Did you know? It's Christmas time. I know, I missed the memo too. Advertisers are so subtle this time of year, and people are so full of joy everywhere (especially malls and airports) that it's difficult to tell the holidays are upon us.
Or maybe I'm so preoccupied daydreaming about what I'd like that I'm ignoring everything around me.
Sure, my wish list is filled with typical things — bootleg Trader Joe's dark chocolate salted almonds; the perfect pair of slippers; one month paid vacation time. But there are also some unusual gifts I'd love that I'm sure you — I mean, the outdoorsy loved ones in your life —would appreciate.
Here are some ideas, by price range.
About $25: The ‘I love you, but can’t afford to buy you fancy toys’ gift
*Heather's Choice (About $5-15): These meals and snacks from the Bird Creek firm founded by Heather Kelly are a great stocking stuffer and a perfect gift. High quality dehydrated food from an Alaskan owned and run outfit isn't cheap, which likely means whomever you are shopping for doesn't always splurge. These meals are worth it, though, and much more creative than your standard Mountain House. Try Smoked Sockeye Salmon Chowder, Dark Chocolate Chili, or Packaroons.
*Reversible Polar Buff ($28): What's that, you ask? Only one of my favorite things ever. "Buffs" are essentially fabric, elastic headbands that can stretch out or scrunch up, depending on whether you want to pull it over your head or face in the cold (they're also great for the sun, but preventing sunburn won't be an issue for another six months). Buffs are great for securing hair back and keeping sweat off of my face when I'm outside hiking or running. These polar buffs are even better for winter since there is a layer of polar fleece, which can either be right against my forehead or on the outside. I have lost two of my buffs to my husband, so this is not just for ladies.
About $50: ‘That really cool thing I saw at AMH’ gift
*Kleen Kanteen insulated bottle ($32.95): Having some kind of container around that can keep hot beverages hot is important, especially for folks who spend a lot of time outside and need to warm up fast. This is a great gift for a year-round bike commuter, skier or avid hiker. Perk: It's foolproof, meaning that a clumsy person like me won't open up my pannier to find my office clothes drenched in coffee (unless I forgot to screw on the top properly). Wouldn't be the first time, and Santa can't help me with that.
*Kahtoola Microspikes ($69.95): Have at friend who's finally had it with the lack of deep, reliable snow in the front country and just wants to hike all winter? Might he or she seriously concern you every time they head up (or down) anything remotely slippery? These Microspikes attach to any normal hiking boot or sneaker and offer great traction. If you don't have a pair yet, order two.
About $100: ‘Santa is not real; he did not bring you this gift. I did.’
*Down skirts (price ranges): Everyone knows the original Skhoop by now, right? I've never been to another city where down skirts are so popular. I have to admit, I didn't understand why all of my lady friends wore them until I tried some one day and went for a walk. Oh, I remember thinking. That biting feeling of the cold on my thighs and butt that eventually makes me feel numb and takes an eternity to warm up once I'm finally inside — you mean, that isn't inevitable? Down skirts are available now from many more companies besides Skhoop. Price ranges $50-$200 depending on who makes it and the length of the skirt. I recommend the mid-length skirt, because it doesn't hinder movement too much but still covers knees.
*Fat-bike rentals (price ranges): Not quite ready to buy someone you love their own fat bike, but want to offer the experience? A gift certificate for a fat-bike rental is a great way to guarantee they will give it a go and hopefully enjoy the experience (wish for snow everyone). In Anchorage, there are several places to rent fat bikes. Trek Bicycle Store on Benson Boulevard offers rentals for $75 a day. Arctic Cycles offers fat-bike rentals starting at $70/day, up to $100 for studded tires (they require a day's notice for rentals so they can get bikes ready). Chain Reaction rents 9:ZERO:7 fat bikes out for between $60-$100 per day. Alaska Pacific University has the best deal around, which is $40 per day for the general public ($10 for students or staff).
Obviously, there are more gifts to help those in our life get outside more than I can count or list. I didn't even include anything about ice skates, which are probably going to be what helps Alaskans truly enjoy the outdoors if another light snow year is in the offing.
It can feel overwhelming to shop, though, so when in doubt just remember: nice slippers. Those are always a safe bet.
Alli Harvey lives, works and plays in Anchorage.