Gear Shed

Q:

Is there any warm, non-bulky ski gear out there?

I’m looking to buy a new ski jacket and pants—something comfortable, warm, and not too bulky. I'm after something unique. Any suggestions? Everett Charlotte, North Carolina

Cat Track Ski Jacket     Photo: courtesy, Marmot

Marmot Cat Track Ski Jacket

Cat Track Ski Jacket

A:It’s 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 it’s 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 that’s exceedingly comfortable. The same material in tights ($62) goes on as well. On warmer days, that’s all I need, along with a shell on top and bottom. Lately I’ve been wearing REI’s Taku jacket ($199; rei.com) and a pair of bibs from Patagonia that are discontinued. If it’s cooler, sometimes I’ll add a fleece vest (many styles to choose from, cost usually is $40 or so), or a light fleece pullover such as The North Face’s Pumori ($99; thenorthface.com), made with 200-weight Polartec. Then, if it’s quite cold, I’ll wear my Patagonia Puffball Pullover (updated as the Micro Puff Pullover, $148; Patagonia.com). That’s 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. Marmot’s Cat Track ($260; marmot.com) is an excellent jacket, with synthetic insulation and a waterproof-breathable shell. It’s warm and looks pretty good, too. Or, Mountain Hardwear’s Traverse Trifecta ($285; mountainhardwear.com) is a combination system with an outer jacket and inner warm liner. Wear each as conditions dictate. Or, if you’re budget allows, Spyder’s 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.

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