With the passing of November's turkey-induced coma signaling the official start of the holiday shopping season, and Jack Frost awaking from his summer slumber only to send warm weather into hiding, winter-sports enthusiasts can finally rejoice. Colder climes bring with them the flaky powder and man-made snow skiers and snowboarders have been waiting all year for, and it will be time soon enough to hit the slopes. For the snow rider on your list, the following guide to ski and snowboard stocking stuffers will add a little bit more joy to the season.
Protection from the elements
Staying warm on the slopes is paramount. Otherwise, you'll spend more time in the lodge trying to defrost your fingers and toes than out on the trails. And that's not what you bought a lift ticket for, is it?
Hats/Neck Warmers/Balaclavas Confident enough in your skills to forego a helmet but don't want to freeze your ears off by last run? Dig the Elmer Fudd look? Then the North Face's Gunderson hat ($50 at rei.com) is for you. A polyester-fleece lining keeps your head warm and dry, while flaps protect your ears whether shredding the superpipe, sipping a PBR, or hunting rabbits.
Less hipster-looking choices that readily fit under a helmet include Smartwool's Basic Cuffed Beanie ($25 at ems.com) and Outdoor Research's Peruvian Hat ($30 at ems.com). Pair one of these with Coal's Nichols Neck Warmer ($24.95 at backcountry.com) or Buff's Wool Buff ($29 at rei.com) for complete head-to-shoulder comfort.
If the "slopeside ninja" look is more your style, try a balaclava. Each of the following: Outdoor Research Option Balaclava ($22 at rei.com), the Seirus Combo Clava ($29 at rei.com), and SmartWool's Balaclava ($35.00 at rei.com) will serve you well while you bust a move on the mountain, or during your next stealth mission against a feudal overlord.
Boot/Glove/Helmet Dryers There's no bigger buzzkill than putting on a pair of soggy boots or gloves before hitting the slopes and having to deal with damp digits all day. DryGuy boot-and-glove forced-air dryers provide a quick, efficient, economical solution to this problem whether you're at home or on the road. The Cadillac of DryGuy's line-up, its Wide-Body Boot-and-Glove Dryer ($89.95 at amazon.com) features four air chambers that blast 99-degree-Fahrenheit air into your damp garments for up to three hours (most clothes dry in just one). Keeping gear dry prevents the growth of bacteria and mold, which in turn eliminates a toxic cloud from forming every time you take off your boots.
For those on the go, DryGuy's AC/DC Boot/Shoe Warmer and Dryer ($24.95 at ems.com) provides an auto adapter that enables users to start drying their boots on the drive home. Once there, bring the unit inside, plug it into a wall outlet, and by the next morning, boots are dry and ready to ride again. Not in that much of a hurry? The DryGuy Circulator Footwear Dryer Warmer ($29.95 at amazon.com) is an affordable home unit that uses the same technology to dry boots overnight and extend the life of your winter gear.