By OTM Writers

Behind the words and pictures of your beloved Out There Monthly are people who love outdoor gear and gadgets, and like to share what makes our recreation experiences safe and awesome. Since this is the traditional season of giving, why not offer gifts to helps others enjoy more (and more memorable) outdoor recreation?

Our boss—publisher and editor-in-chief, Jon Snyder—and five of us writers pooled our ideas into this year’s annual gift guide. Whether you have a gear guru in your life or not, or just friends and family who you would like to encourage to get a little more outside play time, this is for you. Money is tight; we know. So we hope this helps direct
your attention to what is worthy of your hard-earned dough.

STUFF WE ALREADY OWN AND LOVE & THINK WOULD MAKE A GREAT GIFT

SMARTWOOL® SOCKS: There’s no bad weather, just inadequate clothing. Inadequate socks and gloves are the clothing items most likely to kill a good outdoor winter day. You can never have too many good quality warm socks. What I like about Smartwools is that they don’t penalize me for going from warm to cold environments. I wear black knee-high ski socks that I can just pull down when I am indoors and I won’t be uncomfortable. Mountain Gear has a great selection of Smartwool socks in various colors and styles, and they generally are in the gift-friendly $20 price range. Also sold at Spokane Alpine Haus and other stores. – Jon B. Snyder (JBS)

ERGOBABY® CARRIER: As a mom of two young kids, my outdoor baby gear has to be trustworthy, durable and easy to use. The Ergo is all that while being comfortable to wear, whether in the front, back or hip position. It can be used with either a baby or toddler (40-lb recommended weight limit), and now comes in four different styles: the original, organic, performance or sport—the latter two being more breathable and lightweight. Whether it’s hiking in the summer or snowshoeing in the winter, or simply grocery shopping, this carrier allows me to easily carry my baby (or toddler, just not at the same time) and do it all hands free. And there are accessory add-ons, like a backpack that attaches to the Ergo’s shoulder straps, to make the carrier even more functional. More details at ergobabycarrier.com, and available to buy locally at Mother’s Haven in Coeur d’Alene and REI. – Amy Silbernagel McCaffree (ASM)

OUTDOOR RESEARCH® ALTI MITTENS: Best piece of gear EVER (in my opinion)! When your hands are bitterly cold, your ability to simply function is drastically reduced. If you’re shopping for someone that plays in the cold, then they probably need to adjust bindings, fix crampons, tie a knot or even unscrew the lid off a water bottle—and premium handwear is imperative. No, they are not cheap. But nothing ruins an outing quite as fast as miserably cold fingers. This might not be an exciting gift, but they will be treasured. – Jon Jonckers (JJ)

CAMELBACK® HYDRATION SYSTEM: It’s a simple piece of gear but one of the most used in my arsenal. I use it on almost every outing: biking, hiking, backcountry skiing, elk hunting, and even pub walks downtown. A water bottle stuffed in the bottom of a pack doesn’t make keeping hydrated easy like a Camelback system does. – Derrick Knowles (DK)

ELEPHANT BIKE: We’re lucky to have a local builder with such vast industry experience right here in Spokane. A fully-outfitted custom-built commuter, cyclocross bike or road bike starts at about $2,500. It’s a pricey gift, but it lasts a lifetime, and is therefore a great value. elephantbikes.com – John Speare (JS)

THE NORTH FACE ACONCAGUA VEST: The most-worn item in my closet, hands down, is a poofy North Face Aconcagua Vest. Know a woman who’s always cold? Get her this vest. They’re available for $99 at Mountain Gear in a bunch of colors. They come in easy sizes—small, medium, etc.—and look great on everyone. – Erika Prins (EP)

COOL GEAR & OTHER GIFTS
AVAILABLE LOCALLY

I “BIKE” SPOKANE T-SHIRTS FROM BOO RADLEY’S: These are great gifts for any cyclist on your list. And $5 from the sale of each shirt goes to Pedals2People. Slam dunk gift. (JS)

ORTLIEB® PANNIERS FROM NORTH DIVISION BICYCLE SHOP: These are the best-in-class panniers—whether you are traveling to work daily, or circling the globe on your bike. See the OTM November gear review column for more details—available to read online if you no longer have your copy. (JS)

BEGINNER NORDIC LESSONS FROM FITNESS FANATICS: For just $55 you can get an hour of in-store training and an hour and a half of on-the-snow training. They offer both classic cross-country and skate ski beginner lessons, and they also feature women-only classes ($80 for a clinic) and private lessons ($60 an hour) if you are so inclined. Rental equipment is extra, but you can get the lessons and then use the rental equipment all weekend if you want. A great experiential gift for someone who wants to try something new. (JBS)

CUSTOM PAINTED LONGBOARDS FROM MOUNTAIN GOAT OUTFITTERS: Mountain Goat has had a great selection of longboard gear for years, but in the last few weeks they have a added a handful of custom boards under their in-house Left Hand Skateboards brand. Each one is handpainted by local artist Troy Webber and retails for $100 for the bare deck. Webber’s art is a unique brand of metal/punk/skate mayhem that looks awesome on the road or on the wall. (JBS)

THERM-A-REST® NEOAIR SLEEPING PAD FROM MOUNTAIN GEAR: It’s super light and compactable and said to be much warmer than other air mattresses. Say buh-bye to cold, sleepless nights. (DK)

BLACK DIAMOND BOUNDARY SKI POLES FROM MOUNTAIN GEAR: Simple, strong, adjustable ski pole for the backcountry or ski hill. (DK)

RUNNING SHOES FROM RUNNER’S SOUL: I buy all my running shoes at Runner’s Soul and save the receipts—they give you $50 bucks in store credit once you’ve spent $500. That might sound like a lot, but when training for a marathon, you go through two or three pairs of shoes in mere months. Runners usually favor a particular shoe, so a gift certificate of $100-$125 will work better than trying to sneak into their closet and figure out the style and size of the smelliest pair of kicks. (EP)

BROOKS SADDLEBAGS, BIKE SEATS AND ACCESSORIES FROM TWO WHEEL TRANSIT: If you’re shopping for a hipster cyclist, check out Brooks saddlebags, bike seats and other bike accessories at Two Wheel Transit. They’re all leather and made in England, which is just the sort of thing the fixie-loving, skinny pant-wearing youngster in your life will fancy. (EP)

GOAL ZERO LIGHTHOUSE LANTERN FROM MOUNTAIN GEAR: Without a doubt, this wins first prize for the coolest outdoor gift this season. Nothing else compares to the environmentally sound lantern that is rechargeable via solar panel, a hand crank, or an AC or DC plug. Best of all, it features a little USB port so you can also charge any USB device such as your phone, your MP3 player, or whatever. As a gift, this serves as a safe, never-ending light source, and arguably the most efficient charger you can have in the backcountry. (JJ)

HOLIDAY PACKAGE FROM RIVERFRONT PARK: Need a fun, easy, creative stocking stuffer? Have family coming into town for the holidays? Riverfront Park has an all-ages special offer—for only $14 (includes tax), you get to enjoy four great activities: one ticket for a special engagement IMAX movie (Real Steel, Happy Feet 2 or Polar Express), one ice skate admission and rental, a Carrousel ride, and round of Mini Golf. (ASM)

WASHINGTON STATE PARKS “DISCOVERY PASS”: Consider giving a Discovery Pass to a loved one. It might be the best way to introduce or share our local parks and public land. Now more than ever, a pass or a permit shouldn’t be a limiting factor for friends and family to enjoy the outdoors. Available to buy at most local gear shops. (JJ)

GIFT CARD FROM SUN PEOPLE DRY GOODS, MOUNTAIN GOAT OUTFITTERS, FITNESS FANATICS, SPOKANE ALPINE HAUS, NORTH DIVISION BICYCLE SHOP, OR MOUNTAIN GEAR AND OTHER OUT THERE MONTHLY ADVERTISERS: Sometimes the best gift is a simple gift card—it says, “I love you so much, I’m going to let you get yourself exactly what you want/need!” There is no stress about style, sizing or color. Even better, giving a gift card from a locally-owned small business—whose staff plays, skis, runs and bikes where you do—puts your money where your mouth is if you’ve been talking about strengthening our “local economy.” Hint for how to make this gift even more spectacular if it’s for a woman who is a mom to young children: include an offer to babysit the kids so she can shop carefree. And maybe include a coffee shop or pedicure gift card as well, so she can have an entire “me-time” afternoon. (ASM)

AVAILABLE ONLINE VIA MAIL ORDER

JACKETS, COATS AND BLAZERS FROM NAU: Nau uses recycled and sustainable materials to create clothes that strike the perfect balance between outdoor utility and urban fashion. All their coats, blazers and jackets are cool—but not cheap; expect to pay around $300 and up. But it’s often worth it to save up for a piece of gear that does exactly what you want it to. www.nau.com (JBS)

SUBARU “BADGE OF OWNERSHIP”: I bet at least 60 percent of all OTM readers own a Subaru. Just look at the parking lot of a local gear shop or ski area and you might mistake it for a Subaru used car lot. So show some Subie love with a free official “Badge of Ownership”—small decals to display and tell the world all the fun outdoorsy things you do with your Subaru. You only need the vehicle’s VIN number to order. More details at www.badgeofownership.com. (ASM)

EXPED TORRENT 30 PACK: Tough to beat the simplicity and genius design of an Exped Torrent 30 pack. Why invest money and closet space towards specialized packs when this simple, durable rucksack is all you need for most adventures? The TPU laminated nylon is welded so there are no seams, and the roll-top closure ensures it’s a completely waterproof pack. Admittedly, the suspension is pretty basic, but it’s very streamlined, extremely durable, and being waterproof qualifies it to carry expensive electronics. Really, it’s the best choice for any trips where weather might be an issue. www.exped.com (JJ)

OUTDOOR MEDIA: If outdoor media fits into the gear category for you or your loved one like it does for me, then I’d recommend one or all of the following: Sweetgrass productions new soulful ski film Solitaire, or a subscription to Mountain Gazette and Off-Piste magazine. (DK)

GRAND BOIS TIRES: Or as my more utilitarian friends call them, “Grand Bourgeois” tires. Available for 26”, 650b, or 700c wheels, these ultra-supple, pricey, Japanese-made tires are as close as you can get in speed and comfort to sew-ups without gluing your rims. compasscycle.com (JS)

LULULEMON RUNNING TIGHTS: Lululemon’s upscale pricing has no place in an aspiring writer’s budget, but I received a pair of their running tights as a gift last year and love them an unreasonable amount. They make me run faster. They make my legs look fantastic. They make me feel like a ninja. Order Lululemon gear for the starving artist/yogi/runner in your family. She (or he – they have a men’s line) will feel totally spoiled—then go home and practice ninja moves in the mirror. A note on fit: As most Lululemon stuff is designed to fit like cellophane, don’t be alarmed if the item you’ve ordered looks significantly smaller than the intended recipient. lululemon.com (EP)

OUTRAGEOUS ITEMS WE WOULD BUY IF WE WON THE LOTTERY TOMORROW

YOSHITOMO NARA TREK SPEED CONCEPT BIKE: This ride was designed by one of my favorite Japanese artists and ridden by Lance Armstrong at the Annecy Individual Time Trial in the 2009 Tour De France. It sold at a charity auction for $200k, which means in a pinch you could sell it and buy a nice house. (JBS)

BACKCOUNTRY HUT SYSTEM: If money wasn’t an object, I think I might create a system of huts or replace some of the Fire Lookouts in the Idaho Selkirks. I don’t want to create a backcountry circus, therefore they would be exclusively approached by human power—just hiking, skiing or snowshoeing. Then I would map out some killer multi-day loops, so that one could, for example, start at Priest Lake and end in Sandpoint, or travel from Bonners Ferry to Coolin. Thankfully, anyone can do those trips now, but recuperating each night in a hut or fire lookout would be fantastic! (JJ)

CREATE THE “SPOKANE PARKS PUMP TRACK FOUNDATION”: Its mission would be to partner with the Spokane Parks Department to create and maintain public pump tracks in our city parks. (For more information about pump tracks, see the September 2011 issue of OTM.) Pump tracks are a great recreational and skill-building opportunity for cyclists of all ages and abilities. In addition, the maintenance and ongoing design of pump tracks has the potential to be a perfect community-building opportunity: each track would take on the personality of the community that designed, built and maintained it. It would be so cool to visit each pump track throughout the city to experience the different technical challenges and vibe that each would offer. (JS)

CHALET ARROWHEAD POP-UP TRAILER CAMPER: I enjoy car camping, but I think I would like it even more if my family (which includes a toddler and baby) had a Chalet trailer camper to sleep in. This Oregon-based company makes the Arrowhead model, a pop-up A-frame with hard sides. A friend of mine has one and says he can set it up in about a minute. It includes a fridge, furnace, cook top and hot water heater. Although I would miss our Big Agnes® tent—maybe—I think I could go car camping every weekend of the summer if I had a Chalet. (ASM)

CARBON FIBER MOUNTAIN BIKE: A new lightweight, carbon fiber mountain bike with a lot more suspension travel than my aging Stumpjumper. Probably a Specialized Enduro Expert Carbon from Wheel Sport. (DK)

STAND-UP PADDLE BOARD. They’re not outrageously pricey, but the rest of the plan—to spend my life floating on the river—might interfere with work. (EP) //
During this holiday season, thanks for supporting the advertisers that make OTM possible. If you buy a gift at a local shop don’t be afraid to tell ‘em OTM sent ya.