Old Brands Become New Faces In the Winter Outerwear Market

After much of ski country suffered one of the warmest, most disappointing winters on record, hope is on the horizon. The 2012-13 is weeks away, and hopefully it proves a little colder and snowier than winter 2011-12. Because the winter outerwear market, which already seems flush with competitors, is about to get even bigger. Last winter, several outdoor industry staples announced the launch of a new outerwear line, which was just a tad ironic given...
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Icebugs: Superior Winter Grip, Many Styles

Icebugs look like the go-to shoe if you spend your winters navigating slick, sketchy trails or sidewalks. That's because they come complete with Bugrip outsoles with carbide traction spikes that give you grip on even the slipperiest ice. When the ground turns hard and dry, the traction spikes retract into the soles, so they don't trip you up. Those Icebug shoes that don't come with Bugrip soles can be outfitted with Bugweb, a carbide traction...
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Warm For Life: Reusable Handwarmers

Most any winter sports enthusiast has used them (or at least received them as a gift): hand and toe warmers. Throw one of those little packs in your pocket and you'll get a few hours of warmth. Problem is, the minute that warmth expires, the pack is useless. With outdoor gear of every stripe going green, it's not surprising to see reusable hand warmers. While at the Outdoor Retailer show, I saw two different designs:...
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Affordable, Functional and Recycled: Coldpruf ECO Base Layers

Looking for a base layer that delivers performance at a solid price? The new ECO line from Coldpruf may be just what you need. The base layers are spun from a combination of 70 percent recycled polyester and 30 percent merino wool. They get a Microbahn anti-microbial treatment to help cut down on your after-sport musk. The ECO comes in both tops and bottoms, each of which costs $30. If you don't mind losing the...
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Holiday Gift Guide '11: Winter Essentials

Christmas and winter go hand and hand. Did you ever imagine Christmas without the snow,  lights glistening in the still, frigid air and inescapable smells of evergreen and wood smoke? Or imagine Santa in a Hawaiian shirt, pasty legs exposed for all to see? No, of course not. Because Christmas is winter and winter is Christmas. Or at least the beginning of winter is. Fact is, winter has barely gotten started at Christmas and is...
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Fresh Season, Fresh Outerwear: New Jackets Made From Gore-Tex Alternatives

This winter is a potential turning point in the world of outerwear. After decades of complete and utter Gore-Tex domination, there are a few high-profile materials that offer attractive alternatives. Each material (including a new Gore-Tex variant called ActiveShell) offers better breathability than traditional Gore-Tex. Materials like Polartec Neoshell, Columbia OmniDry and Mountain Hardwear Dry.Q promise breathability (and in some cases stretch) comparable to a soft shell with the weather protection of a hard shell....
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TNF Thermoball Technology: Better Than Down?

Down may have a warmth-to-weight ratio higher than anything more solid than steam, but it also has its problems. Down relies on its fluffy, air-capturing loft, so when it's wet, it's all but useless. Down also tends to get all bunched up in certain areas, leading to hot and cold spots. Tactile manufacturers have long been trying (but coming up short) to improve upon down. The Zero-Loft Aerogel used in the Champion Supersuit seems to...
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A Warmer Puffy Hat

  Last month, I looked at a number of down garments, including a new beanie from Outdoor Research. Then I came across this even more legit down beanie from Black Rock Gear. The hat features 900-fill down (as opposed to 650 fill of the Outdoor Research hat) and weighs under an ounce. The design also looks a little less goofy. Of course, this down beanie is three times the price at $60, so you'll have...
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Gear Review: Columbia's Peak 2 Peak Jacket

High-end jackets are a tough proposition-unless you've got Charlie Sheen money, buying one is a major event. I mean, if you're going to cough up $300+ for a shell, it had better be an awesome one, right? I've been testing out Columbia's Peak 2 Peak Jacket (14oz, $350), and so far, it has lived up to its price tag. It's an outer shell with no insulation, so its main purpose is to keep wind, rain,...
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Are You Down? Goose Feathers In Places You'd Never Expect

Down seems to be sweeping the world as the "it" material right now. It's always had its uses in outdoor clothing and gear, but has mostly been seen in sleeping bags and puffy jackets. At Outdoor Retailer last month, one company or another was using down in every garment but  boxer shorts. Here are some of the more interesting applications of goose feathers from the show. Outdoor Research Down Beanies and Caps What is that...
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Hillsound Running Crampons

I just started trail running this past summer, and for the past two or three months, I have just felt myself getting fat and out of shape. Most of my main winter activities are powered by mechanics, and I haven't been getting enough real exercise. Long story short, I've been looking for something that would allow me to run during the winter. At first I was thinking running/race snowshoes, but the trail is typically hardpacked...
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Winter Essentials: Ice Survival Kit

  Ever have a fear of falling through the ice, flailing around in the frigid waters, knocking helplessly against the ice above until you run out of air? Well, you should, because that's horrifying. If you happen to travel in icy terrain during the winter and want to do so a little more safely, you may want to pick up this Ice Safety Kit from Jackson, Wyoming-based Frabill. The kit includes carbide-studded traction soles to...
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Neck Puffy: Down Scarf Keeps You Protected

  Down is an age-old insulation that's been showing up more and more lately in the form of lightweight down jackets and vests, down shirts, etc. If you happen to love down to the point that you'd like to up and wrap a sleeping bag around your face, Nau offers you the down scarf. A combo of 650-fill down wrapped in DWR-coated recycled polyester, the scarf will let you cash in on one of nature's...
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More GPS Crammed Into Awkward Places: Zanier Gloves

It looks like GPS is going to continue to poke its head out of the most unlikely places. Austrian company Zanier has packed GPS into its Xplore.XGX winter gloves so that you can navigate and backtrack around preset routes and measure your performance on the slopes. The gloves track altitude, speed, distance and duration, in addition to providing basic navigation. The display is located on the thumb and controls are on the back of the...
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Champion Supersuit Insulates While Drastically Cutting Bulk

I still associate Champion with the hooded sweatshirts that were all the rage back when I was strolling the hallways of the sixth grade, but apparently the company makes some pretty mean outdoor gear too. One of the major unveils at the Outdoor Retailer, the Champion Supersuit is a breakthrough in serious winter expedition gear. Touted as the “the thinnest extreme weather suit ever developed", the Supersuit is a functional shell that is extremely thin...
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North Face Intros IPod Jackets

  Certainly not the first iPod jacket release, but the newest just the same, North Face recently introduced the Hustle Audio Jacket (Men's) and Femphonic Audio Jacket (Guess)--I'd buy the latter just for that name alone. The jackets feature wrist controls for an iPod or other music device so you don't have to pull off the gloves, unzip your jacket and fumble around your inner pocket to pump up the volume or skip through songs....
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I/Three/Sixty Beanie Carries Both IPod and Headphones

We've all seen beanies with built-in headphones, but this one from I/Three/Sixty takes it one step further with a built-in sleeve for your iPod. While walking around with an iPod slapped on your head might make you look like a pretentious d-bag circa 2001, it does help to eliminate the annoying tangle of wires that would otherwise be smacking you in the face all day long. Assuming that you can adjust controls straight through the...
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Ski Gadgets and Gear for Winter 2010

  Each year, skiers and snowboarders trudge through the spring, summer and fall waiting for that first beautiful crystal to flutter down from the gray sky. While there're other pursuits to get us through--hiking, mountain biking, camping, etc., the year doesn't really begin until the skies open up.  Now that December has rolled around and snow has started to drop, it's time to begin thinking about the gear cache (or lack thereof). While the items...
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Columbia Bugathermo Self-Heating Boots

  Gore Tex and Primaloft not quite keeping your toes from numbing? The Bugathermo boots from Columbia include heating pads under the ball of the foot with an adjustable LED dial on the ankle to help keep your feet their warmest in spite of the temperature drops outside. Expect to get 3 to 8 hours of heating from the rechargeable batteries, depending on setting used. Additionally the boots feature a waterproof/breathable upper, 200 g Thinsulate...
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Threats to Survival: Frostbite

The temperatures are steadily plummeting and winter is upon us. Though frostbite nipping at the nose sounds like a playful welcoming of winter, the condition is in fact very serious. Here's some information. Frostbite occurs in cold temperatures when your tissue freezes. Frostbite can cause permanent damage and could necessitate amputation of affected areas. Prevention: -Layer yourself in a 3-layer system and dress warmly. Cover up all exposed skin in cold, windy environments. -If you get wet, get out of wet...
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