Winter can be a fickle season (bomb cyclone, anyone?), especially if you are at a winter music festival (yeah, they have those) or heading up to the slopes to make some turns. Sometimes you overdo it, and sometimes you underdo it, both of which can suck if you get it wrong. We have put together a list of gear and apparel that are perfect for keeping back that winter chill or working as functional layers to help you dial in your optimal temperature.
You might know Helinox more for camping furniture like chairs, tables, cots, etc. They make great gear, and if you are into glamping, car camping, or festival camping, you need to get hip to them. We recently received the new Bloncho, which is, yeah, you guessed it, a blanket mixed with a poncho. Now, this is not a new idea, but Helinox has done a great job with this, and it's perfect for sitting around the fire in the snow, roaming around the ski resort, wearing to the hot tub, or anything that requires a little extra warmth. Use it on your couch if you want. The Bloncho comes in three different designs, including one made of fleece, and packs down to about the size of a football (slightly bigger), so it's easy to pack up and store. Fire Proof Insulation Ceramic Fiber Blanket
Artilect A/SYS-1 Base Layers (Flatiron 185 Leggings/Crew)
Artilect A/SYS-1 Base Layers (Flatiron 185 Leggings)
We have tested a few things from Artilect over the last couple of years and they have repeatedly passed the test and continue to expand their line. The Flatiron 185 Legging is a solid basic from this Boulder, Colorado-based brand and is an all-around performer for fall/winter outdoor activities. What we love about these leggings and about the brand, in general, is that they are innovating with their fabrics to create thin, buttery soft base layers that keep you warm and comfortable when exerting yourself in frigid temps. Their Nuyarn technology has impressed us time and again with its warmth and moisture management capabilities. We use them for hikes, snowboarding, and even under our jeans when temperatures dip to the single digits. They are a bit on the expensive side, but worth every red cent if you are looking for the best-in-class base layer.
The top aka, the crew, completes the perfect cold-weather tuxedo and is a must if you are going to make an investment in the Artilect base layer system. We have worn this layer under a shell (like Artilect M-Shadow Canyon Jacket Hot Spot), and it was an incredible performer on warmth and weight. The super thin, extremely warm, Nuyarn material moves with you as you run, carve, or hike. The material is so comfortable that oftentimes it feels like a second skin, and there are not many base layers that can deliver such at this level.
Ibex Men's Woolies Tech Long Sleeve Crew ($115)
Yes, you are probably seeing a pattern here, merino is a miracle fabric, and there is a reason that the best base layers in the world are using it. Ibex are also veterans of the merino wool game and we love their base layers and light jackets that we have tested. The new woolies tech line is thin, warm, and light. The cut/fit of the Woolies Tech long sleeve crew is not quite as skin-tight as other brands and can double as a regular shirt if you are just wearing it under a shell/jacket. If you are looking for warmth, comfort. and the ability to socialize post-session without looking like a super hero, this crew will deliver big.
Out in the wild - The Houdini Power Houdi (under layer), Artilect M-Shadow Canyon Jacket and BOTE Highwater Waterproof Duffel - photo by Laura Ireland
M-Shadow Canyon Jacket Hot Spot/Ash ($550)
The M-Shadow Canyon Jacket is the first piece of outerwear we have tested from Artilect, and yes, they of course nailed it. This is a shell that is warm enough to withstand colder temps on its own and manages wind and snow like a boss. Just like the Artilect base layer we reviewed, there is an fantastic level of comfort, low weight, and maneuverability in this jacket. The cool thing about the M-Shadow is that it will fill in for just about any activity you are up for, from skiing to cycling to hiking; the cut is athletic and sleek, yet features plenty of room to twist, turn, and bend with ease. We love Artilect's commitment to sustainability, and this high-performance shell is ethically crafted from a PFA-free 40D two-way stretch nylon ripstop shell with a GTT Empel treatment for enhanced moisture management. Just like all of their apparel, you are making an investment in a piece of outerwear that is functional, versatile, and performs at the highest level. This jacket is even stylish enough to wear as an everyday piece with its attention to detail and modern silhouette. There is even technology built into the zippers called YKK® Touchlink™ that are powered by the Lifekey™software platform, a new technology that allows its user to track, manage and view their activities from their smartphone.
Image Courtesy of California Cowboy
It's a jacket, it's a robe, whatever it is, this is pure California Cowboy DNA all the way. A long parka-type robe/jacket that is as versatile as you want to be with it. The typical CC details are all here, such as booze pockets, bottle opener pocket, tech pocket, and sunglasses pocket; their slogan should really be, 'we've got a pocket for that.' This is an investment in your commitment to a life of leisure, and not for the novice by any stretch. If you have to look up Apres, then just keep moving junior because you are just not ready for this garment. For those that can provide the swagger, you will probably see them this season in Aspen, Vail, or other top-shelf resorts creating a bit of a ruckus and disrupting the status quo. Are you ready for this robe? Just look in your fridge/liquor cabinet for the answer. If you are stocking cattle feed beer, spirits in plastic bottles, or any sort of "skinny anything," the answer is no. If you find craft beer, small-batch spirits, and proper barware - then order this now. They should almost have tryouts for this thing.
Houdini M's Power Houdi ($220)
We love Houdini's commitment to sustainability and their simple, functional, and streamlined design aesthetic. The Power Houdi we tested was launched back in 2003, and nothing has changed. This is a fantastic underlayer that works on its own or under a shell like the Artilect M-Shadow Canyon Jacket (above). The Power Houdi is made from Power Stretch® Pro™ from Polartec®, a buttery smooth, super stretchy, non-pilling fabric that is unmatched in fleece. This hoodie moves with you, a perfect companion for any cold weather activity that requires freedom of movement, and it's also perfect for chilling out with a pint of good beer after a big session on the mountain. A sleek and warm hood and thumb holes in the sleeves complete this masterpiece that you will wear all season long; hell, you might even sleep in it.
This one isn't going to keep you warm but stay with us here because this waterproof duffel is a crucial piece of kit in the snow. The Highwater Duffel from BOTE is a fantastic bag for winter travel; it's got plenty of room for jackets, base layers, goggles, and other equipment you want to keep dry as you schlep through the snow to get to your pad, igloo, condo, mountain house, etc. No matter how hard we try, there always seem to be chunks of snow and slush that make it into the back of the jeep to muck up our luggage. This duffel prevents any of that nasty sludgy slush from getting in and keeps all your cozy clothing dry and apres ski ready. It's just a fantastic, badass bag that has become our new go-to gear hauler for all seasons, and if we drop it in a lake, well, no problem. Come spring/summer; the Highwater transitions into the perfect companion for paddleboard adventures and beyond. Oh yeah, BOTE also makes great paddleboards; we tested this one last season and hope to try some of their kayak-style boats this summer.
Fire Proof Insulation Ceramic Fiber Blanket The waterproof wunderbag uses a 100% nylon seam-welded construction with double-sided TPU coating and a fully waterproof TZIP® main zipper to protect all your gear from whatever nature throws at it. For easy carrying, there are two side grab handles, a removable padded shoulder strap, and a top handle for horizontal carrying. With 39L of interior space and a side mesh organizer pocket, there is enough space for a two to three-day trip if you pack well—some external pocketing (non-waterproof) for additional easy-access storage.