Gear Geek: Winter Prep

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Gear Geek: Winter Prep

All due respect to John Snow, but those of us who are in love with the season that will soon be upon us don’t need to hear any ominous warnings that winter is coming. Truth is, we can’t wait for it to arrive! In keeping with that giddy anticipation, here’s a handful of newer winter-ready products that’ll offer comfort, protection, and fun in the coming months.

1. Smith Quantum Helmet, $300; 2.Vuarnet Edge Collection, starting at $310; 3. Primus Winter Gas, starting around $10; 4. Osprey Kamber/Kestra 22, $150; 5. Trew Kooshin Jacket, $199; 6. Columbia OutDry Ex Gloves, $75; 7. Pistil Saucy Hat, $36.

Photo: Vuarnet Alt

Nathan Borchelt is a gear-obsessed travel writer and adventurer whose collection of shoes, backpacks, jackets, bags, and other “essential” detritus has long-outgrown his one-bedroom apartment (and his wife’s patience).

Smith Quantum Helmet

Smith's new snow-sports helmet comes with a load of safety and impact-resistance features—Aerocore construction with Koroyd and MIPS impact-protection liners and other proprietary and partner innovations. But you don't need to decode what all that means; just take comfort in the fact it's one of the safest helmets on the market. You also get a slew of comfort features, including 22 vents, a Boa-laced fit system, and a new strap system that allows for easy, one-handed clip/release. Long story short, if you go big in the mountains, this will save your skull. And if you're wearing a pair of Smith goggles, you also won't have to mind the gape.

Vuarnet Edge Collection

French sunglass maker Vuarnet has been around since 1957—so when they introduce something new, it's worth taking note. They recently teamed up with Christophe Pillet, a well-known French contemporary artistic direction, to create the Edge Collection. Each pair of sunglasses come with stainless-steel frames and deep acetate rims around the lenses that make 'em both strikingly chic and sporty. Better still, each one includes Vuarnet's crystal-clear highly-durable mineral glass lenses. The Round, Pilot, and Caravan models evoke a style that feels lifted from another decade, yet also retains an undeniable "now" quality that make 'em more of an investment piece than an impulse buy.

Primus Winter Gas

For most of us, winter means stashing your camping kits. But for those hearty soles out there who can't wait to dig a snow cave, build an igloo, or test out their four-season tent, Primus will add an extra layer of comfort and reliability to your next frigid outing. Use their new Winter Gas, and you can fire up your camp stove with confidence down to -7 degrees Fahrenheit. The new canisters use a "Vapor Mesh" feature made from absorbent paper that increases the surface of the evaporation process, so that the liquid fuel converts to gas more quickly.

Osprey Kamber/Kestra 22

Built with lift-access backcountry in mind, the Kamber (and its sister pack, the woman-specific Kestra) offers loads of winter-ready features, including diagonal ski carry mounts, vertical carry for snowboard and and snowshoes, insulated hydration, a place to stow your helmet, partnered with a reliable harness system to help distribute the weight. The 22 liters of storage are optimal for spring outings or days when you mostly stay in-bounds at a resort, but if your ambitions align to day-long (or multi-day) forays into the deep, consider upgrading to some one of the bigger packs in Osprey's new backcountry-specific line.

Trew Kooshin Jacket

This insulating mid-layer almost defies expectation. At first glance, it looks just like another in an endless parade of "shacket/down sweaters/insulated shirts/whatever" paradoxes. But slip it on and start moving and you'll be shocked by how liberating it feels. Much of that is thanks to the 3DeFX+ construction, which makes it 100% more stretchy than other synthetic insulating layers, so you can wear it tight and slim against your body without feeling encumbered. Toss it on as an outer layer on milder days, or layer up with a hard shell for colder ones; zippered pockets make it versatile, and the high-draft collar lets you turtle in the heat. Even the hidden elastic cuffs feel plush every time you slip it on—and that will be often. Available for both men and women.

Columbia OutDry Ex Gloves

Moisture is the Achilles' heel of most winter-specific clothing. Get wet and suddenly the mild winter wind feels like a sub-zero cannon blast. Columbia solves this with their OutDry gloves by employing their award-winning waterproof layer on the outside, with a soft wicking fabric inside. This means your hands will never get wet from outside conditions, and—equally important—they won't sweat or overheat while wearing the gloves. Beyond that revolutionary essential, you also get a nose wiper on one finger, touch-screen compatibility, and modest reflective details.

Pistil Saucy Hat

The Saucy will likely polarize most people—it's either a faux fur-detailed manic pixie girl hat for the ages that you'll LOVE, or it's a faux fur-detailed manic pixie girl hat for the ages that you'll HATE. Either way, know that the hand-knit hat is crazy warm thanks to the chunky-knit acrylic, and ear flaps that end in braided strands with contrasting wrap details and a flourish of that fake fur. It may be too bulky to stuff in your ski jacket and toss it on when you've ditched your helmet, but if skiing isn't your bag (or if you fall in the LOVE category) it's a winner.