Christmas should be about spending time with family and friends. And watching marathons of 1970’s-era Christmas cartoons while trimming the tree.
But it isn't. It’s about spending money. On presents. For other people.
There’s a palpable dilemma in shopping for others. Christmas does a poor job of “matching products with users.” But giving cash is a cop-out. Giftcards say, “I gave up.” A fleece jacket means “I didn't even try; maybe next year will be different.”
So why bother?
This isn't a post about Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays. It’s a post about spending money on yourself this Christmas.
Need a gentle nudge to get the ideas flowing?
Ethnotek Raja Pack ($159 - $209)
How does indigenous art make it out into a world that is run by iPhones, iPads,‘droids, Kindles, Nooks, WiFi hotspots, laptops, Facebook, Twitter and Carmel Mocha Lattes?
By creating something that is purposeful, compelling and unique—to carry our iPhones, iPads, ‘droids, Kindles, Nooks and laptops to WiFi hotspots so that we can update our Facebook statuses and Tweet each time we order a Carmel Mocha Latte.
The Ethnotek Raja, Ethnotek’s flagship pack, will set you apart as unique among the urban denizens.
It carries laptops up to seventeen inches, wallets, books, Nooks, Kindles, iPads, iPhones, ‘droids, magazines, legal documents, passports, water bottles. A three-point shoulder strap system and side compression straps ensures you carry them comfortably.
What makes an Ethnotek pack different from all other packs on the market is that within the colorful handmade textiles that make up the panels (aka the THREADs) of every Ethnotek bag are the stories of the Cham village and Hmong hill-tribes of Vietnam; of Surakarta, Indonesia; the Bhujodi village in Gujarat, India and the artisans of Chichicastenango, Guatemala.
The bags themselves are held together with a sturdy 840-denier water resistant ballistic nylon and lined with hand woven fabric from partners in the Cham village of Vietnam.
Once you get your Ethnotek pack, you can give it style updates by purchasing different THREADs.
The Limited Edition Artist Series Thread Collection for the Raja packs just launched this week, which showcases the work of Shay McAnally, a domestic artist. (see video here)
McAnally, a native of west Texas, celebrates the heritage of cattlemen, ranchers and the indigenous people who lived there long ago. The Limited Edition series features 30 unique THREADs.
SkirtSports Tough Girl Skirt ($90)
Très adorbs! If you’re a runner and you live in a climate with cold winters, you still have to run outside (it’s a sanity thing).
Warm running tights are required and it never hurts when they are sexy.
That’s why I love and recommend the SkirtSports Tough Girl skirt. It meets all the criteria on my list and then some.
The “then some” part is the little things that make me actually want to go outside and run in the winter.
The tights are very warm and cozy. The integrated running skirt not only gives it that little bit of sexiness, but it’s also an extra layer to protect your butt from the frigid wind or blowing snow.
The tights have a hip pocket on each side. Both are large enough to hold a phone and an iPod. A convenient music port on the right side keeps your iPod cord tidy.
Fit-wise, the Tough Girl is fantastic. The pants fit like running tights but have a slight flare at the bottom to make your legs look longer.
Actually, all SkirtSports products rank high in the fit category. I have several cycling skirts and running skirts and dresses and they are all designed to make the wearer look awesome.
SkirtSports Toasty Cheeks Skirt ($45)
Skinny jeans, jeggings and leggings are the zenith of fashion this season. But the minimal fabric does nothing to protect your buns from the winter elements.
The new SkirtSports Toasty Cheeks skirt remedies that as a windproof and wicking overskirt for whatever form-fitting bottoms you happen to wear.
If you’re a runner and want to run outside in the winter, but don’t necessarily want to spend $90 for the Tough Girl skirt, the Toasty Cheeks skirt is an inexpensive way to cute-up and warm-up your favorite running tights.
BioLite CampStove ($129.95)
Next time you go camping, leave the isobutene or Coleman fuel behind. The BioLite CampStove works 100 percent on biomass. The kind that you pick up off the ground.
I was conflicted when I was given the opportunity to test this stove. In the nineties, I nearly burned down the San Juan National forest with an old-school Primus.
Was I really to be entrusted with a stove that required me to build a fire inside a chamber that produced open flames? Lordy.
Unless you’re camping in the middle of the Sahara or the North and South poles, twigs, dried leaves or pine needles are plentiful. That’s all the BioLite needs to cook food or boil water.
In my experiences of testing it, it boils water fast. Like really fast. Like less than three minutes fast. Faster than my Primus ExpressSpider, which boils in about four minutes.
It’s intuitive to use as long as you have the basics down of building fires. The stove comes with a little bag of firestarter but I just gathered the many twigs, dead leaves and pine needles that were prevalent around the campsite.
It helps if you collect a lot so that you have a healthy pile close by to feed the flame and keep it going. Once you have your little “tee-pee” made inside the chamber, light it. When the fire gets going, turn on the fan and start cooking.
Another benefit of the BioLite is its ability to convert heat from fire into usable electricity. As most outdoor electrical gear now has rechargeable aspirations, you can recharge you GPS, camera, phone, etc. while you cook dinner. Unlike solar, BioLite CampStove is a true on-demand source.
BioLite KettlePot ($49.95)
The stainless steel pot is lightweight and durable and is big enough to cook food for four hungry backpackers. The KettlePot can be the one piece of cookware you bring on your backpacking trip.
Like the BioLite stove, the Kettlepot uses biomass for fuel and can charge phones and iPods with waste heat. It also doubles as a carrying case for the stove.
Osprey Xena 85 Backpack ($349)
The great grandmother of splurging for yourself!
At 85 liters, the Osprey Xena 85 is the largest pack you’ll likely carry on your next multi-day backpacking trip.
Osprey designed the Xena for women to comfortably carry moderate loads over steep, long, rocky technical trails with substantial elevation gains without causing you to topple backwards or pitch forward into a glacial valley.
I attribute this entirely to Osprey’s LightWire™ peripheral frame suspension and a totally new BioForm⁴ CM™ hipbelt and harness.
They work together as a cohesive system to provide a customized, comfortable fit that superbly balances the load. A necessity for carrying a large pack.
If your plans include basecamping with short dayhikes, the top lid snaps off into a fanny pack that is large enough to hold the basic things you need. I couldn't find a single quirk or boo-hiss with this pack and neither will you.
A word about the hipbelt. Get it custom-molded, even if you think it doesn't need to be. It makes a huge difference.
Shredly JMO Women's MTB short ($90)
Très adorbs squared! But in a tough, badass kind of way.
Made in the U.S.A (Colorado), Shredly shorts took initial inspiration from a Maui surf shop (I’m just speculating here) and created the coolest women’s mountain bike short ever.
Available in the most wild, crazy, vibrant colors and designs I’ve seen outside a Run or Dye event, they’re made with a soft and stretchy fabric and comfy wide waist band (two inches).
Shredly has seen some nice growth in the past few years and have expanded their product line to include DH knickers, chamois shorts and jerseys.
A 10.5-inch inseam, side snap pocket to hold trail maps and a detachable chamois can transform these shorts from the singletrack to the climbing wall, kayak or SUP.
What I love so much about my own Shredly shorts (I own two pairs) is their uniqueness on the mountain bike trails and the short length. It hits just a hair above the knee.
Size is very accurate. I wear a size four in normal pants/shorts/skirts and the Shredly size four is a perfect fit.
Easy Access Bandages ($3.99)
Holiday cooking gone awry? Testing the sharpness of the new kitchen knives at Macy’s?
The Easy Access Bandages are the easiest piece of gear you can't live without.
These are the best bandages for your boo-boos. Featuring a patent pending grip-pull-stick system that makes one-handed application quick and easy, first-aid on-on-the-go has been revolutionized.
Bandages are secured in portable packs organized by size. Packs stay organized, are easy to find and slip easily into a purse or pocket without damage to the bandages.
An added bonus, Easy Bandages are now included in Easy Care First Aid Kits as well as Adventure Medical Kits.
Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential Running Belt ($29)
The Ultimate Direction Jurek Essential is a way for you to carry your phone, keys and snacks when you run, without feeling like you’re carrying your phone, keys and snacks.
Minimalistic and very lightweight (just two ounces), it has two zippered pockets on the front (one of them is waterproof for holding your phone) and one small mesh stretch pocket on the side.
I normally carry a ProBar or some kind of snack in the stretch mesh pocket. If you’re familiar with Ultimate Direction, the Jurek Essential is a great companion to any of their hand-held water bottles.
It's also small enough to fit in your Christmas stocking.
Honestly, you won’t be able to tell you’re wearing this belt because it’s so comfortable, breathable and lightweight.
Vasque Skadia UD Insulated Boot ($159.99)
Named after the Norse Goddess of winter, the Vasque Skadia UD boots are a technical, athletic and lightweight insulated boot that is ideal for snowshoeing, long hikes in the snowy backcountry, or après ski.
UltraDry™, Vasque’s proprietary waterproofing membrane, provides 200gms of 3M Thinsulate™ to keep the piggies warm and dry. A single-pull lacing system makes adjustments in the field a cinch and a rubber heel kick locks into binding straps.
Available in two colors in women’s specific sizing.
Aventura Norris Scarf ($47)
The Norris scarf is wide, warm and super soft. In other words, it’s to die for.
Not only is it great as a scarf, but it can moonlight as a cover up (e.g. “pashmina”) on chilly airplanes or at the office.
For the ultimate in Aventura cuteness, consider building an outfit around the Norris scarf with the the Ellis Hat, Cameron skirt, Lockhart Hoodie vest, tights, the Fallon long sleeve burnout shirt and the Patagonia Tin Shed Riders.
Overland Equipment Madera Handbag ($70)
Overland Equipment bags are crafted to be durable and versatile and the Overland Equipment Madera is a durable, yet chic, shoulder bag that hugs the body and carries everything needed for a day on the town.
Built-in features include a zippered front organizer pocket, a secure quick access cell phone pocket, additional zippered safe pockets, and a quilted zippered back pocket to house a tablet.
An adjustable shoulder strap hugs the body. Available in three colors.
Granite Gear Air ZippTwists ($28.95 - $42.95)
The Granite Gear Air ZippTwist, sold in sets of two, features a water-resistant zipper with unique access to allow for fast loading and secure storage.
The packs are made of Ultralight and Durable Cordura® 30 D Sil-Nylon, which allows you to easily see what’s inside your pack.
Designed in a block shape to allow organized stacking inside your pack. The packs come in 5L, 9L, 14L, and 20L, and are available in a multitude of colors.
Granite Gear Ancho 18 Daypack ($62.95)
The Granite Gear Ancho 18 is a convenient economical daypack for short hikes or fourteener assaults.
Weighing in at one pound, two ounces, the Ancho features a hydration sleeve/port, external stash pocket, bottle holsters, and a padded mesh harness.