Your geek works in front of a computer all day, but yearns to be outside skiing or something. Here are some gift ideas for that type. (Also, this is a highly personal list tailored towards ski and snowboarding, so please add ideas to the comments.)
BTW, if you hate the gallery format as much as the Grinch hated Christmas, click here.
The cheapest MP3 player you can find: Everyone has a nice one. But if you're roughing it up outside, you want to bring a crappy one and you want it to be somewhat disposable. SanDisk has some 25 dollar ones on Amazon. I used to use an iPod shuffle til they removed the buttons. For sports involving gloves, things with big buttons are best. A good stocking stuffer, but explain it as such so you don't look like a cheap ass. [Amazon]
Nike Plus: If you like running, the Nike Plus informatics system will track and log and compare your mileage with that of your friends. (I hate running.) $29 with an iPod nano or iPhone or iPod Touch, or $69 for one that doesn't need an iPod. [Review; Nike+]
Patagonia Nano Puff: Ounce for ounce the warmest tightest packing jacket Patagonia makes. PrimaLoft One (60g) filling makes it so. I'd use it as a good fall/spring outer, or a good winter/ski extra midlayer for when the cold creeps in. $150 [Patagonia]
Rugged Cameras: The W80 Pentax is pretty compact, takes OK photos and videos, and is shockproof to a few feet, coldproof to 14 degrees F and waterproof to 16 feet. I like it for winter sports. $300 [Review; Pentax]
DON'T BUY Columbia Heated Boots: Seems like a good idea but they're not. Unlike heated jackets, which warm your core and are located on your center of gravity, heated boots won't do much to warm your body and are in danger of shorting if you step in a stream. They're also heavy and the weight on your extremities is tiring. [Columbia]
A Heli Trip: Sending a loved outdoor geek on an adventure is going to be better than any sort of piece of gear they might lug. Say, for a ski bum, a heli ski tour. Most people I know, unless deep into the scene, will consider replacing a chair lift with a helicopter, an extravagance. It's not that much, though. Couple hundred bucks [Ruby Mountains]
Black Diamond Guide Gloves with Gore Tex XCR: I just tested these gloves in 13 degree weather and was warm. (They're rated from -20 to +10 degrees F.) Why? XCR Gore-tex is supposed to breathe 25% more than regular Gore-Tex, keeping my hands dryer, and so, warmer. But the dampness that built up, however minor, did not bother me because the upper of the inner liner is wool, which stays warm when wet. Highly recommended. $159 For those in wetter snow climates, I like the Mountain Hardware Jalapeno gloves with Outdry tech. Basically, the heat press the inner and mid layer together to create a better waterproof seal that also has the side effect of fitting more tightly and providing more agility. [Black Diamond, Mountain Hardware]
Gerber Shard and Strata: There are tons of multitools on the market. Most do basic screwdriver, cutting and plier duty; This one has a special tool for gutting those annoying plastic packages gadgets come in. The Shard is a seven in one tool, and although we can't figure out all seven functions, it is safe to carry on flights. Price TBA. [Gerber Strata, Shard]
Spyder Winterskyn X-Static Crew Undershirt:Thermal underwear that makes you look like Spiderman and that is woven with silver fibers to eliminate bacteria created odors found in other synthetic baselayers. $100 [Spyder]
Sportiva Hobnail Ice Screws for Your Boots/Sneakers: These spikes screw into any pair of kicks (but probably not wise to use em on Nike Airs) to provide you with supreme ice traction. Removable when the snow melts in Spring. Like I said, they work on any footware with a solid sole, but work especially well on Sportiva's Goretex trail runners. $45 [Sportiva]
Brunton Firestorm Lighter and Coghlans Magnesium and Flint Firestarter: I always, grimly, imagine being stuck in a snowstorm, needing to build a fire. (I was a boy scout, so fire starting is always on my mind.) The Bruton Firestorm has a static ignition an the flame is good in up to 80mph winds. It also seals completely watertight and has a clip and lanyard hole. Alternatively, the Coghlans Firestarter has a magnesium strip which you shave into a pile near kindling, sparked using the flint on the opposite side to create a burst of 5400 degrees. $60 and $7 [Brunton and Coghlans]
Eton Solarlink Radio: A solar or crank charged radio with AM/FM/NOAA weather and a flashlight, siren and cellphone charger. I wouldn't take it camping, but I would feel safer driving into storms during ski season with one in the trunk. $80 [Eton]
Brooks-Range Rocket Tent: For lighter backcountry skiing and snowboarding, this tent uses your hiking/skinning poles as part of the structure. $600 [Brooks-Range]
Smith Maze Helmet and IO/s Goggles: I like Smith optics, esp the low light sensor lens in whatever size fits your face. I also like their platinum lens for bluebird days on the slopes. The IO
The IO and IO/s (smaller) goggles swap lenses pretty easily; two for one! (I'm also a fan of the turbo fan series, which has an active venting system powered by a couple of AAs. Great for muggier days or sweatier people.) The Maze helmet is one of the lightest around, has 9 vents and is available with headphones or bluetooth setups. $180 and $100 [Smith Optics]
K2 Snowboarding Stuff: On the recommendations of a few snowboard magazines and bloggers, and my experience with some bindings from last year, I went and threw down for some K2 snowboarding gear. Full kit! Thraxis boots, with boa dials for liner, upper and lower shells. A set of their standard but updated to plastic chassis Formula bindings, and a snowboard called the Slayblade, which kicked a lot of ass and won a lot of awards for its flat profile (no rocker or camber). I'll keep my old Lib Tech board around for some light/medium powder days, but sometimes you gotta trust the experts. $400, $200, $550 [K2]
Don't forget to recommend your own favorite outdoor adventure gear in comments—include pic and pricing if possible.
All Giz Wants is our annual round-up of favorite gift ideas, including amazing attainable objects and a few far-out fantasies. We'll be popping guides catered to different interests several times per day for the next week, so keep checking back.