Since we’re between weather seasons but the holiday season is fast approaching, and because I am more than slightly addicted to sleuthing out amazing outdoor clothing, this column departs from the usual Excursion format.
With that, here’s the Ultimate Gift Guide for the outdoors person in your life:
Fat biking pants
Fat biking is a tough activity to dress for — you can get quite hot on the uphill and then colder than usual on the downhill. Obviously, layers are the answer for the top half of you. Put them on and take them off as needed. It’s harder to layer pants. I’ve found Smartwool’s Merino Sport Fleece Wind Leggings ($140) to be the perfect pant. When it’s below 10 degrees, I’ll wear a base layer underneath them. Above 10 degrees, the leggings — which have windproof front panels — alone are enough to keep me warm, even if I come straight down the main trail in Cache Creek.
Grateful Dead-inspired road biking kits
I’m not the biggest Grateful Dead fan, but am a huge fan of best-in-class chamois bibs and breathable, full-zip long-sleeve cycling jerseys in catchy colors and patterns. Pearl Izumi’s new, limited-edition Ten Spot collection is inspired by the Dead’s 10-day Colorado tour in 1981. This collab includes the brand’s PRO bib shorts ($225) in a colorful tie-dye pattern (purple for women; blue for men); the Attack long-sleeve jersey ($195) with a flower pattern in kaleidoscopic colors (the men’s is more subdued: black with a band of colorful flowers); and the Classic Jersey ($95) with a flower pattern in more subdued colors (the men’s is black with a colorful band that says, “Grateful Dead”). There are also Ten Spot water bottles and socks.
When you want the best, longest-lasting leather gloves/mittens
With its headquarters in an East Jackson alley, there’s no doubt Give’r is authentically Jackson. There’s also no doubt that the company, which was founded in 2012 but didn’t blow up until 2016, makes the best waterproof leather gloves and mittens in the world. (Give’r blew up in 2016 because that was the year it launched, via a Kickstarter campaign, its 4-Season Gloves.) Frontier Mittens ($139), which are equally burly, and a little warmer than the 4-Season Gloves ($119), were soon added to the company’s offerings. Both of these include Thinsulate insulation and a waterproof membrane. For $8, get initials branded on the cuffs.
Luxury, super-warm base layer
Even though my hands get cold faster than Thunder gets tracked out on a powder day, the rest of me runs hot. I can’t wear the stretch Merino Access NXT Pullover from Pagosa Springs, Colorado-based Voormi ($229) often, but when I do wear it (when it’s colder than 5 below), it’s the only base layer that will keep me warm. It gets extra points for being treated with a durable water-repellent finish that doesn’t interfere with its breathability.
The best jacket for lift-served skiing
I can’t remember the exact year Stio launched its Shot 7 Down Jacket ($649) — maybe eight years ago? — but it feels like forever that I’ve been skiing in my first-generation one. And it performs and looks as good as it did that first season, which is a little problematic for me. Please don’t judge, but I got myself a new Shot 7 this season only because I wanted to freshen up my resort look with a new color. The outer Gore-Tex fabric of the current Shot 7 is a little softer than the original but every bit as waterproof, breathable and windproof (actually, it’s likely more of these things). In the Shot 7, I’m never worried about being on the Sublette lift and it breaking down. Regardless of the weather, I know I’ll stay warm and comfortable.
Last winter I switched out my long-loved mid-layer — a lightweight, waterproof down jacket — for Ibex’s Wool Aire Hoodie ($285). My switch was inspired by how sad the down jacket looked from several years of having been stuffed into my ski touring backpack for a couple of hours each time I went out touring — and because it didn’t feel quite as warm as it once was. I tried refreshing the down by putting it in a dryer (no heat) with a bunch of tennis balls, but that did nothing other than make a racket (no pun intended). So far the Ibex jacket, which has a wind- and water-resistant face fabric and 80-gram merino wool insulation, is as warm as my down jacket was its first couple of seasons, and it does not seem to get at all deflated from being stuffed in my pack when I don’t need a mid-layer.
For happy feet
I thought Crocs were just fine for the short walk from my car into Vim, Smith’s or Picnic — aka running errands. And then I met Chaco’s Ramble Puff Clogs ($75). They’re as easy to slip into and out of but so much more comfortable — think a sleeping bag for your feet — and have actual soles with treads that have (some) traction on ice. Yes, the fact that these are clogs makes them unsuitable on fresh snow, but I wear them to run errands (and around my house), not to shovel snow. If you want a slightly more versatile version, there’s a Ramble Puff Shoe ($85) that comes to the bottom of the ankle.
Everyday wool base layers
Smartwool’s Classic Thermal Merino Base Layers — the collection includes several different styles of tops (from $110) and bottoms ($110) — are “classic” for a reason: They’re the perfect weight for active days, super soft, breathable and, even after sweating in them five days in a row on a hut trip, they do not stink.
• No judgment if you buy any of these for yourself.