Christmas is coming, and the purchasing power of that paper in our wallets is falling almost as fast as the snowflakes. With money especially tight this holiday season, here are ten ways to show that special backcountry skier/snowboarder how much you care without breaking the bank.
All of these stocking stuffers will actually get used, will definitely improve their adventures, and some just might save their life.
Ski Stocking Stuffers
Nothing can ruin an otherwise perfect day in the backcountry quite like hot, wet, gloppy snow sticking to skins and topsheets. Glop Stopper is scientifically formulated to stop glop. Just last week it got really gloppy while we were out touring in the Tetons, and my crew was so grateful that I had a block of this stuff stashed in my pack.
As the sun warms fresh snow a lovely tour can rapidly devolve into a grueling, slow, and potentially deadly slog. Yes, I did say “potentially deadly” because as the snow warms into glop the potential for avalanches generally increases, and unmitigated glop can bring backcountry travel to a literal standstill.
Backcountry skiers and splitboarders would do well to carry a block of Glop Stopper in their packs at all times because glop can strike in even the most wintry months, and the best days – warm, wind-free, bluebird powder days – are precisely the ones most susceptible to glop… and unforeseen rapid changes to avalanche conditions.
The older I get the more I appreciate receiving socks (and lightweight thermal underwear) as presents. Skiing and snowboarding trashes socks, so it is impossible for your backcountry buds to have too many pairs. Even a perfectly fitted pair of boots will cause blisters when worn with bulky, loose, subpar – or worn out – socks. Thermal undies have a tendency to get stinky and develop holes in the most revealing locations, so the same sock logic applies as well.
IMO the best socks for BC riding are the lightweight ones made out of wool, and I recommend the PhD Ultra Light from Smartwool. There are many cheap imitations available online, but in my experience the low budget options don’t match the performance or durability of name brand ski specific socks sold at the $20-$30 price point.
If you live with a skier/snowboarder this gift could save your relationship from the undeniably atrocious odors often associated with backcountry boots… and it might just save their lil’ tootsies from frostbite as well. Exploring the mountains is an amazing workout, and a lot of that sweat ends up stuck in our boots. Seasoned backcountry skiers/snowboarders know that a boot dryer is an indispensable piece of gear, and a portable one is a key piece of travel equipment.
You’ll get bonus points for providing them a portable USB option because they’ll be able to dry their boots (and gloves) anywhere they’re able to charge their phone.
Smartphones provide us with an amazing array of capabilities at our fingertips, but most phone batteries don’t last very long in extreme cold weather especially while continually scanning for whiffs of service as we skiers/snowboarders move through the mountains. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached a windswept ridge and whipped out what was a charged up phone only to find it damn near dead if not already shut down. A battery case has been a literal lifesaver for me while exploring new terrain and relying on a mapping app to safely make my way back down the mountain.
Many backcountry skiers rely on their phones to help them plan tours, navigate during tours, check on weather and avalanche conditions, document their adventures and observations, listen to their favorite tunes or podcasts during a long ascent, and, of course, to keep in touch with the rest of the world for rather important reasons like ordering a pizza to be delivered to the trailhead or calling in a rescue if someone gets seriously injured.
A protective battery charging case not only doubles or even triples the battery life of a phone but it actually helps insulate the phone battery as well and the charging process itself generates a little additional heat to help keep the phone – and your backcountry buddy – alive.
Buying your beloved backcountry skier/snowboarder an annual membership to one of these mapping apps will certainly expand their horizons and could very well save their life if they get lost deep in the mountains or find themselves drawn to explore new terrain. Fatmaps can sync up with the GPS built into smartphones and provide users with their real time location within a highly detailed and impressively accurate 3D rendering of the entire world. Users can zoom, pivot, and spin the map while toggling on/off various overlays showing things like slope angle, avalanche terrain, slope aspect, elevation, distance, new snow, total snowpack, forecasted snow, etc.
FATMAP is free to use – you pay for the capability of downloading maps for offline use – while onX Backcountry requires a subscription to access their service. Full paid membership is key because downloading maps for offline use assures that your mapping app will not leave you – or your loved one – without access to reliable maps when it is most needed: far from civilization with spotty cell service at best.
Price: Free + Subscrptions
Wow, I can’t say enough good things about these versatile straps, but this article is getting rather wordy already so I’ll be brief. Voile straps are crucial gear for everyday backcountry adventures that have literally saved my ass many times over the years. They also have a tendency to disappear into other people’s pockets, so I always carry at least a half dozen of them in assorted sizes while backcountry skiing. I like to have at least three of the shorter, thinner straps and three of the longer fatter straps stashed in my pockets/pack at all times.
Just this winter alone – its only late November now – I have already used Voile straps to fix a broken snowmobile so I could limp home, to attach skins to my skis after the glue got fouled by snow AND the tail clip broke, and to help my friend attach his binding to his splitboard after catastrophic failure of his brand new setup. This is in addition to everyday use of Voile straps to bind my skis and poles together into a convenient unit, and to strap all that to my snowmobile to venture off into the backcountry.
If you’re not sure what size to buy your beloved, get them an assortment. I personally prefer the longer, fatter ones because they are more versatile, durable and easy to work with even though they take up a little more space in my pack
Climbing skins are essential to backcountry adventures, but the glue which attaches the skins to the base of your skis/splitboard gets fouled by hair, dirt, snow, and just plain wears out over time. Once snow starts sneaking in around the edges of your skins it’s just a matter of time until you experience CTSF (catastrophic total skin failure) which can leave you stranded and stuck bootpacking through waist deep powder if you didn’t bring enough Voile straps to cobble your system back together.
Better yet, keep those skins topped up with stickiness by properly applying BD Gold Label Adhesive skin glue. Any true backcountry skier/snowboarder would be beyond stoked to find a tube – or two – of BD Gold Label in their stocking.
In wintertime the days are short and the miles are long, so bringing at least one headlamp – ideally two – is essential for backcountry skiers/snowboarders. I say two headlamps because at least one of your buddies probably forgot to pack theirs or the batteries in their lamp are probably dead because it accidentally got switched on in their pack. Headlamps make great gifts because outdoorsy folks always need at least one more for their pack, their vehicle, their toolbox, their junk drawer, etc.
These BD rechargeable headlamps are exceptionally cool because they have a lockout feature to prevent unwanted illumination, they’re rechargeable, and they come with a cute little stubby USB cord so you could literally recharge your headlamp out in the wildness using a portable battery pack or the usb slot included in most phone charger cases. If you see the wisdom in getting your backcountry buddy a charger case for their phone you might as well get them an affordable rechargeable headlamp while you’re at it.
Backcountry skiers and snowboarders depend on their gear to make it home safely and enjoyably, so a multitool specifically designed to fix ski things on the fly is a no brainer gift. Typically ski and snowboard bindings might need a little adjustment on the fly, and the bolts attaching assorted hardware to splitboards are notorious for loosening up and losing themselves in the snow at the least opportune moments. The Dakine BC Multitool won’t locate a lost bolt, and it doesn’t include a loctite dispenser, but it will loosen/tighten most of the bits and pieces associated with a wide variety of boot and binding systems. Also, it includes a handy little plastic scraper perfect for clearing ice from bases/edges, and dispatching glop from skins before applying Glop Stopper.
Hopefully your beloved backcountry skier will never need to use one of these, but if someone gets seriously injured or they get stranded out overnight one of these little lightweight mylar blankets can be a literal lifesaver. Right now you can get a 10 pack online for $16, so I just took my own advice and bought a ten pack I’ll be gifting to my backcountry buddies in the upcoming weeks.
In the same emergency preparedness vein you might consider gifting Bic Lighters (useful for all sorts of things in addition to survival), fire starter gels, little first aid kits, and general purpose multitools like the Leatherman.
Other great stocking stuffers for backcountry skiers include sunscreen, ski waxes, and bulk boxes of snacks like Clif Bars, Kate’s Bars, Shot Blocks, etc.
For bigger ticket gifts check out our upcoming article, The Ten Best Gifts for Backcountry Skiers/Snowboarders…