Here it is, boys and girls, the last-minute surfy holiday guide that you didn’t know you needed but that you should absolutely send to your husband, wife, partner, parents, aunts, uncles, or whoever the hell else buys you Christmas gifts. Every single thing on this short list is tried-and-true goodness and would be a joy to unwrap on a holiday, your birthday, any day. Seriously. I already own all this stuff and I would still be fired up if somebody gave these things as presents. So here we go: six cool gifts. That’s right: six. Because five is just as arbitrary when you think about it.
So, ya, this really only applies to you if you’ve got a board with regular Futures fin boxes and a willingness to try something a little different. It’s a single-fin that plugs into the center box of a standard, run-of-the-mill (Read: boring) thruster setup. The whole fin is shoved forward from its base a bit to put the fin closer to a traditional single-fin placement. It ain’t perfect. Can feel pretty stiff. But it’s cool. You probably don’t really want to buy a dedicated single-fin shortboard, so get one of these instead. Scratch that itch, then move on with your life.
Hoo boy, are we in the golden age of boutique wetsuit makers. Sick of the same big-four wetsuit companies all basically selling the same suit with different wholly-fabricated futuristic-sounding tech bobbles? Me, too. So I got a Feral. Pure, simple, no bullshit. Light, comfortable, warm. The best rubber on earth, no frilly nonsense sewn in or baked on or fancily heat-welded into place. Have had one for over a year now that I wear pretty much every day, and swear to god, not so much as a millimeter of tape has started to peel off. No idea how that’s possible. Because they only sell these puppies online, they cost less than the top-of-the-line suit from the big boys that you’d buy this year and then replace next winter anyway.
Okay, technically, this bag is for fishing. But it’s the best wetsuit backpack I’ve ever used. Waterproof and muckproof. Throw your nasty-ass wetsuit in there, bike home from the beach, or traipse back through marauding bands of grizzly bears to your Alaskan campsite, take your suit out, then hose the whole pack down. No fuss. I use mine for fishing, xc-skiing, snowshoeing, and surfing, and I’ve yet to manage to so much as jiggle a thread loose. This bag will outlive me, no question.
People loved to get all excited about Finnegan’s Barbarian Days this year, but you know what? Dan Duane’s Caught Inside: A Surfer’s Year on the California Coast (published in 1996) is a better read. Maybe Duane didn’t win a Pulitzer, but he captured what it’s like for the workaday surfer in a way that Finnegan’s globetrotting, Tavarua-discovering travelogue doesn’t even sniff (except for the San Francisco section—that’s real as shit), unless your regular surf life involves pioneering tropical breaks five minutes before the rest of the world heard about it. Duane’s got all the literary chops of Finnegan, too—dude writes for the New York Times on the regular.
Everybody’s clamoring about how great Yeti coolers and mugs are, but gimme one of these green tins of blue collar temperature regulation any day of the week. If I had a dad who’d worked in the steel mills, he’d have packed his dented-up Stanley thermos full of tomato soup and anger just like his dad before him, and headed off to…uh…smelt stuff. I don’t know much about steel mills, and I don’t work with my hands for a living, but I do have a beat-to-hell Stanley thermos that I fill with black coffee every morning while I drive around looking for waves and listening to NPR. It’s the manliest part of my day.
Speaking of manly, get some of these soft-ass slippers. They weigh about the same as half a piece of tissue, and they are approximately as warm as sticking your feet in a convection oven. I wear mine in the snow and on cold, cold granite on backpacking trips, and they’re wonderful there, but there’s nothing—I mean nothing—better than sliding a pair of Baffins on after a frigid winter surf. Especially if the poor sop in the parking lot next to you is pulling on a pair of Uggs. These are at least ten times less embarrassing than floppy, knee-high boots.