If you’ve ever called our Service Centre with an outdoor gear question, there’s a good chance the friendly voice on the other end of the line was Fred.
As a product specialist, his gear knowledge (and gear closet, shown in the photos below) runs deep. Fred’s into it all: skiing, kayaking, cycling, swimming, running, hiking and camping. “Variety is the spice of life – a spice that keeps me young,” he told us. “I really enjoy sharing my passions, experience and knowledge with others.”
With that in mind, and his 11 years of experience about all things gear at MEC, we asked for his gift picks for the season:
MEC Drencher Gloves
Tip from Fred: “A good layering system keeps you comfortable outside during activities – so don’t forget about layering your hands. I love the MEC Drencher Gloves for cycling, but I also have a pair that’s big enough to fit over thick fleece gloves for backcountry and Nordic skiing.”
“I like to pair MEC liner gloves with the Drencher Gloves as part of my hand layering system,” says Fred. “They’re also awesome on their own.” Look for ones that are touchscreen compatible for checking maps on your phone while you’re on the move.
A cross-country set up…
“I’m a huge cross-country skier – it’s a great way to stay active outside,” Fred says. “If you’re picking out Nordic skis for someone, don’t use their height to choose their ski size. Instead, go by their weight. MEC staff can help you find ski options for new skiers, since they’re tuned to be a bit shorter and easier to maneuver.”
… or a Nordic wax set-up
“A well-tuned ski will put a grin on your and your honey’s face,” says Fred. He like the Tools4Boards Compact XC Travel Vise, which turns any table into a waxing table. “After you’ve waxed and scraped, you’ve got to brush. The Kuu Nylon/Brass Brush gives you two brushes in one.”
Waterproofing wax for boots
Pop some Nikwax Waterproofing Wax for Leather in your favourite hiker’s stocking to get them set for all-season trails. “It makes old boots look like new,” says Fred. If you’re feeling extra generous, you can offer to actually apply it to their boots too.
MEC base layers
Give the gift of great base layers. “The MEC T1 Long Johns are the perfect weight under a waterproof-breathable outer layer. I use them all the time when I’m backcountry skiing.” Another option? The new MEC Peak Comfort series, which come in different weights and materials.
Trail running shoes
“I run in the Brooks Caldera 4 shoes, and they turn every trail into a groomer,” says Fred. His front door is only an 8-minute run from some gnarly trails, so we’ll take his word for it. Want more brands to choose from? Check out all trail running shoes.
“I somewhat reluctantly share this, it’s that good,” says Fred. The Wild Coast Kayak & Hiking Guide Vol 2 is loaded with detailed trip info; one of Fred’s favourites from an earlier edition of this book was a week-long paddle through the Broken Group Islands on the west coast of BC. “I’d definitely do that trip again,” he says. Check out the full selection of guidebooks and maps for more inspiration.
Quality cord or rope
Okay, so “static cord” might not be top of mind for a wishlist item. But Fred says, “Good quality multi-use cord will bring lots of joy and years of use – it’s great for rigging tarps. My favourite thing is that it ties solid knots, unties nicely and doesn’t get tangled so you can use it again.” It also serves as reusable ribbon when you’re wrapping gifts in eco-friendly ways.
A big thank you to Fred for giving his favourite gift picks, and for sharing a peek at his gear closet.