Gift giving for that outdoor person on your list can be difficult if, in fact, you’re not an outdoor person yourself. Time is running short but if you’re still looking for gifts for that outdoor person, a few fellow Laramie folk offered some suggestions of gear they particularly like and use regularly.
HAND AND TOE WARMERS
These are the best stocking stuffers. Anyone who spends hours out in the cold regularly goes through hand and toe warmers fairly quickly. These single-use air-activated chemical packs can be found at many outdoor stores and run just a couple dollars for single packs but also come in convenient multi-packs. Check the expiration date, though, to be sure they are still good.
NATIONAL FOREST PARKING PASS
It’s nearly time to purchase the season parking pass to utilize all the parking areas across the Medicine Bow National Forest. For skiers who use the Tie City parking lot on a regular basis, the season pass is a must instead of paying $5 each time. The pass, which attaches to the vehicle rearview mirror, is $30 for the year. The passes can be purchased at the Laramie District Office during normal business hours.
If getting a hot cup of java in the morning while camping is a top priority, a Jetboil stove is just the ticket. It takes two cups of water from cold to boiling in just more than two minutes. The Jetboil Flash Cooking System includes the stove, the insulated cooking cup that attaches to the burner and an optional tripod that keeps the stove steady. It uses an isobutene-proposed canister for fuel. The only downside is that the stove is really set up for heating liquids only. There are accessories that include a frying pan and pan holder for more extensive cooking, but they get mixed reviews. The cooking system typically runs just under $100.
This time of year, experienced outdoor folk shun cotton. It soaks up sweat and keeps it right next to the skin where it can freeze and turn skiing or snowshoeing into an unpleasant experience. Merino wool takes the itch out and provides excellent insulation where moisture is wicked away from the skin.
There are a number of brands but one of the best is Smartwool. What better stocking stuffer is there than actual stockings? These socks come in versions for every activity and range in price from around $10-$25.
If you want to show you care when your loved one heads out to run the trails or bike the byways, especially if they prefer traveling solo, give them a wristband that includes their name and emergency contact info — or a gift card so they can select their own color and ID information. Should tragedy strike and they crash on their bicycle or otherwise get injured and are unable to respond, the Road ID could save their life. The IDs come on wristbands, dog tags and can even be attached to a running shoe. The IDs run from $20-$30 and are available from Road ID (www.roadid.com).
Whether taking off for a daily pre-dawn run or reading a book in the evening while out backpacking, having hands-free lighting is a must. Headlamps vary based on light output, beam distance, run time and weight. They run from $20-$50 and are found in many outdoor stores.
COMPACT CAMP CHAIR
When camping or backpacking where weight and bulk are a concern, it’s still nice to have a chair with a backrest for lounging at the end of the day. While full-sized chairs are the way to go if bulk isn’t an issue, when it is, try a low-rise version instead. One of the best in this category is the Rendezvous chair by Alps Mountaineering. There are other types and brands but some get pretty pricey.
MSR TRAILSHOT WATER FILTER
For anyone who has used water filters in the backcountry, they tend to be heavy, slow and frustrating to use. Iodine tablets are a cheap alternative but they do little to filter out the grit. A possible answer is MSR’s new Trailshot. At only 5 ounces, it can even fit in a pocket. Stick one end in the water and squeeze the rubber body. It fills a waterbottle quickly. It is just the ticket for trailrunners, ultralight backpackers, hunters and others who want to travel light but who often run out of water along the route. The MSR Trailshot is made in the USA and runs about $50.
Amber Travsky earned master’s degrees in wildlife biology and exercise physiology from the University of Wyoming. She runs her own environmental consulting company, as well as a martial arts school. She authored “Mountain Biking Wyoming” and “Mountain Biking Jackson Hole,” both published by Falcon Books. She is the tour director and founder of the Tour de Wyoming bicycle tour, which crosses the state every July.