Part two of my first-annual holiday guide shifts the focus from photography to gift ideas for adventure.
If you’ve followed me for long, you know that I refer to myself as an adventure photographer and filmmaker. The adventure part, perhaps more than anything, defines both my career and my passion. I simply love getting outside and into the mountains. Whether it’s on skis, bikes, or on foot, it’s rare that I go more than a few days between outdoor trips.
Because many of my website readers are regional, my list includes a few links to local stores. If you don’t live near Canmore, don’t worry. These same products are likely available in your area. If possible, I encourage you to look beyond amazon or a box retailer and seek out the specialty stores in your home town.
Unlike my Gift Ideas for Photographers list, this post has no affiliate links. It’s just my list of the best gift ideas for adventure.
Holiday Gift Ideas for Adventure
Earlier this summer, Endurance Tap sent me a box of their caffeine and original energy gels. I looked forward to it, because who wouldn’t enjoy sucking back some maple syrup during a long run. What I soon realized is this is the best energy food I have ever tried. It always tastes great, I always look forward to pulling it out of my backpack, and it never upsets my stomach. Also, it’s made from MAPLE SYRUP. Order from them directly.
GripStuds Carbide Traction Studs
Transform your favourite runners into a winter running shoe. These work incredibly, especially if you live somewhere that gets as icy as the Bow Valley. Since installing them on my Topo MTN Racers, I’ve logged more distance than I managed all summer. I purchased mine at SkiUphill RunUphill in Canmore.
I struggle with foot comfort in my running shoes and ski touring boots. I’m pretty fortunate that I rarely get blisters, but I get super painful arches and foot cramps. Well, I used to anyway. About a month ago, I dropped Sole footbeds into both my runners and my ski boots and they’ve been magic. Comfortable from my first stride. Order them directly.
The gap is narrowing, but it is still far more common to see skiers wearing a helmet at the ski area than in the backcountry. While the speed and ski quantity might be less, the backcountry offers more risk. There are more unmarked hazards, increased avalanche hazard, and rescues take way longer. In my mind, there is no excuse to not wear a helmet. A few companies are now making backcountry helmets. They’re not as warm, so they can be worn when climbing a couloir, and they’re lighter weight.
Sheepdog Brewing Beer or Growlers
No adventure is complete until you raise a glass and cheers the time spent outside. With the second wave of Covid-19 limiting our ability to sit down and share a pint together, it’s easy to overlook this age-old tradition. Guess what, the small breweries need us now more than ever and their beer still tastes better after a big day out. Next time you pass through Canmore, grab a 4-pack or a growler from Sheepdog Brewing. Gift Certificates are available, too, if you’re unsure what to gift.
Since Summits and Icefields was written, backcountry skiing and snowboarding has changed. Luckily, Confessions of a Ski Bum author Marcus Baranow has written new backcountry guidebooks for the Icefields Parkway, Little Kootenay Pass, and, older but still relevant, guides to Citadel to Egypt Lake and Banff Area Backcountry. Learn more on his website.
Companion Rescue or Avalanche Skills Training
Throughout the winter, the mountains are a wildly different place than in the summer. Avalanche hazard exists on most backcountry trips and understanding how to interpret and minimize this risk is essential. If somebody you know is spending more time in the mountains this winter, there is no better gift than avalanche awareness. MTN Guiding offers companion rescue skills training, online avalanche fundamentals, and avalanche skills training (AST1) in various formats. Check them out here.
Guided Backcountry Ski Trips
Even experienced backcountry skiers can fall into a pattern, where they ski the same terrain rather than exploring further afield. But obtaining a big objective is always rewarding, and a guided backcountry ski trip can help make that descent of Mt Columbia or Mt Hector reality. MTN Guiding and CanRock Mountain guides both offer customized trips here in the Canadian Rockies.
Rapala Pro Select Manual Auger
While this might be a great gift for the ice fisherrrrrman in your life, that’s not why it’s on my list. Wild Skating has become so popular in the Bow Valley and throughout the Canadian Rockies. It’s stunning to skate on these glacier-fed lakes, but it isn’t without risk. It is imperative to check ice depth, which means augering through the ice surface. This auger is the least expensive option at Canadian Tire.
Delirium Dive Kit
At Sunshine Village, Delirium Dive and the Wild West require all users carry an avalanche transceiver, avalanche shovel and probe. They’re also required to travel with at least one partner. Essentially, this its backcountry terrain and requires the same tools. (yes, this gift doubles as a backcountry ski kit)
- Backpack: Eddie Bauer Alchemist 40/55L will work in the Dive and for bigger backcountry trips. it’s also almost always 50% off.
- Avalanche Tools: Barryvox has become the industry standard, it seems, and the Barryvox Transceiver is widely thought to be the most user friendly. The Pro Light Package can be hard to find, as it’s often sold out, but it saves money on all three avalanche tool essentials.
Eddie Bauer Layers
It’s little secret that I am a huge fan of Eddie Bauer. I’ve been part of their social media brand ambassador program for years and they’re one of my better photography clients. I truly love the brand because I find their products superior or equal to other major brands, but far more affordable. They also have routine sales that range from 25-50% off.
This winter, my favourite Eddie Bauer Layers include:
- Midweight FreeDry Merino Hybred Baselayer Pant and 1/4 zip Shirt.
- High Route Grid Fleece Midlayer
- MicroTherm FreeFuse Stretch Down Hooded Jacket
- BC Freshlines Jacket and Pants (new stock and colors coming this week)
- Guide Lite Gloves and Guide Gloves
Even More Holiday Inspiration
If you haven’t seen my Holiday Gift Guide for photographer, make sure to look it over.
If you’re looking for even more holiday inspiration, here are three great resources:
- Jack Fusco’s What to Buy the Coffee and Adventure Loving Photographer
- Road Trip Alberta’s Where to find the best Christmas Lights in Alberta
- Red Bull’s Gifts for Backcountry Adventurers