A Christmas Gift Guide for Skiers and Boarders

December 11, 2019 Liam Harrap

This time of year is all about decisions. Should we have Christmas at your parents’ house or mine? Cookies or chocolate? Turkey or ham? It’s not easy and sometimes down-right stressful, especially when it comes to buying gifts. To help make your hair a little less grey, here is the ultimate Christmas gift guide for the skiers and boarders in your life. Hopefully, one or two items will tickle your fancy and add some joy to someone you love.

Heated Socks

They are perhaps the best thing since the invention of ice cream sandwiches. Imagine skiing through featherlight waist-deep powder during a blizzard. Your hair, mustache and beard are frozen. The wind is howling and the snow continues to dump. However, your feet are warm and snug like a rolled-up cinnamon bun. There’s a Scandinavian saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” Heated socks prove that and should be on every Christmas gift guide for any outdoor enthusiast.

Ski Map Coffee Table Book

According to CNN Business, eBook sales are plunging and people are returning to print books. When you see James Niehues’ map book, you can see why –  it just wouldn’t work digitally with the handpainted trail maps. James has been a mapmaker for 30 years and if you’re a skier, chances are you’ve used one of his maps. This book compiles all of his drawings, more than 200 maps from around the world into a single volume. The project actually was created through Kickstarter, where more than 5,000 people donated to turn James’ drawings into a coffee book.

UnTapped Organic Maple Waffles

For me, the perfect gift is edible and it’s hard to beat a good waffle. Yet, it’s difficult to bring waffles on a ski trip. UnTapped has solved this problem with portable, chewy waffles flavoured with maple syrup. Now, I don’t like to miss breakfast. But if it’s a powder day, there’s little time for eggs and bacon as the mountains are calling. Put a couple packets of these in your pocket and you can ride the slopes with a happy tummy.

Garmin inReach Mini

Although it’s fun to ski and ride in remote places, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with our loved ones. My dad is a worrier. I’ve met him on the trail, hiking in as I hike out because he had a bad dream where I fell off a cliff. So, he just wanted to make sure I was OK. If I had a Garmin inReach, he could have just messaged me instead of packing his tent and sleeping bag in panic. Garmin recently released a mini version that can slip into your pocket. Don’t worry Dad, this is on my Christmas gift guide list.

GPS Watch with Maps

A phone is great for maps, until it gets cold. Then the battery life crashes and you might be left alone in the woods, not knowing if the route home is left or right. Since a watch is right next to your skin, it stays cozy and can hold countless maps from around the world. There have been a few times when I’m navigating by headlamp and my phone dies, which presents the possibility of having to spend the night in the woods sleeping in my backpack. However, my friend with the hoity toity GPS watch leads the way back to the parking lot and Chinese buffet. He then reaps all the praise and rewards for being a navigating hero. Don’t be a Liam, get the GPS watch.


Just because it’s spring and summer, doesn’t mean the skiing has to stop. There’s a lake in the way of that ski line? No problem, get a packraft. The boat weighs less than 10 pounds, fits in your backpack and can even handle rapids up to Class 4.  I got a raft last year and by gosh. It’s life-changing. Not only can you strap your skis to it and head for distant icefields, but you don’t have to walk back to the road like a pedestrian. The packraft is the skidoo of summer.

Cheesemaking Kit

Food in the backcountry shouldn’t be limited to instant meals and goo. It can be a time of charcuterie boards, champagne, smoked meats, chutney and cheese. Glorious, glorious cheese. Why not try making your own cheddar, feta or ricotta? As the writer George R.R. Martin once said, ” “Give me a good sharp knife and a good sharp cheese and I’m a happy man.” Amen to that.

Reusable Hand Warmers

I have no idea how these work, but reusable hand warmers are so cool. Or should I say hot? Instead of packing multiple hand warmers on a trip and creating a pocket full of garbage, with these you just need two. One for each hand. Oh, and a stove to reactive them. Minor detail.


For me, the best kind of gifts are experiences. Not material goods. Imagine loading into a chopper in a small group of four and heading beyond the distant mountains, landing on a snowy summit and skiing past glacier ice to ancient cedar trees at the valley bottom. Imagine doing that several times a day and skiing more than 50,000 metres in a week. Heliskiing is the ultimate gift on any Christmas gift guide for skiers and boarders. Experiences create memories, which last a lifetime.
Even longer than cheese.

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