Editor’s note: This year, we opted for a spin on the holiday gift guide. Rest assured, we tasked the right guy — our gear-review guru — with the job of compiling a 12-day list of gift ideas (in various price ranges) for all the nordies in your life.
By now you’re probably thinking, “What’s the deal with all of this clothing crap in this horribly played-out 12 Days of Christmas knockoff?” I’m a bad-ass skier who’s owned the same pair of Craft training pants since 2002. My money, ALL of my money, goes into gear that produces speed. You know, real gear. Fear not my agro friend with the nasty, clapped out pants covered in kick wax, we’ve got you covered with this latest installment.
Day 3: Gear
Under $30: deFUNKit, $19.95 or less
The aforementioned dirt bag pants undoubtedly not only look played out, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and venture a guess that they also smell like ass. Fortunately, all is not lost here thanks to an amazing product called deFUNKit. My crackajack test team put this miracle solvent through its paces in more detail than you could even hope to imagine. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “You know what I’d like to read tonight, an eight-page review filled with several examples of essentially the same theme of some loser wearing dirty underwear for a week.” Well, that makes two of us. You’re welcome. Available at deFUNKit.com.
Ah, gloves. If I had to hanker a guess into what people hate the most about skiing (other than the misery, the money, the hassle, the haters, the writers — speaking of haters –, and its rapidly dwindling availability), I’d place my money on two things: cold hands and cold feet. One step at a time here people, so let’s tackle hands first. The fine folks at Toko made sure that on my trip to Eagle Glacier in Alaska last summer, that I left with the latest and greatest in-hand tuxedos, the Toko Profi (in bad-ass “Winter Warrior” color).
These babies stood up to almost 30 hours of skiing in the dreaded 0.1° C (32 Fahrenheit) rain that seems to always coincide with all of my trips to AK and kept me coming back for more, so I’m sure they’ll do you right in the 30 seconds it takes you to scrape your car windshield. Available at TokoUS.com.
Like any good corporate weasel, I know all of the tricks of the trade, so for those of you keeping score at home you know that we still have $55 left in our budget. Anyone who has suffered the indignity and insanity of the corporate world knows that if you don’t use all of your budget, you lose it, so let’s double-down on Toko here and also go for a pair of their awesome overmitts. What I really like about these is they keep you very warm, but you don’t look like you’re about to go 15 rounds with Tyson. Since they fit over your pole straps, the fit and feel of your gloves is normal (because you’re wearing your normal gloves), but they do an excellent job of keeping your hands comfortable while warming up for races in your thinner, racing gloves or even for long cruisers on particularly cold training days. Available at TokoUS.com.
Spend your remaining $15 on gum and expense it as “miscellaneous” or else that d-bag CFO will knock $15 off of your 2017 budget. Man, I hate that dude. And that stupid job.
FS Staff Pick* (*not necessarily FBD tested)
- Pole tube ($45 at Boulder Nordic Sport): For piece of mind when flying, obviously, but also for when throwing expensive, laterally fragile pieces of carbon into a Subaru, Rocket Box, back of a van, anywhere near FBD’s dogs, etc. Fischer Pole Tube Economy sold at Boulder Nordic Sport.
- Cocoons over-sunglasses ($55): Professional-grade sunglasses designed to be worn over prescription eyewear. Like an 85 year old’s driving glasses, but cooler. Shop options at CocoonsEyewear.com.
$100 – $250: Patagonia Black Hole Duffel Bag, $129
OK, now we’re rolling — if you’re anything like me, you’ve purchased a few (or all) of the past few days of suggestions as gifts, but you’ve also been following the ol’ “One for you, one for me rule,” so you’re driving home each night like a maniac, racing the wife to the front door so that you can intercept all of the gifts you’ve purchased for yourself before she’s on to you (not literally, as you’ve been married way too long for this to still be an issue). Thanks to your complete disregard for speed limits and your advanced tactical and navigational skills, you’re home first: Mission accomplished. Now what to do with the loot. Stashing your latest collection of swag behind the bird feeder in the garage feels a little too shifty even for you, so as always, your boy FBD has your back: ironically, the solution is to order more stuff, this time in the form of this killer Patagucchi bag. Available at Patagonia.com.
FBD pro tip, go for one of the more colorful color options, as everyone and their brother has black bags and your whole ruse unravels pretty quickly when you need to fess up to the wife that some jerk at baggage claim walked off with your bag because it looked like his and he naturally disregarded the instructions to check the name tag (any frequent traveler can tell you that NO ONE does this, so it’s every man for himself at baggage claim). Now some fat dude in Florida has all of your sweet, new baselayers, gloves, and Oakleys and since you have his bag, you’re now stuck with 4 sets of K-Mart cotton tube socks, stained BVDs with blown-out waist bands and a ripped, neon tank top emblazoned with the slogan, “Official Bikini Inspector” (This is standard issue gear to all Florida residents).
This is a good one, a REALLY good one. Why? First of all, because it’s a ski recommendation. And secondly because it starts with a story involving two of my favorite people in skiing, Tad Elliott and Zach Caldwell. Please, please, please watch this hilarious video as not only is it funny as hell, but it will also make this recommendation make a lot more sense (kinda). It’s also very informative.
For those paying particularly close attention at the start, you’ll recall that Zach was dressing-down Tad for using fish scale skis on a warm day, but did he say anything about skis with skins? HA, a loop hole! While I agree with Zach in principle (so much so in fact that I just bought a new pair of klister skis (before I saw this video too, btw), I also completely see Tad’s perspective. And Tad’s a pro skier for heaven’s sake: the only activity that he has to worry about each day is skiing. If Tad doesn’t want to deal with kick waxing, well, that’s good enough for me. Add to this the fact that as Zach dutifully points out, climate change is upon us, so sadly the days of simply slapping on Extra Blue and going for a rip may be fewer and fewer, so even if you have the time, energy and know-how to kick wax, there are days when nailing the wax is not easy.
In fact, just last week at the West Yellowstone Ski Festival, we had a few days early in the week in which very experienced coaches and athletes alike were tearing their hair out trying to pick the correct wax. How did I respond to this adversity? I’m no fool, so I gave up. Or did I? After watching many skiers struggle with their kick, I did an about-face and high tailed it to the demo tents, demanding, “The best pair of skin skis money can buy.” To get me out of their tent as quickly as possible before I had the chance to interact with regular people, the Rossi team teed me up with a pair of these bad boys. The verdict? While most everyone else out on classic was waving their arms around like they were being engulfed by a swarm of bees, I had kick like a mule (I own donkeys, so I know what I’m talking about here people).
This raises the question, did I quit or was I merely smart enough to pick the right tool for the job? I’d say it’s the latter. Yes, you do need to know how to apply kick wax, whether it be hard wax or klister, but for the busy (or lazy) working professional who wants to be as efficient as possible on the “lunch ski” or any day with “tweener conditions,” these babies are the way to go. Available at Boulder Nordic Sport.
If you’re wondering how the hell we got here, or you just love my beautifully crafted preamble so much that you revisit every day before heading off to face the challenges of the working world, the introduction and backstory can be found here. If unlike most of America, you actually spend you time at work, working, you may have missed some of the previous days and they can be found here: Day 1 | Day 2