Snow Sports


What's the best helmet for backcountry skiing in Colorado? The Editors Santa Fe, NM

I woke up this morning to fresh, white snow. Snow! I know! It's totally shocking, right? Only it's not. I live in Jackson, WY, and it's only April 30th. We get snowstorms in early June, hailstorms in July and snowstorms in late August. It's normal for a 6,237-foot-high mountain town.

It may be the end of March, but here in Santa Fe, winter just won't end. We've gotten two major snowstorms in the last week alone. Which got me thinking: I've been testing winter gear for a decade now, but have never rounded up my all-time favorite stuff. Well, it's…

By Stephen Regenold Dubbed an “arctic slip-on,” the Fairbanks Snow Sneakers are a strange low-top option for winter use. Made to protect from the snow and cold, the shoes have waterproof leather uppers and felted wool lining. The tough outsole tread is…

As a descendant of proud Swedes, I shamefully admit that Dale of Norway knits some of the world’s finest sweaters. With classic designs like the “Voss,” “Utstein,” and “Uppigard,” you can’t miss the Nordic connection, but the technology that this 130-year-old company employs is what will blow your mind. Working…

By Stephen Regenold High-performing heated boots have long been a Holy Grail in the footwear world. With its new men's Bugathermo and women's Snow Hottie models, Columbia Sportswear Company took a stab at making the ultimate heated boot.

I use snow-shoes for winter backpacking and I love it; but I think I could cover more ground and enjoy it more if I used skis. Can you recommend a cross-country ski binding that will accept my perfect fitting Asolo TPS 535 hiking boots? James Orem, UT

Hi! I'm trying to decide on a jacket to use as an insulating midlayer for backpacking this winter. I want one that's warm while sedentary, but really breathable while doing aerobic activity. I’m not sure what to go with: fleece, soft shell, or down? The Arc’teryx Hercules jacket seems to be promising because of the high loft fleece interior and superior breathability, although I'm concerned it might not be warm enough. The mercury usually dips into the low teens here in late winter. Any advice? Matt Birmingh, AL

The pros at Bent Gate Mountaineering team up with Serac Adventure Films to provide winter gear advice.

By Stephen Regenold Snow is on the ground. Lights are twinkling in neighborhood trees. Time to find gifts for the outdoors lovers on your holiday list. Here are a few of my favorite things from this year, a half-dozen holiday gift potentials for the…

This fall, Warren Miller Entertainment (WME) sued Level 1 Productions for having Warren Miller (the man) narrate a segment of its new ski film, Refresh. Miller, 85, responded by intervening in the suit and entering into arbitration with WME, a company he sold in 1988—thus relinquishing the right to use…

We always knew the stats were rigged, but now comes proof: A team of Dartmouth economists discovered that ski resorts report 23 percent more new snow on weekends than during the week, even though government weather data shows no such “weekend effect.” The resorts least likely to exaggerate? Those with…

Powder snobs often overlook Vermont's small, friendly skiing, which means more fun for the locals—and you. Here's where to get your Green Mountain State fix this winter.

My dad always said the family that skis together...spends a helluva lot of dough. Here are some ways to trim the fat.

Yes, there's a world-class ski resort in Steamboat Springs. But as the careers (and hobbies) of these five guys demonstrate, that's just one part of this relaxed Colorado town's allure.

We've narrowed the field to the six best of the year. Now, use our Terrain Meter to choose a pair based on the conditions you ski the most.

2010 Buyer’s Guide Videos Summer Outside Winter Buyer's Guide 2009/2010 Winter Buyer's Guide Trail Shoes Sleeping Bags Women’s Gear Road Bikes…

At 160/130/120 underfoot, the Shane McConkey–inspired K2 Tribute Ski is wide enough to float over any powder; features a collage and quotes from McConkey, who died ski-BASE jumping in Italy last spring; and is perfect for channeling your inner Saucer Boy. Net proceeds go to McConkey’s wife and daughter. $699;…

By Stephen Regenold 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. ColdAvenger Expedition…

What is the best way to store skis and skins over the winter? The Editors Santa Fe, New Mexico

As a snowboarder, the one advantage skiers have over me is the ability to get through flats and even skin uphill. I wouldn't go into unfiliar terrain without a guide, but would I be able to use snowshoes to get through some of this terrain in the backcountry. I've never been snowshoeing before, but I'd like to get into some backcountry stuff and don't want a split board. This may not work, but I'm trying to be creative. Michael San Diego;CA San Diego, CA

Does anyone make cross-country ski boots in wide widths? Margaret Madison, Wisconsin

Catch more air: Burton‘s Vapor is the lightest snowboard they’ve ever made ($1,000; Burton Vapor Snowboard            …

Outdoor Research's Primovolta gloves contain a rechargeable heating element that keeps fingers warm for up to six hours ($259; Outdoor Research Primovolta Gloves            …

With their slightly duck-footed stance, Nordica‘s Sportmachine 14 boots make carving the perfect turn that much easier ($655; Nordica Sportmachine 14 Ski Boot            …

Why do some women trash women's specific skis as being too soft? The Editors Santa Fe, New Mexico

Pick one frontside ski (1, 4, or 5) and one fat powder board (2, 3, or 6) and you'll be set for the season

Whether you're the all-mountain type or a park-and-pipe specialist, your new ride awaits

I work outside year-round (at the flightline of an airport), and in the winter the cold wind really gets me. I need a jacket that is comfy, warm, and tough, and that blocks wind. With all of the shells out there, I'm overwhelmed. What do you suggest? What about pants? Mike Apalachicola, Florida

Innovations for the eco-minded

I took a nasty 300 foot slide on a hard-packed, black diond slope after slipping while snowboarding. On the way down I intersected with a tree and have lived to tell the tale. I would like some advice on an ice axe or smaller device that I could use to stop myself in the next hair-losing slide like that. Any ideas? Kirk Olivehurst, California

I’m looking for a modestly priced, general-purpose running snowshoe. I’ll take a few ups and downs, but will mostly stick to groomed trails or four to eight inches of semi-packed snow. Any ideas? David Erda, Utah

What is the most appropriate base-layer system for winter backpacking? Under Armour’s compression-fit garments seem great for moving along the trail, but they’re perhaps not good for sleeping or insulating. Do I need a set of base layers for daytime hiking and a different set for nighttime? Doug West Chester, Pennsylvania

I’m an intermediate skier who hasn’t skied much in the past seven years. I ready to go now, but my skis are out of style. I’m five-foot, eight-inches tall and about 180 pounds. What length ski do I need, and what kind of boots are out there now? Donna Basalt, Colorado

To put it simply, I want one boot to rule them all. Is there a single pair that works for mountaineering, splitboarding, and AT skiing? Or should I pull out a second mortgage on my house and buy three new pairs of sport-specific boots? Matthew Tacoma, Washington

I a 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, currently stationed at Cp Barrett, Quantico, VA. My 299 fellow lieutenants and I will be enjoying five more months of training here, a majority of which is spent out in the field. Currently I wear mainly issued gear, and I would really appreciate your input on the following: good cold-weather boot socks, gloves that allow us full use of our fingers for fine motor skills, and thin insulating base layers. Also, any leads on good chemical packet handwarmers? Suel Quantico, Virginia

I bought the Arc'teryx Theta AR, but returned it because, for that kind of money, I hoped it would have a thin liner or just be slightly more substantial in warmth. I’m now thinking about the Arc'teryx Gma MX Hoody. I'm not traversing the Alps, but since I will be outside in the winter months when it rains (and that's usually everyday!), I want something of high quality. Any ideas? Scott Eugene, Oregon

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