December 8, 2013

John Christie: A gift guide for skiers and snowboarders

A practical list of good ideas for winter sports enthusiasts

There are only 17 shopping days until Christmas.

So maybe you missed the madness of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Maybe you don’t have ideas for that tough-to-buy-for aunt or grandkid. Never fret. Just as in years past, we’re here with a holiday gift guide for the skiers and snowboarders on your list. Whether they need to be outfitted for apres-ski or an avalanche, there are lots of options.

As in previous years I’ve done my best to focus on products made in Maine and New England.

For the history buff, the Ski Museum of Maine sells loads of memorabilia celebrating skiing history, including reproductions of ads and archival material. If you want to get right back to the start of things, the great “Skeeing” poster ($10, SkiMuseumOfMaine.org) reproduces the cover of The Winter Sport of Skeeing.” Written by Maine’s own Theo Johnsen, the 1905 book was the first ski manual published in the US.

Another great source for prints is the Maine Historical Society’s website, vintagemaineimages.com, which reproduces material from the MHS archives and their partners around the state. A search for “skiing” brings up over 60 results, ranging from ski jumpers on the Western Prom in Portland in 1924 to racers on the Bangor-Caribou ski marathon ($15-$25, vintagemaineimages.com).

For the backcountry adventurer, you’ll want some Maine-made skis. Lucid Skis’ wide, light Trip ($950, easternmountainsports.com) is built specifically for A/T or telemark, and Volition’s new Vendetta FRR ($650, volitionskico.com) is an able mid-fat crud buster. Beyond skis there’s hardly a more important piece to backcountry than a warm base layer. After skiing all last season with LL Bean’s expedition weight Power Dry Base Layer ($45, llbean.com), I can’t give it a strong enough recommendation.

For carting both supplies and tunes, there’s the very cool DemerBox Boom Box ($300, demerbox.com). Built in Portland by James Demer, the super-rugged sound systems connect to gadgets via Bluetooth or 3.5mm jack, and double as portable storage.

In my experience, there are three products the weekend skier needs; coffee, coffee and more coffee. Outfit your weekend warrior with Carrabassett Coffee ($10-$12/lb, carrabassettcoffee.com), a world-class single-source coffee roasted at the base of Sugarloaf. Their hazelnut remains the only flavored coffee in the world worth drinking.

And don’t forget to grab them a Ski Maine sticker and a Ski the East Sticker Sheet ($7.95, skitheeast.net) so they can properly represent when they travel outside New England.

You can end the days of worn-out thermals and ratty pants for the skiers and riders on your list that like to hit the village after a day on the slopes. Plenty of Maine start-ups are making stylish, comfortable winter clothing that will fit right in with Maine’s ski towns. Chris Avantaggio’s LiveME apparel, born out of a few designs sported at the Maine Brewer’s Festival in 2009, offers dozens of Maine-inspired shirts, hoodies and accessories. The SkiME and RideME hoodies ($49.99, livememaine.com) sport the company’s logo, and are heavy enough to stand up to Maine winters. Loyal Citizen’s Dirigo T-shirt, ($38, LoyalCitizenClothing.com), printed in Portland, is perfect for the rider who likes to lead both on and off the slopes.

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