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.
For Day 5, I have a topic near and dear to my cold (albeit giant) heart, electronics. This is an interesting one, too, as skiers seems to have a love/hate relationship with this category of products. There are a few camps out there, in particular when you’re talking about things like heart rate monitors and portable music players:
- Camp 1: The “Dean and Kristor, I love my heart rate monitor, but I am a prisoner to it” school of thought (listen in at 28:00 minutes).
- Camp 2: The “I hate heart rate monitors, iPods and all who use them; they’re not ‘organic,’ and they complete disrupt and distort the essence of skiing. I want to just go out there and ‘be the ball’ ” faction
- Camp 3: The “I measure my HR during sleep, sex, easy skis, hard skis, races and dumps and have a spreadsheet correlating all of these activities on a white board in my office,” group of kooks. You can spot one of “these people” from a mile off, as their gear bag looks like the cockpit of a Concorde.
- Camp 4: Us normal people who use these products for what they are, tools that provide interesting insight, entertainment and enlightment, but are not the be-all and end-all, rather simply another link in the chain.
Whew, with that out of the way, let’s talk about some cool gadgets, yes, yes, including heart rate monitors.
Day 5: Electronics
Under $30: Whoosh screen cleaner, $15
While this isn’t technically “electronics,” it is a product to keep your electronics clean and happy. The pitch given to me here (by the company) is that this product kills all of the germs on the screen of your phone and tablet — a great premise, if it works. Not to worry, I have an elaborate test of this claim scheduled, but the logistics are a bit involved, so it is still in the planning stages. Therefore, all I can say for right now is that this product does a great job cleaning your screen. Whether this will be the ticket to a lifetime free of cold and flu viruses remains to be seen, but for now I can promise you that it does get all of the nasty crap off of your screen. Available at Whoosh.com.
$30 – $100: Apple iPod Shuffle, $49
Having friends and teammates to train with is probably one of my favorite parts of skiing, whether it is a killer interval sesh or a long, easy cruiser, nothing makes the time fly by more than having people with whom to share it. But then there’s that one dude with you who won’t shut up, or the other who insists on making every workout a contest, even ones that are specifically designed to NOT be so. It’s on days like these that we all long for the peaceful solo ski. There are also plenty of occasions when the only time of day that I can get out has a start time plus/minus of about 30 seconds, so more often than not, these turn out to be solo missions. In cases like this, whether it’s easy distance or an interval smashfest, music is key. In fact, unless I’m out tearing it up with my Steamboat squad or Billy D and the USA NoCo crew, you’ll almost always find the FBD training with tunes. My delivery vehicle of choice for sound? Apple’s iPod Shuffle. Unlike the iPhone (which as noted here I hate bringing along on skis), the Shuffle holds a charge in the cold longer than 15 minutes, so you can blast your dope Abba/Gaga/Keesha mix for your entire OD roll. The Shuffle is also very small, light and since you are going to lose and/or ruin it sooner or later, at $49, it doesn’t exactly break the bank or your heart when it needs to be replaced. Available at Apple.com.
$100 – $250: Star 110V Digital Iron, $225
If you read this and thought, “FBD, dude, what’s up, I thought you were THE gear guy and you can’t even make it five days with a repeat suggestion?” Fair question, but let me assure you that I can make it 50 days without a repeat, but irons are so integral to what we all love to do that they merit offering a few options. Plus, I have a feeling that many of you considered putting out a hit on my life after reading my Day 4 suggestion for a $400 iron. Yes, that bad-boy is the Mac Daddy of irons, but it IS a bit spendy. It’s also a bit larger, so if you have arms or a budget like Josh Smullin, this baby is for you. Not as optimal as it’s big brother for burning fluros, but if that’s not your jam, this is your call. Available at Gear West.
Over $250: Suunto Ambit3 heart rate monitor, (on sale for $217.49)
Look on the wrist on many the World Cup skier and this is the watch that you’ll see. Why? It works well, has probably the best online interface and if you’re going “Full Nordic Nerd” here, it without a doubt integrates the best with FirstBeat. Buy one, watch what’s happening under the hood, but don’t let it rule your life. Available at Suunto.com.
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 | Day 3 | Day 4
Jon "Fast Big Dog" Schafer
Fast Big Dog is a paradoxically gregarious yet reclusive, self-absorbed mystic and world traveler. In addition to his calling to right the wrongs in the ski fashion and gear world, he also brings his style, wit and devilish charm to the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club as the Nordic High Performance Director and Worldwide Director of Morale and Awesomeness. Savor these articles while you can, as his Great Dane puppy may burn down his house at any moment, possibly making this his last transmission.