soft gear starters
With every new season of winter sports, comes an avalanche of new cold-weather gear. In fact, with all the different technologies, brands and styles, we think it can be downright overwhelming. So to help you wade through all the different options without taking away valuable time on the mountain, we went straight to the experts to compile our first-annual Cold-Weather Gear Guide. It’s a two-part guide about what’s on the cutting edge, and the first installment focuses on soft gear. The second part, featuring the latest and greatest in hard gear, will appear in next month’s Ski and Snow issue.
Different areas of your body sweat, move and regulate heat differently. So why would you wear a jacket made of all the same material? The answer is because until recently there was no other option. And then came the concept of body-mapping insulation, which has led to the creation of a new breed of jackets that use different materials for various parts of the body.
Marmot Women’s Variant Jacket, $170
The core of this highly evolved jacket is made of lightweight (the whole jacket weighs under one pound), yet incredibly warm, Thermal R Eco insulation, and the sides and sleeves are made of Polartec Power Stretch to allow for a killer combination of warmth and flexibility.
Marmot Men’s Variant Jacket, $170
Like the women’s version, this jacket uses body-mapping technology to create a flawless heat flow. It also utilizes Thermal R and Polartec Power Stretch insulation materials, which keep the jacket from feeling bulky or bothersome while in action.
Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, marmot.com
“Another big trend is using merino wool; people are going back to it and realizing that the natural fiber is very effective at keeping you warm,” says Stacey Weichbrodt, an apparel buyer for local ski shop Sturtevant’s. “SmartWool is a great option because of the way they finish the threads. It reduces the chance of any irritation.”
SmartWool Women’s NTS Mid 250 Zip T, $105
SmartWool boasts this base layer as its warmest option to date. Made of 100 percent Vietnam merino wool, the garment features enhanced shoulder panels for comfort when wearing a pack, flatlock seams for zero chafing, and updated design for a perfect fit.
SmartWool Men’s NTS Mid 250 Funnel Zip, $115
With a neck that can zip up for extra coverage and sleeves with thumbholes, this ultra-warm base layer was created with men of action in mind. Made of 100 percent Vietnam merino wool, it is constructed using flatlock seams to eliminate chafing and includes enhanced shoulder panels for those carrying a pack.
Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, smartwool.com
SmartWool Women’s PHD Snowboard Medium, $25.95
Designed for the female athlete’s foot, the merino wool socks feature high-density, shock-absorbing cushioning technology for areas of the foot that experience high impact. They also include mesh ventilation for heat and moisture regulation.
SmartWool PHD Ski Graduated Compression Ultra Light Socks, $37.95
The warmth of wool and benefits of compression socks in one? Yes, please. The lightweight, graduated-compression socks are SmartWool’s most technologically advanced thus far, and include high-density, shock-absorption material in all the right places and vents for heat and moisture regulation.
Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, smartwool.com
Women’s Give-N-Go Lacy Underwear, $18-22
ExOfficio calls their unique brand of underwear a revolution. And with perks like an Aegis Microbe Shield for odor protection, extremely quick-drying and moisture-wicking capabilities, and stretch lace waistband (on selected styles), they might be right. This stylish, yet high-performance, pair of underwear is also comfortable enough for any sport.
Men’s Give-N-Go Underwear, $26-30
Coming in boxer and brief styles, the men’s Give-N-Go underwear come with Aegis Microbe Shield for odor protection, a nonchafing waistband, moisture-wicking and quick-drying capabilities, and more. And they say dogs are a man’s best friend.
Where to Buy: exofficio.com
Phase-change materials make sure you maintain the all-important balance between not too hot and not too cold. “Phase-change materials control your body temperature, holding in the heat when it gets cold, and as you get hotter it expands,” says Weichbrodt. “The amazing thing is companies like Mountain Force and KJUS have used this technology while still allowing four-way stretch for range of movement.”
Women’s Mountain Force Joplin Jacket, $949
This jacket is the priciest women’s jacket on our list but comes with every imaginable bell and whistle, including ceramic-membrane technology. Features include an adjustable snow skirt, detachable hood, internal pocket systems, goggle case, stretch lining, two-way zipper, cable guide and much more. All of this still fits into a surprisingly lightweight package that is waterproof, warm and durable.
Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, mountainforce.com
Men’s KJUS Warp Speed Jacket, $1,399
The Warp Speed Jacket utilizes an amazing technology known as schoeller-PCM. Microcapsules within the jacket respond to temperature changes by transforming from solid to liquid when they reach specific temperatures. However, this does not take away from the all-important functionality of the jacket courtesy of the four-way stretch Dermizax NX fabric.
Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, kjus.com
Men’s and Women’s Storm Logic Vest, $120
Keeping your core warm is essential when taking part in any kind of winter sport, and ExOfficio has created a vest with that exact purpose in mind. As an added bonus, it also uses a high-tech stuff-sack system that turns the vest into a comfortable travel pillow. Other features include a microfleece-lined collar and pockets, an extensive travel pocket system, and quick-dry, windproof and water-resistant material.
Where to Buy: exofficio.com
Despite its ability to provide warmth, outdoor enthusiasts once shied away from down stuffing due to the clumping factor—when it got wet, it stuck together. Well, according to Weichbrodt, problem solved. “Now the seaming is waterproof, so you get the warmth of down while staying extremely comfortable.”
Women’s Salomon S-Line Prima Jacket, $550
While this jacket comes with many extras, including a lift-pass pocket, goggle wipe, removable hood, thumb loops, stretch powder skirt and more, the main feature is the extremely soft, quilted fabric that keeps the down stuffing dry and you warm.
Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, salomon.com
Men’s Burton AK BK Insulator Jacket, $249.95
Designed with the active cold-weather athlete in mind, the premium down fill and fleece-lined hand-warmer pockets will keep you warm, but the jacket also includes armpit zippers for ventilation. The water-repellant ripstop fabric makes it the perfect fit for any weather.
Where to Buy: Sturtevant’s, burton.com
tried and true
While technology can be great, Steve Forsythe, owner of Centerline Ski shop and expert skier and coach, says he’s more impressed with gear that’s passed the test of time. “I’ve got a Patagonia jacket that I’ve skied in for ten years,” he says. His top three picks for soft gear are anything made by Patagonia, Mammut and Eider. He says these brands have established themselves by providing quality gear that’s durable, without all the fluff.
cold-weather gear for runners
Runners are a special breed of athlete because they require all the warmth with none of the bulk. While Lululemon is most often associated with yoga gear, they do have a plethora of technology-driven gear perfect for cold-weather runners. Community relations expert Nina Gardner describes the most exciting pieces of the season.
1 Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve
“This garment is incredibly moisture-wicking, and is made of our Silverescent fabric, so it doesn’t hold on to smell (which is key when you’re running in these pieces time after time). And it is the perfect layer to have right against your body.”
2 Frosty Run Gloves
“When I run with gloves, I need them to not get in my way or weigh me down (like every pair of knit gloves I own). These guys are made of our moisture wicking fabric, the styling detail is actually reflective and the fingertips are paneled, so you don’t have to remove your gloves to return a text or answer a call.”
3 Warm top layer
“The Fleet Street Hoodie & Fluff Off Jacket are great top layers this season. Both have warm, moisture wicking linings, high collars to keep warmth in, and strategic ventilation to use to avoid overheating.”
4 Luxtreme tights
“Luxtreme is our running fabric that has a compression component to keep muscles from jiggling so as to reduce fatigue, and I find that in the winter, these tights give me the warmth I need without being bulky. Also super-moisture-wicking so my sweat isn’t making a chilly run any chillier.”
Where to Buy: lululemon.com