One of the best things about being a sponsored athlete is that you get all your gear for free. When it comes to their sports, they literally have it all. Which can make holiday shopping challenging.
I interviewed five professional athletes to see what items—aside from the core equipment—they wanted for Christmas. Presenting our list for the most difficult-to-shop-for outdoor lovers in your life.
Kayaker Rush Sturges: Nikon Aculon Range Finder
Professional kayaker and filmmaker Rush Sturges has run the most difficult whitewater and the largest waterfalls on the planet. The resident of White Salmon, Washington, recently worked on a project with base jumpers where he discovered the Nikon Aculon Laser Range Finder ($170), a device that measures the height of natural objects. “It looked sick!” Sturges wrote in an email. The Aculon could be used to measure the height of waterfalls Sturges plans to run. Height is difficult to gauge by eye, and when it comes to world-record attempts, you need hard numbers down to the last inch.
Climber Matt Segal: Cashmere Sweater
The 31-year-old pro based in Boulder, Colorado, has received sweaters almost every Christmas for the past decade. After all, Matt Segal already has all the climbing equipment he needs. This year, he asked his girlfriend for a sweater made from cashmere. While Segal wasn’t angling for a specific brand, I’d suggest Patagonia’s Cashmere Crew Sweater ($199) for its slim yet not formfitting cut and the company’s lifetime guarantee.
Ultrarunner Stephanie Howe: The North Face Thermoball Jacket and Shinsky Beanie
Stephanie Howe, who holds the course record for the Speedgoat 50K, wants the North Face Thermoball Full-Zip Jacket ($199) because she thinks it’s stylish and functional. “It’s cute, you can wear it out, and you don’t just look like an athlete,” she says. The same logic goes for the Shinsky Beanie ($30). It’s extremely warm, but it also doesn’t make her look like a core athlete. “I can’t just wear a ponytail and running tights every day,” says Howe.
Triathlete Jesse Thomas: Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier Lite Jacket and Picky Club Subscription
Jesse Thomas, a four-time Wildflower Triathlon winner, uses the Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier Lite Jacket ($110) for 95 percent of his winter rides. “It compacts really well and makes it possible to stay on my bike on a day when temperatures fluctuate 20 degrees,” he says.
The Picky Club (from $27) is a subscription service founded by Thomas and his wife, pro runner Lauren Fleshman, that delivers 12, 18, or 24 performance bars to your doorstep. The all-natural Picky Bars were developed with a four-to-one carb-to-protein ratio to boost performance.
Ultrarunner Rickey Gates: Stance Socks
Peripatetic writer, photographer, and ultrarunner Rickey Gates has a surprisingly mundane wish for Christmas. “They say that once you stop believing in Santa Claus, all you get are socks. That’s okay by me, because I hate buying socks, and if somebody wants to give me socks for Christmas, that’s one less trip to to Target,” Gates wrote in an email. What brand does the Salomon-sponsored athlete want? Stance. “They’re awesome,” Gates wrote. “You can get a pair of socks with a photo of Julius Erving ($16) on them.”