Christmas is coming upon us quickly ... it's essentially a week away! Do you have all of your shopping done? I've been doing a little checking around to see what's popular this year with regard to outdoor clothing, outerwear and toys, what's new and different, etc. Remember, buy local as much as possible when you're shopping to support Boise's quality outdoor stores.
Here's my 2015 Christmas outdoor gear list for the outdoorsy him and her:
1. First of all, we have to celebrate all the fresh snow that's fallen across Idaho in the last month or so. All of the Idaho alpine and xc resorts are open and all the tubing hills are open with a solid base of snow -- just in time for everyone to enjoy playing in the snow over the Christmas holidays! Raise your cup to the snow god Ullr and send a happy howl to the stars.
2. Headlamp - You can use them for hiking, reading, camping, cooking ... you name it, headlamps are an essential outdoor item. And they seem to mysteriously disappear around our house all the time. But there's so many brands to choose from ... where do you start? Outdoor Gear Lab recently compared 28 different headlamps and ranked them. Black Diamond headlamps dominated the top 5, and the Coast HL7, came out No. 1. It retails for only $30 online. I think it pays to spend a little more, say $50-$60, and get a brighter lamp.
3. Bike lights - I wrote a blog about biking and hiking lights recently after the time changed in the fall. See my recommendations there. Lights have gotten so much better and brighter for less cost.
"We're selling lights for 1/5th of what they sold for 5 years ago with five times the brightness," says Chris Haunold of Idaho Mountain Touring. A Light and Motion bike light at IMT with 350 lumens sells for $60 with a rechargeable battery. Five years ago, "it would have cost $500," Chris says.
Wilderness Today ranked 10 pocket knives in their survey. See what kind you want and then head over to Boise Army Navy in Garden City to buy a pocket knife.
5. Gloves - I like to have at least one set of light gloves for xc skiing, a heavier warm glove for alpine skiing, and some medium-weight gloves for other uses. Many outdoor retailers in Boise have a great selection of gloves. Backcountry Pursuit has some screaming deals on gloves and mittens at their store on Capital next to FedEx Kinkos.
7. At Boise REI, Fischer S-Bound Backcountry Skis with the EZ Skin System are proving to be popular this holiday season. The skis have a notch for the skins, and they're easy to take on and off. Check with Boise REI on pricing.
8. Hydro flasks and stainless bottles - These are proving to be a popular low-cost buy ($10-$30) at IMT and Boise REI. Many brands are available, including Hydro Flask, New Wave, and others.
9. Patagonia Black Hole Duffle Bags - These look really nice and durable, and they only cost about $100. I saw these at IMT. They collapse into a small compact bag when empty, nice for travel, and they hold lots of gear. Larger models are in the $130-$160 range. The thing that's nice about buying Patagonia is that if anything falls apart, there's a lifetime guarantee.
Backpacker magazine's list of top snowshoes for 2015. Review the list and buy local!
And last, but certainly not least, there are Steve's outdoor guidebooks! For hikers and trail-runners, Boise Trail Guide: 90 Hiking and Running Routes Close to Home is the ticket. Retails for $19.95. The Owyhee Canyonlands: An Outdoor Adventure Guide is still very popular with hikers, mountain bikers and campers. It has 55 hikes and bike rides in the Owyhees, plus a detailed guide to the 100-mile Owyhee Uplands Backcountry Byway.
Boise Road Cycling Guide is the only road-biking map available in the Boise Valley. The two-sided, full-color, tear-proof and waterproof map retails for $12.50. Mountain Biking in McCall is the only mountain biking guide for the McCall Area. It features 40 rides, from easy trails to epic day-long journeys and multi-day rides.
In a special book-signing event for the Christmas Holiday, I'll be signing books this Saturday, Dec. 19, at the Capital City Market Holiday Annex in Vista Village, 1036 S. Vista Ave. in Boise, beginning at 11 a.m. The event will run to 1 or 2 p.m., depending on demand.
There you have it! Have a wonderful holiday! As I said, I'm already feeling blessed because of all the powder snow! Count your blessings and hug your loved ones!