Editor’s note: For the second-straight year, we’re presenting another 12-day holiday gift guide, brought to you by the one and only “FBD”, our gear-review guru. See also: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10
Day 11: Slopestyle
I hate it when people get all twisted up about people who don’t do “their” thing. There are thousands of activities in which you can partake in your leisure time and don’t get all uppity if someone has a different jam than you. I don’t collect antique figurines, but if that’s what makes you happy, have at it hoss (prepare yourself for a bit of a Texas theme today). To have this stone throwing going on within our own endurance sports community is nothing short of idiotic: skiers hating on snowboarders. Road riders turning their noses up at mountain bikers. And perhaps worst of all, alpiners throwing shade to nordies, or vice versa on any of those scenarios. This “crab in a bucket” phenomena is not only ridiculous, but also counterproductive. At a time when national parks, natural resources and the environment in general is under attack thanks to greed, stupidity and overall indifference, all of us who enjoy the great outdoors need to be banning together as one and presenting a unified, collective voice of condemnation to everyone stupid and ignorant enough to think that climate change is not a massive, massive problem.
Yes, this is kind of a preachy start and I would apologize if it wasn’t for the fact that I feel pretty strongly that if we destroy the earth we are going to have a problem. All of us depend on the planet: skiers, snowboarders, surfers, hunters, fisherman, ornithologists, biologists, and everyone else who ventures outside for any activity. Please allow me to break this down even further — if you are breathing air, you need to vote for people who are going to help ensure that clean air is going to continue to be available. If you’ve ever been to Beijing, you know what I’m talking about. If you have not, get woke, as this is no joke (I knew I should have been a rapper — SO much flow, ya know?)
If you think politics is boring and not applicable to you, or “they’re all bad,” or “my vote doesn’t matter,” your wrong, dead wrong. You also may soon be dead. Still wrong, too, btw, but now also dead. We’re not talking about voting on some crazy, random, esoteric tax code or obscure foreign policy deal in remote Sub-Saharan Africa, we’re talking about making sure that your home isn’t destroyed by the even-increasing “natural” disasters. We’re talking about making sure that you have clean water to drink and air that won’t kill you. You know, little stuff like that. The point is that we’re all in this together, so let’s keep that in mind, whether it is fighting declassification of national parks for oil and gas drilling, loosening environmental restrictions to allow more pollutants in the water, or even just going skiing. Check it fam, now THAT is a pivot.
Following up on the latter, today’s column is about the more gravity oriented side of skiing, as absolutely nothing is wrong with going vertical from time to time. Yes, this is primarily a nordic-ski oriented publication, but I know tons of nordic nerds who can crush it on the slopes, and after all, the whole point of all of this is to have fun, so check the attitudes at the door Mr. Too Cool For School alpine d-bag dressed like a mashup between a disenfranchised suburban youth, Shawn White and a D-list white rapper.
The only people who deserve constant, unrelenting criticism are the buffoons who waddle their giant whammies off the airplane, only to firmly plant their giant caboose smack-dab-middle in the jetway, therein blocking the exit for the remaining 240 people and slowing the process for everyone. You want to know to get to baggage claim, here’s a hint, FOLLOW THE GIANT SIGN THAT SAYS BAGGAGE CLAIM. Every airport has them. Every gate has them. A monkey could figure this out. Same principles apply to boarding as well. You see, each seat has a number and a letter. The number represents the row of your seat and the letter designates your seat within said row. The numbers on the rows go in order, from lowest to highest as you board the plan. That means in you are in row 39, you are not seated up front next to me. Why, you may ask? (and some of you, have asked). Because I’m in row 2. You are not. You are in row 39. Row 39 is not next to row 2, in fact, it is 37 rows away. So less talking and more walking.
Since the alpine vs. nordic debate can be a bit of a contentious one, we’re going to easy into today’s offerings with a product that straddles the line nicely — a neck gaiter. These are awesome for both alpine and nordic — and this is not just any gaiter, this is the “Pandana” that supports an elite skier. One of us. These revenues aren’t going to some evil corporation lavishing pay on their CEO while simultaneously screwing the average worker, but rather to one of our own, to someone trying to make it to the big show.
Help APU rockstar Becca Rorabaugh fund her Olympic dream with the purchase of one of her sweet, custom neck gaiters.
$30 – $99
Remember people, this column is about looking good AND feeling good. Yeah, you could most certainly “rock the pipe,” (take it easy all of you bible-bangers, I’m talking about this…)
FBD rules of engagement exist for your safety and for that of your team, either obey them, or you are history (that’s the next part of the quote for those of you out there who don’t know it because you have actual social lives): these carefully crafted mores (not to be confused with morays, which are eels, not rules, although someone, somewhere must have rules about eels, so I suppose you could have moray mores) have been rigorously designed to help you both look good and feel good.
You’re most certainly not going to look good, feel good or have any rap with the ladies whatsoever if you’re the weird guy shivering on the lift in his cut-off, pocked-out jorts.
With those caveats carefully engrained in your gray matter, let’s proceed.
FBD loves a good hoodie. I mean really, who doesn’t? Hoodies rule. There is no better way to tear it up on the alpine hill, whether it be Dong Patrol, pressing glass on a powder day or throwin’ game in the park. All of the park rats are always jibbin’, flippin’, stylin’, and all of the other ‘in’s’ in hoodies, but lest anyone thinks that hoodies are only from groms, you can do plenty of good work in one as a responsible adult as well. Or in my case, a somewhat mildly responsible, quasi-adult (think of a much taller, sexier Peter Pan, with better taste in clothes, while also not owning a peanut butter company, though I do move like this on the dance floor).
Rock this beauty from L.L. Bean on an alpine day if you want to look like a park grom and don’t mind being cold after about 15 minutes, or wear it out on the town if you want to look like a normal human who understands the importance of activity-specific attire.
$100 – $299
Not just shades, but uber-cool Italian shades, simply oozing with style. Paul Newman wore them. Steve McQueen wore them. And now so can you.
What’s the one way to mess this up? Wear these on the hill. These are Apres-ski glasses, people, APRES, I tells ya.
I went ‘Old School’ a bit on this one and had to climb way up in the Trust Tree, the nest. As I was testing the gear-winning Big Agnes sleeping bag, not only was I quite impressed with the bag, but I was also reminded that I had a few of their jackets kicking around that I really liked. Once the bag passed my rigorous testing with flying colors, it reminded me that their coats also kick ass, so not only did I revisit the garment with which I have had great luck, but I even dove back into the ocean of outwear confusion to see what was new from BA in that department. I’m glad I did too, as I found a real keeper: the Fire Tower Belay Jacket.
It’s a big puffy, so don’t wear it out to the bar in Colorado, or you’ll look like this guy…
.. or even worse, a tourist from Texas (there is no greater indignity in any ski town bar than being asked if you are from Texas. If you ever hear this question, you need to immediately re-evaluate all of your clothing, speech, tone, volume, selection of vehicle, really every aspect of your life, for that matter, as this is truly Lifestyle DEFCON 1.
Pro tip: that video is an extremely accurate depiction of what happens behind your back when you walk into any ski-town bar dressed like this:
So now that you’ve been suitably warned (and warmed) about the dangers of inappropriate usage, let’s talk about some of the places where you can wear the coat without getting laughed out of the room. For starters, it’s called a belay jacket for a reason — have you ever belayed someone ice climbing? It is cold as hell, so you obviously need a warm jacket, and this one is perfect. I suppose that’s why they called it the “Belay Jacket.” Makes sense. I bet these guys know how to board an airplane.
To and from the tracks is obviously a no-brainer, as we all know that you don’t need to wear a lot when you’re nordic skiing, yet allowing yourself to get chilled post-ski is a surefire way to get yourself sick (and to piss off everyone around you who has to listen to you whine about you being cold the whole way down from Rabbit Ears — bring a second coat dummy, how hard is that?)
Another acceptable nordic usage is coaching and/or spectating. Skiing on even the coldest of days is generally fine, but man oh Manischewitz, can you get cold if you are just standing around.
I’m a little torn on the alpine recommendation, as I my whole premise of today’s column is to NOT be too judgmental, but whew, I really struggle when I see this on the slopes:
But, having said that, sticking with today’s theme, if rockin’ the giant puffy on the slopes is your program, well, so be it. Personally, I believe this to be a more appropriate garment for winter camping, mountaineering, ice climbing, all of the aforementioned nordic applications, and more, but yes, in a pinch you can use it for alpine — just stay the hell away from me, I have a reputation to uphold. On the plus side, you will be quite warm. Sure, this will most likely be from a combination of embarrassment and ridicule, but the coat is amazing nonetheless. And hey, at least it’s not a Bogner one-piece suit with a giant, chrome Eagle emblazoned on the back (and yes, those really do exist — they are quite popular with the Texas crowd and people who struggle with airplane boarding.)
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.