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. Kicking the series off, recommendations for recovery gifts to keep you and your ski buddies on the trails and injury free. See also: Day 1 | Day 2
Day 3: Lifestyle Gear
Today is all about the gear that you need to make it through the day. Granted, some days you are sitting in your prison cell of an office, plotting the slow and deliberate death of those around you — those vermin holding you back from your rightful place atop multiple Olympic podiums. I’m not talking about those days. There’s not much I can do to help you there, other than to write these pointless, rambling manifestos which help you stick it to the man, as guess who’s hourly wage just skyrocketed if they spent the last 60 minutes at work revealing in the awesomeness that is FBD? To the keen eye (which is you, if you are reading this), you have undoubtedly deduced by now that these missives are actually a dog whistle, beacon of hope. I have survived the soul-crushing stupidity of corporate America and so can you. Being the benevolent overload that I am, I’m even going to show you the way. Yes, the corporate grind can seem both endless and pointless, but hang in there my fellow oppressed brothers and sisters, we’re gonna make it through this together. How? With a killer attitude and killer gear. Stick with me and not only will I get you out the other side, but we’ll do so with style and grace. And nice, new underwear. More on that in a minute.
The top secret FBD survival/coping mechanism is one that I have carefully cultivated over many years of corporate suffering and wasted weekends writing mission statements that no one will ever even read again, nonetheless actually follow. And again, as noted in Day 1, since one loves you like I do, I am going to share my tried and true path to enlightenment, happiness and ski speed:
- Step 1: Embrace the grind.
- Step 2: Buy all of the gear listed below and use it exactly as prescribed.
- Step 3: Go ski.
- Step 4: Bask in the awesomeness that we have together created.
- Step 5: Lather, rinse, repeat.
- Step 6: (Optional) Buy a Great Dane. With one of these infernal creatures waiting for you at home (which has now likely been destroyed), all of a sudden going into the office doesn’t seem all that bad. You’re welcome.
Yes, the market is flooded with options (both literally and figuratively, thanks to global warming, corporate lackey politicians, and pig-headed constituents who somehow have been duped into voting against their own best interest. We all need clear air and clean water, people. This is not a partisan issue. This should not even be a political issue. This is a matter of not destroying the place where we ALL live. The ONLY place we have, too, by the way, so here’s a crazy idea: let’s not make it inhabitable, what d’ya say?).
Thanks to the unique makeup of your sensory cortex, a developmental process that is truly unique to each individual, and the food options available to all of us in our particular environment as we develop, taste and food preference is a very, very personal affair. Not to worry, a full-blown, knock-down, drag-out energy food review is already underway by your crackerjack test team here at FBD Racing, but due to many conflicting time demands, travel, training, racing, and this albatross of a Holiday Gift Guide, that process is proceeding at a glacial pace. Have no fear though, we have an early winner, one that is sure to satisfying even the most discerning palate: Honey Stinger gels and waffles.
There’s a myriad of options, flavors, and selections, to suit almost every taste, desire and Boulder-eco hippie, goofy dietary fad of the month, so whether you are a Level 4 vegan, macrobiotic, gluten free, or simply eat like a normal human, these things are da bomb. Get the ones with caffeine, as next to alcohol, caffeine is one of the best compounds on the planet, easily surpassing water. Seriously, I could go days without water, but no morning coffee or evening “wind-down” whiskey? F that. Waffles, chews, gels, honey, and more at HoneyStinger.com
What was deFUNKit is now Defunkify. We covered this brand in excruciating detail last year and if you haven’t read this historical and groundbreaking review, you should. Get clean. Get woke.
This product line made the cut for this year because not only have I received rave reviews from my adoring public on the anti-stink treatment (seriously, this is probably the product that most people approach me to thank me for suggesting: it is that good), but this past year they added a new “regular” laundry detergent.
I call it a “regular” laundry detergent because, well, that’s basically what it is — you still need to do the “destinkify protocol” with the product I reviewed last year, this is has been designed to compliment it and help reactivate the odor-protection properties of the treatment. As a quick recap for you shallow readers out there, those simply too lazy to read the article, or those with short- and long-term memory issues, you only need to treat your clothing once with the special gunk, then it allegedly lasts for up to twenty washes. The thinking with this new detergent is that if you have treated your training clothes with the secret formula, this detergent will help keep the anti-microbial and anti-odor properties active longer.
How well does it work? Well, that’s a bit tricky to say, as I didn’t do a direct comparison between washing in regular detergent and washing in the new Defunkify concoction, but in a very subjective, non-scientific, “let’s give it a try to see how it works” type of test environment, it seems to make a difference.
As noted previously on several different occasions, thankfully the FBD has been blessed with not only good circulation to his hands and feet, but also very reasonable endocrine and stress hormone biochemistry. In other words, I don’t stink. Why? Well, in addition to a careful diet, a forgiving body chemistry, and a generally carefree lifestyle, I saw the original Rocky movie at a pivotal point in my development and Apollo Creed’s advice to the youth of America really stuck with me, “Be a thinker, not a stinker.” I took this little nugget, ran with it, and never looked back.
This all means that none of my gear rarely ever gets to DEFCON 1, so I’m not trying to move the needle all that far in each laundry sesh. Having said that however, it does seem like this new wash product extends the life of the odor treatment. Plus, it’s not that much more than regular laundry detergent, so if it saves me the hassle and expense of buying the odor treatment system a little less often, well that’s a win. $19.99 at Defunkify.com
$30 – $99
Sneaking just over the $30 cut off (well, technically, right on the line) is another extremely practical offering, hand warmers. Let me stop right here, for if you are a regular reader of this column (which you sure as sh*t should be), you’re now most likely thinking, “Hey, wait a minute, what happened to Mr. Airport Anger, I’m Too Cool For School and Don’t Need Warm Gloves?” Fair question. So while many aspects of me are, in fact, superhuman, I do still get cold from time to time. Well, I would if I wasn’t an evil, super genius (think Bond villain without the weird outfit and bad haircut)
No matter how you slice it, standing around in the cold is, uh, well … cold. Being active is key, but there are certain occasions when this simply isn’t possible: coaching, spectating, waiting for the podium, all come to mind.
There are also those skiers who REALLY suffer from cold hands and feet and I feel for ya, I really do. Being cold sucks, and that’s where these babies come in. Not only are they light, cheap and very portable, but they can help you dig out from one of those, “I’m never going to be warm again” funks that can ensnare even the best of us from time to time. In fact, I just happen to have top-secret inside knowledge of a certain elite skier and U.S. Birkie winner who places toe warmers in his boots for every ski under 0 Celsius. This is not some spoiled East Coast Nancy-boy either; this is a rough-and-tough Midwesterner who grew up on pond hockey and is no stranger to cold weather. So if years of inattentive parenting and frostbite have compromised your circulatory system to the point where almost every ski is an unpleasant one, these are most definitely for you.
FBD Pro Tip: The hit parade doesn’t stop there. Since I make my living by allowing pesky customers to bother me at all times of day and night, I depend on my phone. Since I would kill myself if I had to spend another two decades chained to a desk, an undisclosed amount of my “workday” may or may not involve me being outside. Since all of the phone manufacturers seem to be ensconced in some sort of perverse arms race to add largely useless features to our phones at the expense of trivial things like battery life, combined with the well-documented deleterious effect that cold has on all types of batteries, these two factors could conspire to produce rapid and unfortunate FBD unemployment unless evasive maneuvers are taken — in this case this means keeping your phone warm at all costs on the slopes/tracks/ice cave strip clubs. How is this done? You guessed it, a strategically placed hand warmer. You’re welcome. There are specially made pockets for phones that hold hand warmers, but all of the ones I’ve tested are basically crap. Go “old skool” with a Ziplock baggie and a paper towel around your phone (it’s equally bad to let your phone get too hot and hand warmers can throw off a fair amount of heat).
Buy these for every crafty consultant who sneaks away from his desk at every possible opportunity, every patient race-course volunteer, and heck, maybe even a few of those aforementioned East Coast chronic-complainer Nancy-boys in your life. $29.95 at L.L. Bean
Travel/training underwear & shirts
Since everyone loves clean, stink-free undies and fresh training duds, when the fine folks at Y Athletics contacted me to review the line of high-performance athletic clothing, using only a slight variation on that opening line, I was of course, interested. What really caught my eye was the merino-wool underwear. For those of you playing along at home, my fondness for merino (the fabric, not the quarterback) is well known and for good reasons: it is probably the most comfortable, functional, and practical material every made. It is comfortable in the hot, cold, wet, dry and everyplace in-between (no pun intended).
It also resists odors, dries relatively quickly, and maintains a soft touch to the skin for the life of the fabric. These are great qualities for any piece of clothing, but perhaps in no other example are these attributes more appreciated than in underpants. Goddamnit, that’s a great word, too, by the way: underpants. Not underWEAR, not skivvies, not boxers, not briefs, not undies, not fundies, but underpants. It’s as if you are back in kindergarten. Ah, simpler times…
So what is the verdict on the new underpants? A huge thumbs up (I was going to go with a different anatomic region here, but my evil taskmasters at FasterSkier are still WAY too hung up on things like decency and decorum — bastards.) The Y Athletics fundies are warm, cool, dry and basically just all-around comfortable. They survived a tour of duty in West Yellowstone that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy: highly infrequent washings, and when they were washed, this process was often done poorly. When on duty, they were subjected prolonged training sessions in a wide variety of temperatures, and regularly exposed to all sorts of body fluids that I’d rather not describe here. And they came through with flying colors. Well, they were black, but you see my point. Overall, an excellent product.
The Y Athletics team also sent along a sleeveless T and a long-sleeve shirt which unfortunately are made from a different fabric. They refer to the fabric as their “SilverAir technology,” with its breakdown being 69 percent nylon, 26 percent polyester, 5 percent metallic. It is designed to repel odor and be able to go for weeks at a time without washing, and in general, it worked as advertised. Overall, it is also pretty comfortable, but truth be told, I wish they used merino instead. It’s still a good product and WAY better than any cotton T-shirt that you may be rocking, but based on how good their Dan Marino underwear is, I think using this fabric in their shirts would be a home run.
One other minor grievance is while the sleeveless T is great for rollerskiing (in particular in the high-visibility red), the arm holes are a little small. I suppose this is fine for guys like Josh Smullin, whose arms rival those of a T-Rex, or perhaps a baby bird, but when you’re rolling w/ the FBD, you need to have some room in the arm holes when you are inviting all of the ladies in the weight room to the gun show, if you know what I mean. If you don’t know what I mean, you probably stopped reading this column long ago, so no sense in trying to explain this now.
Definitely buy the underroos the next time American Airlines loses your luggage, you finally get a girlfriend, or your existing rotation of man-panties is SO pathetic that even you, the person with shockingly little dignity, is disgusted with yourself. Buy the sleeveless shirt if you need something to help increase your odds of survival out there on your whap sticks amongst the angry motorists and buy the long-sleeve if you’re too cheap to buck-up for merino, yet you still have an incredible aversion to the laundry room. $40-$68 at Y Athletics (Editors’s note: Y Athletics only offers men’s products)
$100 – $299
Let’s assuming that you’ve been hanging on my every word for the past umpteen years I’ve been in this miserable job. You’ve purchased every single piece of gear that I’ve ever reviewed, taken every piece of training advice to heart and applied every single physiological and lifestyle principle ever implied, inferred, projected, or prescribed. If so, you’re undoubtedly in a state of perpetual bliss: you ski speed has never been higher, your job prospects are rich and plentiful and as for your interactions with MOS/MSS, well, let’s just say that you are SLAYING IT (which is saying something, as you’re a nordic skier, so that means that you usually hit the town about 2x/year and you’re panicked the entire time that you are somehow compromising your recovery, that your HRV score will be too high, and that your urine osmolality will be off for a few days, as you’ve convinced yourself that the beer that you split with Smullin is dehydrating you so much that it’s going to take you three or four days to recover.)
In your largely futile attempts to overcome these formidable psychological hurdles interacting with potential partners, here’s where once again I have your back: a new fresh shirt to help increase your chances of successfully interacting with a “civilian,” who somehow hasn’t yet become bored with you, despite your long and rambling soliloquy on proper waxing for transformed snow or how your carefully monitoring your HRV score has changed your life.
As you undoubtedly know from several failed attempts, there really aren’t that many ways to be cool and given the fact that you’re a nordic skier means the deck is already stacked against you, so here’s one that basically goof-proof, even for you: buy Kuhl. This mountain brand (or wannabe mountain brand; it’s such a fine line these days and they’re based of our SLC, which is kinda mountain town, but also kinda not) should fit the bill nicely.
Actually, these are nice shirts and they should fit you even if you name is not Bill. Which, by the way, seems to be just about everyone these days, as every goddamn parent has to show the world how clever and creative they are and name their demon seed something ridiculous like Skyavenger or DragonslayerHeissmanWinner. Why can’t people use normal names anymore? Like Bill. Bill is a solid name. A normal name. A word to the wise: normal name = normal job. I’ve been in lots of board rooms and I’ve yet to hear anyone utter the phrase, “Great idea, Hunterbombasticon, why don’t you run this project. Let’s see what you can do.” No, when I hear one of those names, it is usually because I’m using it to say thank you to the person with the ironic handlebar mustache, suspenders and man capris who just made me my latte.
So do your favorite aspiring corporate-ladder-climber but current barista a solid and hook them up with this shirt – think of it as investing in their future. And yours, as a real job also means finally getting them out of that studio apartment above your garage. Long-sleeve shirts starting at $50 at KÜHL
I’m going to let you in on a little secret, elite athletes eat well. Very well. I’ve hosted many an indigent pro skier and also had the pleasure of having many extremely accomplished elite skiers invite me into their home. One of the things that I am struck with on almost every occasion is how well all of them eat. Very rarely is it anything crazy, trendy, or complicated, it is usually just meals that follow the very simple advice your grandmother probably gave you, “Eat a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.” Boom. That’s it. No crazy rhino horn extracts, whale penis smoothies, or exotic cuts of meat prepared in secrecy to protect the ancient family recipe. Nope, just fresh fruits, vegetables, lean means and healthy carbs.
Since everyone is busy, I’ve also noticed that many a World Cupper, whether it be a biathlete, XC skier, or NoCo athlete (as I roll with all three), often starts their day with a vegetable smoothie. And the weapon of choice in the dog-eat-dog world of smoothie preparation is either a Vitamix or a BlendTec. Since the FBD is very impressionable, when I saw that Timmy and Andrea Burke had a Vitamix, I thought that’s what I had better buy, because if I buy the same blender as Timmy and Andrea, it certainly stands to reason that I will have the shooting accuracy and ski speed of Timmy and Andrea. Work with me here people, it’s called the transitive property of ski speed. Look it up.
No fair using it for 5,000 calorie milkshakes, then calling me, crying that “the plan,” didn’t work. Use this only for good, never evil.
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.