Snow, ice, sleet, and plummeting temps . . . bring them on! As the Norwegians like to say, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”
Today, ultra-thin, high-tech fabrics allow you to pile on layers to stay warm and dry, without looking like a puffed-out Abominable Snowman. Here’s some of the best outdoor clothing and stay-warm gear that will keep you cozy from head to toe, on and off the slopes. Listed prices are manufacturer’s suggested retail.
Start at the top
If you’re hitting the slopes, you’ll need a helmet. This head gear will not only keep you safe, but today’s styles will also help keep you warm. We like the new sleek, lightweight Smith Level helmet (www.smithoptics.com, $200), loaded with technology, including leading Koroyd protection material that crumples on impact to absorb shock (rather than transferring it to your head). The new VaporFit system allows you to adjust the size for a super comfortable fit; a climate control system with 20 easy-to-open vents prevents overheating, and an antibacterial liner wicks away moisture.
The wind in your face may be nice riding in a convertible in Malibu, but not so nice riding a chairlift in Maine. Cover up with a balaclava, like the Outdoor Research Helmetclava (www.outdoorresearch.com, $40), which you can wear under your helmet or scrooch down around your neck; it’s stretchy and dries quickly. The Patagonia Nano Puff Scarf (www.patagonia.com, $69) is toasty warm. Water-resistant and lightweight, it scrunches down to nothing and is our winter go-to on and off the slopes.
It’s snowing and you can’t see. It’s sunny and you can’t see. It’s cold and your forehead is freezing. You need goggles; try the Gordini Relode Goggles (www.gordini.com, $150), with easy-to-switch magnetic lenses. They’re sleek and provide great peripheral vision. The new top-of-the-line Smith 4D MAG Goggles have patented BirdsEye Vision—which means there’s a curve at the bottom of the lens. According to Smith, this new technology increases your field of view by 25 percent. We found they provided ultra-clear vision, didn’t fog up, and we were able to see a lot more around us (www.smithoptics.com/us, $280-$310).
Build your base
Start with a good foundation, that means a base layer that’s thin, comfy, and warm with superhero wicking power. Yep, we ask a lot of our next-to-body garment. Here’s a game-changer: Mobile Warming Baselayers (www.mobilewarming.com, $159.99). The Bluetooth-enabled, battery-operated pants and shirts provide instant heat with four settings. They’re soft and comfy, too. When those are in the wash (or we forgot to charge the batteries), we have a few other favorites, like the Columbia Titanium Omni-Heat 3D Crew Top and Knit Tight (www.columbia.com, $90), featuring a reflective lining that is great at keeping heat in and moisture out. Helly Hansen has been in the game for decades, and we always have at least one pair of their baselayer pants and shirts in our ski bag. We love the Helly Hansen Lifa Merino Baselayers (www.hellyhansen.com, starting at $45), with 2 in 1 construction, including a patented synthetic inner layer for keeping moisture away, and a 100 percent merino wool exterior for warmth.
Add a mid layer
This is the toasty layer. Think puffy down and soft fleece. The new L.L.Bean Ultralight 850 Down Jacket (www.llbean.com, starting at $229) is getting rave reviews for good reason. It’s fluffy, packable, soft, and warm. It also features new DownTek PFC-Free down that repels moisture, along with a new recycled exterior shell. We wear this jacket all winter long, on its own when we’re kicking around the city, or under a top layer outer shell when the weather gets ugly. The Columbia Ultimate Catch Heat Seal Puffy (www.columbia.com, $140) provides similar protection, with a heat-trapping baffled wave construction and a stain- and water-resistant exterior. We like that it tapers a bit longer in the front and back, covering a little more area.
Named after downhill ski racing legend Daron Rahlves, the new Flylow Men’s D$ (www.flylowgear.com, $125) is a technical whizz. It’s super light and soft, stretchy, and warm. We don’t know how they did it, but it’s genius. We’re waiting for them to come out with women’s sizes.
The cushy Patagonia Better Sweater Jacket (www.patagonia.com, $139) offers a stylish and soft alternative mid layer. The slim-fitting, feel-good jacket is made from 100 percent recycled materials. We also like supporting the company that is leading the industry with its lineup of eco-friendly products. This fall Patagonia announced that 100 percent of its waterproof shells (all 61 styles) are made with recycled materials and sewn in Fair Trade Certified factories.
Pick a tough outer layer
Maybe it’s sleeting. Maybe it’s snowing. Winds are gusting. Temperatures are dropping. You need a workhorse of an outer layer to keep you protected. The Men’s Flylow Quantum Pro Jacket (www.flylowgear.com, $420) features a new OmniBloq Durable Water Repellent coating, which the company claims will keep your jacket dry for three times as long as the industry-standard DWR. We can tell you it’s surprisingly lightweight and remarkably tough. This baby will stand up in New England’s nastiest weather.
The L.L.Bean North Col Gore-Tex Pro Jacket is a proven winner (www.llbean.com, $399). The thoughtful design includes big pockets, a two-way zipper, stretch cuffs and a helmet-fitting hood. It’s also completely waterproof.
Water beads off the hard-working Obermeyer Chandler Shell Jacket (www.obermeyer.com, $279), featuring “HydroBlock® Sport 100% Polyester Ripstop Weave with HydroBlock® Pro 100% Polyester Plain Weave 2-Way Stretch fabric and insulation.” Translation: wind, water, and snow can’t penetrate this versatile shell.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one option, we have two favorites. The Flylow Women’s Avery Jacket (www.flylowgear.com, $370) features a synthetic micro puff down interior and a tough-as-nails, waterproof exterior. Bring it on Old Man Winter.
We also like the top-of-the-line Patagonia Primo Puff (www.patagonia.com, $799). It’s one of the warmest jackets they offer, with high-loft PlumaFill insulation and two-layer recycled GORE-TEX fabric. This high-tech baby will keep you warm and dry no matter how nasty it gets outdoors.
On the bottom
“Fit great.” “Very comfy.” “Super soft and so warm.” That’s what people are saying about Columbia Snow Rival Pant (www.columbia.com, $199), featuring their touted Omni-Tech waterproof shell and the Omni-Heat thermal reflective lining. If you plan to spend a lot of time on the slopes or backcountry, these bottoms could be your best investment.
For the money, you can’t beat the waterproof and wind resistant L.L.Bean Carabassett Ski Pants (www.llbean.com, $229). Put them over a good base layer and you can play all day in just about any weather.
Don’t forget the digits
How did we ever live without these? We’re talking about the Mobile Warming Glove Liners (www.mobilewarming.com, $129.99). We pump the little control button to high on cold days, and we’re good to go. The company also makes regular battery-operated heated gloves. We’ll be giving those a try next.
Gordini is well-known for its top-notch lineup of mittens and gloves. We like the Gordini Empyrean Collection, including the women’s Aerie Mitt (www.gordini.com, $100). The palm and thumb are made with soft goatskin leather; inside is fluffy, thick Downtek 750 filling. They’re windproof, waterproof, and warm. If you prefer a glove, try the Gordini GTX Storm Trooper III ($65), with sheepskin fingers and trim and Gore-Tex waterproofing.
And apres ski
Here’s your perfect apres ski outfit. Throw on a pair of stretchy, warm, nice-looking Columbia Omni-Wick Northern Comfort Fall Leggings (www.columbia.com, $70). These make great base layers, too. Top them with the Toad & Co. Cabin Fever Cardi Sweater (www.toadandco.com, $200), made with soft boucle yarn, or the Toad & Co. Telluride Sherpa Pullover ($140), a fleece-y shearling made with recycled Italian wool. If you’ll be slushing around in the snow going from place to place, don a pair of the classic, no nonsense L.L.Bean Boots (www.llbean.com, starting at $139); these hard-working, warm boots are more comfortable than they look and will last forever. Or, slip on a pair of fuzzy, cozy Lamos. We love our Lamo Wren Boots made with cow suede, high-quality faux fur and side buttons for easy on and off (www.lamofootwear.com, $134.99). Or try the Wembley, with cow suede, tweed fabric, and faux fur ($77.99). The low-rise, budget-friendly Closed Bootie ($44.99) is also a popular option. There are plenty of styles for men, too. You’ll look good and your feet will thank you.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org