Every holiday season, countless sports or gadget writers come up with lists of the ultimate Christmas gifts for the true ďenthusiastsĒ in their niche. Who am I to buck the trend? After all, Iíve come across some cool stuff over the years that I think others would like to find under their tree. So Iím sharing it.
Hereís a list of five unique gifts ó in widely varying price ranges ó that will put a twinkle in your PWC loverís eye.
Ho, ho, hoÖ
5. Jet Pilot Tour Coat ($100)
Face it, a PWC junkie is going to want to get out on the water the first chance possible after that long winterís nap. Keep Ďem toasty in a Jet Pilot Tour Coat.
I remember when JP unveiled the very first tour coats way back when. All the cool racers were in them before their events, adding a nice layer of neoprene comfort over their damp wetsuits. When I got my own, I discovered what made them so versatile. Tour Coats fit right over your wetsuit and PFD, can be worn on shore or out riding, and really take away the chill during those cooler months.
Plus, they just make their wearer look like some kind of highly skilled factory racer. Image is everything. http://www.jetpilot.com/
4. Garmin GPSMAP 78s Handheld GPS ($450)
Freedom is a word often used when describing the feeling you get aboard a PWC, and nothing gives you more of that sense of freedom then heading out and exploring a new area. Problem is, nothing also probably causes as much anxiety. Good thing someone invented the handheld GPS.
I like the Garmin GPSMAP 78s. Sure, itís pricey. But for the money you get a nice rugged handheld with a 3-axis compass, barometric altimeter, easy-on-the-eyes color mapping, and a microSD card slot for loading additional maps. Best of all itís waterproof, and even floats should you lose it overboard. Should your Christmas also include a new Kawasaki Ultra LX touring machine, youíll even be able to mount it right into the handlebar pad.
Looking for a more affordable alternative? The grayscale GPSMAP 76 is a $199 workhorse that does all the basics. Plus, either way you go you can always use it in the car or on the trail. http://www.garmin.com/
3. Bimini Road Rally ($2,250)
Okay, this one is obviously for people with a fat wallet, but what could be better for that guy or girl that has everything than an all-inclusive, five-day escorted adventureÖto Bimini!
Riders meet up in Miami in June before heading out across the Atlantic Ocean, navigating the Gulf Stream, passing through the heart of the Bermuda Triangle, and then celebrating their accomplishment by kicking back and hanging out in the beautiful Bahamas.
Should you score this Christmas gift youíll see things like the mysterious Bimini Road (Google it), snorkel around a sunken concrete ship, check out flipped smugglerís planes that still lie in their watery graves, cruise the streets of Alice Town, swim with rays, and then kick back every night in the luxurious condos of the Bimini Sands Resort and Marina. And youíll do it in all-inclusive style, meaning once you pay up front all your meals, fuel, luggage transfers, hotels, dockage, parking, almost everything is paid for.
The best part? The amazing bragging rights of saying you rode a PWC to the Bahamas. I did this trip several years back, and the tales are still being toldÖmany of them are even true. http://www.watertopevents.com/
2. Jet Ski Fever DVD ($25)
Everybody should have some respect for a sportís history, and quite possibly nothing chronicles PWC racingís early years better than Jet Ski Fever, a documentary-style, pro-quality production chronicling the 1983 World Cup Series in Florida.
Featuring early stars like Larry Rippenkroeger, Brian Bendix, and Dave Gordon, Jet Ski Fever takes you on a month-long road trip across the Sunshine State as racers duke it out for the World Cup title. Youíll see skis with bad sticker jobs and cool custom paint, racers in cut-offs and lots of facial hair, even get to see riders taking on the old Cypress Gardens water ski jump five at a time.
Jet Ski Fever was recently re-released on DVD. Trust me, cue it up, invite over your riding pals, and marvel (and chuckle) at the sportís good old days.
Donít forget the popcorn. http://www.jetskifever.com/
1. GoPro Motorsports Hero ($299)
Yup, my pick for the number-one most sought-after gift has got to be the GoPro Motorsports Hero, one of the coolest little gadgets Iíve seen in a long, long time.
In case youíre not already familiar with this pint-sized wonder, the GoPro is a tiny, high-definition, wide-angle video (and still) camera that comes with a waterproof housing thatís good to 180í. Better yet, it also comes with all sorts of attachments ó from hardcore suction cup mounts to brutally strong adhesive bases to helmet and head strap mounts ó that allow you to stick the camera virtually anywhere. Mount it directly to your PWC and shoot video of yourself as you race around the buoys, perform the latest freestyle trick, document a great touring ride, even back flip off an ocean wave. Or, go for the helmet and head mounts and give viewers your own first-person view of the action. The results are awesome, capturing the user as they enjoy their favorite sports, and then allowing them to share the results with friends, family, even total strangers should you go the YouTube route.
Some pretty highly regarded experts agree (and Iím chiming in with them) that the GoPro captures high-definition video on par with, even surpassing, professional cameras that cost thousands of dollars. Yet it costs only $299 for professional quality 1080p, 960p resolutions at 30 frames per second (or 60 frames per second at 720p). Charge times last about 2.5 hours, meaning you can capture lots of fun, and various included mounts let you get started right away without making another trip to the electronics store. (You do, however, need an SD card, so plan ahead in that regard.) Simpler versions can be had as low as $179.
Go to GoProís website for some examples of what these trick little cameras can do. Iím betting Santaís probably got one strapped to his beanie as he drops down the chimney. http://www.goprocamera.com/