Outdoor adventure junkies. They’re so difficult to buy for. If they don’t already have a piece of gear, chances are that you’ll buy the wrong item. (How, really, do you buy for someone who owns five pairs of skis?) Well, here are some ideas.
Most versatile jacket:
While homegrown Arc’teryx is the undisputed king when it comes to Gore-Tex jackets and pants, their most versatile piece just might be the Atom LT Hoody ($300) – a taffeta nylon shell insulated with Coreloft, an easily compressible fill. The Atom is the perfect replacement for those tired fleece jackets that your parents wear when out walking the dog – and block breezes far better, too. The LT also comes in some pretty great colours, especially the twin-shade Shorepine green (women’s) and Howe Sound blue (men’s). You can try the Dollarton Factory Store (2155 Dollarton Hwy. #100) which usually hosts a Boxing Day event, or try the new flagship downtown (813 Burrard St.) or in Kitsilano (2033 W. Fourth Ave.).
Most luxurious gloves:
For mountain guides and ski patrollers, keeping warm hands isn’t desirable – it’s an absolute necessity. Which is why most of them swear by the tough-wearing yet buttery-soft Hestra Army Leather Heli Ski gloves ($160). The goat leather palm only gets more comfy with age, while the long, gauntlet style cuff utilizes an easy-pull drawcord to seal out snow. Get your glove love on at North Shore Ski & Board (1625 Lonsdale Ave.).
Coolest winter mitts:
North Vancouver-based Salmon Arms mitts don’t take themselves too seriously. They’ve taken the most functional – some might say blandest – hand wear and injected some cheeky humour and style, like the CCarMs Mitt featuring a screen print of a Toronto Maple Leafs CCM hockey glove ($44.95). If you’re not a Leafs fan, check out the custom Boardroom x Salmon Arms collaboration. Great social media feed on Instagram and Vimeo, too.
Most innovative socks:
Skiers and snowboarders don’t usually agree upon much, but pro skier Eric Hjorleifson (star of this fall’s award-winning HOJI ski doc) and backcountry snowboarder Joe Lax both swear by their Whistler-designed Dissent Labs socks. The super-snug “lock on fit” prevents chafing and blisters and provides direct power between foot and boot. Each part of the sock from the toes to the shin is constructed using varying fabric thicknesses – including merino wool – to maximize performance. The GFX Hybrid ($49.50) is available either online or from MEC here in North Vancouver.
Best investment in fun:
Extremely Canadian’s top-notch instructors will inspire you to ski Whistler-Blackcomb runs ranging from “comfortably challenging” to “never thought I could ski that!” and overhaul both your technique and mental attitude in the process. These intense clinics ($479) include two full days of guiding and instruction, lift line priority (a must on those big powder days), video analysis, and a rowdy “decompression session” at Merlin’s once it’s all over. Steeply discounted lift tickets available for non-Epic pass holders.
Best way to ensure happy feet:
Sick and tired of hearing your spouse/ski partner griping about cold, sore, and cramping feet? Treat them to a custom boot fitting experience at Destination Slope and Surf (263 Pemberton Ave., North Vancouver) or Intuition Sports (210 West Sixth Ave. in Vancouver). Intuition’s heat-molded process will likely fix most of your foot issues, but if you think that your stock liners need tweaking, head on down to Destination. Most North Shore shops try their utmost to ensure that your new boots will fit perfectly not just out of the box, but a year or two later as well. North Shore Ski & Board offer a range of their liners, too, priced at $250 (includes custom fitting).
Best backcountry stocking stuffers:
Genuine Guide Gear (tested on the North Shore and throughout the Coast Range) make premium backcountry gear. These stocking stuffers are perfect for the backcountry skier on your list: wax blocks for your climbing skins that improve glide and grip ($14.50), snowflake-pattern powder baskets (a steal at $10 a pair) and, handiest of all, rubber zap straps for attaching skis together when bootpacking up steep slopes. (Online sale: $4.50 each!). MEC North Vancouver probably has a few of these accessories; otherwise, go to the genuineguidegear.com online store).