Being involved in an array of silent sports means you accumulate "stuff." Some of it never gets used. In the spirit of trying to minimize "stuff," I am offering to my fellow silent sports some ideas for gifts - items that have proved genuinely useful to me.
The days of having to pull globs of snow from my wool socks or broom it off my lower legs after every snowshoe or cross-country ski trip ended the Christmas that my wife gave me a pair of gaiters. I also wore them in the Utah Canyonlands to protect my legs from cactus and other prickly plants. Gaiters, which come in ankle or knee length, are often made of polyester fabrics. Depending on length and quality of fabric, expect to pay $20 to $60 for a pair.
2) Bicycle mirror
For this cycling accessory, you have an array of products and I have owned most of them. Mirrors can be mounted on top or at the end of handle bars or a small mirror can be clipped to your helmet or glasses.
I have discovered that I need to have a large enough mirroring surface so I can clearly see traffic coming up behind me and one that I can look at quickly so I won't miss what is in front of the bike.
For me, small mirrors and helmet-mounted ones are difficult to use. I use a larger mirror mounted at the base of the handlebar. Be sure your mirror will stay adjusted so you don't have to keep twisting it to get the proper view. Almost any bump or rough surface road will shake it out of position, but some hold their place better than others. I wrap electrical tape on mine to help keep it steady. Most models cost about $20.
3) Gorilla Tripod
The cellphone camera, which allows you to photograph yourself by holding your camera out in front of your face has probably deadened the sales of tripods. However, if you have short arms like I do, want to do a group shot or want to include some background in your picture, a tripod still is valid.
The Gorilla Tripod, with its bendable arms, enables you to set your camera just about anywhere. It weighs next to nothing and can fit in your pocket, which makes it the perfect item for camera enthusiasts who love the outdoors. It sells for about $20.
4) Training log
Although there are various online training logs available, I see no reason to put aside the traditional spiral bound fitness log. Each day it becomes the repository for my data pertaining to miles run, paddled, cycled and skied. It is a motivator as well since I hate to put a "0" down for "workout total" column.
I also record weather data, animal sightings and my catch on fishing trips. It's fun to look back and not only see my exercise practices but also when I caught all those trout or the date of that monster snowstorm. Ten dollars will buy you the best journal on the rack.
5) TwistLit L.E.D. Bicycle Light
If you bike at night, this bright red light can be set to blink or through a steady beam so you and your bike are visible to traffic. Flexible heavy duty twisters allow you to stick it on your seat post and remove it when not in use. If I were frequently cycling after dark I might consider putting on some more permanent lighting on my bike, but since I don't want a lot of extras on my frame, the TwistLit light fits my needs. I bought mine for $9.
6) Grabber Hand Warmers
When it's cold, it's my hands that suffer. I've had to quit cross-country skiing, leave sporting events and end fishing trips early because of numb fingers. I bought a a package of 10 Grabber Hand Warmers for ten bucks and now can hang tough on bitter cold days. These hand warmers are activated by opening the package and they stay warm for seven hours.
For me the paddling season doesn't end until the lakes are frozen. But gripping a kayak paddle bare-handed can be excruciating once the air and water temperature dive into the 40s. Although I've used neoprene gloves, I prefer the direct contact of skin on the paddle. If I slip my hands into pogies, which are like mittens that wrap around the paddle shaft, my hand grips the paddle and the neoprene pogie gives protection from the chill and water. Once it gets cold out, I keep the pogies attached to the paddle shaft and just slip my hands into them when I am ready to take my first stroke. Most styles are sold for $30 to $50.
8) Carbon fiber canoe paddle
In the 1980s, carbon fiber bent shaft paddles were rarely in the hands of recreational paddlers, but we racers wouldn't think of using a wood paddle. Paddle a day with a carbon fiber model weighing 12 to 14 ounces with an 11- or 12-degree bend and compare that to hefting a wood, plastic or aluminum paddle, which weigh at least two pounds and you will quickly become a fan.
Prices range from $200 to $400, but if you are a dedicated paddler, the price is right. These paddles are durable. I bought four between 1985 and 1987 and all of them still get regular use.
Dave Foley would rather ski all day on the wrong wax than spend an hour in a shopping mall.