Gear and gadgets to keep you warm and dry this winterSanyo eneloop Kairo KIR SL2
Do the math: A $1 disposable, chemical handwarmer lasts about as long as the $70 battery powered Kairo, but the Kairo can be recharged 1,000 times. That's a lot less garbage and a lot less money. Rectangular and slim, the palm-sized Kairo fits comfortably in the pocket of a jacket and is slim enough to slip inside mitts on really cold days. The two rechargeable AA, Ni-MH batteries last for one to three hours.
I/O Bio Pilot Suit
The Pilot Suit is like a giant onesie-a single long-underwear layer that goes from ankle to head (there's an attached hood). While we do look almost as cute as a baby in it, the reason we really love it is because our midriff will never be exposed to icy winds and wayward snowflakes again. The merino-wool weave is a good weight for a base layer in winter, and the long zip in the upper half makes it easy to put on.
Patagonia R4 Fleece
The newest edition of Patagonia's much-loved fleece jacket is the lightest, most packable yet. The furry fleece on the outside feels plush and looks sharp. Inside is a windproof liner, making this a legit outer layer as well as an insulating piece. Working out in a wind, we never felt like we lost a joule of heat. And unlike some windproof fleece, the lining is just as soft as the outside. This is our new standby jacket.
Brooks-Range Ski MultiTool
With two screwdriver bits not found on any other multitool-#3 Pozi for regular ski bindings and T20 for DynaFit bindings-as well as four other wood and metal bits, the Ski tool is essential for any winter-touring repair kit. But it doesn't stop at skis. The lightweight aluminum tool also has a serrated knife, pliers, wrench, bottle opener and a sewing needle or awl. And it opens with one hand.
MSR Lightning Axis Snowshoes
(from $255; cascadedesigns.com)
The Lightnings are the first snowshoes with a binding that can compensate for individual biomechanics by rotating to adjust for natural toe-in or toe-out tendencies. This allows the shoe to swing straighter, which is easier and less tiring. The shoe also has glove-friendly bindings, a climbing heel and some of the best traction around with a serrated aluminum frame and a crampon. Add an optional tail for deep snow or heavy loads.
Helly Hansen Enigma Pant
Unlike most insulated pants, the Enigma is dynamic, meaning the synthetic insulation and Helly's proprietary waterproofing stretch in four directions. There's no restriction or tightening when you bend. The insulation is ideal for downhill skiing or winter camping, and the two venting zips on the inside of the leg let you adapt to conditions. The pants also feature a built-in gaiter, abrasion-resistant cuffs and plenty of pockets.
Tilley Tec-Wool Cap
The Tec-Wool Cap is perfect for those times when a toque is too much and a ball cap too little. The engineered wool is naturally temperature-regulating and is weather-resistant thanks to a laminate backing. The interior lining is lightly insulated and wicks moisture away. And if the wind kicks up, you can deploy the ear flaps. Like all Tilley hats, it's guaranteed for life and has a secret pocket in the roof of the cap.
The North Face Kishtwar Jacket
We pushed the Kishtwar as hard as we could: driving rain, howling winds, wet snow, long uphill hikes, a walk down Vancouver's Robson Street. What we found is a softshell that stands up to the elements almost as well as a hard shell, but beathes a lot better when things get sweaty. And it also looks good doing it. The Kishtwar is made from Polartec's newest and burliest softshell material, Power Shield Pro.
La Sportiva Crossover GTX
La Sportiva took its speedy Crosslite trail runner and turned it into a four-season bruiser by adding a Gore-Tex waterproof bootie and a lightweight, breathable and stretchy above-the-ankle gaiter. The overall result is a shoe that deflects slush, puddles and powder, while the spiked lugs dig into hard-packed snow and slippery mud. They're equally adept as a foul-weather runner or a light snowshoe-racing shoe.
Columbia Majic Wands Gloves
Columbia says the Omni Heat Thermal Insulation in these gloves is the warmest on the market. We can't back that up, but these wands do seem magically warm. The gloves also have Omni Heat Thermal Reflective technology-an inner layer of small dots of reflective material-which bounces back body heat and wicks sweaty hand moisture away from the skin. The outer shell is waterproof and breathable.