Snow Sports


I'm thinking about getting a pair of snowshoes, and I noticed a lot of them have weight restrictions. I'm a big guy, and I thought you might provide recommendations for snowshoes to accommodate my weight. Phil Seattle, Washington

I’m an avid curler in desperate need of pants to wear on the curling rink. They must have a bit of stretch, and breathability is an issue, too. Curling is harder work than meets the eye, particularly when sweeping vigorously. I understand that you probably don't get too many curling questions, but perhaps you are aware of a suitable product from another sport. David Westmount, Quebec

I moving to Barrow, Alaska, and want to make sure I’m prepared for the cold. I have a thermal lined Carhartt coat. Is this sufficient, or should I buy a new parka? i Ann Arbor, Michigan

I need a new jacket, but I’m not a big fan of bulky hardshells or anything too puffy, such as down jackets. Would a fleece or a soft shell jacket keep me warm enough in Colorado’s winter? Do you have any suggestions? Rachel Colorado Springs, Colorado

Depending on whether they’re working, ski-touring skins are either the greatest winter invention since snowballs or only slightly more fun than an avalanche. Here are five ways to keep your skins in the game. Ski-Touring Skins 1. In patchy sunlight, snow can stick to skins like north Idaho…

OutsideOnline's Gear Guy reports on the latest trends at this season's gearapalooza.

What’s the difference between all these snowshoes available? The price range is so huge. What are just bells and whistles, and what do I really need to look for? Kevin Chattanooga, Tennessee

DPS Lotus and Lotus 120 Skis Carbon-fiber powder skisOwning a pair of skis from DPS is like going to a premier nightclub: There’s ahefty cover charge and a long line to get in, but the wait is worth it. When you’reready to take the plunge, don’t waste time looking for…

It may be zero degrees outside, with a windchill factor for the ages, but once you get your V2 on, you'll want to be wearing fewer clothes than you think. What you wear should be breathable, and stretchy to allow the full-body cranking that skate skiing requires. Wind-blocking materials on your front side and light insulation in key areas will keep you comf

I’m a lot more comfortable in sunglasses than in goggles when skiing. But my buddies tell me that I should be wearing goggles. Are they right? Ad Jackson, Mississippi

I’m an experienced front-country (resort) skier and would like to expand into the backcountry. Can you recommend a good ski pack that works well in both conditions? Walker Boston, Massachusetts

My skis have been sitting in the closet for about a year. How can I get them ready for the slopes?

To bring you the best of winter, we set up shop in Aspen, the over-the-top playground of dry powder, long steeps, and never-sleep nightlife.

I’d like to use a single helmet for skiing (on and off piste) and winter mountaineering/ice climbing. Should I go with a skiing or ice-climbing helmet? Or is this a bad idea? Myles Auckland, New Zealand

I’m in the market for a lightweight, waterproof, and breathable shell. I’d like something lighter than the Gore-Tex XCR shell I previously used year-round. What’s your recommendation for a jacket that I can combine with my soft shell to create the perfect winter-sport combo? Etienn Montreal, Quebec

What skis would you recommend for me? I five-foot-four, 122-pound intermediate skier who skis mostly groomed blue runs in Colorado, as well as lots of places in the East. I want a versatile ski that's appropriate for my level but will help me advance to harder runs. Elizabeth Mii Beach, Florida

Why have high-end gear manufacturers like Patagonia and The North Face completely dropped bibs from their alpine climbing and skiing lines? I couldn't imagine skiing in deep powder or mountaineering in anything but reinforced, technically oriented Gore-Tex bibs. Have bibs gone the way of the one-piece 1970s ski suit? Michael Vancouver, British Columbia

I looking to buy a new ski jacket, something stylish, warm, comfortable (not too bulky), and easily accessible. I'm after something different. How about Spyder? Danilo Arlington, Virginia

Your Gearness: I've been hearing about ski boards/ski blades as a good way for terminal intermediate skiers like myself to get on the bumps. What is your take on them, especially for casual skiers looking to cover more of the mountain? Greg Dallas, Texas

I love to cross-country ski, but we now have a two-year-old on the scene. He weighs almost 30 pounds and is getting a little heavy for our backpack-style carrier. Is there any gear that can help us get out on the trails this year? Pat Mountain Top, Pennsylvania

Gear Man, it's been too long! Over the years your sage wisdom has been invaluable: jacket, check; watch, check; socks, check (my platoon says thanks, by the way). Anyway, I'm taking the winter off from sand, sun, and hostile fire and getting back in touch with my mountain roots here in Vermont, and I've decided to start earning my turns on Mansfield rather than riding that klunky old lift. Plus, I'm getting cheap. So, O Sage and Eminent Gear Scholar, please help me choose a good all-terrain ski. Now, I've got to get back to building my shrine to Ullr before the evening storm report. Larry Burlington, Vermont

I need winter gloves that are warm, waterproof, and allow plenty of dexterity. I walk dogs through the winter and most gloves are too bulky and inflexible when it comes to holding leashes, picking things up, and so on. Annette New York City

Where can I find warm (maybe Thinsulate-lined) shoes for winter biking with pedal clips? Most winter shoes or boots are too bulky for clips and all the biking shoes I've seen seem to be vented for warm weather. John Fairfax, Virginia

I in the market for a set of snowshoes, but I'd like to know if there is one shoe that can tackle all types of weather and terrain? It will be used for day hikes and some climbing. Erin Brockville, Ontario

I run in temps as low as 12 degrees. However, as I've been running in an old one-piece snowsuit for the past 18 years, it's time to treat myself to some new gear that's warm, breathable, and stylish. Any ideas? Adria Columbus, Ohio

I want to replace my old all-purpose Mountain Jacket from The North Face, since it has lost its outer water protection and is fairly heavy. Would you go with a soft or hard shell? I cross-country ski, snowshoe, and hike with my malute in the Colorado mountains. Anne Silverton, Colorado

I 13 and looking for a pair of all-mountain skis that are not too much above my level. I an intermediate skier who skis mostly black dionds on large mountains. Aaron Massillon, Ohio

Sun Valley, Idaho: Sure, Lance and Sheryl got engaged here, but celebrity is nothing special in this town. It's all about the steep and deep. For the 70th anniversary of America's first ski hill, we celebrate this original snowsport mecca in style.

Last winter I discovered the joys of cross-country skiing at a local resort, but as soon as I stepped outside the tracks I was about as controlled as a cel on a hockey rink. I'm used to skis with metal edges and I could barely stand on my rental skinny skis. I'd like to buy some skis this year that I can use to cruise the Forest Service roads and use at the resort. Can you recommend some for a big guy and his fiancé that could be used in both situations? Mike Reno, Nevada

I seek your advice because I'm tired of lift lines and bad snow conditions. What's the best way to get around in the backcountry for a snowboarder? The new Verts from C3 design? Snowshoes? What about the split kit from Voilé? Also, what setup would you recommend for boots? Mountaineering boots? Simon Montreal, Quebec

Back in the day, we used to ski in Levi's with big nylon gaiters—but now, despite trying on every brand out there, I can't find a pair that will fit over my Garmont randonnée boots. I've even spoken with the good people at La Sportiva, who admit that their gaiters are only designed for their mountaineering boots. Is there a good-quality gaiter large enough to wear over randonnée or alpine ski boots? Scott Eugene, Oregon

Do you know of any battery-heated socks that I can wear with ski boots? If not, can you recommend the warmest possible socks? I love to ski, but my feet freeze, even with toe warmers. Lisa East Greenwich, Rhode Island

I'm starting to get into snowshoeing and I'm not sure about the best footwear to go with the snowshoe. Should I wear Gore-Tex socks with a trail-running shoe, hiking boots, or something totally different? Joey Calgary, Alberta

I moving to southeast Alaska this month, and I need a relatively inexpensive, waterproof, and wind-resistant winter jacket. I need something that will keep me warm for extended periods in cold, rainy conditions. Should I buy a heavy-duty rainjacket and wear it over a Polartec fleece, or buy more of a skier's jacket? Mallory Haubstadt, Indiana

I've been looking for a winter cycling jacket and can't seem to make up my mind on the best piece to withstand rain, sleet, snow, and city winds. I'd like it to have a hood and be warm yet light enough to move around in. My search has tossed up the Gore-Tex Stre Jacket, REI Randonee, Cannondale Facet, and a few others. When I checked with some of my friends, they told me to ask you, the Guru of Gear. Ryan Chpaign, Illinois

I looking for an overbag to extend my ten-degree bag into the winter months in New England. I have seen the Big Agnes Cross Mountain, the Wiggy's overbag, and the Feathered Friends Great Auk. Which one is a reasonably priced option to extend the range of my current sleeping bag? Have I missed any? Bill Portland, Maine

What's a good, durable, and reliable car rack for skis and snowboards? Joon New Orleans, Louisiana

What gives with the Icebox Igloo? This apparatus supposedly makes a really cheery snow shelter in two to three hours and costs much less than a good four-season tent. A friend and I are going to do some winter camping and this sounds like the middle ground between lying in an exposed tent and curling up in a cozy cabin. Is this thing the real deal or just a snow-job? Michael Houlton, Maine

Can you suggest a tent that would work in extreme conditions but won't break the bank? I find myself in areas near and above 10,000 feet during the cold months in the Sierras. Snow, rain, wind, and price are definitely a concern. Willi San Diego, California

Pound for pound and dollar for dollar, what is the lightest, warmest winter sleeping bag available? Brian Reno, Nevada

I enjoy cross-country skiing and snow camping in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. I would like to buy my own skis as opposed to renting. I over 250 pounds and find that many of the skis I've used have had little or no glide. It ends up feeling like I walking on plywood boards. Do I need a stiff ski? Or a wide ski? I would also be using a Berwin binding with this ski. Tim Appleton, Wisconsin

Last winter I blew out my knee pretty badly because I couldn't read the different lines in the snow; I guess I basically bece color blind. I've heard that different lens colors are better in different conditions, but I don't know which color suits which condition (i.e., snow, fog, sun). If you could give me a hand on this that would be awesome. Devin Edmonton, Alberta

My husband and I would like to purchase snowshoes for some exercise and fun, but we have no idea where to begin. What brand, size, and so forth do we look for? Carol Frisco, Colorado

I often ski in both the east, mostly Vermont, and the west at mountains in Colorado, Utah, and sometimes California. I've heard a soft shell, specifically Mountain Hardwear's Alchemy, is perfect for out west where it's fairly warm and wind is the only real concern. I was wondering if it would also work in the east where it can get much colder, wetter, and windier. If not, would a simple waterproof shell worn over it be enough? Brett Westchester, New York

I'm giving up my old straight skis for the newer shape of skis. How do I decide what length to get, since I understand that you can drop back on length with a shaped ski. I'm an advanced intermediate with bitions to push my ability, currently skiing on 165-centimeter planks. Ann Bedford, Virginia

Road Trips skiing road trip Snowshoe Break: on the road in Colorado High-Speed Ski Safari Why choose between Summit County’s bounty, Jackson’s steeps, Steamboat’s trees, and Big Sky’s big sky? On this nine-day, Denver-to-Bozeman Rockies odyssey, they’re all yours. Day One: Rent a car for the 90-minute drive west…

Can you suggest a few jackets that can multitask for snow sports, short hikes, and the commute to work? I like the hard-shell feel but don't need expensive Gore-Tex; I'd like adjustable cuffs and a removable hood; I would prefer something without a powder skirt but with a zip-out style that's not parka length; I like a simple jacket in solid colors without oodles of pockets and zippers. Hope I didn't overload you. Suggestions? Jim Ann Arbor, Michigan

Oh, wise gear guru, what are the best gloves for winter hike in the Adirondacks? Lorne Brooklyn, New York

I feel overwhelmed by all the different types of ski equipment. As someone who skis hard maybe a dozen times a year on mostly East Coast snow (probably once out west, too), what kind of boots, bindings, and skis would work for me? I know I'm a little early here, but I'm already dreing of that first snowfall. Ron Washington, D.C.

I have a place in Vermont's Green Mountains and wondering what full metal-edged skis would work for skiing in the New England woods? I currently use the 170-centimeter Fischer E99, but is there a shorter ski that I can use for skiing logging roads, snowmobile tracks, and general rough in the woods? I don't think telemarks are the ticket as I'll be skiing on the flat, and I can use my E99's for any cross-country trails. Nigel New York City

I getting ready for a February snowshoeing trip to the Sierra Mountains, and I want to nix my usual problems with cold hands. In the past, I've tried using a base-layer glove combined with a higher loft glove and a waterproof Gore-Tex shell. Unfortunately I still get cold hands! Needless to say, I in desperate need of your awe-inspiring, sage-like wisdom to find that warm-hand solution to all my problems. Nathan Louisville, Kentucky

I'm considering buying the Makalu boot from La Sportiva for extended backpacking and mountaineering duties, thinking it would be flexible enough for backpacking yet stiff enough for some crampon work. I understand that for really cold winter climbing I'd want something insulated, but am I wrong in thinking the Makalu will be up to the task? Christopher Mountaintop, Pennsylvania

Last year in Breckenridge, my 14-year-old son was having a hard time snowboarding because his hands were so cold. What can I get him to help? Do you suggest mittens or gloves for snowboarding? Gale Savannah, Georgia

With the downhill ski season quickly approaching, I'm looking for a new shell-type jacket to replace my current insulated jacket, one that will work in almost any weather with appropriate layering (to be worn primarily in Vermont and New Hampshire, where rain is an occasional factor, but not a daily occurrence). Basically, I'm wondering if the $400-plus Gore-Tex jackets (like the Arc'Teryx Javelin SV or XCR Sidewinder SV) are really worth it, or if I'd be just as happy 99 percent of the time with a soft shell. Erik Hoboken, New Jersey

With the downhill ski season quickly approaching, I'm looking for a new shell-type jacket to replace my current insulated jacket, one that will work in almost any weather with appropriate layering (to be worn primarily in Vermont and New Hampshire, where rain is an occasional factor, but not a daily occurrence). Basically, I'm wondering if the 400-plus Gore-Tex jackets (like the Arc'Teryx Javelin SV or XCR Sidewinder SV) are really worth it, or if I'd be just as happy 99 percent of the time with a soft shell. Erik Hoboken, New Jersey

As someone who's five-foot-two and 104 pounds, I'm looking for snowshoeing clothing that I don't disappear into! I have several pairs of insulated pants, but they are really bulky (snowboarding-type pants). I see tons of form-fitting "pants," but there are so many different kinds I don't know where to start. Any advice on layers and brands that will keep me warm but fit closer to my body? BJ Guilderland, New York

As a beginner skier living just one hour from Mount Hood, I'm trying to decide whether I should buy or just rent skis when I go; if I do buy, what equipment won't zero out my bank account? John Portland, Oregon

Any recommendations for a beginner's telemarking setup (skis, boots, skins, bindings) to use on groomed downhill runs and backcountry trips? I also recently bought a used Mountainsmith sled in the hope of taking my toddler up and down some trails at a local ski resort. Can this sled handle this type of use or I putting my kid's life in danger? Wayne Cleveland, Ohio

What's the deal with trekking poles? I seem to be the only one hiking without them. Are adjustability and shock absorption really worth the extra money? Or can I get away with using the beat-up downhill ski poles I bought at my neighbor's garage sale for $2? Kristen Seattle, Washington

I a strong trail/road runner and interested in doing some snowshoe racing this winter. I would like to buy something that I can use for training as well as racing. Could you give me a few options? Robert Grandville, Michigan

I'm trying to find a pair of cross-country skis that I can use on and off groomed trails. Does such a pair exist? Thanks! Jenni Juneau, Alaska

Not so much a question, more a comment about ski helmets. I'm a ski instructor and the following is my mantra: If I'm skiing normally, I don't really use a helmet. If I plan on skiing in the park, I wouldn't go without it. However, when it's 20 degrees below and I still have to teach, the helmet keeps me way warmer than any toque, any day. Generally, you know it's cold if I'm teaching in my helmet. Also, helmets for snowboarding are a must. Sometimes, a person just falls way too fast to prevent cracking your head on the hard pack. ber Toronto, Ontario

You recommend the Marmot Equinox as a three-season tent, but will this work for winter camping when temps hit the mid-20s and 30s? I'm looking at some convertible tents (Mountain Hardwear's Skyview 2, Marmot Swallow 2, and The North Face's Nebula), as well as non-convertible options like the Equinox and TNF's Roadrunner 2. Thanks, I just started reading your column and really appreciate the insight. Alexis Syracuse, New York

I'm an improving intermediate skier who will ski practically everything on the mountain—though not always gracefully! I'm looking for a pair of skis that won't hinder me as I progress, but that won't be too advanced for my current skill level. What do you recommend? Joel Manhasset, New York

I seek your vast wisdom in selecting a small pack for the upcoming ski season; something comfy but lightweight that can pull double duty for lift-access skiing and limited backcountry use. I'd prefer a low profile pack under 1,800 cubic inches, with some sort of attachment point for skis as well as hydration-bladder compatibility. Also, do you think a panel loader would be better suited for this type of pack, thereby eliminating the need for a top pocket that might flop around when not completely filled? I asking for too much here? Joe Victor, New York

All I want for Christmas is a good headlp for winter use, but things have gotten complex. Voltage regulators, duo headlps, multiple settings, alkaline versus lithium batteries: these have all muddied what should have been a simple choice. Basically, what's the perfect headlp for an overnight or multi-day winter backpacking trip? Scott Maple Valley, Washington

I need some of your sage wisdom: As a pretty serious mountain biker and alpine skier looking to the approaching winter, I want to score a hard shell that will serve me both on the trails and the slopes. I've looked at Patagonia, Cloudveil, The North Face, and Lowe Alpine, but I'm lost in the many options. I want something that breathes well, keeps me dry in wet conditions. Insulation ain't important (got a great Patagonia fleece already). Please, point me in the right direction! Nathan Washington, D.C.

These days it seems pretty much everybody's wearing bike helmets. Why can't you say the se for skiing helmets? And, do you think it'd be wise to shell out on a ski helmet? I've just booked up for a one-week ski trip to Colorado next February. Not having done much skiing before, I want to enjoy myself but also stay safe! Andrew Charlottesville, Virginia

So, the winter snow will soon be upon us. As a snowboarder, my feet always seem to get extremely cold. I wear SmartWool socks, and I sometimes need to wear two pairs of socks (though not necessarily both SmartWool). Do you think my feet are just overly sensitive to the cold, or is there something else out there to keep my tootsies cozy?

I plan on doing some winter backpacking in New Hampshire's White Mountains for the first time. I need some help with sleeping bags—there are so many to choose from! Should I go for down or synthetic? What's a good temperature rating for this kind of trip? Mark Boston, Massachusetts

Which do you think would be better for a backcountry winter camping trip in Yosemite: snowshoes or a ski like the Karhu Morph (which looks like L.L. Bean's Boreal and features a built-in climbing skin)? Tom Marina del Rey, California

Now that the venerable Patagonia Ice Nine ski bibs have been discontinued, what do you recommend in their place? I want something similar: waterproof-breathable, light but durable, great features. However, I've read not very complimentary things about The North Face's Gore-Tex XCR bibs. Richard Oak Ridge, Tennessee

What's your take on the soft-shell craze if the activities are both ascent and descent in nature? In other words, I very interested in the breathability for aerobic activities, but concerned about warmth for activities like downhill skiing. Question is, can I have my cake and eat it too? Second, if I can have it both ways, what is your first choice and why? Brad Peacock Medina, Ohio

I want to buy some new cross-country skis that I can use for both touring and downhill, maybe something along the lines of the Karhu Catounts. While these seem to work well for touring on ungroomed trails, would these also suit for telemarking on blue-square trails? Rusty Cresco, Pennsylvania

Gear Guru, what eye gear do you recommend for cross-country skiing when it's windy and snowy? Every pair of goggles I own fog up when I cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Would glacier glasses solve this problem? Craig Portland, Oregon

I would like to buy shaped skis. I currently ski on straight 160s and 5-foot, 2-inches tall. I've gotten so many different opinions on how long my shaped skis should be. Help! Jacklyn Meriden, Connecticut

Are there poles that could do double duty for downhill skiing and trekking? Or is that too much to ask from a set of poles for around $100? Dan Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

I'm staring down the barrel of a long, cold, wet winter, which will put a crimp on my outdoor bicycling. Now, I can't afford a house big enough to install a velodrome, so I'll need to purchase either a trainer or rollers to ride my bike inside. Should I fear the rollers? Will I need to put fo padding all around them? Will true believers mock me if I buy a trainer instead? Glen Novato, California

I'm a snowshoer and snowboarder. I wear hard-shell snowboarding boots and I have the step-in type bindings on my board. I would love to find some snowshoes that also have a step-in type binding that would work with my boarding boots so that I could do some backcountry boarding and only need to haul one pair of boots. Any suggestions? Ryan J. Richmond Boise, Idaho