Time to get winter sports gear ready for the season and replace anything that’s worn out or needs upgrading. Some of this year’s new gear reflects the push to provide access to underrepresented groups — clothing for plus-size adventurers and equipment specifically geared to female-identifying winter sports enthusiasts.
Ski and snowboard gear continues to get lighter and more versatile, able to perform like champs on groomers and in the side country — and beyond. Speaking of champs, check out the new line of skis launched this year by New England born-and-raised superstar skier Bode Miller.
Mitts provide comfort and convenience
You’ll wish you could crawl inside Leki’s new Glace 3D Women’s Mitt. These waterproof mittens have a cushiony sleeping bag-like outer layer (with extra Primaloft insulation) and a soft interior with a glove design that keeps your fingers toasty and cocooned in comfort. The tips of the inner finger channels are attached to the mitts, so the liner won’t bunch up or slip out when you remove your hands. The sheepskin leather palms provide good grip and drawstring closures around the wrists help keep out the snow and cold. Pair these Trigger-style mitts with a pole that features Leki’s new 3D grip, such as the Carbon 14 3D ($169.95), and you’ll appreciate the pole’s wider multi-directional release mechanism, which makes it quicker and easier to engage. $119.95. www.leki.com/us.
A high-tech, high-visibility helmet
POC’s new Levator MIPS helmet blends comfort, convenience, and a crazy-wide field of view. The Levator helmet offers good interior padding, 28 air holes on top and two slits up front for ventilation (and glove-friendly slides for adjusting vents), and top-of-the-line safety features: built-in MIPS to protect your brain in case of a crash and RECCO locator technology. What makes this helmet a winner, though, is the built-in visor, which offers a remarkable 180-degree field of vision (you’ll appreciate this on tight runs and busy days), stays attached to the helmet (a great feature if you’re one to drop, scratch, or misplace your goggles), and has a POC Clarity lens (developed with Carl Zeiss optics). The helmet also comes with a handy magnetic buckle on the chin strap, removable ear pads, and an adjustable fit system. $550. https://na.pocsports.com.
A lightweight touring pole
Blackcrows’ new Duos Freebird touring poles are dependable, durable, easily adjustable, and lighter than some all-carbon poles. These telescoping poles have an aluminum top tube and carbon lower tube and weigh in at just 16 ounces per pair. They adjust from 110 to 140 centimeters (using the quick-release Power Lock 3.0 system on the shaft), giving you a wide range of heights to accommodate changing slopes and conditions. The 13-inch-long foam grip lets you quickly shift your hand position without adjusting pole length. The poles also have 90mm flexible baskets, tungsten carbide tips, and an aluminum cap on top so poles stay put when planted in the snow (cap side down) on steep slopes. They’re at home in bounds and off the grid. $164.95. www.black-crows.com.
Plus sizes provide greater access
Outdoor Research extended its plus sizing to 4X this year, giving more people access to technical clothing suitable for skiing, snowshoeing, and other outdoor adventures. The Women’s Snowcrew Jacket-Plus and Women’s Snowcrew Pants-Plus work great for winter fun. The wind- and waterproof jacket comes in a relaxed fit that makes layering underneath easy. It has an adjustable hood that works with most helmets, pit zips that help with ventilation, a powder skirt, an insulated draft collar at the back of the neck, cozy hand pockets, and a small arm pocket for your lift pass. The pants have some built-in stretch, waist adjustment tabs and belt loops for dialing in the fit for varying conditions, thigh vents, and zippered hand pockets (one of which has an avalanche beacon clip). Men’s Snowcrew jacket and pants available up to 3X. $199 pants, $329 jacket. www.outdoorresearch.com.
Slay the powder in your Ninja Suit
What makes Airblaster’s one-piece hooded base layer better than your parents’ thermal underwear? The fitted Classic Ninja Suit hugs your body but offers flexible comfort and breathability thanks to the four-way-stretch wicking fabric, while the one-piece hooded style prevents blasts of cold air or snow from getting up your back and down your neck. The suit, available in men’s, women’s, and youth sizes, also has a long chest zip, a drawstring waist cord, thumb loops on the sleeves, a ponytail opening (on the women’s suit), and a clever 350-degree-access zipper that rings your waist and makes bathroom stops relatively quick and easy (the men’s suit also has a front fly). The Ninja Suit comes in fun colors (check out the Far Out starry design), and hoodless and merino wool versions. Now start practicing your ninja ski moves for the slopes. $79.95-$269.95. https://myairblaster.com.
A boot bag for little rippers
If kids can ride the lifts and rip down the slopes, they can carry their own gear to and from the mountain. Dakine’s Youth Boot Pack 45L Backpack fits all the essentials in an easy-to-carry bag that makes it a cinch for kids to pack and compartmentalize their gear — and find everything when needed. The one-size-fits-all pack has adjustable shoulder straps, a protective tarp-lined boot compartment, a main compartment for helmet and lunch, and a front pocket for a hat, gloves, hand warmers, and other small items. The pack is made of recycled polyester material with a water-repellent finish. $80. www.dakine.com.
This backpack could save your life
If your ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or snowmobiling adventures take you into terrain that could slide, pack along Backcountry Access’s new BCA Float E2 avalanche airbag, available in 25- and 35-liter versions. Both waterproof packs have a large easy-access front pocket for your shovel and probe, a long side zipper for accessing the backpack’s main compartment, and a handy Side Stash pocket that’s reachable with the pack on and can hold climbing skins, gloves, a water bottle, or snacks. Pack your goggles in the lined outer pocket, your helmet in a stowable mesh holder, and your skis, snowboard, snowshoes, or ice axe on the back using compression straps. The Float E2 contains the new Alpride E2 system (significantly smaller and lighter than its predecessor), which uses a supercapacitor — rather than a compressed air cartridge — to inflate the airbag, meaning you can fly with the pack for far-flung adventures and not have to worry about TSA restrictions. $1,250-$1,300. https://backcountryaccess.com.
Tip: To help eliminate barriers and enable more women to get professional avalanche training, BCA and the American Avalanche Association have teamed up to offer $1,500 scholarships for women who want to earn their Professional Level 1 or Level 2 avalanche certification. Apply by Dec. 6 (contact email@example.com).
A snowboard built for women
Weston Backcountry, also a leader in offering scholarships for women and underrepresented groups (and supporting backcountry safety and education, in general), has released its first women’s-specific swallowtail snowboard, The Revel, available in 143, 148, and 153 cm. The lightweight, playful board suits smaller riders and comes to life after big dumps and in deep powder. The board’s wide nose and setback stance allow the board to float while the tail makes it easy to initiate quick turns in the trees. British Columbia backcountry guide and artist Jessa Gilbert created the artwork for the topsheet, depicting waves rising above the Sea of Japan to the peak of Mount Rishiri, a powder lover’s paradise. Some proceeds from board sales will provide avalanche education scholarships for female-identifying riders through a partnership between Weston and Canadian Powder Guiding. $624 snowboard; $949 splitboard. www.westonbackcountry.com.
A ski with a New England soul
If you need a one-quiver ski that’s quick and lively — and at home on New England hardpack (yes, even ice), in the park, and on powdery slopes out west — consider Romp’s new Zorro 100 skis. These all-mountain skis, handcrafted in Crested Butte, Colo., suit riders that want a nimble ski for exploring everything from groomed trails to bumps and playful pockets of fun along the treeline. Romp founders Caleb and Morgan Weinberg grew up in Bath, N.H., and built these skis to handle the steep and cold conditions they experienced at their home mountain: Cannon. The Zorros can hold an edge on bullet-proof snow yet offer a fun ride in powder conditions. They come in a wide range of sizes, from 155cm to 190cm. $799. https://rompskis.com.
Meet Bode’s new ski line
Bode Miller — the winningest male alpine ski racer in U.S. history — tapped his expertise from years on the slopes, his penchant for thinking outside the box, and his big-picture approach to problem solving to design skis that break the barriers. His new Peak Ski Company, cofounded with entrepreneur Andy Wirth, launched this year, offering four alpine and two crossover sidecountry skis. For New Englanders, the Peak 98 and the slightly lighter 98 SC are the perfect daily drivers that can rip on groomers, plow through powder and mashed potato-like conditions, and provide the quick response needed to maneuver trees. “They’re hyper forgiving in any condition,” Miller told the Globe. “They’re easy and quick to move and they don’t take a lot of energy to power up.” What makes them unique: the reduced sidecut and the company’s proprietary KeyHole Technology, in which the traditional metal in the front of the ski gets laser cut to create a softer shovel that eases into turns and plows through crud. The skis have a remarkable 24-meter turning radius and a long, gentle early rise for a smooth ride. “It’s shockingly different, but more movable and easier to ski,” says Miller. $890, https://peakskis.com.
Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kari Bodnarchuk can be reached at email@example.com.