1. Orange Seal Tubeless Sealant - $13 for 8 oz. bottle
Switching from standard sealant to Orange Seal Sealant lets us focus on the trail, scenery and navigation rather than worrying about flats. The secret ingredient is what Orange Seal calls “nanites” and should plug holes up to 1/4". Next level stuff.
2. Feedback Summit Digital Scale - $50
Digital scales serve multiple functions. First, weigh your kit and decide how much weight you're willing/able to carry. Second, make your own food. Coffee snob? You better measure out that 18 grams for your aeropress. The Feedback is reliable and easy to use.
3. Heart Coffee - Colombia Buesaco - $20 for 12 oz.
Heart cares about quality beans. It costs a bit more, but you get what you pay for, and Heart is making the trips to Colombia to establish the relationships with the growers. They're buying relatively small batches and roasting them for freshness. Added bonus: you can buy directly from their website. Keep an eye on new varieties, since they change weekly, even daily.
Spot's GPS messengers are peace of mind, for both the rider heading out into the backcountry as well as your loved ones at home. If you haven't followed a race, like the AZTR or the Tour Divide. The reason you're able to follow the blue dot online is the Spot tracker. The rider is able to send “all OK” messages and your people at home can track your progress online. Super cool! And if everything goes wrong and you can't get yourself out, help is a button push away. The hardware cost is only the first investment, service is the real cost, but the Spot is essential, so just get one already.
5. Oakley Frogskins - $110
Metallic Black with Ruby Iridium. I'm pretty sure Frogskins were the first pair of shades that I just HAD to have. They were clear with metallic blue lenses. They were so rad. Still are. We're going to give Frogskins the nod for bikepacking as well, since they're lightweight, durable and give you that all important “normal person” look when you stop back in civilization and you're less likely to be called “Lance Armstrong” by the locals. I counted about 30 different frame and lens combinations on the Oakley site, so the odds are good that you can find your unique flavor.
The U.L. stands for - you guessed it - ultralight. 7.6 oz. to be exact. It's not even their lightest down jacket, but this one struck the best balance of price and features for me. For example, their Plasma 1000 comes in at 4.8 oz. but it's $269 and for that price you don't get pockets. Packability is the other benefit. Come winter, there's no reason to leave home without one of these in your pack.
One of my favorite albums. Upbeat, cosmic, grooving, inspired. I'm not even a huge jazz fan, but this is one of those that transcends genre, and one worth buying on vinyl. Luckily for you it was reissued in 2013. More importantly, go buy the people you love some vinyl. It's still sounds the best and if you love an album enough, owning it on vinyl is the ultimate - you get to enjoy the cover art at full scale and it just feels right. The more I listen to itunes or Spotify, the more I want to enjoy music the way it was intended, with soul, and a bit of imperfection. Besides a gift guide with just gear is a bit boring.
8. Rapha Rain Jacket - $285
I've been using the Rapha Rain Jacket for the last four years, maybe longer. It has kept me surprisingly dry on everything from soaking training rides to drizzly bikepacking in Alaska. Rapha has upgraded it this year with sealed seams and a hot blaze orange colorway that will keep you seen by both cars and hunters. Hi viz is not a fashion statement, it's survival. The cut is trim for cycling, but you should have no problem layering it over a base layer and wool jersey.