 g (for the women’s-long size). It is a good, versatile mat for everything from car camping to bikepacking. Because the mat is insulated, it provides a warm layer between you and the ground, and it’s also a quiet material that doesn’t make noise every time you shift around.
Jonathan: I actually suggested this hoodie in last year’s ‘Under the Tree’ gift guide. And since then, I have purchased another one. I probably have spent at least some portion of 300+ days of 2021 in one of these — e.g., even in the warm summer months, I tend to break one of these out for cooler mornings or evenings.
Here’s what I wrote about the Classic Full Zip last year:
(1) If any hoodie I’ve ever used had to last 50 years or more, I’d bet on this one. So while they are not inexpensive, there is also nothing cheap about them. These really are built to last, so consider this hoodie an investment.
(2) Durability was designed into this hoodie, and so when you first get it, it can feel a bit stiffer than some of the very soft hoodies out there — such as my American Apparel BLISTER hoodie, which I also love. So if you want instant soft-and-cozy, that’s not the American Giant. But this thing is slowly breaking in over time, and I think that’s why I am now reaching for it more than I did when it was brand new. It’s not ever going to be as soft as my BLISTER hoodie, but it is overbuilt, tougher, and ready to last for decades.
(3) Sizing: The American Giant Classic Full Zip Hoodie has a surprisingly slim fit — especially across the torso and the bottom ribbed hem. I am 5’10”, ~175 lbs, and have a size Medium. I haven’t yet tried a size Large (and I might get along well with it). But I like the slim fit and prefer it to having a massive amount of excess material around my waist. Those who prefer a more relaxed fit, however, should definitely go up a size larger.
[Note: I have now tried on this hoodie in a size Large, and I personally prefer the Medium. But my fit notes above are spot on for those who prefer a roomier fit.]
A Bootfitting Appointment / Ski Boots
Luke Koppa: There are a lot of skiers out there who would be a heck of a lot happier if they went to a bootfitter and had a pair of boots selected for them — boots that actually make sense for their feet.
As someone with very little free time, though, I can certainly understand the hesitancy to go through the bootfitting process. It’s another thing you have to set apart time for, and it’s not exactly the most exciting thing in the world.
Still, if you’re someone who has never had boots properly fitted, it’s arguably the thing that can make the biggest impact on your experience on the hill. And at least for me, having someone already footing the bill for the future appointment would make me far more inclined to actually go through with it.
So this could be as simple as paying for a visit to a bootfitter so that they can make some tweaks to dial in the giftee’s current boots, or you can go all in and pay for both new boots and the fitting. But either way, this would be a pretty great way to make a skier’s life a lot more enjoyable. And if you’re not sure about what shop is best for your giftee, check out our Blister Recommended Shops.
David Golay: I was gifted a pair of the Feathered Friends Down Booties a couple of years ago, and they’re quite possibly the single best gift that I’ve received in recent memory. They’re super warm, incredibly comfortable, and very light and packable, making them a great option for wearing around camp in colder weather, or just kicking back with your apres ski beverage of choice.
And a key part of the brilliance of the booties — especially for winter camping — is that the down liner and outer shell are separate pieces and easily removable, so you can wear them around camp with the shell on, then peel that off and climb into your tent or sleeping bag without having to take the insulated liner off, or worrying about bringing dirt or moisture in. And speaking of the shell, the black lower portion is fully waterproof, while the upper portion is more water resistant — but I’ve worn them around in a bit of soft snow and my feet have stayed plenty dry and comfortable.
Jonathan: For any whiskey lovers in your life, a bottle of WhistlePig is a direct bullseye of a gift. Take a little time to read up on their farm in Vermont and their heritage as a distiller. It’s great juice + great story.
Here’s my personal quick-and-dirty breakdown of some of my favorite rye whiskeys:
Piggyback Rye: Get WhistlePig’s 6-year-old, 96.5 proof offering if you (um, or the person you’re gifting this to) prefer your whiskey in a mixed drink — cola or soda water. (That said, Piggyback can absolutely stand on its own, whether neat or with ice.)
10 Year Rye: If you prefer a BIG rye, get their 10 year. It’s 100 proof, and I personally prefer it with one big cube or as the key ingredient of a great Old Fashioned.
12 Year Rye: If you like super smooth … this is your bottle. I always drink this 86-proof whiskey neat, and wouldn’t really dream of adding anything to this juice that’s finished in old-world wine casks.
15 Year Rye: When it’s time to celebrate a special occasion — which can mean meeting up with a good friend — this is my go-to. (That said, if you have the means to make this your everyday whiskey, then you are surely living a blessed existence.) If you like the sound of a remarkably balanced blend of “big” AND “smooth” then this 92-proof juice that is finished in Vermont Estate Oak is the ticket. I’ve been calling it exceptional for years now, and I just learned that it is one of the highest rated rye whiskeys of all time (the Wine Enthusiast gives it a rating of 97).
Jonathan: When you are jonesing to crack open a cold one but you still have 5 hours of work to do or a big day tomorrow, several of us at Blister are now reaching for one of Athletic Brewing’s offerings. I found out about a year and a half ago that Kristin and Pat Sinnott had, like me, been dabbling in Athletic’s various offerings. When I was talking to Paul Forward two weeks ago, he told me that he had started to crack open an Athletic several times a week. And then last Friday, Dylan Wood wrote to ask where I’ve been purchasing mine from.
By the way, everyone I just mentioned loves beer and booze. But there is a time and a place for everything, and sometimes, for whatever reason, you might not feel like drinking — or having another drink. And for an increasing number of us, that’s where Athletic can come in.
Currently, my personal favorite is still their Run Wild IPA.
Dylan Wood: Altangle is a small Houston-based company co-founded by a Western Colorado University alum, and their first product, the Hangar, offers a unique bike maintenance solution for anyone who is either tight on space in their living situation or often travels with their bike.
The Hangar is a collapsible, portable bike “stand.” I put that word in quotation marks because the Hangar doesn’t stand on the ground, it instead utilizes a typical door frame to hang a bike, creating a bike maintenance station.
It collapses to be lightweight and small, staying out of the way when it is not in use, and is even small enough to fit in most suitcases. It works with most typical door frames (those with a protruding header), and it can clamp to just about any bike seatpost or frame.
Altangle’s Hangar could make for a great gift to anyone you know who likes/needs to work on their bike, but doesn’t have the space for a full-on bike stand. For example, this could be a road cyclist living in a city apartment or a college student who lives with more bikes than people (I wouldn’t happen to know anyone like that…). It is also ideal for those who often travel with their bike and stay indoors, where they then have the opportunity to rebuild and work on their bike using the Hangar.
Jed Doane: I have long been a fan of merino/synthetic blends, and this wool/nylon/elastane hoodie is about as comfortable as the first layer as I’ve ever tried. It has a nice, long, slim fit and lightweight material that’s soft, stretchy, and very breathable. It works great as loungewear or as a base layer when hiking or touring. I’ve washed it a few times (cold, hang dry) and it’s held its dimensions nicely. The hood is comfortable, and fits under a hat when fishing without annoying bulk. Notably, it has no reported UPF rating so it’s not technically a “sun hoodie,” but I still wear it in a wide range of temperature conditions and activities. I find myself wearing it around the house several days a week.
Kara Williard: For someone who is looking to build their own ski wax system, the MountainFlow Wax-Kit (Blue Square edition) is a great gift. This kit comes complete with a wax iron, two temperature-specific waxes for both cold and warm conditions, a brush, a scraper, rubber bands for the brakes, and a travel case. This kit will help anyone give their skis some love. At Blister, we have been impressed by the line of products that MountainFlow is producing, on both the ski and bike side. As with all MountainFlow eco-wax products, their ski wax is biodegradable, plant-based, and contains 0% petroleum (which is why we opted to partner with them). This means you aren’t responsible for highly toxic perfluorochemicals left behind in the snow, as you smoothly speed down the hill.
Kristin Sinnott: Kara beat me to this writeup but I need to add a few things. First off, I am a big fan of organizing and while I’ve had a wax box for decades, this wax kit is a much more compact way to carry the essentials; perfect for travel but also a great gift for anyone that wants to do their own waxing. If you’d like to make the gift even better, add a HappyNorwegian Tuning Stand. I own a pair of clamps for cross-country and alpine skis but I’ve never had a great place to set it up. I recently moved to a smaller house with no garage and I don’t have any tables compatible with the clamps and consequently, I haven’t waxed or tuned my skis in an embarrassingly long time — until the HappyNorwegian Tuning Stand arrived. The Tuning Stand turns just about any table into a wax bench and skis can be placed on top for waxing and on their side for edge work. The non-slip surface of the Tuning Stand kept the skis (and stand) in place when scraping and brushing, and when inserted correctly, the skis don’t move around when tuning the edges.
Jed Doane: This two-burner car camping stove is a winner for many reasons — it’s compact, heavy duty, gorgeously designed, and dependable. I also like that it’s compatible with multiple fuel sources- the US version comes with an isobutane canister valve, but I swapped mine to use green propane canisters (much cheaper, much more widely available). The cooking experience is awesome — it sits on legs, which is much appreciated from a tall person like myself and is ideal for cooking on a picnic table. The piezo ignition was dependable and helpful; I’m used to whipping out a lighter every time I need to light the stove, and appreciated the difference. In my experience, the Tupike packs a punch, cooking meals for 4-6 in heavy pans easily — a welcome departure from most camp cookware. Like most camp stoves, the heat is relatively concentrated, but less so than in cheaper Coleman stoves that I’ve used.
I found the fuel control to be precise and was able to simmer and keep pans warm, which is a rarity in gas stoves. The two-burner system can fit one large pan and one smaller pot. A small, foldable griddle is included, which can fit a few sausages or a grilled cheese. If someone you love is looking to up their frontcountry camp-chef game, look no further than the Tupike.
Sonos Arc or Beam
Jonathan: When COVID shut down movie theaters, I knew it was finally time to invest in a better home theater audio system. (And note: if you are still listening to movies and shows through the terrible built-in speakers of your television, then I assure you that this is one of the best upgrades you can make.)
Maybe someday I’ll expound on this, but for now: I purchased both the Arc and the Beam to A/B the two systems (if you go online and go down the review and YouTube rabbit hole on this topic, you’ll understand why).
I think they are both outstanding products, and I ended up keeping both. If price is the priority, get the Beam. If filling out a larger room is the priority, get the Arc. For casual music listening, I think the Beam is terrific. For serious movie watching, the Arc is a joy.
(For now, we won’t go into the fact that I ended up pairing my Arc with Sonos’ Gen 3 subwoofer and surround sound speakers (the ONE), and I haven’t regretted the decision for a single second.)
MSRP: $179 – $379
Material: 74 % nylon, 20 % Lycra / Spandex, 6 % Merino
Kara Williard: For many years, it was hard to get a good heated sock option that both worked well, and offered a good design that featured a thin material and fit in snug ski boots. While there is still a place for traditional boot heaters, such as the Hotronics 4+, the Hotronics Heat Socks Set is a great option for someone who might find themselves wanting a heating mechanism in their ski or snowboard boots on the colder days, without being bound to the installation of a full heating system. The Heat Socks set is a comfortable, relatively thin pair of socks, with a really easy system for attaching a battery pack that generates heat down the calf, under the foot, and to the toes. There are options, such as the XLP 1P Classic Comfort and XLP 2P BT, that are built with Bluetooth that can be controlled via a phone. The battery pack is low profile and stays secure along the top of the sock.
Material: 84% Recycled Polyester and 16% Spandex
Kara Williard: Corbeaux builds a versatile, comfortable, and durable line of baselayers, with an array of options for both men and women. The Centennial Pant is a ¾ pant that is great for most ski days, but it’s not fair to limit these pants as a baselayer, because they make for a great active pant for running, hiking, yoga, and pretty much anything else. My favorite thing about the Centennial is that it’s both snug, so it doesn’t move around or fall down even on long runs or sustained activity, but it’s supremely comfortable, with a wider waistband that stays in place but is comfortable against the stomach, even if you are spending a few days in the same pair. If you are looking to set someone up with a solid base layer, this is a great option, and they will likely end up using it for a lot more than just skiing.
Moccamaster + First Ascent Ethiopian Natural or Washed coffee
Jonathan: The Moccamaster has been a major topic on Blister for over a year now, and it has become my go-to coffee maker. I hate to say that Cody Townsend was right … but I can’t say that he was wrong. I love the Moccamaster, love how quick and simple and elegant it is, love how easy it is to purchase parts should anything break (not that mine has, with about 400 days in a row of daily use), and I love the coffee it produces. And my current favorite coffee is First Ascent’s Ethiopean Natural or Washed, which we discussed in this GEAR:30 episode: A Very Deep Dive on Coffee, along with a lot of other great topics in coffee-nerdery.
Luke: This is one of my favorite non-review products I currently own. In Crested Butte (and also back home in Wisconsin), we very frequently deal with very cold mornings and correspondingly frosted-over windshields (or, ideally, pow-covered ones). Especially at my old place, where the five flights of stairs between me and my car kept me from basically ever starting my car in advance, this meant that I had plenty of frigid, miserable mornings spent scraping dense ice off my car’s windows.
I had always just used a cheap scraper and figured it was fine. Then I sprung for the higher-end one at our local True Value, and man, it is so much better.
Probably not the sexiest gift, but if someone you know lives in a place that’s legitimately cold in the winter, it can be a major plus. I’m sure there are others out there that are potentially even better, but this particular scraper is excellent because (1) it’s extendable and retractable, (2) it has a wide broom for pushing lots of snow, and (3) its flexible scraper blade seems to do a better job of removing lots of frost than anything else I’ve used.
It’s now on its second season under my ownership, and it still works just as well as when I bought it. And hopefully, I’ll keep using it this season to push several feet of snow off my car throughout the winter.
Jonathan: This past summer, these became my go-to glasses for mountain biking. And I have a hunch that they will become my go-to glasses for ski touring, too. Why? They are very light, they provide better coverage than regular sunglasses, but aren’t as huge as many of the very popular, oversized glasses on the market. So I’ve found them to be a nice middle ground. And the optics are phenomenal.
Jonathan: This is not a new product. But for several years now, almost every single day I’m out skiing, this is my go-to base layer. On cold days, I have the hood up and it easily fits under my helmet. And on warm days, the hood is so unobtrusive that I don’t mind its presence, and I like the fact that it provides a bit more protection from the sun (on my neck). We have a zillion base layers that I could wear to go ski. But this is the one that I reach for the vast majority of the time.
Material: 84% Recycled Polyester and 16% Spandex
Kara Williard: There are several great options from Corbeaux for baselayer tops, but the Seeker Hoody stands out because it can be used year-round, as both a cozy layer, and also for a protective, hooded sun shirt. This recycled polyester blend, featured in all of Corbeaux’s TEMPOWeight collection, is quick drying, silky smooth, super stretchy, and provides UPF 50+ sun protection. Corbeaux is utilizing recycled polyester for all of their products, and all of their line is built in the USA.
MSRP: $350 (currently on sale for $250)
David Golay: Headphone jacks have decisively been removed from modern phones at this point (sigh) so just about everybody could use a pair of really good wireless headphones, and I’m a huge fan of the Sony WH-1000. I’ve got the older WH-1000XM2 version, but as best as I can tell, the current XM4 version hasn’t actually changed much. Earbuds are great for portability, but they can’t match the sound quality or all-day comfort of bigger over-the-ear options, and the WH-1000 both sounds great and offers really excellent noise cancelling, along with very good battery life.
Sony claims up to 30 hours of use on a full charge, and while I haven’t precisely measured, that seems believable — I wear mine for a couple of hours most days, and only need to charge them every few weeks. And they’ve held up great, too. My pair are 4 or 5 years old now and still going strong. They’re not cheap, but well worth the investment.
David Golay: For those who might not be familiar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and it’s essentially a farm share agreement, where you pay a fixed amount for a regular delivery of whatever happens to be in season from a local farm. Depending on where you live and the CSA in question, some only operate during peak growing seasons, while others go year-round. Most have some degree of flexibility for how often you want to get a basket (e.g. weekly, every other week, etc.) and for the basket size, based on the number of people in your household.
Not only is a CSA a great way to support local farming in your area, but it’s also a great way to branch out and try a variety of fruits and vegetables that you might not otherwise think to buy at the grocery store. Unlike certain other Blister reviewers, I have a hard time eating the same meals day after day, and getting a delivery of different kinds of vegetables every other week really helps me be more creative with my meal planning and make some different dishes than I might otherwise.
And to help find a CSA in your area, check out the directory at Local Harvest.