Not sure what to wrap up for the outdoorsmen and women in your life this holiday season? Good news: we’ve done the hard work for you in our 2014 Blue Ridge Outdoors holiday gift guide. Here’s our take on some of the best gifts sure to please all year ’round.Green Guru Upcycled Zip PouchGreen Guru is on a mission to give your gear an ecological makeover. Based out of Boulder, Colorado, these guys don’t let anything sit in the trash – bike tubes, wetsuits, climbing ropes, and plastic bottles all contribute to the magic. Recycled, or “upcycled”, old rubber bike tubes make up their line of Zip Pouches. These simple bags come in a variety of sizes, to hold anything from loose change to your phone, wallet, or travel accessories. Green Guru’s Zip Pouches redefine waste without sacrificing style or quality, and give your gift an extra kick with a creative background story.Wojo WalletA fancy leather wallet might impress your friends at the office, but won’t do so well in the great outdoors. The Wojo Wallet offers an alternative that can stand up to the elements while also cutting your wallet size in half. This minimalist storage system, made from tough silicone and neoprene, fits up to six cards in its main sleeve and can carry cash or a key under its secure outer band. The rubbery material keeps this wallet safe in your pocket, and protects against water or sweat. With Wojo, you won’t have to worry about losing your wallet during your outdoor adventures or ruining it along the way.SOG BladeLightThe name says it all: Blade + Light = BladeLight. This folding knife from SOG combines these two outdoor essentials into one compact product. The handle boasts six powerful LEDs built in at the base of the blade, carefully oriented to shine without shadows even when the knife is open. Each of the features can be used together or separately, so the choice is yours; cut, shine, or both. Nice and simple, the SOG BladeLight does the multitasking for you.Kavu Beber BeltThe scene: you walk in the door after a long day at play or on the job, ready to enjoy that refreshing beer you’ve been looking forward to. The problem: your bottle opener has gone MIA. Rather than put your teeth at risk or bang the bottle against the counter, look no further than your trusty Beber Belt. The Beber Belt from Kavu not only holds up your pants, but also solves this all too familiar beverage frustration with a built-in bottle opener on the buckle. The belt itself, made from sturdy nylon webbing, is easily adjustable and comes in three different patterns. You never know when beer will strike, so make like a Boy Scout and be prepared with the Beber Belt.Farm to Feet Wool SocksSecond only to a steaming hot tub, wool socks are one of the best ways to warm up those chilly feet when temperatures take a dive. Farm to Feet serves this important person with the added benefit of a 100% American supply and manufacturing process. Farm to Feet uses merino wool from sheep industry ranchers across the country, and produces their first-rate socks through local East coast factories. The Mount Airy sock and the Conover sock each work as an everyday versatile choice from the office to the trail, complete with a snug compression fit to give your foot that extra comfort it craves. The Mount Airy features full density padding all throughout the sock for the highest quality support, while the Conover favors a simpler design with lighter padding along the bottom of the foot. Plus, both socks come in fun and colorful patterns to make your morning dress routine just a bit more exciting. No matter your style or comfort needs, Farm to Feet gives the priceless gift of cozy toes.Rocket BearAs every parent on a plane with a screaming child in hand can tell you, traveling with kids can be a challenge. But there’s no denying the fact that global experiences have a big impact on young minds. So when travel plans don’t pan out, the Rocket Bear takes over. Rocket Bear, a unique subscription service, sends a postcard to your child every week from a different location. The postcard presents each place with a colorful picture of the bear on-site and interesting facts about his adventures. For either a sixth-month or full-year period, Rocket Bear makes the foreign world a little bit more familiar and gives your kids a present that lasts long past the holidays.Hydrapak Stash BottleIt’s pretty obvious that water tops the list for any camping or traveling plan, but empty bottles can be a major burden for the weight- and space-conscious packer. Hydrapak‘s unique Stash Bottle, however, finally takes this issue off the table. The bottle stores 750 mL of water at a full height of 7.2 inches, but folds down to a mere 2 inches when empty. The collapsed disk is then small enough to fit in any compact pocket, freeing up those precious inches for whatever else you tow along.Backcountry: The Game of Wilderness SurvivalMost BRO readers will agree that hiking certainly makes for a day well-spent, but could sometimes use some extra perks – especially on a tired night after plenty of miles on the trail. Backcountry: The Game of Wilderness Survival first reared its head when the founders of Trailside Games, John Isley and Jason Butler, decided to bring a little more excitement to their quiet campsite during a long trip through the Tetons. The game, now available for a variety of backcountry locations (including our very own Appalachian Trail), uses a map and a set of instructional cards to lead players on a fantastical wilderness adventure within their own real one. Keep the thrill of the outdoors alive no matter where you are with a game of Backcountry in your pack.Oru Folding KayakOru Kayak has tackled one of the most difficult problems to face boaters on the move – packing. Kayaks don’t transport well, either in the car or in your arms, and can turn a fun sport into a giant burden without the right planning. But with the Bay Kayak from Oru, your boating adventures don’t have to be a hassle. This innovative kayak features all the size, space, and quality of a standard recreational kayak, while also boasting extreme portability. When not in the use, the boat folds down from an impressive twelve-foot long water machine to a convenient 32 x 13 x 28 inch box. Both mobile and powerful, the Oru Bay Kayak is up for any challenge.Voltaic Solar ChargerNature doesn’t have charging stations. But for all those eye-catching sunsets and exciting summits that just beg to be remembered, Voltaic Solar Charger Kits can help keep your battery full and ready to capture that perfect moment. Available in a variety of sizes and powers, from 2 watts to 18, these chargers can handle your smartphone, camera, or full-on laptop. Simple, compact, and energy-efficient, Voltaic Solar Chargers make room for technology anywhere the sun may shine.SteriPEN UV Water PurifierWater may be easy to take for granted in the comfort of your own home, but unfortunately your kitchen sink can’t travel with you. Steripen Freedom UV Water Purifier makes it easy to stay healthy, safe, and hydrated throughout your outdoor adventures. In a mere 48 seconds, this turn that dirty stream water into your next clean beverage. Small but powerful, the 2.6 ounce Freedom UV Water Charger has all your best interests in mind.Bristol Rhythm and Roots Weekend PassWe asked, you voted: The Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion, a celebration of musical and cultural heritage in the Blue Ridge, recently won the prestigious award of “Best Festival” in our annual reader poll. Now, the festival is offering the exclusive chance to attend the weekend event for only $50 with a discounted Weekend Pass Holiday Gift Box! Great experiences come in small packages, so wrap up a piece of future fun and start counting down the days.Oxygen PlusDon’t let high altitudes make your lungs angry. Oxygen Plus gives you the priceless gift of easy breathing, from base camp to the summit. Portable O+ Oxygen Containers store 95% pure oxygen in a variety of sizes to suit whatever heights and journeys call your name. The O+ Mini holds 24 full breaths in a mere 1.5 ounces, while the Skinni fits 50 in a “tall and trim” 8 inches and the Elevate Pack offers reusable refills. With these three styles to choose from a flavors ranging from Natural to Peppermint to tangy Grapefruit, Oxygen Plus has you covered.Fugoo Go Anywhere SpeakerNo matter your choice of adventure, the Fugoo Go Anywhere Speaker is ready to put a soundtrack to your journey. Through wind and water, dirt and dust, this speaker can handle it all. In all its durable glory, the Go Anywhere Speaker can survive 3 feet of water for 30 full minutes, falls on concrete from up to 6 feet, and even a trip under your car tires. Plus, a 40-hour battery life keeps the tunes playing through every bump and bang.ThermaCELL Heated InsolesWarm feet are happy feet, and ThermaCELL wants to keep those piggies cozy this season.Stick these Heated Insoles in your ski boots, running shoes, or even your bedroom slippers to keep your feet ready for the cold. Choose your level of heat, from 100 degrees to 111, with the touch of a button on the included remote-control. Find full winter comfort in seconds with ThermaCELL, and thank your feet for a job well done out in the cold.ColdPruf Performance LayersShow those winter chills who’s boss with base layers from ColdPruf. Both Classic and Premium Performance lines offer warmth no matter what the weather report may read, from lightweight tops and bottoms of simple 100% merino wool to heavier pieces in polyester and spandex. Throw on some ColdPruf this snowy season and take those low temps by storm.Swix Wax KitGet your skis slop-ready with Swix, offering a full line of updated waxing gear for the fast-approaching snow season. Cera Nova X packs in a wide range of Glide Waxes and Cera F Powders, Liquids, and Solids for you to choose from. Completely redesigned and updated just this year, this quality wax will help protect your gear from all the winter wear and tear that lies ahead while also giving your slope style an added boost at every turn. Swix Wax will do you the favor of keeping both you and your skis at the very top of your game.
Photo courtesy of USC newsUSC professor emeritus Paul Ilie, an expert in European history and Spanish literature, died on July 18 in Los Angeles. He was 84 years old.Ilie is best remembered for his passion for intellectual engagement, his ability to genuinely communicate with people and his dedication to independent thought, according to USC News.Ilie graduated from Brown University with master’s and doctoral degrees in romance languages and literatures. He then taught at the University of Michigan, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and UCLA.=Ilie joined the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in 1982 and taught for 15 years before retiring as a professor emeritus in 1997. Aside from teaching, Ilie wrote over 100 academic articles and literary criticisms, authored eight books and received a Guggenheim fellowship in 1965 to expand his research in Spanish and Portuguese literature.Shortly before his death, Ilie had been working on a novel concerning the 17th century Spanish King Felipe V. Jesús Torrecilla, a Spanish literature professor at UCLA and former doctoral student of Ilie’s, expressed the gratitude and admiration he felt for Paul Ilie. “It is hard for me to convey the deep sense of gratitude I have for Paul Ilie as a mentor and as a role model,” Torrecilla said to USC News. “I could not be the scholar and the person I am today without the influence of Paul. Because of this, I feel that even if he is sadly not around us anymore, he will continue to be with us always.”