Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Outdoors Athlete

We were out with the rest of the town shopping for Christmas gifts yesterday.  It got me thinking to how there are a relatively small set of tools and gear that I use all the time, and most are small and inexpensive making great gifts for friends or family that spend a lot of their time outside.

In no particular order, here's the Desert Dirt Christmas Gift Idea List, all available at local Santa Fe gear shops (see right sidebar):

Headlamp (petzl zipka):  I use this guy just about every day and I like how light and minimal it is.  I actually have three of these.  In the summer I prefer to run at dusk, having this in my pocket has saved me on several occasions.  I've also learned that maps are useless without a light, so there's a built in bonus there.

Maps: If I'm out on a new trail or in an unfamiliar area I always tuck a map in my waistband to help me when I get lost, which is just about every time.  I also like to know the names of peaks rivers and canyons.  There's one great map of the foothills and the Pecos Wilderness available just about everywhere for $14.  There's another great map by Sky Terrain that also shows detail of the Bandelier trails, the Los Alamos and Cochiti Canyons (good for mountain biking), $14.  There's also the Day Hikes in the Santa Fe Area trail book which has maps of individual trails which you can tear out and carry along with you.

Reading Material:  Subscriptions to Outside, Trail Runner Magazine, or the Mountain Gazette are all affordable can't miss ideas.

Hat and gloves - I prefer the $2 cotton work gloves from Allsups, but several good hats are pretty much required gear.  The thin ones are best since there's a tendency to overheat when running with anything too bulky.  A thin profile is also necessary for fitting under a bike helmet.

Water Bottles:  I go through my share of bottle over a season.  A friend and fellow marathoner John Thornell has a company that designs BPA-free stainless steel water bottles and containers great for camping, rafting, kids, and for the race director crowd - road race goodie bags.

Sunglassses:  A cheap pair of UV protected glasses.  They will be inadvertently broken in a few months whether they're inexpensive or brand name.  Required gear either way.

Bike Tubes and Patch Kits:  Mtn bike or Road bike tubes are $6 each.  A patch kit is $4.  Tire levers are another $4.  Sadly, I use all of these on a weekly basis.  Anyone who uses their bike frequently would love you for some of these in their stocking.

Ski Edging Tool:  For keeping the turns crisp and controlled.  Sharpening the edges on your boards, downhill or nordic.  Inexpensive and useful.

Body and Gear repair:  Athletic tape, duct tape, advil.   More a training component than a tool, a massage is a pretty awesome gift.  I recommend Keith Murray at Absolute Nirvana downtown and the folks over at Therapy Solutions (Marc Esposito) who have been trying to keep me healthy and on the trails this year.

Trail measuring Tools:  Nike + chip - synchs with an iPod to measure running distances and pace ($20).  Cats-eye bike computer, uses a wheel magnet to measure speed and distance ($20). 

Socks:  A runner will chew through socks every few months.  A dirtbag runner will continue to run in these socks for several months and complain about blisters and other problems.  A couple pair of $13 running/biking socks make a great stocking gift.

Beer:  Lots of local breweries putting out lots of quality beers these days (Second St. Brewery, Santa Fe Brewing, Marble Brewery, Il Vicino, Monk's Ale, Eske's Brewpub - Taos).  A six-pack or growler of fresh beer cannot go wrong.  For premium or artisan beers head to Whole Foods for a a couple 24oz bombers.  Present gift and stand back as gifted runner/biker/hiker/skier smiles from ear-to-ear.

Happy Holidays - get out there and rip it up.

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