Dear Santa 2004

'Tis the season for giving the gift of...GEAR! Whether those on your list hike, ski, climb, paddle, or just like to see the world, there's no end to the cool stuff that you can give them. But where to start shopping? Right here, of course. The all-knowing Gear Guy has sifted through endless mounds of swag to come up with his list of sure-fire gifts to land you


Gifts for the Gearhead With Everything

  1. Marmot Phenomenon EL Jacket ($750; www.marmot.com):
    All the other reindeers wouldn't have been so standoffish if Rudolph'd been wearing this—a bomber three-layer Gore XCR fabric with five electro-luminescent panels that glow for up to 12 hours off four AAA batteries, adding a valuable safety feature if you're lost in the dark. Other features that make the Phenomenon noteworthy include an integrated hood and interior bottle pockets.
  2. Light & Motion ARC Li-Ion HID Light ($499; www.bikelights.com):
    Nocturnal singletrackers hoping to chase down Santa's sleigh would be wise to rig up the ARC, a blindingly bright light cannon that burns for nearly four hours on one charge. Adaptable to helmets or handlebars, and new this year is a lighter battery.

  3. Black Diamond Havoc Telemark/Randonee Skis ($569; www.blackdiamondequipment.com) and Scarpa T2 Boots ($479; www.scarpa-us.com):
    The perfect combination for shredding the backcountry. Scarpa's T2s give you terrific control even in the deepest crud, while the Havoc is a big, powerful ski that has two tips for easy back-sliding when maneuverability counts.
  4. Valandré La Fayette 550 Sleeping Bag ($539; www.valandre.com):
    Cold winter nights? Not with the La Fayette 550. This sleeping bag has it all: superb construction, clever design that minimizes drafts, and mounds of fluffy down. And all in a bag that's still lighter (two pounds three ounces) than many summer-weight sleeping cylinders. Ho, ho, ho.
  5. ACR Electronics RapidFix 406 EPIRB with GPS Interface ($910; www.acrelectronics.com):
    No sea kayaker or boater wants to be marooned, overboard or otherwise, in dire straits. But if that happens, the RapidFix 406 can get you out. It's a marine-ready emergency locator beacon that automatically floats upright for maximum antenna transmission. An on-board GPS guides rescuers to within 100 yards of your location.

Winter Waxed Lyrical

Christmas gets dialed in for powderhounds



  1. Atomic M:11 Puls-Ti Skis ($749; www.atomicski.com):
    Did someone say "all-mountain"? That's where the M:11s go—they're a big, tough ski with lots of float and sidecut to rip through crud and turn through the trees. Titanium rods help improve control and transmit every twitch of your boot to the ski. Be merry—it's time to ski!
  2. K2 Armada Snowboard Boots ($220; www.k2snowboards.com):
    Dash through the snow in the Armadas. These freestyle-inspired boots have a new internal lacing system and comfortable air soles for soaking up the big hucks.

  3. Boeri Switch Ski Helmet ($119; www.boeriusa.com):
    The Switch will render your cranium all but crash-proof, with a tough polycarbonate shell, fresh-air ducts, and an adjustable fit that accommodates any noggin.
  4. Dakine Rover Glove ($90; www.dakine.com):
    Whether skiing or snowboarding, cold hands won't do. Dakine's Rover has a weather-batting Gore-Tex shell, warm Primaloft insulation, and, perhaps best of all, a nifty plastic ridge affixed to the right thumb for scraping icy crud off your skis.
  5. Patagonia Vapor Bowl Jacket ($350; www.patagonia.com):
    Throw the Vapor Bowl over a midweight insulation piece and hit the slopes. This soft-shell jacket has a fleece lining bonded to its tough outer shell to create a piece that breathes well yet keeps you warm. And the fit and construction are both superb.

Spring Threads

Gear for the winter-weary road warrior



  1. Assos Intermediate Jersey ($220; www.assos.com):
    The Intermediate is a jersey for all seasons, with a wind-blocking front and sweat-evaporating back. A full zipper adds even more ventilation, while three back pockets hold your Christmas swag.
  2. Asolo Fugitive GTX Boots ($165; www.asolo.com):
    Get away from those madding Christmas crowds in a pair of Asolo Fugitives. They offer great support, grippy soles, and an ankle-hugging heel that keeps you stable and blister-free.

  3. Eagle Creek Tarmac 25 Luggage ($265; www.eaglecreek.com):
    Jet off with the sleek new Tarmac 25, a roll-around suitcase that holds enough stuff for a week just about anywhere, from Belize to Rome. Plus its tough corner guards and wheel covers ensure that even the Scroogiest baggage handler won't dent it.
  4. REI One Jacket ($199; www.rei.com):
    REI's One uses Polartec Powershield to create a piece that handles anything from cold wind to light snow, all while keeping you snug with its breathability and warmth. And it packs down so well it won't take up much space in your suitcase or backpack.
  5. MSR Miox Water Purifier ($130; www.msrcorp.com):
    This little gadget is just the ticket for the roving globetrotter. It's a pen-sized purifier that uses salt and a small electrical current to create a potion that zaps bacteria and viruses out of the foulest water you're apt to find. So drink and be merry.

Summer Gear Lovin'

Hit the trail, the beach, and the river in style



  1. Rudy Project Rydon Sunglasses ($149; www.rudyprojectusa.com):
    Magnesium, silicium, titanium—are these sunglasses or a pop chemistry quiz? Whatever, the integrated high-tech materials make the Rydons light and tough. Add to that their good looks and interchangeable lenses, and you can score off even the most sartorially fussy friends on your list.
  2. Kokatat Tropos Super Breeze Jacket ($99; www.kokatat.com):
    The Tropos combines affordability with great features such as a waterproof-breathable urethane coating. A soft splash collar and cuffs, zippered mesh chest pocket with key lanyard, factory-sealed seams, and a drawcord waist round things out to make the perfect present for any kayaking-crazed friend.

  3. Arc'Teryx Needle 65 Pack ($299; www.arcteryx.com):
    For weekend or weeklong treks, the Needle 65 offers up great suspension, tough construction, and water-resistant design. Winter hikers will appreciate its ski-carrying ability, while summertime users can hook a hydration bladder inside.
  4. BZ 2004 Quatro Body Board ($200; www.bzproboards.com):
    Ready to make waves? Then the BZ 2004 Quatro, with a crescent tail that'll help hold a line even on the big wave drops, is the perfect antidote for those who cringe from the cold of a white Christmas.
  5. Picnic at Ascot Picnic Cooler for Two ($50; www.picnicatascot.com):
    Just want to enjoy an outdoor meal after a drive to the beach? Then the Picnic at Ascot Cooler is a great gift, with a fully insulated food compartment and places for the included wine glasses, plates, and silverware.

Autumnal Harvest

Cameras, jackets, day-hiking and camping gear



  1. Black Diamond Lighthouse Tent ($369; www.blackdiamondequipment.com):
    This tough tent comfortably sleeps two, yet weighs a mere three pounds 12 ounces. It does so by combining a single-wall design with feathery Epic fabric for excellent water-repellency and windproofing. Big mesh doors circulate plenty of air in good weather.
  2. Adventure Medical Ultralight .9 First-Aid Kit ($32; www.adventuremedicalkits.com):
    Face it, accidents happen. So be prepared with the Ultralight .9, packed with enough supplies for a group of four in a miniscule nine-ounce package—so light even the most weight-conscious packer won't hesitate to carry it.

  3. Garmin Foretrex 201 ($182; www.garmin.com):
    Give the gift of navigation with the Foretrex 201, a rechargeable personal GPS system that straps onto a wrist while offering a high-contrast screen, storage for 500 waypoints, and accuracy down to three meters.
  4. Olympus C-7000 Zoom Camera ($600; www.olympusamerica.com):
    With its powerful 5x optical zoom and seven-megapixel resolution, the C-7000 packs a load of photo features into a tough aluminum body. It'll delight any outdoorsy digiphile on your gift list.

  5. Jetboil Stove ($80; www.jetboil.com):
    The Jetboil integrates the stove with the cookpot for light weight and lightning-quick heating. It's the perfect trail companion for the solo hiker, and is so fuel-efficient they'll never hesitate to tarry awhile and brew up a second cuppa.
  6. Mountain Hardwear Tenacity Lite Jacket ($375; www.mountainhardwear.com):
    The Tenacity Lite is ideal for the all-mountain adventurer, with a waterproof-breathable Gore-Tex XCR shell and high-design details such as a rollup laminated hood, pit zips, and a cut that's meant to move.

For the Children

The coolest gifts for the true believers



  1. K2 Zed Bike ($219; www.k2bikes.com):
    A tough, light aluminum frame is at the heart of the Zed, while a Suntour shock and Shimano twist-shifters make it comfortable and fun for youngsters to ride.
  2. Burton Apollo Snowboard Jacket ($130; www.burton.com):
    A waterproof-breathable shell, warm insulation, and fleece lining ensure that younger skiers will keep warm on the slopes as they do their grom thing.

  3. Eurosled Snow Flipper Sled ($50; www.3playinc.com):
    It might look like a gaudy baby bath, but the Flipper redefines the old-school cardboard sled: contoured plastic seating with foot rests, dual-action lever brake runners, and a stowaway towrope to ease the uphill lug will keep the kids out till well past bedtime.
  4. L.L. Bean Comfort Snow Boots ($40; www.llbean.com):
    You'll hear no complaints about cold feet when your kids wear the Comfort Snow Boots. They have waterproof suede outers, warm neoprene liners, and grippy treads on the soles.
  5. Apple iPod Mini ($249; www.apple.com):
    Keep up to 1,000 songs in a pocket with the tiny iPod Mini, which is smaller than most cell phones and weighs less than four ounces. Your young un' can keep track of his or her tunes with the easy-to-use thumb-controlled dial, as well as pick from a range of colors if that grownup white iPod is just too, well, old.

Stocking Stuffers

Round it out in style



  1. Buck Tiburon Water Sports Knife ($72; www.buckknives.com):
    The Tiburon is a knife, a chisel, a socket wrench—and the perfect gift for a paddler.
  2. Highgear AdventurePlus Tool ($20; www.highgear.com):
    This gizmo is really six tools in one, with a bright LED light, compass, thermometer, magnifying glass, signal mirror, and whistle.

  3. Petzl Tikka Plus LED Headlamp ($36; www.petzl.com):
    Four lights and four output settings make the Tikka Plus one of the most versatile headlamps on the planet.
  4. Snow Peak Titanium Spork ($9; www.snowpeak.com):
    It's a fork! It's a spoon! It weighs next to nothing and will make any camper happy!

  5. 180s Exolite Ear Warmers ($30; www.180s.com):
    Designed for active use, the 180s fit behind the head and adjust to most sizes. More importantly, you won't look a dork sporting these stylin' earmuffs.
  6. Pocket Guide to Fly-Fishing Knots ($13; www.rei.com):
    Fishing nut on your list? This handy guide ensures they're never tied in knots when trying to hook the big one.

Randy Wayne White

When Randy Wayne White published his first "Doc Ford" crime novel Sanibel Flats in 1990, the Denver Post described him as "a major new talent who has produced a virtually perfect piece of work." The American Independent Mystery Booksellers Association later honored his debut book as one of the "Hundred Favorite Mysteries of the 20th Century." Before taking up writing, White worked for 13 years as a tackle-fishing guide at Tarpon Bay Marina on Sanibel Island, Florida, eventually making more than 3,000 charter cruises. White's eleven novels featuring marine biologist Ford and his bumbling companions from Dinkin's Bay draw heavily from White's own saltwater experience. His skill at developing memorable characters and humorous dialogue has won him many fans. As an Editor at Large for Outside, White has authored more than 25 articles, taking on risky subjects like lightning stalkers and drug barons, but also sloshing through a cruise aboard the luxury ocean liner Queen Mary II for the October 2004 issue. An avid wind-surfer, White also motors his 21-Maverick flat boat in the waters surrounding the Florida home he shares with his golden retriever. His "Doc Ford" Website can be accessed here: http://rwwhite.com/

Outside's Guilty Pleasures
Fine Liner
A roughing-it guy gets fancy aboard the Queen Mary 2

Destinations: License to Chill
Anse Chastanet
This is jungle luxe

Without a Trace
Jeff Wandich learned a hard lesson from his tragedy at sea: Human nature doesn't allow people to vanish without a trace

Man Overboard
An unconventional eulogy for a most unconventional friend

The War of the Rosebuds
Downwardly mobile at the U.S. National Toboggan Championships

Cursed
The tale of a certain gold relic that should have stayed in the ground

Out There
Down Under Kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan

Transcendental Perspiration
The road to the Little People starts with near-suffocation in a sweat lodge

Paradise Fouled
Year after year, it was a perfect, unchanging place. And then it wasn't

Tomato Wars
High noon in the garden of good and evil

People Are Strange...
The dos and don't-even-think-about-its of group travel

Croco%#@! Dundee
All across Australia, hapless wild beasts cry out: oh no, not him again!

Kahuna Come Lately
Call him a gorilla on Popsicle stick, but he's finally caught his wave

Above Suspicion
Touring foreign lands with fake credentials, an unflappable cohort, and a Cessna 182

Let There Be Light
It's the latest in evening wear, and the world will never be the same

Scavenging Angel
Following in the wake of drug lords, one maritime salvager attempts to make good from bad

Lean, Green, and Amazingly Serene
An ode to Moss Man, who after 28 days in a hot spring emerged a changed person

Dr. Pepper
For the seasoned traveler, the world is but a backdrop in the quest for the perfect chili

The Horse-Eater, I Presume?
In the blue holes of the Bahamas, a hungry leviathan lurks. Our man aimed to find it.

Out There: Taking the Red-Eye
For our misty frequent flier, what a long, strange 100 months it's been

Noriega Sat Here
Our man in Panama works the strange case of the generalisimo's purloined bar stools

And in This Corner, the Ghost of Ernest Hemingway
Battling history, or at least history's 80-year-old sparring partner

Sense and Sensibility
Those who know the thrill of a food chase wouldn't dare call this flyover country

The Man with the Iron Cast
Live from the glory holes of Colorado, where the angling is well above par

Embraced by the Strangler Fig
Cut loose with the world's most maddeningly optimistic adventurer

Out There: The Big Queasy
Feeling a touch of seasickness? Try giving conventional wisdom a heave.

No Comprendo! Yo Soy un Gringo Estupido!
For the linguistically impaired, a south-of-the-border survival guide

No More Curse of the Sheepherders
But why would such a wholesome nation want the America's Cup?

When Is a Sport Not a Sport?
In the telecentric world of the X Games, only when it's not on the tube

Spontaneous Consumption
Bahìa Magdalena was to be merely a pit stop. Then he met Paloma, Queen of Ceviche.

The Lightning Stalker Strikes Again
As an amp-anxious world cowers, David Stillings goes to work

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