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Outdoor gift ideas for the holidays 

It's the holiday season once again, and you're either hoping for some outdoor recreation gear, or planning on buying something for the outdoor enthusiast on your list if you're reading this. 

Socks, jackets, boots, gloves and the familiar items on other outdoor related lists are always good choices. But for this list I wanted to find out what was new in outdoor gear, the really new stuff out there. To that end, I headed to local outdoor gear retailer Mountain Chalet for my search.

If you're hesitant to spend more than $200 on snowshoes for the wannabe snowshoer on your list, the EVA-All Foam Snowshoes from Boulder-based Crescent Moon Snowshoes are a great option. Made of lightweight material — much like high density plastic — these lightweight,  one-size-fits-most snowshoes are made for the casual or beginning snowshoer. While they don't have the aggressive metal spikes, heel-lifters or other features found in more expensive and heavier snowshoes made for mountain trekking, Crescent Moon's shoes are great in places like nearby Red Rocks Canyon, Gold Camp Road or Mueller State Park. The simple design makes them easy to get on or off, and you can even run in them. At $160 and only 3.5-pounds per pair, they won't take a big hit on your wallet or your muscles.
 
Crescent Moon's EVA-Foam snowshoes - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Crescent Moon's EVA-Foam snowshoes
For the skier who doesn't like to pay huge lift-fees but still wants to use the nice runs at commercially run ski resorts, "uphill policy" skiing is something to look into. Simply put, "uphill policy" skiing allows skiers to use U.S. Forest Service land leased to commercial ski resorts at greatly reduced prices. However, the skier must get up the hill on their own power — no ski lift — by using routes designated by the resort. (Check with your local retailer for a complete explanation.) DynaFit makes skis, boots and bindings geared toward working your way uphill while wearing skis. Uphill policy equipment also typically costs several hundred-dollars less than your typical downhill ski setup.

For the backpacker and camper on your list, there are a number of new products worth looking at. The NEMO Vector sleeping bag pad is lightweight, insulated, stows away into a smaller package than most pads, and features a built-in foot pump for inflation. Gone are the days of waiting for self-inflating pads to fill, or wearing yourself out blowing up an inflatable pad — the foot pump also doubles as a pillow, by the way. At $190, the Vector pad is more expensive than most other sleeping bag pads, but when size and weight reduction is your goal, it's worth the price.

Water filtration systems usually end up on many outdoors enthusiasts' gift list, too. Lucky for you, long-time camping equipment supplier MSR recently introduced the pocket sized $50 TrailShot water filter. Weighing next to nothing, the filter will treat up to 2000 liters of water before the filter cartridge needs to be replaced.

The GrayL Ultralight Purifier Bottle is a self-contained, 16-ounce water filter system. Un-purified water is put into the wide mouth container before a filter attached to the bottom of a press is pushed into the outer container. As the filter is pressed through the water, clean water is introduced into the inner container and is ready to drink immediately. The $60 system isn't just for campers as it's also useful when traveling to foreign countries.

Getting back to basics, maps are always a necessity on trails and having current, updated maps is even more important. Locally made Pocket Pals Trail Maps has recently issued some updated maps for North Cheyenne Canon, Section 16 and Rampart Range Road, and its entire library of maps is on sale during the month of December making them great stocking stuffers.

Happy trails and happy holidays!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 25 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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