Gear Review: Winter Hiking and Running

Winter Gear Reviews

Mountain Equipment Shield Jacket

Mountain Equipment, an outdoor icon in the UK for the past 50 years, recently launched U.S. distribution right here in the Northwest. ME’s award-winning Shield Jacket (2009 Outdoor Industry Award), is a must for local outdoor enthusiasts and designed to protect against almost everything a winter’s day can launch at you: arctic gales, sleet, snow and squally showers.

Several performance fabrics contribute to the Shield’s mighty protectiveness, including Gore Windstopper softshell fabric, Polartec Powershield Lite side panels, and Gore Micro Grid Backer hood lining and anti-wicking hem. Climbers will appreciate a helmet-compatible hood and two external hand pockets that are accessible when wearing a climbing harness. $350.—513/

RoadNoise Vest

One of the coolest new pieces of gear we’ve seen in a long time, the RoadNoise Vest is a new reflective running vest with built-in speakers. Created by Rob Stout of Portland, the vest houses integrated speakers near the shoulders right below the ears so runners can hear other sounds during their exercise. It features a two-pocket system in the front: one to hold keys and ID; the other larger one—which comes with a plug-in cord that attaches to the two speakers—for your smart phone or MP3 player. Reflective material offers night-time and low-light visibility and the velcro at the waist offers adjustability for sizing as well as to ensure less bounce for the speakers. Comes in four sizes. $79.99.

Burley We! Ski Kit

Take off the wheels and attach a pair of no-wax Alpina skis to your Burley bike trailer, and voilà—you can tow kids, dogs, or gear behind you with the company’s We! Ski Kit. A highly supportive and adjustable hip harness keeps you comfy, and features breathable fabric, along with pockets for keys, phone, and water bottle. Compatible with some older Burley models. $275.

Kahtoola MICROspikes

If your hiking and running adventures spill into winter, then you may have found yourself slipping on icy patches of trail or road. Kahtoola MICROSpikes to the rescue which slip easily onto your shoes with a rubber harness—no buckles or straps—and provides traction with the help of 10 stainless steel spikes.

Mountain Hardware Gloves

Available in both men’s and women’s sizing, Mountain Hardwear’s Zeus (men’s) and Maia (women’s) snowsports gloves offer skiers an extremely waterproof, totally windproof product. Features include goatskin leather fingers and palm, Outdry Waterproof Technology, a 4-way nylon stretch for comfort and unprecedented fit and dexterity with its Extreme Precurve pattering with Kevlar stitching on the fingers. $95. www.MountainHard

Easton Mountain backcountry trekking pole

Easton Mountain Products calls its CTR-65 ion the “ultimate backcountry trekking pole.” Weighing in at only 1.1 pounds thanks to its all-carbon construction, the CTR ion trekking poles are for weight-conscious adventurers who still want technical features in their trekking pole. The patent-pending “Rock-Lock” clamp helps you adjust the poles on the fly to match changing terrain. At full length, the poles extend to approximately 4.5 feet; while fully collapsed, they measure about 32 inches. $99.