2009 Winter Gear

Posted September 28th, 2009

After a cool summer and a relatively early first frost, we have to wonder what Old Man Winter will have in store for us this season. We remember drinking lemonade in our shorts while building a deck at our house in December 2001. We also remember the truly world-class powder skiing we enjoyed back in late October 2005. Around here, no one really knows what winter will bring, but we do know that it will be cold and white for at least a little while. Optimistic about Old Man Winter having his way with us, we have a few new winter gear discoveries to share.

For strong alpine skiers looking to ski off-piste and explore the world beyond chairlifts, an alpine-touring (AT) set up with a boot like Garmont’s new Luster is sure to get you there. This four-buckle AT boot thrives in all terrain and snow conditions, and can drive any skis on the market. For the uphill tour, when combined with backcountry-oriented skis and AT bindings, it’s light and comfortable enough to keep you going all day, thanks to Garmont’s new heat-moldable Rapid liner. $750. www.garmontusa.com.

Black Diamond went out on its own in the ski boot world last season, and the results are impressive. BD’s newest three-buckle telemark boot, the Seeker, features a snug-fitting, heat-moldable liner, walk/ski modes, crampon compatibility, and a very smooth flex. Designed for skiers of all abilities who prefer a lower-profile boot or like to spend most of their time in the backcountry, the Seeker is an incredibly versatile boot that handles most skis, snow, and terrain conditions with ease. $600. www.bdel.com.

G3’s Alpinist Elle skins are among the highest
performing climbing skins on the market today, developed with the unique needs of women in mind. G3 started with their popular Alpinist Climbing Skin, styled them out with some colorful, girl-friendly graphics, and then added a RipStrip to make these easier to use in the field. The RipStrip is an adhesive-free strip along the bottom of the skin that makes it substantially easier to pull the skins apart when they are stored in glue-to-glue mode. Another stand-out feature of these skins is G3’s new ski tip connector—two pivoting hands that fit any ski tip securely and easily. The tip connector eliminates the fold-over common with most other tip connection systems, which cuts back on weight and snow build-up under the ski tip. Approx. $140. www.genuineguidegear.com.

The Oslo WPs are not your ordinary winter boots. They are the rugged, waterproof, and cold-proof king of their domain. They feature lightweight, seam-sealed, and waterproof lowers, mid-foot, and uppers, with adjustable laces for a snug fit, and outsoles that provide terrific traction The removable, moisture-wicking liner and insulated insole has Kamik rating these boots to 60 below zero. The WPs are a great choice for serious winter slogging through the coldest and wettest conditions. $130. www.kamik.com.

GoPro, pioneers of lightweight, wearable video cameras, will soon release their new HD Helmet Hero, which is sure to attract the attention of serious videographers looking for high-definition quality. As with all GoPro cameras, the HD features a waterproof housing, 5 megapixel still-photo capability, and compatibility with a grab-bag of camera mounts. However, the HD also has some impressive new features. The battery system utilizes a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and an internal heating system for keeping the battery system warm. The HD can also accommodate up to a 32 GB card and store more than eight hours of video. $299. www.gopro.com.

These are an amazing addition to any cold-weather cyclist or paddler’s winter wardrobe. Constructed with fleece-lined 2mm Yamamoto neoprene, blind- stitched and glued for waterproofing, and designed with articulated fingers for dexterity, you can dial your cell phone with these gloves on, or pedal through driving sleet to your heart’s and fingers’ content. These are the ultimate gloves for any cold and wet outdoor adventures. $45. www.glacieroutdoor.com.

Bern is a leader in the multi-sport, multi-purpose helmet, and their Watts helmet is a perfect example of a helmet that does it all. Wear it skiing or snowboarding, whitewater kayaking or singletrack mountain biking. The Watts is a vented helmet with a small visor, comes in a great variety of colors and styles, and is sold with an optional “winter kit” that offers warmth and protection from the winter elements. $80. www.bernunlimited.com.

Swiss-based Mammut has long been known among outdoor enthusiasts in Europe for its high-performance clothing and equipment. Recently, Mammut has become a favorite for many North American mountain goers, too, and the Ultimate Hoody helps to explain why. This stylish and ultra-comfortable softshell jacket is a weather-resistant layer that can be worn as a protective outer layer, or as a beneficial under-layer beneath the added protection of a waterproof shell. So long as it’s not too wet, this is a layer you can wear all day, whether hiking, skinning or sliding downhill, thanks in part to its excellent ventilation. The durable, tear-resistant construction comes in handy, too, should a little bushwhacking or wood stacking be a part of your next winter adventure. $239. www.mammut.ch.

If you are looking for a solid and functional winter shell that won’t break the bank, consider Outdoor Research’s (OR) Igneo Jacket. The Igneo is a well-designed winter shell, with waterproof fabric, taped seams, powder skirt, pit zips, hand pockets, and a wrap-around and helmet-friendly hood. It also features just enough insulation to make it a great choice for even the coldest winter days, so it’s light enough to carry in a pack on winter hikes or backcountry missions, yet designed to be worn throughout the day while riding lifts, exploring the backcountry, or while working, walking, or just having a little fun out in the snow. $279. www.outdoorresearch.com.

Kelty has long been known for its high quality and affordably priced outdoor products, and its backpacks are no exception. The Pawnee is a well-designed, medium-sized pack (2700/3300 cubic inches) that can carry the gear you need on a winter overnight to a favorite hut or cabin or on long winter hikes/ski tours when you need to carry more than the usuals. It features an easy access front pocket, plenty of adjustment straps for dialing in comfort and fit, and an internal aluminum stay for extra support. $130. www.kelty.com.

Brian Mohr

Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson of Moretown own Ember Photography and publish AdventureSkier.com. They can be reached through their website, EmberPhoto.com.