2010 XMAS Recommendations

It's that time again: the holiday season is upon us. Time to start wandering overcrowded malls in the hope of finding that special something for that special someone—and maybe pick up a thing or two for ourselves. As 2010 draws to a close, and holiday decorations begin to appear, I find my thoughts dwelling on one thing in particular: wow, I didn't make nearly as much money as I was expecting this year.

Some of you, I suspect, may be sneakily sharing that sentiment. So, the theme of this year's gift giving (and getting) guide is 'Christmas on the Cheap.'

Let's start with Black Diamond's Prodigy Gloves. Cold-fingered skiers will the Prodigy's extra warmth, and they'll also love the glove's relative suppleness and dexterity—you won't feel like you're wearing clumsy mittens in these. If you know someone who can't keep their hands warm, this is an easy way to score some yuletide points.

You know the person who's got everything? All you want to do is find something they don't already own. How about Injinji Toe Socks? Toe socks? Yes, toe socks. Because toes deserve...uh...well, just because. Guaranteed to appeal to the family eccentric, who will look at them thoughtfully and nod their head, as if thinking, yes, yes, of course, it all makes perfect sense...

Stockings need stuffing too, and Black Diamond's Ion headlamp is perfect for the job. Kids love it. Men desire it. Grandmas may be a tad puzzled, but they will still say, "thank you." The 1.3 ounce (battery included) Ion has the advantage of actually being useful, so when Christmas is over, it won't just join the mess in the dreaded Drawer that you can never quite bring yourself to clean out.

Okay: here's a real winner: Icebreaker's Pocket 200 Beanie. Yes, I know, we've all gotten lousy hats for Christmas...but how about a good hat? How about a great hat? Would that not be awesome? Super-soft and comfortable Merino wool, the perfect hat for those speed ascents on Williamson, or for wearing around the house when the weather gets cool. Reversible, functional, perfect.

Fantastically popular with the ladies, North Face's Venture Jacket is both stylish and a solid technical shell to boot. They've got a rack of these on the 3rd floor at Nordstrom's now, so even if you don't completely trust me, you know you can trust the flagship better-than-Macy's but not-quite-as-good-as-Bloomingdales department store. In addition to great looks and performance, you've also fall in love with the price: expensive construction with absolutely no sticker shock, guaranteed.

How can you go wrong with a good skiing DVD? You can't. But first, you must purchase SierraDescents' filmmaking debut, The Couloir to Nowhere, now available on DVD at the SierraDescents store! As wacky and wild an adventure as you'll ever see, and loaded with extras. Best of all, just imagine the feelings of holiday charity that will infuse your soul knowing you've contributed to a worthy cause by helping to support this site. Mmm...feels good, doesn't it?

Once you've completed checkout on your C2N DVD (heck, why not get a couple—one for each member of the family), I then give you permission to purchase Powderwhore Productions' Television. Yes, it's ostensibly a telemark film...but you really don't want to miss the steep skiing in the Haines segment. Watch it over and over, and imagine you're there in person...

Finally, one of the most haunting and memorable books I've read in a long while is Jeron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget. Two decades after its debut, the Internet has transformed nearly all aspects of our lives...but has it done so for the better? Lanier documents the myriad ways in which our technology changes our identity, and the author persuasively argues that something essential has been lost in the current and dominant Web 2.0 design ethos. A manifesto for an alternate and more Humanistic future—alarming, thought-provoking, yet still filled with hope. Highly recommended.

Andy Lewicky is the author and creator of SierraDescents