Another year seems to have flown by and the holiday season’s approaching once again. If you’ve got a hard-to-shop-for climber in the family don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. In this first installment of the guide we’ll look at 10 great ideas for smaller “stocking stuffer” type gift options. Basically cool stuff that will cost less than $100. The next installment will cover some bigger ticket items. So, in no particular order let’s get to it!
- Alpine Start Instant Coffee
Since the Starbucks Via came on the market it’s become a staple of fast-and-light adventures everywhere. And like cigarettes in a jail house, these little packets of caffeine are the currency of the backcountry. Matt Segal, the pro climber, and partner Alex Hanifin introduced Alpine Start instant coffee this past summer and are really on to something! If you try it there’s no going back to the burnt and bitter Starbucks Via! They come in packs of 8 and make a great gift for any outdoor enthusiast who likes to travel fast and light.
- Metolius Waste Case
Do you have a budding Big Wall climber in the family? If so, the Metolius Waste Case may be just the thing. It used to be that climber had to build a rigid PVC tube to haul their personal waste (poop) up the wall. Heavy, often awkward and always smelly these tubes were functional but not ideal. Metolius decided to tackle the problem and designed an ingenious little haul bag specifically for big wall turds. Featuring a role-top seal and Durathane™ outer coating the 8.2L Waste Case comes pre-loaded with 6 WAG Bag kits (a poop bag with kitty litter, a secondary zip-lock bag, TP & hand sanitizer). Additional kits can be purchased or you can build your own. The perfect gift for the climber that’s thinking about getting into big walling or dreaming about The Nose.
- Andy Kirkpatrick’s Book: 1001 Climbing Tips
No matter how long someone’s been climbing or how skilled and knowledgeable a practitioner of the vertical they may be, there’s always more to learn. Equipment and techniques are constantly evolving and an experienced climber values any little tip or trick that can make a climb go a little safer, smoother or faster. Now these invaluable nuggets of knowledge can be learned from a new climbing partner or found in the odd magazine/blog article. But to save time and effort Andy Kirkpatrick has consolidated a bunch of them in his fun and informative book: 1001 Climbing Tips. In the book he covers a variety of trips and tricks for almost every aspect of climbing from knots to sponsorship. It’s a fun and informative read and a great gift for a climber of any skill level.
- Arc’teryx Alpha MX Gloves
Designed for performance and dexterity the new Alpha MX Gloves from Arc’teryx are ideal for the ice and mixed climber in the family. Even if they already have a few pairs, gloves wear out and it’s great to have some spares on-hand. The synthetic palms of the new Alpha MX should provide a secure grip on wet or frosty tools but as they’re brand new this fall I haven’t tested them out yet. The fit is snug and secure and the sizing seems on-par with other climbing glove brands such as OR and Camp. Like a good pair of socks, a nice pair of gloves is always a great gift.
- Royal Robins MerinoLux Tee Shirt
Climbing can be hard on clothing, especially offwidths and chimneys. As a result most climbers could use a new climbing shirt or two. But the key to this gift is getting the right shirt. Personally I like a shirt made from natural fibers as most fancy synthetics start to stink over time. Of course cotton’s out as it loses all thermal insulation when wet. Now merino wool feels great to wear, breaths well, wicks moisture and is even odor resistant. Unfortunately a lightweight merino fabric is also very delicate. Not a great feature in a climbing shirt. To combat this inherent weakness many companies have gone to a merino-polyester blend. The Royal Robins’ MerinoLux Tee is made from one of these durable blends and makes a great shirt for almost any activity from traveling to climbing. They look good, feel great to wear, are wrinkle resistant, don’t stink and even carry the name of a climbing legend: Royal Robins.
- Looking For Wild Climbing Pants
Continuing with the apparel theme, the next gift idea are Looking For Wild climbing pants. If you don’t recognize the brand that’s not surprising as they’re fairly new to North America. Featuring an athletic fit that’s stylish but functional the pants are great for the pub as well as the crag. Made with a very stretchy cotton, the pants have a gusseted crotch, knee patches, 5 pockets and an elastic waist. The fabric is soft and thin making the pants light and quite comfortable to wear, especially on hot days. Of course the trade-off with the light fabric is durability. If you’re looking for a gift that’s functional and new on the scene then Looking For Wild’s worth checking out.
- Camp Dyon Carabiners
New for 2017, the Dyon carabiner from Camp is a lightweight, snagless ‘biner that’s big enough to use when wearing gloves. Camp took an innovative approach to the design of the Dyon and altered the gate, instead of the nose, to get rid of the notch. As a result the nose has a thin profile which eliminates the potential issues associated with the more common shroud type design. With a smooth nose angle, crisp gate action and ergonomic shape the Dyon is an exceptionally nice carabiner to use. A great gift, especially for a winter or alpine climber who needs carabiners that are easy to use when wearing gloves.
- DMM Guidebook Cover
Guidebooks can represent quite an investment for a climber, especially if they like to travel. And despite living in a more and more digital world these stubborn books are still an invaluable resource and a collector’s item in some cases. Of course they’re no good sitting on a shelf somewhere and not at the crag or in the car. So to protect these precious books from excessive wear-and-tear DMM makes a durable Guidebook Cover. They come in two different sizes so as to fit most guidebooks and feature a zippered closure and even a couple of clip-in points (strangely no built-in bookmarks though). A great gift idea for just about any climber!
- Belay Glasses
Belay glasses used to be quite expensive and hard to find. However, due to their increasing popularity a number of different companies now make such glasses and they’re available at most climbing shops. Belay glasses work by allowing the wearer to look straight ahead, through the lenses, at a climber above them instead of having to look up. By doing so they eliminate the neck pain and discomfort typical to frequent belaying. I purchased my belay glasses when CU was basically the only option. Today however, I’d be more inclined to get the Metolius Belay Glasses. They feature a sturdy frame and compact carrying case at a very reasonable price. Ideal for any climber that doesn’t yet own a pair.
- Klean Kanteen 32 Oz. Growler
Next on the list is a Klean Kanteen (KK) stainless steel growler. A great gift for any beer drinking outdoor enthusiast. The classic glass growler works great at home but a more durable stainless steel option is preferable for the outdoors. Especially an insulated stainless steel growler as it won’t break and keeps the beer cool. I personally like the Klean Kanteen 32 oz. growler. It’s small enough to pack around but still carries enough beer for me and a buddy to enjoy a cold one. The flip-top lid used on the KK growlers hold pressure better than a screw top keeping the contents fresh for longer, definitely worth a few extra bucks. Of course you don’t want to give away an empty growler! The key is to fill it with a nice micro-brew like the fine Ska Brewing product in the above photo.
A late addition to this year’s Christmas Special is the new website WatchSlipstream.com. The site’s basically Netflix for the outdoor enthusiast. Modeled after the popular streaming site it features a similar layout but with an adventure sport twist. For $5 per month subscribers get access to over 300 movies, documentaries and short segments covering activities such as climbing, skiing, surfing, mountain biking and running. Of course many of the videos on the site are short, not feature length films. A cool idea and definitely worth a few bucks a month! Think of it as the gift of stoke for those bad weather days. As an added bonus, the first 40 people to redeem the code (BLACKSHEEP) at watchslipstream.com/gift will receive 5 free weeks of Slipstream!
Well that’s all the stocking stuffer ideas I have for you this year. If you haven’t already, check out the Gift Ideas for Climbers article as well, it features a few bigger/more expensive gift ideas. Happy Holidays!
Disclaimer: I was supplied with many of the above items for testing but of course this did not influence my review in any way. If I don’t like a product I simply don’t review it. Of course this article focuses less on a thorough review so much as general awareness of climbing products. Photos of the Alpha MX gloves, Andy’s book, the DMM book cover, the belay glasses and the KK growler were taken by Kyle Skidmore.