A recent bicycle crash gave me a dynamite idea for a gift to include on a holiday wish list, perfect for bikers as well as for skiers, ice anglers, snowmobilers or anyone who loves the Maine outdoors in winter and wants protection from falls and frigid temperatures.

(Before going any further, though, allow me to add a disclaimer. The manufacturer of this product, Col d’Lizard – www.coldlizard.com – of Vermont, gives me no discount or freebies.)

This company carries M’s Tokay Microfiber Powerstretch Tights, a clothing design constructed from a space-age material and weave light enough to expel body moisture yet tough enough to reduce road rash and severity of cuts during a bicycle spill.

Last month, these tights protected my skin when a biking accident threw me onto the road, and my claim comes after skidding along the hard surface, not from advertising literature. I bruised my hip and wrist and put a huge knot on the knee, but surprisingly, the fall resulted in nothing more than a small, shallow gash and a 2-inch road rash spot, both on the knee.

In my humble opinion, the pants protected my legs and hips from incurring large patches of road rash and a cut serious enough for stitches. If I had been wearing lighter, cool-weather black tights or particularly biking shorts instead of the winter tights, the fall would have damaged more skin.

These pants offer three more pluses:

They prove ultra-warm in cold weather, particularly with an underlayer of silk or polypropylene long johns.

Pulling on conventional tights requires squirming, growling, snarling and cussing, but the Col d’Lizard brand comes on as easily as sweat pants.

Even though the tights pull on effortlessly, they fit sausage tight, essential for bicycling. Loose clothing may snag on the seat horn if the biker jumps off the bicycle to avoid a fall.

For years, a bicycling trend has puzzled me. So many manufacturers spend time and money redeveloping bicycle-helmet technology to improve safety, but they ignore clothing that could reduce ugly road rashes or split-open knees and elbows. Col d‘Lizard offers us a delightful change.

Another idea for a fine gift caters to fly rodders – a wood-framed landing net to carry on the angler’s back. The model in mind includes a white, fine-mesh patch 4 inches wide and running vertically down the center of the net bag. In short, with this product, anglers can capture aquatic insects as well as land fish.

Here’s what makes it such an excellent gift idea. Back in the old days, I used a rectangular insect net with a stick on each end to stretch the mesh tightly before submerging in the water – say between two rocks funneling the current. Many fly rodders still do this.

However, a problem developed after collecting aquatic insects and matching an artificial fly to the most prevalent bug in size, color scheme and silhouette.

If I rolled the wet net around the sticks and put it back in a fly-vest pocket, it would get my shirt and vest wet. Then, if I forget to remove the net later to dry, mildew could grow on the mesh and vest.

The net hanging on the back dries while hanging in the air. Also, instead of digging through a pocket to retrieve the net and sticks, I can just reach over my shoulder and remove the net, attached to a metal ring by a French clip. It’s ever so convenient.

This landing-net, insect-collector combo never caught on with the public, possibly because of the price. Mine ran a tad over $100. Trust me on this one, though. For the serious fly rodder, it’s a must tool. Mine came from Fly Fishing Only in Fairfield, but other quality fly shops sell it, too.

Recently, Jolie, my intrepid companion, bought me a Nook for my birthday, an electronic reader for books, magazines and newspapers. The print looks crystal-clear, the letters can be enlarged, the thin shape fits perfectly in the hand and best of all, the screen has no glare. (I had never realized how much glare shines from an old-fashioned page until using the Nook.) Outdoors folks can use it in three ways:

First, outdoor titles are available electronically and will grow big-time.

Second, downloaded books cost much less than traditional books. I just downloaded a Thomas Hardy novel for $1.99, rather than $28 for a hardcover, and the latest William Tapply Jr. mystery for $11.99 instead of $26.

Third, lots of hunters read while waiting on a stand for game. I’d take my eBook in a second because I can read it in any light – even the darker minutes before legal shooting time ends. Heck, if the book interests me enough, I can sit well into the night with the Nook.

Here’s to the joys of making a holiday wish list.

Ken Allen of Belgrade Lakes is a writer, editor and photographer. He can be contacted at:

[email protected]