It’s my understanding that a great many of my fellow citizens do their gift shopping well in advance of the due date. While I appreciate this preparedness in principle, I find it very difficult to put into personal practice. Like Santa himself, who doesn’t even begin to distribute gifts until the last possible moment, I find procrastination built into the fabric of the holidays.

My point being, it’s not too late to surprise a skier or two on your holiday hit list with an impressively thoughtful gift. I’m not suggesting anything of stratospheric expense, but I am encouraging you to pick something that your recipients wouldn’t ordinarily think to get for themselves. Many are small enough to fit into a stocking, and none require assembly. I know you’re busy – procrastination, by definition, takes a lot of time – so I’ll get right to the nitty-gritty.

LÉ BENT ¾ Bottom Base Layer

Lé Bent’s blend of Merino and bamboo makes a divine base layer that feels so good you’ll want to wear it all the time. The ¾ length is a better match with ski socks, but if you’re bent on a full-length base layer, Lé Bent makes those, too.

Leki Trigger-Grip Poles

Leki’s terrific Trigger-grip poles are the perfect gift for the ski addicts in your life who say they don’t need new poles. Of course, they don’t need them, that’s what makes the upgrade to a Leki the epitome of the surprise “gift-they-wouldn’t-get-themselves.”

Heated Boot Bag

The Heated Boot Bag might be the greatest ski-related accessory ever made.  Why there’s scant science (yet) to support the assertion, I believe whomever is gifted a heated boot bag will be insanely grateful, most likely forever. I realize I’ve just directed you to Snow Eagle’s url, but I’d rather you frequent your preferred specialty ski shop for this item, where you’ll find other options in the same design plus you’ll be supporting specialty retailing, which matters. Other brands of note in the heated-boot-bag sector are Kulkea, perhaps the best-made bag line for skiing, and Transpak for value, reliability and durability.

Ski Socks

Real skiers know that wearing a real ski sock is a difference maker. Every avid skier can use another pair, making them a surefire winner in the gift-giving game. It’s hard to recommend one brand above all others, as the ski market is swarming with socks, but I do recommend only one thickness, which is thin. Since I know you want me to name names, there’s Smartwool, Point6, Darn Tough, Eurosock, Farm to Feet, and Lé Bent, particularly when you want something a bit thicker. Dissent Compression socks fit like a second skin and there are even heated socks from Hotronic, which are pricey but effective.

Balaclava/Neck Gaiter

While helmets are essential equipment, they’re a sizeable investment and they need to be fit, making them an awkward gift item.  But there’s nothing tricky about a neck gaiter, or balaclava. One of the under-reported benefits of the pandemic is almost everyone discovered how useful it is to have this extra layer for the face. The best ones, like Lé Bent, feel scrumptious on the skin. I’m also a fan of Phunkshun, who offers a crazy array of colors and styles. A great accessory, relatively cheap, fits any stocking!

Gummi stone

A nicked edge or worse yet, one that is overly aggressive, begs for attention, the sooner the better. While a gummi stone isn’t a substitute for a more thorough repair, it’s a godsend when it’s needed and it fits into anything worthy of the term, “pocket.” They don’t cost much and they last a long time.

Ski-Gee

The greatest cost/value relationship in skiing. It’s a goggle-wiper you wear on your finger.  A lifesaver on weather days, it does the one thing your zillion-dollar goggles can’t.

Sun Screen & Lip Balm

Every stocking needs stuffers like sun screen and lip balm. The high-altitude Alpine sun is brutal on lips and skin, so going without isn’t an option. What brands you use are far less important than a high SPF.

Ski Strap

An accessory so pervasive and mundane that it almost doesn’t merit a link, the humble ski strap is nonetheless one item skiers can’t get enough of. Falls in the “stocking-friendly” category.

Lightweight Vest

I don’t want to wander too deep into a skier’s clothing closet, but in the spirit of accessorizing, a thin layer with some sort of windbreaking ability – I prefer a vest, for it adds the least bulk – is de rigeur if you ski in foul weather. Let me give you a bit of parting advice: life is short, too short not to ski whenever you can, which includes storm days, which often include wind that could cut through rare beef.  A thin extra layer takes no room to transport – it will fit in your heated boot bag! – and saves the day when the powder is loading up between every run.

 

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