Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book an Idaho sleigh ride for family fun

Brundage Mountain sleigh rides operates Friday-Sunday at the Activity Barn, south of McCall. Beautiful setting. 
Elena, Michelle and Tom doing the Points Ranch sleigh ride with elk in Donnelly. 
Idaho Sleigh Rides operates in the Garden Valley area, with day rides, lunch trips and Dutch oven dinner trips. 
Hi all,

With Valentines Day coming up, I thought about going on a sleigh ride this weekend as a fun thing to do with your sweetheart or the whole family.

Last year, I took our family on a elk-viewing sleigh ride on the Points Ranch near Donnelly, and everyone loved it! My step-daughter Elena actually got kissed by an elk while it was feeding on a hay bale in the sleigh, and she thought that was quite memorable!

Quinn enjoyed seeing the elk at the Points Ranch.
The Points Ranch sleigh ride trip takes about an hour. They pick you up next to ID 55, load the people on the sleigh, and you go on a very slow loop through a big group of elk that has grown accustomed to being fed at the Points Ranch during the winter months. That means you're going to see lots of elk, which everyone loves, and you get to go on a hay ride as well! Call 208-325-8783 to make a reservation and inquire about rates.

Draft horses at the Points Ranch.
In Garden Valley, Idaho Sleigh Rides offers a great variety of trips, from a simple sleigh ride, to a sleigh ride and lunch, to a Dutch oven dinner ride with live music. The rides last about 45 minutes and take you on a tour of some large snowy meadows and big groups of elk in Garden Valley, with the mountains lording above. Trip costs range from $45/person for a lunch ride to $75/person for a dinner ride.

Get a group of friends together and reserve a trip!



In Sun Valley, you can go on a sleigh ride during the day or do a deluxe dinner ride to Trail Creek Cabin. Both experiences would be great, but believe me, the dinner ride to Trail Creek Cabin would be memorable! The dinner ride costs $129 for adults ($159 from Feb. 14-24) and $79 for kids 12 and under. Reservations required.

Unfortunately, Bogus Creek Outfitters is no longer in business, so if you live in the Treasure Valley, you'll need to travel to enjoy a sleigh ride. It's worth going up to the mountains to enjoy the beautiful scenery and ensure there's plenty of snow for the trip!

In McCall, Brundage Mountain offers sleigh rides from the Activity Barn tubing hill location just south of McCall on Moonridge Drive. At this location, you also have the option of going snowshoeing, xc skiing or snow-biking on Activity Barn trails and the North Valley Trail, all of which converge by the Activity Barn parking lot. There is no charge to use the trails. A combo trip of a sleigh ride and snowshoeing/xc skiing/snow-biking might be in order!

Guests check out the draft horses ... (Courtesy Brundage Mountain sleigh rides) 
Brundage sleigh rides last about 40 minutes, taking you into a snowy environment with tree glades, open space and fetching views of the surrounding mountains. There are snacks and drinks available at the Activity Barn. Sleigh rides are available Friday-Sunday, with rides at 1:30 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Call ahead to reserve space. Rides cost $35 for adults, and $15 for kids 17 and under.

No matter where you go, be sure to dress warm for the sleigh ride trip. That means full-on winter gear -- long underwear, warm sweater, snow pants or a snowmobile suit, warm boots, warm winter hat and warm mittens or gloves. Bring a thermos of hot coffee or cocoa perhaps?
 
Enjoy!

P.S. We have had a phenomenal series of winter storms pass through Idaho's mountains in the first two weeks of February, dumping a huge amount of snow. Suffice to say that the snow conditions are outstanding everywhere for sleigh rides and any other type of winter activity right now. See my daily snow forecasts about snow conditions at Idaho's ski resorts on opensnow.com 
- SS 

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Multi-day trip to Lick Creek yurts in McCall provides access to stellar backcountry skiing

Mike Erlebach on the shoulder of Beaver Dam Peak. Snow was rugged, but cool adventure.
(Courtesy Jim Pace) 
Chris Reino making tele turns in sweet sugar-like *pow* in the Burn Line area above the Lick Creek yurts. 
We had great weather for the duration of our trip, and great snow! Beaver Dam peak in the background.
L to R, Wendy, Jim Young and Steve at the top of the Burn Line, ready to make another run. 
Hi all,

I had the privilege of taking a 4-day backcountry ski trip to the Lick Creek yurts near McCall recently with a bunch of friends from Boise and McCall.

Timing-wise, we lucked out with a string of gorgeous bluebird days, a foot of fresh snow, and top-shelf food every day. We felt blessed amid the glory of all of those big mountain peaks lording above us, sometimes lit up by a brilliant sunrise or sunset.



"It was the high point of my winter," says my partner, Wendy Wilson.

"It's nice to ski soft powder in the sunshine," adds Mack Lyons of Boise. "There's an enormous amount of terrain to ski up there. I've been up there two times, and I can see why you keep going back."

"It's pretty amazing to step outside the yurt, jump into your skis and enjoy some of the best skiing in the world, right off the deck," adds Jim Young of Boise and McCall.

Beer-30 after our last full day of backcountry skiing ... 
On Day 1, picture Wendy, Mack, Jim and the rest of our group climbing up a skin trail to a spot snowcat driver Gregg Lawley calls "No Complaints," where there's some sweet north-facing fields of powder waiting below, just a 15-minute climb from the yurts. We de-skin and pick our own personal line of virgin snow through shin-high sugar. That brings a big smile and whoops of joy from everyone as they make perfect signatures in the snow.

After a few of those runs that afternoon, I looked at the slopes above and saw a lot of blank fields of snow below the peaks, and some that had been shredded by the guys who were there for several days before us. Still, it looked there'd be a ton of terrain we could ski close to the yurts for the next two days! Fun thing to ponder as we enjoyed some brewskis and wine on the deck in the waning hours of sunshine.

Playing cards in the evening after dinner. 
This was my fourth or fifth trip to the Lick Creek yurts over the last 10 years. The yurts are owned and operated by Payette Powder Guides. McCall skier, river guide and kayaker Marty Rood worked with the Payette National Forest to obtain a special use permit to provide guided backcountry ski trips and avalanche courses at Lick Creek. It sure is a great amenity to enjoy in the winter months! Marty also allows people to rent the yurts if they've gone with a guide before at Lick Creek and have at least a Level 1 avalanche certification. That's what we did.

As I've written before, yurt trips are a deluxe way to enjoy the mountains in the winter. Yurts typically are equipped with wood stoves to make things warm and cozy, bunks for sleeping, double-burner cook stoves, lanterns, pots and pans, plates and silverware, etc., everything you need to cook up a big feast. Marty also has a propane BBQ outside on the deck, a very nice touch. He even has fold up deck chairs available if they weather is nice.

Jim Young apres ski 
At Lick Creek, there's two yurts -- one of them is the cook yurt with a larger wood stove and cook stuff, and the second yurt is for extra sleeping space with a smaller wood stove. For our group of 8 people, half slept in the cook yurt, and half slept in the other one. There's also a very nice sauna building to enjoy after a day of sweating up and down the mountain. And of course, there's an outhouse and a pee tree.

The yurts are located at the top of Lick Creek Summit (elevation 6,700 feet), about 12.5 miles from the east side of McCall. You either pay $800 for a roundtrip snowcat ride to the yurts and back to town, or you can go in by snowmobile, if a bunch of the people in your party own or have access to 'biles. We did the snowcat route this time, with my old Tamarack friend Gregg Lawley at the helm. It takes about 2 hours to get to the yurts.

The snowcat provides several big benefits. You don't have to climb multiple miles with a heavy pack to reach the yurt, like you do at most yurts in Idaho. You can bring coolers full of food and drink, another benefit. No restrictions on bringing extra clothes to stay warm. So all of that is pretty deluxe! Our friend Jim Pace brought a two-up snowmobile to the yurts, just in case we might need it for an emergency, or to access more ski terrain nearby.

One of the big highlights for Wendy and me, along with most of our group, was to farm an area called "The Burn Line," above the yurts. The Burn Line was full of fabulous untracked snow. We skied it in the afternoon of Day 2 and a full day on Day 3, picking a new virgin line each run, while enjoying clear skies, almost no wind, and temperatures close to 30 degrees. Just about perfect!

Getting ready to take the snowcat into the yurts with Gregg Lawley.
L-R, Mike Erlebach, Deb Glazer, Mack Lyons, Steve, Chris Reino and Wendy.
On Day 3, Jim Pace went over to the north ridge of Beaver Dam Peak with Mack Lyons and Mike Erlebach of McCall to ski a chute or the bowl below the ridge. As they skinned up to the serrated ridge on the shoulder of the mountain, Erlebach said it was pretty obvious that the skiing would be marginal -- everything was breakable crust and windblown. But they thoroughly enjoyed the adventure.

"There's great opportunities for adventure skiing up there," Lyons says. "That was fun!"

I highly recommend booking some nights at the Lick Creek yurts with a group of your ski buddies, if you haven't done so already!

We've been blessed with a great winter so far with regular new doses of powder every week ... I hope you are getting out and getting your share of turns and grins in the *pow*!
- SS

Mike skiing the breakable crust below Beaver Dam Peak. 

Thursday, January 24, 2019

McCall Winter Carnival starts on Friday, Jan. 25 with a huge slate of family fun activities

Snow sculptures are under construction! Ullr the Snow God by the Brundage Ski Patrol (Courtesy Brundage) 
Hi all,

I guess I'm acting like Mr. Obvious this week ... you know that annoying guy from the Bob and Tom show? Well, it's hard to beat the McCall Winter Carnival for family fun and entertainment. The Winter Carnival begins tomorrow on Jan. 25 for the 54th consecutive year and continues for two weekends through Feb. 3. Children's Torchlight parade starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday to kick things off.

The weather forecast looks fantastic this weekend, with sunshine every day and highs in the low 30s and lows in the teens and 20s. That'll be great for the Marti Gras Parade on Saturday, and just about any winter activity in the area. Still, dress warm!

Believe me, all of these tips are spot-on! 
#1 - Find a place to stay! Try the McCall Chamber, InIdaho.com, or vrbo.com for lodging options. Things fill up pretty fast for winter carnival, so get on that quickly if you haven't already. The area hotels may have rooms available, too.

Every day, the options for fun expand multifold with snowshoe golf, ice skating, touring the snow sculptures, beer gardens, monster dog pull, beard and hairy legs contest, snow tubing, a snow bike race and so much more. See the event schedule for details. This year's theme is "Legends, Myths and Super Heroes."

The Boise Weekly had a great list of tips in the latest edition that came out today. Tips include the pancake breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 26 at the McCall Senior Center, $24 early-bird special for prime rib at 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25 at the Anchor. There also will be lots of food vendors at Depot Park.

Brundage Mountain and Tamarack Resort are in great shape with fresh snow in the last week, so you can cruise some groomers and ski off-trail, whatever you like!

It'll be great conditions for downhill skiing, xc skiing, snowshoeing, snow-biking, sleigh rides and tubing at the Activity Barn and the North Valley Trail.

If you've never been to the Winter Carnival before, you'll get a flavor from this Outdoor Idaho program on Idaho Public TV.

Many other activities would be fun this weekend because of the sunshine. It'd be best to stay off the Boise Foothills trails. PLEASE! See Ridge to Rivers page on Facebook for the latest updates.

Skiing or snowshoeing in the backcountry should be fab this weekend, too. Try starting from Mores Creek Summit above Idaho City and scale Pilot Peak, Freeman Peak or Sunset Mountain. I bet it'll be fantastic conditions up there.

The Idaho City Park n' Ski Areas should be great as well. I would bet that the Gold Fork, Skyline, Banner Ridge and Stargaze trails are all in good shape for xc skiing or snowshoeing.

Hope you have a fun wintry weekend in the mountains!
- SS

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Go play in the snow! Big powder days coming through MLK weekend with 2-feet of new!

Powder day at Brundage Mountain this morning! I felt blessed to be there! (Courtesy Brundage Mountain) 


Hi all,

I snuck up to McCall last night so I could ski some fresh *pow* this morning, and it was a great morning at Brundage Mountain. It was bombing snow relentlessly, perhaps at 1-inch an hour or more, and by mid-day Brundage had 10 inches of new, including 4 inches overnight.

Every run I took was virgin *pow* all the way ... I didn't want to stop for anything! My legs felt strong!

It might be 50 degrees and gray in Boise, but it's full-on winter in the mountains! And this particular weekend, all of our regional ski areas are supposed to get a big dose of snow. Not only today, but continuing through the MLK weekend.

According to Open Snow, here are the expected snow totals for the next 5 days:

I watch the weather pretty close, and you don't see those kind of numbers in the forecast for SW Idaho very often. If you have the time and flexiblity, might be time for a powder road trip! Bogus Basin, Tamarack, Brundage, Sun Valley, Solder Mountain, Pomerelle and Magic Mountain are all in close range!

I wrote about taking a road trip to ski Soldier, Magic and Pomerelle a few years back, and I thought I'd share that with you ... All of those ski areas are reasonably priced, and they're kind of like taking a step back in time in terms of the down-home friendly atmosphere around the base lodges. 



But with Bogus Basin projected to get 2 feet of snow over the MLK weekend, you might not need to go anywhere! Ditto if you're planning to be in McCall to ski Brundage or Tamarack. Brundage is having a beer and gear festival on Saturday and Sunday. 

Sun Valley is getting its fair share, too. All of this will be great for Idaho's snowpack, which has been lagging in the 70 percent zone in recent days (Boise, Payette and Salmon basins). 

Backcountry skiing and snowshoeing this weekend could prove to be challenging because of the deep snow for breaking trail, but be safe and careful out there! Check on avalanche conditions at the Payette or Sawtooth Avalanche Centers.

Have fun!
- SS

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Gonna feel like early spring weather this weekend - 4 ideas for outdoorsy fun

This weekend might be a good time to go see bald eagles and cormorants on the Eagle Greenbelt, south side, Boise River. 
My son Drewby hiking Browns Canyon with us in the springtime. 
It's always a treat to ski Sun Valley in the sunshine. 
Bear Basin in the sunshine. Great xc ski and snowshoe trail system in McCall. 
Hi all,

It's been quite a parade of snow storms in the mountains in the last few weeks, but that's made it feel pretty gray and dreary in the Treasure Valley. For the first time in a while, it's going to be sunny and a little warmer in this weekend, Friday-Sunday, so it's time to get outside to cure a little cabin fever.

It'll be sunny in the mountains and in the valley, according to the National Weather Service, so you really can have your pick as to whether you'd like to head out in either direction.

Here are four options that I'd recommend:

1. Go walking, running or biking on the Boise River Greenbelt. High temperatures are supposed to be in the low 40s this weekend, so it won't be exactly balmy. Wait until the afternoon to head out to enjoy the warmest part of the day. 

That said, please avoid using the Ridge to Rivers Trails this weekend. Table Rock Trails are closed because of muddy conditions, and the rest of the trails are getting hammered when they're soft in the afternoon. Temperatures are expected to freeze at night, so if you got out really early, it'd be OK, but generally, it'd be better to go do something on the Greenbelt. Idaho Fish and Game also just closed trails in the Boise River Wildlife Management Area, including the Homestead Trail next to Harris Ranch.

2. Go spring skiing at Bogus Basin, Tamarack Resort, Brundage Mountain Resort or Sun Valley. Get a bunch of friends together or do a family outing. Conditions are great everywhere!

3. Go xc skiing, snowshoeing or snowbiking at Bogus Basin, Idaho City Park and Ski Areas, McCall area or Sun Valley area. Once again, conditions are excellent in all four locations.

4. Go hiking in the Owyhee Canyonlands. Stick to the good roads to do a little adventuring in the Owyhees. Succor Creek, Sage Creek, Leslie Gulch and Mary's Creek would be the best bets right now. Maybe Browns Canyon near Oreana would be good, too. All of these hikes are featured in my Owyhee Canyonlands guidebook.

There you have it! Enjoy the sunshine!
- SS   

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Stellar midwinter conditions in McCall! Five reasons to visit before Winter Carnival

Tubing at the Activity Barn (courtesy Activity Barn) 
Powder riding at Brundage on a bluebird day (courtesy Brundage Mountain) 
Hi all,

You'd never know it in Boise, but a whole series of snowstorms in McCall have created stellar midwinter conditions for alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and snow-biking. Add hot springs to the list and you've got 5 reasons to visit the McCall area before Winter Carnival starts in the last week of January.

Wendy and I were fortunate to stay at our Cozy Cabin in McCall for almost two weeks over the holiday break, and that put us pretty close to heaven. Being winter people coming from Michigan (her) and Minnesota (me), we love playing in the snow. After multiple days of skiing, xc skiing, snowshoeing and snow-biking, my legs were crying "Uncle!"

Wow that's some deep powder! (courtesy Tamarack Resort) 
That's got to be one of greatest feelings when you feel so sated from doing the things you love to do with friends and family.

Lodging should be easier to find now that New Year's Day is behind us, so see if you can book a room/condo/house and enjoy one or more of the following activities in McCall and surrounding areas:

  • Tubing at the Activity Barn - No advance reservations are needed to go tubing in McCall. The Activity Barn is located a few miles south of town on a hill that provides an 800-foot exciting ride down the tubing lane. There's a lift that brings you back to the top. Dress warm. You can go it alone, or link up and slide down the hill together with your kids. Tickets cost $18/person, or $13 after 4 p.m. for 1 hour of fun. The Activity Barn is open on Fridays and weekends, and closed Monday-Thursday. See the web site for details.  
    North Valley Trail, south of the Activity Barn. Perfect conditions.  
  • Go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or snow-biking on the North Valley Trail and Activity Barn trails. A lot of people are just learning about this opportunity, but you can use the Nordic trails at the Activity Barn and on the North Valley Trail for free (donations for grooming gladly appreciated). Snow bikes are available for rent at the Activity Barn or bring your own. The North Valley Trail runs for about 2.5 miles from the Activity Barn out to the southern trailhead on Heinrich Lane, so you can do a 5-mile outing in that regard, or you can jump on the Activity Barn trails and add 3 miles to the whole outing. I recommend both trails if you have time.  
  • Alpine skiing at Brundage Mountain north of McCall or Tamarack Resort west of Donnelly. The snow gods have been kind to Brundage and Tamarack, providing an excellent base for this time of year. Brundage has a 42-inch base at the bottom of the hill and 47 inches at the summit. One-hundred percent of the mountain is open. Tamarack has 31 inches at mid-mountain and 36 inches at the summit. Nearly all of the mountain is open. Tamarack is  operating 7 days a week this year. Both mountains are super fun to ski/ride. 
    Snow biking at JMR. 
  • Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at Bear Basin, Ponderosa State Park or Jug Mountain Ranch. Dogs are allowed on all of the trails at Bear Basin and JMR, which is a bonus for us dog-owners. JMR also has excellent snow-biking trails and rental bikes. All three of these venues are worth visiting. All are scenic with diverse terrain, groomed xc trails, and separate snowshoe trails.  
    Bear Basin xc ski trails on a snowy day. 
  • Go to Gold Fork Hot Springs or take a snowmobile trip to Burgdorf Hot Springs. After all of the day's activities, it's time to soothe the muscles with a long soak in hot, natural geothermal water. Gold Fork is about 30 minutes south of McCall via the Davis Creek Road, south of Donnelly. Make sure you bring cash. It's closed on Tuesdays. Bring a suit and a towel, and you're golden. Non-glass beverages are allowed at pool-side. Burgdorf is open 7 days a week, starting at 10 a.m. each day. You can rent a snowmobile or go on a guided tour with Brundage Mountain to Burgdorf. It's a 25-mile trip on a groomed trail with optional off-trail sledding available along the way. I've taken my family on a guided trip, and they absolutely loved it. Make sure you pack a lunch or snacks for the trip.
    Main pool at Gold Fork Hot Springs. (courtesy Gold Fork) 
    There you have it! Hope everyone has a great year in 2019! 

- SS
 

  

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Stueby's Christmas gift ideas for the outdoorsy him and her


Hi all,

Christmas is coming! It's just five days away! Time for my annual Christmas gift ideas for the outdoorsy him and her.

In case you haven't noticed, we've been blessed with a series of snow storms that have allowed Idaho's ski areas to open earlier than usual, and the skiing/riding has been great for those who can get away and experience it! See my latest snow forecasts at opensnow.com for the latest information. The short story is that a parade of storms are forecast to hit Idaho's ski areas through the Christmas holiday, freshening the ski slopes nearly every day.

I also saw that Stanley has created a nifty ice rink for the winter season. That'd be fun to visit when you're in the 'hood ... especially if you have your own skates!
Icewear Norwegian sweater $82

 Now, on to the gifts!

1. How about a sexy ski sweater for your honey? There's a big variety to choose from in terms of a fleece-type sweater, or a cozy wool sweater, or other types of warm and cuddly sweaters for your sweetheart.

2. A warm, cozy Carhartt vest from D&B Supply, or a Patagonia down vest from Idaho Mountain TouringBoise REIGreenwoods Ski Haus or McU Sports.

3. SocksLots of color, designs and patterns, Smart Wool comfort made in the USA. Everyday Compression to support people standing on their feet, and it doesn't take 3 men and gorilla to put your socks on. Recommendation from Chris at IMT. 

4. Ski gloves - It's nice to have several pairs that work for various tasks such as driving, xc skiing or snowshoeing (thinner weight), and alpine skiing (warmer). Another reason to have several pairs is because we all tend to lose gloves and mittens. Just part of life. I have found some of my favorite gloves for xc skiing and lightweight use in the work glove section of May Hardware in McCall or the local Maverick service station.

5. Snowshoes - It takes a lot of time and money to master the art of skiing or snowboarding, but just about anyone who can walk can strap on a pair of snowshoes and do great! It helps to bring a pair of ski poles for balance. There are many different brands available. Price range: $50-$150 for snowshoe-pole combo sets. You might be able to find a pair at the Boise Outdoor Gear Exchange.
Blundstone all-weather boots 

6. Fancy boots! Blundstone Australian boots are super hot right now, Sorelle-fashion boots that are functional and don’t look like hunting pack boots, and Olukai slip-ons boot/shoes

Women's Apt. 9® Herringbone Cadet Hat7. Winter hats - Can't go wrong in this department, but it's always nice to find a winter hat that has personality! Similar with gloves, it's nice to have different winter hats for situations when it's relatively warm or you're working up a sweat (thinner weight), and when you need a bomber warm hat that keeps you warm in single digits or sub-zero weather. Remember that wool ultimately rocks in the warmth department. Another helpful item is a facemask for the really cold days on the mountain. I also love the smart-looking ballcap-style hats they make for women.

8. Patagonia trucker hats - Chris at IMT: These are Red Hot!- every age loves them -- men, women and kids.

9. Headlamp - For outdoorsy folks, it's about as easy to lose a
headlamp as it is to lose a pair of socks. Especially if you're a family of outdoorsy folks ... everyone borrows your headlamp and it never comes back! You can snag a headlamp for $25-$50, and it has great value for your camping trips, night hiking, river trips, backpacking, even for use around the home! My favorite brands include Petzl and Black Diamond. Get a bright one and you'll appreciate it! My latest Black Diamond model runs on 4 AAA batteries and it's really nice and bright.
10. Guidebooks! - Ha! Always a thoughtful item in the stocking or under the tree ... my guides are available of course, from Boise Trail Guide, Owyhee Canyonlands, Paddling the Payette (just updated for SUPers) and Boise Road Cycling Guide, plus my biography on the great champion for birds of prey Morley Nelson, Cool North Wind, in memory of all of his achievements related to the creation of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. Plus I recommend Matt Leidecker's guides for the Sawtooths, White Clouds and Middle Fork Salmon River.


Wendy at our cozy cabin in McCall. 
11. Rent a cabin or a yurt for a gift - Backcountry yurts are hard to get on winter weekends already, but there are still mid-week dates available. You also could rent a cabin in Garden Valley, Cascade, McCall or Sun Valley for a romantic getaway. Check for rentals at vrbo.comAirBnB and InIdaho.com. Wendy and I rent our Cozy Cabin in McCall for weeks and weekends. Best price in town at $110/night! Sleeps 6. More information on my web site and vrbo.com. You also could check on a Forest Service cabin rental through recreation.gov, or a state parks cabin at the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation

12. Capilene tops, long underwear - For any outdoorsy person who's active, getting out and exercising several days a week, you can quickly run short of tops and bottoms after they get pitted out and pitched into the laundry. So it's nice to have a deep supply of different tops especially ... lightweight, midweight, expedition weight, etc. These items typically run $25-$75. REI and Patagonia make gear with lasting value. Take a look at smart wool, too. 

13. Buck knife or Swiss Army knife - These items also have a way of disappearing. But especially guys appreciate having a knife handy for all sorts of things. A single-blade Buck knife is really sleek and cool, and the multi-tasking Swiss Army knives are always a hit. 

14. Hydro Flask - Previously known as a water bottle, the hydro flasks available today can be used for drinking coffee on the go, taking a long a nice hot cup of tea or hot chocolate on an outdoor outing, or actually packing plain old water. Hydro Flask is a brand by itself, but there are many other brands that make quality stainless steel insulated cups and containers. Pricing is in the $10 to $25 range or more. 

15. River Gear - Pick up some accessories or a new SUP, hard-shell kayak, inflatable kayak, canoe or raft at Idaho River Sports, Cascade River GearAIRE in Meridian,  or Boise Army-Navy.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!
- SS