Newbies are easy to shop for: Brand-new skiers need skis and poles, beginning hikers need boots and a pack; novice cyclists won’t get far without a bike. But once your outdoorsy friends start accumulating enough gear and skill to get picky, gift giving becomes more of a challenge.
With that in mind, we went window shopping and picked the brightest brains in Anchorage’s outdoor gear shops, hunting for the type of gear that everybody wants and needs, no matter what their skill level or flavor of outdoor fun. There’s something useful here for every budget and, better yet, everything is stocked locally.
Stocking stuffer: Make sure your cycling friends are seen with the 200-lumen, USB-rechargeable Serfas True 200 headlight. ($65 at The Bicycle Shop)
Midsize surprise: Rock the best biking duds in Paramount Cycles’ new shop jersey, with a mountain scene and wildlife by local artist Gina Edwards. ($90, Paramount Cycles)
Midsize surprise: Hand-made in Fairbanks, Dogwood Designs’ insulated poagies have gaskets to keep the cold out, and extra room for your hands. ($119 and up at The Bicycle Shop, Paramount Cycles, Chain Reaction Cycles, Speedway Cycles)
Spendy splurge: Get in on the fat bike revolution with locally designed and built fat-bike brands: The Fatback from Speedway Cycles ($2,100 and up) and 9:Zero:7 from Chain Reaction Cycles ($2,200 and up).
Midsize surprise: Foot Balance custom insoles, custom-fit to your feet, will take at least 3 minutes off your mile pace. Right? ($90 at Skinny Raven)
Spendy splurge: The Polar RC3 GPS watch knows exactly where you are. All. The. Time. ($360 at Skinny Raven)
Stocking stuffer: The waterproof, windproof, seam-taped Adventure Medical Kits SOL Emergency Bivvy will come in handy if you’re ever… well, SOL. ($17 at REI)
Stocking stuffer: Leave your wallet at home – with the 2014 Chugach State Parks sticker, you won’t have to pay for parking in the Chugach until 2015. ($40 at REI, AMH, Paramount Cycles, etc.)
Spendy splurge: Going far afield? Keep in touch with the DeLorme inReach Screen Edition, a two-way locator beacon, GPS and text messenger with its own built-in screen.($300 at REI; only a few in stock, so shop early!)
Midsize surprise: Take your hipster proclivities camping with the BioLite wood-burning camp stove, also good for backpacking below treeline. ($130 at REI)
Spendy splurge: The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL4 is big enough for car camping, but light enough for family backpacking trips too. ($500 at REI)
Midsize surprise: Life is so much more fun when your gear is dry. Keep it that way with an assortment of dry bags. ($10 and up at AMH, Alaska Raft and Kayak)
Spendy splurge: A custom-fit Gore-Tex dry suit will keep you dry, even when your world turns upside down. ($1,250 at Alaska Raft and Kayak)
(Alaska Raft & Kayak is also offering 15% off stock on-hand through December, or mention Coast magazine for 10% off through December 31.)
Stocking stuffer: The Black Diamond Magnetron RockLock magnetic-closure carabiner is as close as you’ll ever get to a foolproof automatic biner. ($20 at AMH)
Midsize surprise: Help your ice climbing buddies get a grip on life with Black Diamond Express ice screws. ($60 at REI, AMH)
Midsize surprise: Everybody pulls plastic sometime; make it count with the Metolius Contact Training Board. ($95 at REI)
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
Stocking stuffer: All skis – even waxless skis – need a good coat of glide wax from time to time. ($10 and up at Zak’s Boardroom, REI, AMH)
Stocking stuffer: Don’t forget to pitch in and buy a pin from the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage! ($65, or basic membership (no pin) for $25; anchoragenordicski.com)
Midsize surprise: The REI Evaporator ventilated ski bag keeps your skis and poles safe while holding stink at bay. ($80/single or $95/double at REI)
Stocking stuffer: Stance snowboarding socks come in crazy patterns and colors. Nobody else has to know there’s a party going on in your boots… unless you want them to. ($15 to $25 at Zak’s Boardroom)
Stocking stuffer: FlyLow Gear Ridge gloves look like a lift operator’s leather work gloves – but they’re really an abrasion-resistant, DWR-treated find at a quarter the cost of the competition. ($40 at SkiAK)
Midsize surprise: Long underwear is sexy when you’re wearing an Airblaster Ninja Suit. These adult onesies cover you from head to ankles, with a hood, thumb loops and 360-degree waist zip for taking care of business. ($110 to $190, Zak’s Boardroom)
Spendy splurge: Make sure your friends live through the winter – and and know how to save you – with a backcountry avalanche hazard evaluation course. ($345 at Alaska Avalanche School) Other training opportunities are available through organizations like NAOI and Chugach National Forest.
Stocking stuffer: Nobody knows Alaska fish like an Alaskan; Kodiak Custom lures are hand-made by a local. ($4.79 and up at B&J Sporting Goods, Mountain View Sports, Army Navy, Sportsman’s Warehouse)
Midsize surprise: Hold steady in fast-moving water with the Folstaf collapsible wading staff; it comes with its own leather holster. ($150 at Mountain View Sports)
Spendy splurge: If you give your ice-fishing friends a lightweight Eskimo FatFish 949 pop-up tent, they’ll have plenty of room to bring you – and four other friends – along. ($270 at Sportsman’s Warehouse)
OTHER WATER SPORTS
Stocking stuffer: Not sure how to ride Alaska’s waves safely? Head out with Alaska Surf Adventures out of Seward (alaskasurfadventures.com); $75 for a half-day trip (your gear), $125 for the trip plus rental gear and a lesson.
Midsize surprise: Practice taking to the air with a 2.5-meter Ozone Imp Trainer Kite – it’ll let you get used to kiting around and build the skills you need to manage a bigger kite. ($245 at Zak’s Boardroom)
Spendy splurge: Downsize your water habits in an Alpacka Alpaca packraft, with internal storage and a cruiser or whitewater deck. ($1,355 and up at AMH)
Bed head Next Post:
Rally for the tally with annual Christmas Bird Counts