Holiday shopping time is here. And we’re pleased to bring you our annual holiday gift guide, certainly one of the funnest stories we put together each year.
We’ve culled a selection of outdoorsy products for a range of ages, interests, and budgets. New this year, we’re listing local shops who carry these brands.
On behalf of the Vermont Sports community, may you have a merry and meaningful holiday!
Osprey Sirrus 24
This is the ultimate women’s daypack, or even multi-day pack, if you don’t need to carry a lot of sleeping gear. It seems like Osprey thought of everything, and somehow made it all work in a 24-liter pack. If there’s a woman who likes to hike on your holiday gift list, this is a no-brainer. The large main pocket has a sleeve for a hydration bladder, a smaller front pocket and top mesh-lined pockets help with organization. The comfortable hip belt has zipped mesh storage pockets (you can cram two or three Cliff bars in each) and side elastic pockets offer easy access to a small camera, an extra water bottle, or handkerchief. There’s a mechanism to hold your collapsed trekking poles when you don’t want to carry them, and this little pack even comes with a rain cover. They thought of everything. (The pack comes in larger volume sizes, but for a daypack, this is really all that’s needed.) Available in S, M, L, sizing chart on www.ospreypacks.com. Sam’s Outdoor, Brattleboro; Mountain Travelers, Rutland; Farm-Way, Bradford; CC Outdoor Store, Waterbury; EMS, all locations. $99. —SBG
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to put away your Chacos. Now you can just trade one pair for another. The company famous for its sport sandals has debuted a line of shoes and boots, which, like the sandals, encompass style and practicality. The Arboras are a tall, waterproof boot, nice for any lady on your gift list. The boots feature the classic Chaco midsole, with serious arch support, and the hefty Vibram soles offer a good grip for messy footing—perfect for getting to and from the ski area. Even the zipper, located on the inside of the boot, is waterproof. Those features are excellent for practical purposes, but these aren’t the kind of clunky winter boots you only wear because you have to. The criss-cross stitching on the upper portion of the boot adds a nice detail, and the sheepskin and wool not only add warmth, but a decorative and fun element to the top of the boot—perfect for cruising the apres-ski scene. In shiitake and chocolate brown. Equipe Sport, South Londonderry; The Shoe Horn, Montpelier; Skirack, Burlington; EMS, all locations; $240. —SBG
Outdoor Research Igneo Pant
For the lady on your list who does it all—backcountry and lift-serve skiing or riding, snowshoeing, snowman building—the Igneo is an all around winter pant that still is high performance. Technically a sidecountry pant, these pants will prove pretty versatile in Vermont’s varying degrees of winter and in varying states of winter fun. Waterproof yet breathable, the Igneo has thigh zips for temperature control, inner gaiters for snow control, and double closure back pockets (zip and Velcro) so she won’t lose anything in the woods. The Igneos are big enough to allow for movement, but fitted enough to remain flattering. Outdoor Research products are guaranteed forever, so she can shred all she wants without ever having to buy another pair of pants again (unless they’re lost). Umiak Outfitters, Stowe; Mountain Goat, Manchester Center; Base Camp Outfitters, Killington. $180 —SBG
Smartwool Nts Women’s Microweight Tank
The most essential piece of backpacking clothing money can buy (and it may seem pricey for a tank, but it’s absolutely worth it). Comfortable and wicking, this Merino wool tank is nice and long, so your pack’s hip belts sit over the shirt, not just under it; therefore, the shirt won’t ride up. We put this tank to the test in extremely humid conditions, trekking all day and rinsing it at night. It was the only article of clothing on this test that dried completely overnight—and had no odor the next day. If you know someone who is looking to cut weight in their pack, this tank is a perfect option, because you can get away with wearing it multiple days. Kevin Smith’s Sports Connection, St. Albans; Village Sports Shop, Lyndonville; Mountain Goat, Manchester; H.E. Shaw’s, Stowe; Climb High, Outdoor Gear Exchange, Skirack, Burlington. $55 —SBG
Outdoor Research Trailbreaker Pants
For the winter backcountry enthusiast, these technical britches leave very few ideas out and certainly live up to their name. While water-resistant fabric keeps your lower legs dry when breaking trail, the soft-shell upper legs will give you adequate ventilation. And if you need even more breathe-ability, unzip the two-way zippered thigh vents. Knee-pad sleeves, suspender attachments, an avalanche beacon pocket, reinforced inner-ankle fabric, and zip-out internal mesh leg gaiters round out this near-perfect creation for the most aerobic people on your list. And while these are sold as a men’s pant, they fit a women’s build as well (OR doesn’t make a women’s specific true backcountry pant). Umiak Outfitters, Stowe; Mountain Goat, Manchester Center; Base Camp Outfitters, Killington. $195. —JG
Timberland LiteTrace Mid Waterproof Hiker
Have someone in your life who takes to the trails wearing sneakers in order to save weight, but comes back home with sprained ankles? Brand-new to the market this year, these lightweight hiking boots (weighing just 12 ounces) are anything but light from a durability standpoint. For that size, one might expect a flimsy, low-performance boot that wouldn’t even keep feet dry in a drizzle. Not so, say these boots. The sole, made of 42 percent recycled rubber, is stiff enough to comfortably carry loads up to 20 pounds. And I dunked them in two-inch-deep water without so much as a drop of moisture penetrating the impregnated leather. Sacrifice your ankles to weight-saving no more. Factory Store, North Conway, N.H. $170. —JG
Ibex Men’s Fair Isle Sweater
Your father, son, husband, or friend won’t win any Ugly Christmas Sweater contests with this soft, comfy sweater. Made of 90 percent lambswool and 10 percent cashmere, the Fair Isle Sweater keeps you warm and fuzzy pre- and post-adventure. Another way to feel warm and fuzzy? The Vermont-based Ibex has a commitment to using ethical wool. AJ’s Ski and Sports, Stowe; Elevation Clothing, Woodstock; The Mountain Goat, Manchester. $225. —SBG
Merrell Alum and Meadowlark Snow Pants
The Alum (for men) and the Meadowlark (for women) are an excellent choice for the skier or snowboarder who likes resort skiing. Waterproof with sealed seams, these pants are still breathable thanks to Merrell’s Opti-Shell technology. Interior gaiters have boot hooks, keeping the snow out of your boots, and thigh vents mean you won’t overheat on your way to or from the mountain. And sometimes it’s the little things that matter. Both pants come with a hanging loop, so you can dry pants easily. Lenny’s Shoe and Apparel, all locations; Woodstock Sports, Woodstock; Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters; First Run Ski Shop, South Londonderry; Alpine Shop and Skirack, Burlington. $149 —SBG
Patagonia Specter Trail Running Shoes
We’ve tried countless shoes for trail running over the years, but none has been more comfortable than the Specter. They’ll inspire your loved one to move, jump and dance around when they lace them up and walk out the door. The Specter is a relatively lightweight (22 ounces per pair) and very breathable trail running shoe, especially well-suited for drier weather and trail conditions. It’s designed to easily fit the average foot (medium width, medium arch), but a key to its comfort is its lacing system, which extends down to the insole for a nice secure fit. This shoe features 20 percent recycled foam in the mid-sole and footbed; and 100 percent recycled mesh, and because Patagonia pours a good deal of its resources into important environmental programs, you can feel good about investing in their products. Patagonia Store, Burlington. $125. —BM & EJ
Outdoor Research Vert Gloves
A great gift for those who are especially active in the winter, OR’s Vert Gloves are perfect for the up-track, skate skiing, winter runs, and even spring skiing when the weather warms again. Constructed with a stretchy soft shell fabric and featuring a full leather palm, these have proven to be very comfortable and durable gloves for staying active in moderately cold temperatures. Regular waterproofing of the leather palm is essential for keeping them from absorbing unnecessary moisture and for added durability. Try to lay off the wood pile with these babies, and they’ll last for years. Alpine Options, Warren; Umiak Outfitters, Stowe. $49. —BM & EJ
Mammut Ultimate Hoody
We can’t say enough about this amazingly comfortable and ultra-versatile soft-shell jacket, which seems to be especially designed for high-octane mountain adventures. One feature that has particularly impressed us is the jacket’s full-length, under-arm zips, which extend right to the bottom of the jacket. This feature allows for maximum climate control, and on many days, one can wear the Ultimate Hoody all day as a primary outer layer—whether climbing or skiing. Its hood is helmet friendly. A few pockets are convenient for accessing the little things. And its durable, windproof fabric is perfect for backcountry exploring year-round …and those inevitable encounters with vegetation that could easily tear up or scratch a more delicate hard-shell fabric. Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington. $240. —BM & EJ
Surly Bill and Ted Trailers
While there are several bike trailers on the market specifically designed to carry lighter-weight loads like children, dogs, groceries, or camping gear, the two-wheeled Bill and Ted trailers are Surly’s answer for those looking to use their bicycles as practical and heavy-duty load carriers. The trailer bed and hitch features TIG-welded, 4130 CroMoly steel, and the beds are designed to be easily adapted with a rack or gear box. The trailers come equipped with a special Surly axle and axle nuts to replace your standard quick release, and the hubs and 16-inch wheels are custom-built by Surly for the purpose of reliably carrying loads of up to 300 pounds. Perfect for someone looking to drive less and ride more. Can be special ordered through most Vermont bike shops. Bill (63 x 24 trailer), $850; Ted (32 x 24 trailer), $775. —BM & EJ
Transpack TRV Pro
Why the Alpine ski crowd hasn’t been using this boot pack en masse for decades is incomprehensible. Gone are the days of awkwardly slinging your boots over your shoulder or juggling them with your skis and poles. Now you can carry the boots, helmet, goggles, etc. to the lodge on your back with ease. The skier or rider on your list will thank you every time they avoid the fight from car to lodge. This pack features a separate section for each boot, and a very generous main compartment, with both top and side entry, to fit your helmet, extra layers, and most anything else you might bring to the slopes. For those away-from-home skiing adventures that involve some flying, the harness system stows in a zippered sleeve on the back of the pack. Boot-jugglers, your unwanted career has ended. Ski Rack, Burlington; A.J.’s Ski and Sports, Stowe; The Boot Pro, Ludlow. $129.95. —JG
Eco-Que 12-inch Portable Grill
Here’s a good one for that someone who likes hikin’ or bikin’ to the campsite and always has dreamed of chillin’ and grillin’ once there. With the stainless steel Eco-Que portable grill, a delicious grilled meal can be prepared in places accessible only with hiking boots, mountain bikes, or canoes. The Eco-Que collapses to about 1-inch thick, but when set up, the efficient pyramidal design, which funnels heat to the cooking surface, enables a backcountry feast to be prepared using only a handful of charcoal briquettes or even scavenged sticks. Using 75 percent less fuel than larger grills, this is green grilling backcountry style. This is a brand, spankin’ new product and isn’t available around here yet, so you’ll have to order online at www.ecoque.com (perhaps you could package with locally-bought charcoal?). $129. —RJL
Julbo First Class Goggles
If someone on your gift list is a backcountry or resort skier, they’ve probably dealt with the fog factor. At best, fogging goggles are annoying, at worst, they’re dangerous. We did our best to try to fog the lenses on the Orbiters, but to no avail. The spherical photocromic lens promises better peripheral vision. A double layer of foam padding is easy on your face, and a strap extender means these will fit even the biggest helmets. A tacky strip on the inside of the straps helps prevent the goggles from sliding off your helmet. And, Julbo USA is based right here in Williston, so when you buy their products, you are supporting the four U.S. Julbo employees, who all work in Vermont. $200. —SBG
Bluebird Day Tele Leashes
If there are tele-skiers or snowboarders on your list, there’s a good chance they are unhappy with his or her leash. Although the leash may work to keep skis/board attached to their foot in a crash, it is most likely difficult to attach with gloves on. The Vermont-made Bluebird Day leash not only works to keep skis attached, but it is super easy to use when wearing gloves or mittens. To attach, simply grab the Pebax-coated cable and slide your hand forward. When your glove or mitten hits the two oversized tabs, the clamp opens. Once engaged, its steel bomber construction will keep a ski from flying into the bluebird sky. Vermont-made and with an innovative design. Onion River Sports, Montpelier; Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington; West Hill Shop, Putney. $20. —RJL
Voile Vector BC Backcountry Skis
I can’t think of too many backcountry skiers or gear columnists who don’t have visions of these beauties dancing in their heads like sugar plums. Embracing the growing popularity of waxless backcountry skis, Voile has taken its award-winning Vector and slapped on a fish scale base. The mid-fat width, super light weight construction, and powder-ready rocker design make this truly distinct, U.S.-made backcountry ski ideal for laps on secret backwoods hillsides, or following a streambed and dropping off frozen waterfalls. Nordic Barn, Stowe; Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington; First Trax, Montgomery. $550. —RJL
Black Diamond Compactor Pole
The BD Compactor Pole is a new, all-season pole that collapses to about 15 inches in length, and can be deployed in a matter of seconds using innovative speed cones that guide the segments together without getting hung up. Offering 20 centimeters of height adjustment (maximum height is 145 centimeters) and using the ultra-secure, zero-slip FlickLock, the BD Compactor is a great pole for anyone who uses poles, but especially backcountry snowboarders, snowshoers, or winter travelers. Onion River Sports, Montpelier; West Hill Shop, Putney; EMS, all locations. $119.95. —RJL
Stocking Stuffers/Under $10
Kiwi Camp Dry Heavy Duty Water Repellent
This is a useful gift for anyone who spends time outdoors—no matter what their sport of choice. Kiwi Camp Dry is a spray-on, silicone water protectant, which can be used to waterproof clothing, boots, and gear, or to re-waterproof gear that has lost its repellency with age and use. With Vermont’s wet weather, there’s no chance this will end up in the return pile. Dick’s Sporting Goods, Williston, Rutland. $7.79. —SBG
Beyond Coastal Lip Balm
Ditch the petroleum-based lip balms in favor of stuff that’s actually good for your loved one’s lips. Made with natural ingredients like aloe vera, beeswax, coconut oil, yerba mate, and shea butter, Beyond Coastal Lip Balm is soothing and not greasy, and provides full-spectrum UVA and UVB protection (SPF 15). All the ingredients are listed on the packaging. Plus, this lip balm is made in the USA—so your purchase supports domestic jobs in this tough economy. Flavors: vanilla bean, coastal grove, mint leaf, cherry blossom, natural. 15 ounces, $2.99. —SBG
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Pint
You can’t lose when you give the gift of the Stainless Steel Pint from the folks at Kleen Kanteen. Made of durable 18/8 food-grade stainless steel, it won’t shatter, is dishwasher safe, and won’t impart or retain flavors. It’s obviously great for beer, but it also is great as an all-purpose cup for just about any delicious beverage. Take it to parties, picnics, camping trips, barbeques, or the beach, and never drink from a lousy plastic keg cup again. Healthy Living, South Burlington; Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington; Onion River Sports, Montpelier. $9.95. —RJL
Kids and Parents
Atlas Spark and Echo Snowshoes
What better gift to give your children than access to the outdoors? Specially designed for ages 8 through 12, the Atlas Spark (marketed for boys) and Echo (marketed for girls) can get your kids on the trails at Grafton Outdoor Center, Craftsbury Outdoor Center, or out your back yard. Bindings are easy to adjust, leaving the frustration factor in the dust. Or would that be powder? North Star Sports, Burlington; Woodstock Sports, Woodstock; EMS, all locations; Onion River Sports, Montpelier; Ski Rack, Burlington. $79.95.
Princeton Tec Bot Headlamp
Your kids can enjoy nighttime snowshoes with you this winter thanks to the kid-sized Bot headlamp. Designed with younger adventurers in mind, the Bot features a smaller light housing and head band, and weighs just 2.26 ounces. Batteries can’t fall out thanks to a screwed-shut door. A variety of fun colors makes you wish adult headlamps were this creative. Settings include high, low, and flash. $15.99. —SBG
When young kids are walking, but can’t quite complete a full hike, parents are left to carry little bodies up and down the trail. The Piggyback Rider allows parents to transport kids in a piggyback style, but because children stand on a bar instead of wrapping their legs around mom or dad, their weight is better distributed. Kids are strapped in via a harness, and sit higher than a regular piggyback ride, offering safety and giving them a better view. The best part is: Adult hands remain free. For ages 2½ and up; up to 60 pounds. $79.99. —SBG
Memberships and Subscriptions
Catamount Trail Rewards Booklet and Membership Card
The CTA Rewards Booklet has nearly 100 coupons for half-price skiing and discounts at sports retailers and health-oriented businesses, for a total of $1,000 in value. Memberships begin at $35 for individuals. Buy online at www.catamounttrail.org.
Gift Subscription to Vermont Sports
Have Vermont Sports delivered to your friend’s mailbox! Printed 11 times per year, Vermont Sports is the ultimate guide for aerobic, adventure, and lifelong sports in Northern New England. You’ll inspire your loved one to stay active in Vermont’s great outdoors. Also, when you subscribe to Vermont Sports magazine, you are supporting Vermont writers, photographers, designers, editors, and distributors. It’s a win all around. www.vtsports.com/subscribe. $25.
Writers include Ryan James Leclerc, Brian Mohr, Emily Johnson, Josh Gleiner, and Sky Barsch Gleiner.