Gear Test: Best Staff Gifts!

Our staff picks the best outdoor gifts they got—and a few worth re-gifting

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Life at BACKPACKER sometimes involves swimming through hallways filled with gear—boots, packs, shells, tents, you name it (jealous?). But that doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy finding a coveted piece of Christmas gear under the tree. Forthwith, our staff shares their favorite outdoor gifts they received this past holiday season.

Jon Dorn (editor-in-chief): I got a donation in my name to Big City Mountaineers, which will warm my heart if not my toes. Other than that, bubkus. But my younger daughter did give me a pair of Tabasco boxers.

Katie Herrell (web producer): A coffee cup/holder that fits on my bike. My bike came with one, but it didn’t come with a mug that fit in the holder, and every cup I tried was a disaster. I tested it out this morning by unsafely riding my skinny-tired bike on icy pathways, and it was a success—only minimum Splenda frothing happened.

Kristin Hostetter (gear editor): My family and friends know damn well NOT to give me any outdoor-related presents. Come on, my office (and my life!) is overflowing with gear, gear, gear. But I got several pretty things that I love: a great pair of jeans and kickin’ belt to go with them. But the best present of all? Having a few days off from the Gear Guide!

Genny Wright Fullerton (senior asst. photo editor): Took my new fleece scarf on its first hike yesterday!!! Made by my godson and his mom, it’s a really warm gift I will use a bunch. A fleece scarf is my most-used winter gear item: If you’re looking for Valentines or B-day presents this winter this is the perfect inexpensive, personalized, USEFUL, warm gift you can make yourself. Just buy a 1/4 yard of fleece-y fabric, make sure it’s cut straight around all the edges, and cut a fringe into the narrow ends. Choose the fabric to fit the style of the recipient.

Jackie McCaffrey (asst. photo editor): My Volkl Aura skis. Got them last January, and they changed my skiing life. No more sinking in powder!

Kris Wagner (map editor):Sage 1850 fly-fishing reel: I bent the metal housing on my previous hand-me-down reel when I slipped on a submerged log last fall. Its cameo trip will be soon at Upoverthere Creek.

Shannon Davis (assoc. editor): Ergon Mountain bike handlebar grips. A few extra ounces don’t bug me. Hooray for comfort!

A leather-bound national park atlas from Orvis. It looks like a bible. Since I have to round up a ton of our destination coverage each month, for me it kinda is.

A CD of ambient nature sounds from Glacier National Park (creatively titled, “Ambient Nature Sounds: Glacier National Park). A little new-age corny, but I have to admit that it’s pretty cool to fall asleep to the sounds of meadow rain or a high alpine stream every night, even when I’m not camping.

Did you get a favorite outdoor gift? How about a dud you plan to re-gift? Tell us about it in the comments below, yo.

—Ted Alvarez

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