The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Dec 2011

The Best Holiday Gifts for Adventure Kids

If you’re like me, you probably still have some holes (ahem, a lot of holes?) to fill on your holiday shopping list. Have no fear: There’s still time to score the season’s most coveted loot for little rippers, naughty or nice. 

Icebreaker Bodyfit Base Layers 

  B fw11 kids bf200 oasis crewe ibo188c06

B fw11 kids bf200 legging ibo189c06
This retro set of woolies will take you back to the bad old days when your mom would bundle you in itchy long underwear and a snowsuit and shoo you out to build igloos in the backyard. With one HUGE difference: Icebreaker’s machine-washable, 100% pure merino base layers are buttery soft, never scratchy—right down to the no-chafe waistband—and light enough to be worn through spring. Bonus: Trace the journey sustainable wool from New Zealand sheep farm to long underwear shirt using the “Baacode” sewn onto the label. Kids’ Bodyfit200 leggings, $45; matching Oasis Crewe, $45.

Mountain Boy Bambino Classico Sled


A few years ago, on a ski trip to St. Anton, Austria, we sprung for a sweet, old-fashioned kids’ sled with a wooden runners and a woven seat—standard transportation for snow-bound Alpine babies. We’ve been a sucker for them ever since, and were happy to discover that you don’t have to fly to Europe to get the goods. Mountain Boy’s handmade Classico pull-sled, designed in Crested Butte, Colorado, has birch planks and a willow backrest with steel runners for easy towing on hard packed snow; with a carrying limit of 100 pounds, even bigger kids can score a ride. Reversible sled pad and hand engraving are must-have accessories. $139.99.  


Nutcase Little Nutty Snow & Bike Helmet

  Lnsb_dazedamused_tnSimplify your kid’s lid collection with the Little Nutty Snow & Bike Helmet, tricked out with fleece lining and detachable ear pads for snow riding, nine air vents and 360-degree reflectivity for warm-weather biking, and nutty designs for year-round cred. Rear spin dial ensures a custom fit every time, and the clever magnetic buckle means no more pinched chins. $79.99.

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In Case You Missed It: J.P. Auclair's Street Segment

JP Auclair Street Segment (from All.I.Can.) from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

A couple of weeks ago, National Geographic Adventure posted a great interview with J.P. Auclair about his role in the the movie All.I.Can. They included this clip of Auclair making like the Danny MacAskill of planks—skiing down stairs, jumping a clothesline in someone's backyard, sliding rails, and creating sparks on asphalt when he raced across roads where the snow had melted.

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Qualifiers for the Leadville 100—at last

LT100_Mile35Beneath Mt. Elbert at mile 35 on the Leadville 100 MTB Race.

When national health club chain Life Time Fitness, Inc. purchased the Leadville Race Series, many lamented the passing of these events from quaint, small-scale races into the fold of a monster corporate money-making machine. With the announcement this week of a new series of qualifiers that will let would-be racers earn a spot in the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race, it has to be said that, far from destroying the event, Life Time is actually improving it.

The truth is, even before Life Time Fitness got involved the Leadville Trail 100 MTB Race had become a behemoth thanks in no small part to the PR generated when Lance Armstrong raced it in 2008 and 2009. Slots have always been filled by a lottery system, but after Lance, the event's popularity soared and spots became tough to come by, with upward of 8,000 entrants reportedly vying for around 2,000 spaces.

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The Powder Principles: No Kids on a Powder Day

IMG_5759-Edit-1-2  [photo: Grayson Schaffer]

Here in New Mexico, meteorologists promised us a parched El Nino winter, but judging from the storms that have been tracking east from the Pacific all week, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo. 

When it dumps snow, certain rules go into effect. These are universal powder principles that should be heeded at all cost. Number one: Any work that can possibly be done after dark should be done after dark, to avoid wasting precious powder and daylight. If necessary, mental health days should be utilized. (Caution: Just don’t claim a “plumbing emergency” to ride the lifts if there is any chance your manager will be riding the same lifts at the same time. You know who you are.) Do not jinx the snow you have; obsessively check the NOAA Now app on your phone if you want, but avoid publicly flaunting a storm that hasn’t yet arrived. Four, do not feel compelled to wait for pokey pals lest you lose all chance for fresh tracks. As they say, no friends on a powder day. 

Which brings us its corollary, snow statute # 5: No kids on a powder day.  

I know it’s the holidays: time to revel in family near and far, to gather your little cherubs close and let the magic of the season envelop you in a warm, fuzzy togetherness. Unless it snows. In which case, you need to go skiing. Pronto. Without them. Sure, this is your gift to you, but when you think about it, it’s also a gift for them. Yes, you want to teach them to ski. You want them to love the feeling of fresh snow underfoot, the wind in their face, the glorious freedom of zipping downhill through a winter wonderland, making perfect pizzas with their ski tips, etc, etc. Just not on a day when it's dumping a foot. Because even tricked out in bomber, tiny Patagonia Capilene zip Ts (just like Dad’s!), they will at some point start to snivel and you may be forced to relinquish your freshies for hot cocoa in the lodge. Remember, the last thing you want to do, according to extreme ski daddy Dean Cummings, is give them any reason whatsoever to hate the sport you love so much. 

5297616512_0486ba65da-1[photo: Dendroica  Cerulea] 

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The Gift of Bikes

88BikeCambodian children enjoy their new bikes. Courtesy of 88Bikes.

Is there any greater pleasure for a kid than receiving a bike for Christmas?

I still remember racing down the stairs on Christmas day so many years ago to find a big red bow swaddling my first ride, a black-and-antifreeze-green Huffy Thunder Road complete with Velco-fastened foam pads around the tubes and a pleated, black banana seat. It made no difference that the bike was a complete tank, nor that I was receiving it only because my older brother had gotten too big. That bike was mine, and I spent the next few years cruising the neighborhoods on it with friends, launching off wooden jumps that we erected in the streets and trying (futiley on such a heavy machine) to learn to wheelie.

For Christmas this year, my brother and I are buying our two-year-old nephew his first bike, a Kazam balance bike. I'm buzzing just thinking about how much fun he'll have. As I was wrapping it up the other day, though, I contemplated all the kids (and adults) who may never experience that joy because they don't have the access or the means to get their own bikes. A surprising number of charities out there are working to fill that gap, and for those of us who love the bike they are a great way to give back for the holidays. Here are a few of our favorites. Know of others? Tell us about them.

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