Our 2022 was focused on massively upgrading our skiing experience—from Meera learning to ski, to buying our first Ikon Pass, to buying some equipment of our own—and skiing tends to be an expensive hobby. But not everything we bought last year cost an arm and a leg.
Here are 12 sub-$100 purchases that massively upgraded our adventures in 2022.
Voile Ski Straps, $7.50
We saw these for the first time on our February ski trip to Salt Lake City, and we immediately knew we needed them. Even if you've locked your skis together by the bindings or turned the poles into handles, these straps will make your schlepping easier, whether it's fifty feet through the parking lot or miles uphill from the ski shop to your chalet.
This eye mask is so lightweight that you forget you’re wearing it and wonder why your eyes won’t open. It totally blocks light, whether from a hotel room with weak shades or an airplane full of people playing bright video games and movies when all you want is a few hours of sleep before you land. Get two and leave one in your carry-on.
A simple insertable splash guard for a Nalgene water bottle. I can't believe I waited so long to buy one of these. No more spilling water all over myself during or after a workout. There are a ton of similar brands and designs that cost more or less than $10; just find one you like.
CAP Barbell Pad, $11
For when you’re sick of your shoulders hurting instead of your quads after a set of squats.
Re-applying sunscreen while skiing can be a significant affair, pulling off gloves and fiddling with a tube and finally replacing your greasy hands into your gloves. But this sunscreen works like a stick deodorant and requires none of those things: pull it out, pop the cap, cover your face, and put it away in way less than one lift ride, without ever removing your bulky gloves.
These shorts survived a season of sailing with no visible damage, which is impressive for anything you take out on the water, much less something that looks decent and doesn't cost much.
Darn Tough Socks
No link, because we like all of them. They’re expensive for socks, but they're worth every penny. They're comfortable, long-lasting, and smell better than any other sock after four days on the trail or the slopes. Even better, they come in a variety of weights; we've replaced dress socks, hiking socks, and everyday socks with Darn Tough. Wait for sales at REI, and, er, sock up.
Jerry has a gaiter from literally 20 years ago that he's stubbornly still using, but when Meera started skiing last year, she was using scarves, which can be unruly when you’re moving a lot. A neck gaiter always (usually) stays in place, and Turtle Fur is double-layered so the moisture from your breath doesn’t freeze.
Good enough for a top layer, light enough for a (thin) base layer, very inexpensive, comes in a bunch of colors. Plus the reason we got them: UPF 30, just 5.8oz.
Base layers can be expensive, especially from name brands like Icebreaker or Arc'teryx. But these from Backcountry are warm and flexible (critical for skiing), and you can even pair them with thinner layers or real leggings for a bit more warmth.
Lightweight, ankle-high so your foot can move. Not waterproof, but they dry super-fast, which means your feet can breathe and still stay mostly dry. The only downside: they're not insulated, so take care in very cold weather. Or just get good Darn Tough socks.