I vastly prefer to give gifts that people will use, rather than deep six into a closet or place on a shelf never to be touched again. So year after year, I give these same three items to at least some people on my list. They are:
The ultimate loungewear for around the house, these are like the toastiest pajama bottoms you've every worn. Great for the cold mornings of winter (I'm wearing a pair right now). I prefer thicker versions to thinner, which are both warmer and hold up better to the extensive long-term use these tend to get. (If you're shopping styles made with Polartec fleece, opt for 200 or 300 weight over thinner 100 weight.)
Choose the most basic versions, which run anywhere from $20 - $80 at most outdoor stores. (You don't need a teched-out $200 pair of fleece pants for lounging on the couch.) Here are several from major outdoor retailers:
EMS Men's Atlas Fleece Pants ($59)
Cabela's Fleece Pants ($20 - $80). A range of options here, including a sweet 300-weight style.
Campmor also has a huge selection of discounted fleece pants.
Smartwool Mountaineering Socks
These are the pinnacle of the ultra-cush, ultra-warm, and ultra-durable sock world. They're also spendy at more than $20 per pair, which makes them a great gift since few people I know will spend that much money themselves on a single pair of socks. The rare gift that people put on the second they come out of the wrapping paper. Widely available.
Powerstretch Tops and BottomsPowerstretch is wonderful stuff and makes for the warmest, best-fitting base layer fabric I've yet discovered. It's four-way stretch provides an excellent form-fit while allowing a full range of motion, while its soft fuzzy fleece lining is luxurious against the skin. The best collection for the 2010 holidays comes from the EMS Powerstretch Assortment ($80 - $100).
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.