6 Snow Toys for Powder-Loving Families
A quality snow tube isn’t cheap, but my family has broken enough plastic sleds over the years to fill up our own landfill. So, it’s time to invest in a sturdy tube, like this beast that’s big enough to handle multiple pilots (50 inches across with a 500-pound limit). Bonus: Tubes are fast and offer a softer landing when things go airborne.
Kick it old school with this powder-hungry snowboard that was built to ride without bindings, just like the original prototypes back in the day. Stand on the grippy foot pads and use the nose leash to help steer down your local sledding hill. It performs best in powder conditions, so make sure you get first tracks.
Got a little ripper who lives for the pump track? Keep the stoke alive through winter with these plastic attachments that turn a Strider bike into a ski bike. My kids have outgrown their Striders, but my nephew loves the ski attachments to his bike.
I know what you’re thinking: a snow scooter? For adults? I actually got to try one of these out at a resort in Colorado one afternoon and I was shocked by how much fun I had. Learning how to ride these scooters is easy, and the whole family can share, giving you one more tool at the neighborhood sledding hill.
Technically, this shovel is meant for avalanche recovery, but the fact that it breaks down into a size that you can slide into your backpack means you can carry it to the sledding hill and use it to build sick jumps at the bottom of a sledding run. It’s also good for building snow forts.
This stackable pint won our Gear Guy’s test of the best insulated cups. “It had the best insulation of the bunch, and the base fits nicely in a cupholder,” he wrote. “I’ll never complain about a beer mug that can pull double duty for coffee in the mornings.”
Our Gear Guy called the Lowball the only Yeti product you actually need. “I’ve been using this tumbler almost every day since August 2015, and after four and a half years of heavy use, it still works just as well as the day I got it,” he wrote.
Coffee is significantly better when it’s hot, which is why the Rambler mug is an absolute must-have for camping, travel, or around the house. The double-wall vacuum-insulated mug keeps a 24-ounce cup of joe warm for hours. And it’s dishwasher safe.
The Charge 3 tracks exercise in 15 different sport modes, including pace, distance, and heart rate, and there’s sleep-tracking function. On top of that, it features women’s health tracking, water resistance up to 50 meters, and a blood oxygen sensor that tracks disruptions in breathing during sleep.
Outside contributor Wes Siler called these the best hiking boots he’s tested. “If you need ankle support and weather protection, then you’ll find more of that in these Altras at less of a weight penalty, and with more comfort, traction, and support, than you will in just about anything else,” he wrote.
This winter-specific Buff has Polartec fleece on the lower half for extra warmth and Buff’s standard polyester-elastane material on the upper half, so you can dial in the exact coverage you need for the conditions. The four-way stretch piece can be used as a bandana or scarf and has UPF 50 protection against the sun.
Contributor Andrew Skurka tested the Ambit3 Peak for more than 1,500 miles and 300 hours in 2018. For ultra runners and backpackers, the Ambit3 Peak excels in three important ways: its long-lasting battery, its barometer, and price. “It makes the traditional outdoor ABC watch obsolete,” he wrote.
We gave these goggles a Gear of the Year award in our 2019 Winter Buyer’s Guide. “The optics are tack sharp, with (to our eyes) zero refraction or mirroring. We were able to pick up subtleties in the terrain while bombing a groomer at 40 mph,” our tester wrote. “And our best efforts to get them to fog were met with failure.”
The Microlite won our Gear Guy’s insulated water bottle test. “It’s remarkably light, and is the least expensive of the bottles I tested,” he wrote. “It almost never pans out that the lightest, most affordable product also demonstrates the highest performance, but the Microlite 1000 really has it all.”
We included this handy bag in our roundup of the best dog gear of 2020. “This take on the rubber poop-bag dispenser looks like a miniature backpack, and can hold treats, keys, and a cellphone to keep hands free for ear scratches,” wrote tester Abbey Gingras.