I test gear for a living and still have a hard time finding the right items for my active family members. But this year, I started scheming early and have finally finalized my shopping list.
Skis for the wife.
A pack for the borther/workout enthusiast.
A modern pedometer for Mom.
Good reading for Dad.
And so, in hopes of inspiring others with gift ideas, I have decided to share what I’m giving my family this Christmas (I have never been good at keeping secrets, anyway).
My Wife: The Skier
Armada TSTw skis ($650) / Black Diamond Fritschi Diamar Freeride Pro bindings ($570) / Fischer Fuse W 7 Vaccum CF boots ($209).
This the most expensive combination of Christmas presents I have ever given, and they are, admittedly, selfish gifts. Because now my wife and I can ski together.
This setup will make skiing frontside way more fun for my wife because of the TSTws playful rocker profile. I have skied the men's version of the TSTs and know how well they perform in both powder and crud—making them a perfect 80 percent on 20 percent off piste ski.
The boots were a no-brainer for me because the Fischer vacuum seal process is going to guarantee a near perfect fit and will keep her comfortable.
I exhaustively researched AT bindings for her because I wanted to make absolutely sure they were going to perform extremely well in the resort while still being a respectable AT binding for short tours. I have heard from everyone who has skied these bindings that the transition from walk to ski mode is effortless and you don't have to think about taking the binding off to transition—a potential source of frustration for a beginner.
My Brother: The Workout Masochist
GoRuck GR1 ($295)
My brother would never tell anyone about his WOD and doesn't belong to a CrossFit gym, but he appreciates the ethos of working out to his breaking point. I think he is genetically predisposed to be a glutton for punishment.
GoRuck has done an amazing job of marrying strong work ethic to a bomber product. If you have the money, buy the pack, but you need to earn the accompanying patches by completing secretive, brutal, military-inspired challenges.
Designed by Jason McCarthy, VP of the Green Beret Foundation, the pack is made from 1,000 denier cordura which makes it insanely rip and abrasion resistant.
Because packs are pricey, I went in on it with my folks, but it might be the last pack he needs.
My Mother: The Walker
Misfit Shine ($120)
My mother is a walking badass. Whenver we haven’t seen each other for a while, we walk and talk for hours to catch up. She religiously walks her two terrier mixes on a two-and-a-half mile trail seven days a week and often takes another, similar distance walk in the evening to get a better workout because the dogs slow her down.
She takes at least 10,000 steps every day and has had the same pedometer for the better part of a decade. It’s time for an upgrade.
I got the Misfit Shine for her because the sleek quarter-sized metallic design. It can be dressed up and taken anywhere, so she won't have to miss steps if she decides to go out for a stroll after a nice dinner with my pops.
My Father: The Cerebral Runner
Born to Run ($25) and Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness ($26)
My father is currently an on-again off-again runner whose stories of 10Ks in the ’80s are a large part of the reason I got into running myself. He has also been flirting with a vegan diet.
Both of these books have a perfect balance of running tips, fun, and inspiration. They also compliment each other thanks to overlapping characters. I realize that neither of these books are hot off the press, but I think any person who has ever taken to running is going to like them.
Bonus: Born to Run Anti-Hero Jenn Shelton trained me for a recent 50-mile race, so pops and I can share stories over dinner.