Adventure racers love stuff. Lots of stuff. Lots and lots of stuff. I’ve got kayaks, mountain bikes, inflatable rafts, climbing equipment, running gear, and enough performance clothing in my house that sometimes I find things tucked away that I had completely forgotten about in the first place. Seriously, I might be a hoarder. But the good news is that this makes adventure racers absolutely perfect for getting them a gift. Christmas? Birthday? Anniversary? Just because they’re awesome? Since we need and love so much gear (and there’s so much awesome gear out there we want), buying a gift for an adventure racer should be a breeze, right?
Not so much.
It’s a classic case of “paralysis by analysis”. There’s just so much cool outdoor gear, workout clothes, and sports equipment that you can easily get overwhelmed by all the choices, throw in the towel, and buy a gift card. Nobody likes gift cards, that’s the lazy way out. Let me help you get your adventure racer something he/she will love.
As an adventure racer myself, I’m always keeping my eye out for stuff that will help me perform better as an adventure racer. My Amazon cart always has a few “I want this” items, and don’t even get me started on my wish list. I’ve compiled a top 10 list of what I think are the best gifts that will put a smile on any adventure racer’s face. These pieces of gear come highly recommended, not just by me, but by many adventure racers. So don’t sweat if you’re getting them something they want, because I’m positive all of these will be well received. Oh, and don’t worry, even though there’s a lot of pricey gear out there, I’m only listing stuff that I think is reasonably.
One last thing – it’s okay that maybe you just buy it for yourself. Sometimes you gotta just treat yourself.
- Salomon Speedcross 4. Every adventure racer has a ton of shoes and Salomon has some of the most popular shoes in the AR community. Their newly released Speedcross 4 is a big improvement to the already excellent Speedcross 3 and looks like a very promising, with impressive lugs for traction in the loose soil and mud, protection for the ankles (plenty of ankle rolling when out bushwacking through the woods), and a modest heel drop (helps ensure mid-foot strike, improving posture and reducing injury chances). Can’t go wrong with a great set of shoes!
- Bodyglide.Ever had a bad case of chafing? Well, I sure have, and let me tell you, it ain’t fun. This stuff stops chafing dead in its tracks. I use it before every race and every long training day. Trust me, you can never have enough of these, I’ve got them in my house, my truck, my office, you name it.
- Feed Zone Portables. Does your racer a DIY type or big into nutrition? Then they’ll probably like this popular book Feed Zone Portables, which is loved by many endurance athletes. Lots of tasty recipes designed for athletes to consume while they’re training and racing. You’ll notice that the next few items are all nutrition focused and for a very good reason. Adventure Racers have to constantly feed themselves during their extremely long races, so the necessity to fuel their bodies correctly is paramount. Feed Zone Portables gives racers a long list of yummy foods they can make themselves ensure they stay in the game.
- Tailwind Electrolyte Powder. This is a personal favorite of mine and you’ll almost never find me out on the trails without it. Tailwind powder is “liquid calories”, allowing a racer to dump a scoop of powder into their water bottles and drink their food. I’m a huge fan because I hate carrying around lots of bars and gels in my pockets, and can instead just slowly hydrate myself and feed myself simultaneously. Specially formulated for endurance activities, Tailwind’s nutritional content helps prevent cramping, muscles soreness, and keeps racers competitive for hours and hour. A must-have for any adventure racer.
- Huma Gels. Okay, I know in the previous paragraph I kinda talked trash about gels and bars. And I stand by that, with a few exceptions. Huma Gels are one of those exceptions. Chia-seed based, these gel packets provide long-lasting energy for athletes as chia seeds are slow-digesting carbohydrates that are far more nutritious than what you find in the standard sugar-based energy gels. Also, they’re crazy delicious, I have to stop myself from eating too many when I’m out on a long bike ride.
- Seal Line Map Case. Adventure Racing requires lots of orienteering, which if you’re unfamiliar, is reading a map and plotting a course from where you currently are to where you want to go. The best racers are those who can navigate the fastest between points. And you can’t do that if your map turns into mush because it got wet. I’ve seen plenty of racers out on the course with their maps in a simple zip-lock bag, which works if you’re doing a short race, but if I figure if you’re interested in buying a gift for an adventure racer, they’re probably the type who does the longer races. So they need a proper case to keep their map dry and safe. The Seal Line Map Case is the industry standard.
- Petzl Tikka XP Headlamp. Many races start in the dark, finish in the dark, or go through the night. There are tons of top notch light systems out there, but I don’t think many of them are worth all the pricey bells and whistles, as you typically don’t end up using all the custom functions. Most racers are best served by something that is rugged, dependable, and long lasting. Petzl’s Tikka XP fits into that category and is a great bargain too. It’s not top of the line, but you’ll sure to see a smile and get a big “thank you” from your racer when you give it to them.
- Injinji 2.0 Compression Over The Calf Toesocks. Okay, I now what you’re thinking. They look weird. Toe socks? Who even wears those? Well, actually, quite a few of the best endurance athletes, that’s who. These socks provide 3 distinct advantages to many other socks on the market: They are as close to blister-proof as a sock can be thanks to the moisture wicking material and extremely close fit that comes from individually covering each toe. Their compression provides additional support to the calf muscles, helping speed recovery by improved blood flow and clearing of the lymphatic system. And finally, the knee-high length provides racers additional protection from all the inevitable off-trail bushwacking that takes place during a race. Goofy looking? Sure. But a serious Adventure Racer isn’t too concerned with looking suave. They want serious gear to help them out, and these socks are it.
- Primal Endurance. If you’re racer enjoys diving deep is a big time self-improver and/or loves reading about the latest in science and training methodologies, this is the must-have book. Brad Kearns and Mark Sission provide some radical proposals about intentionally training slow and easy in order to accumulate the modest, incremental changes to the cardiovascular system that’s crucial to long-term success in endurance sports. Contrary to the typical “no pain, no gain” and heavy training based programs currently popular in the endurance communities, this book is jam-packed with actionable material. I’m joking when I sleep with it, because it’s on the top of my book pile on my night stand. 10/10, must read.
- A kickass adventure race shirt. Okay, full disclosure. Shameless self-promotion here, but if you want to get your adventure racer something unique and not just another piece of gear (not that they don’t love their gear), head over to AdventureRaceHub.com’s shop, where you can check out the unique apparel my wife and I have created for the adventure racing community. You may have noticed that many adventure racing shirts are junky quality, with poorly printed logos and ill-fitting. Not our stuff. Trust me, they’ll love it, and if they don’t, I’ll send you a refund!