2009 Ski issue

Winter gear: Tech-savvy products and cold-weather classics

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By Nathan Borchelt
Sunday, November 29, 2009

As Spyder ski apparel prepares to unveil its fully re-engineered, high-tech "slippery" race suit at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, we pause to profile the latest and greatest tech-savvy products in winter apparel -- and offer some contemporary upgrades to hall-of-fame cold-weather classics. Oh, and if you're eyeing one of those new skin-tight suits, which boast 40 percent less padding and reduced thread, seam and needle-hole counts to decrease wind drag, check 'em out on the U.S. and Canadian athletes this February. And start saving. They'll be available to mere mortals next fall.


Mountain Hardwear Refugium Jacket

Outdoor gear staples Mountain Hardwear have partnered with Ardica Technologies to introduce a battery-heated jacket that also powers and charges your portable electronics. A flat lithium battery that slips discreetly between the shoulder blades provides eight hours of uninterrupted warmth on the low setting (three hours on high), while simultaneously juicing up your favorite pocket gizmos, from smart phones to cameras to GPS devices. You also get a fashion-forward look with ultra-thin insulation, fleece-lined hand pockets and Velcro-closure cuffs. In short, it's a go-to jacket when you want to leave the excess power behind. $425 for the jacket, power system and connection kit;http://www.mountainhardwear.com.

Marmot Alpinist Glove

Built for extreme conditions (or for those prone to cold digits) these gloves employ Gore-Tex's new X-TRAFIT construction, which permanently bonds the glove liner and the insert by using grip tape on the inside of the glove shell. The result? No excess movement or cold spots between the glove layers, and optimal grip and dexterity. Pair that with premium PrimaLoft insulation for oven-like warmth and you've got the perfect waterproof/breathable barrier against the elements without feeling like you're wearing oven mitts. Added touches such as loops for hanging, wrist leashes, gauntlet cuffs and a removable windproof soft shell make this the only glove you'll ever need. $180; http://marmot.com.

Black Diamond Outlaw AvaLung Backpack

With an easy-access back-panel opening, stash pockets galore, an insulated hydration sleeve and easy-to-use ski- and board-carrying straps, this 32-liter all-purpose pack is a solid choice in its own right. But factor in the integrated "AvaLung" feature, and the Outlaw might just save your life by extending your survival time in an avalanche by as much as 40 minutes. Simply breathe into the snorkel-like mouthpiece housed in the shoulder strap, and you inhale fresh air directly from the snowpack while deadly CO2 is deflected away from your air pocket. $230; http://www.blackdiamondequipment.com.

Mammut Diamond Jacket

This high-end jacket boasts Gore-Tex's new Comfort Mapping concept, which marries advanced laminating and seam-sealing techniques with different heat zones in the body. Translation: You get warmth where you want it, flexibility where you need it, and wind/waterproof-breathable protection that's required for serious winter alpine adventures (without the crinkly bulk in lesser-priced models). Mammut has tricked out the Diamond with loads of other ski-specific features, such as a detachable powder skirt, an easily adjusted hood, underarm zip vents, waterproof zips and just the right number of pockets. $749; http://www.mammut.ch.

Oakley Splice Goggles

Oakley has reinvented the goggles . . . again. The new skeletal support system in the Splice models evenly redistributes the contact points across the entire frame (goodbye scrunched nose) while increasing airflow, the antidote to foggy lenses. The flexible support system doesn't harden in extreme cold, triple-layer fleece foam absorbs sweat, and the helmet-friendly strap sits on twin outriggers to increase peripheral vision. And of course, vision through the goggles remains Visine-clear. We recommend polarized lenses to cut through snow glare, but since the lenses are interchangeable, snag several and swap out as conditions dictate. Starting at $120; http://www.oakley.com.


Smartwool Banff Crew (Your new sweater)

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