Here are 14 presents for the season that will move the jock on your list. Because we’re never too old to sweat—or receive. All prices listed are suggested retail, but our links often get you a better price. Remember, if you click through and purchase an item, a small commission goes toward supporting the work of The Masters Athlete.
Columbia OutDry Extreme ECO Jacket $199 Columbia’s Extreme ECO offers complete waterproofness, and less. The minimalist, fully recycled shell is made with 21 plastic bottles and without added perfluorinated compounds—or PFCs, which are eco-unfriendly substances commonly found in outerwear. They persistently live on in the environment—and reportedly in our bodies. Back to plusses: The Extreme ECO basically consists of one very clever fabric layer (most jackets are made with two or three), and it’s durable, lightweight, packable, easy to clean, very waterproof, and quite breathable. It’s also white (no dyes). The jacket is void of features (it does have two big pockets and a decent hood), but buy one for you and another for your partner and you’ll still have money to spend on a family ski vacation.
Therm-A-Rest MondoKing 3D $180 to $210
Lost some gusto for sleeping on the ground? Here’s the best camping-oriented sleeping pad money can buy. The four-inch-thick MondoKing has that Therm-A-Rest ruggedness/toughness, but its glorious cush and bulk—the 30 x 80-inch, XXL pad is nearly seven pounds—makes it best for car camping, picnicking on the snow (it houses lots of air and foam insulation), and cabin-dwelling comfort. The MondoKing has so much volume that it lets you sleep on your side. For more information: www.thermarest.com. To purchase, click here.
Icebug DTS2 BUGrip $185 Because Scandinavians know snow and ice, you should feel reassured while winter running in the DTS2. Icebug, a Swedish company, imbues this shoe with 20 carbide-tip studs that jut from each of the DTS2’s lugged, rubber outsoles. The shoes will keep you confident and upright on ice whether you’re running, hiking, or walking. A traditional foam (EVA) midsole helps provide the DTS2 with a familiar and comfortable ride, at least until you hit pavement. Then the somewhat heavy (10.5-ounce) shoe is out of its element, and literally clawing to get back to frozen water.
Eagle Creek Cargo Hauler Rolling Duffel $15
The Cargo Hauler is your excuse to overpack—because the duffel itself is very light (under four pounds). It’s also quite big (capacity is 5,500 cubic inches, or 90 liters), and guaranteed for life. Eagle Creek’s assuredness comes courtesy of an abrasion-fighting coating that serves to armor what is a relatively minimalist nylon shell. Our tester bag became scuffed and scratched but never tore or gave way, and the Cargo Hauler rolls fine on its big wheels. You can also spurn the handles and instead strap the duffel to your back. The zippers are plenty stout. Pockets, however, are virtually nonexistent—consider purchasing one or two Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport organizers ($18–$27) to complete the package.
Swiftwick Pursuit Hike Six Light Cushion $22 Call it a modernized classic—the throwback hiking sock that fits like today’s compression-style sport socks. Swiftwick fuses a mix of Merino wool (soft and insulative) and Olefin synthetic fiber (wicking and lightweight), and then employs a dense knit that makes the Pursuit feel like a slightly detuned, backcountry version of the company’s close-fitting running and cycling socks. The Pursuit comes in two different weights—we happily wore the lightweight version all day.
Specialized Roubaix/Ruby Expert UDi2 $4,600
Give yourself the comfortable yet quick Roubaix (Ruby for women) for Christmas, or a midlife crisis, or many happy miles of cycling, or to hang on your wall as industrial art. Just underneath the stem—the component that connects handlebars to bike—is a shock absorber designed by Specialized in partnership with McLaren Applied Technologies (the British company known for its exotic cars). Two centimeters of travel adds comfort to the ride, keeps the front wheel in better contact with the pavement, and apparently causes every cycling journalist on the planet to gush. There’s more to brag about on the (approximately) 17-pound, carbon-fiber machine—including disc brakes, electronic shifting, a saddle and seatpost designed for compliance, and a slick storage compartment.
The North Face Flight Series Fuse Jacket $250 simplifies your jacket-selection process, because it features impressive weatherproofness as well as breathability. The secret sauce is a single fabric (The North Face calls it “FuseForm”), offering different qualities in different places—like more breathability in the armpits, and better water resistance across the shoulders. The six-ounce jacket (that’s right: six ounces!) has few seams and sturdy (albeit somewhat stubborn) zippers. We love the Fuse for cold-weather runs.
Zamst Filmista $40 An ankle brace as a gift? Absolutely, when it’s as unobtrusive as an artful tape job, feels good against the skin, can be used during your activity, and stands up to repeated wearings. The Filmista is the brace that keeps on giving. Made with multiple layers of thin urethane, the Filmista fortifies your ankle to either side, but still fits under a sock. Team USA marathoner Amy Cragg, who finished ninth at the 2016 Rio Games, swears by the lightweight Zamst brace. Comes in four sizes, and right and left versions.
Gu Stroopwafel ($22.50 for a 16-pack) There are times — perhaps parts of lifetime — when we just can’t bring ourselves to eat one more energy bar or gel. The satisfying alternative is Gu’s Stroopwafel, which is modeled after European “syrup waffles.” It’s a wafer-style sandwich with a chewy filling. Flavors include Wild Berry, Salted Chocolate, and Salty’s Caramel, and a single Stroopwafel features the appropriate amounts of carbohydrates, amino acids, and electrolytes you want and need directly before or during exercise. We also like the Stroopwafel because it isn’t crumbly, and it is a good complement to your pre- or post-workout coffee. Gu also makes gluten-free versions.
Hoka Bondi 5 $150 Long layoff since your last 10k? 5k? Since your run around the neighborhood? Launch your comeback with the Bondi 5 from Hoka One One (that’s Maori for “flying over the earth”). Over the last several years, Hoka’s thick, “maximalist” designs have forced many running shoe companies to rethink shoe construction, and for worthy reasons. Hokas feature hyperbolic cushioning (their midsoles pack in about 50 percent more EVA foam than conventional shoes), but remain agile and relatively lightweight. The new, 10-ounce Bondi 5 offers enough stability for running roads. This year the shoe comes in widths, and delivers more room for forefeet.
Tasc Performance Boss Fleece Hoodie $120 The Tasc Performance Boss Fleece Hoodie is comfy, casual, and cool. Cool in that it’s mostly made from durable bamboo and organic cotton, and cool in that the bamboo makes the soft and thick top plenty breathable. Tasc—a New Orleans–based, family-run business committed to environmentally friendly practices—makes its fabrics free of chemical coatings. The company manufactures the Hoodie (and the rest of its bamboo-based offerings) in a solar-powered factory in India.
Kletterwerks Summit $169 We like the Kletterwerks Summit because we’re too old to need a daypack that screams, yes, “Summit!” While the backpack’s silhouette is clean and unassuming, inside there’s a laptop sleeve, and an accessory pocket for a pen, wallet, mobile phone, and more. Leather zipper pulls add some polish, the access panel opens wide, and a heavy-duty nylon skin promises that your modern, USA-made schoolboy pack will become a family heirloom. The Summit will work fine in the office or the mountains, and it was designed by Dana Gleason—a legend in the backpack biz.
Garmin Vivomove Sport $150 The fitness-tracking Garmin Vivomove Sport is a fine watch. In the Univac-for-your-wrist times in which we live, look down at the Garmin and you’ll see something refreshing: hands on a face. Wear the Vivomove to work, out to dinner, and in the pool—it won’t miss a beat. The Vivomove also tells you, subtly, via a red bar, that you need to push away from the computer and perhaps take a walk or climb some stairs—you’ve been sitting for too long. Track your treadmill runs via the Garmin, too, and easily download your data to Garmin Connect software.
Lattis Ellipse $199 Behold: a hands-free bike lock. Via a smartphone app and a strong Bluetooth signal coming from the silvery, U-shaped Lattis Ellipse, you can open or secure the keyless lock simply by approaching or walking away from (respectively) your bicycle. Otherwise the app is your command center, both in terms of locking and unlocking the Ellipse “manually” as well as sensing and responding to any serious jolts the lock might incur. The app will notify a loved one if you’ve crashed, and it will notify you if a thief is tampering with your lock. The meaty shackle, however, locks at both ends to discourage any funny business. Meanwhile the crossbar features solar panels that keep the Ellipse fully charged.