For all your fast-and-light pursuits. 

340
(Black Diamond)

Black Diamond Helio

Best For: Going fast and light. 

The Test: Even if it remains stashed in your pack all day, a lightweight shell to shed squalls and seal in critical warmth should be part of every backcountry adventurer’s kit. And the Helio is a top-shelf choice. Cut from Gore’s supple three-layer C-Knit fabric, it’s softer, lighter, and quieter than most hard shells on the market but still totally waterproof. The sharp design suffers no excess: zippers and cuff tabs are light and lean, and the cordlocks are embedded in the fabric. Yet the pit zips and twin chest pockets are large, and the cut is roomy enough for the broad of shoulder. 

The Verdict: Don’t venture past the trailhead without it. 13 oz

Price $499

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Winter Buyer’s Guide
(Outdoor Research)

Outdoor Research Skyward

Best For: Resort comfort on the other side of the ropes.

The Test: The Skyward has all the premium features you’d expect in a resort ­cruiser, including a fleece-lined collar and a drop hood that stays clear when pushed back. It’s also got six pockets, including one for skins. But at heart, it’s a true backcountry piece. Chalk that versatility up to Outdoor Research’s impressively stretchy waterproof-breathable AscentShell fabric, which vents almost as well as a classic soft-shell material and shakes off brushes with rocks and branches. Thanks to pit zips that extend clear to the hem, we wore it on the skin track on cold days. 

The Verdict: The understated workhorse of the bunch. 1.6 lbs

Price $350

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Winter Buyer’s Guide
(Mammut Archive I Helm AG)

Mammut Ultimate Alpine So Hooded

Best For: Minimal shvitzing. 

The Test: Don this soft shell on cloudless days or when you’re working up a real sweat. The Ultimate Alpine So—cut from Gore’s newest Windstopper fabric—sits in the weatherproofing sweet spot between the Black Diamond and a traditional stretchy soft shell: it won’t keep you dry in a storm, but it sheds light precipitation with aplomb. We loved it on Jackson Hole’s notorious Mount Glory bootpack, where it fended off gale-force wind and snow while breathing beautifully, especially with the pit zips and mesh-backed pockets cracked. 

The Verdict: A superlight soft shell for aggressive athletes. 15 oz

Price $295

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Tech

The Best Resort Jackets of 2017

Superior protection for all kinds of conditions. (Patagonia) Patagonia Stretch Nano Storm  Gear of the Year In 2014, Patagonia sparked an arms race with the Nano-Air puffy, a versatile insulator that won our Gear of the Year award. The following winter, just about every outdoor brand had a version. Now Patagonia does it again with the Stretch Nano Storm. Think of it as a Nano-Air on steroids: a proprietary stretchy, waterproof-breathable fabric wraps the synthetic fill, while the interior is made from the same plush liner as the original. Add pit zips and you have a bombproof jacket that wears and

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Tech

The Best Puffies of 2017

Run cold? You'll want one of these insulated beasts.  (Adidas) Adidas Terrex Climaheat Techrock Best For: Instant warmth.  The Test: Heading into the backcountry? Pack a big puffy to snuggle into during rest breaks, while on belay, or as emergency insul­ation. With 800-fill goose down wrapped in Pertex fabric, the 1.1-pound Techrock (the lightest jacket on this page) has a top-notch warmth-to-weight ratio. We give it even bigger props for its smart design: the baffles overlap to stop cold air from seeping through the seams. Add well-articulated arms, a high collar to seal in heat, and durable fabric in heavy-wear areas, and

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Tech

The Best Women's Jackets of 2017

Reliable protection to keep you out from bell to bell.  (Marmot) Marmot Jumpturn Gotta love the attitude. The loud colors are backed up with bona fide performance chops, including two-layer Gore-Tex face fabric and Marmot’s proprietary synthetic insulation. We especially appreciated the long cut, oversize hood, and structured cuffs that tucked inside the sleeve on warm days. Price $450 (Fjällräven) Fjällräven Ovik Eco-Shell Fjällräven’s Eco-Shell fabric—made from stretchy recycled polyester and coated in  a PFC-free water-repellent treatment—kept us dry in light snow. But it isn’t a high-octane mountain piece. Instead we grabbed this sleek urban parka, with its trench-coat cut and clean

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Tech

The Best Women's Après Gear of 2017

When you’re off the mountain, comfort wins. (Avex) Avex Freeflow Autoseal Stainless Water Bottle  Brew tea in this 24-ounce bottle, stay out for ten hours, and rest assured it will still be piping hot when you return.   Price $30 Buy Now (Buff) Buff Savva Hat  Combining the charm of a cap knitted by your granny with modern touches like wicking acrylic and a fleece band, the Savva is comfort food for your head. Price $33 Buy Now (Pladra) Pladra Peregrine Shirt   The wild child of cotton flannels, this wardrobe staple has a spirit animal (in this case, a wolf) peeking

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Tech

The Best Shackets of 2017

Somewhere between a shirt and a jacket is amazing versatility. (Toad&Co) Toad&Co Kodiak Quilted Pull on the Kodiak and you feel like you’re wrapped in a supersoft blanket. The material makes you feel good in other ways, too: it blends recycled cotton with polyester from reclaimed plastic bottles, and the tag encourages buyers to “wear more, wash less, wear it out or pass it on.” Price $130 Buy Now (Edgevale) Edgevale North Coast This fleece-lined classic marries a stylish polyester-wool outer with soft-shell technology. Result? It buffers against wind and water, warms, and stretches while also being breathable and office appropriate.

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Tech

The Best Tailgating Gear of 2017

A good party makes the whole day better.  (Flylow) Flylow Sinclair Insulated Flannel This is our favorite mid­winter morning top, with just enough fill for brushing off the car and driving to the mountain. By March, you’ll be skiing corn in it, too. Price$150 Buy Now (Art 4 All) Art 4 All Trucker Hat Sure, you can rock the same mesh cap as everyone else. Or you can nab one from Jackson Hole artist Abby Paffrath, who paints 12 unique prints each winter and puts them on high-quality lids. Price$30 Buy Now (Smith) Smith X Howler Founder Sunglasses Two classic brands

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Tech

The Best Streetwear of 2017

Après layers that pull double duty on the trails and slopes. (Fjallraven) Fjällräven Singi Down With a thick layer of traceable down stuffed into bomber, old-school waxed canvas, this four-pound (!) jacket will keep you toasty on frigid days walking around Vail or snowshoeing through the forest. Note: no varmints were harmed in the making of the removable synthetic-fur hood lining.   Price $600 Buy Now (Smartwool ) Smartwool Double Corbet 120 The Double Corbet emphasizes comfort and breathability without giving an inch in performance. It pieces together warm, wool-insulated body panels with merino sleeves and side panels that facilitate movement

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Tech

The Best Base and Midlayers of 2016

Underwear just keeps getting better. (Icebreaker) Icebreaker Helix Long-Sleeve Zip Jacket  If you need a do-it-all midlayer this winter, go with the Helix. Despite the svelte profile, it’s warmer than any other top on this page, thanks to its wool insulation and wind-blocking poly exterior. That face fabric also shrugs off light snow. We happily wore it skiing, hiking, running, and sledding all season.  Price $250 Buy Now (Trew) Trew Lightweight NuYarn Merino Bottoms These aren’t your granny’s woolen knickers. Trew partnered with NuYarn, which developed a way to spin natural fibers over a nylon core without twisting the plushness out of the merino.

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Tech

The Best Wool Apparel of 2017

Smart brands are innovating with nature’s performance fiber.   (Voormi) Voormi AN/FO Pants  Backcountry skiers, meet your new outerwear. Made from thick, four-way-stretch wool that’s reinforced with nylon thread and lined with a waterproof membrane, the AN/FO’s breathe significantly better than your typical synthetic waterproof ski pants. Durability isn’t an issue: they were none the worse for wear after a season’s worth of encounters with ski edges, trees, and rocks. Price $499 Buy Now (Cotopaxi) Cotopaxi Kusa Blanket Cotopaxi stuffed llama-poly insulation inside a DWR-coated ripstop-nylon wrapper to create this utilitarian blanket. We kept it in the trunk all season long, pulling

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