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Archive for November, 2010

5 Under $50: Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Need some stocking stuffer ideas for the outdoor lover in your life? Tahoe Mountain Sports has you covered. In this 5 Under $50 post, we give you inexpensive stocking stuffer ideas, great for stockings big or small.

1) Starbucks Via Italian Roast Instant Coffee $2.95

Dubbed “the world’s greatest camp coffee” by Backpacker Magazine earlier this year,  Starbucks Via Instant Coffee makes a great gift for any coffee lover on your list. Campers can easily pack it along on trips and your Starbucks-addicted friends can rest easy knowing they’ve got a jolt of the iconic java always ready in their purse or pocket. This is also a great gift to add on to your TMS cart when you need those extra few dollars to hit the $50 quota on our free shipping. Not into Italian Roast, or caffeine? We’ve got Via Colombia and Decaf varieties.

2) GoToob Travel Containers $19.95

Sometimes the best gifts are those that function. This set of three 2-ounce containers is great for camp toiletries and airplane travel so you can travel with your favorite suds and leave those tiny bottles of Head and Shoulders behind. These make great small gifts for the world traveler in your family.

3) Nalgene MultiDrink Bottle or Nalgene OTF Bottle $12.95-$14.95

Everyone loves a water bottle, especially since most of us can’t seem to hold on to one for long (I know I’ve lost a few to ballparks and friends’ cars). These two water bottles are the latest from Nalgene. Innovative, leak-proof tops are easy to use and each bottle is entirely BPA free so your loved ones can drink safely.

4) Lobz Audio Junior Ear Warmers $13.95

You’d be hard-pressed to find a kid without a mobile audio or video device these days. That’s why Lobz Audio Ear Warmers make great winter gifts for the little music lovers in your life. It’s a win for everyone: Kid gets music, ears get warm and you get peace and quiet from Justin Bieber. Check out our Lobz Audio Ear Warmers for adults, too.

5) Black Diamond Orbit Lantern $29.95

Bring a little brightness to the dark season with this cool, compact lantern. Small and light enough for any adventure and powered by AAA batteries, this is the perfect gift for the alpinist, backyard camper or night owl on your list.

5 Under $50 is a monthly Tahoe Mountain Sports blog series dedicated to showcasing some of our more affordable products. Each month we pick a theme, then show you the gear. Suggest a topic in our comments if you need some shopping help, and check out our other gift guides for more stocking stuffer ideas: Under $20, Under $50, Stocking Stuffers.

Black Friday – Cyber Monday Sale Is On!

Friday, November 26th, 2010
Black Friday Weekend Sale Announcement

Black Friday Weekend Sale Announcement


UPDATE: See details on our 2011 Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sale here.

Don’t get trampled this holiday season! Shop at Tahoe Mountain Sports, where you’ll find personalized customer service and great deals this Black Friday weekend and through the holidays. No stampedes, no wandering Big Box aisles – just simple, easy shopping, with something for everyone on your list.

Storewide Savings, 20−70% Off All Weekend

It’s a Big Blue Black Friday in Kings Beach all weekend long as we celebrate the iconic day after Thanksgiving shopping spree with 20 to 70 percent off most everything in our store. Prices will be slashed on top brands like Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, Mammut, Marmot, Smith, MSR, Snow Peak and more. Swing by from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get your holiday shopping done in laid-back mountain style. (Note that Black Diamond, K2, Contour cameras, Smith helmets, Sorel and SmartWool are excluded from this storewide sale.)

Up to $114 Off Patagonia

Highlighting the sale is 30 percent off more than 30 Patagonia styles, including the famous Patagonia Down Sweater and Nano Puff jackets. You can save up to $114, so go ahead and get that Patagonia apparel you and your love ones have always coveted.

Charge! Act Fast on Batteries, Socks & GPS Deals

Additional sales kick off Black Friday weekend, so hurry to score these great deals while supplies last. For every ContourHD helmet camera purchased, you’ll get a free spare battery, a $30 value! Buy any 3 pairs of socks, from brands like Wigwam, Icebreaker and SmartWool, and get 20 percent off. And every SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger comes with an added adventure kit, a $50 value that includes an LED flashlight, flotation case, whistle, service discount and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to pick up stocking stuffers and gifts for the outdoors-lovers in your life!

Traveling? Working all weekend? Have non-local friends/family that could take a hint on what you’re wishing for this holiday?

Our online savings start on Thanksgiving Day and extend through Monday, Nov. 29! Check in online at for the most current inventory and promotional pricing. We can take your order 24/7, and we ship to more than 100 countries, so you can do your holiday shopping on your own time.

Tahoe Mountain Sports Black Friday Sale Recap:

20-70% off everything but a few brands in our Kings Beach store

30% off 30+ Patagonia styles

20% off any 3 pair of socks

Free Spare Battery with every ContourHD Helmet Camera

Free Adventure Kit with every SPOT Satellite Messenger

Squaw Valley Opening Weekend 2010

Thursday, November 25th, 2010

Tahoe ski resort openings are on everyone’s mind this week as the chairs start spinning around Lake Tahoe. Five-year Squaw resident and Moment Skis sales rep Rom Marcucci gives us the update on Squaw Valley opening weekend 2010.

WHO: Rom Marcucci and several hundred pros, bros and weekend warriors

WHAT: Skiing opening weekend

WHERE: Squaw Valley USA

WHEN: November 21-22, 2010

GEAR: waterproof ski jacket, Smith ski helmet, a sense of restraint knowing what kind of sharks lie beneath the powder

If you love deep powder and don’t mind the consequences of what 4 feet of it on top of rock can do to your gear/body, this past weekend at Squaw was pretty amazing. Early Saturday morning I had the brilliant idea to go for a skin before Squaw opened, taking advantage of a sunny weather window. Unfortunately, 12 inches of blower on top of rock/dirt/pinecones/manzanita made for poor conditions. I quickly gave up and headed down to the ski area. Squaw has been blowing snow relentlessly for the past week, giving us a bit of a base under the powder. I skied some laps on the 200 vertical feet of Searchlight before heading into work. The conditions certainly weren’t epic, but it was great to catch up with some old ski buddies.

When I opened my door on Sunday morning, I was shocked by how much snow we’d received. Everything was covered in several feet of fluff. I got in line for Red Dog at 8:30, scoring a pretty good position. Unfortunately, it took until 10:15 for patrol to clear everything. With work at 11, I managed to squeeze in three runs… and what runs they were! The snow was so deep. The skiing improved on the second and third runs as the flat spots packed down. So many of my turns were over the head. People seemed thrilled to be wallowing in it. With even more on the way, it is going to be an amazing week in Tahoe. This much early season snow is something I’ll certainly be thankful for.

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, bike, ski, surf, climb, dive) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

First Turns of the 2010-11 Ski Season

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

With the biggest November storm to hit Tahoe in decades, everybody at the store got out and played in the deep stuff. Some of us went to the West Shore where the snow was measured in body parts… my track had us breaking snow up to our thighs, while others headed up to Mt. Rose where the top was thigh deep, but the bottom still had some rocks popping up and was a little sketchy. Black Diamond skis were definitely the tools of choice and the Black Diamond Megawatt made its earliest season debut in years. Luckily, we also had our trusty ContourHD with GPS enabled helmet cam to capture the deepness. Enjoy the photos and videos from the Lake Tahoe backcountry. And come enjoy the snow yourself — some mountains are reporting 100 inches for the week!

It’s Season Pass Season!

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

With a few more Tahoe ski resorts scheduled to open this weekend (Squaw Valley USA, Mt. Rose, Heavenly, Northstar), and a huge snowstorm on the way, readying winter gear is forefront on everyone’s minds. Tahoe Mountain Sports‘ hard goods manager, Kevin, talks about his favorite accessory of the season.

The piece of gear a skier is most proud of is not his skis, or jacket, or goggles — it’s a season pass.

Think about it: If you’re a passholder, don’t you just love saying “I’m a passholder,” attempting to express your pride, without sounding smug. Well, forget being humble, it doesn’t work, we all sound smug, but so what. We paid (a lot) for the right to express to the world that we are able to cruise the mountain anytime we please, and free of standing in ticket lines. Not to mention, we’ve got another photo that works as a form of ID at the Truckee Wells Fargo branch (a little-known fact that I discovered this summer).

The Selby Family has taken the pride of being passholders one step further. They practice a yearly tradition of painting their faces (usually like animals) and walking from their home at Sky Tavern to Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe. They make their way into the pass office, hopping like rabbits, or growling like tigers. To the surprise and often,  to the protest of other passholders, they get their photos taken in these ridiculously awesome costumes. It is an afternoon full of fun and bonding in the most unusual way possible. I’ve had the pleasure and the privilege to take part in this tradition for two seasons now.

I must say, that I felt like a complete weirdo when I looked back at myself in the glass, walking toward the lodge wearing a pink and white cat face, but there is a feeling of accomplishment like none other, in knowing that I have somehow beaten the system. The rule lists for pass photos are long. I’ll cite Squaw Valley’s pass photo guidelines:

  • We need to see your face clearly (facing the camera) – suitable for passport, driver’s license, etc.
  • Only the passholder in picture – no husbands, wives, girlfriends, pets, etc.
  • No sunglasses, hats, funny faces, unusual make-up.
  • No prosthetics (noses, fake mustaches, etc.)
  • No props (beer bottles, guns, skis etc.)
  • No black & white photos
  • We can only accept photos with a .jpg file extension (no .jpeg)

Did you see the part that forbids skis in your photo? Painting your face is DEFINITELY out. I think we broke most of these rules, especially with our live cat as prop. This is the stuff memories are made of, and I highly suggest getting yourself known at your local resort, along with your family or friends. The lifties and ticket checkers won’t forget you after they do that first double take.

Smith Ski Helmets & Goggles: What’s New for 2010-11

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

Wondering what’s new with Smith this winter season? Read on. Shannon from Smith just paid Tahoe Mountain Sports a visit, and now we are even more armed with brand knowledge.

Smith ski helmets are on fire these days! Though Smith only got into the business 5 years ago, they’re now #2 in the industry behind Giro. One of the primary reasons for such early success is the ventilation in a Smith ski helmet. Designed to be fully integrated with Smith goggles (or any goggles for that matter), Smith ski helmets don’t trap the warm air that’s escaping from your goggle vents, but move that air up and out through special venting in the helmet brim. There are varying levels of venting, from some 10 vents up to the new Smith Vantage helmet‘s 21 vents. See the above video for footage of the new Vantage. Less-vented models are the Smith Maze and the new women’s Maze version, the Smith Allure. These helmets are the world’s lightest at only 11.5 ounces, so they make great backcountry helmets since you want the lightest load on your ascent. Another plus in buying a Smith helmet is that every model is audio compatible, with a dedicated zippered area to secure audio cords.

The iconic Smith snow goggle has been around since 1965, when Bob Smith made the first Smith goggle. Thanks to his experience as a pilot, he developed the first double-lens thermal goggle, which revolutionized fog-free vision in skiing. Since then, Smith hasn’t left innovation behind and is continually improving their product. Look for their special Vaporator lens technology, which seals the double lens bond, distortion-free TLT lenses and amazing peripheral vision, especially on the top-end Smith IO and Smith IOS goggles. Try these goggles on and you’ll see the difference. Both are interchangeable lens goggles and inspired by rimless sunglasses so the lens extends out even further for a better field of vision. Watch the video above to see the quick and easy lens change. The IOS, new last season, is just a touch smaller for women or those who want an ultra-low-profile look.

ContourGPS Helmet Cam Review

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

We finally got the long awaited ContourGPS helmet camera in and since we didn’t sell out immediately on this batch, I got to take one out for a test spin. The first things I will talk about here are the new features of the camera itself. The new camera has a few physical improvements that make the unit superior to the regular Contour 1080P camera.

First is the rear door where  the battery, memory card and plugs are stored.

ContourGPS back view

ContourGPS back view

Contour 1080P Rear View

Contour 1080P rear view

The first major improvement is the locking rear door. I had a hard time with the other unit because the rear door used to flip up and open when I was powering on the unit. Now, that rear door is a bit smaller and has a hinge/hook type of thing that will not allow it to open by mistake anymore. It also has a lock on it to further its security. The power button is a bit easier to use as well. The slider button on top that you use to start and stop recording is much bigger as well. This is very helpful for when you have gloves on or are simply trying to start or stop recording at high speeds. It allows for more surface area to be grabbed and more easily slides back and forth while the unit is mounted on your head or goggles. The last improvement to the hardware comes where the battery is stored. The new locking lever that holds the battery in is easier to use and smaller. Overall, the simple design improvements between the ContourGPS and the Contour 1080P make the GPS unit a better buy in my opinion.

Now, for the actual GPS stuff that this camera is making its name with. Since we had sold so many so quickly and my test ride with the camera came up pretty spur of the moment, I did not have a chance to read the instructions or anything before taking out the new camera. Most importantly, you are supposed to turn the camera on, let it find its GPS positioning for 20 seconds or so and then start recording. Otherwise, if you start recording too quickly after powering up, you will not have a GPS signal. So, we kind of missed our GPS signal on many of the tracks/files that we were recording. Where we did manage to get a GPS signal of our track, it came out super cool and is definitely a great new feature that makes the camera worth the couple of extra bucks over the regular 1080P. Check out my ContourGPS video and you can see that the GPS tracks you on Google Earth and gives your altitude and speed – certainly a cool feature when you are bombing around the backcountry or on a motorized vehicle.  I also use the Vented Helmet Mount for almost all my Contour recordings because I think it is the easiest tighten down and has the most versatility among my many types of helmets.

All in all, I think the ContourGPS is a better unit than the traditional 1080P unit due to the physical improvements made to this unit and the GPS tracking capability. Have fun out there and capture all those crazy moments! I promise more videos from us in the near future as we have a chance to get out more with this awesomely fun toy.

SCUBA Diving in Pulau Weh

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

This Adventure of the Week comes from Jonas Rejda of Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Jonas is a secondary school principal and IB history teacher at Bandung International School – not to mention and a loyal Tahoe Mountain Sports customer.

WHO: Jonas Rejda, along with a teaching couple with nearly 2,000 career dives between them, a pair of Grade 12 students from our school and their diver moms

WHAT: SCUBA diving

WHERE: Pulau Weh, Aceh, Sumatra – Indo

WHEN: October 24-31, 2010

GEAR: Suunto dive computer, dive skin or shorty wetsuit, underwater camera capable up t0 40 meter depths, dark rum, Safety Sausage inflatable surface marker, Seal Line dry bags


Pulau Weh is spectacular horseshoe-shaped island just north of the city Banda Aceh, which took perhaps the worst hit from the 2004 tsunami. The island is incredibly lush and wild still and certainly gives visitors a feel for what a great of deal of Indonesia used to look like. It is also home to some of the most amazing reefs and concentrations of sea life. We opted to stay at Gapang beach where we stayed and dived with the well-established Lumba Lumba dive camp and little else. The pace of life on the surface is very slow with only a few cars or motorbikes arriving to drop off visitors at the beach. There isn’t much to do except dive, dive, dive.

It is about a 10- to 20-minute boat ride from the dive center to a wide range of world class diving.  There are amazing pinnacles, imposing underwater canyons, fantastic rock formations and above all lots of fish! I could not believe how many times I would get interested in a honeycomb eel or an octopus and be completely oblivious to the two-meter white tip shark circling around or the hundreds of jacks spiraling above me. I logged several massive rock grouper and the biggest moray eel I have ever seen. It was like an underwater python. Big!! On every dive there was just so much to see and the dive masters were constantly dinging on their tanks to get my attention… “Hey check this out!”

As beautiful and serene as it was at 30 meters below, there were some hairy currents that could switch directions without warning.  At one point I was drifting along in one direction while my buddies, who were only a few meters above me were being pulled along the opposite direction. At a few dive briefings, the dive masters would say, don’t go here… very bad swirling down currents… We knew that we were on the edge of nowhere and there was only a little margin for error. As much as I hated to come back to the surface after 60 minutes below… the view of pristine jungle with not a trace of human activity to be seen was a real joy. This place is still very much alive.

The recent earthquake and subsequent tsunami that took over 400 lives in the Mentawi Islands in October 2010 occurred while we were on Pulau Weh. In the 2004 tsunami, the dive shop and site was hit with a 15-foot wall of water and the damage was catastrophic. Tensions were running high as we took advantage of the reasonable satellite internet connection to scan for tsunami warnings. After hearing the news from a friend in Doha, but not feeling the actual earthquake, I spent a long time watching the beach that evening. We were lucky this time, but you never know when things are going to go south in Indonesia.

Finally, the most important thing to divers after air and beer is food. On first glance the scene looked pretty grim. A few rundown warungs were all that we could see on this little strip of paradise. I was thinking, “oh no, nasi goreng and instant noodles for a week, great.” Amazingly, it was some of the best food I have had in my 10 or so years in Indo. Amazing, fresh shrimp, squid and fish, which is not a surprise, but it was in a nice garlic pasta or with toast and guacamole!

Would I go back? Hell yes. In a second, amazing place, amazing people and the world below the surface is the stuff of dreams.

The Tahoe Mountain Sports Adventure of the Week blog series takes a walk (or hike, bike, ski, surf, climb, dive) in someone else’s shoes, from pro athletes to local Tahoe adventurers. Let us know if you’ve got an adventure to share.

MSR Snowshoes: What’s New for 2010-11

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Despite the fact that they remained virtually unchanged for the past 15 years, MSR snowshoes have always been considered at the forefront of snowshoe design. They’re lightweight, weather-proof and extremely portable.

But MSR upped the ante this fall, unveiling a whole line of fresh-faced snowshoes. Here’s a quick primer on what’s new, with much of the info coming from our recent training clinic with Adam of MSR.

Evo Series: The Evo base model is the new Denali Classic. Affordable snowshoes that are still top quality, the Evo line integrates frame and deck (like MSR’s always done). The new models have better tapering, great for those with shorter strides, and come equipped to accommodate tails for better flotation. This modular design is one of the major changes you’ll see throughout the new MSR snowshoe line; flotation tails now fit on every single model in any series. Look for updated bindings all around, with new PosiLock bindings that feature metal snap-locks on the Evo Ascent and set-it-and-forget-it SpeedLock bindings on the Evo Tour (see the video for a demo on setting them up).

Lightning Series: MSR’s higher-end Lightning models have 7,000-grade Boeing aluminum frames, providing 360 degrees of traction in an ultra lightweight package. PosiLock bindings come to the Lightning Ascent models, and the Lightning Axis models have the Axis Gait Efficiency binding system to ensure a parallel stride, no matter your natural toe-in or toe-out stance. If you’re one of those snowshoers who is constantly clanking around, these are the snowshoes for you! Look for new televators that engage with a simple flick of your pole, as well as the new modular flotation tails component that makes each pair of MSR snowshoes so versatile.

The new, pivoting Axis Gait Efficiency System

A note on footwear and sizing: One of the most common mistakes novice snowshoers make is assuming they need to wear big, burly, waterproof boots. One pound of weight on the foot when snowshoeing is equal to 5 to 6 pounds on your back, so the lighter you can keep it down there the better. Wearing a waterproof, low-profile shoe or lightweight boot is your best option.

When you’re choosing your snowshoe length, also remember that weight ratio, and buy the smallest-length snowshoe for your weight. If you always snowshoe with a pack, or a kid on your back, total the combined weight for the best-fitting snowshoe. When in doubt or on the cusp, downsize. You can always add on the flotation tails (now available for every model) to accommodate weight gains and deeper snow.

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