Part of you doesn’t want to buy The Athlete any gift at all. He roughhouses at the Thanksgiving football game; he runs negative splits at the charity 5K; he seems to be toweling off every time your girlfriend is around. While we’re all worse for wear, he’s aging like a Rodin. But ultimately, he’s a good guy who just really likes to get the blood flowing. He whipped you into shape for Tough Mudder, remember? And who came along for a second opinion when you bought the used Cervelo? Who’s consistently willing to do an aerial chest bump? Yeah, that’s him. Go ahead, get him a little something nice for the holidays this year. We’ve got all the ideas you need.
There’s nothing today’s athlete loves more than exercise-related data. For the hardcore, it helps improve performance faster and with greater precision; for the aspiring, it gives the feedback necessary to set realistic expectations; for everyone else, it’s fun to see how many calories you burned walking from the brick oven pizza joint to the ice cream parlor. FitBit’s newest activity tracker uses an altimeter and accelerometer to keep tabs on your exercise (steps taken, calories burned, etc.); it also tracks sleep patterns and syncs wirelessly to the cloud so you can review your stats on FitBit’s website or via the app. Bonus points for a handsome, unobtrusive design.
Baseball Express Custom Glove Builder
Got an aspiring ball player in the family? Wait a few years before you give him grandpa’s 1950s Draper & Maynard, and in the meantime, get him something he can use: a custom glove from Rawlins or Wilson though Baseball Express. Choose one of the same gloves pros like Albert Pujols or Evan Longoria wear or build one from scratch, choosing everything from lace color to embroidery text. Skoal stains not included.
TaylorMade SpeedBlade Irons
Golf is a game of dedication and superstition, but when it turns out that neither watching the Golf Channel with a six pack nor chanting Henrik Stenson’s name on the green is moving things forward, it might be time for new clubs. TaylorMade’s SpeedBlade irons use a handlebar-shaped slot — the Speed Pocket — in the sole of 3-7 irons to create faster ball speed, higher launch angle and improved feel. That means a bigger sweet spot and fewer mis-hits. Within reason, that is: don’t make any promises to the cousin who can’t keep his head down.
Nike Tech Fleece Windrunner Full-Zip Hoodie
There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with being over-prepared, but the guy who shows up to toss a football wearing compression socks and a headlamp could probably use some friendly coaching. Our suggestion? Get him the next generation Windrunner from Nike, a classic hoodie updated with lightweight performance fleece and thoughtful touches like internal media pockets for stashing a phone. It’s a performance garment, without looking like it.
The Peloton Bike
He’s always training for a race, this guy: Ironman 70.3 in a few months, a gran fondo in the alps, the local crit. What’s more, he has virtually every piece of gear imaginable. But chances are he doesn’t have the Peloton Bike, a stationary exercise bike that features a carbon monocoque frame, a quiet belt-drive system and a magnetic resistance flywheel — making it a quiet, smooth and durable addition to the home gym. What’s more, the 21.5-inch HD screen connects to studio cycling classes so solo rides become group sessions, a nice bonus for family members who’ve boarded the SoulCycle or Flywheel train but appreciate the comforts of home.
Newton Distance S
Our attitude about running shoes continues to be “whatever works for you”. But in our experience, some of the best shoes walk (or run, as it were) the line between minimalist and traditional, combining the the benefits of less weight and more responsiveness with enough structure and padding to lessen the beating of long hauls. The Newton Distance S is packed with midsole features (Action/Reaction technology, biomechanical metatarsal sensor plate, high-rebound EVA, dual-density medial posting) that offer structure and support, while at the same time providing a chariot that weighs in at eight ounces and has a heel-to-toe drop of just 2mm. Wondering who on your list gets the Distance S? The guy who laces up just to walk the dog.
Trigger Point Foam Roller
At the end of the year, when American Express sends that neat little report breaking down your spending into categories, chances are massages and physical therapy don’t rank near the top. The endurance athlete on your list may not fare so well. But it turns out you can accomplish some honest recovery for less than the cost of a single massage. Trigger Point’s Grid Foam Roller is designed with “distrodensity” zones to help simulate an actual massage when you roll out sore lats or quads, and because it’s designed with less foam than traditional rollers and a molded plastic core, it’ll remain structurally sound over time.
Hurom HU-100 Slow Juicer
Hair of the dog that bit you, am I right? Hehe, who’s with us? Okay, so most of us gave that up in the early aughts. Now we’re chasing wheatgrass with something called a “Blood Restorer” while we massage sore lats on a foam roller. Whatever. The least we can do is juice in high style with the Hurom HU-100. It squeezes on low RPM, leading to quieter juice production, 35% more juice and 60% more nutrients than juice made with a lesser machine. It’s the ideal gift for the guy on your list who has said, not in jest, that he wants to live forever.
Giro Air Attack Helmet
It’s hard to think of a gift that expresses affection quite so emphatically as skull protection. Throw in the credibility of use by professional cyclists, proven drag reduction and a face shield reminiscent of Robocop’s, and you’ve got the Giro Air Attack Shield, the first aero road helmet. It has the chops of a pro cycling helmet with design that works with civvies, making it the ideal gift for bike riders of any discipline and skill level.
Rareform Daylight Surfbags
Founded by a former investment banker who ditched his day job to surf in South America, RareForm makes surfbags — and totes, paddle covers, duffles and change mats — from recycled billboards. Got a friend with wavy blonde hair and the collector’s edition of Point Break? He’ll be eminently down with these unique bags, which are made in California and contribute 1 percent of sales to environmentally friendly causes.
Oakley Airwave 1.5
You’ve seen Mission: Impossible 4 and you’ve gone snowboarding…so you basically know how the Oakley Airwave 1.5 works. These goggles combine the best of performance eyewear on the mountain with a built-in heads-up display that sits near the bottom of the lens but looks like a 14-inch screen viewed from a distance of five feet. Because they’re integrated with GPS and Bluetooth, you can do everything from review speed and max air data to control music and send/receive Facebook messages. Not bad for goggles.
Swimming for exercise isn’t exactly an episode of Baywatch; instead of attractive lifeguards and sandy beaches, it’s usually a basement pool filled with retirees and over-eager triathletes. A little entertainment can go a long way, which is why the Finis Neptune headphones and MP3 player make such a great gift. Using bone conduction technology, they transmit clear audio (from your 4GB library of tunes) from the cheekbone to the inner ear, meaning you can listen to tunes while you perfect your front crawl. The li-ion battery lasts eight hours to cover just about the pruniest of training sessions; the OLED screen sits on the back of your head, which is cool.