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Gifts for your favorite outdoor recreation enthusiast 

OUTDOOR FUN FOR THE HOLIDAYS

click to enlarge MER offers a socially conscious choice. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • MER offers a socially conscious choice.
If you're wondering what to buy your favorite outdoor recreation- lover this holiday season, you have plenty of choices.

First, let’s start with the basic, triedand- true gift suggestions. Everyone can use more socks, T-shirts and gloves. Annual state and national parks passes are great basic gifts, as are boots, backpacks and water bottles. You get the idea.

Then there are the fancier gifts. Skis. Snowboards. Tents. GPS units. Bikes.

In Colorado Springs, you have some great choices for locally owned stores to fill your shopping needs. You can find bargains, help some nonprofits or get the latest and greatest innovations in outdoor recreation, all without leaving town.

Gearonimo Sports (1401 S. Eighth St., gearonimosports.com), has a wide selection of new, almost new, and gently used equipment for all kinds of outdoor recreation. The family-owned business occupies a spacious building, with a lower level devoted to winter sports — snowboards, skis, ski boots, snowshoes and related gear. The main upper level has bikes, tents, backpacks, footwear, clothing and more for all manner of outdoor recreation.

The store acquires its inventory by buying used equipment directly from the public or by purchasing leftover or lightly used gear that was returned to manufacturers and can no longer be sold as new. Many of the store’s skis are purchased from ski rental businesses, with much of the equipment being only a year or two old and freshly refurbished. The result is that your gift-giving budget goes a lot further due to heavy markdowns over the price of new gear. And, in many cases, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference. Not sure what to get, but know that the person on your list will need something? You can get a gift card and let them choose what they want.

If you’re the socially conscious type always looking to support a good nonprofit in the community, and an advocate for supporting local businesses, then shopping at Mountain Equipment Recyclers (1024 S. Tejon St., merecyclers.com) will help you achieve both of those laudable goals. The store, operated as a “social enterprise,” takes donations from anyone who wants to donate good used gear, and then resells it. According to its website, "Beyond sharing 100% of net profits, we also give 50% of the sales of Donated Gear directly to nonprofit organizations."

MER rotates its stock according to the season, so this time of the year is particularly good for finding a great deal on winter recreation gear — including refurbished skis retired from ski rental companies. The store sells new gear, too, making it another great place for bargains, especially the basics. If you want to check off some boxes on your gift list while helping local nonprofits, this is the place to go.

For the top-of-the-line, latest and greatest outdoor gear, head to Mountain Chalet (15 N. Nevada Ave., mtnchalet.com). A longtime icon in the Colorado Springs outdoor equipment scene, the store has almost everything in its spacious new location. Want the newest skis, snowboards, hiking boots or clothing? Mountain Chalet has you covered. Ice- or rock-climbing gear? Ditto. Not only do they have the newest gear, they also have a very knowledgeable crew, who have “been there, done that.”
click to enlarge Mountain Chalet now has more space — and more stock — than ever before. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Mountain Chalet now has more space — and more stock — than ever before.
Some of the most interesting new items at Mountain Chalet this season are the Black Diamond Glidelite Snowtrekkers. Designed to be an alternative to snowshoes, these are shorter (either 147 or 127 centimeters long) and wider (130 millimeters on average) than cross-country skis, making them suitable to use where traditional skis won’t work. Moreover, instead of having to pick up your feet, as with snowshoes, Glidelite’s work with a backand- forth motion, much the same as skis. Even better, the Glidelites work with any flexible-soled boot, such as hikers or snow boots, avoiding the expense of having to buy ski boots. Their small size and flat profile make them easy to carry in a backpack for when you might have to transition to hiking boots or ice- or rock-climbing gear.

If you’re a snowshoe aficionado, you know that one of their drawbacks is the lack of flexibility. While the bindings flex, the snowshoes themselves are rigid, and walking in them can be unnatural, especially on uneven terrain, or while going over large rocks.
click to enlarge Family-owned Gearonimo Sports boasts a huge selection. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Family-owned Gearonimo Sports boasts a huge selection.
TSL Hyperflex snowshoes, on the other hand, feature a fully flexible platform, so they flex as you walk, but like regular shoes. The flexible platform also makes them easier to use on uneven or rocky terrain. The staff at Mountain Chalet expects these brand-new snowshoes to arrive in the store soon.

On the clothing front, the new thing is “active insulation” clothing. Common wisdom for outdoor recreation is to dress in layers. This could mean lot of stopping to layer or de-layer — or, even worse: You don’t want to be bothered, so you don’t even carry another layer with you. To prevent this, Polartec created Alpha Active Insulation for the military, which is now available to the public. Clothing made with this breathable fabric adjusts its insulating properties, making you warmer when you need it, and less so when you don’t. Mountain Chalet coowner Elaine Smith showed me several items made with the fabric, and I was impressed with how lightweight the clothing was and how much less bulk it had, compared to more traditional outdoor wear.

The store also sells The North Face’s Futurelight line, which works in a similar fashion to Polartec’s Alpha Active.

With all of these options available right here in town, it only makes sense to get your active loved ones gifts that they can use.

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