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Gear Up
10 Hot Cold-Weather Items

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It doesn't take long -- a chairlift ride, a schuss down the mountain -- to realize the importance of wearing appropriate apparel when skiing, snowboarding or simply goofing around in the snow. To keep you warm and toasty this winter, we selected 10 of this season's hottest cold-weather items, including the best glove innovation in years (see link) and the most stylish apres-ski hats. -- Nathan Borchelt

Asylum Pants From Nau

($278; http://www.nau.com)

What: Breathable waterproof and windproof pants constructed of three-layer recycled polyester with the right bit of stretch. Because of Nau's fashion-forward aesthetic and distinct lack of garish logos or other design gimmicks, the pants easily shift from double black diamond to happy hour.

Best for . . . resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding, followed by post-mountain cavorting.

Note: Nau's business model is based on giving back: The line boasts only

recycled and organic fabrics, and 2 percent of each sale goes to one of five eco-friendly nongovernmental organizations.

Mammut Verglas Jacket

(price to be released next year; http://www.mammut.ch)

What: The jack-of-all-trades hard-shell jacket will be one of the only pieces of apparel to feature new ColdBlack technology. Developed by Schoeller, the company that pioneered soft shells, this new fabric treatment reflects up to 80 percent of the sun's rays, offering better heat management when wearing darker fabrics.

Best for . . . spring skiing, when the warm sun turns most jackets into ovens.

Note: The jacket isn't out until spring.

Scapegoat Burnside Jacket

($295; http://www.scapegoatbrand.com)

What: The two-layer women's jacket offers all of the high-tech trappings (fully taped seams for increased waterproofing, microfleece at the collar, shoulders and back for added warmth, etc.) as well as an attractive silhouette, a rarity among sport-specific coats.

Best for . . . perfecting the ski-bunny aesthetic without sacrificing any technical requirements.

Notes: This boutique apparel label was recently acquired by the climbing-and-yoga powerhouse prAna. This season marks Scapegoat's first foray into women's designs, with attention paid to the details that matter, such as funky liner designs and fashion-forward color choices.

Highgear Altis Ss Sport Watch ($225; http://www.highgear.com)

What: One of the best ski-specific watches on the market, the Altis lets you read the temperature and altitude and can track up to 20 altitude logs that detail the number of runs taken, total vertical feet skied, ski time from starting point to base and overall rate of descent. Oh, and it tells time.

Best for . . . training for ski races and for people who love statistical data or need evidence to support their boasting.

Note: Expect to spend a few hours with the manual to get all of the controls dialed in.

Icebreaker Bodyfit 200 Leggings

($64.99; http://www.icebreaker.com)

What: The baby-soft long underwear is made of all-natural, moisture-wicking merino, hardly the itchy-scratchy wool of yesteryear. Unlike cotton and synthetics, the fabric offers all-natural odor protection, so your undergarments will smell as good on Day 5 as they did on Day 1.

Best for . . . lower-body warmth during all-day exposure to the elements.

Note: Icebreaker also makes great sweaters and jackets from the same high-quality merino wool.

Bridgedale All-Mountain Socks

($19.95; available at http://www.garmontusa.com

and http://www.altrec.com)

What: Any skier who has been trapped in poorly insulated boots knows that socks matter. Bridgedale's hardy mix of merino wool, polypropylene, nylon and spandex delivers the best comfort, warmth and moisture management for your feet. The all-mountain design puts padding where you need it: the shin, heel and toe, with thinner material to increase breathability and reduce sweating.

Best for . . . a nonstop day on the mountain, with no breaks for foot rubs.

Note: There are men's and women's versions, assuring perfect fit.

Keen Betty Boot

($110; http://www.keenfootwear.com)

What: After heavy ski boots, treat your feet to plush kicks that are waterproof and wonderfully insulated, with a strong heel and a hardy rubber sole that will keep traction on everything short of a frozen pond. Think Western-influenced, playful, ski-bunny chic.

Best for . . . apres stomping.

Note: Comes in four two-tone colors: red/gray, celery/green, black/gray and slate/jade.

Nobis wool hat

(from $45; http://www.nobis.ca)

What: The Canadian company has reinvented the traditional wool beanie by crafting creative, cozy hats. Designs employ embroidery, layering, earflaps, argyle patterns, shallow brims and windproof fleece underbands. In the fall line, we like the leaf-adorned Milo-the 2nd for women and the Larkin, a winterized hunting-style cap for men.

Best for . . . when you're ready to ditch the ski helmet.

Note: Available at Nordstrom.

Dakine Split Convertible bag

($179.99; http://www.dakine.com)

What: The rolling suitcase breaks out into two bags, so you can stock your mountain apparel on one side and your off-slope attire on the other. Then, as you ski your way through the week, you can sequester the dirty clothes from the clean. The bag offers a whopping 7,300 cubic inches of storage space encased in a durable polyester and nylon exterior, with a retractable handle and urethane wheels.

Best for . . . OCD winter packing.

Notes: Dakine has a men's and women's line, with distinct color schemes that stand out on the airport baggage carousel.

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