| GEAR TO GO|
For the snowy yonder
Learn this name: Schoeller. This fabric company's blends are water-repellent, quick-drying, breathable, wind-resistant, and amazingly durable. Built from Schoeller's Dryskin Extreme, a stretchy blend that includes Cordura for strength and CoolMax for wicking, Mammut's Champ Pants ($220) and Cloudveil's Serendipity Jacket ($240) are all the outerwear you'll need for most winter excursions. The Champ's gusseted ankle zips will accommodate any footwear. The Serendipity has a fleece-lined collar and two venting front pockets. For more warmth, Ibex's three-quarter-zip Randonnee Pullover ($215) uses Schoeller Ski Fans fabric, which adds wool to the mix. When the weather's really ugly, pile on the Gore-Tex: Marmot's Light Speed Pants ($249) weigh just over a pound but offer full side zips and an adjustable waist. Mountain Hardwear's Aurora Jacket ($370) has a full-coverage hood and underarm venting. Its 17-ounce shell is made from Gore's brand-new PacLite, which sandwiches Gore-Tex between a lightweight nylon fabric and thousands of rubbery dots that protect the exposed membrane. The result is a jacket that is lighter and way more compressible and breathable than Gore-Tex.
For your extremities, Mammut's Zermatt Glove ($144) features a Gore-Tex outer shell and removable Windstopper fleece liner. The glove's palms are made of Keprotec, an indestructible nylon/Kevlar blend from Schoeller. A classic Euro guide's cap, Ortovox's Flims ($55) has a small brim and sporty look but adds fold-down earflaps and all-wool construction.
SAFETY AND EYEWEAR
Ortovox's M-1 avalanche transceiver ($300) has an LCD window readout to show you where your buried buddy is, while the Ultimate Survival Deluxe ToolKit ($70) combines several essential survival tools into one package: whistle, permanent match and nontoxic tinder, signal mirror, and handheld chain saw. If the worst happens—you're buried in a slide—Black Diamond's new AvaLung Pro vest ($285) improves your chances of meeting your rescuers. A breathing tube lets you draw the good air in through chest panels and then exhale the bad stuff out the back.
For long days in high-altitude glare, Julbo's Micropore Orange ($119) has removable leather side and nose shields and polycarbonate lenses that block 100 percent of UV radiation and reduce visible light by 93 percent. Translation: very dark glasses. Smith's neo-retro-style Buzzsaw ($100) is lighter and more fashion-friendly but still completely blocks all UV. It comes with dark amber and yellow interchangeable lenses.
PACKS AND POLES
You will, of course, need some way to tote your gear. You can carry skis, snowshoes, or a snowboard in the Osprey Backside ($169); its StraightJacket construction—closed-cell foam side panels and fold-over, burrito-wrap design—expands or contracts with your load. Main access is through the back panel beneath the shoulder straps, so no matter what's fastened to the outside, you can still rummage inside.
Whether you're sliding or striding, Smith's two-section Backcountry Poacher poles ($90) and three-section Approach poles ($100) have a clever length-adjustment system—a sliding collar on the upper shaft locks down on indentations scored into the lower shaft. Lift the collar, extend or collapse the pole, then click the collar down for a precise fit. —Stuart Craig
For a directory of manufacturers, see page 123.