The Gear Junkie: Winter Gear Roundup 2009, Part II
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.