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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;, 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; 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;, 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; 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; 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; 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 ( 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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