Its true that insulated ski wear is becoming more fashionable (i.e., less Michelin-man like), and that new materials make these garments more comfortable than ever. But I remain solidly devoted to layering principles when skiing. I find that being able to pick and choose what I wear for warmth, then adding a shell of some sort, allows me to stay comfortable whether its five degrees and snowing or 30 degrees and the sun is peeking out.
These days I usually start with an Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 long-sleeve shirt ($60; icebreaker.com), a mid-weight wool shirt thats exceedingly comfortable. The same material in tights ($62) goes on as well. On warmer days, thats all I need, along with a shell on top and bottom. Lately Ive been wearing REIs Taku jacket ($199; rei.com) and a pair of bibs from Patagonia that are discontinued. If its cooler, sometimes Ill add a fleece vest (many styles to choose from, cost usually is $40 or so), or a light fleece pullover such as The North Faces Pumori ($99; thenorthface.com), made with 200-weight Polartec. Then, if its quite cold, Ill wear my Patagonia Puffball Pullover (updated as the Micro Puff Pullover, $148; Patagonia.com). Thats a very warm piece that also layers well because of its smooth nylon-face fabric.
But certainly there are many fine insulated jackets and pants out there. Marmots Cat Track ($260; marmot.com) is an excellent jacket, with synthetic insulation and a waterproof-breathable shell. Its warm and looks pretty good, too. Or, Mountain Hardwears Traverse Trifecta ($285; mountainhardwear.com) is a combination system with an outer jacket and inner warm liner. Wear each as conditions dictate. Or, if youre budget allows, Spyders Aspen Jacket (spyder.com) combines great looks and an insulated shell for a modest $715 (on sale for $500 at several locations).
The Gear Guy reports from 2007 Winter Outdoor Retailer, the bi-annual gearapalooza in Salt Lake City. Check out his top picks for gear to watch in 2007.