November is the month that sparks the wave of blatant commercialism and marketing designed to get us to buy, buy, buy and buy some more. But if you’re going to buy, buy, buy, buy with intent, purpose and quality products. Here are a few hints to ensure your Christmas doesn’t suck one massive Yule log!
Green Guru Upshift Frame bag ($40): It doesn’t really fit in a stocking but there’s so much to love and respect about Green Guru. Sustainability and protecting the environment are their core values. They partner with bike shops, outfitters, and other gear retailers to re-purpose gear waste (old bike tubes, ropes, tents, etc) that could normally end up in a landfill into high-quality new gear that is handmade in Colorado. The Upshift Frame bag is no exception. I love it because it adds a cool pop of whimsical color to my fatbike and holds tubes and tools in the frame where it doesn’t interfere with pedaling either. The quality of construction is utterly outstanding, a result of someone taking his or her time putting it together. It wasn’t just thrown together in 3 minutes on an assembly line in China. A fantastic gift for the fatbike rider in your life.
GSI Glacier Stainless Microlite 500 ($25.95): This is a lightweight, vacuum-insulated bottle that holds 17 fluid ounces of fluid. Despite the 2mm walls, it’s tough, durable and even fits into my commuter bike’s water bottle cage. The flip-top cap makes it a breeze for me to grab a sip of coffee at stoplights on my morning bike commute—without any leaks or spills. I love this insulated bottle because it keeps my coffee hot during a 45-minute morning bike commute in 38-degree temps. Also, the coffee that I don’t finish on my commute stays hot until I do finish it once I’ve arrived at work. GSI claims hot liquids stay hot for 8 hours. I found that GSI’s claims are correct. A great gift for bike commuters, hunters, or just anyone who needs hot beverages to stay hot for 8 hours.
Orange Screw ($7-$22): Sounds like a rippin’ holiday bar drink but it isn’t. Orange Screw’s are polycarbonate ground anchors that you can use to anchor your tent, boat, pooch, sun shelter, tarp or anything that you don’t want to get away. A fantastic stocking stuffer for yourself or the outdoor geek in your life because they’re so reasonably priced and you have a few options in size and quantity. I used these on a recent trip in the Boundary Waters and love them. They have more heft and might than regular tent stakes.
Revomax water bottle ($29.99): This vacuum-insulated thread-less water bottle doesn’t screw. It pops open and closed via a single-click action you can do one-handed. The nice thing about this bottle is how long it keeps your beverage hot or cold. Revomax says up to 18 hours for hot and up to 36 hours for cold. I know for a fact it keeps hot beverages hot for about 24 hours because I made some hot green tea to take to work and then forgot to take the bottle. I also forgot entirely about the bottle until the next morning when I saw it on the kitchen counter. The hot green tea was still hot. The 20-ounce bottle fits perfectly in my bike’s water bottle cage but drinking from it does require two hands (because you have to hold the cap in one hand after you pop it off).
SOL Traverse Survival Kit ($20): A stocking stuffer that could save someone’s life is a stocking stuffer to buy. It comes in a sweet tin case that is lightweight and durable. Inside are the basic—but very important—items to “Survive Outdoors Longer: water purification, fire starting, signaling for help and making shelter. The kit comes with an emergency blanket, 1-liter sterile water bag, 2 water purification tables, firestarters, rescue whistle, duct tape, safety pin and of course an instruction manual—for $20.
re-fuel High performance Sports Wireless Earbuds ($49.99): Another perfectly-sized gift a fireplace stocking. I spend a lot of time on my bike commuting each day and even though I shouldn’t be, I have to have my tunes. The earbuds that came with my iPod went into the trash immediately and I replaced them with $40 Sony’s. The experience was a huge improvement. Then I gave the re-fuel’s a whirl. The experience has been revolutionary. You’ll be amazed at what spending an additional $9.99 does to sound quality. The ear buds are bluetooth-compatible so you don’t have to muck with a cord and it comes with three additional bud sizes so you can fit it properly to your ear.
Akinz Maverick beanie ($32): More handmade goodness from Colorado! This soft slouchy pom beanie is made from 100 percent wool, making it warm as well as slouchy. All knitted Akinz hats are crafted on a vintage hand-operated knitting machine then hand sewn by employees. The Akinz motto, which is the foundation of the wings logo, encourages men and women to reach for the sky. I like this beanie a lot because it’s warm, it isn’t itchy and I can wear it slouchy-style or rolled up. Very cool and a very recommended Christmas gift for yourself or someone you know.
FITS Mountaineer OTC sock ($20.99): Every Christmas I ask my husband what he wants. He shrugs and says, “Nothing.” If someone on your shopping list gives you this response, it’s a license to buy them socks for Christmas. For winter fatbiking when the temperatures plunge (or even winter mountaineering), I recommend this sock because it fits easily inside a pair of 45NRTH Wolvehammers and it has mild compression throughout the leg to keep your blood moving in colder conditions. Made in the USA!
FITS Performance Trail quarter sock ($18.99): This medium-weight hiking sock has a double welt around the ankle to keep out scree and other trail debris from wedging itself inside a hiking boot. It’s also a good cold-weather sock for winter hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing because it isn’t bulky. It also stays in place so it reduces the chances of blisters forming. Made in the USA, too!
re-fuel Music in a Bottle ($29.99): It’s getting to be like a Holly, Jolly, Water Bottle Christmas, isn’t it? This one is pretty unique. It’s a combination water bottle and portable speaker. I wish I had had this bottle on my Boundary Waters trip because a little music around the camp fire would have been nice. The speaker and water bottle detach leaving you with 12-ounce bottle of water and a waterproof speaker.