This article originally appeared on Climbing
It's easy to shop for a starry-eyed new climber who needs everything, but what do you get for the person who's been in the game for years? You've seen their bins of gear and bags of climbing shoes. You know they're particular about their skin and training routines. They've already got brushes and balms galore. What else could they possibly need?
The good news is that climbing is hard on gear, and a number of items--like chalk, gloves, and ropes--need to be replaced often. These are things most climbers just can't get enough of. But if you find practical gifts boring, have no fear: there's always room for upgrades. To help you shop, we've compiled a list of products in highest demand from longtime climbers. These are 11 of our favorite climber gifts--the practical, the luxurious, and everything in between.
High-tech GPS watch
Most climbers love tracking their stats. And yet, few like to pay for top-of-the-line gadgetry to do it. If you're shooting for Santa-Of-the-Year status, consider giving your loved one a climbing-compatible smartwatch. Durable, solar-powered, and equipped to measure dozens of relevant performance metrics, the Suunto x Mammut Vertical Titanium Watch ($829.00) is one of the best mountain sport-specific options out there. It's equipped to track vertical gain, measure heart rate, upload weather forecasts, download backcountry maps, and more.
Built to endure varying mountain conditions, the Trango down jacket ($349.95) offers an innovative dual layer offset baffle construction. The result is expedition-level warmth with excellent mobility, low bulk, and packability. The interior mesh and security pockets give you a safe, dry place to store valuables while the adjustable cuffs, hood, and hem provide personalized comfort. Whether you’re setting routes or belaying, the Trango is the perfect jacket for your cold-weather climbing pursuits.
Forearm massage tool
After decades of talking climbing with all manner of folks, we're convinced that there's not a climber on the planet who hasn't suffered from knotty forearms, sore wrists, or dodgy elbows at some point in their career. Enter the Armaid ($79.00). This now-iconic self-massage tool helps break up knots and promote blood flow to enhance recovery between workouts. It can also help alleviate symptoms of elbow tendonitis and other climbing-related maladies.
If the climber in your life is a year-round outdoor enthusiast, there's no single more life-changing piece of gear than a pair of puffy pants. Not familiar? Think of a warm down jacket, but for your legs. Montbell's Light Down Pants ($245.00) provide a particularly good combination of warmth and packability. Slip these babies on between burns on your bouldering project or while belaying for a burst of instant warmth. Questions, compliments, and envious looks from fellow climbers are pretty much guaranteed.
High quality chalk
Chalk is the one thing climbers seem to need more of the longer they climb. And yet, most seem reluctant to shell out extra cash for the good stuff. Treat your climber to a bag of high-quality chalk this season. Our pick: Friction Labs Gorilla Grip Chalk ($29.99 for 12 oz.). The combination of loose powder and chunks suits most climbers' preferences, and the formula is designed to provide longer-lasting grip without feeling harsh against the skin.
Insulated camp slippers
Whether you're shuffling into the climbing gym on a cold day, belaying at a chilly crag, cooking dinner in the van, or wandering from your tent to pee in the middle of the night, a solid pair of camp slippers can be a godsend. The Chaco Ramble Puff Clog ($75.00) provides outstanding warmth thanks to a water-resistant synthetic insulation. The clog style is easy to slip on and off between burns, while a cinch strap and grippy, 3-mm lugs provide security while walking or belaying.
A powerful headlamp
For folks who spend long hours climbing late into the evening, a strong headlamp can be more necessity than luxury. But with the Petzl SWIFT RL ($129.95), your loved one will feel like they have both. At just 3.5 ounces, the SWIFT RL is one of Petzl's lightest headlamps. It also features reactive lighting, which means the beam strength automatically adjusts based on how far away the wearer is looking. At its brightest, it gets up to 900 lumens, and the rechargeable battery lasts up to 40 hours with standard use.
Ropes wear out fast--which is why many climbers are reluctant to shell out extra for really nice ones. But a supple, lightweight, bipattern rope has the power to streamline a day of climbing and give your loved one a feeling of lightness and ease on the wall. The Sterling Nano 8.9mm XEROS 60m ($399.99) is a great example. At 8.9 mm, it's featherlight without feeling flimsy. The fibers are dry-treated to keep out dirt and moisture, and the dual patterning makes the middle mark easy to find during rappels.
If your loved one is a current or aspiring trad climber, consider protecting their mitts with a pair of crack gloves. Designed to defend the backs of the hands against abrasion and enhance friction in flared or off-sized cracks, the Ocun crack gloves ($39.95) are one of the most durable and reliable on the market. A thick rubber cuff protects the hook-and-loop strap, and the suede lining feels soft and slip-free against the skin.
Climbing shoe resole
Most longtime climbers have a favorite pair of climbing shoes--and live in constant dread of the day those shoes finally wear out. Fortunately, you can save those treasured soles (and do the environment a solid) by gifting your climber a resole. There are a few resolers throughout the country, but Boulder, Colorado’s Rock and Resole is one of the oldest and most reputable. They offer Rock and Resole Gift Cards online, which can be used toward a resole on the shoes of your choice. (We recommend putting at least $75.00 on the card to cover a basic resole, shipping, and tax.)
Belaying can be a huge pain in the neck, and many longtime climbers have persistent neck issues from craning upward. That makes mirrored belay glasses--which allow you to watch the wall without looking up--a great investment. The Metolius Upshot Glasses ($64.95) are a lightweight, well-designed choice. The tapered arms fit comfortably around the ears, and they come in a carrying case for added protection.
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