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Few things excite skiers and snowboarders more than a deep day on the mountain. Since you can’t gift your favorite powderhound a foot of freshies, opt for the next best thing: sweet gear. Chances are, they already have the essentials—skis or a board and boots—so surprise them with picks they won’t splurge on themselves (like a cozy layer to toss on for après) or that they haven’t upgraded in a while (such as a new pair of goggles with crisp lenses). Here, our favorite picks from local brands and makers.
Colorado skiers and riders know how unpredictable the weather can be in the Rockies. That’s where Zeal Optics’ Lookout goggles ($319) come in: They combine high-end specs with low-key style that perform no matter what the conditions. The Boulder company’s cylindrical-style specs feature Zeal’s Observation Deck Technology, which translates to a slight downward tilt in the lens that helps block reflections and allows for a wider field of vision. Plus, the lenses can be seamlessly swapped and locked into place—though you won’t have to do that too often if you opt for one of the photochromic lenses that transition based on light conditions. This season, Zeal also released a pair of Lookouts in the Haa Aani collection, which features artwork from Tlingit artist Crystal Worl. Available online
Give One Year of 5280 for just $16.
Denver’s Flylow is ubiquitous on the slopes, and for good reason. Among the brand’s plethora of quality ski and snowboard apparel, the gloves and mitts manage to stand out, particularly the Wolverine Gloves ($120). Waterproofed full leather surrounds the outside; recycled Greenloft synthetic insulation adds a layer of warmth; cozy, wool-blended fabric lines the interior; and neoprene cuffs seal out any snow while tucking comfortably into jacket sleeves. So you—and your recipient—can rest assured that these gloves will last through multiple ski seasons. Available online
Ibex isn’t a new brand, but it is new to Colorado. After it was sold in 2018, the company was revived by a new owner who moved it to the adventure hub of Nederland—where people appreciate the utility of premium merino wool outdoor apparel. The Nomad Joggers ($170, available for men and women) make the perfect post-ski, lounging layer, whether you’re taking a load off at home or in a hut deep in the backcountry. They are made almost entirely from merino wool, so they’re warm, light, odor-resistant, and more sustainable than synthetic alternatives. Plus, they come in multiple colors, so you can find just the right match for your favorite shredder. Available online
Avalanche safety gear is essential for backcountry skiers and riders, and you need a rugged pack in which to carry it all. Osprey, based in southwest Colorado, is known for its durable and functional packs, including ones designed specifically for off-piste day tours. The men’s Soelden 32 ($180) and women’s Sopris 30 ($175) sport enough space to hold gear and necessary layers, while remaining sleek and dispersing the load comfortably. A front pocket is dedicated for snow safety gear and tools, like a probe and shovel; there’s a helmet harness and a goggle pocket, essential features when you’re skinning to secret powder stashes; and external straps carry skis or a splitboard with ease when it’s time to boot up couloirs. Available online
Some people might not be stoked to find a pair of department-store cotton socks in their stocking, but a high-performing pair of ski socks? Now that’s a welcome present. Steamboat Springs–based Smartwool makes wool-blended socks with a technical fit and light padding so your feet stay comfy on every adventure. The Targeted Cushion model ($28) is specifically designed for the slopes, with its over-the-calf length, thoughtful cushioning zones, and breathability. Tip: The company makes snowboard-specific versions, too, which are a little thicker. Available online
Ideally, backcountry skiers and snowboarders already have the avalanche essentials trifecta (that would be a beacon, probe, and shovel). But one of the most underrated pieces of gear—and one they may be lacking—is a set of radios to communicate with ski partners. The Mountain Radio ($110 each) from Denver’s Rocky Talkie clips to a backpack strap without impeding movement and can be paired with a hand mic. The communicator also has a range of up to five miles, depending on the terrain, and its controls are manageable even with gloves on. Available online
Looking for something splurge-worthy? Opt for a jacket. Nothing ruins a day on the hill like wind and wet snow chilling you out so much you don’t want to take another lap. The North Face knows how to make durable outerwear, and its Verbier GTX ($700, available for men and women) is the Denver company’s top-end freeride shell. It’s made with a burly wind- and waterproof Gore-Tex fabric that can stand up to the deepest powder days without wetting out or allowing the wind to bite, all while remaining breathable. The jacket’s sharp looks are matched by a loaded feature set, including spacious pockets, seam-sealed zippers, and a sleek integrated powder skirt. Available online and at the North Face stores
Vail-based Ski Town All-Stars is a small hat maker that caters to the ski community with its designs (the trucker hats, for example, feature cheeky phrases like “Après Ski Instructor”). But to pair style and warmth, opt for the Red Square ($65). The quilted, trucker-style hat has convertible ear flaps that are lined with a soft corduroy fabric. A variety of colors, from bright safety orange to subtler earth tones, means there’s an option for anyone who wants to rock the classic ski bum look. Available online
Colorado has a new contestant in the micro-grid fleece hoodie game: SkyGoat is a small apparel brand based in Summit County with deep roots in the ski community (Ram Mikulas, the founder and sole employee, spent years working in the snowsports industry before he began stitching fleeces). The Camp Hoodie ($99 for men and women, $59 for youth) is a simple and snug layer made of super-soft, color-blocked fleece. It’s technical enough to layer when riding chairlifts or motoring up the skin track on a cold day, yet casual enough to wear out for beers afterward. Available online and at local retailers, like Limber Grove, 222 S. Main St., Breckenridge
Think the skier or boarder in your life has all the gear they could possibly need? Gift them something that highlights their love of winter. Using mostly downed beetle-kill pine trees as his canvas, Leadville artist Peter Frykholm crafts 3D carvings based on topographic maps. One of his collections features ski resorts around North America, including many in the Centennial State. Snag a pre-made carving ($90) of Eldora Mountain or Arapahoe Basin, or, if you’ve got the time and budget, commission a custom piece of any map you like. Available online and at City on a Hill Coffee & Roastery, 508 Harrison Ave., Leadville