The Gear Junkie: Winter Gear Roundup 2009, Part II

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By Stephen Regenold

The world's warmest balaclava. Goose-down booties. A ski goggle that changes tint with available light. These are the products to look for while gearing up for the outdoors this winter. Here is a quick preview of a few hot items.

ColdAvenger Expedition
Designed by a physician--and worn by high-altitude mountaineers as mighty as Ed Viesturs--the ColdAvenger Expedition Balaclava is in the running as the warmest head covering ever made. It protects you from cold, sun and wind. The unique ventilator, a filter made of "medical-grade" plastic, fits over your mouth to mix inhaled cold air with exhaled warm air, keeping your body better regulated, the company says. $79.95, www.coldavenger.com

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Black Diamond Agent AvaLung Pack
A snorkel-like breathing tube on the Agent AvaLung Pack helps a skier buried in an avalanche breathe when submerged in packed snow. That's the promise from Black Diamond, which makes a line of AvaLung-equipped packs for skiers and boarders. The Agent is a lightweight model with 20 liters of carrying capacity. It has a diagonal ski-carry cable for fast and secure attachment of skis on the pack. There's a tuck-away helmet-carrying sling and a dedicated avalanche-tool organizer pocket. $199.95, www.blackdiamondequipment.com

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Osprey Kode
Touted as "the ultimate packs made for all snow-play activities," Osprey's Kode series of backpacks offers versatile features, such as ski- and snowboard-carrying straps, an insulated hydration-reservoir sleeve, and wet and dry organizational pockets. The Kode 30, the middle-size pack in the line, has 1,800 cubic inches (30 liters) of capacity--good for daylong adventures in the snow. $139, www.ospreypacks.com

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Julbo Revolution Goggle
Shield your vision and adapt to changing light with the Revolution, which has a photochromatic lens that changes tint in seconds. When it's bright, the goggle lens provides a darkened, sun-filtering view. On overcast days, tint shifts in less than 30 seconds to almost clear. An anti-fog coating is integrated into the lens via laser, which will never scratch off, according to the company. $150, www.julbousa.com

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Kelty Gunnison Pro
An affordable four-season shelter, the two-person Gunnison Pro was built to withstand winter conditions. It has a stitch-free fly and floor to increase durability and water resistance. Multiple guyout points let you tie down the tent to keep it solid in a storm. The tent has two doors and two vestibules, and it weighs a lean four pounds, four ounces when packed away. $249, www.kelty.com

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Sierra Designs Drizone Down Bootie
Updated for 2009, this bootie is stuffed with down and made for use in a tent or mountain hut after a long day outdoors. Made of recycled polyester, and with a waterproof/breathable face fabric and a nylon sole, the boots keep toes warm with 650-fill goose down. Men's and women's versions available for $69. www.sierradesigns.com

--Stephen Regenold writes about outdoors gear at www.gearjunkie.com.

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