Gift ideas worth every penny for the snowmachiner in your life
You’ll have to do your job, make some money and foot the bill for your Christmas shopping, but SnowRider has taken on the burden of coming up with gift ideas. Leave the head-scratching to us. From stocking stuffers to survival training, you’ll want to pull out your pen and paper and take notes.
Fun snowmachining begins with comfort, and comfort starts with socks. Riders should have socks that won’t slide down or bunch up, that keep feet dry and are durable to withstand hard riding and friction. Look for over-calf, wool blend socks suited to the task. Here’s just one example.
Snow Moto Pro socks by Wigwam
Next up for riding comfort is the base layer, something lightweight that acts as a barrier between skin and outer garments, wicks moisture away and potentially covers the neck from wind chill. Some even reflect heat back to the body. Almost all sports clothing manufacturers make base layers. Find Paradox base layers at Costco for around $20 each for shirt or pants. Hot Chillys would be a step-up in overall quality, options and cost. Then there’s something like Columbia’s Omni-Heat base layers below. Omni-Heat incorporates reflective dots on the inside of the garment. It acts like a space blanket, but still lets moisture pass.
Men’s Midweight ½ Zip Baselayer with Omni-Heat by Columbia
Retail: $60 top, $55 bottoms
Films make a great stocking stuffer for kids or adults. You may want to do a little pre-screening depending on the film and how young or impressionable the kid is. Most films feature extreme riding that, although entertaining, is better left to professional riders. We featured films in last month’s issue of SnowRider, many to choose from. You may be more interested in:
Schooled 5 by Deviant Sled Productions
509 Films 8 by 509 Films
Burandt’s Backcountry Adventure by Schooled Films
Fourcast 3 by Highmark Films
Books & Maps
Would your loved one appreciate something to read in the john? Probably. What about a coffee table book or something to have on the shelf in the man cave? There are many books focused on snowmachining as a hobby, snowmachine memorabilia, vintage machines or the history of snowmachines. And the most valuable book of all is the repair manual for your particular sled. Clymer might have the manual you’re looking for, or drop the big bucks for a factory service manual. Check book stores and your local dealer.
Trail maps will really help your rider get the most fun out of winter. The best part is they’re free thanks to SnoTRAC. Have them printed and laminated at a local business print shop. SnoTRAC trail maps can be downloaded from the SnowRider site, http://ridealaska.com/snowmachine-trails. Or, check with local clubs for specialized maps for sale.
Retail: Free online
Looking to improve your “together” time? Riding two-up is fun, but the back seat rider can get tossed around (or off) pretty easily. Give him or her a little something to hold onto with such products as ProGear’s fanny packs. Some systems incorporate waterproof pouches. All can be used year-round for snowmachining or motorcycling.
Nothing lasts forever, especially your sled’s ski skins, runners, or track. A simple visual inspection should tell you whether one or all of these items would make a good gift this year. The runners are the metal bars or ridge running down the middle of the underside of the skis. Are they getting flat? Ski skins are made of plastic and cover the underside of some skis. Are they cracked or scratched to bits? And the track, is it cracking, losing rubber or perhaps could use larger paddles? Take a look.
Another simple stocking stuffer is a survival kit. It can fit in the snowmachine storage compartment or a day pack. When in need your safety-conscious rider will be able to start a fire, signal for help, navigate and stay warm in the space blanket.
Klim S.O.L Survival Pak
A lot of people would like to think they could hack it in a survival situation, but the fact is survival either takes dumb luck or practiced skill and knowledge. Unfortunately, you can’t always count on luck. Consider purchasing survival training, especially winter survival. At the very least pay for a wilderness first responder course and/or first aid training.
Homer Wilderness Leaders (HoWL) is geared toward youth with classes for ages 8 to 21. There’s a specific winter camping course and many others to encourage leadership and the development of outdoor skills, www.howlalaska.com.
Or consider an outfit like Alderleaf Wilderness College in Washington with short weekend courses up to 10 month long programs. They focus on edible plants, tracking, survival, even sustainable, eco-friendly living, www.wildernesscollege.com.
Survival course cost: Expect to pay from $200 to $300 on any given course.
Shop & Tools
Humans invented wheels and levers for a reason, to make life easier and save our lower backs from pain. Consider a shop dolly to move those sleds around.
Something You’d Never Think Of
If you know someone who rides an off-road motorcycle in the summer, and dreads putting it away when winter comes, you could become their savior… if you’re willing to drop some big bucks. There are a few options for putting a snow track on a motorcycle, and after a few years of development and a little competition these units are looking to be a more viable, reliable option for winter riding.
SnowRider can’t stress this enough. A club membership is an awesome gift, especially for anyone looking to jump in on group rides and explore Alaska’s backcountry safely, with a guide and other experienced riders. These club trips are only available to club members, and the memories are worth every penny.
Where: Each club posts club information on their website. Find a listing of clubs online, http://ridealaska.com/club-listings.
General costs: $20-$35 with slightly higher costs for businesses
We shouldn’t have to tell anyone to shop local, but in the event you don’t know of a gift that is locally produced, consider these ideas.
Luggage and Clothing by Nomar of Homer
Owned by Kate Mitchell
Online shopping: nomaralaska.com
Since 1978, Nomar (then Mitchell’s Marine Canvas & Upholstery) has supported the needs of rugged fisherman with tarps, canvas products and upholstery work. They also manufacture durable, waterproof luggage. Choose between Cordura and Seatarp, 18-ounce, heavy-duty, waterproof vinyl that stays flexible to minus-20 degrees. Sounds like the sort of stuff you’d haul around while snowmachining! Nomar also uses Polartec fleece and neoprene to make jackets, hats, gloves and other clothing suited for the Alaska outdoors. Need a waterproof gun scabbard in any color of your choice? They make that, too, as well as upholstery for your torn snowmachine seat, a snowmachine cover and more.
Why we love it: Luggage that can take a beating, clothing made by and for people who demand results, and a number of other services that we’ve all needed at one time or another. Check it out online.
Price examples: Gear bags and round duffels from $60, weatherproof gun scabbard at $109, various clothing and gear from $20 to $290.
Adventure Appetites ready-to-cook meals
Owned by Dan Oberlatz and Aaron Fetter
Operation Manager, Bryan Caenepeel
Online shipping: adventureappetites.com
After years of rave reviews for food prepared during Alaska Alpine Adventures guided trips, owners Dan Oberlatz and Aaron Fetter decided to put their meal kits into the mainstream marketplace. Operated by Bryan Caenepeel, Adventure Appetites provides customers with numerous breakfast, lunch and dinner meal combos they can order online for delivery or pick-up. They’re not tasteless rehydrated foods or MREs with loads of preservatives. These meals are kits with healthy ingredients that taste great, and take the hassle out of meal planning. For that weekend ride, weeklong trip to Arctic Man or anything else you have planned in the backcountry, say goodbye to all the shopping and packing and hello to home-cooked quality. Watch the full story online.
Why we love it: As Caenepeel puts it, Adventure Appetites meals make meal planning and packing easy, but you still get to enjoy the process of cooking it up and eating something that tastes great. Expert guides create these kits, and the pricing is fantastic, too.
Price examples: Reindeer Sausage Gouda Scramble Wrap breakfast, $8; Teriyaki Beef Noodle dinner, $9
Haber’s Eliminator anti-fog air circulator for goggles
Owned by Steve Haber of Homer
Online shopping: habervision.com
Haber, who already manufactures goggles and sunglasses, has created a small device that attaches to your current goggles or new Haber goggles, and circulates air when moisture is detected. He said Iditarod musher Martin Buser has used the device, which helped him to see his dogs when feeding them on the trail at minus 30 degrees. Haber is also now supplying at least one major oil company in Alaska with a model for use on jobsites. Haber Eliminators can be purchased online, and they easily fit into any stocking.
What we love about it: Are you kidding? No more fog at cold temps! You can see, which is a priority in most activities.
Price examples: $65 plus the cost of a AAA battery (which should last 51 hours)
VuVantage camera mount system for 3rd person perspective filming
Owned by Roger Dean
Online shopping: vuvantage.com
POV video cameras are becoming more popular and in themselves are a neat gift, but owners often discover the same thing that Roger Dean, creator of VuVantage, experienced. The video often looks shaky, boring and doesn’t really engage the viewer. In his effort to create a camera-mounting system that would improve his snowmachining and adventure videos, and create films that his wife was willing to watch, Dean developed VuVantage. He first created his mounting system from obtainable parts. When riders at Arctic Man began asking where they could get one, he decided to manufacture on a serious level. The mount consists of lightweight, carbon fiber tubes connected by rubber-coated ball joints. This flexible arm is attached to a plastic frame that fits inside your hydration pack or daypack. Put your camera on the end and you now have video staring YOU, as if the viewer was right behind or to the side watching every move. It’s much more engaging and tells the full story of the adventure. Watch VuVantage videos on YouTube.com and the cool factor is obvious.
Why we love it: Finally we don’t have to be annoyed when someone wants to show their GoPro camera footage. With VuVantage it looks sweet! The coated ball joints also cut down on shake.
Pricing example: VuVantage combined backpack and pole mounting system, $175