As February ends, we find ourselves in a seasonal transition zone. Yes, spring is right around the corner—less than a month away—but it's also prime ski and snowshoe season. However, the lower elevation trails are opening soon (or are already open) and tenting season is just one warm weekend away.
So get ready for the shoulder season! These are our picks for the gear, apparel and goodies to keep you in adventure from deep winter right into spring:
Eddie Bauer BC Duraweave Freshline Jacket
We took Eddie Bauer’s new BC Duraweave Freshline Jacket to the slopes of Whistler on a blustery, frigid day to see how well it performed. And we came away with a lot of reasons to love it. From the small stuff—like the media pockets with inward-leading headphone holes and the cavernous chest pockets. Or the removable powder skirt; a must on the deepest days. Or the bicep pocket for holding our RFID ski pass and the built-in RECCO reflectors, which aid in recovery during avalanche burial situations (sort of a front-country/backcountry combo). Plus, it’s fully-seam sealed, coated in a DWR designed to last and fends off the nasties with eVent Alpine—a highly breathable and waterproof three-layer laminate. But the best feature of this jacket is the Cordura fabric integrated onto the high-abrasion zones (upper back, front panels, forearm, etc.). The jacket feels absolutely bomb-proof because of it; ready for anything from bootpacking to bushwhacking.
Craghoppers Dofri Wool Jacket
Obsessed is probably the best term to describe our feelings toward the Dofri Wool Jacket. Made of a hardy wool-blend and sporting a classic plaid pattern, it adds hipster style to our après ski outfit. We’ll don it year-round, though, taking it from the craft brewery to the campfire. We especially like the inner nylon zip-pocket for stashing cash, a phone or even a snack (see below).
Bounce Energy Balls
One of our all-time favourite energy bars, these snacks are loaded with 14 grams of whey protein formulated for slow-release to keep your fire stoked. They’re GM free, wheat-free, gluten-free, kosher and vegetarian—but they’re so tasty we’d eat them even if they weren’t. Nine flavours.
Purica Power & Purola
($43/Power & $1.50/Purola; purica.com)
Purica, a Canadian company, is also keeping us powered-up though hikes and paddles with their vegan protein powders (Power) and energy bars (Purola). Both come in two tasty flavours—Chocolate Rush and Vanilla Chill—but we especially love that they are free of preservatives, artificial colours and flavours and GMO ingredients. One scoop of Power in our pre-hike smoothie and the 15 or 18 grams of whole grains in each Purola bar (flavour dependent) keep us pushing hard throughout the day.
Oboz Sapphire Mid Waterproof (Women’s)
Lively, lightweight and comfortable—three words our tester used to describe Oboz’s new Sapphire Mid Waterproof. A B-Dry waterproof-breathable membrane keeps feet dry on the muckiest of trails; stylish colours and a low profile midsole make them ideal active-travel or trail-to-town footwear. But the women-specific fit remained the standout for our tester: “These are the most comfortable boots I’ve worn this year.”
Merrell MQM Flex (Men’s)
Speed-hikers and fitness buffs—this is the shoe for you. It’s both waterproof and moisture-wicking. The 3.5-millimetre-deep lugs grip the gritty stuff and the bellows tongue (secured on both sides) keeps it out of the shoe. The mesh and thermoplastic-polyurethane upper is breathable and supportive. Its acronym moniker means “move quickly in the mountains.” We concur.