Winter Gear Review

Gear Review

By Hilary Meyerson


We checked out some great winter outdoor gear including skis, snowboards, boots, clothing, avalanche bags and more!

Hard Goods

All Mountain

Ski Ramp Frenzy

Not every day is a powder day in the Northwest. And sometimes you just want to fly over the hardpack or rip up some corduroy. Almost like you’re in a … Frenzy. These are a great all-mountain ski. We also love that these skis are handmade in the U.S., and are as green as the Evergreen state. RAMP skis and snowboards are sold only online, and are shipped in a padded (reusable) bag that eliminates the need for boxes. Oh, and the graphics are just killer. Sizes: 149, 159, 169, 179 cm. Retail price: $855.

Backcountry Ski G3 Cake

Ladies, this one’s for you. You wanted a fatter ski without the extra weight, and G3 delivered with the Cake. It’s got a 110 mm waist and a progressive camber line. However, its real coup is its light weight – it’s a game-changer. It makes this ski easy to turn and responsive in the hard snow. Retail price: $619

Madshus Nanosonic Carbon  Skate Ski

The world’s oldest Nordic ski company, Seattle’s Madshus, has redesigned its Champion Series for 2013. The Nanosonic Carbon Skate ski comes in regular-soft or hard-packed model and as always, they’re tested by some of the best winter athletes around. A new low-rise tip design reduces swing weight of the ski by 15 percent and also decreases the overall length of the ski, making it exceptionally maneuverable, while maintaining the same running surface length for added speed in the glide portion of the stride. Even if you’re not an Olympian, you’ll ski like one on these. Retail price: $660

Voilé Artisan splitboard

The backcountry was opened up to boarders with the introduction Voilé’s DIY Split Kit in the 90s, which allowed folks to make a homemade splitboard. The Salt Lake City company was the first to embrace the trend and refine the technology. They have upped the ante with their new Artisan splitboard, a directional twin board with an innovative rocker/camber profile. The rocker allows great float in the powder, the flat section makes uphill skinning a breeze, and the camber offers a smooth ride on hardpack. The Artisan is a great board for an in-bounds rider looking to move into the backcountry.  In combination with Voile’s splitboard-specific binding called the Light Rail, this board may be the turning point of the market.
Retail price: $850, includes slider tracks and pins. Climbing skins sold separately.

Ride Buckwild

The Buckwild is the premiere park and pipe board for 2013. Great for the hard-charging rider. It features great technology under those killah graphics. They include Ride’s “Slimewalls” (urethane sidewalls) that, besides being able to take a beating on rails and landings, offer an extra smooth ride and make the board soft and responsive. Comes in wide style as well. Retail price: $490

Atlas 9 Series Snowshoes

Atlas knows snowshoes. The local company knows how to make gear to get you going in snow. This shoe is an excellent all-around walking snowshoe, and would be a great gift for that hiker in your family who usually waits for the spring thaw to head back out on the trail. The Free-Rotating™ Suspension (FRS) system of the 9 Series allows the foot to move naturally, while the bindings are easy to use but secure the foot snugly. A great shoe to head out into the white. Retail price: $169

Full Tilt Booter

Full Tilt has turned the ski boot world upside down with its innovative three-piece design, which is growing insanely fast in the freeride and freestyle markets. They own the first three-piece design which has garnered a cult-like following for comfort, performance and warmth. The flex of these boots is crazy, the cable system makes getting in and out a breeze, and it’s so light you won’t believe you’re wearing a ski boot. The Booter is Full Tilt’s freestyle boot for skiers with wider feet or those who prefer a little more room in the toe. And the price of this one is just right. Retail price: $399


Point6 Snowboard Gnargyle Sock

Yes, you need a snowboard sock. Yes, it must be rad. Point6’s cool Gnargyle (see what they did there?) provides medium cushioning for volume and warmth and protects against boot pressure-point irritation. Engineered fit for long-wearing comfort, while ventilation panels and superior Point6 merino wool wick moisture and prevent overheating (and odor!) after a long day shredding. Retail price: $22.95

KEEN Sunriver High Boot

Who says practical has to mean drab? The Sunriver boot lets you face Northwest winter conditions in style. It’s got a dry waterproof, breathable membrane, and insulation and fuzzy faux fur lining to keep your feet dry and cozy in ski-area parking lots or urban streets. Retail price: $130

Icebreaker GT Series Base Layer

Winter is wet and cool, and base layers are key, no matter what outdoor activities you favor. You need a solid base layer that breathes, dries quickly and doesn’t stink within minutes. Usually technical clothes mean synthetics, but the Icebreaker LS Pace Zip is all natural. Even better, its superfine merino wool is sustainable and renewable. Just ask the New Zealand sheep. Cool feature: each garment has a unique “Baacode” which you can enter online to find out which farm the sheep came from. Retail price: $110

Merrell Newkirk Tri-Therm 3-in-1 Parka

Waterproof and eye-catching, the Newkirk Tri-Therm jacket caught our eye immediately. It’s got a waterproof, breathable exterior with a removable inner jacket for warmth, not to mention versatility. We like that it’s thoughtfully designed for a woman, with added length in the back and an interior waist drawcord. Because women can tear it up in the mountains with the men, but don’t want to look like them. Retail price: $269

Terramar Thermolator II Balaclava

Your mom was right: when it gets really cold, put on a balaclava. It makes an astonishing difference. We recommend the Thermolator II from Terramar. The material is soft and stretchy, 86 percent micropolyester and 14 percent Spandex. It’s long enough to not let any wind or snow slip into the neck area. Fits nicely under helmets. Also good for cold climate Ninjas. Retail price: $18

Outdoor Research Women’s Totem Beanie

The Totem Beanie is 100 percent wool, which offers plenty of warmth on cold mornings in the lift line, and the inner fleece-lined earband also gives added protection where you need it. This year, the new women’s Totem comes in feminine yet polished graphics and colors ensuring that you stay stylish from the slope to après beers. Retail price: $31


Vario Base-Unit ABS

Avalanches are part of Northwest skiing. Don’t go into the backcountry without an avi airbag. The Vario Base-Unit by ABS has two TwinBags, activation handle, a gas cartridge in steel, and comes in various sizes. All other features and pack options zip on to the Base-Unit, so you can add your size pack or attachments to carry skis or snowboards or helmets. A great piece of safety gear for mountain hounds. Retail price: $980 (base and one activation unit),
25L zip on pack (shown in photo), $120.

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