Gift guide season is among us. No matter how you acknowledge the holidays, splurging a bit on friends and family has benefits. It pays kindness forward, can outfit someone with a helpful gadget or two, and if you live in the same household, you might be able to borrow the goods occasionally. In this iteration of the gift guide, we’re going with the keep it simple and relatively inexpensive mantra.
The first item is a nod towards slippery skis. Carbondale based mountainFlow produces plant-based ski waxes they claim are less harmful to the environment than traditional ski waxes. In the past few years, primarily due to enhanced regulations, most wax companies have weaned their lines of perfluorinated chemicals. (Perfluoros are toxic, but they also make for wicked fast skis.) The folks in Carbondale were ahead of that curve; they provide a few petroleum-free waxes to make those boards or skins glide a bit better.
For ski bases, roughly $20.00 gets you a bar of Hot Wax in a specific temp zone.
The other wax item of note is for skins. Don’t be left with icy or glop-upped skins – stash a block of skin wax in your backpack now, apply it as needs arise, and skin happily along. A few reliable options are out there.
For under $15.00, you can snag mountainFlow’s Skin Wax Rub On. For a bit less, if you can find it, that old friend, the purple-block of BD glop stopper, is a reliable spring tour go-to.
Along the lines of keeping sticker shock at bay and being prepped for an eventual backcountry %&*-show, the Black Diamond Binding Buddy will set you back about $10.00. The small pozi drive unit includes several bits, but make sure, before heading out, that you or the gift-receiver has the appropriate bit for resecuring a binding. (Maybe buying a spare T-20 Torx bit is in order too.)
The next gift idea comes from LifeStraw, a company designing hydration products with built-in filters. On sale currently is the LifeStraw Flex with a squeeze bottle. The bottle resembles a quick-access soft-flask that has become the de rigour for an ultrarunner. This soft flask sports a small microfilter that removes, according to LifeStraw, “99.999999% of bacteria, 99.999% of parasites, 99.999% of microplastics, silt, sand, and cloudiness.”
If you’ve ever experienced a bout of Giardia, then all those decimal points matter when considering one’s GI fate in the backcountry. The LifeStraw Flex flask can come in handy during non-ski-season trail runs or spring ski missions when the snowpack is in freeze-thaw phase and you happen upon a free-flowing stream, a deep puddle, or lake.
For those in the fast-and-light crowd where the burden of a soft flask might tax the gram counting, there’s LifeStraw’s personal water filter. Think straw-like filter: you dip the straw-like device into the water source and take a pull. With dimensions of 9 x 1.2″, this device might come in handy on missions where you are mostly melting snow (or not refueling), and you want the extra security of a filter.
Mending clothes has never been easier. And maybe cheaper if you are not so handy with a thread, needle, and gluing on patches. GEAR AID is a Bellingham, Washington based company that manufactures and sells, among other things, Tenacious Tape. Tenacious Tape, as the name suggests, is burly and adheres to fabric with an adhesive. It’s simple to apply: cut to shape/size, peel and stick. The patches are washable.
GEAR AID sells a variety of Tenacious tape options, including basic nylon, rip-stop, GORE-TEX, or flexible fabric/patches. Each item will cost you between $4 and $10, with the higher end of the price curve reserved for “Fun” patches.
Staying on the theme of DIY, this next item, a sewing machine, will drain the bank account more readily. But you’ll find some options out there for used sewing machines. The cost range may be more of a crapshoot; the local Craigslists has a range of prices available, starting at around $80 and upwards. (The higher-end options can set you back.)
A sweet gift for a household is a basic sewing machine. On the softgoods side of the gear spectrum, basic bartacks (not for climbing), and mending, is feasible with little sewing machine know-how. This writer has added suspender tabs to a pair of new GORE-TEX softshell pants (partiality to a suspender option runs deep), mended an old pair of corduroys, and is in the process of sewing crampon bags…all with basic and rudimentary sewing prowess.
Maybe outside of the blissful city that is Bozeman, this might be a little known fact – the founder of Titan Straps, Cameron Lawson, was a climbing and photography force. That’s the one-sentence backstory. Bozeman based Titan Straps has expanded the idea of what we think of or call a Voile strap. You can find a range of sizes, from 9″ to 36″. Titan sells an industrial and more basic, lighter duty strap. The 9″ utility strap can be had for $5.95, while the industrial 36″ strap is currently available for $9.75.
A book we have included in past gift guides is this: Rob Coppolillo’s The Ski Guide Manual: Advanced Techniques for the Backcountry. This gem from Falcon Press will set you back $32.95. In terms of evergreen, this book is full of ideas and thoughts to make the backcountry experience safer, more efficient, and full of smiles.
According to Coppolollo, who contributes to WildSnow, “The Ski Guide Manual, as well as its sister publication, The Mountain Guide Manual, share guiding techniques and strategies with advanced recreationists and less-experienced mountain guides. The SGM tries to present an approach, or system, that ski guides use to make safer, smarter decisions in the snow.”
And as a last resort, a stick of P-tex to mend moderate ski base dings is always appreciated. Four pieces cost $6.95. That supply should last, fingers crossed, many years.
While most of the WildSnow backcountry skiing blog posts are best attributed to a single author, some work well as done by the group.