For those who still haven't managed to locate the perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiasts, all is not lost. Our region is full of local stores that stock an assortment of unique and useful recreational items.
At this time of year, I usually make the rounds to see what's new in the sportsman's marketplace or to check on the availability of tried-an-true traditional items. But you can never go wrong with a new knife, a bombproof flashlight or warm socks; everyone can use these. But there's so much more.
I usually begin my Christmas hunt at The Mountaineer, located in Keene Valley. They always seem to have the latest gizmos yet still offer a wide selection of traditional standards such as handmade black ash pack baskets.
This year's gizmos include a unique, new line of flatware offered by Sea to Summit. The synthetic plates, bowls and cups fold flat for packing, yet easily form to shape when needed. Toss in a spork (a one-unit fork and spoon) and a single-cup coffee press that nestles in the mug for stocking stuffers.
On the rocks
Up the road in Keene, the folks at Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service have earned a solid reputation for providing unique educational adventures instructed by internationally and regionally renowned mountaineers. Featuring a variety of courses, including ice, mixed and alpine climbing, back country skiing and snowshoeing, these programs offer low-risk high adventures.
New this season will be an Ice Climbing Park, featuring a 70-foot wall. If you know someone who would appreciate the opportunity to learn or enhance their current climbing skills from the experts, contact Rock and River.
Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters in Saranac Lake is an outdoor specialty shop offering paddling sports rentals, lessons and more. The little store offers a wide range of equipment for water sports, as well as hiking and camping equipment.
Featuring clearance prices on canoes and touring kayaks, this may be the place to find just the right gift for the paddler on your list.
Cycling through the snow
Although winter sports are on everyone's mind at this time of year, another store specializing in warm-weather pursuits will continue to offer sales through Christmas. Located on Saranac Avenue in the village, Placid Planet is a bicycle specialty shop not to be ignored. Featuring a wide variety of touring and high-performance bicycles as well as cycling clothing, Placid Planet can also keep you biking through the winter with studded bike tires and a full selection of cold weather clothing. Featuring a variety of mountain and touring bikes, they also stock children's bikes and some classic vintage replicas that will help to recapture your youth.
Cast a ways
Jones Outfitters, located in the High Peaks Adventure Center building on Main Street, is the oldest, continuously operating Orvis store in the country. Visiting anglers develop a "kid in a candy store" look as they gaze upon racks of flyrods, spinning gear and boats. Featuring equipment for man or beast, Jones offers quality clothing for the angler, great gifts for the camp and a large selection of items for man's best friend, including training aids, booties, ski joring harnesses and even a dog "First Aid Kit," truly an essential item for dog owners.
Ski, bike, hike, climb
Located in Lake Placid, High Peaks Mountain Adventure Center provides the outdoor traveler with a full line of ski gear in addition to a full range of recreational equipment.
Racks of clothing, backed by walls full of gear dominate the store, featuring items ranging from footwear to eyewear, skis to sleds, ice axes and more.
Long regarded as one of the region's premier nordic ski shops, High Peaks guide services specialize in providing winter adventures on ice or snow. And they aren't afraid to get dirty either, with quality instructors and guides providing tours and instruction for mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing. Whether skiing the High Peaks or in a kayak, they find a way to make life an adventure in the mountains.
If it's sick, they've got it
Further along Placid's Main Street is Maui North, an area leader in snow sports equipment, bicycles and skateboards. The shop is regarded as a place to find a unique and unusual piece of equipment, cutting edge clothing or a new board.
Whether it's a new helmet, a slick pair of goggles or simply a great pair of gloves, they've got a gift for anyone who loves the snow.
Mountain on Main
At the Eastern Mountain Sports store on Lake Placid's Main Street, I was impressed with the collection of electronics, ranging from GPS units to avalanche beacons to personal location devices.
The store has been a flagship of Lake Placid's outdoor community since the 1970's, back when Dunham Wafflestompers were the accepted footwear and framed backpacks ruled the industry.
With items ranging from sleds to kayaks, kites to canoes and a selection of clothing to satisfy everyone's taste, EMS is the place to go for those seeking both fashion and function.
Inside the Blue Line
Possibly the most comprehensive sporting goods store in the region, this longtime stalwart of the Saranac Lake business district offers something for everyone whether a hunter, angler, hockey player or archer they carry items ranging from Karhu's 10th Mountain Division backcountry skis to handmade wooden bows, Filson wool clothing to Red Wing boots.
With a wide range of experience in outdoor travel, their staff strives to satisfy customer needs. The store offers an outstanding selection of winter wear, boots and more.
If there's any truth to the old saying that a man can never have too many knives, this is the place to find knives from Schrade, Buck and even one-of-a-kind models that are handcrafted locally by Tony Conway in Lake Placid.
For years, outdoorsmen in small towns across the country got outdoor gear from their local Army/Navy store. Featuring a mix of surplus equipment from the military, the selection usually came in two colors, olive green or navy blue.
Whether Mickey Mouse boots or Pea Jackets, BDU fatigues or a snorkel parka, mess kits to howitzer shells, the equipment was always surplus, and it always worked.Major Plowshares on Broadway brought surplus back to Saranac Lake, with a focus on cold weather clothing and functional gear. It's a place to find a boonie hat or an itchy, wool union suit for the mother-in-law's stocking stuffer.
Paddler's haven on the river
Around the corner on Dorsey Street is the location of St. Regis Canoe Outfitters. Providing paddling sports rentals in season, this little store offers equipment for all outdoor travelers, including the Adirondack Canoe Route guidebook and a companion Paddlers Map that were developed by owner Dave Cilley.
Featuring a wide selection of designs in canoes and touring kayaks, this is the place to find a gift for the paddler on your list. Gift Certificates are available for rentals and guided trips or paddling instruction.