It's crunch time for holiday shopping. Here are a few inexpensive gear items that I've given over the years to the outdoor adventurers on my list.
Head and Neck First
Winter hats are a highly personal choice of style and fit—and thus a challenging gift to get right. I recommend instead a liner balaclava ($20 to $40), which makes a great base layer for your head and neck. For minimal weight and bulk, it adds considerable warmth to your clothing system and also works well—and stays on your head—for a warmer night in the sleeping bag. I prefer styles with larger face openings that don't constrict against your chin or cheeks.
You can add a neck gaiter ($10 to $20), a tube of fleece, wool, or other insulating material that nestles close to your neck and helps retain the warmth exuded by your heat-pumping jugular. It also makes a great seal around the neck of the jacket to prevent the warm air around your torso from escaping.
Give 'em a Hand
Or two warm hands, really, with a pair of Power Stretch liner gloves ($20 to $30). They provide full dexterity while still offering exceptional warmth, fit, and durability. I prefer the Black Diamond Midweight Glove ($25)—you can read my recent rave review of them—though Power Stretch glove options are available from many other manufacturers as well.
These shoe insoles offer excellent support and cushioning for your feet, no matter what activity you're doing. I swear by Superfeet and wear them in all my footwear. They're a bit spendy ($40 to $50 per pair for most styles), which puts off many people who might otherwise benefit from them—another reason they make such a good gift. Learn more about Superfeet and the many different styles in my posts: Hooray for Superfeet, Part 1 and Part 2.
Indestructible Smartphone Cases
A gazillion iPhone cases and their like are available. For the most serious outdoor use and abuse, I usually recommend the Defender series from Otter Box ($50), which are available for a multitude of smartphone brands and styles.
“Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.