When I got skis for Christmas, it was one of the best presents ever. They weren’t exactly new, and they were a little too short, but I didn’t notice a thing. I had skis, and mom and dad were awesome.
Where I grew up, peak elevation is the top of a cow patty. But in 10 minutes, I had my feet in my boots, my boots clamped into the bindings, and I was sure that I could pole my way to the nearest ski area some 35 miles away.
Gifting new skis or a snowboard earns you immediate and eternal Rock Star status. From hot new skis and killer boards to all the mountain essentials, here’s a list of great gifts for your skier and rider friends to ring in the new year with.
1. The Doc by Meier Skis
At 108 millimeters underfoot (140-108-133), you might not think of The Doc, made by Meier Skis, as an all-around everyday ski. Handmade from Colorado beetle-kill pine, much of the ski’s performance is due to Meier’s “camRise” technology that features a traditional camber with an early rise tip.
The Doc is responsive and lively in packed powder, yet it’s burly enough to hold steady in crud and plow through thick chunks of chopped up powder. The 179 cm model powers 21 meter turn radius and holds steady on hard pack snow. The Doc signs the prescription for making the most of the mountain every day. Shop Meier Skis.
2. The Wailer by DPS Skis
The genesis of a fair amount of today’s ski technology can be sourced to a partnership between skier and ski designer Stephan Drake and longtime ski engineer Peter Turner who founded Drake Powderworks (DPS) in 2005. DPS Wailers have been some of the most awarded skis in the past five years.
The Wailer 99 (125-99-111) is built for business, with hybrid fiberglass, carbon, and bamboo. The ski initiates a turn with ease and powers you through a joy ride 18 meter radius turn, and holds an anti-vibration edge on hard snow. A women’s version is available in the Nina 99. Shop DPS Skis.
3. The Supertonic by Faction
When I was asked to put this list together, I reached out to some of my “skier girl” friends. One of them insisted I include the Supertonic by Faction, that she says is a “super awesome” women’s ski that rips in pow, and at 107mm underfoot, is also actually a pretty great all-mountain ski.
The Supertonic features a five-point sidecut, rocker at the tip and tail, and a slight camber. Faction’s STP Technology presses a small wave into the length of the ski adding torsional strength resulting in a stable edge grip in hardpack snow conditions. Shop Faction.
4. Burton – Limited Edition Holiday Collection
This season Burton collaborated with Marilyn Monroe’s estate to produce his-and-her snowboards emblazoned with life-sized photos of the legendary actress. Four different photo options are available for the men’s Custom Marilyn and woman’s Feelgood Marilyn exclusively from Burton.
Other boards in the collection include the Throwback Snowboard, described as a resurrection of the classic 1981 Burton Backhill with two sizes including for adults and kids. New for backcountry riders are the Fish Split and the Retro Fish. Shop Burton.
5. A Day of Cat Skiing
A day of cat skiing is right up there with new skis or a snowboard. Some ski areas offer a single run via snowcat for as little as $5. Full day cat trips normally start at about $300, with about a dozen available spots. Lunch is most often included as are fun and knowledgeable guides, and great tunes in a plush chariot of the snow.
My advice is to do your research on available trips, download the Open Snow app, watch it closely, and try to pull off a mid-week powder coupe. It will be a day of skiing you remember and tell stories about for the rest of your skiing and riding career. Check out Monarch Cat Trips.
6. Longboard by KOTA
It’s the stained-wood graphics that wrap around the entire deck of the KOTA longboard that strikes you first. The colors are brilliant, and the patterns have old-school military overtones that leave space for the wood grains to shine through. KOTA’s AIM 54 stain process uses UV-protected finishes meaning the deck stays glossy, yet with enough grip that there’s no need for unsightly tape.
KOTA produced a special edition 2015 FIS Alpine Ski Championships longboard, and very limited quantity can be ordered signed by Lindsey Vonn or Mikaela Shiffrin with KOTA donating $50 of the proceeds to the U.S. Ski Team. Shop KOTA.
7. Sunglasses by Kaenon
Here’s a tip for skiers who golf. Try not to errantly smack the ball 160 miles per hour into your wife’s face. Bode Miller did just that, but fortunately Morgan Beck Miller’s left eye was saved thanks to the fact that she was wearing Kaenon SR-91 lenses.
Kaenon says the technology blends the “optical quality of the finest glass and the lightweight, strength and impact resistance of polycarbonate.” The limited-edition Frost line features frosted matte frames that are silky smooth to the touch and come with a semi-translucent black mirror polarized lens that render remarkable clarity. Shop Kaenon.
8. Goggles by Zeal Optics
The folks at Zeal Optics based in Boulder, Colorado, continue to advance photochromic technologies with its Optimum lens that automatically adjusts to changing light conditions. Zeal’s HD Camera model boasts a 1080p HD video camera that captures real-time video and sound, and comes with an in-goggle viewfinder. It’s controlled by “glove-ready buttons” on the side of the frame. Shop Zeal Optics.
9. The Peaks Flannel by Mountain Khakis
Here’s a bachelor tip: When buying a flannel shirt, also buy one for your girlfriend otherwise she’ll end up “borrowing” yours forever. Fortunately the Peaks Flannel by Mountain Khakis comes in both men’s and women’s styles.
The flannel fabric is a wool-poly-Lycra blend that results in a level of softness and comfort that you’ll love but never discuss amongst your man friends. What’s best is that it’s a quick-dry material that has a little stretch to it. Shop Mountain Khakis.
10. The Heated Boot Pro by TransPack
The Heated Boot Pro boot bag by TransPack is a real mack daddy with an internal warming pad to keep boots soft and warm. It plugs into a normal electrical outlet and 12 volt car outlet.
Combine that with the familiar quality features of TransPack bags such as a front vertical zipper, coated water resistant central compartment, and a fleece goggle pocket inside top lid and you’ve got the total package in a boot bag. Shop TransPack.
11. Orgeval Skirt by Eider
To me, it’s kind of like leaving the garage door open, but my skier girl friends are raving about puffy skirts. Eider’s down mini-skirt is short enough to not impede movement while snowshoeing or shaking one’s rumpus during après – so the skier girls tell me. Shop Eider.
12. SealSkinz Gloves
You can never have too many pairs of gloves, and we really like the DragonEye from SealSkinz. DragonEye is a low-profile close-fitting glove, offering excellent dexterity for a range of activities. It features Aqua Dynamic Design waterproof breathable technology and the lining fabric won’t slip as you pull your hands in and out of the glove. Shop SealSkinz.
13. The Ice Jack by Korkers
You might not want to be wearing a pair of Ice Jack boots when running full-speed through an airport trying to catch a flight to Switzerland. These are not running shoes, but when Zermatt is your destination and seconds are counting, you’ll run in whatever is on your feet.
The Ice Jacks slip on with ease and the convenient Boa speed lacing system snugs up with a quick turn of a dial. Korkers OmniTrax Interchangeable Sole System let you swap out traction to suite the environment, including 7mm replaceable carbide-tipped studs. (Not recommended for running through airports). Shop Korkers.
14. Avalanche Essentials
An avalanche beacon, probe, shovel, and accommodating backpack are great gifts for big mountain and backcountry skiers and riders, but of course the tools themselves are only as good as one’s ability to use them. Consider buying your loved a local avalanche education course.
A great stocking stuffer is Avalanche Essentials, by Bruce Tremper, director of the Utah Avalanche Center. In the book, Tremper presents a step-by-step approach to practicing avalanche safety in the field. Shop Avalanche Essentials.
15. Beanies by Eider
I nearly got slapped in Aspen once while watching the women’s World Cup because I was straining so hard to get a look at a woman’s beanie.
“Honest maam, I was just trying to get a better glimpse of your beanie.”
The hat she was wearing looked styley and I hadn’t seen the logo before. I learned later that it was Eider, a company born in the French Alps in 1962. Eider beanies are made of super soft acrylic with a thin fleece lining on the inside, perfect for staying warm while cheering on your favorite ski racer. Shop Eider.
Sometimes discomfort and a thirst for beer is the mother of invention. While skiing in Italy, Julie Adams, founder and CEO of Pakems, was inspired to produce a lightweight, packable shoe after having to cram her foot back into her ski boot as she went to order another round.
Pakems weigh about 15 ounces and can pack down to a two-inch profile. Rip stop fabric on the outside protects the neoprene liner, the rubber soles are sturdy, and the high-top models are perfect for navigating base areas or kicking back in an on-mountain restaurant. Shop Pakems.
17. Sunglasses with Unconventional Attitude by Arnette
If you’re looking for a fusion of unconventional design and bold attitude, check out Arnette’s 2014 Holiday collection. The four new sunglasses styles and five new optical frames combine inspiration from various walks of life focusing on clean lines with classic designs alongside the iconic Arnette style. Shop Arnette.
18. The Baker by Bern
Don’t buy a ski helmet unless the head that belongs in it is there with you to try it on. There are a bunch of brands and styles so the right helmet is there for you, you might just have to try on eight other helmets before you find it.
For me, the Baker fits. You can buy alternating liners, so in one purchase you have a multi-use certified helmet designed to crack and absorb a gnarly impact, whether it’s a hard spill on the hill or riding your bike: Been there, Bern that. Shop Bern.
19. Ear Buds by Skull Candy
Skull Candy sport performance ear buds designed for outdoor activity. They’re sweat proof, so they stay in your ear well while skiing and boarding. Shop Skull Candy.
20. Serius Cat Tracks
Chances are you’ve seen Mike Carey, founder and CEO of Seirus Innovation, more often on the football field than you have on the slopes. Carey’s side-gig is that of an NFL referee.
He invented Cat Tracks while walking across a gravel parking lot at Squaw Valley, and in doing so, he’s likely helped prevent thousands of slips and falls that could have left skiers sitting on the sidelines. When traversing expansive base areas, Cat Tracks can save your boot soles. Shop Cat Tracks.
21. Help in the Parking Lot by Ski Bumper
For skiing families, the Ski Bumper might just be the solution to skis and snowboards scraping along the side of your vehicle for the next several years. Magnets snug the bumper to the side of your vehicle, and study rubber hooks secure your skis, boards, and poles while you get the rest of your stuff together for your day on the mountain. Shop Ski Bumper.
22. OSBE Helmet
My friend, a regular wearer of glasses, has been a ski industry rep for more than 30 years and here’s what he has to say about OSBE Helmets.
“I’ve never had the flexibility when skiing while wearing my glasses like I have with the OSBE visor helmet, and with two visor shades, it’s great for all conditions.”
OSBE Helmets was brought to the U.S. from Italy by brothers Gregg and Gerry Alessi who wanted to put a modern spin on snow sports gear. The integrated visor technology enhances peripheral vision and performance on the slopes. Shop OSBE.
23. A Lesson from a Professional Instructor
Let’s face it, sometimes our sweeties can’t ski or ride quite as well as we might like them to. Why not buy them a lesson from a professional instructor? It’s a gift that keeps giving. Shop Lessons.
24. The Perfect Soft-Sided Cooler by AO Coolers
Ripping ski moms remind us that snacks are an always important component to a successful family adventure. AO Coolers pioneered soft-sided coolers more than 25 years ago, and the company continues to lead the industry with its patented high-quality water-proof vinyl lined coolers insulated with high-density, closed cell foam. It’s perfect for keeping your snack cache cool while your family pulverizes the powder. Shop AO Coolers.
25. Dog Beds by Greener Pup
When it comes to bestowing gifts to powder hounds, let’s not forget our four-legged friends. Greener Pup dog beds are hypoallergenic and made entirely from recycled materials. I have two of these beds and they have withstood the brute force of a 100-pound lab and a 140-pound Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
Kari Whitman, founder and CEO, is a Boulder native and she has teamed up with celebrities including Mandy Moore, Virginia Madsen, Alicia Silverstone, Emilio Estevez and Wilmer Valderrama to promote awareness of rescuing shelter dogs. Greener Pup dedicates 100 percent of its profits to the Ace of Hearts Foundation, a dog rescue founded by Kari that has now saved the lives of more than 3,000 dogs. Shop Greener Pup.
26. Gift of Ski
Here’s a no-brainer! What skier or rider wouldn’t love some extra mountain time? With 250+ North American resorts to choose from, you can purchase a date-specific lift ticket and/or load up a gift card for all those on your holiday shopping list. Give the Gift of Ski.