Will they like this? Do they need this? Will they use this? These questions nag at me when I’m shopping. I don’t want to give my friends stuff they won’t use so it takes me a long time to make a selection. If you choose items from this list for the silent sports enthusiasts in your life, I feel certain they will be put to good use.
1) Thermacell Mosquito Repellent
It looks like a big cell phone and is powered by a single butane cartridge, but when it’s turned on, mosquitoes, black flies and no-see-ums vanish. The instructions say it clears them out in a 15-by-15-foot-square area, and that seems about right. It might not work on a windy day, but it sure made our campsite bug free when turned on. They are available for $25 to $30.
2) GoPro camera
Last year we were sea kayaking off the Brittany Coast and two guys in our party were wearing a GoPro cameras. Both had just purchased them, but after a few trials, they were producing great video. At night we would review the footage and relive our paddling adventures. These cameras, of which there are several variations, sell for $200 to $300, not including accessories.
3) Cycling leg warmers
Often at the start of a bike ride on cold days, your legs are covered, yet two hours later the temperature has shot up and you’re sweating. Rather than have to remove a pair of pants, with leg warmers you just pull off the sleeves covering you from your thighs to knee or a longer version that goes to your ankle. Leg warmers are small enough that you can stuff them in the pockets of your jersey or in a small fanny pack. Depending on the fabric and length, plan to spend $20 to $70.
4) Cross Country Ski Bones
These flexible rubber or plastic pieces fit around the edges of your skis and hold them so the bases of the skis aren’t rubbing. Using a unit of Ski Bones at each end of your skis also makes it easier to carry and store them. A unit of Ski Bones retails for about $5.
5) Crazy Creek chair
I bought my first one of these about 15 years ago and it ranks as one of my all-time best camping purchases. The wilderness may be wonderful but when all there is are logs, rocks and the ground to sit on, you really miss a soft seat. The layer of foam on this fold-up seat makes for comfortable sitting and insulates you from the cold damp ground and it slips easily into a backpack. There are several versions ranging in price from $40 to $60.
6) Lightweight snowshoes
Weighing just 2 ½ pounds per pair, these aluminum snowshoes, outfitted with titanium crampons, and only 25-inches long, are what folks that like to run through the snow choose.
You don’t have to be a racer to make good use of these, though. They’re great for just walking on packed snow trails or in the backcountry. Save your bigger snowshoes for when you’re tackling the really deep drifts. Lightweight snowshoes will handle most of what our Midwest winters serve up. Though they sell for up to $300, they will last for decades.
7) Specialized bike frame bag
I’m one of those cyclists who nearly crashes if I try to fumble with a zipper or undo Velcro straps to get a snack. But not with this bike frame bag that fits on the top tube just in front of the seat. Its magnetized flap and mesh cover allows me to eat-on-the-ride without stopping or crashing. It is totally worth the $30 price tag.
8) Spot Locator
Each year my wife and I head into the backcountry, miles out of cell phone coverage. Our only way of communicating with the outside world is through our Spot Locator. It’s a one-way connection enabling us to send an email to alert others that we are O.K. and allows them to track us using GPS. We like knowing that if we had a real emergency, we could press the red SOS/911 button and have someone come to our rescue. Spot Locators sell for about $100.
Dave Foley would rather clean outhouses than wander through shopping malls trying to decide what gifts to buy. He hopes this gift list will make the process less painful for you.