Outdoor Research SuperStrand LT Vest
Outdoor Research (OR) has long made some of my favorite winter gear, and the OR SuperStrand LT Vest is yet another hit for them. This is their lightest, softest, most compressible synthetic down collection. Perfect for winter, yes, but you can wear it anytime you need a little warmth. It’s made from a relatively new insulating technology, VerticalX™ SuperStrand, which they claim is as soft, light, and lofty as 700-800 fill power down. The ripstop nylon fabric resists abrasions and shields against wind and light precipitation. Perfect on its own if it’s a sunny but chilly day, it’s also good to wear under a hard shell for optimal warmth or when it’s dumping. This vest is genuinely ultralight at 10 ounces and offers highly packable warmth. $149.
Helly Hansen Odin Power Stretch Half-Zip Pullover
I’m a fanboy of Helly Hansen, a company that makes clothing I’ve used for sailing, skiing, and dealing with Manhattan’s windswept and stormy canyons. This new fleece, the Odin Power Stretch Half-Zip Pullover, has vaulted to the top of my comfort list. Unlike most fleeces, it’s not nubby but smooth as silk, a soft, warm Polartec layer. It also has remarkable stretch capability, making it perfect for any winter sport. If your jam is backcountry skiing, mountaineering or trekking, it’s worth checking out. This garment is water resistant and 80% recycled, made of polyester and elastane, breathable, and quick drying. It’s hands-down my new favorite fleece for outdoor pursuits. $150
Ibex Men’s Woolies Tech Long Sleeve Crew
No outdoor fabric is hotter, so to speak than Merino wool. Ibex is known for doing clever things with Merino, like the Woolies Tech Long Sleeve Crew , which is made from Pro-Tech fabric and designed for high aerobic activities in cool and cold conditions. Super lightweight, it punches above its weight to provide warmth without overheating. Ibex adds nylon for durability and elastane to help the shirt maintain its shape for days without washing. $115
It seems like Hot Chillys have been around forever. In fact, they began in 1985, an eternity for most outdoor wear companies. There’s a good reason for that. They’re essential winter under layers for extreme cold. We’re talking severe cold, like a blue sky day in January in Eastern Quebec or Northern Vermont. Their best-selling base layer, the Micro Elite Chamois, is the way to go. It’s made from a polyester and spandex fibers blend, and there are moisture transfer fibers to move moisture away from the skin. It has a four-way stretch for unlimited movement, UPF 30 protection, and comes in fun colors, patterns, and prints. Compared to so much technical wear, it’s also very affordable. $70
Nothing says winter quite like a pair of Western leather gloves. Give’r Gloves are crafted in Pakistan and then hand-waxed with beeswax in Jackson Hole. Getting your initials branded on them is optional. Lightly insulated, I find they’re best for après ski strolls in ski towns when the Mercury is heading toward zero. They’re built for toughness and durability, even if you’re not planning on fixing a barbed wire fence when you leave the house. The Classics are $49.
BOGS Arcata Urban Chelsea
It would help if you had 100% waterproof footwear to handle the worst of winter, like that ankle-deep slush you’re standing in as you load your Subaru for a ski weekend. That’s why you should consider the BOGS Arcata Urban Chelsea, which are waterproof to a fault. They have slip-resistant soles, plush lining and 5mm NeoTech insulation, which gives them a rating of -40 degrees. They have Max-Wick to evaporate sweat to keep feet dry, and the footbeds are BLOOM algae-based material that protects endangered water habitats. $150.
Lacrosse Aero Timber Top Slip-Ons
Another contender for winter footwear is the Lacrosse Aero Timber Top Slip-Ons. They remind me of a vintage LL Bean duck boot, and their sole purpose on this planet is to keep your feet warm and dry in wet weather. The uppers are naturally water-resistant suede, with the AeroForm polyurethane shell is flexible and waterproof, more durable than rubber, says Lacrosse. That said, they do have rubber soles which do provide solid traction. $190.
Forsake Cascade Trail
Staying in shape before you tackle a winter sport is critical, and casual runners like the Forsake Cascade Trail can help you with your goals. Built along the lines of a trail runner, Forsake calls it a “hiking sneaker,” and it’s best for brisk walkers and hikers, a.k.a; a lightweight performance hiking shoe. They are very light and comfortable straight out of the box. They’re also 100% waterproof, which means they can handle wet pavement you probably run on. Highlights include a MultiGrip outsole and a fully cushioned BLOOM foot bed. $130.
Swiftwick FLITE XT® TRAIL
Pair your Forsake runners with the Swiftwick FLITE XT® TRAIL line, which combines natural Merino wool and proprietary GripDry™ Fiber with stability technology to tackle the unique challenges of outdoor trail adventures. It’s a high-performance adventure sock designed to put up with a strenuous all-day workout. Call it a sock that acts like a shoe. Proprietary GripDry™ Fiber incorporated into the heel and forefoot of the sock uses micro treads to provide traction and grip inside your shoe. AnkleLock™ Technology uses strong elastic around your ankles to provide support and stability on varying terrains. Uneven terrain and variable conditions are its home. The signature hydrophobic Olefin fiber footbed maximizes the sock’s moisture-wicking capabilities to keep you dry and blister-free. I favor the five-inch size. $26.99
OlukKai Kīpuka Hulu
After a day of adventures, you need to slip into something warm and comforting. Nothing fits quite like a slipper made by OluKai and Olukai’s Kīpuka Hulu is the slipper equivalent of an armchair and fireplace on a winter’s night. It’s a homey slipper with premium nubuck leather and soft shearling lining with a wrapped rubber toe and heel dual-density PU footbed, non-marking ‘Wet Grip Rubber” outsole, and the patented Drop-In Heel® design. $130.
Eagle Creek Migrate Duffle
I’ve been an Eagle Creek fan for years, and their duffels have gotten a lot of use in my travels. Now they’ve come out with the Eagle Creek Migrate Duffle, made from 100% recycled materials — 100% Recycled 900D Poly TPU and recycled RPVB coating — to help reduce your carbon footprint. The ultra-tough duffel bag has a wide-mouth opening – think of the doctor’s bag on those old Westerns — and is constructed of water-resistant material. There are side buckles and external compression straps, while the tote and haul handles are connected using a yoked webbing system. It has a #10 lockable main zipper with large finger loop zipper pulls for easy access when wearing gloves, and it also has tuck-away backpack straps for maximum versatility, ideal for plane travel. It comes in various sizes, but I favor the 40-liter, which I can get aboard most aircraft. When you get home, it folds flat for storage. $99.
I tested the TSL Highlander Adjust snowshoes last spring in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I found them to be very effective on pretty steep terrain, which those mountains have in spades. The Highlander Adjust have a firm grip thanks to well-placed multi-tooth toe spikes. Yet they remained comfortable throughout a long morning of breaking a steep trail near Wildcat Mountain. I found the Boa Fit System easy to use when putting them on, and they stayed tight for my walk in the woods. Snowshoe tech has changed considerably over the past two decades, and I marveled at how lightweight the Highlanders were. These shoes are made in the French Alps, where they’ve been experimenting with snowshoe design for years. These aren’t the first plastic snowshoes from France that I’ve liked; chances are, they won’t be the last. That said, these are pretty close to perfect. $279.95