My own personal challenge is to create a holiday-themed mid-week tangent throughout December. Here’s today’s edition! Under the guise of helping you shop for loved ones who like to do things outside, I am actually sharing a list of some of my most favourite outdoor and active wear items, most of which are geared towards winter because…it’s winter.
There is one important caveat, though. Stocking stuffers, by virtue of needing to fit in a stocking, are relatively smaller items. Big ticket items, while wonderful, are noticeably absent from this list.
For anyone who likes winter outdoors activities but hates cold hands (ahem, me), these are amazing. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to find gloves that actually keep my hands warm, and that includes wearing two sets of gloves on top of each other! I am fairly certain I have zero circulation in my hands. At any rate, these small, light and perfectly packable hand warmers will be a blessing in disguise on days when you decide to hike in -32 celsius (after which you should promptly question your sanity). Bonus points: these are dirt cheap so you can load up that whole stocking with them!
The Frigorific Headband
I am sure that other companies or brands make something similar but I am recommending this gem because of the ear flaps. Ear flaps on a winter headband are a lifesaver. I am an overheater, regardless of season, and wearing a toque for winter hikes or runs is destined for failure. My head is always too hot. But here’s the thing: I also hate cold ears. In other words, I’m a giant pain in the ass. But this headband brings all the warmth my ears need with none of the sweaty, matted hair. It is perfect. Bonus points: if you have a tendency to buy headphones that don’t really stay in your ears, this will hold them in place quite nicely.
SmartWool Running Socks
I can already hear some of you saying with disgust, “Socks in stockings????? Worst stocking stuffer ever!” You are wrong. I lose socks like it’s my job so I can never have too many running socks. I’m rarely a brand advocate, either, especially with something like socks. I mean, these aren’t cheap by any stretch. However, I will say that these are the only wool sock brand that I don’t manage to poke holes in the toes within a few months, and they are also the only wool socks that do not retain odour even after being abused for years. Ask my friends what a bonus that is.
Moja Travel Mug
Well, the internet failed me on finding a professional image of this travel mug, so you get my spur-of-the-moment poorly lit and shoddy photography instead. I suspect this gift is only relevant for Vancouverites. Moja Coffee is a local coffee roaster with only a handful of locations, but they must order these travel mugs and just have them branded, so somewhere out there you can find this mug. How is it different than any other travel mug? Let me assure you that it is. I have gone through so many highly priced and completely useless travel mugs before two of my friends stumbled on this and gave it to me for Christmas. I have three criteria for a travel mug: no leaking, small (I drink 3-4 shots of espresso and most travel mugs are at least 12 oz. which is just too big) and KEEP MY DAMN COFFEE HOT. This achieves all three in spades. I can throw it upside down in my bag and it never spills. It fits max four shots of espresso so there’s no wasted space inside to let things get cold. I can walk all the way to work, in winter, and my coffee is still steaming hot. Now, to be fair, hiking in sub-zero temperatures is different and it won’t keep your coffee piping hot like a thermos but it is smaller and lighter weight so I’ll take it any day!
Merino Wool Base Layers
Base layers are the jam if you live anywhere that gets cold, or if you like to climb the occasional mountain. When I lived in Alberta, these were necessary. Now that I am in milder climates in BC, I really rely on these whenever I visit Alberta in winter. Without them, I’m sure I would die. Now, there are a million brands out there for base layers. I’ve had great experiences with many, including Helly Hansen, but Icebreakers are my absolute favourite. They are rated for different temperatures so you can buy the base layer appropriate for your climate and activities. While they are super pricey for the heaviest weight, I can assure you that if you plan to hike in sub-zero temperatures, they are worth every single penny you invested in them. Bonus points: They make them in cute patterns, not that anyone will get to see them.
There you have it, some of my favourites that will hopefully make your outdoorsy and active loved ones just as happy as they’ve made me. Happy holidays! And share any recommendations that you have for great stocking stuffers. I’m always game for new ideas…and I’m sure my boyfriend would appreciate some suggestions for my stocking!