Gadling’s cold weather gift guide

Patagonia Wanaka jacket coat cold weather gift guide winter Gadling gadlingChristmas is less than two weeks away (and Hanukkah wishes are now being expressed belatedly), and that’s still plenty of time to shop for all of your favorite people. We’ve already covered the best gifts for outdoor travelers and the top luxury travel gifts, so this time around we’re focusing on people who embrace winter.

You know the type: the adventurers who see snow and can’t wait to get outside to enjoy the season. OK, these gifts are also for people who barely tolerate a cool breeze and just need some gear to help them survive the next three months.

However, don’t have to simply survive winter. You can enjoy it – and look good – with the right gear. So, bundle up, pour some hot cocoa into your favorite travel mug (we’ll get to that shortly) and head outside. We rallied the Gadling troops and put together a list of our favorite winter gear. This is Gadling’s cold weather gift guide.

Mike Barish

I love the Patagonia Wanaka down jacket (pictured above). There’s nothing I hate more than someone in a fashionable pea coat complaining about the cold. Maybe if they dressed properly, they’d be comfortable. On the flip side, so many warm coats are just plain ugly. Unlike all the bubble jackets you’ll see everyone wearing every winter, the Wanaka is a down jacket that actually looks good. It manages to combine fashion and function by looking sleek while packing 600-fill down inside. ($349 at Patagonia)

I also never leave the house without my Dale of Norway knit cap. Dale of Norway gear is beyond warm and I could probably wear nothing but their knit cap and still be comfortable outside. I haven’t been able to find my exact hat online (my girlfriend picked it up while she was in Norway) but you can shop for their gear at high-end sporting goods stores and sites such as Amazon and Zappos. ($49 on Amazon)

If you like to take coffee (or, if you’re like me, hot chocolate) with you, then you’re going to want to carry it in Klean Kanteen’s insulated bottle. It will keep your beverages hot for an astonishingly long time. (Starting at $22.95 at Klean Kanteen)

Grant Martin

icebreaker realfleece aspiring hood winter gear gift guide GadlingOur well-traveled editor is a big fan of the Icebreaker 320 RealFleece Aspiring Hood. He’s sung its praises previously and continues to enjoy Icebreaker equipment. The merino wool keeps you warm and doesn’t absorb odor. Great for when you’re breaking a sweat on the slopes, chopping wood or just building a snowman. ($200 at Icebreaker)

Darren Murph

Leave it to our favorite Engadget Associate Editor to recommend the Recon-Zeal Transcend goggles with built-in GPS. As he noted on Engadget, these goggles are “equipped with a Zeal Optics’ frame design with a micro LCD display, which appears to hang approximately six feet in front of the user. That head-mounted display provides real-time feedback to the wearer, including speed, latitude / longitude, altitude, vertical distance traveled, total distance traveled, a chrono / stopwatch mode, a run-counter, temperature and time.” Wow. ($399 or $499 depending on model at Zeal Optics)

Scott Carmichael

For someone who lives in Chicago, Scott sure does hate winter. Maybe that’s why he recommended Zippo’s new hand warmer. It might look like a classic Zippo lighter, but you won’t see any flame coming out of this hand warmer. It uses Zippo lighter fluid to provide hunters, skiiers and Chicago commuters with portable warmth when their fingers start to go numb. ($19.95 at Zippo)

Kent Wien

gadling gear guide winter arc'teryxGadling’s resident pilot loves Arc’teryx gear (so much so that he let us use a picture of his lovely wife, Linda, modeling some of her favorite pieces). Linda highly recommended her Beta AR jacket and Strato fleece. According to Kent, “You’ll be drawn in by the colors and schemes, and hooked when you see the functionality (pockets everywhere). And then you’ll likely take a step back when you see the price. But if you take the plunge, you’ll probably be hooked on their products for life.” ($450 and $175, respectively, at Arc’teryx or much cheaper on Amazon)

Alex Robertson Textor

Alex loves Fox River Socks’ Red Heel Monkey Socks. According to Alex, “Fox River Socks manufactures the original Rockford Red Heel monkey sock, and apparently every pack of socks from Fox River comes with monkey sock instructions. I love these socks for their warmth and feel during winter.” ($12 at Fox River Socks)

Laurel Miller

Laurel gushed about her Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Jacket. “It’s microlight (9 oz.), compresses to the size of a softball, 850 plus fill power goosedown, and it’s gotten me through a winter in Telluride (including skiing, which I usually won’t do in down), and mountaineering in a blizzard on the world’s highest active volcano in Ecuador. I wore a waterproof shell over it in that instance. I’ve slept in it on camping trips, and have generally abused the hell out of it and it’s still maintaining it’s loft, and is in perfect condition (albeit a bit grubby). I got caught in a Seattle rainstorm yesterday wearing it, and it still didn’t soak through. It’s the ultimate traveler’s/backpackers jacket, and great for women like me who are perpetually cold, but don’t want to wear a bulky jacket or loads of layers.” ($260 on Amazon)

Kraig Becker

Perhaps no one at Gadling knows more about outdoor gear than Kraig. When he recommends products, we all listen. He’s a big fan of the Outdoor Research Alti Gloves. “A good layering system is only part of the answer for staying warm. You’ll also want something to keep your hands and head warm too. For the hands, I recommend a pair of Alti Gloves from Outdoor Research, which are designed for technical climbing in extreme conditions, which means they’ll also keep you warm on the slopes, during a winter hike, or any other winter outdoor activity.” ($150 at Outdoor Research)

Kraig also recommends layering in the winter, including starting with PolarMax Base Layers. “These base layers come in three varieties; warm, warmer, and warmest. Most Gadling readers will probably be very happy with the “Travel Weight” option, which is light weight, but still very warm. For colder weather outdoor adventures, such as backcountry skiing or snowshoeing, jump up to the “Mountain Skins,” which are high performance gear for the active cold weather traveler.” (Starting at $19.99 at Sport Chalet and other sporting goods retailers)

Lastly, Kraig loves the Eddie Bauer First Ascent Hangfire Hoodie. “Their Hangfire Hoodie is an amazing piece of gear that works great as an outer layer jacket in cool weather and an insulating layer in under a shell in cold weather. It is form fitting, but designed to move, making it easy to be very active while not limiting motion. It also looks great and is just as comfortable for use around town as it is in the backcountry. I highly recommend this one!” ($99 at Eddie Bauer)

Annie Scott

Annie loves the feel of cashmere and recommends White + Warren for all of your cashmere needs. That said, when it’s time to be practical with a pair of gloves that keep you warm and let you use your iPhone, she has other ideas. “Tec Touch gloves let you use your iPhone and other devices with your gloves on.” (Starting at $20 at 180s)

McLean Roberts

I recently invested in a pair of Pajar Davos boots. They’re the perfect winter weather wear – not so much gear as they are a fashion statement that actually keeps you both warm and comfortable … Think more apres ski in Telluride or Aspen than anything else. Made of real fur and lined with sheep, these sturdy and comfortable boots are both waterproof and durable, boasting a sturdy rubber liner at the bottom that prevents slipping. Oh, and they aren’t Uggs, so people won’t make fun of you. Okay, they might…I look like I’m wearing a small animal on my foot, but at least I’m warm.” ($350 at Jildor Shoes)

Melanie Nayer

gadling winter gear guide stanley flaskWe’ll wrap things up with the wise words of one of our editors:

I love winter. The idea of bundling up in warm sweaters, cozy scarfs and mittens and cuddling by the fire after snowshoeing through the mountains is a perfect way to celebrate the season, in my opinion. But when it comes to the best winter gear, I simply have no idea. I take whatever is warmest from my closet and layer it on, but when Mike asked us to submit our favorites I couldn’t ignore his request.

A good flask and a little whiskey go a long way. I couldn’t tell you what brand my snow boots are or what layer of warmth my ski pants are tagged, but I can assure you a little Johnny Walker Black can warm you up nicely on a cold winter’s day.

So very true. Melanie didn’t recommend a specific flask, but we’ve long had our eyes on this handsome model from Stanley. It holds eight ounces of your favorite warming liquid and you’ll never lose the cap. ($20 at Stanley)

National Geographic maps available on new GPS device

National Geographic maps avaialbe on the Active 10 TREK GPS deviceEarlier this week National Geographic announced that it was joining forces with Satmap to release a handheld GPS device that offers support for a range of maps from their library. The collaboration of the two organizations means that backpackers, hikers, and adventure travelers will have an electronic version of Nat Geo’s award winning Topo!, Trails Illustrated, and AdventureMaps in the palm of their hands for the first time.

The Active 10 TREK is a fully featured GPS device that has been on sale in Europe for some time, but makes its way stateside thanks to this partnership. It comes fully loaded with U.S. and World base maps, which offer a solid level of detail for the average user looking to navigate between landmarks. But the device also supports expansion through the use of SD cards, and that is where the National Geographic maps come into play.

Nat Geo has already made 14 of their Topo! map guides, which contain USGS topographic map data, available for use on the Active 10. Those maps cover Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, the Mid-Atlantic region, Montana, Nevada, New England, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. The rest of the states and other regions of the U.S. will be made available in the first quarter of 2011. Additionally, three of the Trails Illustrated maps are available as well covering California’s Sierra Nevada, the Southern Appalachians and America’s “Greatest National Parks.” Entries into the AdventureMaps category, which includes international destinations, will be added in the future as well. Topographic map packs are also available for most Western European countries too.

The actual GPS device clocks in at an MSRP of $369.99 and each of the National Geographic Maps SD cards run $99.99 each. The complete line of products launched this week and is already available online. Click here for more information on the Active 10 Trek and here for a look at the various maps packs that are currently available.

This combination of the Active 10 and the Nat Geo map packs should be a great tool for adventure travelers. The National Geographic maps are packed with information and preset points of interests, which make them perfect for navigation in a variety of remote locations around the world. The device has plenty of nice options as well, including a long battery life, a bright, color screen, ruggedized construction, and a fast processor, all of which help to ease the navigation process. I know I’d certainly enjoy finding one of these under my tree this holiday season.

Ayn Rand fanatic travels to send GPS message

In today’s politically polarized climate, die-hards will do anything to get a leg up in the battle for communication. Larger crowds are sought, along with bigger signs, louder voices and greater media play. The days of slapping bumper stickers on random cars are giving way to more sophisticated stunts, and Nick Newcomen just set the bar higher with an unusual road trip.

Newcomen put 12,328 miles on his car while crossing through 30 states to write “Read Ayn Rand” on Google Earth with his GPS device. Mashable writes:

Newcomen – who explained to Wired that he undertook this mission simply because he is a Rand fan – took more than 30 days to execute this task, using a GPS logger (Qstarz BT-Q1000X) to create the letters. He started in Marshall, Texas, where he began writing out “Rand,” and then drove on (turning off the GPS whilst not writing) until the entire, “Reading Is Fundamental” sentiment was complete.

Ayn Rand’s (rather anemic) philosophy puts forth the primacy of the individual over the group and believes that merit should be the sole arbiter of success. She was also a big fan of keeping the government out of just about everything, which is why many are using her words and works as a rallying cry against the current administration in Washington.

Of course, I’ve always wondered how Rand herself would have felt about the cult of personality that has evolved around her work. She had no shortage of lackeys while she was alive – including Nathaniel Branden and Alan Greenspan – and she seemed to be pretty happy to be lauded. On the other hand, a fairly strict interpretation of her philosophy would result in the criticism of efforts such as Newcomers, as it would encourage people to go accomplish stuff on their own and give up the fanboy fawning.

One final criticism: if he were a real fan, he would have ended his trip to Colorado with a bracelet made from Rearden Metal on his wrist.

[photo via World’s Biggest Writing]

GPS: More than just a road map – International travel tip

Traveling abroad and don’t have an iPhone or other smart phone device? Got a GPS? A GPS can be your best travel companion.

Sure it can get you from point A to point B but many units also have a built in travel kit including —
* bilingual dictionaries,
* world clock,
* currency converter,
* measurement converter, and
* calculator.

It can really be a handy resource when you find yourself physically or mentally lost in an unfamiliar place!

[Photo: Flickr | u07ch]

Cockpit Chronicles: Navigating Paris with an iPhone GPS

I’ve lamented on Cockpit Chronicles about my distaste of four-day trips. I’ve come to realize that I shouldn’t be flying such long trips after I came home once and I could actually see the growth in my two daughters.

But when a rare (for the Boston base anyway) six-day trip showed up on our bid sheets, I had to rethink my bidding preferences. The trip had a 24-hour stay in New York between two Paris layovers, and since my wife and kids were already away visiting relatives, I figured I may as well be working.

I’d be flying as a relief pilot working with Boston, Miami and New York pilots. The layovers in Paris and downtown Manhattan easily made up for the loss of stick-time since I wouldn’t be at the controls for any takeoff or landing. I would likely meet some new people from the other bases as well which can be nice.

The evening trip to Paris started off with a Boston crew that I’ve flown with before, and went without a hitch. We managed to catch a nice view of the high altitude (300,000 feet) noctilucent clouds, a spectacular phenomenon that I’ve written about before. It never gets old, especially since it’s visible for just two months out of the year.
Captain Mark flew a beautiful morning arrival into Paris, after which we piled onto the crew bus for the long ride to the hotel, near the center of the city. While the location is amazingly convenient for sightseeing, the bus ride on weekdays can take as much as 2 hours and 10 minutes to travel just 21 miles. I’ve often thought we’d do better on a bike.

On this morning though, we were lucky to keep a relatively good pace, arriving at the lobby just an hour and a half after we left the airplane.

While on the bus, I did a bit of sightseeing. Since my iPhone required a data connection to view the maps as we traveled, I couldn’t use the GPS function to get a better feel of where we were. Since the iPhone doesn’t store the maps by default, an extremely expensive roaming data charge would be needed to see where we were. In fact, as an experiment, I once checked my location on the map in Paris and racked up $6 in roaming data charges in less than a minute.

But then I remembered a really inexpensive iPhone app called GPS MotionX (itunes link) that allows you to cache maps just for the area you’re traveling to by drawing a circle and pressing the download button. With the fast WiFi network and an $8 a month Boingo account, I managed to download the maps back at the hotel.

So many times I’ve followed other crewmembers around the city, checking out museums, restaurants, shops and of course the bike tour through Paris and I would have loved to have known what our route had been between the sights.

With the recent ability to run apps in the background on the iPhone, GPS MotionX allows you to track your path through the city, and even take pictures along the way at each stop or at an interesting sight. For those without a privacy concern in the world, you can even share, in realtime but at designated intervals, your path via Twitter or Facebook.

It also lets you know the distance traveled, the current, average and top speeds, and the elevation that’s depicted in a profile view. The ability to snap a picture at certain waypoints would have given me a much better understanding of a city. Paris is probably the best example, since there’s just so much to experience.

It’s a big city. A GPS could come in handy.

So when the other two Boston pilots and I decided to meet up at 3 p.m. to venture out around the city, with no specific plans, I could tell this would be a good track to record on the iPhone.

Once I explained the function of the GPS app, the path almost became a quest itself as we proceeded. We stopped at a cafe to meet up with the flight attendants, but decided not to eat dinner there, since we had already made plans to go to Willy’s Wine Bar, a restaurant that I hadn’t been to before, which meant I could add it to my list of conquered Parisian restaurants.

Unfortunately we discovered a full house at Willy’s, so we continued on to another place the captain knew about. While it didn’t quite garner a spot in my address book of favorite restaurants in the city, it wasn’t bad, and the appetizer, raclette covered potatoes, may make me want to come back for another entreé.

At least I’ll have the GPS track to remember just how to get there.

By the time we arrived back at the hotel, the MotionX app told us we had walked for 3 hours and 16 minutes, covering 8.16 miles at an average of 2.5 miles per hour. Adding up all the hills we climbed totaled 477 feet, so I don’t feel nearly as bad about the Crepe Nutella we had from an outdoor vendor on the way back.

I sent our route to the captain and first officer, but the .gpx and .kmz files it creates only store one photo from each outing. In fact, even in the app itself, there’s no way to view the pictures taken at each waypoint without digging into a few menus. If only you could touch the waypoint and the photos would pop up. Perhaps in a later version.

A few days before this trip, my wife told me she had found a great way to keep the kids entertained on vacation. She had just discovered geocaching from a friend of hers, and so she took our daughters out to a spot marked near her hometown in Germany. The kids were so excited, since they managed to go right to it without a GPS. But they were having trouble finding the next location on their list.

“Can we somehow do that with the iPhone?” She asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure there’s an app for that.” I told her. And now I think I’ve just found it.

Cockpit Chronicles takes you along on some of Kent’s trips as an international co-pilot on the Boeing 757 and 767 based in Boston. Have any questions for Kent? He’s on Twitter @veryjr.