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.
I bet many of you have thought about, nay, fantasized about spending 12 consecutive days with FBD. For most, this would be a lifelong dream. For others, a nightmare, but I think we can all agree that those people are crazy. Yes, most of you would find this to be a life-changing experience: your skiing would ascend to the next level. Your style index would reach a point heretofore unseen. And your gear? Well, how big can you dream?
Since I am a very, very busy man and I now have literally hundreds of thousands of adoring fans, while I would love to come to each of your homes to help you re-supply your gear closet, something tells me that this is not very feasible. Apparently, even Santa struggles with logistics of this scale.
We’re going to do the next best thing though: the friendly folks here at FasterSkier have asked me to put together this year’s Holiday Gift Guide, but being the ever-vigilant, Type-A perfectionist that I am, I did them one better and expanded this feature to the “12 Days of FBD Christmas”. As the name implies, each day for 12 days, I will be offering up four different, awesome, holiday gift ideas. Unlike those other crappy gift guides out there however, not only is this one crafted (no pun intended) with love, but also integrity.
Every single one of these products has been tested by, worn by, and is most likely still in active rotation in the FBD gear arsenal (except for the additional staff recommendations, noted with an *). As has always been, and always will be the case, I did not accept any financial compensation from any of the companies featured. The selection criteria for this list are simply that the products must kick ass, be durable, provide value and naturally, look good. That’s just how I roll.
Finally, since this is a feature about gifts, let’s talk a bit about giving. You always hear that it is is better to give than to receive, which is true, but what if you’re smart to do both? Check and mate. I give to lots of different organizations, causes and individuals, but without a doubt, one of my favorite recipients is still me. After all, who deserves a sweet jacket more than me, right? But what about you? I bet almost every single one of you out there works their ass off in a difficult job, rushes around like mad to get in as much skiing as you can in the limited time that you have available, struggles to balance all sorts of obligations with work, family, friends, spouse, etc., and let’s be honest, it’s tough. There’s a reason why depression and social anxieties show a precipitous spike in the holiday season: holidays can be stressful. Skiing is hard enough without the added complexities of the holiday dynamic, so be sure to look after yourself as well as those around you, remember, this is supposed to be a joyous time, not a stress-filled, anxiety-ridden sh*t show.
As for the preferred survival strategy during this season, there are a few commonly employed methodologies. For some, it’s drinking themselves into oblivion at every chance they get. For others, it’s a trip to their house of worship. In some cases, it is all of the above. For this guy, I subscribe to a little of the former and a lot of the latter, though is it important to note that I worship at the House of Gear (not to be confused with this place):
I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, but I am going to offer you some friendly advice from probably one of the world’s happiest and most well-adjusted heart throbs (I was the Teen Beat “Hunk of the Month” in 1997) take care of yourself, not just now, but year round. Eat right, sleep 8 – 10 hours per night, buy a dog (NOT a Great Dane), wash your hands before you eat and make DAMN sure your gear is on point.
So if your wiener kids deliver some crappy tie or a cookbook under the tree, Menorah or Festivus Pole, fear not, pretend you have diarrhea from that nasty fruitcake that your weird relative sent you, sneak into the bathroom with your smart phone and order up something you really want, no deserve. Better do it now, too, before those little monsters of yours squander all of your hard-earned savings on something silly, like college. Now, with all of this in mind, let’s dive right in.
Day 1: Clothing
On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…..clothing? Well, not much of a rhyme, but one helluva good idea.
Under $30: Point6 socks, $20.95
A real FBD favorite. Wool, so they are warm and highly odor-resistant, just the right thickness and this brand seems to last as long or longer than any we’ve tested thus far. At $20, you should ask Santa for a few pairs. Shop options at nordic retailers like Gear West.
Bonus: FS Staff Picks* (*not FBD tested):
$30 – $100: Smartwool baselayer top, $95
If you haven’t already, you need to IMMEDIATELY go read my amazing review of a laundry detergent that allows you to wear undergarments several times between washings. In this review, you’ll notice that the preferred base layer of the entire test team was Smartwool. As noted above in the sock gift suggestion, wool is comfortable over a wide temperature range, even when wet. Furthermore, its ability to repel smell is the icing on the case, as noted in painstaking detail in this crazy, rambling review. Available at Gear West.
(*also a staff favorite)
Ask anyone who been skiing for longer than a week and they have a horror story about venturing out on a cold day without a pair of these “down low” and their matching cousin “up top” — I don’t think we need to spell it out for you here — you might be able to fake it on the top, but don’t risk it down South, order a few pairs of the now. Right now. If you already have a pair, order more, as one simply can’t be too careful these days. Even you, lonely reader, might someday find someone willing to date your goofy nordic ass and you’re going to want all of the equipment “downstairs” working properly, or else you’ll never have a bunch of little ungrateful rug rats running around buying you ugly ties for Christmas instead of those cool new skate skis you’ve been drooling over for the last two years. Available at CraftSports.us and Boulder Nordic Sport.
Staff pick*: Skhoop Insulated Skirts, $118+
For women and fashion-forward men alike. The full-length version is great for standing around before or after skiing, and/or for street style. And you can wear the mini-skirt version skiing when it’s really cold.
Perfect for cooldown, waxing skis in the parking lot, walking through blustery downtown Anchorage. Store locator
Over $250: Patagonia Stretch Nano Storm Jacket, $449
I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance release, test piece of this jacket this past summer and I immediately put it to good use on Eagle Glacier in Alaska in July. This garment takes one of our favorite jackets, the Nano Air, and transforms it into a more outerwear-specific coat, thanks to a superior wind and waterproof shell. As we prepared to leave Eagle Glacier, severe weather rolled in, so we had to shuttle down off the glacier behind snow machines in sleds normally used to haul supplies. This was as cold and sh*tty and it sounds and this coat was the only thing that kept me from freezing to death. Order one immediately.
All right, all right, all right, we are off and running! Check back each weekday (those pesky World Cup races hog all of the airtime on weekends) for the next 11 days for the latest and greatest advice on how to improve your life. Stick with me on this journey and this will be the best holiday ever for both you and all of your loved ones.
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.