Gear ReviewsLifestyleResourcesReviewsTrainingFasterSkier’s 12 Days of FBD Christmas: Day 2

FasterSkier's 2016 Holiday Gift Guide: 12 Days of FBD Christmas

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.


So we’re off and running; how’s it going? If you haven’t received what you wanted yet, maybe that’s because A.) It’s not Christmas yet, so chances are you haven’t received anything yet or B.) Your running is weak (get it, since we’re off and running?). This leads me nicely to my first gift suggestion in the second installment of the 12 days of FBD:

Day 2: Lifestyle

Under $30: The book, “Born To Run,”* $9.59 paperback or $11.99 for Kindle

(*also a staff favorite)

"Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall, FBD pick for under $30
“Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, FBD pick for under $30

This wonderful book is a must-read for all athletes, runners or otherwise. Author Christopher McDougall’s interesting and insightful narrative chronicles the history, lives and training of a remote Mexican Indian tribe, the Tarahumara, a reclusive and remarkable group of ultra-runners. The irony here is that the story of this group of minimalists is being suggested to you here by a gear maximalist. I recognize and appreciate this and recommend that you find a way to get past this seemingly odd contradiction and get a copy under the tree to your favorite over-trainer (I’m looking at you, Noah Hoffman):  Buy it at your favorite bookstore or Amazon.

Other Good Reads/FS Staff Picks (*not FBD tested/recommended)


$30 – $100: LifeProof phone case, ranging from $79.99 – $89.99

LifeProof phone case, FBD pick for $30-100 (pictured: Waterproof FRE for iPhone 7)
LifeProof phone case, FBD pick for $30-100 (pictured: Waterproof FRE for iPhone 7)

This is one of the more expensive phone cases out there, but it is also one of the best. I’ve rocked a LifeProof case for over four years now and they have saved my bacon many a day. By definition, most, if not all, of you reading this are skiers and chances are that many of you need to take your phones with you training at least some of the time. I’d much rather leave that little bastard at home, but you all know the drill, whether it is keeping your lazy ass employed, keeping the home fires burning, filing those TPS reports, or simply staying on top of your Noah Hoffman XC Fantasy league, all of these pesky life problems seem to play their trump card just as I’m heading out the door for a few hours of peace and quiet. If it is necessary to bring the electronic devil along for your bad-ass interval sesh, you might as well get it home safely, right? LifeProof cases are waterproof, extremely impact resistant and add relatively little volume and bulk to your telecommunication anchor/albatross. Buy one now and you’ll be thanking me whether you drop your phone in the toilet after a few too many beers at the club or it falls into a pristine mountain stream while you’re doing charity work for your local orphanage. Available at


$100 – $250: L.L. Bean Newington Boots, $109

L.L. Bean Men’s Newington Slip-On Boots, FBD pick for $100-150
L.L. Bean Men’s Newington Slip-On Boots, FBD pick for $100-150

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 105 years (yes, that is when the originals were launched) you’re seen, heard of or perhaps even owned a pair of the iconic L.L. Bean Maine Hunting Boot. At last summer’s Outdoor Retailer Show, I had the opportunity to see one of L.L. Bean’s new designs and was suitably impressed, so I ordered up a pair of the Newingtons. The timing was perfect, too, as the West Yellowstone Ski Festival is known for it’s well-groomed ski tracks and poorly groomed surface streets, so this was a perfect test platform for the new kicks. They crushed it. I will gladly go ski for three hours, but ask me to spend 30 seconds putting on shoes and you’d think I had been given a death sentence. This means that the ability to slip on these warm, stylish and sure-footed boots was a godsend, as you can’t look good at the coffee shop if you arrive covered in snow and ice after an unplanned encounter with the ground. Available at L.L. Bean.

Staff pick*: Airbnb gift card

For $100 or more (or whatever denomination you decide), buy an Airbnb gift card so that your loved one can go ski somewhere cool and you can have the house to yourself for a weekend (or really shoot the wad and you can go together)


Over $250: FirstBeat Heart Rate Variability Electronic Monitoring System

FirstBeat Heart Rate Variability Electronic Monitoring System, FBD pick for over $250
FirstBeat Heart Rate Variability Electronic Monitoring System, FBD pick for over $250

Yes, at $1,000 it’s a bit over $250, but remember, this category isn’t $250, it’s OVER $250. Please keep this in mind, as this is going to come in handy in the next 11 days. I enlisted some of my good friends on the U.S. Ski Team (and others) to describe in great detail the merits of this amazing system, so instead of pouring over all of these accounts again here in excruciating detail, I’m simply going to say that if you’re serious about training, you should get this system. I forget the exact name of the genius behind this original review, but he does a wonderful job weighing all of the pros and cons: read it, think about it, then go buy one, you’ll be glad you did.


If you’re wondering how the hell we got here, or you just love my beautifully crafted preamble so much that you feel compelled to revisit it every day before heading off to face the challenges of the working world, the introduction, backstory and first day’s gift suggestions can be found here.

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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.

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