The Best Holiday Gifts of 2018

Here’s a hand-picked selection of the best gifts you can give or receive in 2018.

I’m coming up on a decade of running this website and I’ve put up a gift guide of some sort or another just about every year. Gear is in the name and finding the year’s best stuff and sharing it with you all for inclusion on yours or your loved ones’ wish lists is something I truly enjoy doing each holiday season.

There’s a decent amount of stuff to peruse here, but I’ve tried my best to keep it all organized for easy browsing.

First off, don’t buy yourself or someone else something you or they don’t need. Consumerism for the sake of consumerism is wasteful and there are better ways to put your money to use than stuffing a junk drawer. Here are a couple of my favorite non-profits for consideration, donate in your name or theirs:

App Camp for Girls

App Camp for Girls is a one-week summer day program where girls, transgender & gender non-conforming youth can put their creative powers to work designing and building apps. They also learn about the business of software while being inspired by role models in the industry.

Conservation Fund

Working with public, private, and nonprofit partners, protects America’s legacy of land & water resources through land acquisition, sustainable community & economic development, and leadership training, emphasizing the integration of economic & environmental goals.

Those are just a couple of picks, check out GiveWell and Charity Navigator to find organizations that will put your money to the best use.

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One more quick note. A big thanks for stopping by and paying attention over the years. Gear & Grit is a hobby (yes, I have a day job) as such it is predominately supported by its readers. I don’t pack the site with obtrusive ads, popups or other junk. Instead, when you click a link and purchase something on Amazon or elsewhere I might get a small kickback which helps to keep the server running.

Thank you, and happy holidays!

Gifts for Cyclists

The Gift of a Season Extending Kit

I’m sticking to my guns on this recommendation and carrying it over from last year. The best gift for any cyclist is the gift of fresh kit. Clothing wears quickly but when given the choice between replacing components or replacing worn out shorts, most cyclists are going to go with the former.

The Black Bibs Namesake Bibs are a fantastic budget pick at just $40 a pair, perfect for long indoor rides throughout the winter. Another great option is a fresh new jersey from TwinSix.

My top pick for this year, though, is the gift of a season extension. Cold weather doesn’t have to mean you only ride indoors for 3-5 months. Castelli’s Alpha Ros jacket paired with their LW bib tights and Cw.3.1 gloves make riding very comfortable even in the low to mid-30s. Pearl Izumi thermal shoe covers and a simple skull cap round out a great cold weather kit.

Cycling Component Gifts

A little bicycle refresh is always appreciated, especially for consumables like tires and handlebar tape. Pirelli’s new P-Zero tires are quick and corner amazingly a welcome upgrade on any road bike. My favorite bar tape for a few years now has been Cinneli’s affordable and attractive cork gel ribbon tape. Silca’s Sicuro titanium water bottle holder is a beautiful, hand-made in the U.S. upgrade for any bike. Finally, while I wouldn’t recommend blindly buying a cyclist a new saddle (pictured is a Brooks C17) taking them shopping, or better yet for a saddle fitting, can completely revolutionize their ride.

Cycling Accessories Gifts

When it comes to accessories for cyclists, a few products really stood out to me this year. First off, Rapha’s Classic Crochet gloves are the best glove I’ve ever worn. The leather is soft and supple and the knit back is simply incredible for wiping away sweat. Crank Brothers Mutli Bicycle Tool remains my carry-along tool of choice for every ride. For maintenance, Wend Chain Wax has changed the game. No more sticky, grimy, dirty chain lube. Just a quiet, nearly perennially clean drivetrain. Silca’s Borsa Americano is the penultimate jersey storage bag. It’ll carry your phone, a multi-tool, CO2 pump and money/cards and keep everything out of the weather. Finally, Athlete Performance Luxury Chamois Cream is next level; it’s cooling, clean and smells pleasant. What more could you want?

Cycling Nutrition Gifts

CamelBak Podium water bottles replaced all my old bottles this year, and I’m not looking back. Getting a quick drink is essential when riding or racing and these things are like a firehouse compared to the piddly delivery of old junky bottles. As for what’s going in them. Nuun electrolyte tablets have completely cured me of post-ride headaches that plagued me for years. And for nutrition, Science in Sports energy gels are the best I’ve used. Easy to get down during hard efforts, zero digestion issues and they provide quick energy delivery. So much better than the Silly-Putty-esque gels of yesteryear. Finally, while hard science on CBD is still forthcoming, anecdotally I’m loving Floyd’s of Leadville’s products. Their RecoveryProtein and HydrationFuel really seem to help me recover and get rid of inflammation and little pains quickly without turning to NSAIDs.

Gifts for Hiking and the Outdoors

Salewa’s Firetail 3 GTX approach shoes might just be my favorite piece of gear this year. Whether it was summiting Long’s Peak without a single blister despite 16 miles of hiking or comfortably toting my daughter around Glacier National Park, the shoes handled everything I threw at them with ease. Also due their credit are Farm to Feet socks which wicked away sweat, dried quickly and again, left me blister free.

A set of good dry sacks is always helpful in the outdoors. The BioLite FirePit is just cool. For the glamper in your life Yeti’s Hondo base camp chair is a great pick. Keep yourself or your giftee safe with a new water filter. Another standout piece of gear for me this year was PETZL’s Tikkina headlamp. It’s affordable, small, lightweight and does everything I need it to without any silly bells and whistles. Finally some books, Picturing America’s National Parks is an amazing collection of landscape photography, National Parks of the USA is a great way to introduce kids to their public lands and the Atlas Obscura (and kids edition) will inspire a lot of fun travel. 

For father’s, I have one more piece of gear advice when it comes to the outdoors. Osprey’s POCO child carrier backpack is a must-have for any serious hiking while hauling a kiddo. It’s incredibly comfortable for both the carrier and those being carried and it’s a level above everything else out there. I’d happily carrry it all day long.

Gifts for Foodies

If you’re into food, you probably already have an Instant Pot and sous vide cooker or they’re already on your list. From there I have to recommend you peruse gift guides from EaterFood52Serious Eats, and Kitchn. A few things that caught my eye; the Five Two double-sided cutting boardSalt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat (watch the Netflix special while you’re at it) and this awesome Taco Passport. Bee’s wrap reusable food wraps are a great replacement for worthless clingwrap.

Books to Gift

I love my Kindle Paperwhite and now there’s an updated version that’s waterproof, lighter & thinner. Plus it has Bluetooth for audiobooks. Physical books are great too:

More Gift Ideas

One of the first places I stop before I buy something for around the house is Wirecutter. A great jumping off point is their Gifts We Want to Give in 2018.

The 2018 Christmas Catalog from Tools & Toys is very well put together. From the Field Cast Iron Skillet to beautiful enamel steel signs from Best Made (one of which is waiting to be hung up in my home) there’s something for just about anyone. How could you go wrong with a Lego Voltron kit?

From the NY Times’ collection of gift guides comes a great recommendation; a US National Parks annual pass. And Bananagrams, who doesn’t love Bananagrams?

A few more gift guides if you’re still stumped: Daily NousRed Tricycle, Cup of JoBuzzfeedDaily NousTom’s GuideEngadget, and The Guardian.

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