Mathias’ Favorite Things for Holidays 2016

20 November 2015 | Episode |

REI will be closed Black Friday and The Outdoor Society will be joining thousands who will #OptOutside this coming weekend. The holidays are a great excuse to go hiking, but also are a time to start thinking of gifts for your family and friends. For those of us who love nature, there is no better gift to give  than one that encourages, and perhaps even challenges your loved ones to go outside and experience nature. Getting someone out in the great outdoors lets them experience new adventures all year long.

Because our goal is to get the entire nation out enjoying the wilderness, we have compiled our first gift guide for the season. The list includes some of my favorite things- Call it Mathias’ Favorite Things. Some of the gear I use, some I have tried and tested, while others are high on my list of I want to give for the new year. Everything listed below is sure to get every nature lover in your family excited. 

(Disclaimer: We signed up for an affiliate program with some of the retailers we mention here. Thus if you click any of the mentioned product links and end up buying anything, we might get some some cash thrown back at us. We would love that, because that means we can continue to provide awesome content for this magazine for long time to come. Plus, we’d thank you from the bottom of our hearts.)

The Outdoor Society Mountains of the Pacific Northwest 2016 Calendar


Let’s be honest here for a second. The must-have item on any outdoor lover’s wishlist must be our The Outdoor Society Mountains of the Olympic Peninsula 2016 photography calendar.
The calendar include not only stunning mountain photos for every month of the year, but also a practical grid calendar and an inspirational quote to keep you motivated.
Buy not just one for yourself, but get one for everyone in your family you love. In fact, if you don’t buy your family members each their own, I doubt you really love them. Seriously.


Topo Maps + for iOS

phone_planFor running around town Strava is my app of choice. It tracks my runs and gives me all the data I want/need for keeping me in shape. However, once I head into the backcountry, away from cell coverage, my needs change a bit. TopoMaps (reviewed here) by our friends at Glacier Peak Studios, allows me to download and take high resolution topo maps out in the wilderness. The GPS tracking, which even works in Airplane mode, allows me to confidently go off-trail. Accurate pinpointing of my location on the map lets me make the right decisions even in poor visibility (we tested and experienced this).  The app tracks my trips and I can set way markers to make sense of the squiggle lines when I’m back home, trying to figure out how to write and tell you about my experiences. The App is free to download, with annual subscription is $15. It is a steal for such a great value.


Hangboard and Forearm Trainer

I wouldn’t want to live without the Back Diamond forearm trainers. REI discontinued the simple rubbery rings, but you can get them directly on the Black Diamond website. When not used, the cute little ring sits on my desk and makes a great iPhone holder. Whenever I need a break from writing or am stuck in a conference call, I pick it up and pump it.

800150_forearm_trainer_webOne thing I’ll be adding for next year is a hangboard over the door frame. I’m not sure how this will work during conference calls, but I’m using one at my climbing gym and I love to just hang.hangboard


Ultralight Backpacks

For years, I’ve been using the same backpack- A trusty old Jack Wolfskin Phantom. It is so old, I can’t even link to it. It’s older than the internet. The backpack is sturdy and large enough to take out for long day-trips with various weather conditions where I might need to pack several different layers, but…
Over last couple of years I’ve been slowly warming up to the idea of an ultralight backpack. I’m getting faster on the trails and I need a smaller pack for quick trips.
The backpacks I’d choose from are:

Patagonia Ascensionist 25 Pack

The 25 liter Ascensionist pack is straightforward, almost too simplistic, and comes in awesome colors and even greater reputation. Just watch the video on Patagonia’s website and tell you don’t love the way the dude talks about walking through Chamonix.

Gossamer Gear Type II 26 Summit Pack


Gossamer Gear heard about my need for a new pack and sent me their Type II 26 Summit Pack to try out. It’s very different than the Patagonia and offers tons of pockets and access points. Where the Patagonia pack is almost too simplistic, it’s clear that Gossamer Gear, with their Type II 26 Summit Pack, have thought of it all. The pack has tons of pockets, including two great pockets on the hip belt, which are great for keeping your phone to have quick access for taking pictures. Sadly, it is only available in one color and on the higher end of my price spectrum.

Marmot Kompressor Plus 20 Pack


The Marmot Kompressor Plus 20 Pack is a bit small for my liking, but has all the bells and whistles I want without feeling overly fussy. A hydration pack pocket inside is super helpful. That’s one thing I am really missing on my trusty old Jack Wolfskin.

REI Flash Pack 22


REIs’ Flash 22 is the cheapest of the bunch. In function, the pack is very similar to the Marmot’s Kompressor pack, but 2 liters bigger, which is great. Their new version that’s rolling out in 2016 is greatly improved from their previous model, thanks to a better shoulder strap system and much improved webbing on the side pockets. Also, I found in their stores a very cool new color.


Run Farther, Climb Further

Last year I scored a pair of cool Adidas trail shoes during the Reinhold Messner event in Seattle. I’ve been using these low cut shoes with lots of trepidation, as I’ve been always a big proponent of boots that protect the ankle. Low and behold, I enjoy the shoes on the trail and am not missing the higher ankle support. For the coming year, I am planning on adding a pair of proper mountaineering boots for the more serious peaks Doug and I plan on tackling.

Salewa has the most colorful pairs on the market. Yes, that is super important for me, in case you haven’t noticed. The South Tyrol company has been making high-end mountain gear for many years and their product is absolute top notch. It’s a bit hard to score those awesome mountaineering boots, as not many shops carry the brand in the US with all their cool colors. That being said, they are definitely worth checking out.
All my running shoes are Adidas and I am a very happy customer on and off the trail. I’ve never had issues by picking up the cheapest pair I could find. However, the aforementioned Salewa have an incredible looking pair of speed ascents shoes, as they call it, that I would love to try out to, well, speedily ascent mountains.



Stay tuned for more gear suggestions from The Outdoor Society elves.