Down Patrol: The Best Feathered Items of 2011


The most painful part of winter is that few-minute stretch between shedding your down layer and getting enough blood flow going to warm up your core and appendages when you begin to exercise. Conversely, the best part of winter is when the workout is over and you can cocoon once again in puffy bliss. Here’s a preview of the down comfort to come in fall 2011.
–Stephanie Pearson writes the Gear Girl column for Outside magazine. Have a gear question? Ask her here.

The best solution for those of us who never want to part from our puffies: Canada Goose’s Hybridge Lite jacket ($450; It weighs less than a half-pound, has 800-fill Hutterite white goose down (the platinum of feathers), Polartec Power Stretch fabric on the sides, a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) shell, and stretch Lycra cuffs with thumbholes. In other words, this jacket was made for a workout. Just be sure to bring another down layer to bundle up in after the workout is over.

Sierra Designs’ Gnar Skirt ($99;, a 650-fill down mini, is an ideal way to warm your bum and lower core after sweating it out in a Bikram class or taking a few laps on the cross-country trails. Just throw the skirt over leggings or your long underwear and you’re dressed for everything from casual day at the office to an impromptu sledding party.

Put a lid on all that hot air escaping from your brain with Outdoor Research’s “sleeping bag for your head.” The Transcendent Beanie ($40; is a 650-plus-fill down hat that folds into a tiny 4×2-inch pocket that you can stash just about anywhere. It’s possibly the most life-saving lid you’ll ever own.

Follow in the footsteps of Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, and Maria Reisch by using Leki’s new Trigger S pole system—a down glove that clicks directly into the Leki Flair S ($119; aircraft-grade aluminum ski pole. The key piece in this “ski pole binding” system is the industrial-strength polyester loop between the thumb and forefinger that will forever eliminate pesky straps and that pre-chairlift pole fumbling. Plus, the down “Colorado Mitt” ($149) will keep your digits toasty from first tracks to après whatever.